The WordPress Community Does Not Exist

Kyle is right to complain about the way he’s treated by ungrateful users of Hemingway, but I think he’s wrong to let that colour his view of the WordPress community, mainly because I don’t think that entity exists, save in the most notional of ways.

What might the WordPress community be, if it existed? Everyone who’s ever used WordPress? Everyone who’s using it now? Everyone who’s contributed a plugin, or a theme, or core code, or who’s posted on the support forums or edited the Codex? How about the people who subscribe to the mailing lists, or post on the Tarski forum? I could go on, probably for days.

The point being: there are a lot of people out there who’ve interacted with WordPress in some way or other, a lot of different groups with different interests and agendas. There’s overlap, yes, but there’s also difference: difference in constituency and in outlook. There is no overarching, coherent group of people with a particular direction or intent.

Yes, there are mean-spirited and exploitative people abroad, and yes, some of them use WordPress. But to put them in a category with helpful, generous and supportive people, and then let them poison one’s view of that category (and, consequently, its members) simply because they both use the same piece of software seems misguided to me.

The term ‘WordPress community’ is so vague as to be vacuous; it implies a measure of commonality in outlook that does not exist. Better to think of it differently. WordPress is a field in which many things grow; some, inevitably, are weeds.

Last updated 13th Jan 2009

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1 response

Kyle’s article really bothered me, to say there’s a problem with the WordPress community because he gets emails from idiots unable to change HTML was unfair. I do not consider one time users part of the community at all. If you lift some weights at the gym, you’re not part of the weight lifting community.

~ Jim Whimpey