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As I just lengthily explained, I have very little love for corporate hierarchies and all the folklore that goes with it. Ironically, the ostensibly “free” world of major Open-Source development never fails to irk me in the exact same way…

I have my theories about that, and they mostly have to do with the fact that Open-Source is full of the very same people, who, for one reason or another, might not have made it at the top of the corporate ladder in the traditional world, but are fiercely decided to enjoy the exact same privilege in their own version thereof. Less money, therefore a void to fill, usually by inflating the ego until it touches on all sides. These are all theories… But I do not care to expand on them right this second, if only to add very quickly that Open-Source Software is also filled with an overwhelming majority of selfless, dedicated, bright people, who, in the end, bring the balance way into the positive.

Yet, I do have my beef with many OSS practices in general, and practitioners in particular, but because I have yet to find the recipe for immortality (and just in case you are looking for it too, I can tell you so far that neither baths in young virgin’s blood, nor daily consumption of half a gallon of gin, work), I do my best to spend as little time as humanly possible on such crap. Sure I yammer. a lot. but I am also quite good at packing my marbles and moving to another side of the playground without sulking too much, whenever I really can’t take my little playmates’ bullshit any more…

In short, we, at Dr Dave Logs Inc., do our best to toe that delicate line between diva whims and lonesome-cowboy-fading-in-the-sunset attitude… something that’s not always easy (especially with these damn stiletto heels on). Mostly, that means staying on the edge of the soccer field, practice against the wall, address a few invectives at the lousier moves every once in a while, and go fill in for the team when there’s an emmergency. Nothing to be particularly proud of, nothing to be ashamed of either. We quite like it that way, and do not intend on stopping any time soon (neither the speaking of ourselves in the plural form, for that matter).

This is where the author stops, goes back and count number of preceding paragraphs. 1… 2… 3… and… 4 !… paragraphs of disclaimer…
I think we are good to go now!

When I went to bed yesterday, I was pissed. Very tired (physically, emotionally and mentally), and very pissed. I thought better than posting something then, and anyway, my eyelids firmly refused to stay open, which is kind of a problem to check what you are typing. But I was dead set on opening the shit sprinklers to full power today, as soon as I would have a second.

And then…

You know what’s ironic with my decision to stop my daily bottle of Tequila in the morning for a month or two?

You could expect this to make me somewhat cranky: what with the really boring immobility of my surrounding, the apparent emptiness, now that I only see one of each object, the awfully bland taste of my morning Orange Juice, when it’s not mixed with Skyy vodka, all that… Despite all that: I feel completely euphoric these days…

So euphoric, in fact, that I will not, as initially intended, post a ten-page rant on my current issues with the way WordPress development is done.

A rant that would have continued exactly where I left it a few months ago, when I went vocal with my concerns that lead devs were basically wiping themselves with the hands of plugin developers. Contending that, while all projects need leadership, the idea of community development is also for dialog to happen, not for one to decide and all to follow.

Hell, had I felt particularly mean, I might have viciously pointed how a little bit of humility sounded like a good idea at the moment. I would have pointed out why it is fucking rude beyond belief to blatantly ignore insistant, yet polite, requests for more disclosure, on all matters… And not talking about detailed bookkeeping either: very silly basic things, like giving some sort of a roadmap and timeframe that isn’t written on the back of somebody’s personal agenda.

All sort of mean things really…

And then I would have followed by the announcement that I was hitching a ride out of the WP game. Perhaps not a fork (god, oh no… the day I betrays my faithful chopsticks for a fork, feel free to stab me with either one), but at least a wise retreat to my own grounds, where I no longer have to depend on anybody’s whims but my own (and it may be a lot already, but I tend to have more patience with those).

That was more or less the plan…

Instead, this morning, I just brought my laptop out in Tokyo’s long awaited shiny Spring weather, sat in my garden, and took 30 seconds to write a blindingly stupid little script.

All that script does, is download all code from the SVN server sitting there, repackage it a bit (roughly: removing a few useless files), and upload it here. OK, it does a few other things, but I’ll only be able to tell you about this part in a day or two when I’m done with that part.

Why did I do this?

Because I was fucking tired of having a fairly decent plugin sitting on my server, while everybody kept on downloading an obsolete version that hadn’t been worked on for many months now, thus ensuring a continuous flow of insults to my mailbox. All that because the software it was meant to work with, 6 full months ago, still wasn’t able to release one simple, correctly planned, working version. And sure, “it will be out any day now”, I know that. But the fact that “nobody” deigned giving me a simple answer as to when exactly, meanwhile giving me to think, ever so faintly, that one possible reason to delay a release could be to basically pull the rug from under SK’s feet (I know: this is an unlikely one, but the mere thought is quite infuriating).

As it turns out, in the game of rude behaviours and unilateral decisions, I am not so bad either. Sure, it’s kinda childish, but certainly not gratuitous:

So, please, go ahead, enjoy and upgrade both WP and SK right now…

More to come soon.


  1. You decided to make your own package of WordPress because the menu bug? I wish someone had reported it before 1.5 was released, but I’m sorry. Could you please update the support links to yourself as to not burden the already overworked support forums?

  2. Matt: I made my own package of WP (which, once again, isn’t much else than a SVN download minus a few files) for a multitude of reasons, not least of which the fact that I keep receiving a barrage of insults for the flaws in a program I made 3 months ago, and that I am otherwise unable to tell people to upgrade, because of that menu bug, indeed… Perhaps it would have been reported, had there been a sufficient beta-testing period. However I seem to recall that “beta-testing” on 1.5, started before it was even feature-complete: hard in these conditions to even consider reporting such bugs…

    But as I lengthily explained above: I gave a try to discussion, I think we disagree on quite a few items here, and this isn’t such a big deal after all. All I’m interested in, is to be able to provide people with a reasonably simple link to download a software I made, and I’m ready to spend some time doing that, since the only other option cost me ten times more in support for an obsolete version. The links to WP support forums had been removed (that’s part of the repackaging: it adds its own touched-up version of the ReadMe) and I will add a prominent mention of the “no support” policy on the download page.

  3. I’ve been a happy Spam Karma user for some time now, and consider it a crucial tool to keep my weblog up and running. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to wander into the crossfire on this issue, if only because nobody else is using these comments to take a stand on the side of the WP development team.

    Let’s see, that’s one… two… two sentences of disclaimer. Oh well, it’ll have to do.

    Dr. Dave said:

    However I seem to recall that “beta-testing” on 1.5, started before it was even feature-complete

    And yet isn’t that exactly what you’ve done with SK2? It’s been described as an alpha release for weeks now, yet you write of your frustration that some people are still using the “obsolete” version 1.2. So long as final code is not available for a newer version, previous versions of a software product are by definition not obsolete. If Microsoft handled software development this way, there would be blood on the streets in Redmond. Open source development is another world, of course, but the point is that it’s disingenuous to hold the WP dev team to such a double standard.

    I’ll agree that it sounds like you have some legitimate complaints. Consider, however, that Strayhorn was the first major release of WordPress since the software became super-popular. Organized open-source software development is already hard enough, but when you throw in management and support of a young and rapidly-growing community of users and devs it gets even more chaotic. In other words, the lead developers were both extremely busy and trying to figure out the non-programming part of what they do as they went along.

    Given the factors at work during its development, I consider the completion of a release of Strayhorn’s quality a major achievement for WordPress. Version 1.5 is fast, stable, and free of all but a very few significant bugs. It is, at the same time, a great improvement over the version that preceded it. One only need look at the known issues list for Movable Type 3.16 to see that such quality control is rare even among the commercial applications WordPress competes with.

    Finally, bringing up the WordPress.org linkfarm controversy was a cheap shot, especially when couched in a bunch of phony “I might haves.” I personally think that Matt did something very stupid and counterproductive, albeit with the best of intentions at the time. He’s since corrected the problem and publicly apologized. I believe that you may be on the verge of a similarly well-intentioned and counterproductive mistake.

    Please rethink your plan to fork WordPress, if for no other reason than the preservation of your own sanity. If you think you have it rough dealing with angry users and commenters over Spam Karma, just wait until you have to handle support for both an anti-spam plugin and the weblog CMS you’ve packaged it with. A developer of your prodigious talents could better serve both the anti-spam effort and the WordPress community by remaining within the fold.

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  5. Ah Ah! The controversy I thought we would never have has finally started! 😉

    Ok, now seriously, I really meant it when I stated above that I made my pick between trying to stir stuff (no matter how badly needed I think it is) and plain simply going my own way without minding too much anybody else’s business or trying to tilt at windmills endlessly.

    However, Adam, there are a few essential things I need to add there. Allow me if you will, and please keep in mind that I fully understand your position, and that I am not in fact trying to antagonize anybody, nor even have a full-on polemic (I’m past this point now and I think I’m even done with the venting too).


    • Comparing SK2 to WP in terms of project management is indeed flattering, but quite far-fetched if I may say.

      One is a major community effort, developed and used by thousands, if not hundred of thousands. The other one is a one-man effort, with the occasional help and feedbacks of a brave handful. Hardly a point of comparison. And while I can see your point, allow me to expose mine, when I say that I shouldn’t be held to the same stringent criteria, as far as beta-testing and release scheme go. If only for one major reason: nobody else’s development time depends directly on some sort of impending compatibility or changes I might make to the code… There are bugs, indeed, but I work hard on correcting them, and provide updates for them at quite a fast pace.

      That being said: SK2 is only labeled a “pre-alpha” (and will be renamed to a beta as soon as I can spare a few minutes on it) because of its lack of widespread testing and the difficulties that pertains to its installation. Both problems come directly from WP’s own release scheme (and didn’t start with 1.5 either). Sure, considering my userbase a fodder for “beta-testing” would draw blood in any corporate environment, but I am not a corporation, nor even a major collaborative development effort. One of the many crippling point of SK1 was its perpetual attempt at surfing the line between all the “preview” releases and the official moribund 1.2 code: it is just not feasible for me to keep supporting it, hence the “obsolete”. The only way I can afford to fix bugs on SK2, is to have people install and report. WP has other options and should use them.

    • I am not denigrating in the slightest the amazing job done by developers on 1.5 and ever since. You will allow me, however, to keep my opinion of the way the management part of the project has gone, ever since, and before. As I said, I really don’t feel much like tilting windmills: suffice it to say it just doesn’t go along with the high esteem I have for both the project and the people involved.
    • Of course, mentioning the linkfarm’s controversy, in cheeky terms to boot, was an extremely cheap shot. And still is. But it doesn’t make it any less of a valid point of discussion: I see no reason to respect some sort of unwritten law of “never-happened-never-talk-about-it” when it comes to it. Bottom line is: it is part of my issues. And not because of the action itself, which I think I have times and again (in my comments on many blogs) made clear I was in no position of judging. But because of what it is, imho, symptomatic of, and even more so, because it was followed by absolutely no change worth mentioning, in terms of communication. There again, it’s my opinion: as long as so much is clear, I am quite fine with it not being shared by the majority. But I also think that the sort of “with us or against us” line that is being drawn by most everybody else on both sides of this matter, just doesn’t help the WordPress cause at large.

      And trust me, when I listed my “phony ‘I Might Have’s”, I really meant it. As you’ll have noticed, I am hardly concise and restrained in my writings: had I decided to go the ranting polemic way, you would still be reading through pages of bitter accusations and mudslinging. And even less pretty than what’s there instead, believe me.

      In the end, I am very happy to have gone the short and easy way: I don’t think any sort of confrontation would be likely to improve things at this point, so I might as well spare everybody’s time.

    • I am not, I repeat NOT forking WP. Sorry if that wasn’t clear in the longwinded rant above. I have much better things to do than reinventing the wheel… I certainly do not have the kind of hubris that’d make me think I can bring any meaningful improvement to WP by single-handedly developing a fork on the side. And I also witnessed way too much stupid decisions of that sort, in past OSS projects, to be any part of it.

      I have, however, decided that I no longer wanted to act as a buffer between my own users and decisions I have no control over (even as a simple participant in a discussion that never seem to take place). Which means I will no longer restrain myself in providing a zipped and patched up version of WP, whenever I have no other choice (and for the record, I would really prefer any other reasonable solution: there just aren’t).

      There are many planned goodies to go with this, but none of them involve a full-on fork from WP: I’ll be long gone from WP development before that happens.

    Here goes, Adam, I hope this clarifies things a little bit. And, as usual, your comments on the matter are most welcome here.

  6. Thanks for responding to my concerns about your WP+SK package. While I’m still not totally comfortable with the idea, I do feel like I understand your decision better now.

    One more question: Will SK2 remain available for users of the official WP distro, or will your combined package be the only way to get it?

  7. I feel like there’s much misunderstanding here… and quite obviously, it’s nobody’s fault but mine:

    SK2 is and will always be available with whichever version of WP you install. I am not even sure I will ever bother packaging both together (at the moment, they are still two separate downloads).

    Actually, that separate WP “distro” I am putting up on my website is nothing but a freshly plucked SVN snapshot. The one and only reason I gave it this portentous “release/package” label, or impression thereof, was out of respect for WP support forum administrators and anybody else involved in supporting WP: while I have my reason for wanting to give users an easy way to access a version of WP compatible with recent plugins, it would be extremely inconsiderate of me to send these people over to the core support team. By giving it some stupid name and announcing it under its own class, I am hoping to avoid the slightest misunderstanding amongst users in that direction.

    Thanks for drawing my attention on that point…

  8. Glad to hear that a separate version of SK will remain available for those of us who choose to continue using the official release. If (as I understand it) getting SK2 to work with Strayhorn requires the modification of core WP files, I can completely understand saving your users the trouble by offering up your own ready-made distro with SK goodness baked right in. I’m comfy with editing PHP, however, so I’ll probably stick to the official releases.

    Thanks for clarifying what you’re doing and how it will affect Spam Karma’s future. I still have my problems with the tone of your announcement, but I’ve done my bit of finger-shaking over that and won’t belabor the point. I don’t hear Matt or the other devs complaining about it, and it’s really their response that counts after all.

    By giving it some stupid name and announcing it under its own class…

    Actually, I thought “KarmaPress” was kind of clever. One of the small pleasures of WordPress for a language geek like me is how mutable the name is. My favorite so far is PhotoPress, which may be just the thing I need to finally move my photoblog away from Movable Type.

  9. So basically because you are a programmer you assume that you are entitled to more information and privileges than other wordpress users? What was that you were saying about inflated egos?

  10. David,

    The short answer? Yes.

    And not “privileges”… “information”: certainly. But I never said I thought I should be getting such info exclusively. I have absolutely nothing against info being made entirely public. In fact, this is the only way it should be (this is allegedly not a private project, and most definitely not a private company). Only most users would likely be more annoyed than anything with receiving irrelevant developer news.

    As for my “claim to a privileged treatment”, as you seem to see it: I am not, in the present matter, “a programmer”, I am/was developing software for the WordPress community, interfacing with WordPress and enhancing the WordPress experience. In that respect, and like dozens of others: YES, I consider I am entitled to certain “privileges”. If it’s a privilege to be informed of the development roadmap of a community project.

  11. Hmmn, long debate, but no, I don’t really think this is a solution, nor an obvious solution. The fact that I disagree with development lead isn’t gonna change by my having to work *for* development lead instead of *with* development lead. Besides, the type of things I have developed so far were precisely stuff not deemed worthy of core development for one reason or another at the time (good or bad and with more or less relevance today).

    As for contributing to core development: I have done my share of bug-fixing, code-enhancing, bug-reporting & suggestions. From there, being “a part of the development team”, as for hundred of other part-time contributors, is not a matter of whether I’d want to join or not, but whether core developers would add us in or not. Which I do not see a need for, nor have asked for, nor have been asked to. So I guess on that one, everybody’s happier that way.

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