Letter to 'The WordPress Community"
Wow. Isn't this page ugly?
it's ugly. It's ugly because we're hosting it from an IP address rather
than a domain name/full web site, and because this page, like this one, was thrown
together quickly, under circumstances I didn't see coming.
In a few days, we'll be launching The WordPress Helpers.
TWPH is something new, both because ... it's new, and
because what we have planned at The
WordPress Helpers is unlike anything you've seen before.
That means I'm in full-blown, pre-launch promotional mode. And on
December 29 2014 I decided to reach out to the folks on a list of Influential "WordPress People"
that was published at a "WordPress Magazine" a couple of
The nerve of me.
I worked my way through the list, looking for the best way to
contact each of these folks. By "best" I mean "least intrusive". And
the path I took was simple, and consistent; although the referral
points for each of these people started at Twitter, I used Twitter
contact as a last resort. Why? Because on Twitter you can't reach out
privately to people you'd like to contact and I didn't want to seem
like a big, ugly junk-mail sender. So if I could find an email address
I started there. If not, but I could find a form submission/contact
page on a web site, that's where I went. Only after working through
that chain would I fall back to reaching out via Twitter.
Here's the note I sent. Whether via email, form submit, or on the
twits, it was always personalized with the first name of the recipient.
I did this manually, laboriously,
and I believe respectfully, over the course of several hours:
Hi, Jeff. Is it OK if I introduce The WordPress Helpers,
please? http://goo.gl/2NJA64And then, it hit the fan on Twitter.
Several of the people who I'd reached out to decided I was doing two naughty things.
SPAM thing is unsolvable. I receive over 1500 pieces of SPAM every day,
and many thousands on the other web sites my company runs. We deal with
it. We wish we didn't have to—and so we don't ever wish to be seen as
the originators of SPAM. But if you go through my steps above you
realize that I tried very hard not to offend in this way.
- (heavans, no!),
I was "spamming" them. I DISAGREE. And because the word "SPAM" has so
many not-related-to-canned-meat meanings I don't expect to convince
anyone I'm "right", but I'll explain my perspective: if I haven't
dumped a message en masse on
a bunch of people, I haven't sent SPAM. And by the way, Twitter
has a filter in place that would have flagged me if I was
sending too many messages too quickly—you know, a SPAM filter—and I
didn't get flagged.
WordPress Helpers has the consecutive string of letters
w-o-r-d-p-r-e-s-s in its domain name. The WordPress Foundation, owner
of a trademark
on certain uses of certain expressions about the product for which they
are named, prefers that people not do that. I use the word "prefers"
for various reasons, not the least of which is that I won't discuss
something so dull and nebulous as trademark rules here.
Meaning that by the time I got to the point where I contacted people on Twitter I had already reached the point in the carefully thought-out business process I was following that I'd had to decide between taking the path I chose and accepting that these people, with public profiles on which many of them had bragged about being on the very list where I'd found them,
AND WHO ARE MEMBERS OF THE SAME WORDPRESS COMMUNITY I CONSIDER BOTH
MYSELF AND THE WORDPRESS HELPERS TO BE PART OF were simply unreachable until
they decided they wanted to reach me.
Which of course is ridiculous, and
as a business person unacceptable. (Duh, right?)
thing is tricky, and as was pointed out to me is likely to bring
about an interesting conversation between The WordPress Foundation and
myself. For the people who simply advised me of that eventuality I say
here as I did there: thank you.
What amazed me (and in a way
this is a good thing) is that these members of The WordPress Community
care so very much about WordPress that they take the time to play
amateur attorney on WordPress' behalf. As a member of The WordPress
community I too care very deeply about WordPress. But as someone with
more than a bit of experience in trademark and other intellectual
property issues I say: things aren't always as they seem.
nothing "just is". You know, unless you write code; Zeros and
Ones always behave as you tell them to, and will behave as you expect
them to as long as you are specific enough. But very little else in life is
amazing as WordPress is ... and let me be clear that WordPress is
genuinely amazing both for what it can do (and how "easily"), and
because somehow this little piece of code has managed to become the
environment presenting 23% of all web sites and 50% of new ones,
it has problems. And that's fine; everything has problems. But the
problem with WordPress is that it's reached critical mass—meaning that
there are a lot of people who are at the end of their ropes.
What does that mean? It means that there's a reason I put the word easily in quotes a moment ago.
WordPress isn't easy.
WordPress isn't easy because these groups have different agendas and no
meaningful understanding of each others' positions. And so at The
WordPress Helpers we're planning to address that problem.
anyone who found me having the nerve to contact you even though you
were planning to stay tucked into your insular little subcommunity offensive, I'd
apologize—except, no, I do not. If that means I've ruined any chance I
had of being friendly with you I guess I need to accept that. On the
other hand, if you've gotten through this and I've managed to impress
upon you that I really am trying to do The Greater WordPress Community a solid and you want either to be involved or follow along just in case one day we say something useful to you, that's great way better.
it. Reach out to me, follow us below, watch us suspiciously, whatever,
but ... whatever you think you see here, get ready for something cool.
The WordPress Helpers