Every once in a while someone makes a few veiled statements about how I must be on some kind of power trip, and that’s why I took control of the Plugin Review team as the rep. It’s not true.
Why I am a Forum Moderator
I was helping people and one of the mods asked if I’d join. I said yes. I’m currently still on the team, but I no longer am super active. I’m kind of on the cusp of the requirements for being a moderator, and if they removed me, I’d be okay with that.
Why I was the Forum Representative
We were just deciding who should be the very first reps for teams, and I was asked (along with someone else) if I’d be willing to try to help us figure out how we wanted to do this. I stepped down from that responsibility after a few years to lower my personal stress.
Why I am a Plugin Reviewer
I had been reporting a bunch of plugins doing bad things, as well as helping the gents figure out some crazy stuff. They abducted me and asked me to help. I did and bit by bit learned how to properly handle reviews. I keep doing reviews because I enjoy it.
Why I am the Plugin Review Representative
No one else wanted to do it and we needed someone to take responsibility and make some changes. Like with the guidelines. The directory etc. I still do it because it’s a needed job.
But … WHY!?
None of that answers the real question of why I do this at all though. If it’s not apparent, I literally fell into this job by accident and stuck around. I stick around because I enjoy what work I do and I learn from it. Learning about how people write code, the assumptions they make, teach me more about accidental security than all the time I worked at the Bank.
But also I believe that any social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole. And to that end, I feel that the only right way to make plugin code reviews, or the forums, work is to get the community self-regulating.
The problem with that theory is that not everyone is altruistic. If people within the community have a desire contrary to the rest of the community, it causes conflict and drama. Therefore, a true ‘socialist’ society requires people willing to be the ‘baddie’ and say things like “No, you can’t do that.” Basically, we need a parent who’s able to explain to the children why putting their hands on the stove is bad, and why throwing rocks at their friend was mean.
I certainly don’t think I’m the only person who can do this. I just seem to be one of the few willing to do it in a consistent and continuous fashion. And that’s the reason I stick around. I’m trying to build a future where anyone can do technical code reviews for submitted plugins. Anyone. However that comes with a lot of responsibility for the community.
While there are many people capable of doing a technical review, and many people competent at explaining bad code to developers, and many people wise enough to handle angry developers, that Venn Diagram has a very small crossover. And if you factor in people willing do to it, it gets smaller.
For example. Everyone complains about the WordPress Plugin Guidelines being too strict and too vague. Last year I undertook the monumental effort of rewriting them for clarity and fairness. I asked people at multiple WordCamps to help. We sat and discussed what the guidelines meant and why they were worded in the way they were. Then I posted on the Make blog asking people to help.
Of the few hundred people who complained, less than 20 had anything to say.
From that, and other times I’ve reached out to the community and asked for help, and the results I’ve had, I feel that people aren’t willing to embrace all the aspects of the job. Yet. That’s why I’m slowly, carefully, working my way through the changes. I’m trying to lower the bar for them, to make them more amenable to join.
It takes time.
Yes, but that isn’t WHY!
Oh right. Why do I do this?
I review plugins because I legit enjoy seeing the crazy code people come up with. I help in the forums for the same reason. I like seeing what people do, and solving problems. I like writing the code to solve the problems too.
I’m the plugin rep because it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it, and I’m okay with being hated by people. I know I’m doing it to make code better and safer for users, to encourage developers to engage in ethical and kind business practices, and because I learn from them too.
At the end of the day, I do this, all of this, because I can, because I enjoy it, and because I feel good when I help people.
One day that may change. When it does, I’m sure I’ll walk away. That’s just not today.