Capital “P”s, Communities, and Conspiracy Theories

I’m sure you’ve heard about the debate with WordPress vs WordPress. There was a patch committed to WordPress 3.0 that automatically converts it to include an uppercase P and follow the WordPress branding. This was added as as an easter egg of sorts to help the WordPress brand, and while I don’t have an issue with it, I do have an issue with the way some in the community reacted to it.

The problem with easter eggs is they’re supposed to be found by those in the community and they’re supposed to be fun. Of course, there was no hiding this one. The revision was committed in the public eye, but without a ticket. I don’t think there was much need for a ticket and public discussion because this has been in play on WordPress.com for a few years now. Of course, some argue that there was no community input because there was no trac ticket.

The one legitimate issue I could find with this patch was the fact that because the way it corrects text, it can possibly break image links and directories. I’m sure this is only in a minor percentage of cases, because as most have learned, their hosting environment is case sensitive and they use all lowercase directory and file names. This has since been fixed for trunk and 3.0.1 in revisions 15377 and 15378.

This begs the question, if this patch worked properly and didn’t break links, would we even be in this situation? Would the few squeaky wheels be complaining about Matt and Automattic doing their will and not respecting the community? Would this issue have been blown out of proportion? Would anything have even been said about it?

As usual, some in the community to complained. I’ve heard all sorts of excuses from editing user’s content (albeit just a spelling correction), to the capital P caused the BP oil spill. Yes, I’m not joking. Conspiracy theories breed conspiracy theories. There have even been parody sites made– capitalp.org and lowercasep.org

This brings about another point– I recently had a discussion with Aaron Brazell regarding the WordPress community and complaining. The point he made was that if it doesn’t affect your bottom line (income) stop complaining about it. All you do is waste your breath, waste your time, and don’t make as much money as you could. By directing your resources to other places, such as your business or contributing patches to WordPress, you can further better yourself and the WordPress community.

As usual though, there’s always a few that want to complain, and while I won’t mention them by name (they know who they are), I hope they take one thing away from this post– focus your time on making WordPress and the WordPress community better instead of complaining about this or that. Please  stop coming up with conspiracy theories about Matt, WordPress and Automattic; they’re rarely true. Its not an issue of principal, Matt, or Automattic; its an issue of making things better. Focus your time on creating a patch to fix the filter and fix the bug. That helps improve the community.

8 thoughts on “Capital “P”s, Communities, and Conspiracy Theories”

  1. I am sorry, but why do you single-handedly decide what is better for WP community?

    “Shut up, we are the smart ones here” is your answer to concerns of WP users and developers (some of which I personally listen to and learn from most) ?

    You tell people that their thought and opinions not worth breath and that is supposed to improve community. Yeah, sure…

  2. “The point he made was that if it doesn’t affect your bottom line (income) stop complaining about it. All you do is waste your breath, waste your time, and don’t make as much money as you could.”

    Yes, because “making money” is the only thing that matters in the world, right? Bah!

  3. @Stilgherrian
    No, it’s not about making money. Well, for some it is, it’s their business and their life. For others its their hobby. But like I said earlier, stop complaining about the little things. As I’ve learned in life, it gets you nowhere. There are way more productive things you could with your time to further improve the community.

  4. I’m fairly new to the internal WP politics (though I’ve been working in WordPress sites for a while) and this is the first open-source project I’ve really gotten involved in. But in the world I came from, in non-profits and activist groups, I’ve seen this dynamic plenty of times.

    People, who devote a big chunk of their lives to building a project, like to inject some inside jokes into their work, to keep it fun and rewarding and prevent burnout. And people who aren’t involved in the core/”inner circle” see something ominous or exclusive in those jokes.

    This is a pretty natural dynamic, and as long as its dealt with sensitively, it can be a healthy tension. For myself, all the little easter eggs make WordPress more attractive… it shows that people were having fun when they coded this stuff. The alternative is a boring, stagnant corporate structure, which might be slightly better at including people in the process, but loses in spontaneity and creativity more than it gains in inclusiveness. So I’m pretty much OK with how the debate panned out.

  5. The capital_P_dangit() filter does *absolutely nothing* to improve WordPress, the WordPress community, or the content managed by the myriad installs of WordPress. Nothing.

    That’s a key point, also (and, though I’m not intimately familiar with it, and such hyperbole is not generally my style, I believe it is the point of the oil spill reference): the filter adds CPU cycles (wasted energy – see: oil spill) and overhead to WordPress’ content output processing, but provides no discernible gain.

    The entire reason for existence for this filter is to assuage Matt’s desire not to see “WordPress” capitalized incorrectly:

    > *******
    > *** What do we really actually gain from this function? Seriously?
    > *******

    The correct capitalization of WordPress all over the web. A small easter
    egg that makes the people who care about such things happy. (It also
    increases participation on Trac.)

    This isn’t conspiratorial. It *is* about incorrect decisions being made. It *is* about the principle of the matter of WordPress respecting end users’ right to capitalize “WordPress” according to their own intent (without having to know how to use functions.php to keep WordPress from editorially modifying their content without permission). It *is* about the utter disdain for and dismissal of the community’s response.

    When such matters concern the core development team and the project lead, they are no longer merely “little things”, because they belie a willingness to make similarly wrong decisions – for similarly pedantic reasons – about much larger things.

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