13 years of contributing to WordPress

Billiards balls on a billiards table. In the foreground is a while ball showing the number 13.
13” by Alexander Makarov is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Inspired by Jonathan’s contribution anniversary post of a few days ago, I decided to look up when I received my first props in WordPress.

Coincidentally, I’m also a July props baby and received my first WordPress props thirteen years ago today, on July 11, 2011 (Australian time). It was for the second ticket I’d filed, #18018, and Andrew Nacin committed the patch I’d provided a few days later.

I clearly had no idea how to use version control at the time I filed the ticket. Dion Hulse helped out by answering the question about the history of the code.

My first props was a one off and I didn’t start regularly contributing to WordPress until 2014 before becoming a committer in 2016.

I very clearly remember the day I got commit because Helen Hou-Sandí messaged me unexpectedly in the WordPress Slack. My initial assumption was that I must have done something wrong and I began reviewing my interactions with people of the previous few weeks. I was astounded to be offered commit access.

My contribution history includes

  • received props 1714 times across the WordPress-Develop and Gutenberg repositories
  • made 696 commits to the WordPress-Develop repository
  • opened 247 tickets
  • reviewed 487 pull requests
  • release lead for WordPress 6.0
  • contributed to 27 WordPress releases
  • spoken at more WordCamps and meetups than I can remember. Mostly at the WordPress Melbourne Meetup and WordCamps Sydney and Brisbane
  • organising committee member for WordCamp Melbourne 2013

My most active day on the project was April 22, 2021 which involved:

  • 64 commits
  • releasing 11 versions of WordPress
  • releasing 25 editor NPM packages

To my shame I’ve only been a release squad member once, WordPress 6.0, as I never felt ready. I’m beginning to improve on this and will be co-core tech lead on WordPress 6.7.

I’ve been incredibly lucky with my WordPress journey as many of my contributions have been the result of employers sponsoring me to make them. This is a privilege that not many contributors have and is a significant reason some of the statistics above are so high.

What isn’t reflected in the statistics is the number of friendships I have all around the world due to my WordPress contributions. I’m lucky enough to count dozens of WordPress contributors as friends all around the world.

What I didn’t realise when I contributed my first patch and received my first props was the scale of WordPress. My patch was only two lines of code but within hours of the next release it was running on websites all around the world.

When WordPress 6.4 was released, it was downloaded over 6.5 million times in the first six hours. There were 170 first time contributors to that release and I’d be surprised if any of them realised how widely and quickly their contribution would be distributed.

One of the great pleasures as committer is to give someone their first props and to allow their contribution to power a significant portion of the web. Thirteen years later, it’s a true honour to be able to pass the experience along.

By Peter Wilson

Peter has worked on the web for twenty years on everything from table based layouts in the 90s to enterprise grade CMS development. Peter’s a big fan of musical theatre and often encourages his industry colleagues to join him for a show or two in New York or in the West End.

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