I’ve been moderating communities for years, since high school, and observed a lot of things throughout those years. I ran some of the largest and earliest Yahoo! Clubs, some with over 50,000 members. I love people, so of course, as the Internet grew, I joined a lot more communities that interested me. I’ve been a part of other groups and communities too, like WordPress.
WordPress has entered it’s teenage years and over 26% of the Internet’s websites are powered by it. The amount of people using it and making money with it are astounding. Whole companies have popped up around it. Some people have become web celebrities because of blogging, or their business.
The Problem With Communities, Including WordPress
However, in all the wonderful numbers, great personalities, heart warming stories, and amazing numbers, like most communities, there’s another side. It’s the side filled with trolling, poor behavior, egotism, and just people being jerkfaces. You know, the people that live with drama or in the case of WordPress, #wpdrama.
One of the best examples of bad behavior in the WordPress Community are negative and unacceptable opinions shared about web hosting. We get it, there’s some serious hosting haterade going on in that realm, but overall, the companies brought up in those conversations are being called trash and other derogatory names. This is done without a deeper understanding that not every customer with that same web host had the same unfortunate experience. Those companies have hard working people, just like you reading this very post. Maybe you work for them, or maybe you work(ed) in a position that does involve some customer service?
Another example of this poor behavior is the snarky and trolling behavior on WordPress group threads from newer WordPress users. This happens usually when the same questions are asked a lot, and some people are tired of hearing it, and don’t understand that not everyone knows WordPress the same way. If you’re going to help, then help. If not, let someone more compassionate and positive respond.
The problem is, sometimes you really have to pick and choose your battles. It could bite you back, especially if you’re a freelancer in the WordPress Community that’s trying to get a job. Perhaps something extremely offensive you said on social media, or at a WordCamp was seen or heard by the owner of a company you were seeking employment with? Maybe that one comment stuck out in their memory, and you’ve not gained a job because of your poor attitude. Companies don’t want to hire you if you’re going to possibly bring a poisonous attitude on board.
It’s also the same with talking with people. There are a lot of people that are coming from all walks of life. Some are really struggling to support themselves or their family. Some are wealthy. Some have personal problems. Some have problems relating to other people.
I can’t say that I’m surprised to see such behavior in the WordPress Community. I can though say that I’m sometimes appalled and sometimes disheartened. Because of this, there are people that are badmouthing others to stop using WordPress. I keep reflecting on how can I help make it better, or if it’s even possible to make it better?
How Can We Help the WordPress Community Grow Healthfully
Open Source communities can be a wonderful thing. It promotes creativity, collaboration, and sharing across all borders, whether it be geographical, gender-based, or racial. Yes, WordPress does that! On top of that, WordCamps (WordPress conferences) allow local WordPress communities reach out to their surrounding area and welcome others into the fold. Most feel welcomed.
That’s the goal of the WordPress Community – to be warm, friendly, and inclusive.
So, the issue is that we might have to stop peeing in the pool, and start being positive, because no one likes to swim through pissy water.
I’m reminded of some videos from Gary Vaynerchuk. I think his advice is something we can apply. I think if you watch them, you’ll agree, we need to be more positive. We’ll be more open to listening and understanding, rather than complaining.
The message: Stop complaining!
The message: Be more positive.
Lastly, I want to share that just because you may have the freedom to say anything, maybe some retraint should be made? You may need to put in place a process before dumping negativity all over other people, like asking yourself:
- Is the opinion or story really necessary to share?
- What might be the consequence of sharing such a caustic opinion?
- Can you deal with the fallout after sharing your abrasive views?
- Is there any way that something more positive can be said instead?
It’s hard to show restraint. It’s really easy to spew negative stuff all over social media.
Let’s get “excited and happy and feel great” together as a community, but that has to start at the indivial level, because that’s the only way we’re going to allow the WordPress Community to healthfully grow.