Category: ClassicPress Values

What does “Community-led” mean, anyway?

On our “About”(1) page, our founder (Scott Bowler) explains it best: “ClassicPress styles itself as a community-led fork of the WordPress content management system. We want to get back to basics and focus on open dialogue and democratic decisions.”

There’s been some great conversations in the forum community over the past few weeks, including some sensitive discussions. It seems like now is a good time to explore more specifically what “community-led” means to ClassicPress and how it works.

Community-led means just that

Our mission statement(2) says this:

We facilitate democratic discussion and decision making

In order for community members to participate in decisions about ClassicPress, it is essential that we provide a platform that makes it easy for every member to share ideas, debate, vote, and give feedback without censorship.

To make this a reality, we facilitate these discussions via our forum and other digital communication platforms. Our organizational structure allows us to adapt to meet the expressed needs of the ClassicPress community, and we make decisions collaboratively with the overall mission of ClassicPress in mind.

So… what is our overall mission? Again, going back to our mission statement:

ClassicPress serves businesses worldwide that will benefit greatly from a more robust, business-focused CMS. As ClassicPress evolves, the features and functionalities we implement will align with our three core ideals:

Powerful. Versatile. Predictable.

And this:

We will make people’s lives better

We are sensitive to the wide variety of needs that are presented by ClassicPress users. Programmers, designers, marketers, businesses, and individual website visitors each have unique challenges that must be addressed. Stability, efficiency, security, and usability are some of the considerations we seek to address in the coming weeks and months. Ultimately, we want to ensure that those who use ClassicPress find it to be a positive experience that supports them as they focus on their own personal and business goals.

What does “Community-led” look like?

As a democratic community, we seek to ensure that power doesn’t become centralized and that every voice can be heard. We do that through conversations that take place in the forums, but ultimately it takes you — the community — to feel strongly enough about a topic to suggest a change via our Petitions website(3).

Once the Suggestion has been made, it is then open to comment and voting by ClassicPress Community members. If your Suggestion garners the minimum needed votes, it will be converted to a Topic and opened to a vote by our Voting Members. Anyone who is a part of the community can become a Voting Member, subject to the guidelines outlined on our Democracy(4) page.

If the majority of voting members vote in favor of the Topic, it will be scheduled for implementation.

There is a second way for a vote to be implemented, and that is by Referendum. There are special rules around this on the Democracy page; the most important one being that a super majority (75%) of Voting Members must vote positively in order for a Referendum to pass.

To be clear: no matter who is involved, a conversation in the forums is just that — a conversation in the forums. No changes can or will take place without the proper procedure being followed:

  1. A suggestion is made via Petition or Referendum
  2. The suggestion achieves the required Support Threshold
  3. The suggestion is then converted to a Topic and made public by the Committee
  4. The Topic is put to a vote
  5. Only with a majority vote in favor, the Topic will be scheduled for action

There are some exceptions (also outlined on the Democracy page), however it is also noted in the second paragraph of the “Exceptions” section the following:

It’s important to note that the community still has full control over all of the areas mentioned in the following list via Petitions and Referendums to address any issues with the decisions being made.

  • Infrastructure and system administration (e.g. servers and databases)
  • Accounts / finance
  • Purchasing
  • Marketing
  • Human Resources
  • Support
  • Sales & Fundraising

Our organizational structure is such that it enables all stakeholders an opportunity to shape the direction that ClassicPress takes. The ClassicPress Community leads the way forward — and if you’re part of our community, that means you have a voice, and you have a vote. How will you contribute to the future success of ClassicPress this week?

(1): About ClassicPress
(2): Our Mission Statement
(3): Our Petitions Website
(4): Our Democracy

ClassicPress: A Six Month Review

Did you know that ClassicPress will be six months old this month? It’s true. This month, we will celebrate six months together as an organization. It’s been a very busy six months! In addition to preparing for the launch of ClassicPress v1, we have been laying a firm foundation within the organization that will serve us well as we grow. Creating a roadmap and a more formalized organizational structure are two essential building blocks of that foundation, and we are happy to announce that they have been completed and approved by the Founding Committee.

It’s All About Community

ClassicPress is proudly a democratic community-led organization. We believe that careful planning combined with the insight and collective wisdom of the ClassicPress community will ensure the success of ClassicPress for many years to come. We want to be able to rapidly change and adapt to meet the expressed needs of the ClassicPress community. Clear roles and boundaries will help us to avoid some of the pitfalls that other organizations have experienced.

We facilitate democratic discussion and decision making via our forums, and each member has a say in how ClassicPress evolves over time by sharing and voting for ideas on our petitions website. We are sensitive to the wide variety of needs presented by ClassicPress users, and we want to ensure that those who use ClassicPress find it to be a positive experience that supports them as they focus on their own personal and business goals.

Navigating the Future

With the understanding that every organization experiences conflict from time to time, we have also created some guidelines to help navigate those challenges successfully. Ultimately, all decisions made will be an effort to serve the best interest of the organization as a whole. That has been our vision from the beginning, and we understand that it will take time and effort to make that dream a reality.

The Founding Committee is made up of many kinds of people: designers, developers, marketing professionals, security experts, plugin and theme authors, attorneys, and more. We all have a common goal — to serve the ClassicPress community by creating a powerful, versatile and predictable content management system. If you are part of the ClassicPress community, thank you for your trust, your insight, and your contributions in the forums and elsewhere! If you’ve not yet joined us, we invite you to take the time to get to know us better. We plan to be around for a very long time.

Photo by Jennie Brown on Unsplash

How to support ClassicPress on Giving Tuesday

ClassicPress is a not-for-profit and 100% volunteer powered

Make a Donation

Every line of code, every graphic, every support reply on the forum and every contribution is completed by a volunteer working for free. Without the kindness, support and hard work of volunteers, ClassicPress would still be a concept.

ClassicPress itself is setup as a not-for-profit company in the UK, and our promise is to direct any money raised into the continued growth and development of the project. The money you donate will be spent wisely and we will be transparent with how we spend it, releasing detailed annual reports.

It’s important to note that a not-for-profit company in the UK doesn’t have shares, and there are no shareholders to appease — our vision for a community-led project is clear and we are dedicated to making ClassicPress a success for many years to come.

ClassicPress has real costs

Even though the time of volunteers is donated for free, it’s an unfortunate reality that there are costs involved in making ClassicPress come to life. We have:

  • Multiple servers for running the site and systems
  • Paid for security tools
  • Paid for cloud storage accounts to allow for collaboration on design work
  • Paid for email accounts
  • Occasional paid for advertising campaigns (to boost reach of posts on social media during launches)
  • One-off purchases such as premium plugins

ClassicPress has no revenue stream (yet)

At the moment we’re laser-focused on getting ClassicPress ready – our focus is on code, processes, marketing, documentation and support. With limited resources, we are dedicating 100% of our time to activities which will enable us to ship a bug-free first version.

We do have some exciting plans in the works to fund ClassicPress without the need for donations, such as:

  • The development of a ClassicPress plugin directory that includes free, freemium and premium plugins
  • The development of a ClassicPress jobs board that connects employers with ClassicPress volunteers
  • The launch of an online shop selling ClassicPress “swag” (t-shirts, caps, stickers etc)

Can you help support us?

Up until this point, we have not asked for support. We wanted to first show that we are the “real deal”, and with the launch of our BETA we have achieved that goal.

On Giving Tuesday, we ask for your generosity. Can you support us? There are a number of ways you can do this:

THANK YOU! Your support makes all the difference.

Accessibility and Universal Design: Core Features of ClassicPress

As many people know, the initial impetus behind the creation of ClassicPress was dissatisfaction with the proposed new editor for WordPress, codenamed Gutenberg. While ClassicPress has already moved well beyond what we don’t want and is prioritizing features to ensure that the software is powerful, versatile, and predictable, one particular aspect of Gutenberg is currently causing particular consternation and controversy.

That aspect is accessibility. So we thought it would be a good idea to make clear where we at ClassicPress stand on this important issue.

Democratization

WordPress was originally founded on a mission to “democratize publishing.” At ClassicPress we take this idea of democratization very seriously. And we are very clear that, if we are to make our deeds match our words, then it is imperative that both our website and the ClassicPress platform itself must be fully accessible. It is simply part and parcel of “democratizing publishing.”

In professional terms, we intend to adhere to the principles of universal design, according to which:

an environment … can be accessed, understood and used to the greatest extent possible by all people regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. … This is not a special requirement, for the benefit of only a minority of the population. It is a fundamental condition of good design. If an environment is accessible, usable, convenient and a pleasure to use, everyone benefits. … Simply put, universal design is good design.

I myself have previously been involved in the complete overhaul of a higher education institution’s website to make it fully accessible. I am also the author of code that does the same thing for an accordion plugin.

As that experience has taught me, universal design in web apps requires getting the fundamentals right. That means using HTML elements for their intended, semantic purpose. A button, for example, should be rendered by either a button or an input element. And pop-ups and flyouts should generally be avoided if possible. There is usually a better and more user-friendly way to achieve the goal behind a pop-up, and we all benefit from the increased usability.

The Law

At ClassicPress we anticipate that many of our users will be businesses (large and small) and others (like education institutions) who are subject to heavy legal regulation. For example, laws such as the Equality Act 2010 in the United Kingdom — and the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in the USA — require that websites should be just as accessible to people with disabilities as to those with perfect eyesight who can use a mouse.

ClassicPress’s adherence to the requirements of universal design should therefore be a source of considerable reassurance. Organizations deploying ClassicPress should be confident that the core experience will enable everyone who wants or needs to create content to do so without undue difficulty. (They will, of course, still need to ensure that the theme and any plugins used are also fully accessible.)

Your Help

Finally, while these are noble standards to which we have every intention of adhering, we remain human and, therefore, fallible. If you find that we fall short somewhere in ensuring full accessibility to our site or within the ClassicPress platform, please let us know. Even better, join in and help us apply the concept of universal design even more effectively.

ClassicPress chooses a path to serve business / professional organization websites

The initial impulse for ClassicPress was the upcoming release of Gutenberg, and the need for existing WordPress site owners to have a stable option for the foreseeable future. However, we quickly realized that the situation with Gutenberg highlights a distinction between two groups in the WordPress market: bloggers versus business and professional organization* site owners.

From the beginning, WordPress has been dedicated to democratizing publishing, making it easy for people who don’t have significant web development skills to publish personal content in the form of blog posts. In fairly short order, developers discovered the platform was flexible enough to be used as a lightweight CMS for business applications. That usage really took off with the introduction of custom post types, in combination with custom fields. For a few years it appeared that WordPress would fully embrace WordPress as a CMS and support both bloggers and CMS users. A robust ecosystem of plugins and hosting arose to support WordPress as a CMS, and a lot of developers earned a living making and supporting such websites.

With Gutenberg, however, WordPress emphatically reaffirmed its commitment to its original purpose of democratizing publishing. ClassicPress respects their decision, and has resolved that it will dedicate itself to improving and strengthening its features for business sites, which we feel are no longer well-served by WordPress.

*Professional organizations would include, for instance, higher education and government. For the sake of brevity, this post includes such entities when it refers to ‘business’.

What’s the difference between a blog site and a business website?

Let’s acknowledge that there are edge cases that fall outside of these generalizations, and that many sites exist in the blurred lines between (certainly a blog can be a business platform, and some small business sites may have more in common with what we’re describing as blog sites), but let’s make some general, simplified distinctions.

Blog sites

Blog sites are typically managed by a single person or small group of people. Their web development expertise is often limited or non-existent. Their content may be very personal to them, and they may want the ability to customize individual pages and posts beyond what their base theme templates and CSS allow. Most blogs are not run for profit, but when they are, their business model usually has to do with the value of their content. The blog site market primarily uses ready-made themes and often page builders, which enable them to over-ride the limitations of their selected theme.

Business websites

Business sites are typically managed by employees, although many small business owners shoulder the responsibility themselves. In either case, updating the website is only one of their many responsibilities, and fussing with pages or posts is not something they value or desire. They more often prefer to minimize the time spent on the website so they can move on to other tasks. Adherence to branding and style guides is usually more highly valued than original layout for a particular page or post. As a result, this market is usually best served by custom themes designed and developed specifically for their business needs by professional developers.

With these two fundamentally different use cases, it’s easy to see why WordPress has had a split development community: they involve fundamentally different markets with different needs and motivations. Inevitably, WP had to choose between them, and Gutenberg makes their choice apparent.

Where do Gutenberg’s costs to business occur?

Virtually every article that expresses concern about Gutenberg’s impact for business mentions cost. While it is impossible to quantify, there are a lot of well-founded arguments that business will suffer expenses when Gutenberg becomes part of WP core. We won’t attempt to quantify the cost here, but instead will focus on where those costs may be expected to occur.

Uncertainty

A large part of WordPress’ appeal to business has been its reliability, predictability, and uncomplicated maintenance. With adequate hosting, a security plugin or two, and minimal attention (keeping core and plugins updated), WordPress offers a virtually trouble-free experience for website owners.

That changes with Gutenberg. Even Gutenberg’s supporters acknowledge that it may break some sites. For many the issues will be forestalled by using the Classic Editor plugin, which will be fine (apparently) as long as TinyMCE remains in core, but many have little or no confidence it will be included forever.

Uncertainty bothers business owners and people charged with responsibility for the company website. They don’t know what to plan for, which means they don’t know what to budget for, which makes them uncomfortable. This discomfort often causes them to look around for other, more predictable options.

Preparation

Businesses with the resources to do so will likely be the best prepared. They will likely do audits and tests, and be in position to make necessary adjustments when Gutenberg arrives in WP core. But this preparation is not free. It requires time, which is the same as money, and actual money spent if an outside developer is involved.

Retraining

Gutenberg represents a very different approach to managing on-page content. It is unrealistic to expect content creators and editors to figure it out for themselves, particularly in the context of website updates being only part of their work responsibilities. Again, training requires time and money.

Fixes

Inevitably, Gutenberg will cause some plugins and themes to break. Maybe not completely, but badly enough that fixes are needed. This may be a short-term opportunity for developers with the skills to make the fixes, but spending money on fixes is not something website owners will be happy about.

Plugin compatibility and availability

Many plugins are made and maintained by single developers or small companies. Such plugins are often free, and often serve edge cases, but provide critical functionality to business websites that have come to depend on them. Developers of edge case plugins often do not have the time or resources to recode to support Gutenberg. WP website owners are left with the choice of searching for a Gutenberg-compliant alternative or altering site features or functionality and potentially impairing a site’s ability to provide a great user experience.

ClassicPress steps in

To the business website owner concerned about Gutenberg’s immediate impact, there is little difference between installing ClassicPress and installing Automattic’s temporarily supported Classic Editor plugin. But beyond Gutenberg, there are literally hundreds (thousands?) of improvements that can be made to better serve the business market, and WordPress won’t make them because they run counter to their goal of democratizing publishing.

ClassicPress picks up the challenge of making those improvements and dedicates itself to becoming the business website CMS. As a result, we place a high priority on security, accessibility/usability, stability, efficiency, simplicity, and above all, listening to our growing community and our market.

There’s a lot to be done, but we’re here for the long haul. We hope you’ll join us.

Clarification 11/1/2018: If you build ‘blog sites’ as described above, ClassicPress will absolutely support them. In fact, you’ll most likely find ClassicPress simpler to use than WordPress (from a blogging perspective, more like the ‘old’ pre-Gutenberg WordPress).