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WordPress’ Five for the Future program, which Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg proposed in 2014, may soon be addressing the problem of outdated and spam pledges.

Read on to discover:

What Is the Five for the Future Program?

Addressing Spam Pledges

The Disconnect Between Pledged Contributors and Contributor Teams

Final Thoughts – WordPress’ Five for the Future To Get Rid of Spam Pledges

What Is the Five for the Future Program?

The Five for the Future program was launched in 2014 to encourage organizations to contribute five percent of their resources to WordPress development. Participants learn about WordPress, and contributing organizations can recruit talents from the pool of participants.

The program launched a website in 2019 to display pledges, which solely relies on an honor system to report individual and organizational pledges.

In a September 2021 discussion post, WordPress Community contributor Andrea Middleton identified two significant issues that have kept the program from reaching its full potential and suggested solutions to address these issues.

The issues identified were spam and dormant pledges and disconnect between contributor teams and pledged contributors.

Addressing Spam Pledges

In her post, Middleton says that the presence of spam pledges diminishes the value of active pledges. She writes:

“Two years later, there have certainly been more ‘spam’ pledges than anyone would want, and surprisingly (to me) few reports of fake or spam pledges.”

“What that tells me — either people don’t go surfing around in the pledge lists, checking for accuracy, the Report feature is too hard to find (unlikely), or people don’t really care whether pledges are accurate or not,” she added.

Middleton suggests putting disclaimers on the website if it is to continue without regular spam cleanups. Other solutions that came from the discussion included:

  • Starting regular spam checks initiated by contributor team leaders who would report whether they have worked with individuals or groups on the list of pledges;
  • Sending the absentee contributors emails to confirm whether their pledges are spam or not and removing those who do not respond within a reasonable time;
  • Letting those who have been removed that they can re-pledge if they missed the first confirmation message.
  • Removing pledges after six months of inactivity.

Ian Dunn, another WordPress contributor, suggested automating the efforts. “I worry that a manual approach would add too much work for team reps and wouldn’t be done consistently, especially after the first 6-12 months”, he shares.

The Disconnect Between Pledged Contributors and Contributor Teams

The WordPress community suggested improvements to combat persistent Five for the Future issues

Middleton also raised the issue of the disconnect between contributors and contributor teams. She says, “For whatever reason, the outreach that I imagined would happen, between contributor teams looking for help and the list of pledged contributors that was added to every sidebar on the Make network…. never really came to pass.”

“I’m not sure if that’s because contributor teams don’t feel comfortable pinging someone out of the blue and asking for help (it’s very likely that I have less shame than most, in my recruitment work), or if that *has* been happening, but just hasn’t been productive,” she continued.

Middleton reached out to fellow WordPress contributor Courtney Engle Robertson who suggested a tagging system on WordPress Make blog posts to alert pledged contributors of possible opportunities to help out.

That suggestion addresses Middleton’s concern by allowing pledged contributors to give to initiatives they’re interested in.

Middleton envisions a system wherein donors can click a box on their profile page to receive alerts from Make blog posts. She also proposes other options, including:

  • Administrative (answer emails in a queue, take meeting notes, etc.)
  • Feedback (review and comment on blog posts),
  • Testing (Core beta testing, contributor tool beta testing, pre-beta testing for new features, etc.)
  • Writing (write new or update old documentation, revise contributor team handbooks)

Lastly, Middleton proposes that the contributor teams be trained in recruiting people to contribute.

Final Thoughts – WordPress’ Five for the Future To Get Rid of Spam Pledges

WordPress’ Five for the Future program benefits both participants and contributing organizations. However, persistent issues have prevented the program from reaching its full potential.

WordPress contributor Andrea Middleton identified solutions to address the major issues plaguing the program, to which the WordPress community was receptive. Hopefully, these issues will be addressed in the coming days.

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  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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