Late last year WPMU Dev got in touch with me to talk about a blog post from 2011 that was critical of their upgrade notices. Well, that podcast just got released and it’s a great one. After listening to it I have a few thoughts.
To start this conversation, it’s important to recognize that MPMU Dev was on the cutting edge in many ways. They were one of the first bigger companies, charging for their products. In the open source world, and more so in the WordPress space, they were an outlier and that made people angry.
The simple thought of charging anything for a product was fairly new. Yes others were doing it, but as WPMU Dev said in their podcast, they focused on growth and didn’t worry so much about community. This pissed off the community and thus built up negative feelings towards the company.
Yes, they did some silly things with the GPL and usage of the code of others, but that was mostly the icing in the cake for the sentiment in the WordPress community.
Ironically, their customers almost never noticed this stuff at all. They were business owners or developers trying to get stuff done an the WPMU Dev plugins did what they wanted. They were happy and kept using the tools provided to build businesses. Exactly like they should have been doing.
Possibly the saddest part is that after two months of trying to get people to engage with him, I was the only person that would talk to Micah.
To me this speaks to many people not wanting to have their opinions changed. They wanted to easily complain, but had no desire at all to engage. They didn't want to make anything better, just throw out some vitriol against some company and walk away feeling smug.
If you’re happy to sit there complaining, but not willing to engage further, then please stop reading my stuff. Don’t leave a comment.
If you’re going to complain, be willing to engage when someone is willing to listen and interested in making a change. Be wiling to have your views changed when presented with new evidence.
How on earth will you grow if you don’t engage with those that challenge your opinions?
Finally, what about grace? Yes, WPMU Dev did a bunch of silly things years ago. Yes, they didn’t seem to care about the community. They grabbed code from others without attribution, and then shrugged it off as not a big deal when the WordPress community clearly thought it was a big deal.
I was a dumb 20 year old that did stupid things I regret.
I have been a poor husband and father. I will do silly things again and not realize how harmful they are to those that I value.
The only reason that I’m still married is that my wife extends grace to me and I extend grace to her on days she needs it.
Maybe we should be extending grace to companies when they appear to be investing in change. No, that’s not some blanket statement to say that we should just take our lumps and then give grace. For years WPMU Dev wasn’t making much progress that was grace worthy, but not it seems that they are.
We should be willing to have our views changed. We should be willing to dig in when people or businesses are desiring change and feedback. If we’re willing to complain, we should be putting our names on it. We should be willing to give grace when people make mistakes.
It’s far to easy to judge ourselves by what we “meant” to do and then turn around and judge others by what they did, leaving out their intentions. We can be better than that.
Photo by: clement127