This weekend at WordCamp NYC, John James Jacoby announced that I, along with Paul Gibbs, have been promoted to core committers on the BuddyPress project. Needless to say, I’m honored and extremely excited.
For my academic friends who might not know what this means, here’s a (very brief) description of open-source development model used by WordPress (and, by extension, BuddyPress). Anyone who downloads the BuddyPress software can view and modify the source code at will. Likewise, anyone can report bugs, suggest enhancements, or file actual patches (small bits of code that, when added to the distribution version of the software, fix bugs or add features) on the BuddyPress bug tracker, which is the communication hub for the developers who work on the software. However, only a small handful of individuals can “commit” to the “core”. In other words, while anyone can submit code for consideration, only core committers can add those patches to the version of the software that is distributed via wordpress.org. Being added as a committer means that the existing committers (Andy, John, and Marshall) trust and respect my work enough to, in effect, hand me the keys to the car.
It’s a very cool thing for me because I don’t have any formal background in programming or in software. Before roughly the spring of 2009, I had only a smattering of programming knowledge, and had never cracked the hood of WordPress or of BuddyPress. My work on the CUNY Academic Commons plunged me deep into the world of WordPress development. I found a natural home in the BuddyPress community, which is full of smart people thinking not just about how software works, but also about how it can enhance the ways we engage with each other online. I’m certain that I wouldn’t have been promoted to this position if I hadn’t been willing (and encouraged) to share, whether it be the free time I’ve spent writing patches for BuddyPress, helping others out on the forums, or writing code that is freely available (and supported with a smile!). It’s a testament to the fact that the extra effort it sometimes takes to share and to do one’s work in the open can come back to you many times over.
I’m looking forward to the next stages of BuddyPress development!