If a Person is Not Interested or Not Alive, What Then?

What is it all about? Why do we do what we do? What happens when life isn’t what it was yesterday? Where do we go from here? What happens when plugins I depend upon for functionality no longer have a developer? What happens if the person who wholly owns a project is either no longer interested or alive?

What then?

All these and more questions arise when I read (with sadness) of a popular developer who has been fighting through something and can no longer keep up the fight for one reason or another. Barring a miracle, the outcome is clear. It happens everywhere, not just with developers. Our life has the potential to change significantly due to someone we have come to depend upon no longer being able to be what they have been to us. I’m talking specifically about an article I saw posted on Alex Mill’s blog. Alex a prolific plugin developer, employee of Automattic and contributor to WordPress Core.

Side note – WordPress, self-hosted available on WordPress.org, is owned by the WordPress Foundation. WordPress Foundation is a non-profit corporation dedicated to free access, in perpetuity, to projects they support. More about that can be found on the WordPress Foundation site. You might be interested in seeing that Matt set the up the foundation to insure the projects supported by the foundation survive their current contributor base.

On Alex Mills’ WP.org profile page, you will find something that might remind you of what is happening in the WordPress world right now. Alex began with WordPress after he saw it was a viable alternative to b2/cafeblog (a fork of b2). You can read a little about how WordPress came to be by following this link.

We now have a fork of WordPress that appears to be a serious contender when one thinks of options for businesses and anyone wanting to continue with WordPress plugin options without having to change virtually all aspects of the way they manage their web content. That contender (I’ve talked about it before) is ClassicPress.

ClassicPress has been presented as viable and being dedicated to maintaining the original goal of WordPress extensibility by adding plugins for new features. That’s something WordPress seems to have lost touch with in their pursuit of blocks for everything. This approach would appear to be preparing users for very few options outside the formatting required by WordPress when it comes to presenting content.

ClassicPress arose from the discontent many developers and users were expressing when it became obvious Matt Mullenweg was going to force the entire WordPress environment to conform to a (not completely developed or tested) plugin being added to core. I am struck by some differences that might not be positive in the long run for users of ClassicPress.

WordPress (the stand alone version) is owned by a non-profit corporation with a board that oversees development and availability. In the event there is a significant loss and one of the people in control is no longer around, the projects they support live on because it is owned by an entity that will survive such a loss. What does ClassicPress have?

ClassicPress is owned by a corporation that is a limited liability company, owned by one man. According to records, it is wholly owned by Scott Bowler with no other members and there are no other officers in his corporation. ClassicPress.net claims to have established its “Founding Committee”.  But what does that mean? If and when Scott Bowler is no longer on this earth, or is otherwise unable to function, who controls ClassicPress? Will it be forked? Will it be renamed? Will the “community”, that isn’t part of the company registered in the UK, be able to take it over?

On the ClassicPress “Our Mission” page there is a statement, “We pledge to use all ClassicPress finances prudently.” Who is “We”?

Many of the harshest critics of WordPress becoming Gutenberg controlled, called attention to the fact that it was primarily Matt’s decision to force Gutenberg into core.

Could this happen with ClassicPress? I believe it is possible. Don’t get me wrong, Scott Bowler is younger than one of my middle children, I don’t expect his life would take such a serious turn at this point, but then I don’t know the future. He is a couple of years older than Alex Mills. As awkward as the subject is, one has to ponder.

ClassicPress doesn’t have all of its information in one place. You have to go here and there to locate what is happening. Slack, ClassicPress forums and ClassicPress.net. Then there is the Petitions site.

Who is the person or group that insures ClassicPress survives Scott Bowler should something happen to him? Of more immediate interest to me, why should I invest my time in building with his platform (it is his) without any provision for the project surviving him? Or is there such a provision? I would like to know. Would you?

WordPress is a great example of the need for built-in survivability when millions of people depend upon the project for their livelihood. The owner of ClassicPress has not yet publicly expressed an interest in that, as far as I can determine. I hope that changes, soon.