5 Ways You Can Contribute to the WordPress Project
You use WordPress® everyday to maintain your website and build your presence online. But, did you know there’s a dedicated team of developers, designers, and authors who build and maintain the WordPress core? If you want to know who they are check out the About Page on the WordPress.org site.
WordPress also has a pretty substantial and helpful community of plugin developers, theme designers, bug reporters, and patch testers that work solely for the improvement of WordPress as a Content Management System. Users can contribute to the WordPress project in many ways. Here are 5 fast and easy ways that you can help to improve WordPress.
Submit a valid Bug Report with proper information
I’ve been in software development for a while, and one thing I can’t stand is a bug report that’s either invalid or doesn’t have enough detail so that I can easily reproduce the issue. Supplying the development team with good steps to replicate a bug helps them quickly and properly fix it. Don’t just try the process on your own installation; try it on a development installation, in the previous version, in a different browser, etc. I typically try the following things to identify a bug in the core:
- Turn off all plugins.
- Use the stock WordPress Twenty Eleven Theme.
- Try it on the current version, previous version, and nightly release.
- Try in multiple browsers and versions on Mac OS X and Windows 7.
- Try with a user from every privilege group (if it seems related to a role).
Contribute in the forums at WordPress.org
Everyday there are hundreds of new users installing WordPress. At one time, you were just like them (or may be that person now). A great place for finding information from the WordPress community is by checking WordPress.org/Support. Here, you can submit and view forum topics related to WordPress, its themes, and plugins, and overall usage of the platform. The two sections that I find most people need help in are ‘How-To and Troubleshooting’ and ‘Installation’ threads. If you have experience with WordPress, stop in and help out a user or two.
Develop a Theme or Plugin and host it on WordPress.org
There are plenty of premium content houses out there developing fantastic plugins and themes for WordPress, but WordPress itself is free and open-source. If you appreciate that philosophy, what better way to support that than to provide a free and open-source addition to the CMS platform. Hosting a theme or plugin on WordPress.org requires that it be free (as there is no payment method on WordPress.org). Basically, you supply your product free of charge and they will host it for you. If you want to contribute in this manner, you can use the ‘Extend’ section of WordPress.org: wordpress.org/extend
Participate in the WordPress IRC Channel
Remember IRC or Internet Relay Chat? Yeah, it’s still around, and WordPress still uses it to hold meetings and offer general help with connecting members of the WordPress Community with each other. You can hop on to the IRC Server at
irc.freenode.net and join #wordpress. Instantly, you’ll be in the chat room with other WordPress users and the occasional WordPress developer. It’s a rewarding feeling to help out another user and get instant results as opposed to waiting for a forum topic reply.
Test a WordPress Patch
This one is a little more on the advanced side. When a bug report is sent into the ‘Trac’ (at core.trac.wordpress.org), it goes through the basic process of being Accepted, Corrected in a Patch, Tested, and Committed to a Nightly. The Nightly is then built into a versioned release. The patches mentioned are supplied either by another WordPress user with development experience or a Core Contributor/Core Developer. You can install these patches into the current version of WordPress, a beta version, a release candidate, or a nightly version. If you apply the patch and it fixes the issue, you can state that it was successful for you and mark it as such in the comments. The more testing that is done, the better. Testing a patch is helpful to the community as it helps keep the quality of the updates being made at a high level.
These are 5 ways that users of any level can contribute to the WordPress open-source project.
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