The 10 most important people in WordPress

With people out there claiming to be “One of the Three Most Important People in WordPress” that don’t contribute to core, answer support questions or speak at WordCamps, I thought I would give you my list of the Ten most important people in WordPress. Behold (in no particular order, other then the first one being the clear #1):

You, the user
Without the people who have downloaded WordPress 3.0 over 8 million times since it’s release, the software I love is nothing
Matt Mullenweg
Out esteemed Head of Bug Creation has been a driving force behind giving millions of people the right to publish their thoughts
Ryan Boren
If I ran SVN Blame against WordPress, odds are close to half the lines would have rboren attached to them and for good reason.
Mark Jaquith
Very possibly the best Freelance WordPress Consultant. Many core features such as Post Thumbnails and Canonical URLs are because of Mark.
Peter Westwood
Peter is world class developer who often leads the weekly developer chat and is on the forefront of educating and assisting developers
Jane Wells
Do you think WordPress is usable? The only thing you need to say is “Thanks Jane”.
Andrew Ozz
Do you use the Visual Editor? This is the man that makes sure that is usable in addition to patching plenty of other bugs
Andew Nacin
If he actually slept or did something besides code, there is a chance we never would have seen WordPress 3.0.
Dion Hulse
Do you enjoy installing or updating Plugins/Themes from inside WordPress? That’s just two of his great contributions
(TIE) The hundreds of people who file bug reports, patch said bugs, Help in the Support Forums and IRC channel, and Write Documentation
That’s right. The hundreds of people who test, patch, and help out are all important and responsible for bringing you great software

Disagree? Leave a comment.

69 thoughts on “The 10 most important people in WordPress

  1. Mo Jangda

    I would change the last one to “The hundreds of people who file bug reports, patch said bugs, and keep the Codex populated and maintained so the rest of us can code poetically” :)

    Reply
      1. Aaron Jorbin Post author

        If I hadn’t met him in person, I’d have thought John James Jacoby was really a pseudonym of Nacin’s so he could also be an active Buddypress dev.

        Reply
    1. Mo Jangda


      foreach ( array( 'the_content', 'the_title', 'comment_text' ) as $filter )
      add_filter( $filter, 'with_an_E_dangit' );

      function with_an_E_dangit( $text ) {
      return str_replace( 'Mullenwig', 'Mullenweg', $text );
      }

      ;)

      Reply
  2. Pingback: 10 Most Important — Matt Mullenweg

  3. mkjones

    I’d say you missed out Jeffro from WPTaven. It really is the BEST WP-related news source on the web and has a great community.

    I think that people like Adii Pienaar, Brian Garnder, Cory Miller, Collis Ta’eed, Justin Tadlock, Ian Stewart, Small Potato (Tung Do) and yes, even Chris Pearson ALL had a massive impact when it comes to the growth of WordPress though the expansion of the commercial themes market but that doesn’t make any of them as important as the people who develop and support the core product.

    Reply
    1. Aaron Jorbin Post author

      I disagree. While the Tavern keeps many people informed, I’ve found that the IRC channel and the development blogs are really the best way to keep on news.

      I don’t think the commercial theme market has really helped WordPress grow as much as you give it credit for. There are plenty of amazing themes out there for free that are just as powerful (if not more so) then anything you can by. And there are plenty of talented theme developers who only build sites specific for a person. If you are really serious about having a good looking site, you hirer a designer and developer who will make something from close to scratch that actually fits your style and your needs. You don’t buy something off a shelf.

      Reply
      1. ldexterldesign

        ‘If you are really serious about having a good looking site, you hirer a designer and developer who will make something from close to scratch that actually fits your style and your needs. You don’t buy something off a shelf.’

        Ditto.

        Reply
      2. Nathan Rice

        While I wouldn’t ever give a top 10 spot to any single premium theme developer or company, I would say, collectively, they do deserve some credit for what they’ve done for the popularity of the platform in the last 3 years.

        There is a correlation between the rise of available commercial themes, and the popularity of the platform. Whether that indicates causation, I’m not sure.

        There are plenty of amazing themes out there for free that are just as powerful (if not more so) then anything you can by [sic].

        Ignoring the inaccuracy of that statement, the point is moot. People WANT to pay for stuff. The most popular theme framework on WP.org has just shy of 100K downloads (I assume that includes upgrades, tire-kickers, etc.). The top 3 commercial theme developers each have over 25K individual customers, who have probably downloaded their themes well over 100K times.

        AFAIK, Hybrid is the only theme that can claim it competes with the commercial theme developers in terms of functionality and popularity. But since Justin charges for support, it’s hard not to include him in the “commercial” classification.

        Reply
        1. Andy Beard

          I seem to remember having a debate over on the Thematic blog about what functionality should be within a theme.

          It is only recently with all the drag & drop design features that there has really been a move to push the technical design aspects forward.

          A lot of the features touted on sales pages are just duplicating plugin functionality.

          I would also argue that the whole theme & plugin repository is part of the WordPress code base because it is frequently stated that lots of functionality belongs in themes & plugins, even when it is submitted as a diff for core.

          I agree that some people appreciate having that integrated, in some cases dumbed down or crippled, but just because a framework such as Thematic or Carrington doesn’t come with the bloat doesn’t mean it is less capable.

          p.s. I download Thematic by SVN

          I could argue that the guys at wpmudevpro/edublogs have their plugins & themes serving the most customers

          Reply
          1. Nathan Rice

            A lot of the features touted on sales pages are just duplicating plugin functionality.

            True enough. But I would contend that there are some things that plugins can’t do at all, and other things that they can’t do very well. Especially in terms of what gets served up to the browser. That is, by nature, a theme’s job.

        2. Aaron Jorbin Post author

          I think you are giving to much credit to commercial theme developers (Sorry, I really think that the phrase “Premium theme” devalues every other theme.). As Andy pointed out, most functionality that commercial themes deliver is available for free from plugins and free (as in beer) themes.

          I also think the People want to pay for stuff argument is a load of crock. People think they are getting more value (which they are not) or something that is unique (which based on the sales figures you give is also false). I’m not saying people are being bamboozled or mislead, but I do think that they aren’t always making the most informed decision.

          Like Andy, I also download Thematic via SVN. The fact that the theme repository to the best of my knowledge doesn’t count SVN checkouts also makes it hard to measure their true impact. Oh, and if number of downloads is all that counts, Kubrick was downloaded how many tens of millions of times?

          I do think that Commercial theme developers are good, but I think that they are no more important than any other theme developer.

          Reply
          1. Nathan Rice

            Sorry, I really think that the phrase “Premium theme” devalues every other theme

            Yeah, sorry about that. I try to use the word “commercial” as much as possible. Old habits.

            As Andy pointed out, most functionality that commercial themes deliver is available for free from plugins and free (as in beer) themes.

            Certainly. But commercial themes don’t just sell well because they’re offering functionality you can’t get anywhere else. It’s the fact that it’s all in one … convenient, centrally maintained and supported. Don’t underestimate the value in that. It’s huge.

            Also design. I tend to downplay it. It frustrates me that users are so impressed with shiny things, while ignoring the hard work that really matters. But still, I don’t think you can legitimately claim that the free market offers the level of design quality and variety that the commercial theme market does. In fact, it could be reasonably argued that sexy design is what ignited the commercial theme market in the first place.

            I do think that Commercial theme developers are good, but I think that they are no more important than any other theme developer.

            I’ll give you that. There are about as many “good” free themes as there are “good” commercial themes (not very many). And there are only about 5 truly “great” themes, period (some free, some commercial).

            (I obviously would judge a theme’s greatness on a different scale than others might. I’m not one of those “eye of the beholder” types. To me, there is an objectively right, and objectively wrong way of building a WordPress theme, or any website, for that matter).

  4. David Clark

    I am horrified that podz is nowhere to be found on this list.

    most of these are johnny-come-lately’s who joined after wp got momentum.

    Reply
    1. Aaron Jorbin Post author

      If you’re referring to Matt Gibs, I think you’ll find him listed in #1 and #10.

      I don’t think joining the project early or late really influences how important you are to it’s overall success. Getting a project over the hump to release can be just as important and sometimes more so then coding the initial alpha.

      Reply
    1. Aaron Jorbin Post author

      Mark, don’t sell your contributions short. Though like you, I was a bit surprised that Pearson thought higher of you then Ryan. I’d say without both of you, WordPress would not be what it is.

      Reply
  5. Frederick Ding

    I absolutely agree with this list. I’m pleased to see that such a list includes the entire ecosystem past the core developers — plugin developers, forum/IRC members…

    No, Chris Pearson is not one of the top 3 people behind WordPress.

    Reply
  6. Ryan

    You made an error in this blog post. Chris Pearson clearly informed us all in a recent interview that he himself is in the top three!

    Reply
  7. Ken Newman

    I can’t believe it! I also made 1# and 10#! To be honored twice on this prestigious list is overwhelming… I’d like to thank the small little people…

    Reply
    1. Aaron Jorbin Post author

      Donncha is great and he is definitely listed as part of #10 and #1.

      Glad you like the comment form. One day I’ll fix the bugs in it and release it as a plugin.

      Reply
  8. Andreas

    There are different kinds of importance.
    Those who contribute and those that evangelize.
    Personally I knew about Chris/Thesis before I knew about Matt and WordPress.
    This list is most important from a developer view. Perhaps not from a evangelizing view.

    Reply
  9. Joni Mueller

    Lorelle Van Fossen, anyone? I remember her from way back in the day when I first showed up on the WP Support Forum back in March 2004 on the heels of the MovableType licensing brouhaha. Those were the days. :)

    Reply
  10. Shafina

    thank you for the #1 spot.. i’m doing my best-est to get other people brand themselves by using WordPress. And i even got my 1st professional client thanks to this ‘Oh-So-Easy-CMS!

    of course not forgetting a million thank yous to Matt and his 218 guys (and gals), too :)

    Reply
  11. twitter boy

    There are clearly amazing talents on this list. If you look at Twitter follow counts the social influence of several WP people not on this list is clearly stronger than almost everyone on this list.

    Reply
  12. twitter boy

    did you read my post? I was making a point about “the social influence”. Patches to core? Please. Why does it need so many patches? Because of the people on this list I imagine…..

    Reply
    1. Aaron Jorbin Post author

      The social influence? How about the millions of people that read the release announcements and wordpress.org blog posts that are written by many of these people? How about the ten million page views since may of 2007 that ma.tt (just one of the places that Matt Mullenweg posts) has had? There is much more to influence then twitter followers.

      Also, the reason patches are needed is to actually improve the software. How does posting 140 character messages improve WordPress?

      Reply
  13. Mad Tomato

    I disagree. Why is there no Chris Pearson on the list??! How could you? He is one of the top three most important figures in the history of WordPressssssss!!!!!!!

    Reply

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