In 2008 (just 10 short years ago) Andy Peatling made the very first code-commit to the newly adopted BuddyPress project, joining bbPress, GlotPress, and BackPress at the time. As most of you can probably imagine, BuddyPress was a different piece of software back then, trying to solve a completely different decade’s worth of problems for a completely different version of WordPress.
BuddyPress was multisite only, meaning it did not work on the regular version of WordPress that most people were accustomed to installing. It needed to completely take over the entire website experience to work, with a specific theme for the primary part of your site, and blog themes for user profiles and everything else.
There was a lot to love about the original vision and version of BuddyPress. It was ambitious, but in a clever kind of way that made everyone tilt their heads, squint their eyes, and ponder what WordPress was capable of. BuddyPress knew exactly what it was trying to do, and owned it without apologies.
It touted itself as a “Social Network in a box” at a time when MySpace was generating 75.9 million unique visitors per month, so if you couldn’t imagine how different BuddyPress may have been before, imagine how excited everyone was at the idea of owning their own MySpace.
Since then, Andy invited Boone, Paul, and I to help lead the project forward, and in-turn we’ve invited several other prolific BuddyPress contributors to help with every aspect of the project, website, design, and so on.
The BuddyPress team has grown in a few different ways. Most recently, we’ve added Renato Alves to the team to help with WP-CLI support. Renato is a long-time contributor who stepped up big-time to really own the WP-CLI implementation and finally see it through to the end.
Slava Abakumov lead the 2.8 release, and we finally met in person for the very first time just last week at WordCamp Miami. He’s another long-time contributor who has always had the best interests of the project in mind and at heart.
Laurens Offereins has been helping fix BuddyPress bugs and work on evolving features since version 2.1, and while we haven’t met in person yet, I look forward to it someday!
Stephen Edgar (who you may recognize from bbPress) also works a bit on BuddyPress, largely around tooling & meta related things, but he’s fully capable and will jump in and help anywhere he can, be it the forums or features.
Mercime would prefer I not blather on endlessly here about how important she is, or how much I appreciate her, or anything like that, so please forget I mentioned it.
Tammie Lister has moved on to work on the enormously important and equally ambitious Gutenberg project. Tammie is wonderful, and doing a great job crafting what the future of democratizing publishing is.
Lastly, a few of our veteran team members took sabbaticals from contributing to BuddyPress in the past few years, which I see as an opportunity to return with fresh ideas and perspectives, or maybe moving onto new & exciting challenges. This is a good, healthy thing to do, both for oneself and the project. Space makes the heart grow fonder, and all that.
A small aside but worth saying here & now, is that leading an open-source project is everything you think it is (or maybe have read already that it is) and like a million other things that are hard to understand until you understand. The one constant (and subsequently the hardest and funnest part) is how to provide opportunities for personal growth, without prohibiting contributions, while also doing what’s best for the greater vision of the project itself, amongst a completely remote group of bespoke volunteers. I think Paul, Boone, and I do OK at this, but we are always learning and adjusting, so please reach out to us if there is anything we can do differently or better.
BuddyPress is my personal favorite piece of software. It’s my favorite community. I wake up excited every day because of what it can do and who it does it for. Put another way, I love what we make it do and who we make it for: ourselves, one another, each other, and you.
Cheers to 10 years, and here’s to another 10!