Note: Samuel “Otto” Wood snidely challenged me to sue him for publishing slanderous posts about LittleBizzy plugins on WordPress.org without allowing us to respond to them, even when posted on our own free plugins’ support forums, which is quite likely skirting U.S. Section 230. By preventing our public replies, despite creating the impression that we were publicly “allowed” and/or “supposed” to reply, it turns Wood and the WordPress Foundation into a “publisher” of said defamatory content. In fact, Wood confirmed to me in one of his taunting emails that Automattic considers WordPress.org to be a “publisher.” He even went a step further, and purposefully deindexed high ranking positive reviews of LittleBizzy at the request of Kinsta’s Alex Panagis, to try and force negative comments about our free plugins higher up in Google search results, while hiding the complimentary ones. Instead of suing him, I’ve chosen to publicly expose his juvenile behavior, which apparently he thinks nobody in the WordPress community would ever do…
Samuel Jacob Wood needs to be fired from WordPress. There is no possible way that WordPress in its current climate achieves healthy growth for another decade(s) with this sociopath at the helm. And with rapidly growing players like Shopify and Wix transforming the web, it is past time to consider “macro” terms.
Over the years since Matt Mullenweg forked the b2/cafelog CMS project, removed all traces of Mike Little from the history books, and went on to preside over the world’s most successful website-building software in history, his leadership and decision making have gone from bad to worse.
That is a story for a different time.
But one of the core elements that has existed for many years has been Mullenweg’s trusty lap dog, the obsessive Wikipedia troll and evidently 40-year-old-virgin known as Samuel “Otto” Wood.
“Incestuous, homogeneous fiefdoms of self-proclaimed expertise are always rank-closing and mutually self-defending, above all else.”
― Glenn Greenwald
To date, only a few players in the WordPress community have dared to publicly call out Wood as being pretty much the biggest problem of the so-called community, despite it being an open secret. During the past few years, ambiguous calls for “new leadership” have been growing stronger at WordPress Meetups and WordCamps around the world, on various blogs and forums, and in many private conversations. But what many of these arguments consciously fail to mention is the name Samuel Wood.
Perhaps the most aggressive criticism thus far has been from Red Sand Media Group, and Plugin Vulnerabilities, both of whom are among the many agencies banned from WordPress.org for asking too many questions.
In December 2018, LittleBizzy’s 40+ free plugins were removed from WordPress.org at my own request, as I felt the relationship had become unworkable, and that Wood was planning to ban me anyways… among other things, our accounts had been shadowbanned, and Wood repeatedly harassed me via email, and insulted me via public Trac tickets and forum threads, often deleting my posts while retaining anonymous slander of my company that had no relevance to the free plugins we had voluntarily contributed to WP.org.
(At one point, when our Speed Demon plugin started to grow rapidly more popular, Wood suddenly blocked it on WordPress.org and told me the reason was — I’m not kidding — because we had an inspirational quote in the readme.txt from Albert Einstein, which was “spammy.”)
Make no mistake: Wood is not just the “admin” of WordPress.org. In practicality, he is the Chief Propagandist for Automattic (Matt Mullenweg’s corporation), who Mullenweg directly enables to ban, insult, or attack anyone that might challenge their stranglehold on WordPress; Wood is all too eager to comply.
Incredibly, Mr. Wood has spent the better part of the past decade sitting in his one-bedroom condo in downtown Memphis, Tennessee (where he has been living alone since 2007), trolling people on WordPress.org, ostensibly between chats with Matt Mullenweg about what scripted lines he should spew out when end users question the status quo. Literally, that’s pretty much the extent of his contributions to the world — just ask him.
Some of his favorite go-to responses to developers who complain about the blatant hypocrisy and harassment that pervades WordPress.org include lines like, “It’s a privately owned website!” or, “We are offering you free hosting, and free support forums!” or the classic, “We are a team of volunteers doing our best!” (Naturally, any offers to help out their horribly overworked team are immediately rejected.)
Wood is the shockingly stereotypical image of the douchey IT guy who is proudly smug beyond belief, yet useful to almost nobody. I would suggest he go out and adopt a puppy, but frankly I fear he’d end up drowning the wee creature in the Mississippi River one night after a particularly titillating trollfest.
The closest popular comparison I can think of is Brady Hartsfield, the character from the Stephen King television series, Mr. Mercedes, who spends all of his free time thinking up ways to torment people using his (mediocre) computer/internet background, between fleeting socially awkward moments in the public square that only serve to make him even more blue-balled and diabolical…
Despite banning hundreds of users from WordPress.org (who were trying to get involved or contribute), Wood has repeatedly asserted the false claims that he and his staff are unpaid “volunteers” who are only “trying to help”, despite being highly paid employees of Automattic (and/or Audrey Capital). In fact, when I pointed out how much strife and bad blood that Wood has been causing the WordPress community over the years, my comment became the most up-voted comment on WP Tavern’s recent story… within 48 hours, both of my comments, among other critical comments, had been deleted (their blog is hosted on WordPress.com VIP and funded by Matt Mullenweg), and replaced with fake comments posted by Wood and his staff. Just wow.
Note: this is not the first time that thoughtful comments have been approved by Jeff Chandler, the manager of the “independent” WP Tavern news blog, only to be mysteriously deleted days later by Wood or Mullenweg. This hilarious Communist-style propagandizing has lead to the site being nicknamed WP Pravda by long-time members of the WordPress community, due to the blatant censorship and fluff pieces.
Is this pathetic, hateful, middle-age troll really the best representation of the world’s largest CMS community? Apparently, Matt Mullenweg thinks so. But see, that’s just the thing: over 63% of contributions to the open-source WordPress project are NOT from Automattic employees or contractors at this point, meaning that really the only thing standing between these thousands of “volunteers” and a new age of WordPress — perhaps a more professional, collaborative WordPress — is, well… Samuel Jacob Wood.
But why, you might be wondering, would Mullenweg choose such a shameless douchebag to oversee such a vast and ambitious community? Nobody can be sure, but I’d venture a guess it’s because he saw in Wood a fellow man-child with enough technical knowledge to be somewhat competent at managing WordPress.org, but a guy with little enough ambition, conviction, or skill to pose any sort of threat to Mullenweg’s power and arbitrary decision-making. In essence, he saw in Wood the ultimate yes-man. And he was right.
Ultimately, neither Wood or Mullenweg are very skilled programmers, not are they particularly visionary. These bosom buddies offer each other a risk-free circle-jerk of personal validation that has the tragic side effect of preventing WordPress from evolving “properly” both in terms of emerging best practices, and also as a progressive brand and community. It is forever stuck in teenage noob-mode, maintaining its enormous user base almost entirely due to first-to-market luck of the draw, with most code coming from volunteers.
Have you ever wondered things about WordPress.org such as:
Again, the answer is: Samuel “Otto” Wood. (Note: these types of misdeeds go beyond annoyance — I’m talking about potentially illegal behavior (far beyond disparagement) e.g. commingling of assets, nonprofit fraud, consumer fraud, etc that are possibly worthy of investigation. But documenting the entire list of misdeeds committed by Automattic is a saga that I don’t really have time for.)
TLDR = Wood is Mullenweg’s shady “bridge” from Automattic to the WordPress Foundation.
The point is, most of this bullshit has been an open secret for many, many years. But because of the way Mullenweg has enforced a unilateral, top-down control over the WordPress project (despite repeatedly and loudly claiming the opposite), dozens or hundreds of WordPress agencies have been too scared to say anything out of fear of being blacklisted from WordPress.org, getting their themes or plugins banned, or worse.
Well guess what folks… you don’t need WordPress.org to contribute to open source.
As I’ve mentioned on our blog and newsletter, leaving WordPress.org was the best decision we ever made. Not only have our targeted leads grown, but our new Membership program was finally rolled out and we have “real” relationships with clients that love our software, and that we can actually communicate with via private email conversations! No more public trolling and slander from anonymous accounts, no more insults and harassment from Samuel Wood and Automattic, and best of all, we actually have control of our business again. If you’ve ever wondered why nearly every Big Tech company avoids participating on WordPress.org, this is exactly why — because they refuse to jeopardize their workflow, products, and reputation.
Thankfully, there’s already a major American corporation that is committed to the future of open source software of all flavors; this company has an entire Legal department that enforces and promotes fairness, and an entire Marketing department that is constantly looking for new ways to empower web developers and teams, instead of tormenting them. But who is this mystery hero of cyberspace?
You may have heard of them before: Microsoft.
Sound interesting? Stay tuned…
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