A personal reflection on 8 weeks of coordinating the release of WordPress 5.3

Francesca Marano speaks on The Rebirth of the Italian Community, at WordCamp London 2016 #WCLDN

A disclaimer first: this is not to be considered a retrospective on my official role. This is all about feelings and emotions. If you are looking for one, it will be posted in the Core blog at some point πŸ™‚

In the past eight weeks I have been coordinating the release of WordPress 5.3, the next major version of the open source CMS and I am so happy with what is going on that I decided to write a post about it!

So far it has been one of the most rewarding and satisfying adventures of my life: personal and professional. And yes, I have a son, so I hope the kid doesn’t get offended πŸ˜‰

It has been a major learning opportunity: from learning how WordPress gets made, the difference between various roles involved, the steps that are taken to get this baby out in the world to how to work between multiple teams across the globe.

But most of all, it has been a a life-changing self-discovery moment.

What I learned about myself

I am partially cured of my imposter syndrome.

I was asked to take this role from someone I admire immensely. She trusted me so I should trust myself.
My supervisor gave me the ok. I have the utmost respect for him and his experience. He trusted me not to embarrass our company by doing poorly, so I should trust myself.

I was praised by people that I admire. Positive reinforcement is always a great way to get people more confident at what they do, and it’s an important tool to have in your professional box.

Self-deprecating is ok

I am very self-deprecating in life. So much that I am reminded after my talks that I shouldn’t say things like “What do I know? I am not an expert on this” by someone close to me.

I can now safely say that being self-deprecating can be fun but it works if at the same time you show competence and authority.

So it’s ok to say something like “I hope you are not counting on me to have the answer”, if people can feel that you can get that answer for them when push comes to shove.

I can be assertive

In the past few years, since I started C+B more or less, colleagues, collaborators and friends have praised my ability to be poised and diplomatic in public situations even when they know deep down I am doing this:


I am able to be assertive because I have safe spaces to smash imaginary windows with an imaginary baseball bat and looking good while doing it. Ok, maybe not Givenchy and BeyoncΓ© good, but still looking good (see self-deprecation above).

In all honesty, there was one instance, and one instance only in the past eight weeks where I got rallied up about something and it was not even release related, so this is not a new discovery. But I am writing this here anyway to remind myself and anyone who is in a visible position to do their best to be:

  • assertive
  • empathetic
  • listening
  • understanding
  • never, ever condescending

Find friends that will let you leash out because they know that to help you be fair and diplomatic they need to be outraged with you and for you.
My girlfriends call this a Maranata (A Marano thing): I talk shit about something or someone that made me mad, and 5 minutes later I adore that thing or that person because I was able to be outraged and not judged.

And when I slip, I am lucky to have people to show me the error of my choice of words. Beware, not telling me that my feeling is not valid, but help me express it in a constructive way that is not passive aggressive or insulting of other people’s equally valid feelings.

I can deal with criticism

In private I don’t deal well with criticism. Again, me inside, being uber dramatic.


And this is exactly why my answers are always well thought out and sometimes rehearsed. I need my space to let the first-impact emotions go and gave replies that are rational and hopefully useful.

Sometimes criticism is valid, sometimes is not. Sometimes it’s delivered in a constructive way, sometimes is not. I feel I owe a polite and well-formed reply to criticism.

Unless the person is talking to me in a disrespectful and aggressive way. In that case I don’t reply and block. Recommended. There is nothing that makes a troll’s blood boiling more than being ignored.

I am good at mediation

This is something I discovered before I started coordinating this release, through the Community Team and the teachings of another woman that I worship.

Contributing to open source requires endless mediation, not in the “OMG we have a bad situation and we need to react to it pronto!”, but because it’s open and it’s made of people from every possible walk of life.

I’ve got the two most important qualities for a business person and an open source person.

Perseverance and patience.

Those are the two key ingredients to close business deals (sales can take years to happen, but this is the topic for another post) and be a healthy open source contributor.

Everyday someone will ask a question that has been answered a million times before and it’s my duty to point this person in the right direction and not reply “Google it”.

Everyday you will notice something that hasn’t moved, sometimes by your own fault. If it is important enough for you to change that thing or to win that contract, you won’t give up at the first obstacle nor at the tenth.

You persevere within a reasonable extent.

It’s not reasonable anymore when you burn out or when you get consumed by something.

I am a team player

Despite hating team sports and hearing for many years that learning ballet instead of playing volleyball would make my life more difficult because I can not play in a team, I somehow acquired this skill. I don’t know when, but turns out I did.

  • I can bring up my points and be quite militant about them, but I can also disagree and commit.
  • I can recognise if someone is having some troubles completing their task and I can offer to help, and (most importantly) I am now able to ask for help when I need it.
  • I can encourage people because I have been encouraged myself.
  • I can stop a discussion if I see it is important enough to have its own place, but it’s derailing the task of the moment. I will revive it at the earliest possible moment, because mediation is important.

Why this brag post?

Because eventually I will have a bad day when I will need to remind myself that I am good. This is the place where I can come back.

Because I know that there are many women, especially in the tech industry, that might feel like me and might want to read something like this.

Because I hate inspirational shit, but this makes me smile and tear a little bit every time it shows up in my Twitter feed, so I wanted to feel like Ayaan ♥

Too-da-loo fine people, Release Candidate is coming next week and it’s a whole new set of things to learn! Plus you know, I have a job that doesn’t pay me to be the inspirational chick on Twittah πŸ˜‰

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.