Adapt and Innovate: Paco Marchante’s Journey with the WordPress Plugins Team

Adapt and Innovate: Paco Marchante’s Journey with the WordPress Plugins Team

Developer analyst Paco Marchante has been focused on WordPress since 2017. Based in Sevilla, Spain, Paco has been actively contributing to various local WordPress communities in Spain – which is one of the most vibrant WordPress communities in the world.

Currently, Paco serves as Team Representative for the Plugin Review team and is one of the Hostinger-sponsored contributors.

Among the WordPress Make teams, the Plugins team is historically known as a small team, which makes their work in demand. On top of that, the Plugins team had undergone a notable change in 2023 during Paco’s early days of joining the team.

Read on to learn more about how Paco navigates WordPress’s dynamic open-source environment, powered by curiosity and the spirit of lifelong learning.

The Start of the WordPress Adventure

Paco first came across WordPress during an internship at a mobile development company. WordPress was the CMS that the company used to develop its websites.

“I remember not understanding anything at the beginning. Almost everything seemed so difficult,” Paco reminisces. Nonetheless, he was curious about WordPress, so he learned more about it. He was interested in using WordPress as a back end for mobile apps through its API.

Fast forward to 2017, Paco discovered WordCamp from a widget in the WordPress dashboard that lists upcoming WordPress events. He noticed that WordCamp Madrid 2017 was coming up.

“At that time, one of my best friends, Victor Sáenz, and I were embarking on a personal project related to WordPress. We decided to go to the event, and it was an amazing experience,” he recalls.

Paco Marchante and WordPress community members in WordCamp Chiclana 2024

That same year, they volunteered at WordCamp Chiclana 2017, which is the province in which they lived, and then initiated a WordPress Meetup in Cádiz. These experiences got them more involved in various WordPress projects. They also participated in multiple WordCamps as volunteers or speakers, becoming more active with the WordPress community in Spain.

The Plugin Pathway

So, what drew Paco to the Plugins team?

“Development is something I’m keen about, and I’m lucky that this world is my passion and my work. I enjoy it every day,” Paco explains. “Also, this team has always been one of the most iconic teams in WordPress because of their direct contact with developers.”

The Plugins team at WordPress plays the crucial role of reviewing the code of plugins submitted to the WordPress plugin repository. They make sure each plugin is secure and meets the community’s standards.

The homepage of WordPress' Plugins Team official blog

As his WordPress network expanded, Paco met David Pérez, a fellow member of the current Plugins team. David connected Paco to Alvaro Gomez, who was in charge of the formation of the new Plugins team.

Paco immediately jumped at the opportunity to join the team. He was so excited to contribute to such a critical team in the WordPress ecosystem and make his mark. He was aware of the challenges and the significant effort required, but that didn’t dim his enthusiasm a bit. And so he joined the Plugins team as a Plugin Reviewer.

Since 2023, Paco has been working alongside Francisco Torres as a team representative of the Plugins team.

In this role, they liaise communication between WordPress contributor teams and address inquiries related to their activities. They also report on the team’s progress and achievements, ensuring transparency and collaboration within the WordPress community.

Paco’s work for the Plugins team shows his dedication not just to WordPress as a platform but to the broader community of developers and users who rely on it.

Navigating an Evolving Terrain

The Plugins team has always been small and has had minimal turnover. Unlike other WordPress Make teams that are open to as many contributors as possible, those applying for the Plugins team must undergo a vetting process.

This is because each member holds extensive permissions within the WordPress plugin repository. So, to maintain control and security, its members must ensure that new joiners are up to the team’s standards when it comes to capability and commitment.

For the past ten years, the Plugins team was led by Mika Epstein. Before she stepped down from the team in mid-2023, she welcomed six new team members consisting of experienced WordPress developers, including David Pérez, Fran Torres, and Paco himself.

As one of the first new members to join the revamped team, Paco started his contribution by documenting all operational procedures to facilitate the onboarding of future team members.

This documentation was critical, especially as the team raced against time to accumulate as much of Mika’s invaluable knowledge before her exit. “Although Mika was always there to advise and help us, we were committed to being totally autonomous,” Paco says.

Despite their experience, the changes posed challenges for the new team members.

“The main challenges we faced were the formation of a completely new team. Also, learning how to conduct reviews, use the tools, understand and deal with various processes, and communicate effectively within and outside the team,” Paco explains. “All this had to be learned while managing the growing queue of plugin submissions, which reached the historical numbers of 1,400 plugins waiting to be reviewed.”

This enormous backlog was both a challenge and a catalyst for innovation within the Plugins team. They worked to enhance their methodologies and tools, aiming to improve both the efficiency and quality of their reviews.

The decisions for these improvements were made collectively, with biweekly team meetings and the occasional formation of smaller, project-specific groups. This ensured that all voices were heard and that the team moved forward as a united front.

One of the decisions taken by the team is not to pay much attention to the abundant comments on social networks about the large queues of plugins. “We’re not only working to lower the plugin review’s queue, we also have to make the efforts sustainable and ensure the team does not burn out in the process,” Paco says.

He acknowledges that not everyone understands that many active WordPress contributors also have a day job, and that balancing the two can be demanding. “Everyone can rest assured that the team is aware of this and has worked day and night to be able to respond to every review and question,” he assures.

When asked about his most memorable achievements in the Plugins team, Paco emphasizes that collective efforts drive their success: “All achievements are team achievements. There are no personal achievements.”

Recently, the team achieved a milestone of reducing the plugin queue from 1,400 to less than 300 and cutting down the wait time for initial responses from over three months to just two weeks. This reflects not only the cooperative nature of the Plugins team but also the enduring spirit of the WordPress community – ever-adaptable and stronger together.

Balancing Growth and Challenges in WordPress Contributions

The last time the Plugins team opened an application for new team members was at the end of 2023, adding three contributors to the pack.

“At that moment, there were not more than 10 people on the team. We didn’t have enough capacity to train new members while also handling ongoing responsibilities,” Paco says of the careful selection process. “It is better to add new members little by little and to be able to train them well,” he continues, pointing out the team’s quality-over-quantity mindset.

The team’s latest call for contributors requires applicants to meet the criteria necessary for code review. This includes a strong background in web development, clear and compassionate communication skills, a knack for improving tools and processes, and excellent collaborative and conflict-management abilities.

It’s also a plus if the applicant actively participates in the WordPress community. This demonstrates the candidate’s commitment and familiarity with the platform’s culture and values.

Paco Marchante and his fellow WordCamp organizers in WordCamp Chiclana 2024

Paco understands the pressures that come with staying current in dynamic fields like technology.

“Personally, I prefer to dedicate specific times throughout the year to learn about a topic or technology. The better you define this time, the better it will be for people who work with you and for your mental health,” he says. He points out that often, people only start to realize the importance of work-life balance after they burn out, affecting the people around them.

The good news is that in the WordPress community, anyone can improve their professional skills, expand their network, and hang out with new and seasoned fellow WordPress enthusiasts in get-together events like WordCamps and Meetups.

One of Paco’s most cherished moments within the WordPress community is also happening during WordCamps – it’s Contributor Day. “During this day, people can learn how to contribute to different teams in the WordPress community. It’s a great moment to make contacts and learn from professionals,” he says.

Paco Marchante in WordCamp Pontevedra 2023

For those interested in joining the Plugins team, Paco offers sage advice. “Have a lot of patience and perseverance. Most of the work is interacting with plugin authors. They have different situations, expectations, and approaches to revisions and turnaround times,” Paco says.

“Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We are here to do our best to maintain the repository and protect the users,” Paco continues, underscoring the team’s ultimate goal to maintain the repository’s integrity and ensure user safety.

Paco’s experiences and insights shed light on the challenges and rewards of contributing to a vital part of the WordPress ecosystem.

For Paco, his fellow Plugins team members, and WordPress contributors at large, the work is far from over. Each day presents new challenges and opportunities to improve WordPress.

As long as technology evolves, contributors will remain at the forefront, ensuring WordPress remains a robust, secure, and dynamic platform for all.

The author

Nadia Maya Ardiani

Maya is a Content Specialist and WordPress Contributor. With years of journalistic experience under her belt, her main goals are to help people understand complex processes in a simpler way, and tell the stories of people who thrive thanks to technology. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching sci-fi movies while eating ramen. Follow her on LinkedIn.