WordPress Core Committer Stats: 2017

2017 is coming to a close, and unless someone commits something very soon, WordPress Core development is at rest (since we have an API to do that now). This is the third year I've compiled these stats, see the 2016 committer stats for some of the background information. I'm going to share the stats and then share my reactions to seeing them.

An important caveat, in the post I'll mention employers but we need to remember that people change jobs and that not everyone works on donated time. In fact, the vast majority of WordPress core committers are volunteering their time when they review, write, and commit code to WordPress.

2017 will end the year with 1731 changesets to trunk.  This is down from 2967 last year.  These changesets were committed by 35 individuals, down from 37 in 2016.

2017's most prolific committer was Sergey Biryukov who was responsible for 20.57% of all WordPress commits. He takes this crown from Dominik Schilling.  In raw numbers, Dominick had 4 more commits in 2016 than Sergey did in 2017. This is the first time since I started keeping these stats that a non-release lead has had the lead.

Other notable committers (by volume of commits) in 2017 were Weston Ruter (18.14%) and John Billion (11.84%). 

The employer who was most responsible for WordPress commits this year was Yoast with 24.67%. 14 different employers (grouping all the self-employed individuals into a single group for this purpose). This is down from 20. In 2016, Automattic was first with 14.66%. 

Thoughts and Reactions

The number of higher volume committers is down substantially. In 2016, 17 commiters had at least 52 commits, in 2017 it was 11. Only 3 individuals had over 100 commits in 2017, while in 2016 it was 11. 

The number of core commits and committers continues to fall, but that's in part due to projects like the rest-api and Gutenberg being developed outside of Trac. If WordPress continues to move away from the monolithic repo model, I think this trend will continue. Additionally, with only 2 major releases and no new default theme, there was less to do in core (and many people that were active in Core development have devoted themselves to Gutenberg, the new hosting team, and other WordPress efforts).

I also don't think that it can be ruled out that as a complex piece of software with moderate (at best) automated test coverage, people tend to be cautious and risk-averse. Increasing the automated test coverage should help with these efforts. 

Finally, WordPress does continue to improve. It had two major releases in 2017 bringing some long requested changes to a large swath of the internet. Commit numbers is far from a perfect metric. Some people it takes one commit to get right, sometimes it takes 3 commits to not break the build when landing something. Looking at it and watching it in context of everything else, we can see that WordPress is setup for an incredible 2018.

2016 WordPress Committer stats

I’m sharing these stats with the duel caveat that commits aren’t a great measure of impact and that commits only represent one type of core contribution. When I talk about employers it’s with the caveat that some people change jobs. Also not everyone works on donated time. Now that I have looked at these numbers for two years I think that it’s interesting to see the trends.

In 2015 31 people with 16 unique employers committed to WordPress core. In 2016 it’s 37 people with 20 employees.

The employer with the highest percentage of commits in 2016 remains Automattic at 14.66%. This is down from 20.37%.

The individual with the greatest number of commits is @ocean90 at 360. Last year it was @wonderboymusic.

The total number of commits is down from 5106 to 2967. While that number is big I don’t think it’s necessarily bad.

For props this year 750 individuals got props with 396 for the first time. This is up from 721 total and 379 first timers in 2015. 91 people contributed to every release in 2016 vs 94 in 2015.

WordPress contributor continuity and other stats

I posted a graph of new WordPress contributors per release and Brian Krogsgard had some questions that I decided to look into.  Mostly he wanted to know how well WordPress did at maintaining contributors. So I made some more graphs.

In general, past contributions as a predictor of future contributions are pretty consistent across releases. If you contribute to one release, there is a 46% chance you will contribute to the next release. Overall, 44% of individuals who have contributed, have contributed at least twice.  While on its head, that means 56% of people only contributed once, digging in I was able to find that from 3.2 to 4.3, if you contribute, there is a 70% chance you will contribute again.

A total of 12 individuals contributed to all 14 versions analyzed and 57 contributed to 10 or more versions.

What does this mean? Mostly that we need to continue watching for change in this regard. Outside of 4.4, WordPress has remained consistent. Adding the git mirrors didn’t change anything. Switching to including the build tools and tests in the repo didn’t either.  As the WordPress contribution process continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see what if anything moves the needle.