The WordPress Theme Review Team (TRT) restructured its administrative duties and laid out its new team organization after yesterday’s semimonthly team meeting. This is not the first time the TRT has restructured to meet the growing demands of the official theme directory over the years. The team is moving toward a flat structure that spreads its responsibilities to various project representatives.

The original team consisted of a purely merit-based system where members worked their way up the ranks, becoming moderators and eventually admins. Each level provided more access and responsibility. In 2017, the team restructured to a lead-based system in which two team leads rotated every six months. The time limit was put in place to prevent burnout. Some leads ran the team beyond the six-month limit during this time, but it was not always easy to find replacements who wanted to take on the full responsibilities of managing everything. There was also concern among some team members that the rotation schedule wasn’t strictly followed with some leads overstaying their allotted time.

In meetings and discussions over the last several months, various members drafted proposals on changing the team structure. The now-former team leads and a group of moderators created the new plan to split the team into specific projects, each with at least one representative.

The following are the new sub-teams and representatives.

  • Theme review representatives: Sandilya Kafle and Carolina Nymark
  • Theme packages representative: Ari Stathopoulos
  • Automation representative: Denis Žoljom
  • Theme handbook representative: Ana Alfieri
  • Communications representative: William Patton

The five projects cover the team’s current duties and spread out the workload. “That’s kind of what this is about,” said William Patton. “It’s making sure that no one single person handles all the things and that it’s shared between all.”

The new structure doesn’t mean there’s no room for other projects. If a team member has a particular itch they want to scratch, they’re open to spearhead that project. All the power is no longer consolidated into a couple of people’s hands.

“Sharing the load and spreading people’s specific skills between things they know and are investing time into makes sense at this point,” said Patton.

The team will no longer rotate leads (or representatives in this case) every six months. If someone needs to step down from their representative role or take a break, finding a new representative will be handled on a case-by-case basis. “We all have our strengths and passions. The thing that we also need to work on is finding people who are willing to participate and eventually take over when we feel tired,” said Denis Žoljom.

Žoljom has been leading the automation project for while by maintaining the Theme Review coding standards and Theme Sniffer plugin. He’s currently looking to move the WPThemeReview ruleset to the official WordPress GitHub. “This is necessary because we want to use it in Tide,” said Žoljom. Tide is an automated tool for improving code quality in plugins and themes.

“My personal goal would be to see if we can improve the review process – either by working on the GitHub review idea I had a few months ago, or by working on the automated tools that help the users,” said Žoljom.

The theme review representatives will handle the traditional role of overseeing the reviewing responsibilities of the team. Little will change in that regard since it’s the primary duty of the TRT. They will continue moderating themes and handling guideline changes. “However, they can consult with other reps to make the final decision and to make new changes,” said Sandilya Kafle.

The WordPress docs team has now handed over responsibility of the theme developer handbook to the TRT. “I think we should try to keep coherence between the two handbooks, so we avoid saying one thing in one and another in the other,” said Ana Alfieri about the differences between the developer and review handbooks. At times, such difference have been points of contention between TRT members. Having both handbooks in sync on best practices will help keep reviewers and theme authors on the same page.

Ari Stathopoulos recently took over as the representative for theme packages in the past month. The packages project aims to build standardized drop-in modules for developers to use in their themes. This specific project may also have various developers handling specific packages.