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WPTavern and The Great Wizard of Oz

Is it just me or am I the only one who’s completely miffed by the strange display of secrecy (anonymity?) behind the mysterious employer that owns-and-yet-does-not-operate WPTavern?

Jeffro has been incredibly coy about it all, although he’s mentioned in a recent blog post comment reply that his “boss” will soon share some more of these details:

I know we have the interview questions but my boss will be the one publishing a post here on WPTavern.com at some point in the near future that will explain a bunch of things.

(The “interview questions” are ones that I gave Jeffro a while ago, January 29th to be exact, that asked questions regarding the “owner” of the site. Oh, and another thing – does the idea of this “boss” feel so odd and weird to you? Maybe that’s just me.)

Many of us in the community have been waiting patiently despite growing attempts at WPTavern (globally) now asking for the community to continue to support the site and contribute content. Ryan Hellyer voiced my opinion better than I could when he replied:

I am weary of submitting posts to a website owned by someone mysterious though. If I’m helping support someone’s project, I kinda like to know who they are. I was happy to write guest posts for you in the past because I like you, but now I don’t know who it is I’d be supporting.

And this is the fundamental question that must be answered, especially in an open source community that we all know and love.

It’s just been such a confusing ride, hasn’t it? WPTavern has been in an on-off-on-off mode for quite some time with Jeffro and the “rest” of the community taking a step back, then being revived, and then taking a step back again and now apparently back to life yet again. There have been public announcements that departure would be “official” like this tweet:

But this hasn’t been the first time that questions like mine have been voiced – when the site was originally acquired for an “unknown” sum of money, the comments were rife with theories about who the buyer was and where the site was headed. More than a few even thought that Matt Mullenweg had purchased the site (which I thought was ridiculous).

Naturally, beyond just theory there have been a handful of conspiracy theories (oh, doesn’t everyone love those?!) such as Jeffro simply shutting down the site and reporting that it was sold:

Maybe no one bought the site and rather than keep explaining to folks that it is for sale, Jeff decided to just close it down.

If Jeffro really did shut down the site and he is in fact the real “owner” then that would be a massive ditch of a lie to dig oneself out of and would reduce any credibility that Jeffro had within the community to shreds. I can’t imagine that this would be the case but a cursory Google query will show you other similar thoughts.

For the record, I support Jeffro and his effort to revive WPTavern – that’s why I sent him those interview questions in the first place and even asked to be “connected” to the owner to figure out some way we could honor the great content and community that was built. I still haven’t received a response from said owner but perhaps maybe in time I will.

Who the heck knows at this point, right? I just wish the great Wizard of Oz in the land of WPTavern would come out of hiding and share with us what we’ve all been dying to hear – that there’s no place like home and Jeffro’s going to take us there with a click of his heel and great content to boot.

Public Responses So Far:

Here are a few that have responded:

Love to hear your thoughts!


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  • http://webdesign.com Benjamin

    I guess the great Wizard of Oz decided to strike down WPTavern for now… (I’m getting a database connection error)

    • http://www.wptavern.com Jeffro

      Yeah, I’ve experienced a few issues myself today such as a 500 Internal server error. Have no idea what’s up.

      • http://john.do/ John Saddington

        Are you not in the loop as to the servers and stuff (maybe your boss knows…)?

        What exactly is your role with Tavern? Do you do any IT-related stuff, business management, operations, etc? Or is it just writing exclusively?

        Honest questions, don’t really care either way.

        • http://www.wptavern.com Jeffro

          Right now, I’m just the primary content creator.

  • http://eamann.com Eric Mann

    I agree. It’s hard to read and respect a news site – since news sites are somewhat dedicated to transparency – without knowing who is behind the scenes driving the ship. I like Jeffro and I really do appreciate the work he’s done, but after all the “I’m gone” and “I’m back” and a mysterious unknown author, it’s hard to pay attention to the site any more.

  • http://www.thinkhuman.com James Gill

    Why all the twittering (in the old sense of the word) and mild obsession about a site that everybody claims it’s “hard to respect” and “hard to pay attention to”? I’m puzzled by the indignance, because–if you like it, then why complain? And if you don’t, why are you complaining to an “anonymous” person about it?

    “It’s just been such a confusing ride, hasn’t it?”

    Well, no. It seems quite clear. Easy choices here, friends.

  • Carl Hancock

    It’s all just very silly.

    • http://krogsgard.com Brian Krogsgard

      I couldn’t of said it better myself.

  • http://scottkclark.com/ Scott Kingsley Clark

    I’m also pretty confused. I’m super glad to see Jeffro back and in action w/ WP, but I haven’t seen an accurate explanation of the big picture yet. If the new owner wants to remain anonymous, it feels like there’s a conflict of interest involved. I can only guess who it might be, but I can’t see why the new owner wouldn’t approach this differently and provide a little more transparency here. If there is indeed a conflict of interest, disclose it, and move on, otherwise there’s a big gap here in trust/credibility of the tavern itself.

    Jeffro isn’t keeping this information private on his own accord, and he’s credible and respectable on his own. It’s just the tavern brand in question here. Jeffro writes great content, but isn’t in control of the brand, the site, or it’s direction.

    • http://john.do/ John Saddington


      I’m totally behind Jeffro – it’s the great wizard that’s confusing me (and many others).

      The question lies in one of “motivation” – what’s the “point” of staying behind the veil? Is there a conflict of interest, as you bring up? Then let’s have it out then.

      This community isn’t one that’s shy about controversy, that’s for sure… but I think we’re also one that’s able to forgive and ultimately move on.

      Ain’t nobody got time for dat!

  • James Farmer

    Haha, love how you call it John…

    Although I’m gonna call right back at ya… from http://www.wptavern.com/using-wptavern-to-share-your-knowledge-with-the-world

    “In the near future, WPTavern will become an authoritative website. It’s not about publishing 100 articles a day, but publishing content that is interesting and, providing research/back story to that content. ”

    Not a dig at anyone who might be producing a bunch of posts every day 😉

    “If you look around, you’ll notice that there are no ads on this site. WPTavern.com is not about generating revenue.”

    Not a dig at anyone who might have just started showing ads at all 😉

    “It’s about becoming the second largest WordPress community of users and enthusiasts on the web.”

    Doesn’t conflict with any other sites ambitions at all, in the slightest 😉

    Saddington, come clean, honesty = best policy 😀

    • http://john.do/ John Saddington

      Hah! Guilty as charged! ;P

  • http://geek.ryanhellyer.net/ Ryan Hellyer

    I doubt there’s any great conspiracy story here. Whoever it is just needs to come out of the shadows.

    I’ve heard a rumour about who the new owner is, but I highly doubt that rumour is true, as it would mean there is a huge clash of interest going on. So currently I’m rather flummoxed as to who the new owner could be.

    John, perhaps you should run a poll so people can guess who the owner is?

    In other news, I should be more careful with my grammar in blog comments as there’s apparently a risk I’m going to get quoted some place else 😛

    • http://john.do/ John Saddington


      Comments… quotable.


  • http://www.chipbennett.net/ Chip Bennett

    Okay, I’ll be the contrarian (yeah, so what’s new?), as say that I think it’s all Much Ado About Nothing.

    The content creation is what matters. Jeff’s personal reputation is on the line for any of his news or editorial content he writes. (The same would be true for the author of any submitted content.)

    Why does it matter who’s name is on the light bill?

  • http://geek.ryanhellyer.net/ Ryan Hellyer