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Welcome to the deep end

Developer. Front End Dev. Designer. User Interface Designer. Javascripterino. We all have a place in the WordPress ecosystem. We contribute to core, the plugin/theme repos, help out on forums and attend WordCamps. There’s a new kid at the pool, and he’s ready to mix it up a bit. The Amalgamator.

Making things easy… too easy?

WordPress lowers the bar for creating digital work. It began by lowering the bar for content publishing, and has grown to enable users with relatively low technical skill sets to create remarkably powerful websites. This is one of the key reasons it succeeds as a platform. This ability to take mere mortals and make them website creating superfreaks is its most promising attribute. They can buy hosting, and one click install. They can hit up Themeforest and grab one of a million themes. They can peruse the plugin repo and configure the crap out of a settings panel. They can crop a logo in Photoshop, and set hex colors for links. They bootstrap stuff together using whatever combination of plugins, snippets and duct tape that they can find.

They don’t know what they don’t know

Amalgamators don’t know PHP. They could browse the codex but not know what the crap it means. They certainly don’t know how to properly enqueue a javascript file. They know copy. They know paste. When something goes wrong, they come looking for your email, support forum, and twitter feed.

You and I may scoff at this skill set. If you’re in the deep end of the pool, these amalgamators seem like needy, whiny jerks with no sense of appreciation for your hard work. Think for a moment about how their friends, family, and clients see them. Remember the average person doesn’t know what an .htaccess file is and couldn’t give two shits about it. WordPress has enabled these Amalgamators to create incredibly powerful, beautiful, and feature rich web sites. “You’ve got an idea for a terribly doomed to fail Pinterest clone? Great, let me show you my dear friend BuddyPress and 15 different plugins and this $45 theme. You dream the dream, and I can make it happen.”

The Gall!

We may see that as hubris. But frankly, that’s besides the point. When we nerd out about WordPress taking over the internet, it’s these Amalgamators that are making it happen. They’re the ones supporting the premium theme marketplace, and the burgeoning plugin marketplace. When a corporate middle manager sees his grandmother rocking a WordPress blog, and he needs to pick a cms for that big budget upcoming gig, do you think he’s going to favor Drupal?

We can look down on these Amalgamators, and dismiss them as annoying noobs. But I see myself in them. I see people that have drunk the kool-aid. They want to build wonderful things, just like we do. They want to help their clients achieve their dreams, just like we do. They want to do good work, just like we do. Maybe they’re over reaching, but I respect that. We do it all the time too.

I am trying to find a way to embrace these folks. Our own success is tied to theirs. We may not be able to help every one that posts on our forums, but we can respect all of them. I can give them props for dreaming the dream.

Amalgamators. We salute you. Welcome to the pool.