WordPress Research Challenge – Your help needed

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Researchers are often accused of working on irrelevant problems from an industrial perspective. While this is sometimes true I have the feeling that in many other cases it’s more of a communication problem: researchers don’t take the time to reach out and explain to professional communities how their work could help them.

Because of this I decided to make a small experiment. I submitted a talk proposal to WordCamp Europe 2015 (the largest conference of the WordPress community on this side of the Atlantic ocean) with the title: “Looking at WordPress through the eyes of a Software Researcher” and (very generic) selling pitch:

What does a researcher have to say about the WordPress source code and the community behind it? Join us on this talk on unusual “WordPress analytics” and see what we can learn, and improve!, from the way WordPress (and the plugin and theme ecosystem around it) is developed nowadays.

The idea is take this opportunity to show the WordPreses community that we (researchers) can help them a lot by using WordPress as a case study for our research. Let´s show the world that our salaries are worth paying and that with our effort we can improve popular software projects like WordPress (why focusing on WordPress? well, first of all remember that WordPress powers around 23% of the entire web, so it’s not a small community! and secondly I´m also a member of that community via Nelio so this will help me to interpret the results)

The talk has been accepted so it’s now time to collect a list of research techniques/prototype tools that could be used to improve (or give some interesting insights about) WordPress. Any aspect of it, from PHP / JavaScript static analysis tools to identify code refactorings, to algorithms able to detect security holes, to analyze the profile of the contributors and contributions to the project, to study the WordPress ecosystem (i.e. not only the WordPress code itself but the myriad of WordPress plugins and themes),…

Anything you have that could be applied to PHP, JavaScript, databases, Trac, SVN, Git (the official WordPress repo is on SVN but they have a Git mirror),… could be useful to analyze these different facets of the WordPress project.

Interested in showing milions of WordPress users how useful your research is? Contact me of leave a comment below and we’ll discuss how to feature your tool in the talk.

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