The conclusion after being confused for so long is that the WordPress Foundation does not want contributors to core to determine the direction of where WordPress is heading. It took a while, but I think there is enough evidence to suggest this is quite the possibility. I would love to hear what the response would be.
I predict it would be something along the lines of, "We'd love to hear feedback from trusted developers who contribute to core." Except, the fact is more that what they should say is, "We'd love to hear feedback from trusted developers who contribute to core that already match our decision."
The decision to stop supporting wp-hackers mailing list by Jen Mylo could be seen as trying to remove noise from signal and provide a better mechanism for discussions. From the reality it seems that noise included any and all criticisms of what Automattic and the WordPress Foundation was doing. Included in the noise, actual discussions of better solutions or solutions of where WordPress should go.
Before I left the WordPress core dev community in 2009, it seems very much that under Jen's direction that external discussion of where WordPress should head was very much not appreciated. The response was always, "Wait until the planning meeting for next version and we'll discuss it then." For which my response was, "I have to wait 2 to 4 months, before getting feedback or discussing tickets that could go into this release?"
Damn! That demotivating as all fuck. I tried to join the WordPress core community again in 2010 and the response was the same. The melt down came when Jen decided to post something towards how the community could work towards bettering WordPress or something similar. I was incredulous towards that post given what I experienced in the community over the 18 months I was working within it.
My Experience Was Esoteric
For the longest time, I just figured that since I was an asshole, that I got special treatment and was pushed out, because fuck me right? I just contributed a little inline documentation or some shit. Right? I suppose I'm very much butt hurt from that discussion. When Nacin decided to threaten to blackmail me, I'm said, "Fuck this! If the core team is going to steep so low as to threaten to blackmail someone, then this is not a community I want to be part of."
You had a toxic individual telling me I was toxic and wasn't welcome. Fine. I wasn't being paid to work on WordPress. I did that because it was fun and I was learning. After it stopped being fun in 2009 and in 2010, I just decided to drop WordPress and do other things with my time.
I thought my experience was an edge case, but I would be wrong. WordPress doesn't like individuals that take it upon themselves to improve WordPress in ways that are not inline with what WordPress Foundation members have decided.
The WordPress core team hides behind this idea that they are the protectors of the User and need to stick to the 80/20 rule. That users are what matters and therefore anyone not jumping on their direction need to go away.
Is 200 Really a High Number?
My question has always been, "If WordPress allowed more patches and gave more feedback for patches, then would they have more contributors?" I never knew because I never had a frame of reference. WordPress is proud that 200-300 people contributed to WordPress.
I would question whether they would have more, had they not shunned programmers attempting to improve WordPress. I would question if WordPress would have more if they adopted Git model of version control and allowed others to improve WordPress and test WordPress independent of the WordPress Foundation.
I never knew what the answers of these would be. Even with the high number, given the amount of people that use WordPress, you would think that number would be higher. I wouldn't consider the contributors high, until you get to 1000.
Also, the last time I ran the statistics, the report was that majority of contributors submit 1 to 3 patches for 1 to 2 tickets. The statistics is from 2010 and I'm planning on refreshing the statistics in the future with proper reporting. I'm curious what the number of major contributors would be since there are companies that pay employees to work on WordPress full time. I would guess the number would be around the same.
My guess would be that the more people with commit access going through and looking at bugs, the more contributors. That does seem to hold out, but adding a mere hundred more contributors still seems small.
Do As We Say
It seems to me that the WordPress core team doesn't care about what you think, only that you contribute and fix the bugs that are in the Trac. You might say that this makes sense right? Fix bugs and contribute to core. The problem is that WordPress itself is a bug.
What I mean by that is that the way WordPress is developed is prone to errors and is extremely difficult to accurately and easily test. It is more than just refactoring for refactoring sake. It is more, refactoring to break WordPress into chunks that could be isolated and tested separate from the overall system.
It does not seem members of the core team are interested in doing this or at least allowing someone to do this outside of their plans.
This has always been an issue of WordPress. WordPress Foundation and its members do not seem to understand Quality Assurance. They paw at QA wondering if they can consume it or if it is poisonous, but they have no idea what that term means. Or at least give the impression of it.
The reason they don't care about it, is that it isn't a concern they have at the moment. They are content with bumbling through WordPress development wondering why everything is burning down around them. If they stopped to wonder about getting a team together to actually prevent the fires in the first place.
Then well, you would have to have a competent team managing WordPress in the first place now wouldn't you? The first conclusion was that the core team is incompetent and wouldn't know good code if it kicked them in the teeth. I don't believe that conclusion is accurate. Many on the core team have many years of experience, so it is difficult to believe that would be the truth.
More than likely there are those who wish they could improve WordPress. Really improve WordPress, but dare not, because the key players would strike it down like they would any external contributor.
WordPress Foundation doesn't give a fuck what you as a developer want to do to improve WordPress. They want you to just shut your face, put your head down and fix bugs the core team themselves created. You be a good boy, oh yes you are, and maybe, just maybe, they will allow you to join their club.
Just don't create any waves, because they will drown you.