Goodbye WordPress

Goodbye WordPressToday’s the day I open up about my WordPress experience.

I’ve struggled whether it would be appropriate to share my experience and struggles in the WordPress community. A few people have encouraged me to open up. A few people have begged me to remain silent.

The cost versus benefit has been at the back of my mind for a couple years. I wanted to be honest but I also feared retribution. Damned if I do. Damned if I don’t. But I finally feel it’s time to open up.

The ride of a lifetime!

WordPress opened up a world I never expected.

I’ve worked with some of the best people in the industry. I helped create some of the most amazing products and training programs. I built friendships with incredible people around the world. WordPress provided me an extraordinary living for ten years. I’m truly thankful.

During this time I’ve been able to experience the highest of highs, but also the lowest of lows. As fun as a roller coaster ride can be, it was time to get off.

Why I “disappeared” from WordPress.

People have noticed my slow withdrawal from a community I was so actively involved in. Only a handful of people know the truth, but I feel that I owe an explanation to other friends and colleagues.

My goal isn’t to burn bridges or cause more #WPDrama. There’s already enough carnage here to last a lifetime. My purpose is to share a pain that is real and open up dialogue on how we can all be better humans.

WordPress as a community has a lot of dysfunction.

Most professionals in the marketplace already know this. They’ve observed it firsthand.

I’ve seen some of the worst in humans since starting in WordPress. Worse than any other corporate or military experience I’ve had. This doesn’t mean the dysfunction doesn’t exist in other industries. It’s just been more prevalent to me in WordPress.

Perhaps this dysfunction is attributed to the overall youthfulness of the community or that we mostly work remote or that there’s no true leadership because it’s open source. I don’t know the reason. It just is.

Bitterness, hatred, idolatry, bigotry, back-stabbing, egotism, alcoholism, envy, jealousy, and secret agendas are rampant. The closer you are to “The Community” the more you’ll see it and get hurt. It’s all very surreal.

It’s all quite maddening.

I don’t know why some of these things bother me they way they do. Friends have told me to ignore the noise or just focus on kicking ass. But when you’re connected to a world of people in an industry, it’s difficult to turn it all off.

Especially when you see wonderful friends compromising their values, their integrity, and their souls for acceptance or money or rockstar status. Or giving up all of their sensitive company information because people get them drunk and take advantage of it.

It pains me seeing people blindly following a dictating leader. I hate seeing people worship wolves in sheep’s clothing. I despise seeing the drama and the jealousy and the secret agendas.

I also loathe myself for being a participant in it all.

It’s not all them. It’s me too.

I’ve done my fair share of contributing to the #WPDrama or doing things I’m not proud of. I got wrapped up in the fantasy rockstar world and compromised my values to fit in and be recognized. It makes me absolutely sick to think how I handled situations in the past. I owe an apology to so many people.

My very real and dark secret.

It’s because of these situations and more that I found myself in a very dark place this year.

Between all of the painful moments adding up from my WordPress experience, and the fact that my business and non-profit have both failed, leaving me in a financial disaster, I wanted to end my life.

I won’t forget the moment I looked at my pistol and had that horrible thought.

It was the same week that Cory Miller shared his Iceberg Life presentation at Pressnomics. I was severely depressed and dealing with overwhelming anxiety. My failures in business were (and still are) excruciating. Life was unbearable because I was filled with hate, anger, bitterness, and envy.

It’s sobering to think that in a moment I could become so weak that the thought of suicide seemed like a better option. This is coming from a guy who doesn’t want to die ever! Thanks to Cory for listening to my story and getting me some professional help.

I’ve learned that my experience and feelings aren’t unique.

There are other people in WordPress  who think, feel, struggle, and hurt the same. I’ve talked with them. Only the majority of these great folks fear that opening up will result in serious retribution. This is sad given that WordPress is supposed to be an accepting ideology.

The reality is that people cannot speak their hearts or their minds. It can cost them everything. People are scared and that needs to change!

Mental health is critical.

You have to take your life seriously. You need to place your mental and physical health at the top of your list. Regardless of how screwed up WordPress and the world is, people need you.

It’s also important to find true friends you can count on. You need a REAL community of people who are trusting, open, genuine, caring, and who will have each other’s backs. I didn’t have that before, but I’m creating one now. I invite others to contact me to join. It could be a lifesaver.

It also goes without saying that all of us should seek the help of professionals on a regular basis. Even with a great support network we still need the advice of licensed counselors or psychologists.

Finally, there will be times when you have to remove yourself from an industry or group of people to guard your health.

My loving and caring wife has begged me for two years to change my path. She has observed firsthand the highs and lows. And she’s right … it’s time to change.

Goodbye WordPress.

It would be foolish to dismiss the good side of WordPress. It’s not all bad.

WordPress provided me a great living for years. The opportunities I’ve had are priceless. The platform is one of the best I’ve used for building and maintaining websites. And I will continue to use it as a business tool.

Some of the most amazing men and women I’ve ever known are involved in WordPress. You really can find people who are true friends and care about others.

Generosity is also a huge part of WordPress. There are companies and individuals who give their time, money, and resources towards helping others. Many helped Happy Joe launch.

WordPress as a career for me has run its course.

While I’m sincerely appreciative for all the friends who have invested in me over the years, I have to distance myself for peace of mind. I’ll still connect with certain people, but I want to do it in a way that doesn’t focus on WordPress.

I don’t know what I will do outside of WordPress. I’m scared as hell. But I believe I will be happier. The bad has finally outweighed the good and I can’t be consumed with it anymore.

I want to wrap up by giving a heartfelt apology to any person I have ever wronged or hurt in the community. I’ve tried to reach out to people personally and have had some success, but reaching everyone might not be possible. I am sorry for my part in any wrongdoing.

Hopefully this post and others will help people open up in honest conversations and the community will change for the best. It’s time it to make it happen.

Thank you for reading.



  1. John Locke on October 12, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    You’re not alone, James.

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      Thanks John!

      • Stew on October 13, 2016 at 9:04 am

        Hi James,

        Sorry to hear this. All the best for the future.

        P.S. You’ve misspelt your domain (and name!) wrong on your avatar link.

        • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 2:19 pm

          Thanks Stew, I appreciate it!

          And I saw that when I logged in this morning. Can’t even spell my own last name correctly. Geez! LOL!

  2. Matt Cromwell on October 12, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    This makes me really sad James. My heart goes with you and I’ll keep in touch and am always open to chat whenever you like.

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      Thanks for the kind words Matt! It has been a very tough time in so many ways but I am hoping to channel all of this into future success … and help other people going though the same things. Just because I’m not building a business or future in WordPress anymore doesn’t mean we can’t keep in contact. Would love to connect soon!

  3. Adam Fout on October 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Thank you for sharing — that took courage. I hope things get better for you.

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      I appreciate it Adam. It could all be worse. I am grateful for the many blessings I DO have!

  4. Jay Hughes on October 12, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing your struggles, James. If we aren’t honest about what we see, the community as a whole can’t address it’s shortcomings and correct them. Looking at how far WP has come, it has so much farther to go – the potential is amazing! Challenges like these, paired with change, will ensure that potential is realized and WP (both as a product and a community) doesn’t fade.

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      Great input Jay and thanks for the kind words. I do believe we benefit as a whole when we open up and are honest about situations. There is a lot of potential in WordPress. It would be sad to see it all crash because of the problems surrounding it.

  5. Topher on October 12, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Love you brother. Let me know if you need any help. I hope your next thing is amazing.

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      Thanks bud! Still pressing forward with Happy Joe and will forever … but have to make some other changes to make a living too. 🙂

  6. Ginger Coolidge on October 12, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    I’m so sorry to read about the pain and struggles you have experienced. I had no idea, but then I’m on the outskirts of the WP world in general. Please know that what you’ve done with your time and skills matters. I’ve shared some really private things with you and I have no regrets. I hope you continue to move forward on the perfect path for you and your family. I’m always here via Skype or email and you can chat any time you like. I’m not professional but I can listen! No strings attached 🙂 And, I’m not embarrassed to say my husband and I both are in counseling (separately), it’s a wonderful thing.

    Peace, love and kindness to you sir.

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      I really appreciate you Ginger! Sometimes I am an open book (too open) and other times I hold everything in until I become a highly explosive package. Being on the outskirts is a good thing. : )

      I’m thankful for the things you’ve shared and still want you two to be involved with what we talked about. Having wonderful people like you to talk with is a blessing and helpful.

      Donetta and I have had marriage counseling several times and I’ve been to counseling on my own. There’s no embarrassment in improving our lives. We all need professional help in life.

  7. Randy Cantrell on October 12, 2016 at 6:40 pm

    I know a guy – a transplanted Okie – down south a ways who you can always lean on. Be well. Get stronger.

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 7:12 pm

      We keep talking about talking! 😀 Now I need to follow through. Thanks Randy!

  8. Rich Robinkoff on October 12, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    You are so not alone! If only I published the post I have been writing about the darkness I see sometimes. You know how to get a hold of me!

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 7:13 pm

      We should talk Rich. There is power in numbers. Just because I struggled through a lot on my own doesn’t mean you should have to go alone. I’ll email you.

  9. Jackie on October 12, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story James and the struggle. As for regrets, looking back is always hard. Hindsight truly is 20/20. I’ve had my share of those regrets myself.

    Wishing you the very best in whereever your journey takes you.

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      You’re welcome Jackie and thank you for the comments. Happy Joe is still a part of the journey. Just trying to figure out the rest. It will all come together!

  10. Kerry on October 12, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Hey James,
    Interesting that this posts on the very day I spent my last day “on the job” – me leaving that environment under similar circumstances. Thankfully, I was able to recognize my circumstances well before I reached any level of lethal severity. It just goes to show that we all have limits.

    What breaks my heart in your story is that it had to happen within one of the many WordPress communities. I am grateful for your acknowledgment that “it’s not all bad”. And it gives me hope that I may be able to provide more of “the good” within my own WordPress related communities.

    I am blessed to have you as a friend and I look forward to future endeavors where our paths may cross again. I know that there is a lifetime of opportunity ahead of each of us.

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 7:18 pm


      Congrats on the decision to leave your job and pursue what makes you happy!

      I’m equally blessed to have you as a friend and we’ll continue to explore those business ideas. Now it’s all about focus and execution. I am sure you will find success as well and can count on me to help.

  11. Ed Nailor on October 12, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    I for one don’t understand the whole WPDrama thing.

    WordPress is a great tool that allows me to make kickass stuff. And that’s what I see it as. A tool.

    I love WordPress, and in general the overall community. Granted, I have not immersed myself in “all things WordPress” by any stretch of the imagination. I help others where I can and am inclined. I have spoken at local WordCamps and met some really cool people. But I never got religious about it, as its just a tool.

    It’s not the only tool, nor the perfect tool and I would never claim it to be the only tool. It is a tool I use almost exclusively but that has more to do with my own familiarity with WordPress than any ideology surrounding WordPress.

    Maybe that’s the difference for me. Or maybe I just never got “famous” enough in the community to really care about that.

    I am sorry to hear of your experience and I hope that where you go next is a good chapter in your life.

    For me, I will keep kicking ass with a great tool and we will see if I can keep the drama at bay.

    Good luck!

  12. carrie on October 12, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you for trusting me in the past with some of your story.

    Wishing you much success in your journey. And you always know where to find me!


    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 7:47 pm


      Thank you for allowing me to share my woes with you and being a damn good person. Your encouragement a few weeks ago led me to hit publish. We’ll have craft beers in Texas soon!



  13. Aleksandar P. on October 12, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Keep your head up,
    Inner happines before anything.

  14. Ahmad Awais ⚡️ on October 12, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    Hey, James!
    While we both do not know each other that well — reading this makes me very sad. I want you to know, that yes, life’s hard, business is hard, and sometimes people are too. Except for a small patch of 6 months, all my professional career I have done everything with WordPress (and I still am).

    I think no community is perfect, no software is perfect. While going through a very tough time myself, I can only tell you that you are not alone — yes the conditions are different but that’s the way it is.

    My only hope is that WordPress will someday mature as a community and the “Global” part of the community will be responsible for that. I am going to put up with work and everything until that happens. I am here if you ever need me.

    Good luck with whatever you have in mind for your future. May you do well.

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 10:35 pm


      Thanks for the thoughts. I know and understand that life, business, and people can be tough. I’ve been in some tough battles and trenches. 🙂

      No community is perfect. Agreed. Anytime people are involved in anything, it’s imperfect. I know that we can all learn from our experiences and that these experiences can make us stronger

      Hopefully WordPress will mature as a community and improve in the areas it’s weak. It’s a great platform and there are some amazing people involved.

      Thanks for your offer to hep and for your input.

  15. David Laietta on October 12, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    Not only are you not alone, but writing this allows us to know that we’re not alone either.

  16. Stefanie Newton on October 12, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    You don’t know me, but I wish you the best.
    As someone who is usually on the “outside,” I’m sad to know that this goes on. Thank you for writing your story. It’s important.
    I’m sure great things are in store for you.
    Best Regards,

    • James Dalman on October 12, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      Thank you Stefanie. I sincerely appreciate it!

  17. Terri Golas on October 13, 2016 at 12:26 am


    I am so very sorry that you are going through such pain and difficulties. I hope that you will find your way to a better place with the help of your family and supportive friendships. You have one here.


    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 1:47 pm


      Thank you. I don’t mean to whine about the challenges I’ve encountered this year. Many people are going through far worse situations on their lives. My hope is that we will all open up about our experiences and create conversations that can help us no matter where we are at.

      I miss our great conversations. Hopefully we can connect again soon!


  18. Gary on October 13, 2016 at 1:02 am

    Hi James,
    Thanks for being open & honest.
    Unfortunately, things aren’t always as rosy in the community as they appear to be on the surface.
    I hope things work out for you 🙂

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      You’re welcome Gary. And agreed that things aren’t always the way they appear on the surface. I’m sure the future will be amazing. Appreciate your comments.

  19. Billy on October 13, 2016 at 1:29 am

    I use to think I was a bad developer for never attending camps and reaching out to others in the community. But I’ve seen people tagging and talking about #wpdrama in the last few months and it’s made me curious. But not curious enough to reach out and see more about what’s going on. To be perfectly honest I can’t imagine a situation in WordPress that would be a drama-causing one. It seems to strange to me. Maybe because I’ve never entered the community. I just do what I do… develop, build out, and help clients.

    After reading this I’m curious enough to find some stuff to read on the subject because, again, I just can’t imagine it. I mean… it’s web development, it’s WordPress development… it seems too strange to think that #wpdrama would be a thing.

    But I also take your post as a warning. I’ll just keep doing my thing…

    I don’t do anything ground breaking. I just help people get their business, their blog, their store, or what-have-you up and running. And I’ve been grateful that I’ve almost never had an issue that I could not overcome with a simple Google search.

    I feel like I’m ranting a bit and I guess I am. It’s just, like I’ve said at least twice now, It’s strange that it would be a thing…

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Hey Billy! Thanks for taking the time to respond.

      There’s nothing wrong with not getting involved in the day to day dealings of WordPress. It can insulate you from the things I’ve discussed. I do feel that all of us need community though. It’s getting tougher to find great community anywhere … which is why I am starting a new one for freelancers. More on that soon. 🙂

      The best thing is what you are doing — focusing on your client needs and problems. That’s what matters. Keep the main thing the main thing!


  20. Tom Townsend on October 13, 2016 at 3:52 am

    James, wow. You and I have more in common than you may know. Took some real grit to publish this. I have struggled myself to put my experiences to written form. You & I talked some on this topic last year. In my case the WordPress community and my base here in Tampa supported me in some very bleak & dreary times I experienced, not too dissimilar to yours. I have also had to refocus my financial priorities to provide for my family and our need for adequate Health Care coverage that’s difficult to do on ACA or private insurance plans. In my experience Free Lancers get the shaft in this economy for health care, that’s a subject for another topic by itself for sure. WordPress is not a top focus for me at present. Given all it’s flaws, warts & all it still gives more to many, in ways they never would have envisioned.

    I have met some great people along the way and your included. Good luck on your ventures and don’t be a stranger to your friends in Florida. Ooh ha !

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 1:59 pm


      I appreciate you and we should talk. I know that you went through some tough times a couple years ago. Perhaps we can help each other and others going through the same thing.

      I won’t get started on health care!! Every year our premiums go up and our benefits get reduced. It’s a horrible joke for sure. Freelancers do get the shaft in many ways. Upwork and businesses like that contribute to the problem.

      WordPress is a great tool, but it’s not taken seriously by many business people or professionals as a community. The race to the bottom on low prices, the ideal that everything should be free, the drama, and lack of real leadership don’t help it.

      Your on my friend list Tom. You know you can always count on me. Hooah!

  21. Tom on October 13, 2016 at 4:33 am

    OK… I understand your feelings, but you didn’t list anything concrete that makes you leave, other than emotions.

    What specifically is making you leave?

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 2:03 pm


      Nothing is making me leave. It’s my choice to remove myself from a situation and community that has grown steadily worse over a decade. The list I made of problems is quite clear and concrete, though I’ve chosen not to delve into specifics to avoid slander or unprofessionalism.

      WordPress is a great platform but there are a lot of problems. Sometimes you have to get out when the gettings good.


  22. Ursula on October 13, 2016 at 5:11 am

    I know we’ve chatted, and I appreciate the trust you’ve had in me in the past few years with bits and pieces of this story. I’ve hated seeing you go through this, and I think it was very brave of you to put it out here for the world to see.

    I have appreciated the WP Community specifically for having met people like you. You are someone who made the WP Community for me a friendly, safe, and collaborative environment, and I want to thank you for making it as such for me. I am so very sorry that you’ve had to endure the hurt, hardships, and pain from what I’ve perceived as a good community – it makes me extremely sad to see someone I care about be hurt by something I’ve come to love so much! I haven’t involved myself with the WP Community as deeply as you have, though, so I haven’t been hurt by it in the same way. In any relationship, that’s how it goes, though – the deeper you’re in, the more vulnerable you’ll be to pain, so this very post speaks of your passion for the WP community itself.

    I greatly value your friendship, and if there’s anything at all that I can do to help you in any way, please don’t think twice about asking – I’m here for you, and I’m sorry if my day job made me a little distant lately, but I want you to know that I am here for you no matter what! You need to do what’s best for you as I’d like to be having fun chats with you for many more years ahead! *hugs* One day at a time, James – one day at a time.

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 2:23 pm


      You know how much I’ve valued your friendship over the years and I sincerely appreciate your encouragement. While I miss our conversations because life has been crazy, I know we will alway continue to connect and be friends. 😀

      Hopefully in all of our own lives we will begin to have meaningful conversations again and help not only ourselves, but the people around us. Thank you and hugs from Oklahoma!!


  23. Colin Needham on October 13, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Hi James,

    We don’t know each other but I’d like to say in my experience everything happens for a reason, I’ve been to those dark places and they ultimately prepared me to understand and help my daughter with her own problems. getting through these things makes you a much stronger person and I’m sure you will find what make you happy when the time is right.

    Good luck with whatever you do next, I’m certain you will be amazing.

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Hey Colin,

      Thanks so much for your thoughts. I agree that everything does happen for a reason. I’ve had a lot of horrible things happen in life already, and while it always sucked going through them, it also opened up opportunities for growth and helping others.

      Overall I am very blessed and happy. I have an amazing life, wife, family, and health. I don’t want it to seem everything is horrible. It’s just been a hell of a year and one that took me by surprise. I’m excited and passionate to be working on Being a veteran my calling is helping other veterans. I just have to find the best way to make it sustainable. 🙂

      I hope that you find happiness and peace through your own situation and that your daughter does as well. I’m always here to talk and help!


  24. Amanda Rush on October 13, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    Hi James,

    I’m so sorry WordPress, (the community at least), has done a number on your life. For me, it’s different, WordPress is the sane part of my life, but that’s because I’m straddling two different communities, the second of which makes WordPress look like pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows. I’m glad you published this post though, because people speaking up like this is the only way communities change. I’m also glad to see such a positive response in the comments. If you want to chat, I think you know where to find me. If not, shoot me a DM on Twitter and we can reconnect.


    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 2:12 pm


      I am so glad we are colleagues. As I wrote this post I also thought of you and the challenges you encounter daily. My problems are small, but I wanted to open up about them because I feel we ALL have a story to tell. When we open up in honest conversations it can bring healing and tear down walls.

      And I still want to get you involved in Happy Joe. I haven’t forgotten, just haven’t been able to make it work. We will stay connected.


      • Amanda Rush on October 14, 2016 at 12:30 am

        Hi James,

        I think whether or not problems are small depends a lot on perspective. For instance, while I’m not going to pretend the adaptation and problem-solving required by my blindness doesn’t create frustration, the important part is that I’ve learned to adapt, and so the problems don’t seem that large. Well, at least the day-to-day stuff. But being blind and having the associated issues doesn’t give me a corner on the hardship market. There’s plenty of that to go around, and it’s the only market where competition doesn’t matter.

  25. Rachael Strode on October 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm


    I’m so glad you opened up about this and I am sorry for your struggles. I too have lost my love of WordPress too. I have experienced almost all the things you’ve mentioned and the community I joined in 2005 is not the community that presents itself today. Quite the opposite in fact. I believe my WordPress days are over as well but that doesn’t mean God doesn’t have a plan and a future far greater. Best of luck in your new journey.

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 2:17 pm

      Thank you Rachael!

      I knew that you had some challenges in the past in this community (I remember our conversation from years ago). I’d love to reconnect with you again. And you are right, God does have a better plan. I’m excited and scared about the future but I’ve been through transition before. Any way that I can help you, please let me know.


  26. Katie on October 13, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Leap and the net will appear! I think you will be fine. All the best!

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      Haha! Thanks Katie. I am no stranger to risk and leaping into the unknown. Appreciate it.

  27. Tomas Forsman on October 13, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    This article made me very happy. Not because you’ve had to endure all of this, ofcourse, but because I strongly believe that opening up about these issues are the only way to combat mental health issues as well as bad cultures.

    Working with both mental health issues and web development this piece will stick with me for a long time.

    Be proud of this post, be very proud.

    Warm regards


    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      LOL! I appreciate it and know what you mean.

      I feel that many freelancers encounter these problems at a higher rate. Likely due to isolation, long hours behind a computer, and not investing in ourselves as much as we do our clients. But we do need community and we do need real conversations to help us through!

      Thanks Tomas. My door is always open.

  28. Luke Gedeon on October 13, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Hi James,

    I am interested in that REAL community you mentioned. You have my email via the comment form and my twitter is @lgedeon.

  29. Josh on October 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    It’s not a real good bye as your blog is wordpress lol

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      Haha. Yes, I never said I was not going to use WordPress anymore. 😉

  30. alex vasquez on October 13, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    Hey James,
    I read your post. I’m glad you wrote it. I’m also sorry you’ve been going through such rough times. This line of work is a meat grinder… I often wonder how worth it is. I think you’re brave for sharing your story. I wish more people were honest with how they’re feeling. I talked a little about that:

    Best of luck, but I don’t think you should “leave.” There’s far more good than the bad you’ve seen. That said, keep it moving.

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 8:24 pm


      Great to hear from you! Appreciate your thoughts. Anytime we work in our own business it’s a grind and challenge. I think the past year was just a culmination of things and I finally realized something had to give. There has been – and is good in WordPress – but for me I feel my time within the community is over. I’ll still be contact with some folks, will use the platform, and encourage our military community to learn it.

      I’ll check out your video. Thanks for being here!


  31. Cap'n Jack Sparra on October 13, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Sad to hear of your struggles James, you are certainly not alone, thanks for sharing.
    Best of luck with whatever you decide for your future.

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      Every challenge is a new opportunity. Perhaps even unite those of us who fight the battles daily. Thanks for the words.

  32. Paul Lacey on October 13, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    Hey James,

    I’m quite new to Twitter. I somehow ended up following your tweets. So I am really not part of the social side of WordPress.

    I just wanted to say… I really found you to just be a good natured human, down to earth and humble with great talent, ideas and values. And you have a great portfolio that I very much admire. And that’s without us ever conversing or meeting.

    I try to remind myself often…

    All you need is love. The Beatles.

    No regrets… They don’t work. The great bard Robbie Williams.

    Cheers buddy

    • James Dalman on October 13, 2016 at 11:37 pm

      Your comments mean a lot to me Paul. I appreciate it a lot.

      The Beatles were right. All we need is love.

  33. Aky Joe on October 14, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Namaste, _/\_
    After reading your emotional expression above, I am quite sure that 70-80% of the WordPress community is already affected by this #WPDrama. It may stay in the dark or get stacked by multiple level of cosmetic layers, but its surely affected inside.
    Being a strong believer of change, one needs to push itself to go against the flow. [“Good-bye”] [“Suicide”] don’t surprise the world now, as they’ve seen more deaths. But it saddens more about the fact, that community just lost another valuable player. Sorry, I can’t evaluate much about your career with WordPress, but can relate the pain with, a Soccer Team losing its Coach, a little toddler losing Batman or a community losing a moderator.
    The change is the only permanence we’re gifted with and accepting a change is as natural and divine. If not WordPress, you will find something soon to rest upon.
    Peace. _V_

    • James Dalman on October 14, 2016 at 7:42 pm


      Thank you so much for your input and words! I do hope that things will change for other people going through the same battles and struggles and that the drama will be less in years ahead.


  34. Prinz on October 14, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    Hello James,
    what a big step you took – wow – take my deep respect. Would love to get in contact with you, just as one person of your new community you are going to build.
    Well, I am far away of being a WP experienced person nor do I communicate properly in English (am a non-native)… However, I could share with you all that experiences and pain of changing live and believe, I can exchange with you some valuable thoughts how to ‘get new sense also started all over again) after being that deep.
    Think about it and let me know.

    • James Dalman on October 14, 2016 at 7:44 pm

      Thank you Prinz for your comments. I’d love to keep connected and have you check out the community I (and others) will build:

  35. CJ Andrew on October 16, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    Hi James.
    This is a heartfelt post, which touches on several vital issues, including the fact that:

    1) Mental Health is critical for us all; especially for freelancers, or entrepreneurs, who mostly work remotely. I’m glad you were able to recieve the help you needed, to push through. We all get challenged at different points in life, and getting the required help is key to being able to move forward.

    2) Community is vital; even though you’re taking a break from the “WordPress community”, the fact that you’ve identified a community, shows the importance and influence of the same. I think groups should band together based on common interests, ideology, or accountability, and not because they use a software product. The problem with the connotation of a “WordPress community”, is that it is essentially a dispersed body of folk, who do widely varying things with the WordPress software, and who have varying ideologies. This is a recipe for problems (as you’ve confirmed). The best communities are the ones where people support each other and add value to their lives, not pull each other down.

    Personally, I use WordPress daily, but have no experience of the “community”; and this is mainly by choice, because there is no actual community. Its just a group of disparate folk, where the loudest voice wins, and superstar status is gained (mainly) by virtue of clique or association.

    This certainly does cause problems, and I’m sorry that you’ve had a bad experience of it.

    It is for this reason that I believe “” is a good idea to bring together people who have similar ideologies, and who can truly support each other.

    Kudos for this post.


    • James Dalman on October 17, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Hey CJ!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Appreciate it.

      1) Finding peace and happiness within ourselves is critical. This doesn’t meant that every day will be without challenges, but we can find healthy resolutions despite of them. I’m no stranger to tough times or difficult circumstances, but this past year I had a harder time dealing with them. In part because of the company that I kept and for other reasons.

      2) Agreed that community is vital; if it’s the right community. There are so many “communities” in WordPress and I don’t mean to single out the entire group as bad. There are awesome people in the WordPress ecosystem for sure. I’ve met them. But I also know people and circumstances I want to no longer associate with. Because of my connections and time in this industry, it’s more difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s just best that I find or create new communities … which will never be perfect either, but more in line with my values and ethics.

      Freelance.Camp is an experiment and was born out of hundreds of conversations with freelancers searching for something similar. We’ll see if it works! Thanks!!


  36. Vitor Madeira on October 17, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Greetings from Portugal!
    We don’t know each other, but let me tell you that it is so easy to find common points on this situation… I don’t want fingers pointed to anyone, but I really feel that the whole “ecosystem” is kind of biased in order to make things ‘difficultier’ to seniors and easier (or only ‘sense-making’) to younger ones…
    The younger, yes, they might have the energy and power, but how they lack on the experience, humanity, warmness, etc., and that is why “the community” (I would called it more “the club”) is kind of turning it self in a “machined-liked driven system” where feelings, humanity, emotions, etc, matter less… Humans will find they are not that welcomed around such places… But then it will a bit late for an “Open Source” community.
    I bet you can’t imagine how things get really ugly when trying to do some simple tasks as basic as translating some strings on WordPress from English onto local language (and trying to manage quality and consolidation with people from a another nation who speaks the very same language but has the normal local differences…) Being banned from forums and/or Slack, etc. is just the top of the iceberg…
    It’s being an authentic civil war…

    • James Dalman on October 17, 2016 at 1:54 pm


      Greetings from the United States! Thank you for your thoughts.

      I think it takes people from every age and background to build a great, well rounded community. When I first started my career in WordPress, I was the old man. Most of my colleagues were 19-23 and I was 38 years old. It drove me nuts at first because the “young ones” didn’t have the experience to run companies or build a community. But what they lacked in life or business experience, they made up for in a variety of ways. I learned so much by working with younger people and I attribute part of my success to this experience. We can all learn from each other.

      The biggest issue is The Club, but it’s because of ego and secret agendas, not age. The few dictate for the larger group. There needs to be better, genuine leadership in this community in order for things to change. But this is also a problem with Open Source in that everyone is a leader and contributor.

      Sounds like you’ve encountered some bad situations yourself. I’m sorry you had to go through that.


  37. Brian Becker on October 17, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Failure sucks! Your company (eg, your baby) dying in front of you is what you think is the most painful thing in the world, well, until you turn around and realize that you didn’t just lose your shirt…but your wife’s and kids’ shirts as well. Failure sucks!
    But I’ve come to realize that successful people fail. But learning how to recognize and stop the downslide of failure is key and, mostly, only learnable first hand.
    My great-grandfather came to the USA at age 1 in 1840s with his mother and $0. He was a millionaire in his 20s, and then lost it, and then a millionaire again and lost it and had a mental breakdown, then in the late 1880s he came back and made it all back again and went on to do amazing things: most notably buying a St Louis baseball team and turning them into the St Louis Cardinals.
    Failure sucks, I’ve lost millions and a staff of 50 is down to me. I am scrapping my way out. I can’t wait for my great-grandkids to tell my story in 100 years.
    Failure sucks, but a good teacher if you listen…just NEVER let it define you.
    May God grant you mercy and grace as you press on through the failure toward your own great story. Can’t wait to tell you mine, and hear yours.

    • James Dalman on October 17, 2016 at 1:59 pm


      Thanks. While failure does suck, I also embrace it most of the time. This year was an anomaly for me. I would rather try and fail, than to never try at all. This is why you will see me pivot my ideas or blow them up and start over.

      I almost lost everything after 9/11. I’ve been extremely broke and had to explain to my kids why the lights got turned off. I know how to live off Ramen Noodles and MREs. All of that sucked but I bounced back from it. I will again. You will too.

      Look forward to connecting with you about our stories. Blessings!


  38. DavidC on October 17, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    James, I was sent to this post from a post at wpmudev.

    I am not a member of a WordPress Community, but have been a member of other so-called communities in the past.

    I do use WordPress for my sites and as such, probably rely on an army of developers working in the background, to make tools that I either use or buy on a fairly regular basis.

    I’ve been a position in the past with another “community” where the reality was it was just a bunch of people posing and posturing to make a name for themselves. Like you, I wouldn’t necessarily exclude myself from that kind of action – we all want recognition.

    I “left” the environment that was becoming damaging to me on a personal level (we all take stuff to heart) and decided to work for a while in “real world” where I could deal with real people again. It helped enormously and enabled me to build two very successful businesses.

    I’m in my mid to late fifties now – I started one of my current businesses three years ago – it’s never too late.

    My “work” is no longer online. The “tool” I use to build web sites for my own businesses is WordPress- and that’s all it is – a tool to allow me to market my goods and services (none of which are in any way web based) to a niche targeted audience.

    The businesses allow me daily interaction with others. Don’t build for others. Build for yourself and literally build yourself at the same time.

    Good luck. That was an incredibly brave post.

    • James Dalman on October 17, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Appreciate you coming over here and sharing your thoughts Dave. Thanks for the advice!

  39. Paul Bonnici on October 17, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Hi James,

    I haven’t been involved in the WP community itself per se, by choice. I’ve been a developer/designer for a long time. I’ve seen this before. I joined the Joomla community on 2008 thinking it would be so great! They had such promise… By 2009, I’d discovered some really weird bugs in Joomla 1.5, one that was truly annoying to most users, and only needed a single line of PHP code to fix! I submitted, heard nothing… wen’t through all the hoops, got told they would look at it when they had time, they had more important things to work on. One line of code in two files! I checked with the Joomla user community, they begged me to tell them how to fix it. So, I packaged it up to easily be deployed, had over 1,000 downloads the first day! Then I got blacklisted by the Joomla Dev’s! Found another far simpler but serious bug and was just ignored completely. So, I packaged it & sent to the user community. They had declared a function as “Static” when it shouldn’t have been! It was chewing memory that wasn’t necessary.

    I decided I’d had enough of Joomla & quit. I joined the Drupal community, but by 2013, I decided to give WP a shot. But only as a user or 3rd party developer. I’d had more than enough of *communities*! Especially after discovering that the Joomla crew had finally put my fixes in 1.8 without a single thanks or attribution. I ended up having a complete mental breakdown not long after (there were a lot of reasons besides Joomla). My mind seemed gone and I wasn’t who I used to be! And I hated it. I was in the Aus. Military in the 80’s. So death has no fear for me, or is a stranger. I thought about it. A good Councillor (who worked with Vet’s) saved my sanity. 🙂

    Sorry for the long *rant*. My point is, WP isn’t the only developer community that needs a good kick in the pants now and then! 😉 And we all need to admit there is a problem, and find the help we need. Betrayal is the worst thing I discovered (for myself anyway), and it’s always a *friend* or friends. Now I’m having a fight with the Pinterest dev’s! It seems that dysfunctional *communities* is the norm rather than the exception.

    I finally joined WPMU DEV in 2014 as a Premium Developer, partly because they are an Aussie company here in Melbourne, so I can go bang on their door if they annoy me! LOL So far, they have been great. 🙂 I’ve also joined a few other “3rd party” WP org’s to help me out.

    I’ve had 2 very successful businesses, and one total and dismal failure! That ended in 2002. It still haunts me. I’m now trying to get a 4th business up and running using WP as the platform. But keeping my options open. 🙂 We’ll see how it goes. It’d hard because I’m really just getting back on my feet.

    So yeah, you are not alone! You show honor and strength. And as a vet, I salute you!
    Believe it or not, you have helped me. I hope I can help you in some way.
    All the very best, and good luck! 🙂

    • James Dalman on October 26, 2016 at 1:59 pm


      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and for your military service as well! Sorry you’ve experienced a lot of problems on your journey. I agree that all communities and all of us, need a good kick in the pants from time to time.

      I realize that any space we move into, there are going to be people or situations who are toxic. My objective is not trying to “escape reality” as some may think, but to remove myself from a situation that has brought a lot of unhappiness to my life. It’s not the bad few that are pushing me out but rather I need a breath of fresh air. Sometimes we need change. 🙂

      Hopefully we can all learn from our mistakes, and that as humans, we do our best to make positive changes instead of bad ones. I wish you the best on your journey as well.

  40. Just Rando on October 26, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Interesting post, must have taken courage to write that.
    As a WP dev, I can’t say I have seen this side of the community, because I’ve never bothered to be part of it.
    for the most part, I have only ever seen people helping out with code and tips on forums and message boards and have only ever seen the people who refer to themselves as “rockstar” devs that come across as used car salesmen.

  41. Jeff Starr on October 26, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    Nothing new here. It’s been this way for a long time now. I’ve been actively engaged with WordPress for over 10 years. I write WP books, plugins, themes, and LOTS of tutorials. Have always managed to stay out of the heavy drama, but there’s a lot of stuff that’s just inescapable. I never complain about it online; it’s just a part of the game. Pros and cons, like anything else. I still enjoy and use WordPress, but I’ve been opening up and embracing new things, moving in new directions. WordPress won’t be the last thing that defines my career.

  42. Mark on November 7, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    I’ve worked in the realm of WP for a dozen years and have never once felt the need to become part of the community in the sense of getting involved with meet ups, conferences, dev groups etc. I just do what I need to do to get my work done, send bug fixes to wherever when the need arises, and move in my own circles. Turns out great. All I concern myself with in terms of WP is what changes are coming to the code and how will those changes affect my code. Other than that, I don’t have time to become part of this or any WP cliques.

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