The Great Data Liberation

Late in 2023, ​Matt Mullenweg announced a new initiative for 2024​ that he’s calling “Data Liberation”. If you look anywhere across the WordPress community, I’m sure you’ve seen or heard about this initiative.

Migrating your site to WordPress, or exporting all your content from WordPress, should be possible in one click.

So what does this actually mean for you?

Well, as plugin developers, It truly starts with our work and the way that we handle user data.

Our goal is always about solving problems for users, but we should also be stewarding data as best we can.

As a plugin developer, steward user data well

When a user decides to install our plugins, they’re entrusting us with their data. How can we provide the best experience?

  • Store data in a clean structure
  • Spend time learning what data is critical
  • Build out robust no-code export features

Some of these things might be difficult for you to implement, but I urge you to support the Data Liberation movement this year.

Provide data in a format users need

When you developed your plugin, you might not have given a ton of thought on how you were going to store the data you save.

Maybe you just saved it in the wp_options table, as post meta, as individual posts, or ​even in a custom table​.

This year, focus on responsibly storing and retrieving data. You know where the data is stored, users shouldn’t have to dig to find it.

​I’ve written before about exporting data​, so take some time this year and build an export. If you already have an export feature, why not try and provide a few different types: CSV, JSON, XML

Users will appreciate that you don’t lock any of their data up.

Data Liberation Goes Both Ways

Finally, don’t forget that data can go both ways. As the WordPress community leans into migrating outside users into WordPress, we must make sure that we don’t become the same systems that frustrate users.

Currently, WordPress is leaning into getting users off other platforms and into WordPress, but what about users who want to move away from WordPress?

We should strive to be good stewards of the data we help users manage and give them the freedom to take it wherever they want, however they need it.

The internet is a wonderful place, let’s give it more freedom.

In Summary

As plugin developers, we should be providing the example for the rest of the WordPress community.

With more than 60,000 plugins extending WordPress, there are some truly incredible plugins out there.

Let’s lead the charge into data portability, supporting users the best we can.

Other perspectives and thoughts on the Data Liberation movement: