My FOSDEM 2024 Talk: Migrating the WordPress Community from Slack to Matrix

When I submitted my application for a talk at FOSDEM 2024, we were still on for migrating the WordPress community to Matrix.

Alas, there were many factors that led us to pause the transition indefinitely, announced by Matt at the Q&A of State of the Word 2023. The most important factors were accessibility problems, some important feature-imparity compared with Slack, and the license changes at Element (to AGPL, with the requirement to sign a CLA when contributing).

The WordPress community has collected their issues in a Github repository. We tried hard to overcome the issues, through documentation, education (some things just work differently in a federated environment), and upstream patches (for example to address some of the accessibility problems).

In the end, I did not cancel but held my talk on February 4 at FOSDEM 2024 in Brussels, explaining all the things we did to lower the barrier of entry:

As well as bots and integration we created to fulfill the specific needs, such as these Maubot plugins:

  • Post to room: post messages via webhook
  • Relay: an integration can react to room messages via webhook
  • Group mentions: upon command a bot mentions many people
  • Watchdog: alert about community created rooms

Also, we held weekly meetings in the WordPress meta chat throughout the year, and published meeting notes afterwards.

There is a lot more in my presentation, I hope that my presentation slides can be helpful to other communities (or companies) trying to migrate from Slack to Matrix. Maybe some things that were a blocker for the WordPress community are not so important for other communities.

Finally, here is the video of the ~30 minutes presentation:

FOSDEM 2024 talk by Alex Kirk: Embracing Matrix for Enhanced Communication: Migrating the WordPress Community from Slack to Matrix

Kudos to my colleagues Paulo Pinto and Ashish Kumar who did a lot of the heavy lifting in the effort. Together we submitted around 40 upstream pull requests (on Synapse (pre-license change), Element-Web, Slack bridge, and more).

Prototype: Create a Website from a Screenshot and Refine It, All in the Browser

I’ve been working on this experiment, combining OpenAI’s gpt-4-vision-preview with WordPress Playground to create a website based on a screenshot.

This follows on the heels of Matt Mullenweg’s announcement at the 2023 State of the Word that in 2024, the WordPress project wants to work on Data Liberation.

While the typical approach to migrating data is to build importers for specific services, a truely universal migration could happen through screenshots. With AI vision this might now be in reach.

So I built this prototype that combines a OpenAI-powered chat interface with WordPress Playground. First a screenshot, a screen recording further down.

So this is only a start. The website somewhat resembles the screenshot but it’s far from being pixel perfect.

My idea is that you’ll work together with the assistant in refining the site. It can help you update, you can ask it questions. An import is rarely perfect from the start but you can see and test the result right away in the browser and refine it.

I imagine that when done, you can then transfer the site to a web hoster who from then on can host your website for everyone.

You can try this yourself here, you “just” need an OpenAI API key that will be stored in your local storage:

Source (very unpolished) at

Some notes on this first implementation:

  • Every message is a new conversation. Modifying a website can be token intense, so for now it cannot refer to previous messages.
  • It’s using function calling to allow OpenAI to gather more information to fulfil the request.
  • Chosing the right functions to provide can be tricky.
  • It uses different models depending on the task. gpt4-vision-preview for the screenshot, gpt-3.5-turbo for the rest. I need to experiment more with gpt-4 for the latter tasks.

Finally, a screen recording of an early iteration, I have since moved the chat to the right side.

As I’ve been working on the prototype, it has shown to be interesting to have the bot be there just for customizing sites, it can create and modify pages, update settings of the website. Maybe install plugins.

So starting with a basis from screenshots and imported data, it might just be able to assist you to arrive at a comparable WordPress website, and all with the ease and effortless setup of WordPress Playground. I wonder where we can take this!


Some screenshots from a recent version: