Joost DeValk aka Yoast in the community has produced his first episode of his WordPress podcast called Press This published through Webmastradio.FM. In his first episode, Joost interviews John Gridley who is an Automattic new hire. Also during the show, Joost answers questions from the chatroom on optimizing WordPress for Search, one of his specialties. After all, he’s the one responsible for the Joost Boost (SEO Optimization) for StudioPress themes. The show comes in at 33 minutes so it shouldn’t be too hard to consume.
By Jeffro on August 5, 2009
By Jeffro on July 31, 2009
WordPress.com, the commercial service owned and operated by Automattic has undergone a redesign. Now, I can’t tell you what changed and what didn’t because I don’t visit the site often enough to notice the changes. However, if I had to take a guess, I’d say the footer is different, some things have been rearranged, but overall, the clean and simplistic look is still there.
However, upon looking for a screenshot of WordPress.com before these recent changes, I dove into some WordPress.com history based on the results of the Internet Archive. WordPress.com has been around for a long time, long before I even knew there was a WordPress. Upon browsing through the results that the internet archive has, it’s very interesting to see the progression of the site/service. At one point, it looks like Matt or Automattic lost control of the WordPress.com domain but eventually got it back. Also worthy of note are the links to OpenDomain.org which was a service that provided opensource project domains. I have no idea if WordPress was an open domain or not but it certainly appears as though Drupal.com was.
With all that said, lets take a visual tour down memory lane of the WordPress.com domain with special thanks to the Internet Archive.
July 2004 – Dec 2004
WordPress.com displays a parked domain page for the better part of the year and during the middle of December of 2004, WordPress.com turns into a free domain that is available for use as an open source project.
Feb 2005 – May 2005
WordPress.com goes through a few errors during the first part of the year but during May, WordPress.com ends up back in control of the WordPress team. Obviously, this implies that they lost control of the domain some how. Not sure what happened but this is the first time in the Internet Archive where I see the WordPress image logo for the first time. Also, it’s the first time I see a link to WordPress.org which just for giggles, I highly encourage you to check out what it looked like at the time the link was published. My goodness, that design reminds me of bbPress today! Good thing they are getting a redesign!
May 2005 – July 2005
The same WordPress logo and page text stuck around from May to mid July but around July 28th, the excitement level for WordPress.com should have been ramping up as the page offered up a form to sign where interested users could be notified once the site went live. The signup also reserved the person’s username.
July 2005 – August 2005
Soon after the form goes online, WordPress.com goes through a minor redesign on August 17th where users can enter their invite code or signup to receive an invite code. At this time, the credit link on the bottom of WordPress.com says that WP.com is powered by WordPress. At this point, we can say hello to the beginning of the branding nightmare that haunts us today.
During the month of September, WordPress.com introduces Hot Blogs Today alongside the invitation form which till this day, still exists on the front page of WordPress.com. Among some of the hot blogs at the time were Matt On WordPress, Lorelle On WordPress, Ryan On WordPress, and Ubuntu Blog. Also on this page, there is text where the Open Domain link used to be which says Domain Donated By Ric Johnson. Just as a WordPress.org tidbit, version 1.5.2 was making it’s way around the web.
Around October 23rd of 2005, WordPress.com sports their support of the Flock browser. They consider it to be like FireFox but with goodies.
On November 24th, 2005 the archive of WordPress.com showcases the full design instead of a CSS less page. We get to see the blue colors, the WordPress.com logo and the W. On November 30th for the first time, WordPress.com displays an image logo of Automattic in the bottom right hand corner. The image linked to a landing page for Automattic.com which also linked to WordPress.com and Akismet. What I find fascinating is that the Akismet site design has been the same since 2005 but it has always looked refreshing to me and it still does.
On December 10th, 2005 the WordPress.com homepage changes to show a Username And Password box. Above the login form, there is text that explains WordPress.com has over 37,000 other bloggers on the service. Below the login form is a block that features WordPress.com news. Also on December 10th, the WordPress.com header design features snow flakes which has become a tradition. Just two days later on December 14th, the number jumps up to 39,000 bloggers. By the time December 31st arrives, WordPress.com has over 51,000 users.
WordPress.com adds a section to the homepage that enables users to submit their email address to retrieve their activation key. At this time, WP.com has over 92,000 users. Also introduced is a change to the WordPress.org promotion link at the bottom of the page. Instead of a link to WordPress.org, it took you to WordPress.org/hosting as a list of recommended webhosts with affiliate links to those webhosts. This page exists today and amazingly, is not that much different.
WordPress.com introduced a new navigation link called Topics which was in fact, tag functionality in WordPress in beta form. On the WordPress.org side of things, WordPress was at version 2.0.2. Also, WP.com now had over 119,000 users.
In June, WordPress.com added the Blogs Of The Day to their front page.
In addition to hot blogs of the day, hot posts of the day were also linked to from the WP.com homepage. Also in July, a new link was added to the footer (Contact Support) where users could contact support through a contact form.
The footer of WordPress.com become a little bigger since it was filled with links to other languages of the site. A link to notable users on WordPress.com was also added to the frontpage. Apparently, these were the cool kids. Just for giggles, the text on the contact page was changed to highlight the fact that only blogs with urls that contain WordPress.com would be supported with a link to the WordPress.org forums for other users.
After realizing that all of those language links broke the design of the footer, it was changed in September so that only a few other languages were displayed with a link to more.
WordPress.com realizes it has hundreds of great features to offer new bloggers. At this point, the service hosts over 399,000 blogs. A FAQ link is added to the footer.
A small avatar shows up alongside links to the hot posts of the day. Instead of the login text asking if you already have an account, it now asks whether you’re already hip? Matt’s personalty is sinking into more of the service. Two new links are added to the footer. Features and Advanced. This is around the time when VIP hosting was introduced to the Automattic Mix.
February 2007 – July 2007
WordPress.com looks like a mess in the Internet Archive in this time span so it’s tough to gauge what’s new or what’s been taken away. If you’re really curious about these months, check out the archive for the domain yourself and click on them.
August 2007 – February 2008
WordPress.com receives a huge redesign which completely reshapes the display of the frontpage. It doesn’t look as great as what the actual design looked like because of some archive issues but basically, everything on the page received some attention. By this time, Automattic was getting ready to acquire Gravatar which they did on October 18th. One thing that was introduced with the brand new design is Stats. After the major redesign, it was basically business as normal as according to the archived pages from the Wayback Machine, nothing really changed. The last page that is accessible on the Internet Archive of WordPress.com is February 15th, 2008.
Wayback Machine Is Awesome:
It really is. Without it, I would have never been able to see things from that moment in time regarding the state of WordPress.org, Automattic, WordPress.com, Akismet, etc. One thing I learned while compiling this post is how awesome it is to click on a link in an archived page from the Wayback Machine and see the content linked to as it was in that time frame which gives me a much better picture of that time period. For example, during my clicking around, I saw WordPress.org sporting sponsored links which we know by now, Matt learned his lesson. In any case, I hope this dial-up crushing page not only enabled you to learn a thing a two from the past regarding WordPress.com, WordPress.org, or Automattic, but I hope it gives you a sense of appreciation for how far the project has come, thanks in large part to the contributions of code from volunteers.
By Jeffro on July 14, 2009
Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com has revamped their home page by presenting a clean layout of the services they own along with the non-profit open-source projects they support.
I like this new way of presenting the projects page which used to show the same information. This clearly shows the projects they support that they don’t directly own/operate which I hope clears some of the confusion people have with thinking Automattic is the development force behind WordPress.org.
By Jeffro on July 13, 2009
As I finally had a chance to sit down and add content to my feedreader last night, I thought it would be a good idea to provide an update on all the Automattic owned services and also provide a list in case anyone was wanting to know which services or blogs were Automattic owned. So without further adieu.
Akisment – Last night, a new version of Akismet was released which fixes a diagnostic error which was responsible for reporting spurious errors. The new version should already be available on your plugin management page.
blo.gs – Blo.gs which was acquired back on April 21st, 2009 by Automattic is still sitting pretty. I have no idea what will become of this site but based on what it’s capable of doing, I have to wonder if this will end up being a merged version of Ping-O-Matic and Blo.gs.
Gravatar – The Gravatar blog has been silent since March so I’m going to guess not much is happening on that front. But Gravatars are working well so at least we know the lights are on!
IntenseDebate – I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned these guys on the site but one day, I plan on writing a review about their commenting system. IntenseDebate has been busy as of late with the most recent post being published on July 10th. They have now added the ability to ban users and view deleted comments, two things which should make administrators happy.
Ping-O-Matic – Ping-O-Matic received a complete make over earlier this year but since then, not a whole lot of things happening with this service. It still works for pinging but as I’ve noticed last night, the stats page which I’ve been complaining about for awhile now is still broken. It’s been broken for over a year now. Blog posts that are there are published in the UnCategorized section and I don’t think anyone is looking over the comments box. Publish and forget seems to be the name of the game.
PollDaddy – This service has been busy as well, just like IntenseDebate. They have recently launched a brand new support page which you can find here which I think looks a lot like WordPress.com. They have also worked on various bits of the User Interface so all is well on the PollDaddy front.
WordPress For Blackberry – Although not a service, this is an Automattic backed project so I felt it necessary to include in this list. Recently, a new beta of the app for the Blackberry phone was released that now displays text encoded with some additional character sets.
WordPress Publisher Blog – An Automattic backed blog that is used to showcase big time folks who have chosen to use or move to WordPress. Raanan Bar-Cohen does a good job keeping the site updated and it’s through here that I find out about celebrities or other big names choosing to go with WordPress. The most recent post deals with the Telegraph.co.uk moving to the WordPress MU platform.
WordPress.com – WordPress.com is doing just fine, no need to go into details there.
iPhone App For WordPress – Since I own one of these devices, I now have a reason to read Apple related content. I use the app on my iPhone 3GS and it works flawlessly for me. Recently, the team announced that Version 1.3 went live.
WordPress.TV – WordPress.TV is kicking. I’m sure Michael Pick has quite the backlog of video content to go through along with his partner who was hired back in April or May. WordCampTV is also doing well which is a subsection of the site.
Automattic – I don’t know of anything new taking place at WordPress headquarters but I did notice that the job for Theme Czar was still open or at least, they are still taking applications for the position.
Some Things Omitted
While bbPress, WordPress.org and BuddyPress all show up on the page showcasing the projects Automattic is involved with, I decided not to group them in with this post and keep them separate for the sake of confusion. However, Sam Bauers of bbPress and Andy Peatling of BuddyPress are employed by Automattic and we all know a few people from Automattic who work with the WordPress.org software.
If I missed any services or blogs, point them out to me in the comments as I’d like to create a sticky thread in the forum so I can have them all in a list format.
By Jeffro on June 28, 2009
You probably knew that WordPress could be used as a CMS for a simple content website, but did you know that it could also be used as a fully powered CMS for a complex real estate website? What about as a directory of iPhone applications? The short version of it is that WordPress is an excellent platform to do just about any sort of publishing on the web and most people aren’t aware of that. To help address that, the WordPress Showcase was created.
The Showcase aims to show the world what can be done with WordPress and help demonstrate that WordPress has tremendous capabilities as a publishing platform. For people new to WordPress or unfamiliar with the extent of its capabilities, the Showcase shows them some of the most notable, successful, and coolest uses of WordPress around the Internet. Approximately 400 sites are featured in the Showcase and the idea (and hopefully the reality) is that the sites in the Showcase are the best of the best.
For website owners, developers, designers, or business people, the Showcase can help give you instant credibility, some great link juice, a nice traffic boost, or even a personal ego boost. Regardless of your reasons for submitting your site to the Showcase, doing so isn’t difficult or time consuming.
Sites that want to be added to the Showcase need to meet one or more of the four submission criteria, which are as follows:
- Using WordPress in a unique or innovative way.
- Attracting tens of thousands of regular readers.
- Being written by someone famous or especially notable in his or her particular field.
- Representing a notable organization, government entity, or corporation as an official blog or web site.
If your site fits just one of the criterion, then it’s fine and definitely “Showcase-worthy”. Meeting all four is great (and entirely possible), but not required by any means.
Once you’ve read the criteria and have an idea on how to articulate why your site meets one of more of the items, then just head over to the WordPress Showcase Submission Page, fill out the form, and click submit site. The form asks a few simple questions and takes about two minutes to fill out. Sites that are added will be notified via email within a week or so of the original submission.
If you have any questions about the Showcase, what is and isn’t “Showcase-worthy”, or anything else, head over to this forum topic at the WordPress Tavern Forum and ask. I’ll be monitoring the topic and answering questions as they come up.
By Jeffro on June 22, 2009
Cool Forum Stats:
Most users ever online was 101, 06-08-2009 at 01:35 AM.
Threads: 558, Posts: 4,731, Members: 283, Active Members: 132
Paying To Download GPL Themes – This forum thread regarding the GPL was actually cool to be a part of. We did’nt so much discuss the validity of GPL and what makes something compliant or not but rather, the notion of paying for GPL compliant stuff such as themes and plugins. The conversation gets really interesting when Spirit and Ethics gets involved but it appears as though just about everyone who participated in the conversation is on the same page.
Sam Bauers Possible This Week – While the scheduled interview with Sam Bauers did not happen, I’m still taking user submitted questions for when I’m able to get him on the show. So keep them coming!
WordPress development course or code generator? – Community member Andreas tapped into the forum to discover if there was any interest in a WordPress course which would go from the ground up to give beginning developers a head start. The other idea was a tool to generate code for plugins, menus, tabs, etc. As you’ll see later on in this thread, someone has a domain already cooking to deliver on one of these ideas.
What WordPress plugin would you like to see made? – Is there a specific plugin you would like to see developed that takes WordPress to the next level? Something outside of the box? If you do, respond in this forum thread and give Carl some ideas.
Criteria for WordPress.org showcase – Dave Coveney started this thread wanting to know what the submission guidelines were in order to be accepted into the WordPress.org Showcase. Thankfully, Douglas Hanna of Automattic and the man in charge of the showcase stopped by to provide all of the information that was needed. Doug has informed me that he will be keeping tabs on this specific forum thread so if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas regarding the showcase, this would be the place to ask.
Theme Feedback – New community member Brady stopped by in the forum and requested feedback regarding the new design for his website. Check it out.
By Jeffro on May 28, 2009
Quiz time: What is one thing that the following Automattic products/services have in common?
WordPress, Akismet, IntenseDebate, PollDaddy, Gravatar, BuddyPress, TalkPress
Answer: Each of their respective .com domains are each controlled by Automattic.
I’m sure you can guess which one is missing off the list, and that’s bbPress. The domain name bbpress.com has been registered since 1997 by a company called B&B Press, Inc. It has nothing to do with online forums.
I’ve been involved with domain names for a few years now, and there are a few general guidelines that are involved when buying domains. One of the more important guidelines is: always get the .com.
I realize most of you reading this are relatively web savvy but imagine this: you’ve never heard of bbPress, but you knew it was a free open-source forum software. You would probably simply type “bbPress” into Google, realize the first result is the one you were looking for, and click through.
Unfortunately, most of the rest of the internet are not that savvy. I would imagine a lot of people mistakenly type in bbpress.com into their address bar, wind up on the wrong site, and give up.
At the time of this posting, it looks like Matt Mullenweg is the listed owner of TalkPress.com/net/org/info/biz/us. So why doesn’t Automattic just dump the “bbPress” name, and move everything over to talkpress.org?
There are a number of reasons that were outlined in this bbPress blog post.
- It avoids the sort of confusion users experience trying to distinguish between WordPress.org and WordPress.com
- bbPress is not a particularly good product name for that service
- The bbPress.com domain name is already registered to someone else
Okay, I can understand there is some confusion trying to distinguish between WordPress.org and WordPress.com, but wouldn’t it be even more confusing trying to distinguish between bbPress.org and bbPress.com, considering bbPress.com is a completely unrelated site? Could this “dilemma” be solved by simply switching from “bbPress” to “TalkPress” or do you think it’s fine the way it is?
By Jeffro on March 31, 2009
Now we’re heading into the summer of 2007, and the company found itself at a crossroads. Says Hirshland, “During this period, WordPress really hit that point in the curve where growth was very noticeably accelerated.” Major media firms noticed as well, and “all of a sudden took a whole bunch of strategic interest in the company,” he adds. “So Matt had some decisions to make. They were hard decisions.”
One suitor was particularly serious—a major company wanting to acquire Automattic. (The name of the firm has not been released, but I can’t help but guess that with CNET being an early investor, it would be logical for it to take an interest: the NYT is also a possibility, but somehow I get the feeling it was waiting for another way in, hence the small investment). After a lot of discussion, Mullenweg decided to sell.
Hirshland, the supposedly conservative East Coast VC, calls the decision frustrating. “I said to Matt I felt very strongly he shouldn’t take the offer, and we should invest and build,” he recalls. Mullenweg resisted, arguing that it would be good to be part of a larger business and not worry about funding and other resources. So he accepted the offer, and the two sides began negotiating the details, a process that lasted until early last fall.
But as the negotiations continued, the doubts apparently grew in Mullenweg’s mind. Says Hirshland, “I think Matt did some really hard soul searching, thinking of the value of what was being built.” He remembers a poignant meeting last fall where Mullenweg told the group that he had come around to the idea that the right thing to do was to stay independent and go for it.
Hmm, where do you think we would be now if the acquisition actually occurred? Quote taken from the excellent piece by Xconomy in early 2008: Automattic Connection: How an East Coast VC Got Behind WordPress, the West Coast’s Hottest Blog Platform
By Jeffro on January 30, 2009
USA Today’s Jefferson Graham sat down with Matt Mullenweg the other day to talk WordPress. The article covers the brief history of how Matt got involved with the WordPress project as well as how Automattic was founded. Much of what was stated in the interview can be found in Matt’s Wikipedia entry but he did make a few quotes which are worthy of repeating.
The first quote is:
“People might start with LiveJournal or Blogger, but if they get serious, they’ll graduate to WordPress. We try to cater to the more powerful users,”
I simply like this quote because of the way Matt pimps his own blogging platform.
The second quote I find to be particularly important. When Mullenweg was asked by Jefferson on how much money Automattic brings in, here is what Matt had to say:
“We’re profitable”. “Our goal was never to make the most money possible, just enough to sustain our growth and contribute as much back to open source as possible.”
Think about that for a second. Automattic was not created to become this giant monolithic corporation that hoarded the goodness the WordPress.org project has to offer. Since Automattic was founded, its employee base has grown slowly as well as making excellent use of the $1.1 million dollars they raised for their first round of funding. That money simply allowed them to take a few risks without worrying about payroll but because the success of WordPress.com grew so quickly, they ended up using very little of that funding money.
Too many people in the WordPress community get this notion that Automattic is the only company that can make money off of or through WordPress while at the same time, flattening every one else’s business opportunities. If you haven’t listened to the special two hour interview I conducted with Matt Mullenweg, I highly encourage you to do so. You can find that episode here.
In that episode, it becomes apparent that Matt’s passion is the WordPress.org project. He wants to see as many people as possible become successful through the likes of the software albeit with a simple request to abide by the license for which the software is filed under (GPL). Also in this episode, you find out that Matt is not such an evil person that some in the community would like you to think. He is a smart man, is passionate about not only the software but the people contributing to its success, the people using it, and most importantly, the open source nature of it all. He does things that he believes is best for the community. While we may not agree with all of the decisions he makes, he always puts the community first.