mentioned in dispatches

7 Comments »

  1. Matt A. said

    I love this quote from Byrne Reese. “I think people have a deeply rooted need to be heard, so when you take the time to sit down with anyone, regardless of the medium, look them in the eyes and say, ‘you have my undivided attention, what can I do for you?’ you are fulfilling an important human need we all share.”

    Meanwhile, WordPress is publicizing (through planet.wordpress.org) a list of things the users can do for them.

  2. That list made me laugh, especially when they put ‘participate in the WP forum’ first. There is a reason why the .org forums has a shortage of participants. It’s an astonishingly unpleasant place to be, which is probably why Automattic like to pretend it doesn’t exist.

    Point #5 — ‘donate money towards the WP project’ — didn’t make me laugh so much as it made me feel slightly ill. Automattic have the decency to keep the begging bowl hidden these days. There’s a reason for that as well. Chuck your spare dollars at a bunch of geeks who just got nearly $30m in investment rather than, say, Burma or Darfur? Nobody is really that morally bereft, are they?

  3. Matt A. said

    I’m always surprised at the donation notion, but for a different reason. If I give $20 to the development of WordPress, I feel some sense of ownership. And in a not-a-democracy system like WordPress has, that is NOT something you want. Frankly, that sense of ownership is what created the issues with volunteers on the wp.com forums.

    And for the record, I think that the not-a-democracy system is the one that WordPress HAS to use at this point in their development. A few years ago when it was a couple guys in a room, they could take suggestions more easily and implement them more quickly. There’s just no way to make that work with a company their size.

    “Create Gravatars For The WP Community” puzzles me. Is he talking about new defaults or something? I seriously don’t know.

    Also, the “Share Ideas” makes me smirk a little. How long have people been begging for an editor that didn’t overrule them on simple things like line breaks?

  4. A few years ago when it was a couple guys in a room, they could take suggestions more easily and implement them more quickly.

    Except, of course, the couple of guys being who they were, they didn’t have much interest in taking or implementing ideas from outside the room even when it was practicable😉

    You’re absolutely right about the sense of ownership engendered by donation. I wrote about that when the Hot Nachos thing first blew up. There’s never been a big donation drive on wp.org, and the impression I always had was that the donation page was only there because the community wanted and expected it. I’m not sure they ever really needed the money. Sure, Matt took it when the spammers offered, but I’m inclined to think that was a safety net rather than the necessity he later tried to make out. If things had ever got desperate, I’m pretty sure he would have sold installation and support services before appealing to the community. He never wanted users to feel they had a stake in his project, and he would have never got away with this degree of commercialisation if there ever had been a major push for donations, so long-term it was a sound business decision.

    (I sometimes wonder how much they made in donations in the immediate aftermath of Spamgate, with all the conscience-striken fanboys being shocked that their beloved leader had been driven to black-hat SEO just to keep the site going. It might have been a PR disaster but you’ll never find anyone arguing it wasn’t profitable.)

  5. I’m not sure they ever really needed the money.

    Actually Matt passed it out on occasion. I’d have to go digging for the link but I remember reading that Mark came up short on his bandwidth bill one month and Matt covered it out of that fund.

    As to Spamgate, don’t forget he got caught at it again later on. Link

  6. Well, if you get away with something the first time, there’s nothing to stop you doing it again. Also, you’ve learned how to handle things better. As soon as somebody uncovers the hidden link, you nuke it. It’s substantially more difficult for people to get outraged about something that doesn’t exist anymore. It’s a bit like .com ads — people can’t get angry about what’s being done behind their backs because they don’t know about it.

  7. Root said

    I guess the whole sense of ownership or the lack thereof is what drives the dissidents like us. Does anyone remember Nuclear Moose and his fierce defence of the *community*? Well the community got shafted royally and the geeks trousered the dollars. Anyone with any sense of community would never have commissioned Kubrick or announced it in that way. On which subject it is about 3 years overdue to be replaced. They could get Jeffrey Zeldman in I suppose. Then Matt can fiddle with it and claim the credit. And the comunity has been split asunder by the treatment of the themes / plugins community. This is all related to the financing. A company that relies on volunteers sounds a bit iffy. Ditto the forum. Imagine the draft prospectus:
    *Over 2 million users have access to a technical support forum staffed by full time employees from around the globe 24/7*. They do not want the likes of us in there.
    We do not *add value to the brand* LOL. Thank God we don’t.

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