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An Interview With Leland Fiegel: Reinventing Forum Discussions With WPChat

Updated on March 4, 2020

4 Min Read

By definition, Leland Fiegel is a disruption. He is a Business Management graduate who has always been interested in computers and web development. What amazes us is his commitment to the WordPress community. He founded In its early days, WPChat was a browser based IRC chat website.

But with times, things change. Therefore, true to his disruptive nature, he revamped WPChat and made it into a fully dedicated WordPress forum that is built with Discourse, a refreshing and modern dedicated discussion platform. With all the right connections, Leland has managed to interact and attract well known people to WPChat, like Jeff Chandler and Brian Kosgard among others.

He is the co-organizer of WordPressDC along with Andrew Nacin among other well known developers. In his own words, he is a domain name collector (“domainer”), a WordPress web developer, and a blogger. I hope you’ll like the interview.

Leland Fiegel Interview

Cloudways: In your official profile, you have mentioned you are a Business Management graduate and now you are working in Web Development. How did it all start?

Leland Fiegel: Well, I’ve always been interested in business and entrepreneurship, and I’ve always been interested in computers. I found that my self-taught web development skills were a little beyond anything my college offered, which was a small liberal arts school. So I decided to focus on business, and I’m glad I did.

Cloudways: When was the first time you came across WordPress? And, what were your initial thoughts about it?

Leland Fiegel: I think around 2007 was when I first came across WordPress. After trying out a bunch of other CMS software, I found WordPress to be a breath of fresh air. It was just so easy to use.

Cloudways: If we compare top CMS applications available on the market, which one wins your vote: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, or others?

Leland Fiegel: WordPress, of course. I’ve used Drupal and Joomla! sparingly so I can’t offer too strong of an opinion on those. If I had to pick two other ones that I’d be interested in trying out, it would by Jekyll (which is more of a static site generator) and ProcessWire.

Cloudways: Which plugins would you recommend to most of the users of WordPress?

Leland Fiegel: Plugins like Limit Login Attempts and Spam Destroyer are a good way to quickly get basic spam and bruteforce protection. When your site grows you’d probably have to upgrade to a service-based protection like Akismet or BruteProtect as attacks get more complex and targeted.

I also use WordPress SEO on pretty much every new site, mostly for the custom title and meta description features, as well as optional breadcrumbs and sitemap generation.

Cloudways: WordPress 4.0 was launched recently. What are you views about it?

Leland Fiegel: I like it. It wasn’t as big of a splash as many people were expecting, but a lot of people don’t understand that “4.0” is just another release, not a major version upgrade from 3.0.

It introduced some new features like refined embeds that I think a lot of publishers will find useful. I also like how they prompt for a language on install now, which I believe will further encourage international growth.

Cloudways: Is there a feature that you would like to see added to WordPress by default?

Leland Fiegel: Probably not. That’s what plugins are for. 😀

Cloudways: You founded, a thriving forum I must say. How did you make up your mind to launch it even though there are many active groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ etc.?

Leland Fiegel: Not everybody uses every social network, so the discussions can get pretty disjointed and fragmented.

I wanted a more centralized place, free from the noise of any social network, to talk about WordPress topics. Judging from the growth so far, it seems like a lot of other people feel the same way.

Cloudways: You have recently redeveloped using Discourse. What influenced you to take such a step?

Leland Fiegel: I had the domain WPChat and have been looking for an excuse to try out Discourse after I discovered it.

It was such a breath of fresh air (I realize this is the second time I’ve used this phrase so far) especially compared to old, junky forum software packages that haven’t really changed much for almost a decade or more.

Cloudways: When it comes to hosting, what do you suggest a webmaster should look out for?

Leland Fiegel: Avoid pretty much any host you see on some “top 10 hosting review” site, because they’re probably all fake. And many of those big brand hosts are actually owned by the same parent company, unbeknownst to many of their customers.

I’m definitely an advocate of building your own servers. With services like Digital Ocean (and by extension, Cloudways) you can get a relatively powerful VPS these days cheaper than you could have ever had before.

If you’re looking for WordPress hosting and would rather not worry about things like core upgrades and security issues, there are many great managed WordPress hosts out there as well. In fact, many managed WordPress hosts will clean up a hacked site for free. I like the idea of that peace of mind, but I’m more of a DIY kinda person.

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Cloudways: As website speed matters and setting up servers on DigitalOcean and Amazon Web Services is complex for newbies, Cloudways has built a PaaS that helps in setting up servers In just few clicks. We would love to hear your feedback about Cloudways.

Leland Fiegel: I think Cloudways is great, and especially like how they’re transparent about their server providers so potential customers can make more of an informed decision about what to choose.

DigitalOcean and AWS are definitely complicated to set up for newbies, which can be a huge barrier to entry into what could be really awesome hosting. So I feel that Cloudways is a great compromise.

You can follow Leland Fiegel (@lelandf) on Twitter.

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Ahsan Parwez

Ahsan is the Community Team Manager at Cloudways - A Managed Cloud Hosting Platform. He loves to solve problems and help Cloudways' clients in any aspect he can. In his free time, you can find him playing RTS PC games.


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