WordPress (WP) Facebook groups have left a great impact on the guys ruling the web industry. Thousands of folks are contributing to the open source platform using these social communities. Advanced WordPress (AWP) is a Facebook group with more than 8,500 members and 22 awesome admins. The popularity this group enjoys is credited to the dedicated and professional tech community contributing to it. Hundreds of questions are answered daily.
Our guest contributor, Matt Cromwell, being one of the 22 admins, shared the story of this group Advanced WordPress with our readers. He shared the initial stages and informed us about how the group was being managed. This story was later covered by Jeff Chandler of WP Tavern. After the posts by Matt Cromwell and Jeff Chandler, big names started joining the group. Yesterday, AWP admins were surprised to see Matt Mullenweg requesting to join the group. Yes! The co-founder of WordPress wanted to join the fun.
The AWP community gave him a warm welcome. The initial thoughts of the co-founder proves that he is very confident on WordPress and its progress. Taking this opportunity, Matt invited the group to ask him any question related to WordPress and its plugins. The picture below shows his actual post and the number of comments it generated. This speaks the level of enthusiasm amongst the members of AWP. (Editor’s note: The figures might grow by the passing time.)
We are sharing with you some of the interesting questions that Matt answered. Being a food lover, I would like to start with the funny foodie questions.
Parts of the conversation have been edited for clarity.
Brian Potter: What’s your favorite pizza?
Matt Mullenweg: My favorite pizza is one with lots of meat, probably from Rubirosa in NYC.
But, a better food question came from none other than the Tavern Keeper, Jeff Chandler.
Jeff Chandler: Do you ever eat food that doesn’t look like it belongs to an art gallery? Like a Big Mac or something.
Matt Mullenweg: I had McDonald’s as recently as Sunday, just a few days ago. 🙂 I just don’t usually post it to my blog. I’m a chicken McNugget guy, though I’m curious about their new jalapeno burger. When it’s Burger King, it’s always a Whopper. Grown up in Texas, I have a soft spot for Whataburger and Sonic. I think In-n-Out is overrated but usually tasty, and I’ve been really enjoying Five Guys when I come across one. I will always be happy with fried chicken from Popeyes or KFC, though the former has better biscuits and I grew up just a few blocks away from one. When Automattic had an office in the Mission in SF, there was a KFC on the opposite corner and I’d often sneak over there for lunch or a late snack when I was in the office till odd hours.
However, Matt did not only talk about food. He also shared his views on the community around WordPress.
Brian Potter: What is the most important thing we can do to support and bring value to WordPress?
Matt Mullenweg: Everyone really sets his or her own path. Think about the thing that makes you the happiest, what you consider your gift that you can share with the world, or something that you want to learn a lot more about.
Matt also talked about the business development around WordPress and its future.
Brian Potter: What are your thoughts on the businesses and industries that are built around WordPress? What opportunities do you see in the future?
Matt Mullenweg: I think it’s awesome that there are whole industries built on WordPress, that was part of the idea from the early days. It’s counter-intuitive, but I actually think one of bigger opportunities is in consulting and building sites right now. WordPress can get people 90% of the way there, but that last 10% represents a lot of opportunity for clients from the Fortune 500 to the smallest personal sites.
Then, came a tricky question.
Matt Beck: Any chance that the plugin repository will support Git some day?
Matt Mullenweg: I don’t have a timeline, but I agree it’d be great for the plugin directory to integrate Git much sooner.
And then, there was discussion about Automattic.
Jason Jensen: I’m curious about Automattic’s policy about unlimited vacation days. I have never heard of this policy anywhere else. How does that play out?
Matt Mullenweg: I think open vacation policies are becoming more common, here’s an article that covers the pros and cons fairly well and says 1% of companies offer them now:
I think it really comes down to hiring. With the right people you can have very liberal policies like this because people think about the organization as a whole and do the right thing.
If anything, we sometimes have to encourage people to take a bit more time off, something I don’t always set the best example for but I’m trying this week. I will be completely offline Thursday through Sunday.
Oh yeah. A very smart question about Gravatar was asked.
Beth van Koetsveld: I have a question about Gravatar. It irks me beyond measure when clients want to change it, but they need to log in somewhere else. Are you guys thinking at all of asking this easy switch in and out integration with authorization like you did with Jetpack?
Matt Mullenweg: Gravatar is a lot clearer now in how it uses the WP.com login. (It always did, but used to have its own login form.) We have initial iterations in Jetpack right now of a feature that lets you log into your site using your WP.com account, kind of like a Facebook Connect. I’ve been switching over all the sites I run for other people to do this for three reasons:
- It’s easier for them to understand because they just have one account that gets them into their site, other sites if they have multiple, and all the network services on Jetpack/VaultPress/Akismet, mobile apps.
- It’s more secure. I set it up so they have to have 2-factor enabled on their account, which means even if they have a terrible password the account is still safe.
- They get drawn into the social aspects of WP.com—the reader, notifications, stats, likes, tags, publicize—and it gets them using their site more.
Matt also gave some nice advice.
Ray John Agregado: What’s the best advice you can give to freelancers who would want to specialize in WordPress?
Matt Mullenweg: If you’re a freelancer I’d say that the most important thing isn’t the technical side, which lots of people will be good at, but the social side. Build relationships for the long term, give your clients more than what they ask for, make sure all business deals are fair, and communicate as much and as clearly as possible, so you can establish your business and enjoy dividends for your entire career.
And then, a Codex question arrived.
Elio Rivero: One big question: is Codex really going to disappear eventually?
Matt Mullenweg: We’re not going to take down the Codex until we have something better to replace it—likely you’ll just see more links default to some place new—and Codex traffic will trail off until at some point we’ll put it into archive mode.
Our very own Ahsan Parwez threw curved balls, but Matt scored home runs on then.
Ahsan Memon: A question about Jetpack. I have personally used it and I have to agree with others that it seriously slows down a website. I want to know is Automattic planning to make it perform better?
Matt Mullenweg: First you should turn on the features of Jetpack that make your site faster, like Photon. Also see if you have any other plugins that are now redundant that you can turn off, or if you’re using one of the heavy third-party sharing plugins.
Jetpack does have a fair amount of CSS / JS but we have some improvements coming there extremely soon and are also working on ways we can serve everything from our growing global in-house CDN, which as I mentioned in the BruteProtect announcement today, is now serving 450 terabytes *every day* from 9 datacenters:
Already it’s going to be faster to serve assets than any single-location web host for your visitors, and soon it’ll be as fast or faster than most CDNs.
Trust me, since we host tens of millions of blogs and have a ton of Jetpack sites we’re very sensitive to performance concerns, and you’ll continue to see focus and improvement there.
Ahsan Memon: Would you agree with me that JetPack isn’t suitable for sites running on Shared Hosting?
Matt Mullenweg: I would strongly disagree with that! You’ll notice many providers bundling Jetpack with their 1-click installs.
And, then Matt addressed a JSON query.
Jatin Sapra: Do you think now JSON (core support coming) should be used over RSS for building things like Mobile Apps?
Matt Mullenweg: Whether you use the prototype JSON API or RSS for a mobile app, I would say depends a lot on what it does. Think of the JSON API more as replacing XML-RPC.
Matt also shared his views about the WordPress Editor.
Chris Aprea: If you could change one thing in WordPress without having to worry about backward compatibility, what would it be?
Matt Mullenweg: If backwards compatibility wasn’t an issue I’d throw out the editor and every screen that uses list tables and redesign them. I’d also want the entire admin to be real-time, so it updates as the data changes.
Oh no. Drupal was mentioned!
Achin Kumar: Are we anyways competing with Drupal or we still consider WordPress and Drupal to be two different tools and not in competition?
Matt Mullenweg: We definitely compete with Drupal insofar that people can really only use one CMS for their site, and we think they should use WordPress. However I’m far more concerned with people on proprietary or bespoke CMSes than Drupal or Joomla, and there is far more market share to pick up there as well. Speaking of, according to W3Techs we just went into 23% today!
My editor always bugs me to write on WordPress as an App Framework, I guess he is right. Even, Matt talks about it.
Roy Sivan: Curious about your thoughts on WP-as-an-App-Framework for developing web apps. Do you see WordPress becoming a bigger player in?
Matt Mullenweg: WP-as-an-App-Platform is trucking along nicely. Best thing you can help there is to build real apps on top of the JSON API when it’s in the plugin stage. That’ll help it get into core sooner rather than later.
I loved Matt for this answer. It goes to show that WordPress is in good hands.
Baki Goxhaj: How do you feel about the pace WP is innovating? PHP is exciting right now, but I cannot say the same for WP.
Matt Mullenweg: I feel like we’re moving too slow.
Contribution to the core was also discussed.
Jon Brown: I’ve seen more large WP shops dedicating more and more of their paid employee resources directly to core. How productive/important has that been in help WP core move forward? Do we need more of that, something else?
Matt Mullenweg: First, don’t give up on contributing those patches. The extra work it takes to submit to people who are not on Github will come back to you in good karma.
In terms of WP shops dedicating employee time to core, it’s fantastic and a trend I think we’ll see a lot more of. I really do think those organizations get far more back in value as well, so you can make a purely economic argument for it.
Plugins directory was also mentioned.
Arūnas Liuiza: Any plans on giving some more stats for plugin developers in plugin directory?
Matt Mullenweg: I don’t think the plugin directory improvements you’re seeing in 4.0 will be the last of it. Lots more to do there!
And, lastly, Matt explained why WordPress needs to support older PHP versions.
Agbonghama Collins: Now that PHP is evolving at a fast pace, what is stopping WordPress from using all the shiny stuff PHP 5.5.x offers?
Matt Mullenweg: I don’t think hosts run older PHP because of WordPress, but WordPress definitely supports older PHP because of hosts. WordPress runs better and faster on the latest PHP, there’s no reason not to install.
[Read Also: A Coder, a Troll, and Matt Mullenweg Walk Into a Bar]
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