Inclusivity and the Open Web: Notes from WordCamp for Publishers

The second annual WordCamp for Publishers went down last week in Chicago with the theme “Taking Back The Open Web.” This theme was sparked from questions explored in a 2016 post by Drupal founder Dries Buytaert:

Do we want the experiences of the next billion web users to be defined by open values of transparency and choice, or by the siloed and opaque convenience of the walled-garden giants dominating today?

As conference organizers, we challenged speakers to touch on whether an open web ever truly existed, what state it’s in now, the consequences of a closed web, and how publishers can protect and encourage an open web.

Overall, we saw common themes emerge around empowering publishers to innovate and evolve. There was a shared belief that ethical journalism depends on an open web, with inclusivity as a fundamental building block to creating responsibly for the future.

Each of these topics has raised significant discussion in the WordPress community, and we envisioned #WCPub as a platform to discuss the state of the publishing industry and future of WordPress in the open web together, with folks from all different backgrounds in the industry. Thankfully, our speakers and attendees were more than up to the task!

Those who weren’t able to attend in person could live stream the entire event.

Where Code Meets Community

John Eckman, CEO of 10up, was particularly drawn to the challenge of the event’s theme as it related to identity, inclusivity, and imagined communities. John explored the philosophical roots of the open source movement and how those ideas influenced modern-day open source ethics, software freedom, and netizen empowerment.

Austin Smith, CEO and co-founder of Alley, presented his research on the narrow path for local news. He argued in order to protect hyperlocal journalism, we’ll need to convince more readers to pay for the content they consume. We’ll also need to empower local publishers to innovate formats, ownership, and distribution.

Tyson Bird, projects designer at GateHouse Media, and David Parsons, senior software engineer at USA Today, spoke about their use of WordPress at scale to enable publishers to manage large media networks with a variety of markets and staff.

An Emphasis on Engagement

Caroline Porter, consultant for the Shorenstein Center on Media, Harry Backlund, co-founder and director of operations at City Bureau, and Sarah Schmalbach, resident at the Lenfest Institute, discussed the ethical collection of user data, experimenting with innovation around reader engagement, and two-way audience communication in a panel session moderated by Sherry Salko, director of the Amplify News Project.

Eric Ulken, a consultant, and Nick Johnson, founder of Pigeon Paywall, shared differing viewpoints on monetization strategies that ultimately focused on catering to users and their needs.

Open Sourcing in the Wild

There was a lot of excitement around Gutenberg, and Chris Van Patten, founder of Tomodo, open sourced his team’s documentation project on best design practices using Gutenberg live during his presentation.

Chris wasn’t the only presenter to live open source a project during a talk. Russell Heimlich, lead developer at Spirited Media, open sourced his team’s image CDN project to much applause.

The Trust Project also announced their Trust Indicators plugin during the event.

Open Means Everyone

Sina Bahram, president of Prime Access Consulting, and Pattie Reaves, senior user experience developer at Alley, discussed the importance of developing with accessibility in mind.

Two lightning talks also addressed site accessibility concerns: one focusing on the particular needs of those with dyslexia, and another which offered a solution to accessibility through integration with Alexa.

Live Demos Galore

Jim Birch, senior Drupal engineer at Kanopi Studios, walked us through the value of correctly implementing metadata for content and showed off the tools for doing so.

Shayda Torabi, director of marketing at WebDevStudios, and Jodie Riccelli, director of client strategy at WebDevStudios, demoed a number of workflows with streamlined editorial experiences all contained entirely within WordPress.

Keanan Koppenhaver, CTO at Alpha Particle, showcased a few modern use cases of the REST API, from the Techcrunch redesign, a mobile news simulator, Amazon Echo integration, virtual reality, and more.

AMPlifying Performance

Barb Palser, global product partnerships at Google, argued we should look at site performance as a product, with a focus on quantifying the opportunity to increase user engagement.

Leo Postovoit and Ryan Kienstra of XWP went a step further and demonstrated how to improve performance “up to 85%” simply by integrating AMP.

On the flip side, Brian Boyer, VP of product and people at Spirited Media, delivered a passionate talk explaining his team’s decision to leave the AMP platform to focus on engaging readers in a different manner.

Off the Beaten Track

Attendees voted on Unconference session proposals to explore hyperspecific themes. The winning topics (“Gutenberg Therapy Session,” “Direct Revenue Discussion,” and “The Future of WordCamp for Publishers”) served as an opportunity for many to share their concerns about specific industry trends.

Workshops dealt with a variety of topics important to the community:

  • Paul Schreiber, lead developer for FiveThirtyEight and The Undefeated, led a security-focused session.
  • Joshua Wold, design strategist at XWP, dove into creative thinking through development problems by sketching.
  • Ernie Hsiung, CTO at WhereBy.Us, fostered a discussion about communication across stakeholder groups.

We held a series of lightning talks that ranged widely in topic: from determining whether WordPress was a product or community, to implementing transparency standards for news; from solving content reuse and syndication woes to finding smarter and more efficient ways to create responsive HTML emails and manage media at scale, and even a case study of the need to combine mobile and AMP themes.

A Look to the Future

Then — all too soon — it was over!

We wrapped up the event with a shout-out from NiemanLab naming us WordPress’s publishing summit and a trip to the ballfield to see the White Sox take on the Indians.

Many thanks to all the speakers, sponsors, organizers and volunteers who made this fantastic week possible. Hope to see everyone at next year’s WordCamp for Publishers!

WordPress Coding Standards at Version 1.0

Congratulations to the open source WordPress Coding Standards (WPCS) project for its recent milestone release of version 1.0. WPCS provides WordPress-specific rulesets for PHP Codesniffer (PHPCS) to help developers learn about and adhere to WordPress coding conventions. The 1.0 release contains important breaking changes and “tons of bug fixes”.

The release of version 1.0 is a landmark moment and a culmination of 9 years of work. We are very proud of our participation in the WPCS project over the years, and will continue to do so into the future. With 54 contributors since the project began, 5 of them from VIP, and 7 for this latest release, WPCS has been a hugely successful team effort.

Developers working together at various tables
WordCamp London 2017 Contributor Day, photo by Pradeep Singh.

Of the many changes present within this release, the deprecation of the WordPress-VIP ruleset is probably the most relevant to VIP clients. This ruleset has not been valid for some time, as we have our own VIP coding standards, available for public use. VIPCS rulesets include WordPress-VIP-Go and WordPressVIPMinimum.

If you are a VIP client and you are not using the alternative rulesets, then we would strongly recommend switching to these. If you used the WordPress-VIP ruleset for any other reason, you should use WordPress-Extra or WordPress instead.

As with all open source projects, WPCS are always grateful for any contributions, from reporting bugs in the current rulesets to assistance with the actual code. If you are interested in assisting them, please get in touch with them via their Github page.

Featured image credit: WordCamp London Contributor Day 2017, photo by Pradeep Singh.

 

What to Expect at WordCamp for Publishers

This guest post was contributed by Brad Campeau-Laurion (@potatomaster) of featured partner Alley, and also one of the organizers of WordCamp for Publishers. VIP is proud to sponsor and participate in this great event.

WordCamp for Publishers is a community-organized event bringing together folks who use WordPress to manage publications, big or small. Our goal is to empower participants by coaching them on best practices, and encourage collaboration in building open source tools for publishers. Anyone who actively manages a publication with WordPress will benefit from attending.

Our schedule is up now and includes speakers from national media organizations, smaller publications, and agencies that work with media companies. We’ll have a main track of talks and panels that are all about 45 minutes each with time for Q&A and a separate track of 90 minute in-depth workshops around topics that will give you actionable takeways to bring back to your publications. There will also be openings for our unconference sessions which you can self-organize at the event with your fellow attendees.

For people that prefer the hallway track, there will be opportunities to connect with people from many top media organizations. We’ll be working to organize formal mentorship sessions especially for those from smaller publications and underrepresented markets. You can also chat with our sponsors who come from top agencies and media technology companies.

Of course, you can also expect a lot of fun at WordCamp for Publishers. We’ve arranged events including an architectural boat tour of Chicago and a White Sox game. If you’re able to stick around all three days, there’s also a Contributor Day on Friday where you can learn how to contribute to WordPress or any of the numerous plugins and projects that support publishing on the platform.

We encourage you to check out the videos and participant recaps from the first WordCamp for Publishers in 2017 to get a sense of what’s to come. We hope to see you in Chicago in a few weeks, and if you haven’t gotten a ticket, you can still get one today!

 

Where to See VIP and Friends at WordCamp US 2017

We hope to see you tomorrow and this weekend, December 1-3 at WordCamp US in Nashville or the next best thing, remote via free livestream. With so many fantastic sessions going on all weekend, we put together a guide to which ones feature folks from across the extended VIP family:

WordCamp US 2016 in Philly, uploaded by Seth Goldstein under CC-BY-SA 2.0

On Friday:

Last year’s State of the Word, uploaded by Luca Sartoni under CC-By-SA 2.0

On Saturday:

And also:

    Stop by the Gutenberg usability testing booth, where Tammie Lister and other members of the Gutenberg team will take you through short tasks and a brief survey designed to gather data that will inform bug stomping and fine-tuning.

And if you can’t make it in person, you can also grab a free ticket to catch the live stream of the entire weekend’s sessions.

Photo by Tammie Lister

The Dream Internship: Work at Automattic (Winter 2018 and Beyond)

Please find our latest information on the internship here.

Automattic — which runs WordPress.com, Akismet, VaultPress, Jetpack and many other services — is hiring interns, specifically to work on the WordPress.com VIP team.

WordPress.com VIP provides hosting and support for high-profile, high-traffic WordPress sites, including Time.com, People.com, FiveThirtyEight.com, qz.com, internet.org, TheSun.co.uk, NYPost.com, and many more!

The VIP team is continually looking for interns to work on client-facing development and support. These paid internships (US $25/hour) run for approximately 16 weeks and can be completed either on a full-time or part-time basis.

Where will you be working? Anywhere you want! Automattic is a distributed company. We’re happy if you work from wherever you’re happy — as long as you have a good internet connection.

What will you work on? The internship will focus on things such as working on improving VIP and community plugins, debugging client code, building tools to help clients better manage their sites, and making performance and security improvements to the WordPress.com VIP platform. Your work can also be tailored to fit your personal interests and goals.

The VIP team is serious about increasing diversity in the tech industry. We want to build Automattic as an environment where people love their work and show respect and empathy to those with whom we interact. Diversity typically includes, but is not limited to, differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, political and religious affiliation, socioeconomic background, cultural background, geographic location, physical disabilities and abilities, relationship status, veteran status, and age. To work on diversity means that we welcome these differences, and strive to increase the visibility of traditionally underrepresented groups. Read more about our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Interested? Great! Start by filling out the form below to introduce yourself, explain why you’d like to be an intern on the VIP team and what you’re interested in working on. Be clear about what you’ve done and provide links to code contributions on WordPress-specific plugins or themes if you can. Don’t worry if you’ve never contributed before; find somewhere you can contribute, no matter how small, and show us that! To get you started, here are some Automattic plugins for ideas on where to contribute:

Feel free to use as much space as you need in the form and be sure to include links to your online profiles as appropriate. After that is complete, you’ll be finishing off your application with a short quiz.

Rebecca Hum is a current VIP Intern. During her internship, she has worked on patching VIP supported community plugins, debugging client code and writing scripts for some of the biggest sites in the world.

Challenging times for online journalists: thoughts from ONA Dublin 2017

A few of us from the WordPress.com VIP team were delighted to join journalists, producers and developers from Europe and elsewhere for the Online News Association’s conference in Dublin, Ireland in mid-May. VIP is a long-time sponsor of ONA’s events: this was their third outside North America, but the first to venture away from London.

Dublin’s regenerated Docklands area has attracted countless global businesses in recent years, including many from the tech world. Google were our hosts for the drinks reception on the evening before. Facebook’s international headquarters, just a few minutes walk away, was the venue for the main event.

Mark Little: photo by Leopold Stuebner, used with permission #

The highlight of the day was closing keynote speaker Mark Little, known to many in the audience as a TV journalist and presenter on Irish state broadcaster RTÉ. He left to found social media news agency Storyful, bought by News Corp in 2013; then took charge of media partnerships at Twitter. Few could be better placed to describe the quandary in which journalism, particularly digital journalism, now finds itself.

Social networks had not set out to become the most powerful news distribution platforms of all time, he contended; it was an unintended consequence. Authoritative news content is ‘flowing through a pipe that is ranked and priced on the basis of emotion.’ With revenue dependent on competing for attention, and generating an emotional response, Mark suggested ‘you could not design a better model to erode trust in news and information than the one we sit in right now.’

His remedy lay in a move towards subscription-based funding, perhaps via bundled models as Netflix does for movies, or Spotify for music; and deeper and more direct engagement with consumers. Restore that trust, he proposed, and there was a bright future for journalism as a public utility, telling readers not just what they wanted to hear, but what they needed to hear.

A theme running through many of the day’s sessions was the uneasy power relationship between publishers and platforms, including our hosts for the day. As a man with a foot in both camps, Mark said it was time for platform companies to recognise and address those unintended consequences of their growth, ‘not through marketing, but through changes to the product’.

But there was no shortage of optimism in evidence, with sessions touching on artificial intelligence, clever use of smartphone notifications, and immersive storytelling techniques. Many of these can be watched on demand via the ONA website.

Online journalism may be going through turbulent times, but sometimes, that’s when the most exciting ideas emerge.

We’re already looking forward to ONA’s main annual event, taking place in Washington DC in early October. VIP will once again be a sponsor, with our Recharge Lounge providing an opportunity to power up your portable devices, whilst talking to us about the VIP service or WordPress more generally. Tickets are available at a reduced rate until June 29.

The Dream Internship: Work at Automattic (Summer 2017 and Beyond)

Please find our latest post on the internship here.

Automattic — which runs WordPress.com, Akismet, VaultPress, and many other services — is hiring interns, specifically to work on the WordPress.com VIP team.

WordPress.com VIP provides hosting and support for high-profile, high-traffic WordPress sites, including Time.com, People.com, FiveThirtyEight.com, qz.com, internet.org, TheSun.co.uk, NYPost.com, and more.

The VIP team is continually looking for interns to work on client-facing development and support. These paid internships run 12 weeks and can be completed either full-time or part-time.

Where will you be working? Anywhere! Automattic is a distributed company. We’re happy if you work from wherever you’re happy — as long as you have a good internet connection.

What will you work on? The internship will focus on things such as working on improving VIP and community plugins, debugging client code, building tools to help clients better manage their sites, and making performance and security improvements to the WordPress.com VIP platform. Your work can also be tailored to fit your personal interests.

The VIP team is serious about increasing diversity in the tech industry. We encourage applications from women, people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and other communities traditionally underrepresented in this field.

Interested?

Apply via our current internship post, which can be found here.

 

Alexis Kulash is a former VIP Intern. During her internship, she worked on transitioning VIP sites to PHP 7 and prevented potential security and performance problems on some of the biggest sites in the world.

WordPress.com VIP Supports Women in Digital Journalism at ONA

I am so proud to share that WordPress.com VIP was a sponsor at  this year’s ONA Women’s Leadership Accelerator at USC. This was our second year supporting the program, and my second year spending time there. We’re proud to help make the program completely tuition-free for the participants.

image-uploaded-from-ios-3

WLA is a weeklong forum aimed at developing strong leadership skills for women working in digital journalism. Twenty-five women were chosen from 350 applicants to spend a week developing leadership and management skills. Speakers included Kara Swisher, Recode co-founder; Liz Heron, former Huffington Post executive editor; and Charo Henriquez, former executive editor of People En Espanol.

By sheer coincidence, my former boss from the Chicago Tribune was this year’s facilitator. Tran Ha, the former Editor and General Manager of the RedEye, was my first manager out of college. Both last year and this year, I got to sit in the back of the classroom as the facilitator coached attendees on problem-solving in the workplace with real-life examples. The very candid discussions about the difficult parts of leaderships allowed women to connect with each other – and hopefully build a support network to help each other throughout their careers. It was also terrific to see many VIP clients represented: The Atlantic, The New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg, and FiveThirtyEight.

image-uploaded-from-ios

Tran asked me to participate as a mentor, and I spent the afternoon working with four women, from AJ+, NPR, The Guardian, and Vice. The topics we worked on together included hiring and leading a remote team, project managing engineers, and how to innovate within a busy daily news cycle. Later that evening, I gave a two-part presentation at dinner.

For the first part, I talked about the open-source ethos that powers WordPress. Earlier in my career, I worked in newsrooms and used WordPress daily. Back then I knew the software and dashboard very well, but didn’t know the mission behind it all: to democratize publishing. I wanted the help the leaders of newsrooms understand why supporting open source is so important.

For the second part, I talked about transitioning from a fairly gender-balanced workplace in editorial, to a mostly-male workplace at the intersection of journalism and technology about five years ago. I talked about the challenges of imposter syndrome and making your voice heard when you’re a minority, and reminded the women in the room that they are an important change in the wave of diversity in leadership at journalism and tech companies.

I’m thrilled that VIP was a part of this event for the second year in a row, and I’m looking forward to seeing these women excel across the industry!

For more reading, you can keep an eye on the rising stars here. If you’re interested in learning more about women leaders the digital media space, definitely check out Katie Hawkins-Garr’s newsletter from the The Poynter Institute. It’s an incredible read and a great way to find out about amazing things women are doing in journalism and technology.

The Dream Internship: Work at Automattic (Spring 2017 and Beyond)

Please find our latest post on the internship here: https://vip.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/the-dream-internship-work-at-automattic-winter-2018-and-beyond/

Our company Automattic — which runs WordPress.com, Akismet, VaultPress, and many other services — is hiring interns, specifically to work with us on the WordPress.com VIP team.

WordPress.com VIP provides hosting and support for high-profile, high-traffic WordPress sites, including Time.com, People.com, FiveThirtyEight.com, qz.com, internet.org, TheSun.co.uk, NYPost.com, and more.

We’re looking for interns to join us to work on platform development and testing or client-facing development and support. These paid internships run 12 weeks and we are flexible on the exact dates.

Where will you be working? Anywhere! We are a distributed company. We’re happy if you work from wherever you’re happy — as long as you have a good internet connection.

What will you work on?
We currently have one internship role available:

  • The support-focused internship will focus on things such as working on core WordPress.com features and development, debugging client code, and making performance and security improvements to the WordPress.com VIP platform. We’re hiring for the spring and summer for this role.

In either case, your work will be tailored to where your own personal interests lie.

Interested? Complete your application by filling in the form below. In the space provided, introduce yourself and why you’d like to be an intern with our team. Be clear about what you’ve done and what you’re interested in working on. Feel free to use as much space as you need in the form and be sure to give us more information by including links to your online profiles as appropriate.

We’re serious about increasing diversity in the tech industry. We encourage applications from women, people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and other communities traditionally underrepresented in this field.

Send in your internship application by December 15th for the spring support-focused internship or January 15th for the summer internships. If your application sounds interesting, we’ll schedule an interview (usually written / text chat, since we communicate a lot via text) as the next step. Good luck and thanks for your interest!

Alexis Kulash is a current VIP Intern. During her internship, she has worked on transitioning VIP sites to PHP 7 and prevented potential security and performance problems on some of the biggest sites in the world.

The Dream Internship: Work at Automattic (Summer 2016)

EDIT: Last day for applications is Friday February 26th at midnight Pacific time. If you’ve been thinking about it send your application in now!

Our company Automattic — which runs WordPress.com, Akismet, VaultPress, and many other services — is hiring interns, specifically to work with us on the WordPress.com VIP team.

WordPress.com VIP provides hosting and support for high-profile, high-traffic WordPress sites, including Time.com, FiveThirtyEight.com, qz.com, search.fb.com, MicrosoftStudios.com, NYPost.com, and more.

We are looking for two engineering interns to join us for the summer, to work on development for the WordPress.com VIP platform. This paid internship runs 12 weeks, and we are flexible on the specific dates.

Where will you be working you may ask? Anywhere! We are a distributed company and are happy if you work from wherever you are — as long as you have a good internet connection.

What will I work on?
We have two different internship roles available.
The performance-related internship will focus on auditing client code for performance improvements, creating a plugin that would help bring performance improvements to the broader WordPress community, and related tasks.
The security-related internship will focus on auditing client code for security improvements, working with clients to make related code changes, surfacing stastics about the types of attacks blocked on VIP, and related tasks.
In both cases the work and your contributions will be tailored to where your own interests lie.

Interested? Complete your application by filling in the form below. In the space provided, introduce yourself and why you’d like to be an intern with our team. Be clear about what you’ve done and what you’re interested in working on. Feel free to use as much space as you need in the form and be sure to give us more information by including links to your online profiles as appropriate.

We’re serious about increasing diversity in the tech industry. We encourage applications from women, people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community, and other communities traditionally underrepresented in this field.

If your application sounds interesting, we’ll schedule an interview (usually written / text chat, since we communicate a lot via text) as a next step. Good luck and thanks for your interest!

Applications are closed. Thank you for your interest!

Josh Betz is a former VIP intern who now works as a code wrangler at Automattic. During his internship he worked on a VIP user management plugin and helped build a new WordPress.com product. 

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