How P2 Changed Automattic

If you haven’t heard of P2 yet, check out this quick video:

Almost everyone at Automattic is a blogger, but for the first couple of years of the company we didn’t blog much internally. Everything happened over IRC, Skype, and email. (In that order.) Eventually we started a blog that worked like a traditional blog did with long posts and comments, but everyone forgot to visit it until I wrote a quick script on cron job that would email everybody summaries of new posts and comments.

There was a disconnect we couldn’t reconcile: even though our internal blogs didn’t work out most of the company was active on Twitter every day. (WordPress users are some of the most passionate adopters of micro-blogging.)

We found a solution in Prologue which added a posting box to the home page and gave it a Twitter-like feel. Now Automattic had a pulse, a place where the incredible amount of activity was chronicled and captured. It was low-friction and hassle-free, we all started using it more.

But there was still a problem, Prologue was great for status updates but terribly awkward for conversation. P2 solves all this by moving the conversation inline on the homepage. Conversations can be fully threaded using 2.7′s new comment features. Finally the blog started to get so busy we made it real time so you can just leave the page open and new stuff will come in. (It’s hard to describe, so watch the video above.) Seemingly simple changes have increased engagement many-fold: our main P2 now has over 4,700 posts in it with 1,100 of those in the past 60 days.

It completely transformed how Automattic works internally and I think is one of the most valuable things we’ve adopted in the past year. I’m on the road a lot, and sometimes my only connection is checking the mobile-optimized P2 on my iPhone.

I’m excited about P2 partly because blogs provide an incredibly robust infrastructure on which to build more advanced apps and this is a good example of that. I’d love to see more themes that transform what WordPress can do top-to-bottom.

You can get P2 for your WordPress.org blog here, and it’s available for all of WordPress.com too.

162 thoughts on “How P2 Changed Automattic

  1. Great theme with basic principles in keeping people connected, both personally and professionally. Thanks for the continued value to society and individual growth.

  2. P2 is fantastic! I just wish that it sås possible to post from the author page (if you åre the author of that page) in addition to posting on the home page.

    I also wish that users could follow esch others, and that only posts from users that you follow would show up on your own authorpage.preferrably using ajax, like the front page.

    It would also be really cool if users could change the background image of their own author pages.

    /niska

    1. You can have as many P2s as you like, so if it’s becoming too noisy or busy just branch off a new one.

      The following I think we have an answer for, but it’ll be separate from P2.

      1. We’re using P2 at our company and have more than 200 users/authors. I’m not sure that branching a new ones solves our problem.

        I haven’t found a “follow user” plugin yet. Is there one?

      2. Sure, we’ll create new P2s for different departments, groups, or projects.

        For specific following you might be better off with the BuddyPress friends plugin.

      3. BuddyPress friends plugin requires a confirmation from the friend. A follow plugin should not need a confirmation. BuddyPress plugin only works for WPMU (so far).

        My search for a “follow user” plugin for WP continues :-D

      4. Don’t forget there is tagging. And there is/could be categorization. This will make the step needed for branching further away since you can simply filter out unwanted stuff by searching for tags (ie. keep a browser window with two tabs: inter.nal/tag/music-dept and inter.nal/tag/video-dept. Perhaps one with inter.nal/author/cuteintern as well ;-)

        Although a better solution would imho not be a follower plugin for this but a way to:
        * Search/intersect tags (ie. all with tag A and B)
        ** blog/tag/foo/bar
        * Advanced search (ie. all with tag A or B or author X). Then you can simply bookmark the permalink to the search page.
        ** blog/search?tag[]=foo&tag[]=bar&author[]=X

    1. No, but it’s just WordPress so all of the Twitter plugins work just fine if you want to push or pull your tweets in or out.

  3. lol. “No Fail-whales”.

    Seriously though, the whole “post from your homepage” thing is awesome, ever since it was introduced in the original Prologue theme I’ve been adding it to every theme I make. Not necessarily brilliant for long posts but for links, images (I can upload images from a specified url using my quick post form), reviews (in conjunction with an additional plugin) its a super idea.

    WordPress FTW.

    1. Yes I’ve been thinking about doing a plugin to add “post from homepage” to every theme on WordPress.com. We kind of need a few more hooks, like an “outside loop above posts” hook.

  4. I didn’t know that the P2 theme had mobile theme built in. That makes this theme so useful. On the iPhone I see the mobile theme, but not on my BlackBerry. Is that intended or bug? Thanks!

      1. Ha. Only the most sold mobile device this quarter. I mean, it should be as simple as adding the BlackBerry user-agent to your script. That would enable tons of business users, and help P2 and WordPress break into the corporate world.

      2. Matt, can you give any hints as to how WordPress.com does the mobile site? Would you consider releasing the code?

  5. Thanks for the theme matt.
    I have a questions:
    Are there plans for allowing easy translation of the theme? (specifically adding rtl support to it, and po/mo files for translation)

    Thanks for the great theme!
    Tal

    1. Actually, P2 already comes with rtl support (through rtl.css) and a is i18n ready. Hebrew is one of the languages already included in the download file.

  6. How cool is it that you guys develop these neat tools for work and then share it with the rest of us. Thanks! (And how sad I decided to delete myfamilynews because I thought I wouldn’t use it any longer. Ooof!)

  7. I am involved in a project that’s interested in the idea of a ‘shared’ reading experience. One of the key elements is bringing the conversation surrounding the text forward. This is a great step forward.

  8. I think something that could really drive P2 usage even more would be to see it be open to posting/feeding other protocols. Imagine if a P2 instance could be linked into Jabber, or if various twitter clients could be hooked into it.

    The idea of being able to set up a P2 instance and then add that to tweetdeck, seesmic desktop, jabber, post from ping.fm etc is quite compelling and suddenly you’ve got a federated micro-blogging system.

    I don’t really know enough of the ins and outs to be sure what is involved, what’s possible, and whether I’m talking out of my ass, but ever since Jaiku went open source and allowed you to set up your own instance, it seems like P2 could actually blow it out of the water (much as I hate to say it).

    1. There was a soft launch the other week of part of what you want: every wordpress.com account is now a Jabber account (login at im.wordpress.com) and you can subscribe to receive any blog or comments via IM. :)

  9. (WordPress users are some of the most passionate adopters of micro-blogging.)

    yes, I think the next station after Twitter is personal microblogging platform, and that’s P2.

  10. I use P2(wordpress.com), i like it. However my friends stick with Twitter / Facebook. i would like to find a way, when i post to P2, that message would also update Twitter / Facebook status. I still don’t find that.

    Moreover, i would like P2 has a more user-friendly way to post link/photo/video. Not everyone family with code.

  11. Simply love P2, but I wish someone could create a solution to enable optional Twitter login and crossposting from the P2 postform (versus the admin backend) so that multi-author blogs or WPMU users could easily post to Twitter and their P2 site without seeing the dashboard.

    Sort of like how the Connectwitter plugin uses ajax in the comment form for crosposting your comments to Twitter.

    Anyone?

  12. Matt you’ve got a real twitter killer here, for months I’ve looked for a “personal twitter” thtat allows a company to run realtime updates of what the personal is doing, this is exactly what I needed. Congratulations on this!

  13. Heard a lot about it. Can’t wait to try it out. Maybe next week. Nice job by the way, I always knew that Automattic totally rocks! ;)

  14. Wow, my friend Valenzine told me about this, and it’s probably just what we need!
    We send a lot of tiny mails every day, with different “threads” and thanks to GMail it gets easy to reply and follow each topic individually. But this is even better and easier! We’ll give it a try!

  15. Wow, I must say this looks like a fantastic microblogging platform! I especially love the look and feel of it!

    The only problem is that every installation becomes an island, so that you need one account for each of the installations where you want to follow and contribute to the discussion.

    This could be fixed by implementing support for the open standard OpenMicroBlogging. OMB is best known for being used by the FLOSS microblogging system Laconica powering identi.ca. So if you add support for OMB P2 users will suddenly have access to a very large community of µbloggers. Everybody wins because of the network effect.

    There is already a WP plugin to OMB-enable your blog: mnw. I’m sure it would be quite easy to adjust its code to fit perfectly for inclusion in P2.

    This would be a great advancement for online FLOSS apps, and open standards IMHO.

    1. P2 is just a theme, so if you want to add an OMB plugin that’s fine!

      Should be noted that blogs are very open, they all support syndication standards like RSS and have super-robust interaction APIs through XML-RPC and Atom.

    2. Absolutely! I’ve been wanting this for some time now and it makes perfect sense. P2 with OMB support would be huge especially when combined with a Buddypress install.

  16. Now that I think of micro blogging Automatic could use Intensedebate for micro blogging. Not sure if that make scene just trowing things out there.

    Micro blogging form my own domain and having control over my content would be huge.

    I am so looking forward to what Automatic comes up with.

  17. This is really cool. I’ve been looking for a plugin or something to make comment posting in real time on a standard wordpress post. Is there a way to integrate just that feature from P2 into a regular wordpress theme? If so, would it be terribly difficult?

  18. Great theme.

    Though I notice on a single post page (permalink), the navigation to the next older posts actually states “Newer post” (and vice-versa). This should be switched around, no?

  19. P2 on wordpress.com should have it’s own sign-up process on the home page of the blog for the blog owner to get like-minded people join the team.

  20. Matt, my friends Martin is trying to setup a very similar system for his company and colleagues using TwitterSpy as a tool. It makes for a XMPP interface between IM and Twitter. Everyone signs up to a common twitter and the tool lets everyone read/post content from the web, their fav IM client or twitter :)

  21. have to say P2 is really amazing, but i wonder can there be a option, if available, whether or not to write a specific post title? other than to extract certain fonts…. You know, my php/css is poor :( looking forward your reply~

  22. The video mentions that P2 content can be kept private: is there a switch for this in the theme somewhere that I’m missing?

    We’d love to use it at RedMonk, but need the details kept behind a login.

  23. I have not looked into it yet, but could you password protect the page; and allow attachments to be included in the posts? If so, it would be a “poor mans” basecamp…. in a way.

  24. This is exactly what I was looking for!
    I wanted to self host a microblogging platform because I wanted full control on data. Laconica was good, but setup looked very hard and it has some strict license requirements. jaiku runs python and I dont know python.

    But P2 is just awesome!

    Thanks a bunch Matt!

  25. Let’s see… how do I word this best….

    Is there a way that we can show the homepage as normal, yet the actual post div be hidden and replaced with “please sign in” and a username/password box? This would be an ideal way to block out the actual content while still showing the site itself, perhaps leaving the sidebar viewable; only hiding the posts/comments.

    I hope I worded that in an easy to understand way..

  26. the most brilliant wp theme. tripple cheers matt. a request: could you please incorporate an option to title the posts right from the homepage post form?

  27. How hard would it be to hack this so that you can see comments on the “user” page? (And how about under a tag’s page?)

      1. You weren’t kidding! My brother figured it out and got it done for both users and tags in about an hour.

  28. Hello Matt,

    Thanks to your team for this amazing work.

    I got just few ideas:
    P2 is dedicated for the collaborative work, so it will be great if it could be possible to receive the threads and reply by email.

    Other point: Using the tags is ok, but maybe including the categories function will be a good things:
    - The name of the category is the project name, and the tags are the different phases (or subject) of the project.

    PS: I did not see you in Hanoi :(

    I really looking to push my clients to use P2 ^^

  29. We should perhaps just use WordPress+P2 to roll out our twitter-like service, instead of “wasting time” to write our own feature rich code and thus losing precious time to market ;-)

    Nice work, of P2, congratulations!

  30. Hmm…at my blog the AJAX feature doesn’t work.

    When I (or an other author) write a post or a comment, the site doesn’t refresh automatically. We have to push F5 to load the site again. Then the post shows up.

    Any suggestion why it doesn’t work? The comments are not moderated.

    :(

  31. Very cool; trying to implement this w/ wordpress-mu, and I’m seeing some breakage w/ the reply links… perhaps wpmu is missing the needed javascript for it?

  32. P2 is awesome. I’m using it with WPMU and Buddypress.

    Since I have a small community, I’m just wondering if there’s a way to limit comments to registered users only?

    Thanks. PS/Amazingly sick theme!

  33. It’s great to see such an innovative approach to theming. I’m working on a similarly odd-ball approach to theming myself at the moment, hopefully it will be as popular as your new P2 theme is.

  34. I’ve used this theme Matt. First I install it in WP 2.7, but the reply comment on homepage didn’t work. But when I install it in wp 2.7.1, the reply option is working. Perhaps you should modify this theme for wp 2.7 (just an idea).

    And I do a little bit of modification in permalink code on entry.php because your default code is only useful for default permalink wordpress, not in custom permalink. So I edit it into standard permalink structure code. Here the result on my quote blog >> quote.evytaar.com

    For your theme, I give two thumbs up Matt, it’s very amazing theme for microblogging. I try to search twitter clone or something like that, but I found more amazing on your wordpress theme. Thanks Matt :)

  35. I’ve just started using P2 for an internal Twitter-like setup for a group of bloggers in the same niche, it has been working sweetly, especially inline posting+comments.

    Thanks Matt!

  36. Great idea!
    Any plans on making some kind of Mac/Win Addon for that? So you just click on a button in the toolbar and a post-windows pops up, you click send and you are done?
    Perhaps a list with the say 5 latest posts as well, or a notification feature?

  37. Very interesting theme! I actually changed back to WordPress hosted blog from Blogger after a friend of mine told me about the P2 theme. Absolutely fantastic with unrivaled simplicity. Simple is elegant.

  38. Whats about more Option in the near future for upcoming Versions of the P2 like:

    -Set Date for Post Publishing on the Frontpage.
    -Chose Categorie on the Frontpage.
    -More Options in the Theme Options Page, for what you want and what not?
    -Highlighted Autor Comments, like you do it her.
    -Maybe some examples for child themes to help beginners to start with it.

    Only some Questions from a German user… ;)

  39. At 0:24, the video mentions that there is no need to write a post in the editor–because the person posting can do so in the box at the top of the home page. I am currently using the P2 theme, and when users log in, the first thing they see is the Dashboard page. Is there any way that I can enable them to bypass this page so that they can log in and be taken straight to the home page? My concern is that the Dashboard page will confuse visitors, who may not be familiar with WordPress so might not understand how that page works. It would be so great if there wer a way to streamline things so that the person logs in, and … BAM! They are on the home page ready to post. Is that possible with the current version of the P2 software?

      1. I managed this using

        1. SimpleModal Login
        2. Peter’s Login Redirect

        Added Log In to the sidebar

        Then look in the settings of Peter’s Login to send users where they need to go :)

        Regards, James

  40. Love the theme, congrats on inspired innovation. I am wondering if there is a plugin that would allow voting up of conversations?

    Thanks again Matt!

  41. This is a real game changer
    * Posts are editable (twitter: not)
    * Replies are tied to posts (twitter as well)
    * Replies are threaded and can be viewed as such (twitter: not)
    * No forced character limit
    * All the goodies of wordpress (shortcodes, markup etc.)
    * All the other wordpress-related goodies (statpress-, and redirect-plugin. wp-permalinks, rss feeds per author/blog comments)
    * Friggin awesome!

    This is the best of both worlds, I can’t put into words what this enables. It’s kinda like Google Apps (as in ‘your own gmail’) but for Twitter!

      1. Hey Matt, you don’t find IM better than using P2? Or in your case P2 replaced IM…? But IM is so much faster than P2 when having real time conversation. So how would you use P2 on a daily basis when working with your staff? Maybe another blog post, more detailed, on how you actually use it is in order? :)

  42. Matt, would P2 be customizable to make something like Asana? It would be great to have WordPress alternatives that can be hosted on one’s own server instead of another server with big pricing plans. The possibility of GTD (Getting Things Done) for WordPress seems really worthwhile along with something like P2. I’ve looked into a few GTD plugins for WordPress but they don’t quite seem to rise to the usability of Asana. P2 seems very user friendly in that regard.

    1. They’re different, but of course they can be used in similar ways. I would suggest diving in and making it part of your daily routine, then see what you miss most from Asana and then focusing on if plugins or theme updates can fill the gap.

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