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Streak

You might have noticed there have been more posts around here lately. Actually until yesterday (Oct 3) there was an unbroken string of at least one post a day since August 25th, 40 posts in total. It started with a tweet from Colin Devroe:

Until now I forgot it was only weekdays, so I was doing weekends as well. Friends know I like doing personal experiments just to question assumptions or ingrained behavior, other examples this I’ve tried this year are giving up drinking for a month, going without a smartphone for 40 days, and more recently training for a half marathon with my friend Rene. I thought blogging every day would be a burden, but it actually became a great source of joy. It was more a shift in mindset than anything — every day I read things I think are interesting, share links with friends, have thoughts that are 80% of a blog post, and write a ton privately, it was just a matter of catching those moments and turning them into something that was shared with the world.

The tools besides WordPress that I found super-helpful in this were Simplenote, which was great for capturing thoughts and drafts when I was on the go, and I’ve been using the Editorial Calendar plugin to help me schedule drafts and keep an eye on my progress. The Editorial Calendar plugin is useful but I don’t love it — I wish the calendar view moved week by week rather than replacing the whole table, that it was responsive or worked on mobile, and that it would take over your publish button so you could define a desired posting cadence (in my case every 24 hours) and it would put a finished post in the next free slot, or let you bump something to the front of the queue and push all the other posts back a day. There were a few missteps along the way with timezones but overall I’m happy with how the experiment turned out.

So what broke the streak? It was actually one of the other experiments: running. I’ve never considered myself a runner, and never really done it in my life, but a few months ago I started trying it and have been training up for a half marathon on November 16. (It’s also a great opportunity to take photos.) Yesterday morning I woke up early around 5 AM and as the sun started to come up, and the weather was so nice after I rounded the Bay Bridge (planned turnaround point) kept going to Crissy Field where I saw the Golden Gate from afar and thought it would be fun to cross it. After crossing I was starving by and figured 3 more miles would be a half marathon and also put me in Sausalito. The last mile or two was really tough, definitely beyond what I was ready for and I walked a lot, but I was very proud of the result, finishing in around 2 hours 45 minutes. But I hadn’t planned to stay out that long, and the rest of my day was full of meetings. I had moved my scheduled post for the day out so I could talk about the new Childish Gambino mixtape (post coming tomorrow) but the rest of the day was so busy and I got exhausted so early I totally forgot to post.

So achieved one life goal while breaking the streak on another, which is not ideal, but today is another day and I want to see if I can break the 39 day streak next. Everything happens one day at a time. :)

Derek Low on What It’s like to Fly the $23,000 Singapore Airlines Suites Class [link removed, see end]. I’ve been on the Emirates First Class A380 with the shower before, but this looks like an entirely other level. I also must confess I think Emirates has rather gaudy design. The best I’ve seen design-wise is actually from Swiss Air, as you’d expect. Update: Apparently the original link borrowed pretty heavily from another blogger, so here are links to the original author’s posts: one, two, three.

Five for the Future

On Sunday at WordCamp Europe I got a question about how companies contribute back to WordPress, how they’re doing, and what companies should do more of.

First on the state of things: there are more companies genuinely and altruistically contributing to growing WordPress than ever before. In our ecosystem web hosts definitely make the most revenue and profits, and it’s been great to see them stepping up their game, but also the consultancies and agencies around WordPress have been pretty amazing about their people contributions, as demonstrated most recently by the fact the 4.0 and 4.1 release leads both hail from WP agencies (10up and Code for the People, respectively).

I think a good rule of thumb that will scale with the community as it continues to grow is that organizations that want to grow the WordPress pie (and not just their piece of it) should dedicate 5% of their people to working on something to do with core — be it development, documentation, security, support forums, theme reviews, training, testing, translation or whatever it might be that helps move WordPress mission forward.

Five percent doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up quickly. As of today Automattic is 277 people, which means we should have about 14 people contributing full-time. That’s a lot of people to not have on things that are more direct or obvious drivers of the business, and we’re not quite there today, but I’m working on it and hope Automattic can set a good example for this in the community. I think it’s just as hard for a 20-person organization to peel 1 person off.

It’s a big commitment, but I can’t think of a better long-term investment in the health of WordPress overall. I think it will look incredibly modest in hindsight. This ratio is probably the bare minimum for a sustainable ecosystem, avoiding the tragedy of the commons. I think the 5% rule is one that all open source projects and companies should follow, at least if they want to be vibrant a decade from now.

Further reading: There’s been a number of nice blog follow-ups. Post Status has a nice post on Contribution Culture. Ben Metcalf responded but I disagree with pretty much everything¬†even though I’m glad he wrote it. Tony Perez wrote The Vision of Five and What it Means. Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal, pointed out his essay Scaling Open Source Communities which I think is really good.

I believe that basically you write for two people; yourself to try to make it absolutely perfect; or if not that then wonderful. Then you write for who you love whether she can read or write or not and whether she is alive or dead.

— Ernest Hemingway to Arthur Mizener, 1950 Selected Letters, p. 694.

I got it from Hemingway on Writing which is a short and pleasant read I’m going through right now. It turns out Hemingway was 64 years ahead of me in his advice about who to write for.