On a gloomy Sunday afternoon of March 29th, it’s nice to find yourself being in a vibrant and happy place: WordBench Tokyo Special: Matt Spring Festival!
It was quite a rainy day in (Kachidoki) Tokyo indeed, but this did not get in the way of WordPress users, developers, designers, programmers and enthusiasts to gather once again in Tokyo for this special event.
This one and a half hour Q&A lets attendees ask Matt anything they want to know about WordPress. And here are some of the questions in no particular order:
Q: With the recent WordPress ban in Pakistan, it seems like it is challenging the mission of WordPress to “Democratize Publishing”. What’s your thought on that, or other countries banning WordPress in general?
“The most beautiful thing about the internet is that it routes its way around it,” Matt says. “We refuse to censor our sites, so we are going to be blocked in countries like Brazil, Pakistan, China, etc.” Matt added, “we believe in freedom of speech and people are more important than the government.”
Q: What is the future of Jetpack?
“Jetpack is very exciting now. You can manage plugins and upgrades, and it’s free.” He continued, “we want you to worry about your clients and not worry about managing your website.”
Matt also pointed out that you can now login to your WordPress with Jetpack, and it also has a 2-factor authentication for security.
Q: What happens to the data centers in Asia?
“We are building data centers all over the world, so you can see the improvement of WordPress in performance. In Asia, we have one in Singapore already and others in Japan, Australia, Indonesia, all over.”
Q: How to get the younger generation interested or involved in WordPress?
“Now they are teaching WordPress in schools. Like in High School, they use WordPress to teach students how to code. In College, like in the course of Journalism, they also teach you how to use WordPress because you’ll probably use it for your job later on, but hopefully in the future it (WordPress) is so easy that you don’t have to be taught how to use it.”
Q: Any tips for non-English speakers to get more involved in WordPress?
“It’s important that non-English speakers are involved in WordPress. Translations and documentation are a good entry step. But in the longer term, we need more developers. Hopefully in 4.2 the multibyte patch stuff will not be needed anymore.”
Q: What can I do for WordPress?
“Help your friends use WordPress. Teach them how to have their voice out in the world like Twitter, WordPress, etc. You’ll become more popular because you help your friends use WordPress.”
Q: Some tips for getting things done?
- “Turn off all distractions. Turn your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, turn off twitter, facebook. Turn off everything.”
- “Music. Music that helps me concentrate. I listen to the same song – the same beat over and over, but I don’t go crazy.” (Joseph Mosby’s “The Psychology of a Small Playlist on Repeat”)
- “This is very impactful: writing down everything I’m gonna do. And it helps me a lot.”
- “Wunderlist: It’s great for tracking everything in different lists and I check them through the day.”
- “Momentum Chrome Extension: In a new tab, you see the time of the day and what I like about it is it says ‘hi‘ to you like WordPress’ ‘Howdy‘.”
“If you do all that, you can be as successful as me,” Matt added jokingly.
Q: Why did you cut your hair?
Last year Matt and Automattic participated in Movember. It’s when men shave clean on November first, then try and grow a mustache all throughout the month. And it’s inevitable that people would react to your mustache, and when they do, ask them to give to Movember for a good cause.
With this, probably some attendees wondered about Matt’s haircut. He answered, “I had an accident, so I decided to get the cheapest haircut for $4 (500¥) in USA, but it wasn’t very good. Now that my hair is short, you guys can suggest a new color. Pink, purple, etc. You can vote on my twitter account. If that’s terrible, I can always shave my head.”
Q: Tell us about the new dash editor for WordPress.com?
“We’re experimenting in simplifying the editor. That’s all I can say right now, but the new ‘Press This’ bookmarklet will be much nicer than the old one. It lets you blog much faster.” He admitted, “I use this everyday. I blog everyday and my hope is to have 365 days, then Wapuu will come from the sky and sprinkle me with candy!”
We can expect WordPress 4.2 very soon. “4.2 will come out on April 08 or 09,” Matt announced.
Q: Any message to bloggers?
“Use your blog everyday. This actually helps me become a better writer. It’s a good practice.”
Q: What’s your response to users’ requests on WordPress features?
“We try to figure out what the biggest problem of users are right now and we try to fix it over and over again. And almost every release users ask me requests. I also try to include features I wasn’t asked for. I’m usually wrong, but sometimes I’m right, like post revisions and pages. Users weren’t asking for them all the time.”
Q: What’s the biggest challenge for WordPress?
“Customization.” This is something WordPress wants to make easier because “it’s difficult for users to choose from the menu.” With easier customization, anyone can enjoy personalizing their sites which is great.
Q: On Automattic and its hiring process.
If you are giving a thought on joining Automattic, Matt elaborates that “hiring in Asia Pacific area is very important. More global coverage, better support for languages that are not English.” He also added, “now we are very English, but we’ve made steps to make our site more accessible, so we show screens in native languages. We focus on the heat of things.”
Matt stated that they have subsidiaries in Australia, Canada, UK and Ireland. “I would love to have a Japanese Automattic staff.”
Q: How to make WordPress more popular?
“Advertising is what we’re trying to explore,” Matt answered. “WordPress is the best solution, but many people don’t know it yet. We can advertise to video websites to spread the word more.”
He advised, “you can tell your friends.” Looking to everyone he said, “each person in this room can be a WordPress ambassador or spokesperson. Like the Michael Jordan of WordPress!”
Q: Plugin Security Issues
“There were plugins security issues last year. So what we did, we push updates automatically. So for users who don’t login (to their WordPress site), they’re always secure. The WordPress plugin team scan proactively and report security issues.”
In reference to Automattic and what they do, “we do two things. First is to expand our bounty on security issues and figuring out how to do that but not run out of money.” The second is to “take the features of VaultPress and make them free in Jetpack.”
“You may notice in Jetpack, they’ve added the brute-force protection. Future versions will do more a lot on security. We want it free and available to everybody.”
Q: Besides blog and media sites, what other WordPress sites are popular?
The fastest-growing sites nowadays are “eCommerce. Like WooCommerce shop sites are growing very quickly. These are going to be the big ones in the next few years.” The reason behind it is “because people want to sell things online.”
What we can see more are “Happytables, once the REST API is incorporated. More local plugins target to specific countries and fully localized plugin directory.”
And of course the question when Matt is coming to Japan again. We shall see him again “in the next cherry blossom season.”
In the meantime, here’s a nice quote (WCSF14 State of the Word) from Matt to all of us:
“The people is what makes WordPress even greater, and anyone is welcome to join regardless of their age, gender, race, creed, and so on. If you, like me, believe in a democratic form of publishing, then feel free to tag along with us.”