Interview With Darren Hoyt On WPTopics.com

wptopicslogo Last week, I published a post which discussed the fact that there are so many sites centered around WordPress that perhaps we were reaching a point where there are TOO many sites. Darren Hoyt who we know from creating the Mimbo Pro theme has launched a new site called WPTopics.com which tries to present WordPress information from only established sites. I was lucky enough to talk to Darren for an hour the other day to find out a little more about this particular website.

In a nutshell, can you explain what WPTopics is all about?

My best wording for it is in the footer but I guess it’s supposed to generate discussion, record how much value people place on WP blogs and the personalities behind them. But I really don’t want it to be a popularity contest. For example, I’m teaching a friend web design from the ground up (he’s paying me). So of course I’m trying to get him into WordPress and this tool is exactly the kind of thing he needs instead of sifting through thousands of fly-by-night WP blogs by people who abandon them after 6 months. I want to only to link to people ingrained in the community, who are dedicated to the software and influence it.

Upon visiting WPTopics.com the first thing I think of is AllTop which does have a category for WordPress. How does WPTopics differentiate itself from AllTop?

As far as I can tell, the AllTop page was not compiled by anyone ingrained in the WP community. It’s a fair sampling of info but it’s a little unfocused and there are no categories, voting, nor will it probably ever change, whereas if someone’s blogging drops off or they move away from WP, I’ll be removing them from WPTopics.

You mentioned earlier that you don’t want this to turn onto a popularity contest. But, if people vote for certain sites or feeds, will those rise to the top of the page? How will you protect against those sites telling their communities to vote for them?

I cant’ really think of a reason someone would vote if they legitimately didn’t like a site. Like Nathan and Justin got their readers to vote for them and they did. It’s a great reflection of the enthusiasm people have for certain people’s work like Ian Stewart, etc. But, if someone pisses someone off, they could also go and give them a 1-star, and mess up their whole rating average. No real way to protect against it, it keeps everyone on their toes.

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What does it take to be added to WPTopics.com?

Basically if you’re consistently publishing articles that talk back to the WP community at large, and, in fact, change the way Automattic does things, that’s the sign of a trusted developer. I know people like Lloyd & Matt “check in” on certain sites like Ian’s and Justin’s, and sometimes comment so stuff like that is a pretty good measuring stick. Basically when the creme rises to the top it’s obvious and if I have any doubt, I send a group email to Justin, Ian, Nathan and you and ask if you think they’re a good candidate. By no means is it a truly scientific system.

Ok tell us a little bit about what is going on behind the scenes. Are you using specific plugins to pull in the feeds? Are you using a caching plugin? Did you do the design yourself?

Yeah, it’s using a custom WP framework I’ll probably release soon codenamed, Gravy. Each feed is actually a post and I’m using the More Fields plugin to specify .ico files along with the feed and URL address. Then Ben (binarymoon) helped implement some javascript that only queries posts if you’re on a particular tab, plus the voting plugin and supercache. When I say ‘framework’ i should really say ‘baseline theme’.

What sort of things do you have in store for WPTopics.com?

Some kind of twitter integration that isn’t chaotic and hopefully a “featured article” of stuff that’s especially good. Other than that, I want to sit back and watch how/if/when people use it, and then make decisions based on that.

Who is Jeff Chandler


Jeff Chandler is a WordPress guy in the buckeye state. Contributing writer for WPTavern. Have been writing about WordPress since 2007. Host of the WordPress Weekly Podcast.

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