Community Oriented WordPress Magazine Idea

Justin Tadlock who goes by the username of greenshady has started an interesting discussion in the Tavern forum. The idea he presents is to create a website which could be a blog or anything else that discusses on anything and everything WordPress, bbPress, BuddyPress, etc. It could range from quick tips to full-blown tutorials. This is something I’ve thought about for a long time as well. It’s an idea that has any number of possibilities of being put into action.

First, let’s review the system we currently have in place for something like this and that is the WordPress Planet. The WordPress planet is a collection of sites talking about WordPress from across the world. Most of the planet feeds consist of a specific category feed from each website. Most of the people on this list are close to the vest of the project while the other feeds are from other projects such as bbPress, BuddyPress, and the various mobile application blogs. Every so often, a blog post will be published from one of the members on this list that contains bits of code or is a development resource. Not enough in my opinion. I understand most of the people on the planet feed list are head deep in the code of WordPress or various projects and that is where their time is best spent. But with all the people that make up the list, I just think there would be a little more WordPress content than there actually is. More on my idea to revamp of the WordPress Planet in a future post.

While the model may not be perfect, I think it would be good to see how Joomla is tackling this situation with their own community magazine scheduled for a re-launch this month. Here is what the first issue looked like and here is the associated forum dedicated to the project. They have an established team of volunteers for different positions of the magazine including a design team, authors, webmasters etc. Is this something that Matt would feel comfortable having on the WordPress.org domain? Perhaps in a sub-domain? If it’s part of the WordPress domain, it is automatically considered endorsement of the magazine. The good news is, if it were linked to from the WordPress.org website, it would immediately have an established fan base. The bad news is, if it were forced to be a project created from the ground up without the direct support of WordPress.org, there is no telling when the site would have a sizable audience. But, depending on who the contributing authors are, those individuals may be able to use their clout to bring people to the site.

Then there is the big problem of working for free. How could the magazine attract authors to contribute on a regular basis without receiving money? Perhaps the feeling of helping the community by sharing knowledge and being part of a project bigger than an individual by them-self is not enough. Since most of the authors will most likely have their own websites or communities, they can easily link to those in their contributing articles. Depending upon the magazine audience size, this could be a nice return of investment. This magazine would also be good for up and coming members of the WordPress community. Still, it is a tough hurdle to overcome if you already have an established website and your contributing article would help generate views and impressions on your own domain. If money somehow gets involved in a project like this, I believe it will only generate problems. As the saying goes, “more money more problems”.

Should the website publish articles once a month as a typical magazine or should it be run in a typical blog format? A few people within the Tavern forum thread state that a blog format will not work for this idea. Personally, I think if it’s going to be more of a magazine site, the articles should reflect that and not be so time sensitive such as new release posts. Things such as reviews, explanations of functions or hooks and how to use them would make for great monthly content. When asked about being a replacement for the Codex, Justin noted that the site would work in conjunction with the Codex, not replace it. The other problem is how to keep the backlog of content updated. Since the work is digital, it’s easy to go back in time to edit something or update it. But actual magazines don’t have to worry about this problem since after they are printed, that’s it.

Conclusion:

I would love to contribute to a magazine dedicated to WordPress once a month with a plugin review or something without any payment other than knowing it will be read by a bunch of eyeballs. That is one of the primary reasons why I loved writing for WeblogToolsCollection.com. Being in front of an audience that large is fun and when you get 30 or so comments on an article, that is good stuff. The magazine idea though has nothing but an uphill battle and will need a large amount of support before launch, during launch, and most importantly, after launch. What would be disappointing is for contributors to write killer articles and have them be buried or never seen.

At any rate, plenty of ways in which this idea could play out and there are a number of things to consider. Feel free to participate in the conversation in the forum or here in the comments.

14 Comments


  1. I just don’t understand why Matt hasn’t yet gone forward to appoint you as WordPress Community Manager (paid job ofcourse as part of Automattic). I can’t think of any other person better suited for this job and this would really accelerate all those ideas and the launch of the long needed WordPress Community Portal, led by your team.

    Joomla does a much better job at this, as you’ve previously written for WLTC. That is; if you’re in any way interested in such a job that is. Are you? ;)

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  2. I’ve been asked a few times to write for or contribute to a site about WP. Each time, I wondered what I could write about, and then came to the following conclusion:
    – either write a “killer article”, but then, why not publish it on my blog instead?
    – or write something I usually don’t write about on my blog, like, newbie guide for configuring your blog or anything, but then, if I don’t write about this usually or my blog, well, it’s because I’m not interested in the subject, hence I don’t want to spend time writing about it.

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  3. @Jean-Paul Horn – Thanks for the vote of confidence. I think I have a lot to learn before something like that opens up for me. I consider WPTavern.com practice for the job though.

    @Ozh – Heh, this must be why you were asking me how I choose to write for WLTC versus WPTavern. I come across the same dilemma as you regarding where do I publish the content after I write it. It’s a terrible mind game especially when someone else is paying you to do it.

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  4. @Jeffro – And I think you underestimate yourself :) Really, you would do an awesome job together with Jane, Matt and others for guidance/support.

    I really think WordPress should be stepping up their efforts in concentrating all the different ways to get information about WordPress and this project should be led by someone who really understands the WordPress community and the different emotions that live in the community, as you have proven here at WPtavern or at WLTC (e.g. the premium vs GPL debates, for both plugins and themes). Plus, you seem to have a very open mindset and have proven to be a knowledgeable and easy to understand writer.

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  5. I think there’s someone at Automattic who is supposed to be something like community manager. Or at least in charge of “user growth” or something like this, which in my mind includes managing the community :)

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  6. @Ozh – I don’t think it’s her primary role but Jane Wells would be the person your talking about. She has done a great job thus far.

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  7. I’m all for this and have some similar projects in mind in slightly different niches.

    I know people think that contributors won’t want to put free effort in, or will hold back their best content, but really this type of project is like the ultimate guest posting opportunity. Add in some sort of promotional incentive like allowing you to use one ad spot on the page where your article appears and its a winner in my book.

    In most professional industries the opportunity to be featured in industry publications is highly sought after. Should be no different in the WP community.

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  8. I’ve always found the magazine vs typical blog format to a bit of a false dichotomy – it is entirely possible to create a site which has content segregated between both magazine style feature articles and smaller blog posts.

    As for incentivisng the ‘A-listers’ to contribute, the quality of the content is more important than the person delivering it. A project like this has the potential to offer a great platform to newcomers – although it would require a strong editorial process.

    Obviously there’s a lot of kinks and details which would have to be developed, but I think it’s a good idea – nothing ventured, nothing gained.

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  9. So going it’s to be like The Blog Herald but more focused on the WordPress universe? Awesome.

    I’ll look forward to it’s launch!

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  10. @Paul Cunningham – I 100% agree, however, for that to happen, you have to have a successful and/or respected publication. Now, certainly Justin Tadlock has the community clout to help put something together, but without the initial support of others, getting to the point where you are big enough or respected enough to get people willing to work for free can be difficult. That’s just the reality.

    I like the idea of having an experts-based tutorial blog of sorts — I do — I just think that it is unrealistic to expect the best and brightest in the community to volunteer their work for free straight out of the gate. My own guess would be that time would be the biggest limiting factor, even before money (see, money or other incentives can make it worth making time). Otherwise, if you’re a successful WordPress professional or community member who has your own site, finding the time to contribute updated, consistent content for the betterment of the community can be difficult — especially as Ozh states, you have your own outlet for that sort of thing.

    I think that if a solid plan and focus can be presented with what the idea is and with a guarantee that the people putting together the project are going to stick around for a while, you could probably build some traction and get some contributions. But I think that sort of outline and commitment has to be there for people who have the skills and expertise to be willing to contribute. Part of the reason Joomla’s thing works is that it is an official channel. If this was an officially sanctioned thing, that might change things — but either a solid commitment or official backing (or at least acknowledgement) is likely needed to get the people that are needed to make something like this successful has to start first. Without that, you’ve just got yet another wordpress tips and tricks blog.

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  11. @Christina Warren -Well put. As has been discussed at wltc, time is what drives people to paid models in plugins and themes. The more valuable your product the more demand for your time. I rarely get to work on my own stuff, but I’m not good at saying no.

    The codex is good, but there are lots of holes in it and it can be skimpy on examples, unlike php.net. But it highlights the problem of lack of incentives.

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  12. While my previous comment might have sounded skeptical, I really hope this takes off. There are so many great WP minds out there that could teach us so much! If WP will make it official, it could be an honor to be published, and that is certainly an incentive to spend the several hours it would take to make a post.

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  13. @Jeffro – Actually, I think @ozh was talking about Paul Kim, who’s with Automattic (from Mozilla) to help grow the user base. He’s focused on wordpress.com, but there is some carry over into the .org world, and he and I do have discussions about things we could be doing.

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  14. @Jane Wells – Oh. I had a small chat with Paul and he said you were doing most of the community stuff for .org so that’s why I laid your name out there. Glad that more than one is on the case though.

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