With PostStat.us gaining traction and becoming a hub of activity within the WordPress community, I reached out to Ben Gillbanks, creator of WPVote.com to get his thoughts on why WPVote hasn’t really seen the same adoption even though it’s been around for three years and what his thoughts are on PostStat.us. WPVote was described by many as a Digg like site but for WordPress.
First off Ben, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you’ve been up to these days.
Hi Jeff. I have been working online since the early 2000’s, and started with WordPress around 2004. I released a free theme that was one of the first added to wordpress.com – and after I started prothemedesign.com which I still run today. Currently I am still building themes, with the best being premium themes on wordpress.com.
It’s been 3 years since the launch of WPVote. In that period of time, are you happy with the results of your experiment?
WPVote has been a fantastic learning experience for me. Honestly – it never took off as I would have liked – but I was able to achieve everything I set out to do. In addition, and what many people probably don’t think of – is that when building WPVote I created a product that I sold on prothemedesign.com – and it has done quite nicely for me.
That said – since you first asked me about doing this interview WPVote has been under a sustained flood of traffic, which has made the site un-responsive. There are patterns to the traffic, but the blocks I have put in place haven’t helped and the rest of the site doesn’t respond. Without improving my hosting (which isn’t financially viable) I think the future of wpvote is in doubt at the moment :(
Can you share some statistics regarding the site such as submissions, new user registrations, etc?
Well – wpvote.com currently has 10,022 users and 1,962 public posts. I haven’t measured how many but wpvote automatically deletes old posts that point to websites/web pages that no longer exist. As such, there’s probably a couple hundred posts that have been removed. There’s currently about 20 users who are consistently posting new content to the site, with 5 to 10 new posts a week being published. The (legitimate) traffic to the site isn’t huge but it has a good pagerank so it can be a nice bonus for your site.
From the outside looking in, I haven’t seen WPVote become a destination hotspot to see what’s happening in the world of WordPress. Why do you think that is?
My biggest problem, with everything I do (I’m well aware that this is a weakness), is marketing. I don’t have the network – or the skills/ knowledge – that others in the community have. Poststat.us has shown that this type of website in the WordPress niche can work – and I’m really pleased Brian managed to do it. In addition Poststat.us has managed to keep the content higher quality – presumably through a more manual review process which is bound to have helped.
Are there any specific lessons you’ve learned by operating WPVote in the past three years?
I’ve learned a lot about programming and developing complex themes. I probably shouldn’t say this about a product I still sell, but I’d quite like to rewrite Nominate. I’ve also learned a lot about WordPress itself – using functionality you wouldn’t normally use in a theme. Things like submitting posts – and integrating spam management tools, more complex admin tools, and using wp-cron to automatically check on validity of old content. It’s been a really good way to grow as a developer.
In my article where I described the launch of WPVote, I mentioned near the end that it would be cool to see something like WPVote replace the WordPress planet feed so the community played a larger role in determining what was shown on the front page. Have you had any inquiries regarding this? Is it something you would like to pursue?
I’ve had a few inquiries to buy/invest in the site but I’ve turned everyone down so far. I’m not really in this for the money – I wanted to do it because I think WordPress is awesome and I wanted to try to help promote the community.
I haven’t had any inquiries regarding syndicating the content for something more wordpress.org related but doing something like that would be awesome – I’m certainly open to considering things like this (if I can ever get the site live again).
I’d like to know your thoughts regarding PostStat.us and their recent redesign. It looks like the site is gaining traction and is starting to gain more user based submissions.
I think the PostStat.us redesign is fantastic. IMO It’s not very visual – and the design is quite dry. It plays down the social/ community aspect – but the content is great and it’s building itself up nicely. Since PostStat.us is mostly about the community and writing opinion pieces based upon submitted content/ news – I think it would be nice to showcase the other sites more, possibly through website screenshots (like on wpvote) or perhaps some other means.
The thing I am missing with WPVote is the community actively submitting and (more importantly) voting on the content. If people don’t interact then there’s no point running the site. PostStat.us does have people voting on content, and the manually curated content which probably makes it a more desirable destination for people looking for WordPress content.
Do you have anything on tap with the WPVote website that you’d like to share?
At the moment my focus with wpvote is trying to get it back online. In the future I would quite like to rewrite it as a voting plugin but I have so many other things I want to do that I don’t know when/ if that will happen.
Check out Ben’s 7 part series that goes through the process of getting WPVote from idea, to working reality.