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Interviews: Matt Mullenweg – WordPress Co-Founder

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June 21st, 2009
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Community Interviews

Many of us use WordPress on a day to day basis and many of us love using it, but don’t you want to know the people who have made WordPress what it is today, the people behind the software and the people who are helping the WordPress community grow.

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To get you up and close with the WordPress rock stars, we are starting a community interview series where we will quiz people who have helped WordPress evolve and grow, and we could think of no one better than Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress to start this off with. Here is the interview we did with Matt.

WLTC: First of All thanks for taking the time to do this interview, I
really appreciate it more than I can tell you, here is the first question. What does WordPress mean to you as a co-founder and when you think of it as a individual user?

Matt: It’s always been about expressing yourself online. For me, that’s a blog with lots of photography elements. For other folks it might just be a website that doesn’t look like a blog at all. But before b2 and later WordPress I never really felt comfortable with an online presence, there was just too much friction in the tools and they made it too frustrating to do what I wanted. WordPress exists to remove that friction.

WLTC: Happy 6th Anniversary WordPress. It has been 6 long years now, can
you tell us some of your experiences from day 1 to day 2190?

Matt: One day I’ll always remember is the first time someone translated WordPress into another language, I believe it was a project in Japan. To put this in perspective, WordPress had no translation framework at the time so this meant someone went through every single file and line of code and edited it.

This blew me away at the time, and I believe it also had a big effect on Ryan, who went on to lead the long and tedious work of making WordPress gettext-compatible so translators had a robust and efficient way to translate WordPress.

Today there are as many WordPress users outside of the U.S. as inside, and international is the fastest growing part of our community.

WLTC: How has WordPress evolved in community building, what steps does
it take towards it?

Matt: Everything we’ve always done has been trial and error. I think our problem then and now has been it’s too hard for folks to volunteer around WordPress. People break through the trouble and pitch in, but it could be a lot easier of a process and I’d love to recognized everyone who contributes a lot more, which is one of the ideas behind redoing how profiles work on WordPress.org.

WLTC: The GPL issue has been lagging around for sometime now, can you
provide some views on why GPL is the best way to go forward with?

Matt: WordPress wouldn’t exist if B2 wasn’t GPL — it’s the core of our existence. Plugins and themes use hooks, filters, functions, and core data structures in a way which makes them linked and they can’t take away freedoms from users granted by the GPL, which means they must be under the GPL or a compatible license. End of story.

WLTC: A couple of years ago WordPress was seen as a excellent blogging
platform, these days people see it more as a CMS in addition to a
blogging platform. What are your thoughts, and what steps is WordPress
taking towards it?

Matt: More and more people are discovering that the only limits with WordPress are your imagination. You don’t need bloated, seldom-updated, expensive, or never-backward-compatible "content management software" to create beautiful and powerful sites. I think people are starting to realize this because of BuddyPress and the WordPress Showcase.

WLTC: As a personal question, do you follow developments in other
softwares such as Blogger, Joomla and Drupal?

Matt: Absolutely, in fact earlier today at CMS Brazil I watched a presentation on Drupal 7.

WLTC: What are the core values from WordPress you might want or like
other companies to incorporate?

Matt: That’s a tough one — there’s a lot of opinions and philosophies embedded in how WordPress works that I’ve internalized so it’s hard to look at them from afar. Maybe one of the days I’ll get a page on WordPress.org about it.

WLTC: Bugs in WordPress, how do you handle those? Any advice to people
who want to share their bugs and problems or contribute towards solving
them?

Matt: We squish bugs with extreme prejudice. If you’re not sure if something is a bug or not the support forums are probably your best bet. If you’re tech savvy and know how to file a bug report, then I’d recommend to drop it on Trac. In the Drupal presentation I saw earlier they called it a "do-ocracy" where people who do things get things done, and recommended if there was something that you couldn’t code yourself to commission someone to do it on your behalf, which will probably be pretty cheap (a few hundred dollars). I thought that was an interesting idea.

WLTC: One suggestion you would give to someone starting out as a newbie
in WordPress?

Matt: Check out a book on WordPress, spend a little time clicking around the Codex and on WordPress.tv, and of course subscribe to the WordPress Planet and WLTC. :)

WLTC: One suggestion you would give to experienced WordPress users?

Matt: Check out the taxonomy system, and Dexter Gordon. (The saxophonist, not the WordPress release.)

Update: To learn more about what Matt and team are doing and planning to do with don’t forget to check the State of the Art Video From WordCamp SF.

Once again thanks Matt for taking out the time for us and answering the questions, it was absolutely nice to have you with us, we hope the readers of WLTC love it too.

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Comments

  1. Michael Torbert (8 comments.) says:

    Great interview Keith. I never get tired of hearing about the evolution of WordPress. I just watched a video from wordpress.tv (via wptavern.com) from the State of the Word (at this year’s WordCamp SF) where Matt talked some more about the WordPress origins.

    • Keith Dsouza (6 comments.) says:

      Thanks @Michael glad you liked it, will be doing several more interviews in future too

      • Atniz (17 comments.) says:

        It’s very inspiring to see interviews like this especially from younger generations who makes it big in online industry.

  2. Jeremy Young (1 comments.) says:

    Thanks for the interview, It’s great to get an insight into the mind of one of the wordpress masterminds. Look forward to more.

  3. Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

    Great round of questions Keith. I never get tired of watching, reading, or listening to interviews with Matt. I’m glad to see you taking the idea of the community spotlight and turning it into a reality.

  4. Microsoft Guy (13 comments.) says:

    Yeah Matt is definitely an interesting person and has created something really big here. I also enjoy reading his blog ma.tt. I still can’t get over the design he has going on there.

  5. Aminka Ozmun (1 comments.) says:

    I have to disagree with Mullenweg’s comments on Drupal’s low-cost “do-ocracy.”

    I’ve spent just a couple of hundred dollars developing my WordPress site, premium plugins and all, in contrast to the US$12K quoted me by a Drupal community stalwart for all the same functionality.

    In all fairness, it’s taken me three months so far and I don’t expect to launch (that is, finish) for another four. But still.


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