Planet Automattic: Bytes from the People who Make WordPress.com

By Ben Huberman

WordPress.com is the biggest blogging platform around, and one of the most visited websites in the world. Yet the team that keeps it running is an intimate group of 224 Automatticians (thinking of joining our ranks? We’re always hiring). Among them are the Code Wranglers at work on our great features, the designers who make sure every pixel in your theme is in its right place, and the Happiness Engineers who work around the clock to solve any issue our users encounter.

Among the people working on WordPress.com, you’ll find marathon runners, home brewers, slam poets, and global nomads (to name a few) — as well as many, many bloggers. What do the people who make blogging possible blog about? Here’s a taste.

Photo by Automattic designer Dan Hauk

Photo by Automattic designer Dan Hauk

Technology and design

It comes as no surprise that people who work on innovative technology also think and write about it — constantly. When the latest version of the WordPress software was released recently, for example, several of those who contributed to it shared their perspective on the process, including designers Matt Thomas and Joen Asmussen.

Other Automatticians write on geek-friendly topics as varied as web safety and problem-solving; Design Engineer Mel Choyce spent some time earlier this year imagining blog themes for each house on Game of Thrones. Happiness Engineer Paul Ciano gives helpful advice on using technology on his blog, while Growth Engineer Ben Thompson uses his site to share his thoughts on the intersection of technology and culture, like in his recent post on social media.

How we work

One of the most unique aspects of working for Automattic is the company’s distributed model: employees work from wherever in the world they happen to be (or wanted to move to). The transition into this new type of environment, and its effects on how work is done, is something on which many Automatticians reflect.

“I live in the future. My work environment is contained within a computer screen, and I can put that screen anywhere I want.”

This observation by Code Wrangler Jason Munro sums up what many here feel.

BBQ -- an Automattic obsession -- as captured by data wrangler Marcus Kazmierczak

BBQ — an Automattic obsession — as captured by Data Wrangler Marcus Kazmierczak

The challenges and rewards of working in a non-traditional workplace is a common theme in Automatticians’ blogs. Mobile Wrangler Aaron Douglas shared his thoughts on coping with ADHD in his work, while Happiness Engineer Alx Block devoted a blog post to his experience since joining the company, and how it has transformed his notion of customer support. He concluded:

Just because I couldn’t previously accept the word support for what it is, doesn’t mean that I don’t identify as support. This word has taken on new meaning for me, and it’s a positive switch.

Also on the Happiness team, Zandy Ring wrote on the women of Automattic (and women in technology more broadly), and her own path toward finding a fulfilling job. She gave this inspiring advice to others who might doubt their skills:

Let yourself be the best in the world at what you want to do. Don’t give yourself an artificial constraint based on insecurities that don’t exist outside your own mind.

Taking a step back, the head of the Happiness team, Andrew Spittle, recently reflected on the challenges and rewards of providing customer support to millions of WordPress.com users with colleagues spread around the world.

Of course, being distributed globally comes with its own perks: several times a year, Automatticians meet their coworkers in locations like Puerto Rico and Vietnam. Their blogs are all the more interesting to read for it.

Beyond the screen

Like many WordPress.com bloggers, Automatticians devote most of their writing to the people, activities, and places they’re most passionate about. As the images in this post demonstrate, we have no shortage of photography lovers, including Automattic’s very own founder, Matt Mullenweg.

Picture by Happiness engineer Jerry Bates

Picture by Happiness Engineer Jerry Bates

Photography is far from the only topic Automatticians explore on their blogs. If you ever need inspiration for WordPress-themed swag, Happiness Engineer Nick Hamze‘s blog is the place to be. Our resident gamers share their views and tips on their blogs, while Code Wrangler Payton Swick writes about his longstanding love for tea.

There is no shortage of food lovers, either, though few write about it and photograph it quite as well as Theme Wrangler Michael Cain. For frequent literary detours, coder (and man of letters) Daryl Houston’s blog will satisfy any bookworm. Finally, proving that it’s never too late to start blogging, Happiness Engineer Kathryn Presner has finally taken the plunge and started her first blog — after years of helping others build theirs.

If this merry band of cosmopolitan polymaths sounds like a group of people you might get along with, consider joining us — did we mention we’re always hiring?

Filed under: Automattic, behind the scenes, Community, WordPress.com   

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