WordPress.com reminded me yesterday that 15 years ago, on September 10th, I signed up for my WordPress.com account and started a blog (not this one). It’s hard for me to grok that a decade and a half have whizzed by and that I’m still here, and trying to remember what this platform was like 15 years ago is a challenge. One thing I can say for certain is when I started, WordPress.com was a lot smaller and more personal.
Each of us new bloggers posted and visited each other’s sites through the “blog surfer” in our Admin bar and regularly commented on sites when we found like-minded or interesting folk. The official WordPress.com blog was also a community event, where new features and themes (and contests!) were regularly announced in those early days mostly by Matt himself, but also Andy, Donncha, Jane, Toni, Heather and Mike, and were a cause for celebration and comment. And we did, by the hundreds.
The forums had already arrived by the time I signed up and because of the various limitations on our sites, our little community of WordPress.com bloggers freely and actively helped each other find workarounds and solve problems we encountered. We had lots of help from an ever-rotating cast of volunteers through those early years, as well as Mark and Alex (and later James), who were our forum support staff. Together, we regularly played games in the very defunct “Off-Topic” forum, bragged about our latest post in the equally defunct “Showcase” forum, and Drama, with a capital D, was a regular part of forum life. (I don’t miss that part!)
Needless-to-say, the only dashboard we used back in the day was the same one that the WordPress software community still uses today, WP Admin. It wasn’t until much later that WordPress.com began experimenting with a quick blogging tool separate from WP Admin which eventually morphed into the Calypso dashboard and editor. That period sure was a roller coaster ride and long before the Block Editor came on the scene!
Since joining in 2006, many new features have been rolled out and some quietly (and some not so quietly) retired, themes and people have come and gone (not a few in that photo are still working for Automattic, which now counts over 1,700 employees), WordPress.com became the “Noah’s Ark” of the web, saving bloggers from other platforms that went under the waves, and, for me, the general feel of the place went from plaid flannel shirt and fuzzy sweater to white shirt and tie. I know part of that feeling comes from the fantastic growth and the inevitable distance that results between users and those running the show, but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss that earlier feeling. That’s part of the reason I continue volunteering in the community forums.
Besides, with all the changes here, I’ll always have something new to share with you. Stay tuned.
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