Fifteen Years-A Brief Retrospective

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.

Happy Anniversary

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!

The WordPress.com Homepage circa September 2009, noting 4.2 Million blogs

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.

Featured Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Published by JenT

After 4 years hand coding HTML and CSS websites, 2 years setting up and running WordPress sites, I launched my first website on WordPress.com back in 2006 and never looked back. Since then, I’ve helped other WordPress.com site owners navigate through the ever-changing WordPress.com ecosystem. Find me at wpcommaven.com

9 thoughts on “Fifteen Years-A Brief Retrospective

  1. Jen,
    Thanks for taking me down memory lane. I miss snow falling on my website on the holidays, the excitement of new theme releases and the feeling that I was part of the WP family. I just realized that my Premium theme has been retired. As you know I have not embraced the Block editor, but I guess that I will need to start getting acquainted now. With one wrong click I could lose my beloved theme. As always thanks for keeping me in the loop!
    Best, Susan

    1. Hi Susan, The change to Premium themes came as quite a surprise, but you should be OK to continue with the same Premium theme you’re currently using just as long as you don’t change themes. If you want to try out a different theme, maybe export a part of your content and import it on a test site. You can then use that same test site to work on your Block Editor skills. Feel free to ping me with any questions. πŸ™‚

  2. I started blogging 5 years after you, but I still remember all those things! As much as I like progress in technology, there’s a bit of wistfulness about the old times when everything seemed easier in WP.
    I am still not a friend of the block editor, and I find it hard to comb through the forums sometimes to find the right info/solution on a problem (and often find it too spammed up as well),but since I found your blog I know where I can look for info & help first :-). To another 15!

    1. Thank you for your comment, Kiki. You know, I really thought about what you said and I wonder if WordPress.com was ever “easy”. I think if one doesn’t have some familiarity with software or editing programs, the learning curve for even WordPress.com can be challenging. That’s why I think the Classic Editor is such a boon because it is familiar to most people. Not to say that transitioning to the Block Editor isn’t easy, it just takes a change in mindset, which is really IMO the hardest part about it. Onward!

  3. One thing that has not degraded β€” and even improved β€” is the support staff (very responsive email and chat support). I hardly ever use the forums because I rarely find relevant solutions.

    Of course, some argue that the blogging experience has improved as well … I suppose it’s debatable, and it can appear so to some.

    I started in 2010 because a previous community suffered two glitches and the second time, I lost multiple years’ worth of discussions (the old Skepticality forum included a blog). So many discussions threads were lost from a time when I was younger and smarter.

    Some of that brilliance can still be found using the wayback.archive.org, but not nearly enough or convenient enough. Anyway, that’s what prompted me to search for a proper blogging platform (we migrated to FaceBook for a while, but that’s also not conducive to discussion; more like shi … er … mud-slinging.

    Of course, WP isn’t really conducive to “discussions” as a forum was, and I don’t have anywhere near the interactions that I used to (I miss some of those people), but since my tolerance for people is also not what it was, I don’t miss it much as I thought I would.

    Anyway, happy next 15 years!

    1. Thank you, disperser! I believe the addition of live chat and email support was a relatively late and welcome addition, around 2013 or so. I’m not entirely certain I can rely on my memory but I think that happened when WPcom introduced the Business plan. (Before that we volunteers had been nudging WPcom for upgrade “bundles” at a discount rather than buying individual upgrades, but direct support wasn’t included.)

      Looking forward to seeing what the next 15 years brings. It’s always an adventure. πŸ™‚

    1. Hmm . . . I had trouble giving my credentials so I could leave a comment. Hopefully this will go through.

      But, to answer the question . . . nope. I looked after you commented, but all I can think of is “what goes up, must come down . . . hard!”

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