Welcome to ManageWP.org

Register to share, discuss and vote for the best WordPress stories every day, find new ideas and inspiration for your business and network with other members of the WordPress community. Join the #1 WordPress news community!

×

I'm Jeff Chandler, Founder of WP Tavern, Ask Me Anything!

Mar. 30, 2016

Hello there! I currently reside in the wonderful state of Ohio and host the WordPress Weekly podcast. I'm the founder of WP Tavern, one of the largest sites devoted to WordPress and I've been writing about the software for more than eight years, it's one of the few things in life I'm good at. I enjoy watching trains, the Back to The Future movies, meteorology, the 90s, especially the grunge music era, and good food. What more do you want to know?

Comment
29 votes   Flag
Drew Jaynes

Who would you characterize as the Doc Brown of the WordPress community?

Reply
Jeff

Excellent question. In thinking about it for awhile, I don't know of anyone off the bat who I register as being the Doc Brown type. However I'm going to ponder this some more and see if I can't nail it down by the end of today. He's a crazy wild hair scientist that Marty looks up to and is friends with. If I'm Marty, I don't know who my Doc Brown is.

Reply
Drew Jaynes

Yeah, I should've phrased it as "Who is your Doc Brown in the WordPress community?"

Reply
Jeff

Thinking about the qualities of the friendship between Doc Brown and Marty, I'm gonna say that Jeff Matson is probably my Doc Brown. I can confide in him, he looks like a crazy Irish scientist with a long beard, and he's a pretty smart dude that could probably invent a time machine out of a DeLorean if he wanted too.

Reply
Jeff Matson

Who says I don't already have a time machine? ;)

Reply
Omaar Osmaan

Hello Jeff, nice talking to you.

You took one month vacation recently, what contributed to take such long break from writing for WordPress Community? How's that impacted/improved your dedication towards your job/passion?

While there are many large groups in Facebook about WordPress, there isn't many active/large community for WordPress Users/Developers (at least that I know of)- is it because big social platforms like Facebook/Twitter fills the gap? Or, WordPress Community are distributed in nature?

Thank you. :)

Reply
Jeff

Writing about WordPress for a living is a daily grind that has its ebbs and flows. The last four months of 2015 was a rocky road for the Tavern as I started to lose control of the commenting situation on the site. I spent more time putting out fires started by commenters than writing content. I dealt with upset readers on Twitter and generally, I was in a bad mood all the time. It became so bad that I finally drafted a comment moderation policy and banned someone for the first time in the site's history from commenting on the site.

Also, many of the comments on the Tavern are rife with negativity. I don't know if it's something in the water or what but people sure do have a lot to complain about these days when it comes to WordPress. It's a much different atmosphere than it was 4-6 years ago where the Tavern comments were filled with people helping each other out while discussing the topics at hand.

The break from the Tavern and all things WordPress helped clear my mind and gave me a much needed break from the grind. What's interesting is that I didn't miss my job as much as I usually do when I take a vacation. Usually, I work more on vacation than I do during a normal week but this time, I stayed away and didn't miss it.

This is a scary revelation because it hints to a number of things but I'm in the process of trying to get back to the point where I miss my job when I'm away. By the way, if anyone is working for an employer that has one of those cool unlimited vacation policies, don't be afraid to use it. If you feel an extended time away will put you back on the right track, do it!

RE: Your second question, it's because the Tavern doesn't have a place yet for them to congregate :) I think it's because of the distributed nature of the community and between all the social networks, maybe there doesn't need to be one big place.

However, it would be awesome if the Tavern was that place where developers, users, and all people inbetween could gather to talk WordPress, share ideas, and help take WordPress further. Something that goes beyond comments and is more of a community. I think the Tavern can become the second largest WordPress community outside of WordPress.org. It's one of the things I'm hoping I can start working on this year.

Reply
Omaar Osmaan

Thank you, Jeff- for the in-depth answer!

I really hope to see Tavern become more of a community- it would be super awesome! :)

Reply
Eric Karkovack

Hi Jeff, I always enjoy reading the Tavern!

So, how do you deal with all the negativity and criticisms? It seems like there are people out there who think you're always on Automattic's side and question your objectivity. Then there is that famous comment moderation issue you discussed above. Has the WP world really gone that mad?

Reply
Jeff

I have an internal group of people who I turn to for support and to let off steam. With more comments than ever being on the negative side, it's tough to read through them everyday and not have them affect you. If someone thinks I'm always on Automattic's side, then they haven't been reading the things I or Sarah publish on the Tavern. My work speaks for itself and is the best evidence I have against that argument. Besides, I complain all the time about stuff Automattic is associated with like the Edit Flow plugin.

I don't know if the WordPress world has gone mad, it's just that a very vocal handful of people with a lot of time and energy on their hands have made it a point to use the Tavern's comment section as their soapbox. I can name 3-6 usernames off the top of my head that account for most of the conversations lately. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dictating what people should publish in the comments, it's just that it's always so damn negative. I wish some of these people would lighten up, go for a hike, get some fresh air, and forgive WordPress for making their lives so miserable while also allowing them to make a living.

Reply
Eric Karkovack

Thanks for the answer and I say good for you! You and Sarah do fine work. I guess you're never going to please everyone.

It's a shame that some can't have a spirited discussion without turning it into an insult fest.

Reply
David Gewirtz

Hi Jeff. Love your stuff. What's the best way to reach out to you about topic suggestions and things you might want to cover?

Reply
Jeff

The best way is to ping me on Twitter or contact us via the WP Tavern contact form. wptavern.com/contact-me

Reply
Nemanja Aleksic

Thanks for accepting the AMA invitation, Jeff!

- How do you prefer to handle interviews? Face-to-face, via email, etc?
- Who are the most interesting people you interviewed?
- What was the greatest challenge you overcome in order to become a successful writer?
- If companies like WP Engine and WooThemes asked your advice on how to spend a $1m of their marketing budget to help the WordPress community, how would you respond? (buying you a DeLorean is not a valid reply)

Reply
Jeff

I prefer doing public audio interviews like I do for WordPress Weekly. I enjoy having conversations with people and I think audio gives people a unique opportunity to share their experiences. When done well, it's a great medium to digest content.

The most interesting person I've interviewed and will interview again in the future is Matt Mullenweg. I feel like my interviews with him are among the best in the WordPress community. I ask him questions that no one else does or feels comfortable bringing up. I bring up things from the past that may have been forgotten about to hold him accountable. Plus, he's the CEO of a company worth billions, that in itself is pretty darn interesting.

I think the greatest challenge was keeping my feet on the ground and continuing to make progress, despite failing to make WP Tavern a viable business. I struggled to make things work but thanks to the site's loyal fanbase and community, I pressed on. There was a time or two where I had to step back because I needed money to pay the bills, but if I would have stopped completely, who knows what I'd be doing today.

I'd tell them to give the money to the WordPress Foundation whose mission is to further the WordPress project. Since its goal is to strengthen the community, WordPress' reach, and support events like WordCamps, giving the money to the Foundation would be a sound investment that would have the most impact. Despite it not being a valid reply, buying me a DeLorean with a vanity WordPress license plate would be an excellent way to spend some of the money.

Reply
Nemanja Aleksic

A couple more, since I have to go offline:
- How did you manage to navigate through decades of life without hearing the original Land of Confusion?
- Is there a direction where you'd like to take WP Tavern, but never had the chance?
- If Matt and Audrey Capital didn't take over WP Tavern, how different would your life be?
- Favourite hoverboard model?

Reply
Jeff

Beats me. All I know is that Disturbed's version is the one I recognize the most and when I looked it up on YouTube one day, I discovered that Phil Collins did the original. It's a tie between which version is better but both have crazy music videos.

Yes, see my comment above about turning the Tavern into the second largest WordPress community outside of WordPress.org. It would be awesome if the Tavern was that place where developers, users, and all people in between could gather to talk WordPress, share ideas, and help take WordPress further. Something that goes beyond comments and is more of a community. I think the Tavern can become the second largest WordPress community outside of WordPress.org. It's one of the things I'm hoping I can start working on this year.

I would have sold the site for far less than what Matt paid and I'd likely be doing something completely different for a living instead of covering WordPress. I was an email away from selling the site to Ryan Imel of WP Candy but at the last second, I discussed the situation with Matt and he gave me a better offer. Plus, there's no one else I'd rather sell the site too considering the resources he had available to make sure the site stayed online to archive its content. That conversation with Matt and selling the site to him is definitely one of those pivotal What If moments in my life. I definitely think I made the right choice.

The one that doesn't explode.

Reply
Kyle Maurer

Jeff,

Thank you for doing an AMA!

I have loads of questions. I think I'll ask them in separate posts so they're easier to answer.

First question: Tavern comments. Man. What are your plans? I'll be honest, the Tavern is AMAZING as is WP Weekly and everything you do. But the comments on the Tavern are...troubling. I take great pains to NOT read the comments on Tavern posts. Because if I do, no joke, my passion for WordPress and this amazing community is shaken. It is often as though the ignorant, vocal minority have chosen this real estate to be their podium for a message of cynicism, negativity, criticism and polarization.

Am I way off? Is it just me? As I said, I've got a few questions for you but I'm dead serious on this one. How can more friendly, understanding, open, constructive dialogue be encouraged and the negativity be reduced? Do you have ideas that you're considering? Is anyone else voicing such concerns?

I worry about a lot of things. I worry that one of our cats will get hit by a car and my wife will go hysterical. I worry that Aaron Rodgers will get injured and the Packers will have a worse season than the Lions. I worry that I'll get audited. I worry that I won't be able to get enough clients to support our business. Also on my list of very serious worries, is that Jeff Chandler will get so disenchanted from being essentially the maintainer of the WP Toxic Dumping Ground that he decides to move on to other things. Seriously, I worry about that.

You're really good at your job Jeff. Seriously. You're so good at what you do that I'd hate to see it get ruined because you have to deal with crap. I have the luxury of just closing my browser when I see a rude comment but you have to deal with it. That takes a toll.

So, again I ask, what can be done? And if you believe you need more support from the community to improve things, please say so. There's a lot of us who value your blog and podcast very much.

Thanks!

Reply
Jeff

I share your concerns and it's something I'm looking into. I think the site has reached a point where the ability to publish comments anonymously is no longer beneficial to the site. I would like people to have accounts where comments and other activity is tracked and we would have better tools to manage the community. For example, we could put people in time out until they calm down or feel that they need a break.

At the same time, I don't want to outright remove the ability for some people to comment because they're being negative all the time. There are plenty of people who have voiced the same concerns, mostly on Twitter and trust me, I read them. It's part of the reason why I drafted the comment moderation policy. We're working on it!

"Jeff Chandler will get so disenchanted from being essentially the maintainer of the WP Toxic Dumping Ground that he decides to move on to other things. Seriously, I worry about that."

This is one of the primary reasons why I took a month off to get away from the site because it's exactly how I felt. I really didn't look forward to coming back and reading more crap published by the same people who make a living from WordPress yet it causes them so much grief. I'm at the point now where my tolerance level has eroded and I'm ready to start banning people left and right to bring some civility back to the place. I'm trying not to do that but I may not have a choice. After all, I'm in a position where I can control the conversation and what takes place on the site, so I guess I better start doing something about it.

Reply
Kyle Maurer

What would be your drink of choice in the following situations?:

- Lunch on a summer afternoon with an old friend at a local restaurant
- Watching the Browns lose on a Sunday afternoon at home
- A bustling WordCamp after party at a classy bar
- Late night at a hotel bar during a long layover on your way home from a stressful trip
- In your office after a terrible work day
- In your office after an amazing work day
- On a fun date with your wife at her favorite place to eat
- During this AMA

Reply
Jeff

Fatheads Bumbleberry on Tap at my favorite Train watching place which happens to be a restaurant

Vodka mixed with whatever is on hand

Cranberry Vodka with Lime wedge

Double Shot of Rum and Coke

Vodka and whatever or Kraken Rum and Coke

Ice cold Bumbleberry or a Blue Moon with Orange Wedge

She would have wine, I'd have a Blue Moon or a Wheat based beer that's on Tap.

Mountain Dew :)

Reply
Kyle Maurer

If the Tavern had a staff of 25, all under your leadership and you didn't have to worry about revenue or making payroll at all, what kinds of things would you do to really make the blog and the podcast stand out and shine? And you can't just lay everyone off...

Reply
Jeff

I'd try to hire writers who have a passion about a particular aspect of WordPress or one of the satellite projects such as BuddyPress or bbPress and arrange it so that while there would be a slight overlap, each person would have free reign over that subject without worrying about stepping on each others toes. I'd be in charge of managing the community and I'd merge comments with a forum so that we could have the best of both worlds.

I'd create the ultimate community portal or hub where people could not only read the news and posts about all the awesome things people are creating, but to hangout and help each other out. With 25 people, I'd assign a few of them to help out as moderators to help me maintain a certain vibe on the Tavern which would be, a friendly place to chat about WordPress where everyone is welcome. We could also branch out with podcasts covering specific projects within the community. There's a lot that could be done but I'd transition out of content generation and into the community wrangler position as that's what interests me most these days.

I think this could all be done with less than 25 people. Maybe more like 10.

Reply
John James Jacoby ⚡️

I'd love to see more writing about the bb's and GlotPress on the tavern. Got anyone in mind? Anyone I can help connect you with that you wouldn't already have reached out to on your own? How realistic is it to bring someone on for guest posts or part time to test the waters?

Reply
Jeff

The door is always open for guest posting opportunities. If you have someone in mind that has an article idea on one of those topics, get them in touch with us via the contact form or email. For instance, a great guest post idea would be an Introduction to GlotPress which covers its history as a project and what it's used for. Or tutorials featuring the bbs is another good topic we'd like to publish.

Reply
Kyle Maurer

You're in a unique position in the community and have had some experiences and opportunities that few of us can quite relate to. As such, I'm sure there's a lot of things that people ask you all the time. When you think about being interviewed on podcasts and blogs, meeting people at events, answering Qs in an AMA, etc. do any questions come to mind that you're just frankly tired of answering? Like you wish you could answer them once and be done?

Reply
Jeff

Probably the conflict of interest question because if there was one, it would have been discovered already and the Tavern would be no more. What would be the point if the reader's trust is gone?

Reply
Kyle Maurer

All of us have moments where we think the grass is greener somewhere else. I experience it all the time when looking at things like products vs. services or employment vs. entrepreneurship. What can you tell us about your moments where, at least to some degree, your daydream about doing something different? Could be still in WordPress or something completely different.

Reply
Jeff

I've had my day dreaming moments, mostly while sitting next to the railroad tracks at 2AM on a cloudless, moonlit night. I think about other things I'd like to do for a living which more or less is something in line with my current interests. For instance, writing about the railroad industry and the Railfanning phenomenon. Or, using my hands to build things instead of type. Maybe get in a car and drive to the central plains and do some scientific storm chasing. Driving a tank through a tornado sounds exhilarating but I don't know how much that pays :)

I wouldn't mind learning a trade or two and be able to build something. That's the thing I admire most about developers, they create things, they build solutions and ship them. Writing posts isn't the same thing, it can be monotonous, doing the same thing day in and day out, struggling to hit the publish button.

I'm in my early thirties and unfortunately, there's not a lot of things I'm good at in life other than writing about WordPress. I have no idea what I'd do or be capable of doing outside of the WordPress bubble. If I were going to do something in the WordPress bubble besides write about it all day, I'd like to be an evangelist for a company or like their WordPress representative. Maybe tie in the community wrangler position into that as well. Seems like that would be a cool gig.

Reply
John James Jacoby ⚡️

Code can be monotonous; supporting all the old code you've written in your like can be a chore.

You are an artist like the rest of us. You have a style and approach of your own, and people know what to expect when they see that you're the author of something.

WP Tavern is your greatest hits catalog. Some people like the old jams; some people want the new stuff. Don't discount your influence or ability just because you're comfortable. Maybe, try something new and different when it comes to your writing style, like a musician learning a new instrument.

In many ways, I think partnering up with Sarah gave you some room to experiment and grow the Tavern into something bigger than you. You are a WordPress representative already; you are an evangelist for all of us.

Reply
Kyle Maurer

What metrics drive you? As a business owner I'm constantly looking at financial metrics to gauge growth and set goals. Many of us are driven by figures that reflect the efficacy of our work like site traffic, online sales, conversions, social engagement, bounce rates, load times and thousands of other measurable stats. What are some things that you look at often and which you seek to impact? Is it visitors, comments, subscribers, followers, ratings or something else?

Reply
Jeff

Honestly, there is no set of metrics that drive me. I have a job to do and no matter what the pageview count is, comment count, engagement, activity, etc, none of those metrics increase my pay day or serve as the primary factors that drive me. What drives me is making sure the Tavern is the go to place to keep up on what's going on in the community and trying to facilitate that through posts and interactions on social media.

Reply
Ahmad Awais

Hey, Jeff!

It's great to have you here. I have a few questions.

1— There are a lot of blogs, out there, writing about WP and all. What do you think is the least written topic/niche? (that needs to be covered more often)
2— What kind of newsletter for WordPress community, you feel is missing (Maybe a dev-focused question)?
3— How often do talk to Matt in relation with WPTavern? What kind of leadership/workflow do you have in place which keeps everything interesting?

Looking forward!

Reply
Jeff

I think a website that reviews one WordPress plugin a day would be nice. There's an endless amount of content for a site like that. The least written topics are accessibility, internationalization, and in general, how people are solving complex problems in WordPress. We need more white paper types of content where an agency is faced with a problem and they explain the steps taken to solve it using WordPress, including the technical stuff.

I think the newsletter area of WordPress is covered pretty well but maybe one for eCommerce might do well. You could probably get away with doing a hyper focused WooCommerce newsletter.

Not as often as you might think. Every now and then which could be months between conversations. Every so often, he provides guidance, topic suggestions, and ideas but generally, Sarah and I figure it all out. We are our own leaders and the work flow is up to us. Sarah and I both do things differently but we collaborate using the Edit Flow plugin. We also use Skype to discuss stories, title suggestions, and come up with new ideas to try on the site.

Reply
Ahmad Awais

Thanks for the answers Jeff. Appreciate that. Insightful indeed.

Reply
Drew Jaynes

What niche do you think we're going to see the greatest level of innovation in in WordPress over the next couple of years?

Reply
Jeff

I have no idea, but I think the REST API and other APIs being worked on in WordPress will be a major driving factor in some wild innovations that could become trend setters. What do you think?

Reply
Drew Jaynes

Sure. I think a lot of people have been surprised by WooCommerce, EDD, and others' ability to innovate in a niche that was (arguably) pretty saturated and competitive already. I think it's going to be interesting to see if more of that happens in other niche markets that are already established.

The REST-API will certainly provide the means, but I think it's going to be super interesting to see what kind of opportunities that presents product-makers in niche areas like e-commerce, content generation, etc.

Reply
Jeff

It surprises me that new form generation plugins keep cropping up but some are able to make a name for themselves in what I think is a crowded market. Maybe there's no such thing as a crowded market. I'm looking forward to the WordPress app innovations or, making WordPress function like an app but not looking like WordPress at all. I want to see how established players utilize that to create unique user experiences.

That's where I think some real innovation can occur, the WordPress user experience where developers can control what's on the screen instead of being forced into the box that is currently WP-Admin.

Reply
Omaar Osmaan

Couldn't resist so here it goes- I'm eagerly waiting for the REST API parity w/ WP-Admin, so I could replace it completely. User experience would become much richer- and the API would just open a whole new world for different kind of apps- yes!

Reply
John James Jacoby ⚡️

Hey Jeff; huge fan!

1. Who is your favorite super hero, and why?
2. What is your favorite WordPress plugin, and why?
3. How do you (really) cope with WordPress overload, and what suggestions do you have for others?
4. If you were a hot-dog, would you eat yourself? (I would; with mustard and relish!)

Reply
Jeff

Super heros have never done anything for me. There's not one in particular that I admire. Growing up, I was a huge fan of the Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, and hell, Captain Planet. I don't know if you would classify him as a super hero but Goku is pretty badass and the one I'd choose to be like.

Akismet because it does a hell of a good job at thwarting comment spam, a problem that's never going away and continues to get worse.

Play video games, get away from digital screens, go the railroad tracks and watch trains, work outside, go shopping with my wife, though I usually look at phone during these trips. The best advice is to avoid overload before it happens. Frequent breaks, not working on a specific problem for too long at a time, take more advantage of working from home and give yourself more (YOU) time. That is, time for you to do whatever it is that you enjoy doing that's not WordPress.

Now John, we all know that the moon is not made of green cheese. But what if it were made of barbecue spare ribs, would you eat it then? I know I would. Heck I'd have seconds. Then polish it off with a tall cool Budweiser. I would do it. Would you?

It's a simple question. Would you eat the moon if it were made of ribs?

Reply
Jeff Matson

Some of these I know the answer to already, but reactions are always good.

If you could have any job, what would it be?
If you could work for any company in the WordPress community (Except Audrey or Automattic), who would it be?
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
What's the hardest thing to deal with in your average work day?
What do you like most about your average work day?
Why do you suck so bad at NBA Jam?

Reply