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I am Paolo Belcastro, dotblogger at Automattic, ask me anything!

Nov. 16, 2016

I am the Spectrum Division Lead at Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. The Spectrum Division is in charge of domain names.

I started developing online products from Paris, France in 1994, managed and monetised high profile domain name portfolios from 1998. In 2004 I found my internet consultancy firm in Geneva, Switzerland.

I am originally from Italy, studied photography in Paris, France. I have been leading remote teams since 1998. After Italy, France, the US for a short while, and Switzerland, I currently live in Vienna, Austria. I dedicate most of my free time to the WordPress community through the organisation of WordCamp Europe.

21 vote   Flag
Nemanja Aleksic

Thanks for being on our AMA, Paolo!

Who originally came up wih the .blog idea?

Paolo Belcastro

Well, it depends on the context: when ICANN launched the program leading to the launch of hundred of new TLDs, they opened applications and several companies applied for .blog, it was definitely one of these ideas that just makes sense.

When we became aware of said program at Automattic, we felt we had to be involved, for obvious reasons, like how well it fits with our offer, and less obvious ones: some initial applications assumed at making .blog a closed TLD and we made it out mission to make it as open as possible.

Milan Ivanović

Hey, Paolo!

Please let us know about your daily routine. How does your day look like?

Thanks, Paolo!

Paolo Belcastro

Hey Milan!

Interesting question... I like to think that I'm not very much a routine person, to be frank.

I wake up in the morning, usually between 7 and 7:30, and the first thing I do is a quick check of Slack to see if anything requires my attention urgently. Some people very close to me consider this an obsessive or compulsive behaviour, but I actually need it to be able to enjoy the next hour with my family. Once I know that nothing urgent is waiting, I can have breakfast with my wife and two daughters in peace.

My day is spent mostly working, from home or outside, from my laptop or my phone. I like to move around, I like to enjoy the freedom that comes from working online (I'm writing this from an Uber in Paris), and I accept that the price to pay for being able to work when and where I want is to somehow being working at all times.

This means that my day is very dependent on several factors, going from my family needs to my travel schedule (I spend about 1/3 of the year on the road).

I have three very separate roles these days: Leading the Spectrum division at Automattic, managing the .blog project which belongs to an Automattic subsidiary, and leading the organisation of WordCamp Europe 2017, and the needs of each of these audio have an influence on my day.

Overall I spend 12 to 14 hours per day online focused on these activities.

I always close my day, around 1am, by checking Slack one last time before sleep, like in the morning, knowing nothing urgent is waiting for me allows me to sleep better.

Joe Casabona

Hey Paolo! Thanks for doing the AMA!

What was the .blog application process like and did Automattic consider any other TLDs?

Paolo Belcastro

No, we didn't, and still don't, consider other TLDs to this time: .blog is very specifically tied to our activity and services, and we have a strong emotional investment with it.

The process was *really* long and very unusually bureaucratic for a company like ours used to iterate very fast on things. Between the day the auction was closed to the day the TLD was "delegated" (the technical term to say that it was activated on the DNS root servers), sixteen months went by, of constant back and forth with ICANN along a multi-step process where each step involves writing long and boring documents :)

Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate that ICANN is very thorough in vetting the companies running TLDs, after all, we have now the responsibility of all domains registered on .blog, and many people and companies will soon rely on it. I just feel that some steps could be streamlined and accelerated.

On the bright side, that time has given us the opportunity to discuss and define our strategy, and get ready to run the TLD from the technical standpoint.

Doc Pop

What is a dotblogger?

Paolo Belcastro

Ahhh, glad you ask! :)

One of the things I like at Automattic is that we set our own titles, an exercise in which we try to describe our role with humour, showing that we take accomplishments, and not titles, seriously.

My title used to be Edge Case*, but when I was given the lead of the .blog launch I decided it was time to change to dotblogger...

* I set my title to Edge Case one evening when I was reporting a bug and someone told me, for the nth time that week "you must be an edge case" ;)

Doc Pop

Oh, I'm often told that I'm an edge case too. Never thought about going pro at it, but it would look nice on my business card.

Paolo Belcastro

Go for it! We'll make jackets ;)