Ben, Kiersi, and Shane: Three WordCamp Speakers Answer Our Questions

We posed some WordPress and WordCamp questions to our speakers. Here’s what Ben, Kiersi, and Shane had to say:

Ben Lobaugh

Q: What’s you current relationship with WordPress?
WordPress and I have been together since 2004. Back then it was just a blogging platform, but with 3.0 I started putting clients on it as a CMS. Today I work for one of the premier WordPress development shops in Seattle, FreshMuse. At FreshMuse I am Head of Development and get the privilege of overseeing great projects and interacting with one of the most fun open source communities out there. I also co-organize the Seattle WordPress Meetup and organize the Seattle WordPress Developer Meetup.

Ben LobaughWhat’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?
There are so many things to chose from, but I think when I saw a project using WordPress as a central knowledge base for a niche industry I was most amazed. The site was editable by anyone whom the community deemed trustworthy enough to send a user invite to. All content creation was done on the front end and to top it all off an API was freely available to tap into the knowledge through JSON feeds.

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
Yes! So many! My favorite mistake was when I was the guru teaching a group of non-WordPress developers (some completely new to development actually) how to create their first plugin. It was a simple shortcode that added two numbers together. After painstakingly going through all the code from scratch, live on a projector, I popped over to the front end to show them how it worked. It did not work. I spent 10 minutes pouring over the code, unable to find any bugs. Finally one of the attendees asked if the plugin was enabled. Moral of the story is, enable your plugins!

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
I know several members of the Portland community, however I have never been to a WordCamp or Meetup in Portland. I am excited to come down and join the Portland community for this event. More than anything else I am excited about making new and stronger connections there and seeing how the Portland and Seattle groups can help mutually benefit each other.

Kiersi Burkhart

What’s your current relationship with WordPress?
Kiersi BurkhartI am a WordPress blogger, but I also handle all of my own webmaster duties. I like helping other budding bloggers install WordPress and I’ve done a bunch of customization on my theme.

What’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?
Hmm. Can’t think of one off the top of my head–but I sure would like to see a WordPress plug-in that can port my “currently reading” list over from Goodreads. I’ve seen some authors do this manually and it’s a great idea.

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
Tag clouds. I think it works for certain kinds of blogs–tech journalism, perhaps–but for someone in a creative industry, including a tag cloud in your sidebar is just unnecessary clutter. Especially if you use a lot of tags, which I tend to do in order to improve my relationship with search engines. Opt for a list of categories, instead, which is more concise.

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
Inspiration. Tips for others doing what I’m trying to do–write good headlines, bring in new readers, and keep those readers.

Shane Pearlman

What’s your current relationship with WordPress?
We’re pretty much an exclusive couple these days. I stopped dating other CMS’ around 2008. If I had to make a guess, 70-80% of our revenue comes from projects or products that are somehow affiliated with WordPress.

Shane PearlmanI’m on the team of a digital agency that has come to specialize in unique implementations of WordPress at scale. We get to work with really awesome brands like Gigaom, MTV, Make Magazine, Zillow, MIT and more. We’ve been contributing back to core and the .org plugin repo for years and have begun to convert those contributions into new streams of income. This year, premium plugins will make a noticeable fraction of our profits, which is really exciting!

What’s the neatest thing you’ve seen done with WordPress?

  • My mom creating content online without my help?
  • Rally a community to gather 200k just to tell someone who annoyed you to fuck off
  • Cross Posting across a huge MU network done right (ok maybe I haven’t seen it yet but I know it is possible)
  • Milward’s game engine
  • A live conference streaming platform to run 12 parallel session for a 5 day conference

Have you ever made a WordPress mistake that we could all learn from?
Assuming we can do anything with WordPress. After all, we can. But that doesn’t mean we should. As my buddy Reid often says “Wow, that’s a really cool idea guys. Tell me again, who is going to use it and how it is going to make money?” I deeply believe in the community and contributing to the open source (we do a lot). When considering WordPress as a profession, be strategic with how you spend your time.

What are *you* hoping to get from WordCamp Portland 2012?
I’d love to connect with premium themers who might be interested in collaborating on event themes. We know the demand exists.