If I had no sense of humour, I would long ago have committed suicide. ~Mahatma Gandhi
WordPress is not just an awesome blogging platform and an open source software that millions of blogs are happily using. The WordPress people have a great sense of humour. In fact blogging (and life) is almost meaningless without humour. The folks at WordPress understand this more than anyone else and you as a blogger and writer can take learn from the people at Automattic (the people who run WordPress and several other projects). WordPress is indeed the ‘blogging software with style.’
This post is an enumeration of official instances (with snapshots saved on 18 February 2010) where WordPress/Automattic deserves your praise for making you smile. The Cambridge definition of humour is “the ability to be amused by things, the way in which people see that some things are amusing or the quality of being amusing.” Let’s enjoy the WP humour and see how WordPress/Automattic does things in style.
The names have humour
WordPress, bbPress, Gravatar (Globally Recognized Avatar), GlotPress (Polyglot is speaking or using different languages, hence the name GlotPress), VideoPress (the Press is taken from the WordPress) have a lot of thought and humour gone into it. These names have a high brand value and they easily linger in your mind and on your tongue. You should keep the WordPress legacy in mind while deciding a title or name for you blog (boring names will not do). What if WordPress had some other name?! 😮
Humorous Description of the staff at Automattic/WordPress
The About us page at the website of Automattic, the people who run WordPress and other services is oozing with humour and will make you laugh. Please note that it is mostly a virtual workplace (“the Automattic crew creates WordPress goodness from all corners of the globe” rightly says the official Automattic statement).
Here are some other instances of humour in that page. Note the title and description. This is a great way of writing short bio for staff!
- Barry Abrahamson, Systems Wrangler, makes sure (during the day) the servers are zipping along while trying not to get too much BBQ sauce on his keyboard and at night… ok, well, he’s doing the same 🙂 When he’s not on AIM, ICQ, Jabber, IRC, or reading about the latest and greatest in MySQL optimization…
- Michael Adams, Quantum Bug Creator: After escaping Moscow (Idaho), Mike has been hiding in academia for 20 or so years. We stole him from a PhD in Quantum Information at Caltech to join the real world, or as close as we get to the real world around here.
- Nikolay Bachiyski Iñtërnâtiônàlizætiønër: He makes sure the eskimo teens can blog in their native language!
- Sheri Bigelow, Happiness Engineer: She has always considered herself a WordPress evangelist, and now her endlessly positive nature makes her a perfect fit as a Happiness Engineer at Automattic.
- Lloyd Budd, Digital Entomologist: Lloyd is Canadian. We forgive him for this. We’re trying to guilt him into sending in a bio. Let’s see how long it takes him to notice. It’s been a few years so we’re not optimistic.
- Maya Desai, Perspective Engineer: She still knits scarves for everyone she knows in between changing diapers and making sure everything is running smoothly at Automattic.
- Anne Dorman, Finance Engineer: Anne spends her time undoing the damage Matt did in the few months before she joined.
- Jon Fox: Title Pending
- Heather Rasley, The Deputy: Heather was once a grammar geek. Now she’s just a geek. She was also once a grad student at NYU, but proudly dropped out in favor of joining Automattic and exploring the world.
The Automattic Taglines
Automattic Inc., ‘purveyors of fine blogging services since 2005’ also have some nice taglines on the Automattic homepage. See the snapshot below. The *asterisks mark says ‘including this’! The folks and their work is inspired by you and it strives for perfection.
Also see this snapshot on the same homepage below the fold. Matt Mullenweg, WP founder says, “We are much better at writing code than haikus!” Who can dare deny!? 🙂
Kvetch: WordPress invites criticism
Kvetch is complaining whiningly and persistently. The word has become very popular in the recent times and has a humorous connotation. In fact Kvetch is a funny complaint (Kvetch.com is a popular site which indexes kvetch sent via Twitter). The official WordPress encourages you to kvetch and they also publish the complaints. You will agree that self-criticism is an important ingredient of humour. If you cannot tolerate self-criticism and shun it then there is definitely some major problem with you. WordPress invites criticism.
Not many of you would have noticed that the WordPress extend site has a section for Kvetch where you can read them and/or submit your own. Here are some of the Kvetches on that site (go ahead and submit your kvetch):
- Matt can just delete things from core without debating it on mailing list, etc for no clear reason, whereas it takes a lot of time and effort to get anything into core, even with a clear & needed reason.
- Too damn processor intensive
- the ‘featured themes’ on wordpress.org are starting to look a little tired, isn’t it time you gave some other themes a chance?
- “the freaking upgrade process!! It’s such a mess!!”
WordPress introduced the poll daddy ratings widget some time ago and put it on the WordPress.com support pages so that people can give thumbs up or thumbs down to a help document apart from introducing it for the WP.com blogs and also as a plugin for the WordPress software. There are many instances where the help documents have more thumbs down than thumbs up but the ratings widget have not been taken off. For example, on the WordPress Contact support page which is quite comprehensive with links, WP.com users have rated it like this (snapshots dated 18 February 2010).
The ‘How do I start blogging’ page has an overwhelming negative rating but they are there. Why? Because it is humour! You learn from criticism and give others a voice to comment on your services. Bloggers should never fail in inviting constructive criticism. 🙂
You will find that any good site that cares about people more than profit does not remove negative comments or ratings if they are in good humour. Criticism gives you a window to learn is the important thing to note.
The WordPress code is Poetry
Not all of you may have noticed this ‘CODE IS POETRY’ tag that WordPress.org pages display in the bottom right. If you do not have a great sense of humour you may think that WordPress is about poetry! WordPress is aesthetically inclined. See the bottom right of the snapshot below. 🙂
WordPress says Howdy!
You must have noticed the “Howdy” in the top right of your dashboard. It is a nice informal greeting that you get when you log in to your blog though some users have kvetched that it could be just plain ‘hi’ or ‘hello’! See the ‘Howdy‘ snapshot below from my dashboard:
WordPress advisory: Browse Happy
Browe Happy is a WordPress site promoting safe browsers and suggesting users to avoid Internet Explorer and explains why Internet Explorer is unsafe. You may be aware that Internet Explorer is not a preferred browser for bloggers and the net-savvy population. The Browse Happy site suggests many browsers though it has not been updated to include Chrome which is becoming very popular now.
WordPress is an Automattic Opus/Ruckus/Medley
If you go to WP.com you will find that the footer changes every time you load it. It will says WordPress is an Automattic ruckus or an Automattic Medley, Opus, Invention, Joint, Contraption and the like. Needless to say ruckus is noisy situation while medley relates to music! That is Automattic brilliance for you. The taglines are too catchy to ignore. Here are some snapshots saved on 19 February 2010.
WordPress officially gives credit to Movable Type, Drupal and Text Pattern
If you go to the about page on WordPress.org, you will find that it lists names of developers and designers. What is more WordPress also thanks Movable Type, Drupal and Text Pattern with a hyperlink to them! That is humour and humility. You can read WordPress versus competitors in this post on the WPWebHost blog.
You see it is always good to seek inspiration from your competitors and give credit to them for inspiring you. 🙂
Everybody in WordPress does support for three weeks
Every new recruit to Automattic/WordPress works for support for the first three weeks irrespective of designation works for support for three weeks! Now that is a great way to teach the new recruits the WordPress software and psyche in letter and spirit. WordPress indeed has that informal, consultative, participative style of management and working. And WordPress does not recruit ordinary people, you have to be a Happiness Engineer or Code Wrangler or a Theme Czar and the like and you have to be the best person in the world for any of these positions willing to help WordPress change the world. If you want to work with WordPress/Automattic, read their jobs page. The following snapshot is of official WordPress staff from their Quebec meet in 2009. Note the smiles.
The Akismet Humour
Akismet is an Automattic product and one of the must have plugins for your blogging needs. Do you know what the name Akismet means? The Akismet FAQ page says “Akismet is a contraction of Automattic Kismet. Our favorite definition of kismet is “Kismet (principle), the magnetic attractive force that actualizes the playing out of karma; often used in the positive sense.” Read more about Karma in this Wikipedia entry.
Now go to the Akismet stats in your WordPress dashboard (top, left) and click on it. You will see the graphs, stats and a lot of humour! You have heard of spam but you will find ‘ham’ too! If you are a vegetarian do not exclaim! Ham is the humorous Akismet term for legitimate comments. See the snapshots below saved on 19 February 2010:)
WordPress.com Stats plugin error notice for new install
When you install the popular WordPress stats plugin and jump to the stats page in the dashboard immediately after install you will get this funny error notice:
Take ‘er easy, dude. You sure got here in a hurry! Your blog has been registered and we are now tracking your stats but there is nothing to display yet. Your stats will begin to appear here within twenty minutes. Have a sarsparilla.
WordPress says Thank You in style
Go to any WordPress.com blog or a WordPress VIP blog like the popular TechCrunch. You will get replies to comment in your mailbox if you subscribe to them. Just below the comment it says, ‘Thank You for flying with WordPress!’ See the snapshot below from a TechCrunch comment in my mailbox.
WordPress.com Support Message
If you submit a support ticket to WP.com on their contact support page you will get this message after you submit your ticket (“your bits are flying through the cyberspace towards us as you read this“)! Also when you delete a blog on WP.com it will say, ‘happy trails until we meet again!’
WordPress Goshdarnit Message
The Goshdarnit message (http 503 error) of WordPress is quite popular and I have mentioned it in an earlier article. Visit the link for few more instances and snapshots of WP humour mentioned in that article.
WordPress Terms of Service(TOS) Barbecue (BBQ) Treat
The terms of service at WordPress.com are enchanting in more ways than one. In the ‘disclaimer of warranties’ section they have put up a treat for those reading that page/section and it links to this page where you have a BBQ image (“a plate of tender, moist Texas brisket served at the official restaurant of Automattic”)! There are no warranties on service, do enjoy your BBQ just the same! 🙂
Funny WordPress server response data
If you see the Resonse header data for WordPress.com or any other blog on WordPress.com you will find this funny message, “If you’re reading this, you should visit automattic.com/jobs and apply to join the fun, mention this header!” See the snapshot below.
Hope you enjoyed reading about the official WordPress humour and their style. This list is not exhaustive as you will find many more instances in things they do and have been doing. Feel free to add your comment if you find more instances of WP humour. And do not fail to integrate humour with blogging. 🙂