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When Jeff stopped hosting WordPress Weekly the WordPress ecosystem felt much quieter. Together with John James Jacoby and frequent guests they kept a pulse on all things WP, from the mothership's latest releases to news from people working on plugins, page builders, themes, events and anything interesting from the community.
Then 2020 happened. Jeff welcomed all aboard the WP Mainline in early March but soon enough other projects took priority. Fast forward a year and the posts start appearing more frequently and in July he's back on the podcast announcing he's back again, again.
It's great that Jeff's voice is back and here at Convesio are very proud to be hosting his website. Enjoy this Q&A post and make sure to visit his website and subscribe to his podcast.
1. For those that don't know you, who is Jeff Chandler and how did you get started with WordPress?
I got started with WordPress in 2007 when I was covering the Web 2.0 scene by reviewing all of the different tools and services that were sprouting up.
At first, I wanted to utilize Joomla as I had a few years of experience with it, but the one feature WordPress had out of the box that Joomla didn't was comments. I wanted people to comment and take part in the reviews. After my first foray with WordPress failed, my second look at it was a success and I've been hooked on it ever since.
2. You launched WP Tavern in 2009 when WordPress was still very blog-centric. What can you tell us about building the first version on wptavern.com? What did your hosting stack look like?
I was cheap and used one of the many shared web hosting services at the time. At one point, I hosted WP Tavern at HostGator and they almost deleted the site. They wouldn't help figure out the problem and since my WordPress site was denying itself access, it triggered some sort of system HostGator had set up to prevent other shared servers from experiencing problems. Since the Tavern triggered the system twice, they warned me that the next time it happened, they would remove the website from their servers and I would have no recourse. You can bet that I immediately moved to a different host. I later discovered that the Heartbeat API was the culprit of my problems. I'm thankful that web hosting services have come a long way since then.
3. Last year you launched WP Mainline but given the pandemic only really got going in March this year. Tell us what you want to achieve and how different WP Mainline is from WP Tavern.
WP Mainline's biggest difference from the Tavern is its tone and writing style. It's more laid back, casual, and tries to bring back the fun in the writing process. WP Mainline provides an opportunity for me to do things my way and it's my way of doing things that have gotten me this far. I also enjoy trains so to meld the two topics together is pretty cool.
4. A lot of people are happy to be hearing your voice again on the WP Mainline podcast. What is the format and what can we expect to hear about?
It's a weekly podcast devoted to talking about the WordPress news of the week with John James Jacoby or Malcom Peralty. Every now and then, we'll do interviews although I'm starting up a second podcast called The Junction that will be more interview-focused. While we focus on the news, we also enjoy being real and giving folks a heads up as to the real-life hurdles we're experiencing and trying to overcome. Everyone is going through their own battles, we simply choose to be a bit more open about ours.
5. You're offering Subscription options so folk can help support your efforts. Do you plan to offer anything exclusive to subscribers at some point?
At the moment, I'm not producing any exclusive content but that option is on the table if that's the direction I want to go towards. I don't have any ideas for exclusive content at the moment. For me, it would be awesome if the relationship was kept simple. Subscribers pay money and I create content.
6. How was WP Mainline built and what are your thoughts about all the options available for people to build WordPress websites? What do you think about Gutenberg?
WP Mainline uses GeneratePress for the site and a myriad of commercial and free plugins for the functionality. With all of the options that are available, people can easily become overwhelmed. In addition, people can easily get stuck in tinkering hell where they'll tinker with things on their site and lose focus on the content creation side.
Gutenberg and I have a love/hate relationship. When it works, it's actually great. When it breaks or something goes wrong, the train derails and sometimes, you have to spend a considerable amount of time putting the engine back on track before you can continue. Gutenberg still has a ways to go, but I can clearly see its potential for the long haul.
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7. There has been a lot of money invested in the WordPress ecosystem recently and an increasing number of acquisitions. How do you feel about the commercialisation of an open source and community-driven project?
Well, I think it's something that was bound to happen over time. The nice thing about WordPress is that there are usually multiple people, products, and services that solve a particular problem. What wouldn't be nice is if those options were limited to the point where only those who pay money can solve those problems. It will be interesting to see how much and far the commercialization of the WordPress ecosystem goes.
There's going to be more acquisitions, more consolidation, and fewer options in the future, but only time will tell what that looks like and who the big players end up being.
8. When we re-launched this blog back in March we asked a bunch of people to look in their crystal ball and share what they think WordPress and the ecosystem will look like in 10 years time. What do you see in the crystal ball?
9. Where do you hope WP Mainline will be in 10 years time?
I can't answer this question because I'm so focused on getting through the first year of WP Mainline. In order to do that, I need subscribers and that's where folks can really help me out. Without the subscribers, there's no money. Without the money, there are no conductors or engineers. Without the conductors or engineers, the train doesn't move. No one likes being on a train that's not moving.
BUT, if somehow I can have WP Mainline around for 10 years time, that's going to be a crowning achievement for me.
10. Any final thoughts that you want to share with our readers?
Smell the rain and the flowers. Find something in the moment that brings you joy. Laugh a little or a lot. Slow things down and enjoy what you can of life.
Hosting: Convesio Performance Plan
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