A WordPress Magical Moment

I had a WordPress Magical Moment in the last day. WordPress provides to blog authors a “dashboard” that can be used to modify the content and also to track readership. In particular, one option, called “BlogStats,” provides a simple graph showing the total number of blog posts read for each of the last thirty days.

Yesterday, while reviewing the graph — and as one of the hundreds of thousands of WordPress bloggers I know we all spend much more time that we are willing to admit looking at those stats [1] — I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be nice if WordPress provided a similar function for each post, so I could see how readership evolves, or decays, in the days after a post?”

This morning, when I logged into WordPress and fired up the Dashboard, I noticed two things:

  • The organization of the Dashboard had changed;
  • Next to each post was a link called “Stats.” When I clicked on one of them I saw just the display I had wished for less than a day earlier.

Magic! Absolute magic! Those WordPress folks had implemented a new function just because I thought of it. And I didn’t have to pay a dime. I didn’t even need to tell them of my desire — they knew it. I didn’t even have to blog about it, to make the case this would be a good idea. Indeed, it was if they had written the blog post for me, decided it made sense, written the code to implement this new function, tested it, and then installed it in their production system, all in less than 24 hours.

That is of course impossible. No project, even one based on open-source, is that magical. But I believe the following statements to be correct. In the next few posts I will try to describe what I believe happened, and in doing so show that open-source, while not magical in itself , can result in what seems to be magic.

  • If enough users wanted this function, it was only a matter of time until it was added;
  • If WordPress management didn’t think the function important, but a skilled user did, and that user had the needed programing skills, then they could add the function themselves.
  • That if that programmer offered to provide the new function to the WordPress folks and they didn’t accept it, then the programmer could start their own variant of WordPress with the function and see to switch over some of WordPress’s existing bloggers.
  • Or that if the programmer who implemented this new functon decided it was so important that it provided a strategic advantage then the programmer could try to start their own company.
  • Neither of the above would happen. The function would eventually become part of WordPress.
  • Other new functions would be added, and I wouldn’t have to pay for any of them.
  • As the functions were added I could count on being able to continue blogging. Any interruptions to service would be minor. If they didn’t work any bugs would soon be fixed.
  • It makes no sense to learn about, or use, any other blogging software. WordPress is both open-source and sufficiently “good enough” that no meaningful competitors will appear.
  • It makes little sense to set up a WordPress blog outside of WordPress.com. The network advantages of working as part of the community are compelling.
  • And a few other things I will add later, but won’t now, as the hour is late (2AM)

      Notes:

      1. WordPress is very honest in that it doesn’t count an author’s own reading of a post as a valid read. WordPress could make bloggers quite humbles by also posting the number of times each day this click on “Blog Stats.”

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One Comment

  1. Posted November 5, 2006 at 19:19 | Permalink | Reply

    The last note is pretty funny. 🙂

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