DevPress, WPCandy, and Why I’m Now 80% Blonde: Part the First

Every morning I wake up at 5:42am so that I can make lunch for my niece (11th grade! I remember her emergency birth — weighing 2 lbs 13 oz — back when I was in Okinawa to take care of her as a newborn. They grow up so fast!) and send her off with a wish for a good day before she goes to school. After that, I start work. By the time most people are getting to their coffee I’ve already put in a few hours (per trend), so it wouldn’t be accurate to say that I woke up on September 9th to find out I’d been accused publicly of starting a war; I was already awake. That said, it was a sucky way to continue the morning, the day, the week. Especially because I was not accused directly, nor did the person who printed the accusation bother to contact me about it; I found out because I get the pingback notifications from, and Ryan’s article linked to the fundraising page on the planning site.

I don’t even know where to start. Here’s the list of the things that I feel obligated to do now, in written form, in public:

  1. Set the record straight regarding my communication with Justin, which in no way resembles starting a war.
  2. Explain why giving away memberships is not the same as underwriting an event.
  3. Explain why the guideline exists in the first place, the long-term reasons why they’re important, and the plans for their evolution.
  4. Ask why someone (I’m looking at you, Ryan Imel) would publish something so inflammatory without even checking with the person being accused of something first to see if it’s a) true, b) something that could be worked out without animosity somewhere other than in the comments of WPCandy.
  5. Defend myself against the slur of needing an English degree.

Well! I guess I won’t be spending the morning working on the uploader UI. Because — let’s face it — there’s no way I, the wordiest of the wordy, can address all of these things in one succinct post, I’m going do a series of three. A trilogy, as some English majors might say. And the posts probably won’t be succinct, because this brouhaha has brought up a lot of issues, and though people are claiming their questions are simple, generally there is a simple answer, but then a long drawn-out answer is required if someone doesn’t feel the simple answer was adequate, so might as well just put it all out there.

In this post, Part the First, I’ll largely be providing an account of what went down from my point of view, reacting to the way this thing blew up, and talking about how it affected me personally. In Part the Second, I will address the sponsors vs. giveaways issue. In Part the Third, I will give an overview of why the guidelines exist, how they are decided and evolve, and possibly give some examples of things that have happened but not been publicized that have contributed to certain guidelines (if I can figure out how to do so without violating anyone’s privacy — when you start talking about stalking, financial malfeasance, or lawsuits, it gets very tricky). So if you don’t care that I feel unfairly attacked and you just want to know about guidelines, come back in a few days, because Part the First is apparently 4,325 words.

Guess I’ll just jump right in.

Here’s how it went down, from my point of view.

  • I saw Justin tweet re giving free memberships to WC Philly attendees.
  • I touched base with Andrea (who does all the WC approvals and works with organizers to keep things cool re guidelines). She was already contacting WC Philly organizers, but didn’t know Justin, so I offered to contact him since we’d exchanged a few emails in the past and it would be more casual.
  • Opened a new email, but due to new laptop and no autocomplete for Justin’s address (as it had been awhile since I’d been in touch about anything — the last time was when he declined to lead a .org theme developers’ handbook because he’d landed a gig with a publisher) and Thunderbird search sucking, figured I’d just ping him on Twitter.
  • 9/2 – DM to Justin. Normally I would never post DMs, but since a chunk of this controversy stems from me “starting a war” per Justin’s published statement, the actual exchange is relevant. I will note that a 140-character limit is terrible for this kind of exchange, and I wish I’d looked up his email instead.

Sept 2, 9:34 AM DM
Sept 2, 10:33 AM DM

Side note on how I work:
I usually work about 15-18 hours per day, mostly including weekends, though fewer hours if I have any obligations in my #fakemom role. I’m working on getting this number lower, but for now it means continually flipping through Skype (usually 6-12 ongoing, active chats plus an average of about 20 specific pings/chats per day, IRC (usually 6 channels), Thunderbird (too many emails), Chrome (usually 4-6 windows with about 20 tabs each), Preview (viewing attachments from said Skype pings, emails, etc), and TextEdit (usually about 8 active documents). Some days you can also add in Coda and Terminal, and/or Inkscape and Gimp. And if I really want to be inclusive, System Preferences a few times a day to deal with my wifi being capricious. When someone pings me in Skype or IRC, I bring that window into focus and they have my attention until more than a minute passes without them saying anything. Then I go back to my other stuff and wait for them to ping again.

With Twitter, I don’t have notifications on, because they were too disruptive. I use the Twitter website, not a desktop client, and use it as a casual dip-in-between-other-things form of interaction. One major drawback to the Twitter website design (hey, ex-boyfriend Doug!) is that there is no visual indicator when you have new @replies or DMs if you are on your main stream view, so I often miss these until I remember to check for them. If I send someone a DM, I wait around and leave the screen open for a few minutes, but then go back to the main screen or the @replies screen before leaving so I can see the number of new updates in the tab. It was an hour later when Justin replied, and I no longer had the DM view open, so I didn’t see his reply until the next time I clicked on Messages, which was a couple of days later because of the timing.

Back to the recounting of how events unfolded.

  • 9/3 – My brother’s wedding 3 hours away. I left the laptop behind and hung out with the family, getting back home around 4am on 9/4.
  • 9/4 – 9/6 – Labor Day weekend. Slept a day to make up for previous night, later made a bunch of plans with my mother for her big move.*
  • 9/7 morning to afternoon – Holiday weekend over. Giant email scrub and general catchup that takes forever (the reason I don’t normally take weekends off is that coming back means so much backlog).
  • 9/7 around 3:45 pm – Take doctor call telling me I need to come to office first thing next morning to discuss bad test results. Tell #fakekid I might not be there when she gets home from school next day because of appointment. She asks if she should be worried about appt. I say I’m not sure yet, but that I promise to stop working for the night at 7 for a change and take her dinner and we can talk about it then.
  • 9/7 4:20 pm – Return to DM with Justin.

Sept 7, 4:20 PM
Sept 7, 5:29 PM
Sept 7, 6:23 PM
Sept 7, 6:24 PM
Sept 7, 6:30 PM
Sept 7, 6:30 PM #2
Sept 7, 6:32 PM

  • 9/7 6:48 pm – Seeing that we’ve gotten to a point where we are needing to do multiple tweets per minute to finish a thought, I suggest moving to email or Skype for easier communication.

Sept 7, 6:48 pm

  • 9/7 7:00 pm – I close the laptop and take my #fakekid to dinner as promised.
  • 9/7 7:01 pm – Justin replies but does not take me up on the offer to switch to a non-140-character-limit mode of communication.
    Sept 7, 7:01 PM
    I don’t see this reply because I’ve closed the laptop. If you look at my profile, I was not on Twitter again until the following morning (though I will admit I forgot to check the DM view then, as referenced earlier re UI) when I was headed to the doctor’s office.
  • 9/8 – Spend morning at doctor’s office, being told I may have cervical cancer and getting a biopsy scheduled. Before I even get home, tweet to all women following me to please get a pap smear because I don’t want any of them dying from undiagnosed cervical cancer.
  • 9/8 – Once home, start throwing up from fear/stress thinking about what will happen to my niece and my mother — both of whom will be relying on me for support as of next month — if something happens to me, and go to bed with a big metal bowl at my side in the afternoon. Fall asleep and stay there until following morning.
  • 9/9 – Wake up, make the kid’s lunch, get her off to school, get back to work, start email scrub that will take hours as result of being offline after getting sick the day before. See email with ping notice from WPCandy on the site’s fundraising page, with a headline that sounds dramatic and confrontational: DevPress Deal Is Against WordCamp Guidelines. This seems to require immediate attention and I do not finish normal catch-up scrub, so do not get to Twitter or see Justin’s last DM yet.
  • Read article. See that Justin has vilified me and accused me of starting a war, among other things. Am astounded that Ryan Imel would print such an inflammatory email without even contacting me for a response or to warn me.
  • Ping Andrea. Turns out Ryan did exchange a couple of emails with her the afternoon before to make sure he understood the WC guidelines, but did not mention Justin’s email. Andrea had requested he hold off on publishing until she could check with me to make sure she hadn’t said anything incorrect. He did not.
  • WPCandy comments turning into another freakin’ dramarama. Some people get the point of the guidelines. Some people get the point but disagree with the policy. Some people don’t get the point.
  • Succumb to feelings about being attacked after being out of conversation for one day, open Twitter for first time that morning, and send a tweet I immediately regret because suddenly everyone I know is pinging to ask me about the state of my junk, which is a) uncomfortable, and b) not helping me get it off my mind.
    Sept 9, 5:59 am
    More nausea ensues.
  • Realize I am getting really tense. Go for a walk on the beach. Luckily, it is 3 blocks away. 15 minutes of wading in surf calms me down.
  • WPCandy comments turn to finger pointing against me, the Foundation, Automattic. Unsurprisingly, most of the nastiest ones are from the same people that make these kinds of accusatory comments every time there’s some kind of drama.
  • I get really upset. I think it is not cool that I was trying to be casual and friendly and get things ironed out privately so that everyone could be on the same page without creating a bunch of drama, and now suddenly I’m the villain in a very public crapfest that was completely unnecessary. If we had told WC Philly they needed to back out of the DevPress thing and had publicly blamed DevPress of not being aboveboard or something, I could see it, but that’s not what happened. We said fine, it’s done, let’s just make sure people know the score moving forward, which is how we’ve handled every guideline slip by an organizing team and/or a business that wants to get involved with a WordCamp. We assume the best: that people didn’t know, misunderstood, or forgot, and that we all want things to be cool. In this case, Justin and his very vocal backers assumed the worst of me, and decamped from direct communication in favor of publicly attacking me.
  • I get back to work on getting 3.3 ready for feature freeze. I’ve let this kind of stuff distract from the job of making WordPress too many times, and I decide to wait to write a response post until a) I’m less upset, and b) I get caught up on some 3.3 ticket review, as freeze is looming and I got really behind during WCSF organizing time.
  • Despite theoretical therapeutic value of immersing myself in work, I’m still upset. I decide that the only way to burn off my feelings and keep myself from writing comments or posts while in this mood is to make an appointment to bleach the crap out of my hair, which will take hours. I figure the burning scalp will distract me, and being limited to typing on my phone will restrain me. I call and they agree I can come in at noon. I write an intro paragraph and an outline so I’ll remember the things that stood out for me during the morning (because all this happened before the west coast even woke up), then head to Savannah to obtain the new ‘do.
  • 9/9 5:30 pm – Leave salon with a modern-day cruella de ville two-toned head.

That’s the end of my version of how this all unfolded. Taking a long weekend for a family wedding and holiday weekend and then taking a day off because of the doctor stuff did mean there were two times that I didn’t continue the DMs immediately. However, I was not under the impression that it was an issue of urgency. I hadn’t said it was, and if Justin thought it was, I’d think he would have pinged again. I’m the first to admit that I’m not always timely in following up on things — hell, it’s the entire reason Andrea got hired, so WordCamp organizers wouldn’t have me as a bottleneck — but in this case I don’t think I was guilty of inordinate delay.

Things that pissed me off (why sugarcoat it now):

  • People saying they were taking “the side of the community.” Dudes, if you are taking sides at all, you are not acting in the best interests of the community, regardless of which “side” you’re on. We shouldn’t be dividing ourselves into sides at all. Everyone should be working together to create common understanding and acknowledge the multiple goals and desires at play in this multi-stakeholder community. If you just want to complain about “the man” (or in this case, the woman) without making any effort to resolve the issues in a professional, collaborative manner, then I’m sorry, but you do NOT have the best interests of the community in mind. The phrase “haters gotta hate” comes to mind.
  • Justin accusing me of starting a war. If I wanted to start a “war,” I’d have posted publicly that they were not adhering to the guidelines and said nasty things about them. Oh, but I didn’t. Granted, at 140 characters, my Twitter DMs were to the point, but they weren’t rude, and I did ask if we could switch to email or Skype.
  • Justin accusing me of going to Ryan to blow up a story instead of talking directly with Justin. I was talking directly to Justin, and I would never choose a public scandal over a quiet conversation and resolution. If the quiet conversation had failed, I still would not have gone to WPCandy and asked them to post about it. When have I *ever* done that? If anything, I sometimes ask for things not to be posted right away so people can have more time to work things out privately. In this case, I didn’t ask for anything, because I was not contacted.
  • Justin saying that if I’d been willing to sit down and talk a week ago, things wouldn’t be out of hand now. They didn’t contact me beforehand, and the week-ago response to my DM did not ask for a conversation, just stated they thought they were within the guidelines. See timeline above to judge for yourself if I was refusing to sit down and talk to him a week earlier.
  • Justin’s snotty remark about my needing an English degree. The definition of guideline is a rule or policy by which one is guided, so saying over and over that we have guidelines-not-rules is not logical. The choice of the synonym for the plan site was very intentional: the word “rules” implies there will be a smackdown if you “break” them; the word “guidelines” implies that we’ll guide you back on track if a rule is broken. We don’t want to slam doors, we want to help guide people through the ones that are outlined on the planners’ site. Except in one or two notable extreme cases, anyone stepping on the wrong side of a guideline just gets pinged for a chat, and it’s resolved easily.
  • Ryan Imel posting that nasty email. It was, very simply, a personal attack and downright nasty. When even Carl Hancock, one of my most vocal detractors, agrees that it’s over the top, you know it’s crossed a line.
    Sept 10, 8:42 am
    His reply above did make me wonder how many people actually read the email that Ryan published.
  • Who prints that kind of stuff? Just the other day I told my 11th grade #fakekid to remove a snotty post (on which there were dozens of comments) from Facebook about a girl in her class who hadn’t done what Morgan wanted with their English project. Here’s what I told her: “Honey, you need to take that down. You don’t post mean things about people on the internet. It makes them feel bad and stirs up trouble that there’s no need for. It makes you a mean, nasty troll. If you have a problem with what she did, you tell her privately in person at school, in a Facebook chat or private message, or you call her. You’re almost 18, and you can’t solve problems anymore like you’re still in junior high. If you can’t work it out with her and you think your Facebook friends need to know, then fine, it’s your call, but even then keep your tone appropriate, watch your language, and focus on facts, not your emotions about her. Be fair.” Huh.
  • Ryan Imel saying in one breath, “It’s news! I have to report it!” (paraphrase) and then in another claiming that he’s just a fan/blogger and should not be held to journalistic standards like fact-checking and providing balanced coverage. Maybe WPCandy should change, “Keep up with WordPress news!” to, “Keep up with WordPress blog posts!” Without all this pot-stirring, maybe Justin and I could have talked and come to an understanding without creating a divisive community uproar. Maybe he’d have convinced us that the guidelines should be changed. We’ll never know now, will we?
  • Jeffr0 jumping in and stirring things even more. The “news site or fan blogging?” issue used to come up with Jeffr0 back before WPCandy totally eclipsed WPTavern. What’s funny is that when this WPCandy story came up, I totally starting thinking about how Jeff had really tried to take that balancing act seriously back in the day once it was pointed out to him that people were treating WPTavern like a news source. Then, the revived WP Weekly podcast of 9/9 did the same thing Ryan had done and stirred the pot without bothering to ask for a counterpoint to Justin’s version of events/the situation, and pretty much threw me under the bus. In that podcast, Jeff also got mixed up and referred to Andrea’s comment as Amanda’s. Since Andrea is from WordCamp Central and is the policy communicator/enforcer with WC organizers, and Amanda is a former WC organizer but not affiliated with WC Central, this was a notable error. When I talked to Jeff on Skype on 9/12 and pointed this out, he acknowledged not being clear on who was who, yet he’d sounded pretty confident when he was talking about [her] in the podcast. That’s just plain irreponsible.
  • People who have traditionally acted like my friends running with the accusations in this story and adding fuel to the fire. These people all have me on Skype, have my phone number, etc., and could have picked this bone with me directly, and possibly helped make the situation better instead of more dramatically in conflict. I am pretty sad to realize that these people are probably not really my friends, but have just acted that way because it was useful or expedient. In the past, when negative gossip about me reached my ears and was labeled as having originated with them, I had chalked it up to miscommunications, lack of context, and all the other things that go into assuming the best about people rather than the worst. In this case, that tendency has apparently led me to think that some people are nicer and/or more professional than they really are. That bums me out like crazy.

So thanks, Justin, Ryan, Jeff, and the rest of the people who publicly hung me out to dry without talking to me directly first. Your efforts in creating a kinder, gentler, more friendly WordPress community… er, not so much this time.

Things that didn’t piss me off:

  • People thinking the guideline about giveaways was not a good one. We won’t all have the same ideas about what makes a good guideline. Most people are basing their opinions on their own WordCamp experiences and those of their friends. We (Matt, me, Andrea) base it on experience with all the WordCamps, interacting with all the organizers, and getting feedback from attendees all over the world. When we disagree with people, it’s usually because we have different starting points. If we have a conversation and you at least listen to where we’re coming from and you still disagree, fine. But if you’re just posting about what biased control-freak idiots we are without even asking why we made certain rules and what kind of situations engendered them, that’s just lame. As a former boss of mine would have said, “You’re a mixer.” (Because you like to stir things up.) If you want to be a community leader, act like one, and get all the facts before rallying people to a conflict/cause. It’s like we have our own WordPress Tea Party or something. The guidelines will continually evolve to make the WordCamp name ever more trustworthy, and making constructive suggestions on ways to improve them is very welcome. Making accusations about how we/I just want to ruin everyone else’s fun/business/life … not so much.
  • People using “Jane” and “the Foundation” interchangeably. Though the people who said it wasn’t accurate had a point, I can see why it made sense to others. I have been pretty much the only person doing stuff under the Foundation name, and whether the direction is coming from Matt or me is generally not stated. If anyone would bother to ask before making a federal case out of things, I’d be more than happy to explain the genesis of each decision and action. Now that Andrea is in the mix, and when we get a little further with some of the Foundation-based initiatives I have planned, there will be more people involved in things, but if all you have to go on is the (rarely-updated) WPF blog, yeah, why wouldn’t someone think it’s all me? I should update that blog more often, it just hasn’t been a priority compared to other stuff. At any time, any of the people who are now clamoring about lack of Foundation transparency could have pinged me to ask a question or suggest I post an update. As it happens I had 3 half-written WPF blog post drafts with news and updates I’d just never gotten around to finishing, and a prompt would have reminded me to get them up there.

So, yeah. This whole thing has made me feel personally attacked, has made me feel deceived by people I thought were friends (or least something akin to friendly colleagues), made me bleach half my head and now I look like a crazy person (though that one is on me), and caused serious distraction from what should have been my top priority, which is getting the new features and UI ready for 3.3 freeze.**

Next post will focus on why the guidelines for sponsorships are what they are and where they come from, and will reply to some of the comments, accusations, and suggestions raised in the WPCandy thread comments. It may be a couple of days, though, because I’m at WordCamp Portland and I’ve got the kid with me and Daryl and I have to finish 3 new features and then test them with WCPDX attendees and I have to stay on top of this weekend’s pre-freeze trac marathon and I need be helpful and friendly to all the people I meet at WCPDX and I still need to stay on top of email and WP help requests and everything else that doesn’t stop happening when a handful of people decide it’s been too long since they made a festival of declaring me the root of all evil. Have a nice weekend!

* I’ll be paying the mortgage on the townhouse she just bought so that she can afford to move closer to the family (esp. the grandkids) now that she’s retiring in early October.

** I notice that the people having such a good time proclaiming their concern for the community on WPCandy are not helping get WordPress 3.3 ready, despite the fact that surely the community’s greatest concern is the improvement of the software they all have in common?

A Typical Day

I am always busy. I don’t work from home, I live in my office. Many people know this and are patient with me as I slog through each day’s list, and kindly pester me (specifically, they pester me kindly, not aggressively or with accusations) if I don’t get to them quickly enough for their own deadlines. Other people get snotty, demanding, insulting, and rude (which makes me feel great about helping them at the expense of others, including myself). Because of this, my days bear little resemblance to what they once were when I was a designer and got to concentrate on a task until it was finished, then leave the office and go back to a personal life. These days it’s ping-pong-ping-pong from the time I get up until I go to sleep (often this means falling asleep with laptop in bed).

I recognize that this is my fault. I’m not good at saying no, and added to the Yankee work ethic that was drilled into me growing up (I was working 10+ hours/day when I was a nanny at 13), I wind up with too many projects and not enough time. Because I by default don’t feel okay about putting myself before others, this also means I work far too many hours, don’t take care of myself, don’t get enough sleep, and miss out on having fun the way I used to.

Being a workaholic in some cases is considered to be on the OCD spectrum, as obsessive thoughts about obligation can get in the way of stepping away from work. The next time you hear or say, “If you want to get something done, give it to the busiest person you know,” think about this, and think again.

About a month ago I kept track of what I did for a little more than 24 hours. Here’s that typical day.

9:30 am

  • Check emails that came in since 4am when I went to bed
  • Review updates from internal blogs that came in since 4am
  • Respond to WordCamp ABC re their proposed space and money request (day total: x3 so far)
  • Team blog – post request for individual updates
  • Go to .com to check out forums, get distracted by Freshly Pressed post on 10 best indie movies, take quick detour to wikipedia to look something up
  • Turn on, put cookies in oven (cheater cookies, just throw pan in oven)
  • Chat with Matt re announcement post for distraction-free writing and ui update

10:45 am

  • Check email
  • Start post for DFW and UI
  • Take cookies out
  • Email Ben re new tmce icons
  • Write post for DFW and UI
  • Write .com ux notes to follow up on sometime
  • Continue with post for DFW and UI
  • Post to .com team blog re faves menu
  • Accept UPS package (keyboard)
  • Continue with post for DFW and UI
  • Press this on tools page review

12:05 pm

  • Continue with post for DFW and UI
  • Credits page review
  • Report core bug and help with troubleshooting (mark will fix)
  • More press this graphic investigation
  • More icons follow up
  • Talked to Andrew to get dfw fixes in before merge
  • Continue with post for DFW and UI
  • Discussion with needyish community member
  • Finish post for DFW and UI, send to Matt to review

1:21 pm

  • Email slog
  • Realize I should eat, go make bagel
  • Review WordCamp ABC budget, cry
  • Read oatmeal cartoon to perk up
  • New hire hr check
  • Update hr on team meetup status
  • UI group mtg
  • Core trac scrub in -dev
  • Team meetup date determination with team members (people who have new date conflicts every time make my life harder)
  • Talk to WordCamp DEF organizer, agree to fill speaker cxl with 3.2 preview
  • More trac scrub
  • Revise credits list

2:50 pm

  • Art for WordCamp DEF order shirts
  • Edited swag store page
  • Contacted past designer re permission
  • Kid got home; ate a tuna sandwich while she described school day and ate cookies
  • MT not around, so make shirt art
  • Order shirts and send art to printer

4:05 pm

  • Replied to iphone app trademark infringement issue

4:15 pm

  • Looked into team meetup rentals
  • Called Palomar group sales re wcsf housing, will have proposal by end of week
  • Looked at other sf hotels, decided to call travel agent to have her do it instead
  • Talk logos with MT, how to rep multiple brands brainstorm
  • Words with friends, made joey for 47 points
  • Discussed shirt printing instructions with Mike from lo-fi

5:20 pm

  • Ask hr about using travel agent, new hire follow up
  • Core leads chat re [sensitive community issue]
  • Pinged organizer, discussed WordCamp GHI
  • Start laundry
  • Make answer key for practice math exam, set kid to problem solving

6:15 pm

  • Go to pick up dinner

7:00 pm

  • Check email, see more kerfuffle over [sensitive community issue] in inbox, shake head, look at how long i’ve already been working today, shake head again
  • Discuss .com/3.2 beta merge timing with Ryan Boren
  • Feed kid, eat dinner
  • Put laundry in dryer

7:30 pm

  • Check email
  • Look at potential team meetup rentals, send reservation inquiries

8:00 pm

  • Check on kid’s math progress, do some planning with her, discuss weekend plans

8:15 pm

  • Investigate cost/time of flying vs. driving to WC DEF
  • Talk logistics for merch table in Raleigh w/Lori
  • Begin reservation process for team meetup housing
  • Write to flipkey to ask about price guarantees on rentals (b/c the one I want has diff prices posted)
  • Post to team blog with instructions for team members to look up flight prices for specific dates

9:15 pm

  • Researched alternate meetup housing (wp users!)
  • Sent availability inquiry
  • Email check, p2 comments

9:45 pm

  • Flight research for team meetup
  • Review team member A’s flight options
  • Chat with team member B about time management, rescuetime, and capes

10:00 pm

  • Download Glee (suck it, haters!)
  • Check email, Skype, decide I need a break
  • Eat cookie, drink iced tea
  • Watch Glee while answering emails

11:30 pm

2nd wind!

  • Email

11:45 pm

  • 3.2 feature chat with Michael Pick for launch video

12:30 am

  • Internet dies

1:30 am

  • Go to sleep


6:15 am

  • Slept late, gah! get up, make lunch for morgan, get her off to school

6:45 am

  • Email WordCamp JKL organizer re WC sponsorship eligibility rules
  • Email scrub
  • Read daily digests for a few team p2s
  • Review dfw support page
  • Comment on HE p2 re dfw page, social p2 re ui refresh
  • Identify must-dos for today: launch dfw, get .org guidelines up, reply pending WCs, style update work with Daryl, review/edit prev organizer survey, WC sponsorships, pending emails, write to the not-100%-GPL-WC-sponsor, book meetup travel, post call for WCSF speakers, draft WCSF sponsorship levels, contact potential WCSF speakers, nail down weekend WC travel logistics, food shopping, talk to Caitlin’s mom, confirm Morgan can stay with her, bring ibuprofen to school nurse for Morgan, cat food, clean house
  • Forward all emails to WC PHX relevant to AG complaint
  • Ping Matt to review dfw post, make a couple of corrections on readthrough

7:30 am

  • Review plugin requests for from WordCamp MNO
  • Note issue with plugin forums re author links
  • Need to write up rules of the road for plugin repo, add to list

7:45 am

  • Read tv gossip blog article about new Torchwood
  • Try to get laptop sound to work again, no dice

8:00 am

  • More email
  • Team travel costs review (all have been posted now)
  • New icon sprite handoff
  • Chat with Peter re commit access, review commit screen, posted sys request for list

8:40 am

  • Make and eat bagel
  • De-dread hair with massive amounts of leave-in conditioner, decide to cut off hair and donate it by WCSF
  • Iced tea and a cookie
  • Review [would-be WordCamp sponsor that is not 100% GPL] backstory
  • Order cat food, sugaring kit, SDHD cards
  • Call hotel re shirt shipments
  • Chat with Ryan Imel re inaccuracy of ‘split GPL’ term (‘split license’ is accurate)
  • Talk dfw post w/Matt
  • Email
  • WordCamp stuff
  • Shower
  • Email
  • Review local vs shipped-in speakers for WC DEF, purse lips

11:00 am

  • Look for errant WC app
  • Check on WordCamp trademark status
  • Get dressed
  • Sign FedEx, square readers arrived
  • Email

11:20 am

  • Move outside
  • Chat matt
  • Confirm merge plan w/Ryan
  • Go back inside, too bright
  • Reboot laptop on freeze

11:45 am

  • Make and eat tuna sandwich

12:00 pm

  • More WordCamp drama emails
  • WCSF Kimpton follow up — too spendy this year, cheaper hotels online
  • Find designer to do icon swap
  • Reserve team meetup cottages, post details
  • Core – icons, links, errors
  • Register for WCDEF
  • Forums issue

1:33 pm

  • Hands/wrists give out
  • Head to high school for student-teacher conference

Not good, right? I never get all the must-do items done in a day. I now have a new team member who is taking over all the WordCamp coordination, so that’s good, but there’s still more work to be done than can fit in a day without feeling massively behind. I’m going to be trying to cut back on the hours, and actually do things like clean my house that have gone ignored, as well as go back to having a personal life that includes more than driving the kid places.

So if I seem less available than I used to, that will be why. I’m also going to practice saying No. If I say no to you, please don’t be annoyed, and recognize that I’m doing it for my health. If I tell you no for something, I’ll at least try to point you toward someone better able to say yes.

Wish me luck!


This morning, Morgan and I went for a walk as part of the Automattic wwwp5k. We walked down to the beach, down the side of the island, up the other to the marsh, and then back home. All told, Runkeeper said it was 4.43 miles (see route). It was insanely hot, but we kept going, each wearing a WordCamp shirt to represent (Savannah for me, NYC for her). Took some pictures along the way. (There are also a couple more at the runkeeper route link, tied to place taken.) Thumbnails link to full-size images.

Movie Night

2011 Resolution: Watch one movie each week with Morgan to expose her to new ideas, good filmmaking, and smart dialogue (and/or cultural touchstones). Nominate films for the list in the comments!

  1. Bickford Schmeckler’s Cool Ideas
  2. Next Stop Wonderland
  3. Ghost World
  4. The Big Blue
  5. High Fidelity
  6. Never Cry Wolf
  7. Wristcutters: A Love Story
  8. Cinema Paradiso
  9. The Royal Tenenbaums
  10. The Night We Never Met
  11. Serenity
  12. Run Lola Run
  13. Waiting for Guffman
  14. Children of Men
  15. Thelma and Louise
  16. Grosse Point Blank
  17. Heavenly Creatures
  18. Kill Bill Vol. I
  19. Shine
  20. Kill Bill Vol. II
  21. Being John Malkovich
  22. Living in Oblivion
  23. Moon
  24. Cecil B. Demented
  25. The Kids Are All Right
  26. Memento
  27. State and Main
  28. Shakespeare in Love
  29. Dead Again
  30. My Left Foot
  31. Go Fish
  32. The Player
  33. The Squid and the Whale
  34. The House of Yes
  35. Best in Show
  36. Harold and Maude
  37. Boyz N the Hood
  38. Dancer in the Dark
  39. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  40. Rushmore
  41. My Own Private Idaho
  42. Party Girl
  43. American History X
  44. Camp
  45. The Crying Game
  46. Pi
  47. Before Sunrise
  48. This Is Spinal Tap
  49. The Secret of Roan Inish
  50. The Usual Suspects
  51. Brazil
  52. The Amateurs

Movies that would be on the list, but that I’ve already had her watch: Donnie Darko, The Shawshank Redemption, Roman Holiday, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Almost Famous, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Princess Bride

Grizzly Adams Needs a Home


Grizzly, taken just now

Most of the littermates of the 3.0 kitteh have been spoken for, but there’s one kitten left for adoption. My niece named her Grizzly when she was tiny b/c she was the crybaby of the litter (kind of like calling the biggest guy in prison “Tiny”). She quickly grew out of that and we appended the Adams on her name, though we usually just call her Grizz. If you give her a good home (which should include spaying, please!), you can call her whatever you like.

Grizz is all black (which makes it hard to get cute pictures of her, sorry, but trust me that she is gorgeous) with short fur that is silkier than my dead grandmother’s mink coat from the ’40s. Seriously, petting this cat is one of the most luxurious tactile experiences I’ve ever had. If we hadn’t had to restrict ourselves to keeping two, I’d definitely have kept her. She has a delicate face and a sleek body with a normal/long tail. She slinks as elegantly as a panther and pounces around with the joy all the kittens had when they were still tiny.


I used a flash to try and make her more visible.

She’s litter trained (we use the recycled pine stuff that is compostable/flushable), and knows how to use one of those cardboard scratchers. She’s not a slathering lapcat, but purrs when petted, is happy to be picked up (unless she’s in the middle of something), and does a very satisfying head rub when she’s happy. She’s used to other cats (has been living with her littermates, mother, and my original cat, Lucy, who’s 13) and would probably be happy to be in a household with another animal. That said, she’d also probably be fine being the only cat… not much seems to faze her.

Detective Mittens and Grizz

Detective Mittens (left) spooning Grizz (right)

I’m moving out to Tybee Island and need to find her a home asap. If anyone from the Savannah area is interested, I’ll be in town this Friday, and then again next week when I move, so could deliver her. Anyone coming to WordCamp Savannah could also pick her up at/after the event. Anywhere else and we can talk about when/where/how. Interested? She’s an awesome little cat/big kitten (about 16 weeks), and I’d like to be sure she gets a home where she’ll be loved and well cared-for. She’ll make someone a wonderful, loving companion: could it be you? Shoot me an email using the contact form on this site to tell me why you’d be a good person to take “the Grizz”and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Tell your friends!

Kittens for Sale

They’re not for sale. The kittens we rescued are now 12 weeks old and need to find homes. I’m keeping the 3.0 kitteh, but need homes for 2-3 others and their shy mother. If anyone is in Georgia and thinks they want to adopt one, let me know. I’ll add pictures and more info later. Picking said kittens up at WordCamp Savannah is also an option. If you’re interested, use the contact form or just email jane/wordpress/org.

pic of four kittens

Terrible picture. So cute IRL. 2 black kittens, a calico/tortoisehell kitten and a tortoisehell mom are up for grabs.


As anyone can see from looking through past posts, I almost never blog here. I mostly post on the official blog, or toss out snippets of thought via Twitter. However, my two years of relative silence here — when it comes to the GPL and Thesis — is now at an end. Normally I would write this post and then wait a day and edit it before publishing, but in this case I’m just going to hit Publish. Tomorrow is a another day, and I can clarify anything that needs it then.

Yesterday, I met Chris Pearson, of Thesis theme infamy. How? Why? What? I accepted an invitation to speak at a real estate convention largely for the chance to meet him in a neutral situation (not a WordCamp, etc). I introduced myself in the hall and we went to sit down and talk in a room some speakers were using. As we walked down the hall, he mentioned wanting to get an iPad while in town that day, though supplies were scarce. I offered to call “my guy” at the SF Apple store to ask if he could snag one from stock and hold it for Chris. Even though Chris had previously been a confrontational jerk to most of my co-workers, collaborators and friends, I am just a generally nice person. If I can help, I want to. I made the call.

While pretty much everyone knows that I agree with the argument that themes and plugins count as derivative works and therefore inherit the WordPress license (GPLv2), I’ve really tried to stay out of the mud when it comes to the fighting. Even when people have baited me in the past, said mean things on Twitter, misrepresented/misquoted me or in any other way were just plain uncool, I tried to stay calm, think about the overall impact to the community and make love not war (figuratively speaking). I’ve traveled to meet with WordPress community members to discuss the issues that had them riled to see if we could come to some understanding; in most cases we wound up agreeing and became friends, while in others we at least agreed to disagree and be polite for the good of the community. It takes a lot to ruffle my feathers. I was raised to be a nice girl, and even when someone is a total jackass, that training usually sticks. I am basically an overgrown hippie who just wants everyone to get along and be nice, no dogma.

There is a history of antipathy between Thesis/Chris and WordPress/Matt that predates me. I have to admit that when I first started working with the WordPress open source project and I would see their squabbling on Twitter, it reminded me of boys kicking each other in the schoolyard. I began my job with the WordPress redesign for 2.7 in 2008, right around this time of year, though I’ve known Matt and WordPress for much longer. When I started paying more attention to the issue of themes being distributed under proprietary licenses, I was actually pretty astounded. The license text itself seems pretty simple, and has been around for several decades. Each copy of WordPress comes with the license attached, and states that derivative works inherit the GPL license when distributed. I’m not going to get into the details of the license here, that’s freely available all over the web. The thing is, most of the theme developers who were distributing WordPress themes under restrictive licenses either didn’t understand the GPL, or just hadn’t really thought about it too hard, especially those coming from agency or proprietary design/software backgrounds. Those people? Pretty much all went GPL once they realized what was going on. A few others, however, simply don’t think that the license applies to them.

When I met Chris Pearson yesterday, I didn’t expect him to jump up and say, “Yay for GPL and here I come with license compliance!” Based on things some people had told me, I expected the aggressive dude from Twitter to be more of a persona than a person; I thought I’d be talking with an intelligent guy who just had a different point of view. It seemed to start out that way. However, it didn’t last, and many circuitous statements later, it became clear that Chris had no interest in peace in the community nor any respect for the license. It was almost impossible to make sense of his assertions. In one breath he would claim that Thesis had nothing to do with WordPress, then in the next would say that he builds on top of WordPress because of the profit potential (broad user base). In one breath he would say that the GPL wasn’t valid, then in another breath would say that because of the GPL he was allowed to build on WordPress for free. Discussion addressing respect for the developers went nowhere, as did points about license structures, pricing, promotion, community, and more; pretty much they all wound up with Chris saying he didn’t care about the GPL, and that he would continue to license Thesis as he does for as long as he could make money doing so. I had planned to write up this conversation last night, but frankly, had started to wonder if someone had slipped me a roofie, because I found it hard to believe anyone could be so convinced that he was above the law (at one point he asked me where the cops were, if he was breaking the law).

I stated over and over that for WordPress, a lawsuit was an ineffective use of time and money that we could be using to improve our software and grow the community resources that support it, and Chris said something similar with regard to prosecuting his own pirates (he mentioned Malaysians profiting from his work several times). Yet somehow it kept coming back to him saying we should sue him if we were so sure that the GPL was valid.

The hour or more of this type of discussion was exhausting. At one point he raised his voice so loudly that another speaker in the green room (we were at a conference) shushed us. There were a couple of other guys there who tried to back me up (not related to WordPress project team; they were real estate guys), but Chris would have none of it. We parted ways and I was terribly disappointed, not just because I am sick of this whole thing, but because he really proved my pollyanna people-are-inherently-good-and-want-to-do-the-right-thing-if-they-only-knew-what-that-was attitude to be total crap. He showed me that he does not care about the good of the community. He wouldn’t even have a straightforward discussion. His responses to questions had more misdirection than a Penn & Teller act. Ask about the license and he responded with a statement about creating solutions that work or the quality of WordPress code (which he totally dissed, btw). Eventually I asked him why not just move to a platform that was licensed in a way he approved, and he said he was working on it, but that as long as WordPress was as profitable as it is, he wasn’t leaving. He kept claiming it was “just smart business.”

1. It’s smart business to adhere to the license of any software you use. Have we not learned this in this litigious age?

2. It’s professional to answer the actual questions someone asks rather than spouting pre-determined talking points.

What makes me think they are practiced talking points? Today, a brouhaha arose on Twitter under the hashtag #thesiswp. I was trying to avoid it, but eventually it came down to Matt and Chris and they wound up going on a live webcast to debate it. Chris was saying the same things he’d said to me yesterday, verbatim. In one exchange he said iPhone instead of iPod, but otherwise, he repeated almost every single thing he’d said to me the day before. I challenge anyone to listen to the debate and come away thinking Chris Pearson has anyone’s interests at heart other than his own. Frankly, I still don’t want WordPress to sue him. I still think it is a massive waste of time and money that could be put to much better use. I think he should either respect the license or choose a different platform. But if a court case will settle this once and for all, maybe it would help the community in the end; at the very least, it would make it all less confusing.

Oh, and after Chris walked away? “My Apple guy” called to verify that there were no more iPads available in the store, but he’d gotten one out of other stock and was holding it. Too bad Chris didn’t bother to ask me about it before he left.

Yesterday sucked. Today sucked, too. I’m really ready for a day to arrive when all this crap stops taking our attention, and we can focus on documentation, forums, plugin repository enhancements, fixing the media uploader, etc. You know, get back to the business of building WordPress for those 20 million+ WordPress users around the world who owe their publishing freedom to the GPL, and are glad to have it.

** I would have linked to dozens of tweets by various community members to support this narrative, but writing this all out makes me want to go get a drink with friends instead. I’ll come back and add links  later.

Upcoming Trips

I have booked a buttload of travel today. If you’re going to be at any of these events/in any of these places and think we should meet up, let me know.

April 7-8: Norwood, MA for WordPress University, a NERCOMP-produced mini-conference for academics using WordPress, organized by Randall Rode from Yale University.

April 9-12: Rome, NY to visit my mom, clean out a room for her, and get all papers necessary to do my taxes. Yes, cutting it close. Shut up.

April 16-20: Tybee Island, GA to hit the Tybee Island Wine Festival (April 17) and generally relax with the twins over the weekend, then possibly some coworking with Sheri.

April 23-25: UC Irvine for WordCamp Orange County, where I’m giving the keynote.

April 25-May 14: San Francisco, CA for WordCamp SF followed by working at Pier 38 with my visiting coworkers. *Maybe* I’ll do sangria one evening at the pier. Oh, and a .org code sprint May 3-4.

May 31-June 4: Portland, OR for Open Source Bridge conference. Not speaking, just attending.

June 4-7: Chicago, IL for WordCamp Chicago. Will be doing a presentation on creating custom menus with 3.0.

Still to book: Denver, UK, Doe Bay?, Burning Man, Mid-Atlantic, Automattic meetup.

Panda Raccoon

We have a saying in my current family configuration (in which I go to my brother’s house in between WordCamps to help raise his teenage daughters). That saying is Panda Raccoon. It recently started spreading (my fault) into the WordPress dev community, and Nikolay has tasked me with writing up the history of it, so that people will know what the heck we’re talking about when we tell them, “Panda Raccoon!”

Okay, so I have these nieces who are in 9th grade, twins named Jamie and Morgan. Jamie and Morgan both have active imaginations, but Jamie is also an avid reader, which sometimes leads to conversational threads that are based on fictional characters and/or situations that are wholly unrealistic and unrelated to the topic at hand. For example, we might be talking about going to the lake on Saturday, which might turn into speculation about the weather and who to invite to come with us. Then Jamie will open her mouth, and before you know it there is an owl in a mouse costume flying a helicopter to drop bottled water on impoverished villages in Africa and that’s why we should have root beer to drink instead of water with lunch today. By now, of course, no one remembers that we were trying to decide if we should invite people to come to the lake with us. One of these tangential flights of fancy involved a panda in a raccoon costume. It was that evening that we declared “Panda Raccoon” to be the exclamation we would use to alert Jamie (or anyone else) that the tangent had gone too far and it was time to come back to reality. This has worked out pretty well for us. And Jamie loves pandas.

Anyway, sometimes in the #wordpress-dev weekly IRC chat, someone will raise a topic that is not on the agenda, which takes us off track and slows us down. Sometimes people will raise suggestions that are wholly impractical. Sometimes people just start self-promoting, unrelated to the topic at hand. When these things happen, I now call “Panda Raccoon” on them. The words themselves, even without the backstory, make it clear that something is happening that has nothing to do with our agenda. It’s nicer than saying, “Hey, stop it. That’s a tangent.” It’s fun to say (or type). And we all love pandas.

So we think that instead of saying “bike shed” as verbal shorthand in the WordPress community to indicate people are quibbling over inconsequential details or making unrelated suggestions that are taking us off track, we should say, “Panda Raccoon.” Tell your friends.