Yup. I’m done with Facebook. However, it’s tough to delete your account. Read the message above. I exited out of this screen, suspended my account instead, but then went back 15 minutes later and actually deleted it. Well – I started the deletion process. I don’t know what day I’m on, but I think I’m close to 14 days. So, I’m still “deleting” apparently.
The only inconvenience I’ve noticed so far are all the sites where I used Facebook as the sign-on authenticator (rather than setting up a separate email/password combo.) I think I’m through most of that – at least the sites I use on a regular basis. For the first few days, I accidentally ended up on the Facebook login screen which was pleasantly filled out with my login beckoning me to log back in. I resisted the siren song of restarting my Facebook account before the 14 days was up.
I have never been much of a Facebook user. About once a year, I try to get into it, but I always stall out and use it as a broadcast-only network for my blog and links that I find interesting. I went through a phase of tightening up my security, pruning my friends, using it more frequently from my phone, deleting it from my phone, checking daily in the morning (as part of my morning routine – which has evolved a lot since I wrote this post in 2007), and then giving up again and never looking at it.
Recently, I decided to rethink Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Facebook was the easiest. While it had already become a walled garden, I suddenly noticed that the walls we were going up very high, being justified by Facebook’s new effort to get all their privacy and data issues “under control.” For example, you can no longer automatically post your Tweets to your Facebook profile.
And, Facebook recently killed automatic WordPress publishing to Profiles. So, my one (and only) current use case for Facebook, which is to broadcast from my blog, disappeared. Sure, I could create a public page, go through all the authentication stuff, and theoretically post to my new public followers, but who cares. If they are really interested in what I write, they can subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter (at least for now, until I figure out how I’m going to engage with Twitter long-term.)
Lanier’s Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now tipped me over into thinking harder about this. Now that I have decided how to deal with Facebook, at least for now, it’s time to move on down the road to Twitter and LinkedIn. I’m about a month into a different way of engaging with LinkedIn and we’ll see if it sticks. When I reach a conclusion, I’ll definitely write about it.
Thanks to the 75+ people who have reached out about being willing to help me with writing and WordPress stuff. I’ve read all the emails, answered some of them, and will get responses out to the rest on Sunday after I have a nice digital sabbath starting in a few minutes.
On my run today, I thought more about what I was looking to do and decided that my approach wasn’t right.
I’ll put this in the MVP / fail fast category. While many of the responses were from people who are clearly talented and would be able to tackle the stuff I’m said I was looking for help on, I realize that my premise around what I need may be flawed when I think harder about what I really want.
So, for now, I’m going to rescind my previous post titled Looking for a Writer and a WordPress Goddess and keep pondering things.
I’ve decided to hire two people for 2017: a full time writer and a full time WordPress Goddess (or God – I’m good with either gender …)
I’ve been very reticent to add people to our team. However, at this point it’s clear that I can get a lot of leverage from two very specific people.
Writer: I’m looking for a full time non-fiction writer. This is not a research function, but rather a writing / editing / coordination function. The amount of writing I do is significant, but there is 5x more to do than I can handle. I’m turning down a lot of stuff that I’d like to write and putting off stuff into an infinite backlog which doesn’t feel good. So, having someone writing first drafts, editing stuff I slap together, writing some primary content, and helping get it posted in the right places would be a big help.
WordPress Goddess: I contribute to four – soon to be five – blogs that my best assessment of is a hot mess of different configurations. Every time I fiddle around with something on one of them I break something else. Ideally I’d be able to normalize everything into one configuration, but I accept that this will always be changing. The person I’m looking for here has a mix of design skills and WordPress programming / config skills. In addition, there’s a bunch of other stuff in the infinite backlog of goodness to work on.
Each of these people would work directly for me. Optimally they’d live in or move to Boulder, but that’s not a requirement. They must be interested in entrepreneurship and be able to deal with lots of ambiguity. They must be comfortable with a lack of daily structure and reporting. They must be able to work remotely at times.
I’m willing to make a two year commitment to them, so they need to be willing to make a two year commitment to me.
If you are interested, just email me at email@example.com. If you know someone who might be a fit, please forward this post to them.
If you are reading this on Medium and have seen other posts of mine in the past month, tell me if you think it’s been worth it for me to republish what is on Feld Thoughts to my Brad Feld channel on Medium.
I’ve been using the Medium WordPress plugin to republish my posts automatically. It’s generally not much effort, although there are a few bugs. The most annoying is that when I publish something on WordPress, update it, and then publish it again, it doesn’t update on Medium.
Yesterday my WordPress database automatically updated and published a pile of posts from 2006 and 2007 to Medium. It also filled up my drafts on Medium, which eventually caused Medium to rate limit me (it seems like that happened around 100 posts). I didn’t want the old posts up on Medium so I went through and deleted them. That was a pain in the ass as Medium doesn’t have a bulk delete feature and I had to do it one by one. That prompted me to ask the question as to whether this has been a useful experiment.
While Medium says I have 51,000 followers, it looks like I get about 1,000 views per post and between 10 and 50 likes. So – that’s a little incremental exposure, but a very low percentage of the people who follow me, which is interesting.
I’ve had a lot of trouble engaging in comments and feedback on Medium. Some of it is the UI, some of it is time, and some is modality. I do almost all my responses to comments on WordPress via email, which Disqus handles extremely well. Medium, on the other hand, doesn’t have a reply by email feature.
Any thoughts, especially from the Medium side? Feedback welcome.
When your website crashes on launch day it really sucks. It’s ridiculous to me that that still happens today as a regular course of business.
Every time a marketing team works with a web design firm, there is the usual painful and broken handoff between the outside agency and the technical operations of the client which culminate on launch day. So many things have to go right for your launch to be flawless: server configuration, load testing, and deployment. For our portfolio companies, this requires diverting senior DevOps engineers to ensure things go right, which of course comes at the expense of delivering and operating their product and even then there are no guarantees.
Our portfolio company Pantheon is fixing this. Today they are launching Pantheon for Agencies, which enables professional web designers and developers to standardize all DevOps for all of their clients and nail every launch every time. If you know anyone who designs or builds websites for a living they should know about it.
It includes Pantheon’s most developer loved features, their enterprise tools for managing teams and websites en masse, and lessons learned powering 85,000 Drupal and WordPress websites. It is available instantly to digital agencies and for free. Agencies that standardize their work on Pantheon are generating hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in additional profit by efficiency gains due to time saved by the Pantheon development and deployment tools.
Pantheon for Agencies gets everyone on the same page with a common set of management and testing tools for clients and their agencies. It makes handoffs seamless and it ensures everything just works the way you expect it to on launch day.
If I take a step back, it’s so clear to me how much the website market needs to change. Websites are a huge industry that is now bigger than digital advertising business, much of which is serviced by digital agencies (e.g. every web design, development, and digital marketing company on the planet.) Until now agencies have had to bear the responsibility of website DevOps for their customers by necessity. At the end of the day agency clients expect their website to work, even if it’s a server problem at 3AM on a client site that the agency last worked on six months ago.
Pantheon fixes this broken and frustrating dynamic. They enable digital agencies to walk into any customer at any scale and know they can nail the launch no matter how demanding the requirements.
Every digital agency should try Pantheon out – it’s free!
And yes – this site is on Pantheon and my friends at Young & Hungry who did the design and migration from my previous hosting hell are now experts at this.
You may noticed from prior posts that we’ve had a difficult time at Foundry Group managing our growing portfolio of WordPress sites. We are not alone. You would think that by now, managing websites would be a solved problem, but that’s just not true.
Talk with any professional marketer about their websites and two things will become clear: 1) websites are absolutely central to how digital marketing gets done and 2) websites are a giant pain in the ass.
In our portfolio of startup companies, following is how websites usually get managed.
When companies are just getting off the ground, the founders often build the websites themselves, increasingly with flat HTML because it is simple and efficient. The websites are usually thought of as simple extensions to the product themselves.
At some point (hopefully) the business starts growing and a professional marketer is brought on board. In order to do their jobs marketing needs a content management system, often WordPress for simple use cases.
This is where things start to break down. Startup engineering teams are now tasked with managing a CMS system. This may be simple at first, but things get complicated very quickly. Hosting offers little beyond just hardware and maybe some server configuration. Professional website developers need much more than that — they have to collaborate in teams, work with version control, deploy changes, and as the company grows scale their site and make sure it is running fast 24×7 — aka website DevOps.
Guess who’s responsibility this becomes? The startup’s ops and engineering team. Every hour invested in this marketing infrastructure comes directly out of the bandwidth available for product improvements. Total break down.
At Foundry Group we went through a similar pattern, but here at Foundry it was Ryan (a co-founder and former engineering leader at Excite) who played the role of VP Eng. He spent too many hours over the past year baby-sitting our WordPress mess. He eventually got sick of me texting him that there was a problem somewhere.
This is why we are so excited to announce that our portfolio company Pantheon now supports WordPress. Over the past two years they have worked entirely in the Drupal ecosystem (their roots) and now run over 55,000 sites. They have built an incredibly powerful multi-tenant platform with the best set of website developer tools in the world and a container based run-time that can scale sites from 0 to >100M page-views entirely in software. All of their technology is now available to WordPress developers.
We like many of their customers were begging for some time for them to support WordPress. That day has finally come. Ryan is retiring the website pager and I’ll have to find some other way to annoy him on a regular basis.
Today our portfolio company BigDoor launched the first ever gamification plugin for WordPress. The plugin will allow a WordPress site owner to add leader-boards to their site as well as reward users with badges and points when they leave comments and check-in. It is a great way to incentivize repeat visits and help build a community on your site.
The BigDoor team has built a powerful gamification API, but until recently it required a programmer to implement it. The team continues to make big strides in making gamification more accessible by streamlining and simplifying the process of adding points, leader-boards, badges and virtual goods to a site or app. BigDoor is progressing toward what they call the “15 minute install”. Their new WordPress plugin takes about an hour from download to being live on your site, but this is a big step toward making gamification, badges and leader-boards more accessible for bloggers everywhere.
If you are a WordPress blogger, download the BigDoor WordPress Gamification plugin and give it a spin. Feedback welcome.