Monthly Archives: February 2019

WPWeekly Episode 347 – Chair Buying, Pressing Issues, and Block Management

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I start off by discussing the office chair purchasing process. I recently needed to buy a new chair and was surprised by some of the features that were highlighted.

We talked about block managers and some of the pitfalls that will need to be overcome. For example, what should WordPress do if a user disables a block that’s already used in a post?

We wrap up the show by sharing some of the most pressing issues people are having with WordPress.

Stories Discussed:

Yoast CEO Responds to #YoastCon Twitter Controversy, Calls for Change in the SEO Industry

WordPress 5.1 Improves Editor Performance, Encourages Users to Update Outdated PHP Versions

Block Management Features Proposed for WordPress 5.2

5.2 Proposed Scope and Release Schedule

UI/UX Changes for the Site Health Check Plugin

Jeffrey Zeldman Promoted to Automattic Employee

The Most Pressing Issues People Have with WordPress These Days

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, March 6th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

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Listen To Episode #347:

Source: WP Tavern

WordPress Contributors Propose Shorter, Time-based Release Cycles

WordPress release cycles may soon take a more predictable cadence, as contributors are considering moving to a time-based approach. The discussion began during a recent core dev chat in mid-February when Gutenberg phase 2 lead Riad Benguella proposed the project move to shorter, automated release cycles.

The Gutenberg team has successfully been releasing a new version of the plugin every two weeks on schedule and any features that aren’t ready are postponed to the next releases automatically. Benguella contends that this type of release schedule has the potential to bring several benefits to WordPress:

  • Less stress for contributors
  • Predictability: People can plan around the release timelines easily
  • No delays as releases are not feature-based

Shortening major releases may prove more challenging for WordPress, which is at a much larger scale than the Gutenberg plugin. The plugin also has the added advantage of being able to manage releases and development on GitHub.

“I think there are a lot of infrastructure problems that need to be solved for WordPress before we could move to a fast, automated release cycle,” Gary Pendergast said.

“Having a major release once a month is achievable, it’s something I’d like us to get to, but the release process is too manual to have multiple releases running at the same time at the moment.”

Jonathan Desrosiers drafted a proposal that summarizes this discussion and outlines some of the manual tasks required for getting a major release out the door. These include time-consuming tasks like Trac gardening, creating a Field Guide, blog posts for the betas, RCs, and official release, documentation updates, videos, dev notes, and other items that are often completed by volunteers.

The 3-4 month release cycles that WordPress had from versions 3.9 – 4.7 allowed for all of the administrative overhead outlined above to be completed in a reasonable amount of time, but the general consensus is that some of these tasks could be more simplified and/or automated.

Desrosiers highlighted several benefits of moving to a shorter major release cycle, including less drastic change for users that might ultimately result in more users being comfortable enabling automatic updates for major releases. Detriments to shortening the release cycle are the increased burden it puts on volunteers as well as theme and plugin developers who need to push compatibility releases. It would also introduce more backporting work for security releases.

Several contributors have left feedback on the post with insight gleaned from other projects’ release scheduling. Jeremy Felt reviewed Firefox’s release owner table that assigns leadership and dates for several releases in advance.

“I think getting to a shorter release cycle in general will involve scheduling multiple releases and assigning their release leads in advance,” Felt said. “So far most of our scheduling is done as soon as the last release has been shipped.”

Joe McGill examined VS Code’s development process and found several similarities to the process he thinks WordPress could adopt in the future:

  1. A long term roadmap (theirs is 6–12 months) outlining major themes and features.
  2. A monthly release cadence based on 4 week sprints which begin with milestone planning and always results in a release of whatever was completed in that monthly iteration.
  3. Regular project triage, with release priorities managed at the team (i.e. Component) level.
  4. Documentation integrated into the development process.
  5. Automated testing of releases and upgrades.
  6. Only important regressions and security issues are handled in minor releases between monthly milestones, everything else is moved forward to the next release (or reprioritized in the backlog).

Several of these points echo feedback from other contributors who have identified documentation integrated into development and automated testing as ways to speed up major release cycles.

“If we don’t have the infrastructure and tooling to support a 1 month cycle, then I think we could attempt a 2 month cycle with a goal towards moving to shorter cycles,” McGill said.

The Gutenberg plugin’s relentless pace of iteration and predictable release cycles have opened up a world of new ideas for improving the process for WordPress core. Discussion around moving the project to shorter, time-based release cycles is still in the preliminary stages. No major changes have been agreed upon yet, but the process of exploring different ideas has put the spotlight on tasks that could afford to be tightened up in the release process. This falls in line with WordPress’ 2019 theme of “tightening up.”

Source: WP Tavern

Gatsby WordPress Themes Project Partners with Theme Shops to Port Popular Themes to Gatsby

Gatsby WordPress Themes is a new collaborative project led by Zac Gordon with help from Jason Bahl, Rich Tabor, Muhammad Muhsin, and Alexandra Spalato. The group is working together to port popular themes for use with Gatsby, the React-based static site generator that uses GraphQL for its data layer.

Known for its performance and ease of deployment, Gatsby has captured developers’ attention and was one of the rising stars of the React ecosystem throughout 2018. Using WordPress as a headless CMS, developers can pull data into Gatsby and enjoy the scalability, speed, and security that comes with serving static files.

Although static site generators have been around for awhile, the current Gatsby craze seems to be rooted in the fact that the project uses React, Webpack, and modern JavaScript and CSS.

“WordPress devs love Gatsby because it lets them throw away the entire old school PHP based WordPress theming system and built sites with React and GraphQL,” Gordon said.

“Gatsby devs are finding a new interest in WordPress because by default you have to edit Gatsby content in Markdown. WordPress gives a much richer editing experience.”

Jason Bahl, creator of the WPGraphQL project, is a technical advisor for the Gatsby WP Themes project. He was inspired to collaborate with the team because he thinks Gatsby has a lot of benefits for WordPress sites.

“The end result of a Gatsby site is a static site with no live Database connection,” Bahl said. “Just HTML and JavaScript files, so performance is better than even the most highly cached WordPress sites, and security is better because there’s no live database connection to be compromised.

“Also, Gatsby is fully React. With Gutenberg in core, WordPress developers are writing a LOT more React. Using Gatsby as the presentation layer for a site allows for components to be re-used across the admin and the theme, where now developers need to create React components for Gutenberg and PHP template partials for the ‘regular’ theme rendering.”

Regular WordPress theme are not immediately compatible with Gatsby, since the entire theme has to be built with React, but developers can use the same styles.

“We are taking a distinctly different direction than the WordPress themes on the Gatsby themes repo currently,” Gordon said. “We are going to base all of our themes on the WP GraphQL plugin. The default Gatsby themes now work on a wrapper on top of the REST API and don’t have live GraphQL endpoints, so they are limited.”

Gatsby WordPress Themes Project Partners with Theme Shops to Offer Free and Commercial Gatsby Themes

The Gatsby WordPress Themes project will offer a combination of free and commercial Gatsby themes. Gordon is partnering with theme shops that are open to his team doing the heavy lifting of porting popular themes over to Gatsby.

“The first two theme partners are Rich Tabor of CoBlocks and ThemeBeans, who is licensing us his super clean and Gutenberg perfect ‘Tabor’ premium theme,” Gordon said. “Then we have Leland Fiegel, a fellow DC WP chap and long time friend, from Themetry. They specialize in themes on, which means they are also battle tested. They have licensed us their great business theme Belmont.”

Gordon said the first versions of the Gatsby themes are targeted towards business and brochure sites that might have a couple pages laid out in Gutenberg and possibly a news/blog section and contact page.

“Since headless sites don’t work with a lot of plugins by default, the V1 of all the themes will be super opinionated and focused (but 100% extendable),” Gordon said.

“The final set of themes are from the WordPress default themes collection. We will have a detailed article showing how we ported the Twenty Nineteen theme over to a Gatsby theme and that will be the first of the default themes we do.”

Although this initiative is aimed at simpler WordPress sites, creating and maintaining a Gatsby site isn’t necessarily going to be well-suited to beginners.

“As far as the target audience, I think any WordPress site that doesn’t have super fast moving content – like the average marketing site or documentation site is perfect for Gatsby,” Bahl said.

“Gatsby does have a ‘Build’ step, where it collects ALL the data needed for the entire site, then outputs the content in the static Gatsby site. So even changing a typo on a post would require the ENTIRE SITE to rebuild, which can take anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, which may not be acceptable for sites that need content live FAST (like a newspaper).

“But for your average WordPress site, waiting two minutes for your changes to be live in production is acceptable. Many heavily cached WordPress sites already experience a delay in content being live anyway.”

Gordon said he doesn’t believe Gatsby is the right fit for all WordPress sites but for certain projects it “can be a really cool approach both in terms of development experience and gains in speed and security.”

The group is aiming to have its first themes released for WordCamp Miami in mid-March and plans to release more as they make new partnerships and see an actual demand. Gordon is actively looking for more theme shops to bring on board.

“Zac will be primarily maintaining the Gatsby themes, though I’ll help where I’m needed,” ThemeBeans founder Rich Tabor said. “We’re still in the very initial stages of development.

“Overall, it’s a super interesting idea. Static site generators are increasing in popularity and Gatsby is pretty much leading the pack in terms of performance and ease-of-use — both of which WordPress is not particularly well-known for (but is making strides to improve).”

Source: WP Tavern

Block Editor Now in Beta for WordPress Mobile Apps

The new Gutenberg block editor that arrived in WordPress 5.0 is now in beta testing on the mobile apps. The editor will be available in version 11.9, which is planned to be released to the public on March 11.

“For this first version, our main focus was to build a pleasant writing experience with support for the most basic types of content,” WordPress mobile engineer Jorge Bernal said.

“Our data showed that 90%+ of the posts created on the mobile apps consisted of basic text and images, so we decided to focus on supporting the Paragraph, Image, and Heading blocks on this version.”

The interface looks similar to using Gutenberg on desktop, but it has been pared back to allow for only the most commonly used blocks and access to simple block settings.

Block editor v1 0 demo FINAL 2019 02 26 08 29 03

The block editor in the Android app feels noticeably slower on mobile than the previous editor. It’s not yet an improvement on the existing mobile editor but it’s still in beta. Even though it’s still rough around the edges, the posting interface is more consistent with what users experience on the desktop. During this transition time, users will retain the ability to use either editor, since the Gutenberg implementation just provides the basics for now.

After version 11.9 rolls out to the apps, users can choose if they want to use the block editor. The app detects which editor a post was created with and will automatically open it when a user attempts to edit a post. Users can manually switch back to the old editor for posts that have blocks by selecting “Switch to Classic Editor” under the ellipses menu. New posts will still use the Classic Editor by default but users can change the default to the block editor by going to Me > App Settings and enabling the “Use Block Editor” option.

After 11.9 is released the team plans to work on UX improvements and bug fixes before moving on to add support for the most common blocks and use cases.

Source: WP Tavern

Gumroad Plugin for WordPress Adds Gutenberg Block for Embedding Products

Gumroad has updated its WordPress plugin to include a Gutenberg block for embedding a product in any page or post. The online platform enables creators, artists, educators, writers, and anyone else to sell their products without having to manage their own e-commerce setup. Gumroad’s WordPress plugin has been available for several years and is now compatible with the new Gutenberg editor.

I tested the block and it works as advertised. It would be nice if the block also provided an optional button style, instead of just a plain link on the frontend.

Gumroad founder and CEO Sahil Lavingia recently published a post titled “Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company” about his journey building Gumroad. The post gained a lot of attention due to Lavingia’s honest and inspiring account of the failures and painful changes he experienced throughout the company’s history. Last year he decided to embrace transparency and began publishing the company’s monthly financials. The post also included a nod to WordPress with Gumroad’s plans to go open source.

“Soon, we’re also planning to open-source the whole product, WordPress-style,” Lavingia said. “Anyone will be able to deploy their own version of Gumroad, make the changes they want, and sell the content they want, without us being the middleman.”

Source: WP Tavern

Block Management Features Proposed for WordPress 5.2

WordPress 5.1 has been downloaded more than 3.6 million times since its release last week and work on 5.2 is now underway. The upcoming release will be led by Matt Mullenweg with Josepha Haden acting as Release Coordinator. Gary Pendergast posted a proposed scope and schedule that would have 5.2 arriving April 23, 2019.

One of the proposed features is block management, the ability for users to hide or turn off blocks that they are not using. An avalanche of blocks is pouring into the WordPress ecosystem, especially with the push to convert core widgets to blocks. Users’ expectations will soon become firmly rooted in the concept of the block interface as widgets slowly become a relic of the past. It’s also quite common for users to install block collections that introduce a dozen or more new blocks when they really only have use for a handful of blocks.

Several standalone plugins already provide block management features, such as Gutenberg Manager and Disable Gutenberg Blocks. They all have different UI’s and approaches to letting users turn off blocks. For example, Gutenberg Manager uses a tabbed interface with checkboxes for disabling core blocks. The Disable Gutenberg Blocks plugin offers an admin screen that is similar to plugin management:

A few block collections have also implemented their own block management features, including Advanced Gutenberg Blocks and CoBlocks. Advanced Gutenberg Blocks adds a screen under its own top level menu for disabling blocks.

CoBlocks recently introduced a block management feature that is one of the more elegant implementations currently available. It adds the block management interface inline with the editor in a modal window, instead of relegating it to its own admin page. It also offers the ability to turn entire categories on/off.

After CoBlocks announced its block management feature, Nick Hamze contended that this should be replicated for WordPress core. His comments received a bit of pushback from Gutenberg technical lead Riad Benguella who sees it as a feature for more advanced users.

“The ability to disable blocks seems pretty basic,” Hamze responded. “Rich didn’t make this feature for fun. Regular users (not advanced ones or developers) asked for this. He made it to solve a problem that real users are having. You are telling me that more regular users will use the Amazon Kindle Embed Block (that is being baking into 5.1) than would like the ability to turn off blocks they don’t want to use.”

Last week when I spoke to Benguella about the possibility of block management capabilities being included in core sometime in the future, he said it wasn’t an immediate priority for the project.

“Block management is not an immediate focus in the Gutenberg roadmap and is considered plugin territory, but we keep close attention to the work done in the community and adapt in case user research and suggestions that bring value for the majority of users,” Benguella said. “My personal opinion for the moment is that, these are advanced features not required by every user of WordPress.

“That said, it’s important to enable plugin developers to implement more block management features, and one important piece of the puzzle here is the work we’re doing right now to improve the block registration and discovery both using REST APIs, PHP helpers and JavaScript APIs.”

The project’s priorities seem to have changed since that time, as block management is now a strong consideration for WordPress 5.2. Thousands of users have already installed a plugin that includes these kinds of capabilities, a good indication that there is a demand for this. As everything in the plugin ecosystem gradually moves towards blocks, it will be easy for users to get inundated by the many blocks available in the editor. Plugins are currently answering users’ needs with many different UI’s for turning blocks on/off. It’s clear that WordPress core needs to lead the way by providing a standard UI for block management.

In recent #core-editor chats Benguella said he has some concerns regarding the short time frame for the newly proposed block management feature, but is starting initial explorations of what the first iteration may look like in WordPress 5.2.

“So in addition to the currently shipped enhancements and the work done on the widget blocks, there has been a bunch of requests and feedback suggesting the need for a block management solution and block directory work,” Benguella said. “This is actually proposed for 5.2 and something we need to start thinking about and exploring the existing possibilities.”

Pendergast referenced CoBolocks’ implementation in his 5.2 scope and schedule post as an example of how plugin developers have approached block management.

“We weren’t the first by far, but I’d argue it’s clearly the best experience,” CoBlocks author Rich Tabor said. “I built it because folks have been asking for just that, and I wanted to deliver a much better experience than asking them to go to a WP admin page elsewhere. I’d love to see something like the Block Manager in core and am available to help out in any way I can.”

Other proposed features for WordPress 5.2 include the Site Health Check plugin, PHP error protection, and package signing for updates. The first beta is expected March 14, 2019, and RC 1 is slated for April 10, 2019.

Source: WP Tavern

Ecwid E-Commerce Plugin Adds Gutenberg Support, Focuses on Small Businesses to Compete with WooCommerce

Ecwid’s e-commerce plugin for WordPress is now fully integrated with the Gutenberg editor. The cloud-based store builder, pronounced “eck-wid,” is short for e-commerce widgets, but the service has fully embraced blocks in its latest releases.

The new default Storefront block comes pre-installed and embeds the entire Ecwid store on a page, including product listing, filters, navigation, and checkout. It provides a quick way for a new seller to get everything working without having to do anything besides add the plugin. Inside the block sidebar, the seller can tweak the storefront’s appearance, including thumbnails, page layout, colors, and other settings. The short screencast below shows the block in action and part of it was featured during Matt Mullenweg’s State of the Word address in December 2018.

Ecwid also has a new Single Product block with a buy now button. It enables sellers to select a product and display it as a card with an image, title, and buy now button. This is convenient for using inside a blog post without having to open the whole storefront.

The team behind Ecwid is working on adding more Gutenberg blocks, despite having only a small fraction of their customers using WordPress. The company has more than 1.5 million customers running stores in 175 countries, but only 1.3% (20,000) are using WordPress. Even with so few active installations of the company’s WordPress plugin, Ecwid has its sights set on competing with WooCommerce, the most dominant player in this spacee. Last year at WordCamp Moscow, Ecwid Product Manager Matvey Kuritsyn gave a presentation titled “Why does anyone need a WooCommerce alternative?” Much of the company’s strategy is outlined in the slides from that presentation.

“We are focusing on small businesses and resolving their problems — where WooCommerce is weak,” Ecwid Marketing Manager Kseniya Pinkova said. She identified a few ways that Ecwid is working to differentiate itself from competitors:

  • Ecwid is easy-to-use. Developers can set it up very quickly, but also the end users can do that themselves. 75% of Ecwid installations on WordPress are made by the end users, not developers.
  • With Ecwid, everything is in the cloud, which means we handle updates, security patches, backups, huge loads ourselves (with no actions required on the user side).
  • Ecwid is secure, it’s PCI DSS Level 1 certified – a bank level of security.
  • Ecwid works with any hosting (even the cheapest and crappiest ones) even if you have 10,000 products in your store.
  • Ecwid provides customers support by email, chat, and phone.

This level of security, support, and maintenance is only available for WooCommerce via a managed solution like or Liquid Web, but sellers may still struggle with setup and customization due to the vast number of options and integrations available. Ecwid is focusing on its strengths as a SaaS-only solution to target small businesses in the WordPress space, instead of trying to replicate all the features that the dominant plugins already have.

The company started in 2009 and has a distributed team of 160 people who work in development, IT, operations, support, content, and business development.

“The WordPress plugin is technically a separate application (because Ecwid is a cloud solution, SaaS), and it appeared in 2009 as well,” Pinkova said. “But everything is interconnected — when a new featured is released in Ecwid, WordPress plugin users see it appear in their stores as well and can use it even without updating their WordPress plugin. For example, we rolled out new in-house Product Filters last week and they are now available for all Ecwid users, including those using WordPress. Some other features touch the WordPress plugin code — for example, some SEO enhancements involve both robust cloud part (API) and changes on the plugin side. The Gutenberg block is a good example of a third kind of Ecwid feature — it mostly resides in the plugin and it’s great to see how it improves the experience of our WordPress user base segment specifically.”

Ecwid’s roadmap for 2019 includes tighter integration with Facebook and Instagram, an in-house multilingual catalog, and marketing features to help small businesses find their customers. Because the WordPress plugin essentially hooks up the cloud-based solution, many of the features and improvements on Ecwid’s general roadmap for all platforms will be automatically available whenever they roll out.

“Regarding our WordPress plugin, the main thing for us is Gutenberg,” Pinkova said. “We’re very excited about it, we’re looking forward to new features Gutenberg is going to provide, and working on our plugin to make sure we’re making those available and easy-to-use for Ecwid sellers.”

Source: WP Tavern

WordPress 5.1 Improves Editor Performance, Encourages Users to Update Outdated PHP Versions

image credit: National Jazz Museum in Harlem

WordPress 5.1 “Betty” was released today, honoring American jazz singer Betty Carter. This is the first major release since Gutenberg came into core. As part of WordPress’ 2019 “tighten up” theme, this release was focused on improving performance in the editor and helping users update outdated versions of PHP.

WordPress 5.0 had been downloaded more than 35 million times prior to 5.1’s release. Users who have adopted the block editor will notice that it is much more responsive and writing posts should feel smoother. WordPress 5.1 includes the performance improvements from Gutenberg 4.8 – faster page initialization time, improved typing performance, and optimization of various background processes.

This release introduces new features from the Site Health project. WordPress will now detect if a site is running on an insecure, outdated version of PHP and display a notice in the dashboard with information about how to update PHP. It also includes checks for PHP version compatibility with plugins. WordPress 5.1+ will prevent users from installing plugins that require newer versions of PHP than they have running.

This release also introduces a medley of miscellaneous improvements under the hood for developers, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • New database table to store metadata associated with multisite networks
  • Updated Cron API with new functions to assist with returning data, new filters for modifying cron storage
  • New JavaScript build processes
  • Updates to values for the WP_DEBUG_LOG constant
  • Improved taxonomy metabox sanitization

WordPress 5.1 was led by Matt Mullenweg with help from Gary Pendergast and 561 contributors. Approximately 41% (231 people) were new contributors to the project.

Source: WP Tavern

WPWeekly Episode 346 – Cancer Sucks

In this episode, John James Jacoby and I reflect on Alex Mill’s latest blog post where he announced that he’s ending his battle with Leukemia. We highlight some of the impacts he’s had on people’s lives and the contributions he’s made to open-source software.

Stories Discussed:

Leukemia Has Won

Alex’s WordPress Plugins

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, February 27th 3:00 P.M. Eastern

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Listen To Episode #346:

Source: WP Tavern

The State of CSS 2019 Survey is Now Open

The makers of the annual State of JavaScript survey have launched a new survey for developers who work with CSS. In September 2018, Sacha Greif and his collaborators sent out the State of JS survey for the third year running but dropped the CSS libraries category in favor of keeping it from getting too long. The new State of CSS survey takes up this category and expands upon it.

The success of the State of JS survey has brought valuable information to the industry for developers, employers, startups, project maintainers, and even those who are just beginning their coding journey and wondering which frameworks are worth learning. The 2018 State of JS survey received more than 20,000 responses. Results showed that React was once again the most popular front-end framework and Vue.js received the highest satisfaction rating. The detailed results are influential in helping framework maintainers know how the development community perceives their projects.

The new survey for CSS developers was created to help identify the latest trends in the rapidly changing CSS landscape. It includes the following topics:

  • CSS Features – Grid, Flexbox…
  • Tools – preprocessors, frameworks…
  • Environments – Browsers, devices…
  • Resources – Blogs, podcasts…
  • Opinions – How you feel about CSS
  • About You – Experience, salary…

The State of CSS Survey is powered by Typeform and all questions are optional. It is quick to scroll through and can take as little as 10 minutes to complete. Participants can leave their email to be notified when results are published.

Source: WP Tavern

New Wapuu Dashboard Pet Plugin Displays WordPress Site Health

Wapuu Dashboard Pet is a new plugin from Kayleigh Thorpe and the team at WordPress hosting company It is essentially a WordPress Tamagotchi, or digital pet, that resides in your dashboard and monitors the health of the site.

The plugin checks to make sure WordPress has been updated (plugins, themes, and core) and backups have run. Wapuu’s appearance will change based on these factors. Thorpe used her illustration skills to create the images, which indicate if wapuu is feeling dead, happy, sad, sick, or very sick. The threshold for a dead wapuu is 10+ updates. The example below is a “very sick” wapuu on a site with five or more updates pending.

After updating, the happy and healthy wapuu is displayed, as shown below.

The Wapuu Dashboard Pet is featured at the bottom of every page in the admin. It also comes with an option to enable weekly email notifications that will only send if wapuu is feeling sick (has one or more updates available). This feature can help site administrators who don’t log into their dashboards very often, resulting in more updated and secure WordPress sites.

The plugin is currently very effective in its simplicity but there are a lot of interesting features that its authors could add. It could be set up to check for PHP and MySQL versions, similar to what the Health Check plugin offers. It would also be useful if wapuu could detect whether or not any of the necessary updates are security-related, which might inspire administrators to act faster on the emails. There may be other useful applications for forks of this plugin, such as a wapuu that helps bloggers stay on track with their monthly posting goals.

When wapuu is feeling unwell, the image displayed is a pathetic-looking creature that appears to have been left out in the rain. Wapuu-conscious site admins will not be able to look at that image in the dashboard without feeling the need to improve wapuu’s condition. These visual indicators of site health may be just the type of prompt necessary for admins who have been desensitized to WordPress’ many update notifications.

Source: WP Tavern

Yoast CEO Responds to #YoastCon Twitter Controversy, Calls for Change in the SEO Industry

Yoast CEO Marieke van de Rakt published a post yesterday, addressing the controversy that dominated the #YoastCon hashtag on Twitter in the days leading up the the event. Several parties from the SEO industry began circulating old tweets, along unsavory videos depicting Joost de Valk partying with promotional models. de Valk issued a public apology on Twitter before YoastCon officially kicked off.

In her post, titled “Let’s create a more female-friendly world!”, van de Rakt characterized the incident as an attack and cited examples of how Yoast is actively working to improve the position of women:

We were all hurt. We really don’t understand why the company Yoast is being attacked, why the #yoastcon is being used for something the person Joost did 10 years ago. Our company and our company culture is nothing like the tweets imply.

van de Rakt also referenced a post from Gisele Navarro, a woman who has been working in the SEO industry for 10 years.

“I totally agree with Gisele that the SEO industry was not welcoming to women ten years ago,” van de Rakt said. “And although some things may have changed, I still think that the SEO industry has a long way to go. I also think that the problem is much bigger than the SEO industry.”

After the tweets and videos began circulating on the #YoastCon hashtag, the @yoast Twitter account was quietly scrubbed of potentially offensive tweets. The total tweet count for the account was 44.1K on January 31, 2019.

On February 8, 2019, the account’s total tweets were slashed to 10.7K. Approximately 33,000 tweets have been deleted in the wake of this controversy.

Some of the tweets were still available via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine during the height of the controversy and screenshots were shared widely.

One recipient of the tweets, Lisa Barone, dismissed them as “friends being stupid,” but de Valk’s wife, Marieke van de Rakt, admitted in her recent post that the tweets and videos were hurtful to her. Since the tweets were public, many onlookers said they felt uncomfortable reading these types of interactions within a professional context.

Navarro’s post described how the tweets made her feel as an outside onlooker working in the male-dominated SEO industry:

I don’t know the story behind the ‘friendly and consensual sexual banter’ (as someone called it) of those tweets so I’ve got zero context on how the conversations led to Joost saying things like:

‘I bet you’d look good, even when pregnant ;-)’

‘Ahem, why are you not naked indeed?’

‘Nothing beats a yummy young mummy :)’

When I read those tweets, that was all I could think of – Decades of obscenities been pushed on me by men who thought that was normal, acceptable behavior.

I thought about how much it would have crushed me back then if someone I respected were to have said something like that to me. I wondered if I would still be part of the SEO community had that happened.

I imagined how would I have felt if before or after that tweet, I were to have been an attendee at SEOktoberfest surrounded by Playboy escorts who touched themselves looking at the camera while I was having a beer in a corner, trying to network my way to a job interview at an agency I loved.

After the tweets and videos began to get attention on the #YoastCon hashtag, many in the SEO industry dismissed the content as an attack orchestrated by trolls who they alleged are also guilty of harassment. Several spoke out against David Cohen in particular, who had originally started the controversy by unearthing the old content, describing him as the person behind other troll accounts known for sending harassing tweets.

Regardless of how the old content came to light on Twitter, both Joost de Valk and Yoast CEO Marieke van de Rakt have admitted that the tweets and videos are indefensible and not representative of their company’s current push to empower women.

Navarro’s post calls readers to look at the tweets and videos from the perspective of someone working in the SEO industry, wondering if they should attend conferences after seeing leaders and role models behaving in a way:

To those of you who are defending the SEO personality that is Joost: remove the so-called SEO trolls and #YoastCon from the picture, go through the tweets and ask yourself how would YOU feel if someone you look up to says those things to you on a public forum. Would you feel comfortable attending a conference knowing this person would be there? Would you want him to be your boss? Would you feel safe around this person? Would you have anybody to talk to about what happened and how you felt? Would you even bring it up?

The #YoastCon Twitter controversy has had the positive effect of highlighting behavior and public communication styles that need to be addressed in order to create a more welcoming and diverse SEO industry. In spite of the recent challenges, van de Rakt said she is hopeful that her company can continue working towards creating “an atmosphere at conferences that is friendly for all people, regardless of their gender.” On this Navarro and van de Rakt both agree – the conditions for women working in the SEO industry are ripe for improvement.

Source: WP Tavern