Wordcamp for Publishers 2017 Recap

Unfortunately, I did not attend WordCamp for Publishers. However, I’ve been reading the recaps, so here are my notes.

7 Highlights from the First-Ever WordCamp for Publishers

The 7 highlights are:

  • Distributed Content
  • Newsletters make money
  • Get involved with Gutenberg
  • Introducing a newsroom to WordPress
  • We love Denver
  • Exploring Publisher Tools
  • Let’s do this again next year

Distributed Content

The talk mentioned sounds really interesting. I think about distribution channels a lot, but my efforts are leaning towards social web protocols, like ActivityPub and Webmentions. I am particularly interested in how WordPress can support these protocols.

Made a quest to watch all the videos from the event.

Newsletters make money, but at what cost?

Will need to watch the video to answer my question: can you make money with a newsletter that dignifies people? Can it be done without surveillance and profiling?


A lot of folks still don’t know about Gutenberg… I wonder if it even registers outside of the WP dev circles. It has the potential to be very disruptive… okay, quest for a deep dive into Gutenberg.

Introducing a newsroom to WordPress

Now this would have been useful to attend! I’d love to know more about how WP was introduced to newsrooms. Introducing new systems to groups is part of my ikigai, I am sure.

Also, that status update about Tribune Broadcasting is amazing: “they support 1800 editorial users and produce 42,000 stories a month.”


Denver seems dope. I’d love to visit. Colorado seems like a cool state.

Publisher Tools

List of tools mentioned:

  • wp-cli - The hammer in my toolbox
  • WPGraphQL - quest to check it out
  • VoiceWP - Interacts with Alexa. I am not going to build anything for Alexa, but the tech in general interests me.
  • Largo (and plugins) - The last time I took a close look at Largo was when we migrated Oakland Local from Drupal to WordPress. We ended up passing at that time, but the project really picked up since then. While it is journalism-focused, my experience with editorial teams in a variety of companies shows it to be the same workflow; Largo deserves more research.

Next year

I skipped this because I didn’t know how much journalism work I would be doing moving forward, but this was still generalized enough that it would have been very useful. Planning on attending next year!

Also, the Bay Area has been lax on the WordCamps since SF became US. So let’s the WordCamp for Publishers next year!

WordCamp for Publishers 2017 (recap by Maura Teal)

Among the list of “solution-based discussions”, the two I will be on the lookout for at:

  • Recommendation engines for related content - I’ve been thinking about this in the context of indexing multiple sites for a type of internal network effect. Think of those annoying “Related content on the Web” blocks after otherwise normal news articles. I work on projects that often have multiple, discrete web projects, and I’d like to start sharing their search indices.
  • Continuous integration - I have been deep diving into CI for about a year, and I’d love to see how it applies to either WordPress or journalism.

My primary takeaway was that there certainly needs to be more WordCamps of this kind… that is, focused on a niche but still rooted in community.

I’d love to see this happen as well, but that means niches are going to make it hard for geographically diverse communities to take advantage. I would personally like to see more interesting meetups, for just about everything, but especially different WordPress facets.

Gutenberg and Publishers: unconference notes from WordCamp for Publishers

Intros via meta box

Almost the entire room had at least 5 custom meta boxes on the editor screen, over two thirds had at least 10 custom meta boxes, and a few had more than 20. The vast majority used custom taxonomies, many of which had at least one using a UI other than the default taxonomy UI.

Whaaaat?! That is a lot of custom meta. I’d love to poll that group, to know how they are adding custom meta to their content… so I’ll create such a poll.

Publishing company challenges with the editor

Truncated list:

  • Long form layouts - I think this is about creating long pages, and having to compare how it looks at different breakpoints, but I am unsure.
  • Saving experience - I’ve wondered about this, as it compares to the current edit workflow of editorial teams, especially if they use something like Edit Flow.
  • Collaborative editing - Integrating content creation with other tools outside of WordPress.
  • Previews - Not just the single post, but how it renders in other views, like taxonomy lists.

Most important customizations

There is a comprehensive list there, but the gist is: validation and metadata.

Validation in this sense is what I mean when I talk about structured data; I constantly wish lists of content had more structure so I could sort and filter it. If Gutenberg ends up making that user-friendly, it will be a big deal. Use cases that come to mind:

  • Using existing metadata for authors, rather than letting them choose their own; this sounds un-fun, but think about plural versus singular terms, or a new author with no idea of how a taxonomy ought to work.
  • Listings of all sorts! Jobs, housing, events, status updates (for services, like uptime). Having a front-end interface to just fill in those details would be great.
  • Collaborative storytelling/gaming. When to insert a piece of content, and how, those are useful prompts for the interface.

New validation hooks

  • Make it easier to make beautiful posts than ugly posts
  • Associate content types in a useful way
  • Per context, content. This splits it between “web, mobile, and print”, but I am not sure what the means; are they producing their print copy in WordPress, prior to a physical print run?
  • “One opportunity Gutenberg might have is less developercentric and more journalistic is, so if you decide on an atomic unit of writing called the Block, you could annotate this.” This reminds me of WikiTribune, which proposes tying the source directly to stories. I had presumed they would use MediaWiki, but maybe not…
  • The last point and sub-list draw out an interesting content OS scenario based around the editor. It bundles feedback mechanisms with task creation, for the specific workflow. It is really great, but I wonder if it isn’t an advanced superset of Gutenberg add-ons that would add that.

Data storage

I believe this refers to the settings in the editor, and talks to the fact that the content created with it may not end up on the site where the editor is installed.

Misc. thoughts

  • Prototype support for WPGraphQL for Gutenberg - fine, I’ll look into GraphQL now.
  • Gutenberg leans towards front end editing - I thought that was the point…
  • Contextual rendering for shortcode - this makes me nervous, because embedding content feeds directly into surveillance, and encouraging publishers to take more advantage of that anti-feature is going to make it harder to correct behavior.
  • Posts are three pieces of content - I can’t speak to having a canonical source of content, and changing it between contexts, because that is an odd setup to me. It makes me wonder if WordPress is more suitable for print production that I thought.
  • Task work forms - I am not sure this is the place to include these; it seems like a better place would be in an ideation or story lead section, which an editor can then assign to a reporter, or similar.
  • Adaptive posts change fields available - I’d love that! But I have no idea what it looks like. Jorbin makes a point about them not being “post types” in the WordPress sense, but it certainly could be. And if not, then we really need to know how folks are making their meta.
  • Two ideas: rules/practices built into a block, and listing preferred conditions.
  • AMP versus mobile - Ugh, this bugs me. AMP is an anti-feature on the web, so we shouldn’t be accomadating that at all. Instead, the editor should encourage cutting out cruft before it is created.

Jorbin’s closing thoughts

A “Block Council” was discussed, to collaborate so there aren’t multiple versions of the same blocks floating around. That seems like a good idea to me. In fact, I hope a lot of folks are more involved in Gutenberg, it could be a game-changer.

Also, props out to the folks captioning the event, which is seriously cool. I wish we had captioning for everything. Everything!

WordCamp for Publishers: Taking in Denver’s natural beauty and some baseball.

The first part of this goes over the various locations events surrounding the conference were held. I love these kinds of write-ups, and I’ve long thought they should be published prior to an event.

I’d like to create something like that for various venues in Oakland, because you can point out hidden gems like community spaces and locally-owned companies.

The Complete Introduction to WP-CLI

Presented with Daniel Bachhuber, primary maintainer of WP-CLI.

It was a pleasure to guide people though the steps and know that each person left the room with a working installation of the PHP based WP management tooling.

Huh. Did they install it locally, on their laptops? Or did everyone come there with a WordPress instance ready?

I was forutnate to use Drush, so when WP-CLI was created I knew exactly what it was for. And it is getting better everyday, with more plugins building integrations (Gravity Form CLI is about to hit a stable release).

Make a Statement: Using React to Create Content-rich Articles on WordPress

This included a case study, but I am not personally interested in it. Why? Because doing neat and interesting things with a Javascript framework is a distraction from the underlying issues with journalism sites, and many others: they track people, but point to a shiny widget.

McDaniel links to such a widget, but it loads scripts from five domains in addition to its own. Not cool.

Distribute All The Things: WordPress & The Era of Multiple Content Channels

There are raw notes here, very useful and I wish everyone posted these.

Despite the title, I don’t think this was as “radical” as embracing the social web standards.

Open web has turned to crap and we can do better but same thing

Would love to know what that is about.

Monetize All The Things: How Condé Nast Profits From Multiple Channels

I learned that wired properties are why we have both banner ads and Apache servers as the standard. So thanks, I guess.

As in Wired. McDaniels recommends watching the video of this session when it goes online, and I am definitely going to watch for this anecdote.

Alternative Hacks: WordPress Security From the Outside Looking In

This session seems like a valuable lesson for everyone hosting WordPress sites. I know folks that can do the five-minute install with their eyes closed, but couldn’t secure any other web app, and that is dangerous.

I should start hosting this discussion, just to get it in folks’ minds. Provisioning hosting for a partner is mostly putting all the systems into place and then monitoring them to ensure they stay safe, but this is hidden from my hosted folks.

It is the same as when I was a security guard years ago. If I was doing my job, no one noticed. But physical security can still make sense to a stakeholder, even if it isn’t at the top of a list. Web security is complicated, and outside the knowledge domain for most folks.

In McDaniel’s raw notes there is mention of JAMstack, and I honestly wonder if it wouldn’t be better for us to start deploying WordPress in “headless” mode, serving content over the REST API, and focusing on securing the core CMS system. But that setup is just not practical for the majority of site operators at this point.

Note: I going to return to the rest of this recap as the videos are released. McDaniel went to a bunch of sessions and took lots of notes. Very awesome!