How is WordPress.com made?

One of my favorite shows is How It’s Made. I love seeing how things I use every day are actually created. In that spirit, here at Automattic we’ve thought about sharing more about how we work and think. For starters, here’s a recap on a few things.

Where are we? Everywhere.

People are surprised to learn we are a distributed company. Most of our employees live in different cities and countries around the world. We have a headquarters in San Francisco, but most of our employees are elsewhere. This means we are working round the clock and we’re informed by many cultures, places, and cuisines (we like food).

How do we work?

Toni, our CEO, has written about the advantages of distributed work before. We are a publishing and services company, and we passionately believe in the power of blogs as group communication tools. We use a WordPress theme called P2 for much of our internal communication, and they function as a combination of specifications, bug reports, brainstorms, watercooler chats, and more. You can read Matt’s take on how P2s changed the company (includes of a video of P2 in action).

Everyone at Automattic is organized into a team of 5-10 people, each team focused on different areas. For example, I’m the lead for Team Social, and we work on improving things like comments, publicizing posts to social networks, and other features. We have teams for Systems, Themes, VIP services, and more.

On a daily basis, everyone works with high autonomy. We do this by choice, since we’re distributed by time as well as distance. We use P2s, IRC chat, and Skype to communicate, picking the right medium depending on how time sensitive a message is. One surprise is how little we use email. I’ve been at Automattic for 7 months and have received only a couple hundred emails, many from people outside the company.

How are new features and improvements made?

A high percentage of improvements come entirely from the WordPress.org community, the open source project WordPress.com is based on.

Here at Automattic we implement, test, and release changes to WordPress.com dozens of times a day. We do it with love, trying to make it so you don’t always know why, but definitely feel your blog gets better and better all the time.

Each team works differently, but each developer, working with a team lead and a designer, decides what changes to make and when to release them. Bigger projects like VaultPress require the work of a dedicated team for weeks or months. Other things like bug fixes or minor features are often finished in days or hours.

We get ideas from many different places. Our stellar Happiness Team constantly reviews issues and discovers ways to make things better, and they’re one primary source for what to work on next. But we also keep lots of data on which features get used, and where it seems people have problems. As a result, every day on our blogs many ideas get pitched, sketched, and prototyped. As productive as we are, we only get to a fraction of them. But when we do ship something, we get feedback instantly on what we’ve done, and often respond quickly to small things we missed, or realize didn’t work quite right, despite our best efforts.

What’s next?

We hope to share more about how we work, and how we think about the future of the web. We have opinions and ideas to share.

If we do this, what would you like to know? No promises, but we’ll sneak around here behind the scenes and see what we can do.


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228 Comments

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  1. Cup-noodle

    It is funny. And i want to be your stuff too. But i don’t live in San Francisco. Thank you for the share.

    Like

  2. frizztext

    congrats! If Gutenberg had known this …
    http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/gutenberg/#comment-961
    back-link

    Like

  3. Gaurav Happy Tiwari

    You guys won my heart. This post inspired me to blog more and more. You all are extremely dedicated to your works (and to your users), then why should not I? Good stuffs.

    Like

  4. arierahayu

    Wow it’s cool! My friends and I are trying to publish an online accounting magazine right now and we are distributed too. What is the most important thing that make your teamwork goes well?

    Like

  5. Charlousie

    I would like to know, why, when and from whom wordpress.com was founded 🙂

    Like

  6. adonis49

    Excellent reminder for transparent work. Maybe it is time to “distribute” readers for published posts, many readers to evaluate and analyze the flood of posts you receive. You should not rely on one person to selecting the “best posts” of the day. A lead team for “readers of posts” must be instituted to valuing what is being published and recognize the publishers. Why a picture must be attached for a post to be of value?

    Like

  7. deempal

    Nice and very informative .

    Like

  8. putignanonelmirino

    I can never thank you enough for the exciting atmosphere of professionalism shines through in everything you do…
    greetings from a rainy Apulia, Italy

    Like

  9. Funky Asian Diva

    I love that same show,”How things are made!” I am a Newbie to WP and excited to see where blogging will take me. Thanks for giving me an inside peek!

    Like

  10. Red

    do you have employee from asia?

    Like

  11. loretta2

    Love this article…and would love to hear anything and everything about the behind the scenes operations. WordPress is the best and I love how easy and open it is. The more open the better! Thanks for all y’all do!

    Like

  12. Sandra Hanks

    I would like to know where, geographically, my hits are coming from, much like the insights on facebook fan pages work.

    Like

  13. glutenfreegranary

    Thank-you for personalizing WordPress with your article. Although I haven’t done much on my personal site I am currently working diligently on developing a site for our newspaper at work. It is refreshing to know there are live humans out there in cyberspace.

    Like

  14. squeezedwords

    you guys impress and inspire me more often than not

    Like

  15. د. عماد واصف

    U r everywhere bt u forgot Africa , u forgot Egypt

    Like

  16. Pingback: How is WordPress.com made? — Matt Mullenweg
  17. spiritsonfire

    Very positive post. Thanks for all that you do.

    Like

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  19. TelBitConsulting

    Since I write a blog ( http://telbitconsulting.wordpress.com ) about video conferencing and collaboration…I was wondering if I could write a quick “Case Study” on how you work remotely….hopefully, video conferencing is involved (I did not see it mentioned, but, I may have missed it). ???

    Like

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  21. universobeisbol

    May WordPress continue its incredible work, providing their sensational themes and options to bloggers.
    I personally have grown very fond of the Coraline Theme, the Enterprise, Pilcrow and the newly released Duster, which I am currently using. I miss some of the features of one theme when I start using the other, yet, one thing is more than certain: any time a new theme is released, I grow more impressed.
    I can’t do anything but congratulate you for your amazing work, and thank you for giving me and the other millions of users the opportunity to speak our minds and hearts out.
    Thank you

    Like

  22. sirrealbrucecohen

    We have enjoyed are experience so far writing sir real bruce cohen blog. Trying to work on the journalistic skills and get out and cover events, and try to make sure the blog is truthful and not made up. Although it is sir real journalism the players involved go throughout the world and cover real stories to the best of there ability. We look forward to continuing the journey and maybe even going a step further in working with some print magazines and other media outlets. Thanks again from Bruce, Kenny Sommer, Ted, Idfin, Weather, Feather, Heather, Team Sommer camp and Sommer fantasy, the new Shana and you the wordpress.

    Like

  23. Valentine Bonnaire

    I love WordPress. It was great to read this post, too! It’s amazing how your company runs itself and the tools that you use for that, to me — the upgrades that I have seen over the course of using your tools are seamless. The design of the blogs themselves, beautiful. Thank you WordPress — and you said “code is poetry” — I read that once. Well, what you have designed is like poetry for the user? Or harmony? Like that! Plus, the fact that your blogs can be translated is fantastic to me. Sometimes the search strings amaze me, behind the scenes. And times when a foreign word arrives?
    I use Google translator! Amazing — and the best place ever for a writer or an artist. Bliss, actually!

    Like

  24. AlvinkY

    As a media studies aficionado, let me just say Kudos for your work and, really, thank you all for making WP such a valuable asset for youth journalism. All the best!

    Like

  25. rashmikamath

    good to know 🙂

    Like

  26. bimandriver

    nice info !

    Like

  27. eof737

    I have always loved the transparency WordPress offers to subscribers.
    You guys/gals are constantly pushing the edges of innovation and I am proud of y’all! Rock on! 🙂
    Eliz

    Like

  28. spirax02

    im a newbie here also,just finding my way around at the moment, it was interesting reading how you operate.havent figured out what a happiness engineer is yet but i’ll keep looking.

    Like

  29. olga0207

    Thank you for you cooperation. This post was informative and stimulating for me.

    Like

  30. Nemcy

    Thank you for sharing and making WordPress. Keep up being the user-friendliness blog (and the website design/development) *wink*

    Like

  31. lochielbute

    Loved reading the bios of all you guys – poses a question though. How do you decide who has a ‘lovely wife’ and who has just a ‘wife’?

    Like

  32. barmolino

    WordPress Is The Biggest And The Best Team which like we see is everywhere in the World Map 😉
    Keep walking and doing the same thinks Guy You are the Greatest.
    I can say WordPress is the Most Used CMS + Plugins and Themes in The World Because with WordPress you dont have limiteds you can create any kind of Website just you need imagination
    Great Job guys
    Keep Walking

    Like

  33. j4na

    do you put the people in indonesia also??

    Like

  34. AKHMAD SUDRAJAT

    Thank you for your hard work.
    I am proud to be a part community of wordpress.

    Like

  35. george-b

    You guys rock: Two months ago I had no knowledge of the website concept, except for visiting other people’s. I got my first website up and running in few hours, got to understand the terminology, and was up on my feet in no time. Now I got visitors from around the world, even from Egypt, and other places that are closed to the internet exploration. I have more than 3,200 visits, and am happy I can keep so many people interested.
    So, these accolades go to each and every one of you,

    Thank you All at Automattic, for opening the door to this admirable adventure: The Worlpress !

    Like

  36. marinablades

    I’m a newbie as well and I love what I have discovered so far. I have a lot to learn and I’m sure that your team will help me through the hurdles. Thanks for all of your hard work.

    Like

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  39. LindaLou

    Very informative post. We know for sure now there are real people doing all these different and fascinating things. I enjoy blogging with WordPress. It takes more work to be good at it than I imagined, but I really appreciate all you all do to make it as easy as possible and fun. I’m sure I can come up with many things I’d like to know more about. Just give me a minute or two.

    Like

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  42. usingnix

    Thanks for the insight into Automatic and our beloved wordpress.com !!
    It truly is an exceptional blogging experience with wordpress !!

    All the best for 2011 and years to come !!

    Like

  43. Partite Calcio Gratis

    sorry, someone working for you in Italy?

    Like

  44. wawy

    oh yeah, i see you work fine organized… i was talking about a bug you have in wp (actually that’s bad programming), and you didn’t fix that yet… helllooo

    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/comments-are-not-sorted-in-order-by-date-and-time-why?replies=19#post-509314

    Like

  45. Pingback: How is WordPress.com made? (via WordPress.com News) « randyrainism
  46. papundits

    I like this P2 for communicating with other writers on our blog. We are also separated by time zones. We are just now setting this up and testing. So far it’s fantastic!
    Thank you!
    —ed

    Like

  47. nusetendo

    build and work together for a brighter future

    Like

  48. Damon

    I’m not seeing anyone from Hawaii represented on the map?

    Like

  49. Pingback: How is WordPress.com made? (via WordPress.com News) « togelsulawesi
  50. YoungtimerBlog

    articles like that really help loving your software even more!

    Like

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  52. makeitmoney

    There is know doubt that the team is in-fact looking ahead for the interest of all.
    Thanks WP team

    Like

  53. quantifymeimmeasurably

    I’ll be an unofficial member of the Happiness Team in comments, support, well wishes, and good thots;)

    Like

  54. Summer

    cool i never knew that!

    Like

  55. Karen Butler

    I have always loved WordPress because I am not a geek, I am a writer, and just like to keep that side simple, and you all made it so easy for me to set my cherished blog up, and I get to hone my writing chops, and after a year of weekly posts, I know my writing is better!

    Bur after regularly communicating with some others in my community via Blogger lately, and dealing with its ridiculously cumbersome commenting apparatus, I am so grateful for what I have. I am in awe of WordPress, now. I’d love some more looks behind the scenes. It is fascinating, the processess you describe–my husband, a manufacturing engineer calls it “Kaizen” or continuous improvement. It is lovely to look at when it is done in the collegial atmosphere that seems to friendily exude from you all.Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Like

  56. Pingback: Teamwork Tips | Teamworking in Large Organisations – Teamwork Tips
  57. Addison

    I love WordPress. Thank you for making all of this possible.

    Like

  58. David Williams

    Interesting, keep up the great work guys!!

    Like

  59. chandrapzm

    Great. How about Indonesia. As i know, many Indonesian use wordpress as their blog hosting 🙂

    Like

  60. herukohe234

    wonderfull world! since i join with you i feel new spirit in my life. i come from indonesia, yogyakarta, live in kampong. the most important for me is i can improve my english wrting even many mistake in many point in writing, spelling, grammer etc. so, day by day i will learn how to write an article or just just give comment. i thank you

    Like

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  63. wpmag.com - WordPress News, Themes, Tutorials, Plugins, Questions, ...

    How is WordPress.com made? – Blog – WordPress.com…

    One of my favorite shows is How It’s Made. I love seeing how things I use every day are actually created. In that spirit, here at Automattic we’ve thought about sharing more about how we work and think. For starters, here’s a recap on a few things…….

    Like

  64. Elyas Mulu Kiros

    How come you have no presence in Africa? Apparently there are lots of African bloggers and computer techies that hail from there, I just don’t see your presence there, not even in one country. I feel underrepresented as usual 😦 … you wrote: “we are working round the clock and we’re informed by many cultures, places, and cuisines (we like food).” … you are definitely missing big time by excluding Africa from your equation. I can’t help it, but criticize you on that; call me Afro nationalist if you want. 🙂 … other than that I love wordpress! you guys rock!

    Like

  65. ThePropStop

    You guys help me make my “job” easy…nuff said.

    Thanks from “Thepropstop”

    Like

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  67. snowyautumn

    i love wordpress 🙂
    its easier me to express words 😀

    hemm,,one thing ,can you give theme but the new theme cant decrease pagerank ?
    because i want to change my theme but i dont want my pagerank decreases

    Like

  68. pedmar10

    thanks so much for the post, I admit ,I am totally new to blogging but enjoy every second of it on your site. Thanks for the opportunity and keep up the good work.

    Like

  69. azwar

    distributed works, nice…

    Like

  70. Gradus

    Great… There is a dutch guy working for you 😀
    Let him translate this..

    Lekker bezig kerels!!!

    Greetings

    Like

  71. Aloha

    Wow, this is amazing! I didn’t realize there was a WordPress employee living in my same town =) Awesome!
    Thank you to you guys for supporting so many bloggers, day after day. We appreciate it!

    Like

  72. AKHMAD SUDRAJAT

    Thank you for your hard work

    Like

  73. Gerry

    Here I am late to the party as always. I’d be interested in a discussion of migration paths from WordPress.Com to WordPress.Org–i.e., moving from the free platform to a self-hosted commercial site based on a WordPress foundation. There must be a lot of people who have done it, or have thought about doing it. Their stories would be instructive.

    Like

  74. A.J.

    Cool tell Martin Remy I said Hi.

    Like

  75. Chuck Ring

    Thanks for all you do and all you are thinking about doing.

    Like

  76. belladaze

    interesting! wordpress is the BEST

    Like

  77. suzannebrandsen

    I’m relatively new to the blogging world, & have so much to learn. Thanks for doing this article, every little bit helps!

    Like

  78. Miss Mali

    I love wordpress.

    Like

  79. Jennifer

    Toni also has a great article on his blog about “In praise of continuous deployment” that really is a must-read for anyone on WordPress.com. Things go so smoothly around here that we hardly notice those avg. 16 upgrades a day. Rock on!

    Like

  80. cnsdn

    THX for share

    Like

  81. workawesome

    Matt, I few questions to you.

    1. I’ve checked wikipedia and somewhere else but that doesn’t makes sense to make. If you’re co-founder of WordPress, whose are other founders? Could you introduce or tell me, in different way they are stake holders something like partnership basis? I don’t know, please tell me.

    2. As you’ve said in your previous comments , “We also make money from our third-party services largely aimed at .org”. If WordPress is making money from that, why we visitors or wordpress users can’t see or we usually don’t see, that is developed or designed by Automattic.

    3. Could you define, how does this position works (including their job responsibilities) like, Quantum Bug Creator , Master of Alliteration , Schmooze Engineer ,CBBQTT, Bug Zapper.

    Lastly, WordPress is smart company. I’m always loving wordpress. Thanks for the entire team to give us such amazing platform.

    Like

  82. rolewa

    that’s nice, we now know whom to ask in case we will need to render our services, keep it up

    Like

  83. almostinfamous

    been using wordpress (the software) since about 2003, the .com since about 2007(08?) and loving every moment of it. i like that you guys are so spread out and hope that you will be around for as long as the internet is 🙂

    Like

  84. george-b

    It is true: if one cannot imagine something function, it means it is not its time yet.

    Like

  85. Jenni

    Thanks for the informative article. I would like to take this opportunity to express my personal gratitude to the “Happiness Engineers” for their patience, good humor, and unfailing assistance. They have not only helped me, but also empowered me, in countless ways. WordPress provides people all over the world a chance to participate in the Information Society. Keep up the good work!

    Like

  86. HeshamHamed

    It’s great that u r from many countries in the world that makes it a small village
    as they say: To make the world a small village

    Like

  87. naturalredhead

    Fascinating article. “We hope to share more about how we work, and how we think about the future of the web. We have opinions and ideas to share.”

    Anything you care to share or show. More perhaps about the relationship between WP.com and WP.org. I benefit from both, and have for years. In fact, I use a web host for http://www.jantimmons.net using WP.org, and try to mirror the site at naturalredhead.wordpress.com to comment on sites that don’t accept privately hosted URLs. (You know, that bl*g.com rival—not as great as you, of course.)

    Cheers from Alaska (not quite shown on the map, either, but we’re used to that).
    —Jan

    Like

  88. elmer

    Automatic For The People!

    Like

  89. nadiacomic

    Incredible 🙂
    Very Inspiring Post!

    Like

  90. Muhd Hazrie Abdul Wahab

    How About in Malaysia..can i join this open position….i’m one of million WP followers that always updating their web with new stories and issue.

    Like

  91. xXDaniiDeniiseXx

    Niiiiiice 🙂

    Like

  92. Mtresa

    Keep up the good work. Right now..i dont have any complaints. Just a heartfelt “thanks.” And A big ‘kudos’ to whoever came up with the “Bloga day 2011” and “Blogaweek2011” It sure is a smash hit.

    Like

  93. Takeru

    I like this kind of information, very interesting!

    Like

  94. Maria Elena

    Love WP! Thanks so much for everything you do to make the WP experience so amazing.

    Like

  95. hunterpinehurst

    WordPress is wonderful and I am very addicted to posting. I have three blogs and noticed that the first has a copyrighted symbal at the bottom of the page and the others do not. I was just wondering if this is a setting I can change or is this only offered with the first blog domain for which you sign up. Thanks again for wordpress.

    Like

  96. ambitiousblogger

    great stuff!

    Like

  97. zerointeractive

    A better world with WordPress!

    Like

  98. Sister Grumpy

    I have small ambitions as a blogger of some 4 years on 2 different blogs on WordPress.com. I cut my blogging teeth on my personal blog about thoughts , insights, strange things that happened to me, and my penchant for being a word geek. And I learned that, as an old lady in my 70s, I have always loved to write and am just recently putting my talents to good use. I started a second blog to keep the members of my church in touch with what was going on at church and with other members, some of whom could not attend regularly. It is the first one I have seen (though I’m sure there must be others), and it has become *wildly popular* as an upgrade from the hardcopy newsletter we used to send out 4 times a year if we were lucky. I got the technical help I needed when I had trouble with my font size coming out “extra small”, and now I am usually able to make my posts look the way I want them, images and all, with just a little editing. Thanks for being there for me and for my church!-Sister Grumpy

    Like

  99. Team Oyeniyi

    Very interesting. Sounds like an interesting company to work for!

    Like

  100. emmakarolinas

    I must say, after using 2 different blog portals before changing to wordpress – it’s never been this easy and never so little problems compared to at least the blog I ran before changing to wordpress. Thank you!

    Like

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