Three years ago, I became a Happiness Engineer at Automattic, focussing on WordPress.com. I had a lot of fun with my colleagues, helping folks learn to use the greatest free blogging platform ever. Fun fact, WordPress.com is both free and a business, we have bills to pay, and businesses need money to operate. A few months back, I made a big switch from our Happiness Engineering team to a team we call Rads (Revenue and Ads), so that I can both have a hand in the financial stability of WordPress.com and keep the terribly horrid, tasteless, and distracting ads that have become all too common elsewhere away from your free blog.
Rads is led by Jon Burke and features the talents of Egill Erlendsson, Marcus Kazmierczak, Derek Springer, and our celebrity designer shared amongst teams, Joen Asmussen. As part of the team, I provide support for WordAds, our advertising program for WordPress.com bloggers, and work directly with ad networks for a variety of things. That last bit is fun and worth a whole post itself. Let’s just say that some networks are very good at what they do, while others have absolutely no clue.
Part of the work I do with ad networks is handle bad ad reports. We strive to provide only family-friendly advertising on WordPress.com, and we have contracts with our ad networks to provide just that. If we ever receive a complaint about an ad that is not family-friendly, I make sure that the ad (and sometimes the ad network itself) is immediately removed from WordPress.com.
Now, I know some of you who are reading this, and you’re going to ask, “Hey James, didn’t you just tell us how you never use ad blockers last month? Are you trying to trick us into viewing the ads on WordPress.com?” Goodness no, and shame on you for asking. You should know me better than that. I have never used ad blockers, because there are free sites that I rely on whose only source of revenue is from ads. I want them to stay in business, so I don’t block their ads, or I purchase some sort of ad-free subscription if available. Anyway, there’s also an advantage to this for my job now. As a daily “consumer” of ads, I know what kind of crap is out there, I know how annoying that crap is, and I can make sure it never winds up on WordPress.com. I can also immediately investigate the possibility of running newer less-distracting ads on WordPress.com as newer ad technologies make themselves known.
So, now you know where I am. I spend every day working with these awesome people to keep WordPress.com free and to keep lame ads away from your free blog.