A week ago, I made it back home from my second Automattic meetup, this time in San Diego. Once again, we had a whole week to meet almost everyone (which is refreshing since we’re globally distributed), work on some awesome upcoming features (mostly for WordPress.com), and engage in some local adventures. I won’t spoil any of the upcoming new features, as they’ll be announced on the WordPress.com blog when ready, but you might actually see some in action if you have a keen eye.
Last week, the Core Happiness Engineers of WordPress.com gathered for a week of work, introductions, and sightseeing in Amsterdam. In case you don’t know, Automattic is a globally distributed company and all but a few of us work from home, so it’s nice to get some face-to-face time a few weeks each year and to knock out a few projects that would otherwise take months of back-and-forth text chatter.
We made several improvements to tools on our end, so you won’t see much offhand, but you will notice much quicker support responses in the days to come. Also, you should notice some improvements to the WordPress.com signup process and the main support page in the near future.
Over the past few months, the Happiness Engineers of WordPress.com have grown to require separation into sub-teams. Enter the new Core Happiness team: the Happiness Engineers who are focussed strictly on answering support requests and creating/improving documentation.
Earlier this month, the new Core Happiness team met for our very first chance to work together as the new team. We invaded Tybee Island, Georgia, the home town of fellow Automattician Jane Wells, for a week of work, food, and some sightseeing.
As you can imagine, there was a lot of work to do. Since we mostly work on the customer service end of things, you might not see any of the week’s work outright, but you’ll probably notice that we’re able to resolve issues a bit quicker than before.
I had one heck of a great time at my very first Automattic company meetup. As we are a globally distributed company, it was great to finally meet all of the talented folks that I had only chatted with until recently.
This year, we were in Budapest, turning out some awesome new features for WordPress.com. These features would have taken months to build and perfect over text, but we knocked them out in less than a week by working in person with small groups. I don’t want to spoil the surprises, so keep your eyes on our blog for the official announcements.
Much like we did in Vienna, my fellow Happiness Engineers and I (plus a few awesome special guests) got together in St. Louis, Missouri earlier this month to get to know one another beyond the boundaries of chat screens and to build things to improve the WordPress.com support experience that just can’t be done over email.
There was quite a bit of work to be done, and you should start seeing the results of this soon. In fact, some of you may be seeing it already. Of course, one can’t work all day long, and the evenings were routinely filled with awesomeness. Of particular note were the two Cardinals games, a trip to the amazing City Museum (which resulted in an impromptu Slasher-esque mystery as members of the group were lost in the caverns one by one), a free-play pinball arcade, and an outstanding meal and Rock Band party at the house of fellow Happiness Engineer, Mr. Ryan Markel.
Of course, I can’t neglect to mention the rather fascinating coincidence which resulted in a Genius Bar staffed entirely with Happiness Engineers at WordCamp St. Louis. It was loads of fun, and a pity that we can’t do it for every WordCamp.
One of the most interesting things about working for Automattic is that we really don’t have a specific home office, so all of my co-workers come from across the globe. Considering that, we like to get together a few times each year to strengthen our bonds and work on projects that just can’t be handled over IRC and email.
Last week, we had a great time in Vienna, working hard to improve support for WordPress.com and IntenseDebate, sampling the local delicacies, and trying really hard not to freeze while walking to dinner at 10pm.
Some of my fellow Happiness Engineers are major shutterbugs, and I was definitely feeling camera envy, but I did manage to take a few decent shots, and check out these from fellow Happiness Engineers Karim and Naoko.
Of course, I couldn’t resist posting this awesome video, courtesy of Karim. It’s the perfect ending for such a great meetup.