WP: Marking Ten Years

In the early days, it was about having a personal website. For anyone, this was the opportunity to have their small corner on the internet. It required an investment of time to code the individual pages in addition to developing content. Yet, for every active personal website, there was a large number of dormant sites. Your contact with visitors was through a guestbook, or making direct contact by email for linking permission to another’s website. Permission to link was when politeness on the web mattered. Through this process, you were able to develop some very good friendships without ever meeting, or knowing what each other looked like.

Around 2003-04, a new method to develop a personal site was a weblog. It could be whatever you wanted it to be, from a daily journal to a writing platform to tell stories to a discussion forum. There was a good variety to the early blogs. While Yahoo had the corner on website development through GeoCities, Google had the corner through Blogger (aka BlogSpot). To give your site a measure of customization, you needed to know a little coding. Like the personal website a scant 2-3 years before, cats developed a strong foothold on the blogging frontier.

Among the early cat blogs were Timothy Dickens and William of Mass Destruction (WMD). Then, there was What A Good Cat and The Calico Girls – both with roots in the website world. Another early cat blogger was Laurence Simon with his “Is Full of Crap” blog and another through the Houston Chronicle newspaper website. The originator and manager of “Carnival of Cats“, Laurence quickly became known as the “King of Cat Blogs”. He wore his crown with his trademark irreverence.

While I studied the possibility of blogging throughout the fall of 2005, I hadn’t decided on which platform to use. Blogger was free, but I was already developing a dislike for Google. Typepad seemed nice, but you had to pay. Movable Type, you need to be self-hosted. My friend, John, at What A Good Cat was blogging on the new WordPress platform. Since he was already self-hosting his 3 Good Cats personal website, he had space to accommodate the WP software. John highly recommended WP. It was clean, intuitive, and open source. The paid part would be for self-hosting. If you wanted free-free, the dotcom side of WP would be the ticket.

Shortly after 2006 began, I signed up for a free WP account and reserved a blog name. In signing up, there was no guarantee of anything. WP wanted a broad cross-section of blogs. While the intent was to keep WP free-of-charge and ad-free, they were honest in saying there may be a day when free becomes paid and ads would appear. Several hours later, I received an email saying my sign-up was approved.

And, so, my first blog, Cat Crossings™, was born. It featured stories and photos of Dino, Pebbles and Egypt, along with the Musketeers (Midnight, Maxie and Tuxie). Our two regular features, Meezer Wednesday™ and Meezer Colors Day™, became staples in the cat blogging world. And, we had our share of accolades – WP Blog of the Day in 2006 and WP Featured Cat Blog (2006-08).

In 2007, the number of cat blogs grew exponentially. When one could read everything in the cat blogosphere in less than an hour in 2006, it was no longer the case. With so many, you had to cut down your reading list to a manageable size. In writing blog posts, you had to write for quality. After awhile, I slowly reduced the number of blog postings. With Deborah and Elizabeth beginning to ride equestrian on a regular basis, things were reprioritized including Cat Crossings. Though some wondered why my blogging rate had fallen off, I mentioned family obligations were more important.

With the girls ready to embark on their riding season in Summer 2012, I wrote my first equestrian entry and published the first photo of the girls with their horses. An occasional reader had gotten into their mind that it was a stolen image. Forget the notion I have the one and only original print and negative. My reaction was more like, “Hell, shit, who do you think you are?” and said so in a toughly-worded email reply. At that moment, Cat Crossings became a private blog. After a few weeks being private, I decided to delete the blog. While it meant deleting six years of 700+ posts and 60,000+ page views, I was done.

It is said with every ending, there is always a new beginning. Five weeks later, this blog began. I knew my work was going to be a challenge with so many excellent photoblogs on WP, and across the internet. Much to my surprise, the first like came on the introductory post from Leanne Cole, the first comment, on the 7th post, from Jocelyne Deneau, and the first follower was Patrick Latter.

Through the past ten years, WP has changed. If it didn’t, it wouldn’t be the success it is today. There are pieces of the user interface I first encountered, but there are many features I would have assumed be given only to the paying customers. When I started in January 2006, there were no customizations. Five themes – WP Classic, Connections, Regulus, Kubrick and Toni. Regulus was the only theme in which the header image had a choice (skyline, full moon, and artistic swirl). The support forum was/is second to none. Back then, many users helped each other as we learned WP together. A couple are still present – Timethief and Raincoaster, helping steer a member in the proper direction.

Will there be another ten years with WP? I’ll answer that question in ten years.

 

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8 thoughts on “WP: Marking Ten Years

  1. Nice history. I had thought about a cat blog, but figured there were enough. Now I’m split between platforms. WP is a better social platform, but I don’t like the new interface for putting together blogs especially when posting a lot of photos. It’s okay for writing. The blog on my photo site is more for business, and Zenfolio is reluctant to make it more social like, which is a draw back, but it is so much quicker and easier to post on, plus my images are secure. I could go to a self hosted WP site, but I don’t want the extra administration of hosting my own site.

    • Thank you, Tim.

      Ten years ago, you would’ve been on the ground floor regarding a cat blog. The last time I checked, there’s roughly a few hundred cat blogs. I write my posts from Posts>Add Post from the Dashboard rather than use the new editor interface. This way, I use the old editor interface. If you need to edit a post, go the Dashboard route also. When a platform becomes more social like, it gives up some of security. Zenfolio, since it’s in the photowork business, they probably haven’t found an easy way to compose blog entries without giving up image security.

      • The blog element is new for Zenfolio. I would have started with Zenfolio if it was available when I started my blog.

        • Since the blog element is new for Zenfolio, it’s pretty wise for them to move slowly taking the lessons learned by the other platforms into account.

  2. Congratulations, David, for your pioneering and your anniversary. Your article is a nostalgic retrospective. You reached out on the web long before I got started. I got to WordPress when Microsoft discontinued me and the other bloggers on Spaces. Indeed WordPress has changed and grown into a huge success but still cares for the bloggers by continuing to innovate and support. See you around!

    • Thank you, Ludwig, for your kind words.

      Usually when a company becomes larger and has a larger user base, they can lose their direction quite easily. WP has tried to stay true to their original vision. I give them credit for making many of their current features available for everyone. WP could have easily made them as paid options.

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