I listened to an awesome podcast today. Brian Oberkirch from Edgework talks with Matt Mullenweg about WordPress. Of course I love WordPress so it was great to hear from Matt, the WordPress lead. Matt said a few things about Akismet and accelerated development cycles that were interesting.
Akismet, the spam-blocking software packaged with WordPress and produced by Automattic (the company behind the open-source WordPress application), is really an ingenius bit of software. Every time you mark a comment as spam in your blog, Akismet updates a central directory that keeps track of IP addresses that send SPAM. As more users delete spam from their blogs, Akismet gets smarter. It's a case of building applications powered by the whole Web 2.0 idea, where users provide the brains of the application.
By the way, on the topic of Spam, WordPress has the upper hand on this issue. Without Akismet, you'd get 50-100 spam comments a day on your blog. Akismet knocks it down to 1-2. Interestingly, Matt said spammers target high-ranking blogs. If your blog is rarely updated or visited, you may not see much spam — such as the following in your moderation queue:
You can draw analogies between Akismet and Google in the way they function. Google is a powerful search engine because it also compiles information from users. Every time you link to another page, your link feeds into Google's brain to tell it the page is cool. The more links that point to a certain page, the higher the rank for that page. The highest ranked pages that match your keywords appear on the first page of Google's search returns. So Google is also a Web 2.0 application.
Matt also talked about accelerated development cycles, explaining that much of the appeal of WordPress is that it's constantly being developed. WordPress is moving forward at a fast pace — people really like that. In contrast, you may be using another blogging platform for a year and hardly see any change. People dislike stagnant software. This is why Matt intends to release the next version of WordPress 2.2 within 90 days after releasing version 2.1.
I completely agree with Matt on accelerated development cycles. Knowing that an application is keeping up step with the rapidly expanding pace of today's technology is comforting. You know that the tool you're using won't be outdated in a few years. You can certainly draw a lot of parallels to RoboHelp and Flare about this.
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I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.