DreamCon Speaker Series #2: Mika Epstein

If youʼve had a wild and woolly WordPress problem at DreamHost in the last 8 months, Iʼve probably handled your support ticket.  Iʼm the new WordPress Support / Community Specialist and Manager, which is a fancy way to say that if weʼre messing around with WordPress, Iʼm involved.

I work closely with Dreamhost developers on all our new WordPress- related projects, from nginx and caching to wp-cli and plugin wrangling. Day to day, I help with WordPress tickets that try to stump us, I de-hack WordPress sites, review plugins for WordPress.org, and perform forum support for WordPress. I also travel to WordCamps and I give WordPress- related training sessions. Like I said, if it involves WordPress, Iʼm probably there.

This is a pretty unusual role, I know, and since I worked for almost 15 years in the corporate world, I have an even deeper, weirder, skillset; I know myriad random things ( for example, all the words to “Finniganʼs Wake” and I was once be a child model). Thatʼs why I get to talk about not one but TWO totally cool topics at DreamCon!

If youʼre doing design work, either for yourself or with the help of a designer, youʼve probably run into a problem when one (or both) of you lose sight of how your site (or program) looks to new people. Tim Gunn calls this “The Monkey House.”

“I have this refrain about the monkey house at the zoo. When you first enter into the monkey house at the zoo, you think, ʻOh my god this place stinks!ʼ And then after youʼre there for 20 minutes you think, ʻitʼs not so badʼ and after youʼre there for an hour it doesnʼt smell at all. And anyone entering the monkey house freshly thinks, ʻthis stinks!ʼ Youʼve been living in the monkey house.” – Tim Gunn, Project Runway

Often, when your design stinks, youʼre probably too close to the monkeys to notice, but if you can be honest with yourself … …well, come to my DreamCon presentation and Iʼll explain.

But if you just like WordPress, then maybe youʼre facing the ultimate hurdle: which plugin should I use?

I mean, hey, picking a new theme is easy. You look for a theme that ʻsingsʼ to your very soul, that looks like your dreams, and youʼre off to the races. Picking a plugin, on the other hand, is about as popular as a root canal.

You may hear all the time, ʻ itʼs not how many plugins you use, but which plugins you use.ʼ Or maybe you hear about how you should only use the right plugins. Perhaps youʼre scared because youʼve heard that plugins cause your sites to be hacked.

All of those are true.

Better than reading yet another post about plugins I happen to like, I will Iʼll show you how to review a plugin, even if you donʼt know a single line of code. Partly reading between the lines, and partly knowing human nature, the secret sauce is all in seeing who wrote the plugin, and what their track record is within the WordPress Community.

After all, WordPress and I share a birthday. Of course, I know all about this.

17-Modeling