Working with Automattic (And a Little History of WordPress in Japan)

I thought it’s appropriate to post this here.

I just started working with Automattic (the company behind wordpress.com and many other cool products and services) on a contract-basis. I’ll be doing user support, aka Happiness Engineer, with special focus on Japan.

Here’s my story in case you’re intereted.

I’ve been using WordPress for a while on my Japanese blog site. I had a Movable Type blog since May 2003, then switched to WordPress in November of the same year. Does anyone remember when the template was a single index.php file? 😉

Many Japanese WordPress users had been using WordPress ME (Multilingual Edition), a fork project of WordPress. I was mostly helping out with documentation and other translation (which lead me to write WordPress books in Japanese).

Then in March 2008, the lead dev of ME (Otsukare-san) announced that he is quitting the development altogether, along with the documentation & distribution sites that he had been maintaining.

Around that time, I finally realized that WordPress isn’t something that just magiacally happens. It was our responsibily to keep it going. Had we showed more appreciation to Otsukare-san for doing what he was doing and offered more help, maybe things were diffrent. But the fact was that we were losing the main WordPress distribution site in Japanese at that time.

We launched the official Japanese WordPress site (ja.wordpress.org) soon after, then forums and documentation site. Yuriko even took the lead to set up a WordPress ME support site & forum for those who need help migrating to core WordPress install.

Since then, the localization team and the community have been very active working on WordCamps, WordBench (Miyoshi-san‘s brainchild). The plugin distribution project team was even interviewed as one of the most active projects on SourceForge.jp.

There is no doubt WordPress has played a big part in both my professional and personal growth.

So I had no other way but to say yes when Matt asked me (after this month’s WordCamp Tokyo) if I’d be interested in working with Automattic.

I think it’s a good news that they are putting more resource into places like Japan. I’m really excited to have this opportunity to help bring WordPress to more people.

8 thoughts on “Working with Automattic (And a Little History of WordPress in Japan)

  1. Jim Amos says:

    Awesome news Naoko. Congratulations! Totally knew you would work with Automattic someday. WordPress just got even better 😉

  2. Great to hear that Automattic has native Japanese support … and that is one hell of a Scots second name you have there!

    Can I ask you a favour? Is it possible for WP to post all Japanese releases on English pages as well?

    I am a great believer … well, “hoper” actually … in the power of WordPress to build international communities between the English speaking and Japanese/other worlds.

    Currently, I am working on a WPMU / Buddypress site for a NPO Hojin (501 c type charity) and I struggling to find the Japanese elements. There is so much work to resolve, e.g. Buddypress, theme summaries etc!!!

    The JLanguage plugin seems to have died and that is a great shame as it worked well.

    I am not a develop but what can I do to make the internationalisation/Japonisation of WordPress happen quicker?

    It is about time we rose above nationalism in the Web 2.0 world.

  3. mac says:

    Hi.

    Thank you for your response. Obviously, what I am suggesting is a job for Automattic/Wordpress.org, not you and I do not mean any of this as a personal criticism, but those links – of which I am very aware – really underline the state of the ‘Tower of Babel’ when it comes to handling multi-languages.

    It is all very fractured at present. Despite being all about communication, it is not being communicated simple and clearly and each community exists separately.

    I think the idea of you combining … and running … a bi-lingual blog is not only wonderful but would an education into the realities. If you have no luck, I can mail you a copy of the last JLanguage plug in. I look forward to the WP/BP acquisition maturing.

    For me, I specifically want to use WordPress to bring together Japanese and English speakers. I believe in WordPress being able to do so. I do not know of any other tools.

    At present it is somewhere between clunky and difficult to do so … and definitely beyond the capacities of a non-technical user … and require hackery. Ultimately, MO and PO files alone to not do the fix.

    What is the remit/job outline that Automattic have given you?

  4. mac says:

    I wanted to add quickly … where the biggest weaknesses I find in multi-lingual WP sites are stuff like Menus (and then, of course, more easily fixed graphic stuff like buttons).

    It has been possible to input bi-lingual content, even to have browser recognition to feed different languages to users as a priority but, generally, other key stuff like Menus, titles, plugins and many themes DO NOT handle such stuff. They break the language plugins.

    This leads me to believe that the handling of languages and multi-languages really has to be done by the WP core itself, and not handed over to the patchwork of plugin authors.

    The seriousness of this is that even in primarily English speaking nations … if not all modern democratic nations … there are almost universal requirements for official and professional bodies to present information in multi-languages for all of their constituents or clients.

    If WordPress wishes to remain the place of idle chitchats … then fair enough it can be isolationist but if it want to develop along with the reality of our multi-racial, multi-lingual communities … then it has to look at and address this issue.

    Either that, or for the rest of the world, it will remain a tool of primarily English speaking elites within those nations.

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