I Dig the Automattic Developer Relations Team

Have you published any posts about the block editor recently highlighting issues you’re encountering or bugs you’re experiencing and then check your inbox to see a message from someone who works at Automattic as a Developer Relations Wrangler? I have, and the exchange was a nice surprise. In the WordPress circles I frequent, I’ve noticed more Developer Relations team members either participating in the conversation or at least making their presence and availability for direct conversations known.

What is a Developer Relations Wrangler at Automattic? Well, let’s take a look at the job description.

Developer Relations Wrangler Job Description

The WordPress project is supported by a vibrant community of volunteers who are passionate about open source technology. We are looking for someone to join our Automattic team dedicated to aiding the WordPress open-source system (OSS) efforts, specifically around developer relations. Your focus will be communicating with community developers about WordPress, Gutenberg, and the surrounding ecosystem to build positive and sustainable relationships with WordPress developers and reduce barriers to Gutenberg adoption.

You

  • You are passionate about open source.
  • You are an experienced developer, including JavaScript.
  • You are familiar with WordPress and its nuances.
  • You enjoy the coordination required for software development and releases.
  • You can see opportunities for cross-functional collaboration, such as in communication and PR.
  • You’re motivated to help your teammates become more productive.
  • You enjoy teaching and learning. 
  • You are a skilled and experienced leader.
  • You are comfortable with ambiguity and lead with curiosity when emotions run high.

Extra Credit

  • Open source contributions.
  • Developer relations experience.

So, looking at that listing, it’s now obvious why they contacted me after publishing a post about my troubles with the block editor. A few years ago, a member of the core team or someone working on Gutenberg might have commented on the article or pinged me on Slack or the post may have simply gone unnoticed. Now, there is a team of people at Automattic who seek out these posts and try to establish a line of communication that can potentially lead to collaboration on addressing issues.

This is a welcome change and I applaud Automattic for hiring folks to do this. In our interview with Andrea Middleton yesterday, we mentioned the Developer Relations Team at Automattic and this is what she had to say.

The developer relations team I predict is going to have a spectacular, positive impact on helping core. It’s a bi-directional advocacy team, right? So it helps out core to speak to all of the people who are using and developing with WordPress. It also helps the extenders and the users get a more direct feedback loop to core. I think it’s going to be absolutely pivotal.

Andrea Middleton

The Developer Relations team is a great addition to Automattic and something I wish that was around 10 years ago but those days are long gone. If I criticize Gutenberg or something related to the block editor, I welcome and encourage people on that team to contact me to start a direct dialogue of what is being done to address the problem and what I can do to be part of the solution.

As the team builds trust and establishes or repairs relationships with people one person at a time over the next few years, it will be interesting to look back and see how pivotal this particular team was in getting more users to transition to or even build new projects using the block editor.

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