in WordPress

Hack Day: Finding the Problem

Yet another reason I like working with Automattic is that we regularly hold internal Hack Days, where anyone in the company who has an inkling can take a day and set it aside to work on a pet project, presenting what’s done at the end.

Last Hack Day, I made some basic changes to the Gravatar site, which was a fun challenge and taught me a lot about how our development environment functions. (Background: calling me a “developer” is a pretty big stretch; I’m still very basic in what I can do.)

The first part of any Hack Day is finding the problem you want to tackle, and I have something I’ve been wanting to solve for my personal blog for some time now. Generally, the only time I get for writing on my personal blog is at night, often quite late, when most of the people I know are not actively reading things. I also tend to write in big batches, where I’ll put up five or six posts in a relatively short timeframe.

What I would like to do is have a plugin that would:

  • Have a “deferred” post status that would place a post into a queue. First in, first out.
  • Deferred posts would be cron-published. The cron would publish only between certain hours of the day, and would maintain a certain amount of temporal spacing between posts, maybe with a small amount of randomness to make it look less robotic.
  • Authors should be able to publish immediately if they want to (hence having a separate status for the deferred posts).
  • It will work with Jetpack and specifically Publicize.

There are already a couple of existing plugins that try to scratch this itch, but neither of them has been updated in a while and on looking at them I don’t think they are exactly what I want.

I’m pretty certain I won’t be able to get this all done in one day just because I don’t have all the knowledge I think I need to do it. But I’m going to look at the existing work around the idea and see what I can do. I have a feeling this is something that would be useful to other people as well.

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Leave a comment:

  1. I’m the same. When I do get an urge to write something I end up with a few posts and then nothing for (most often) months on end. Similar to how there are tons of Twitter services that are intelligent about pushing tweets at optimal times and space them out so as to not overwhelm users, a WP plugin done right would go one step further. Love it.