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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.