For the past two years, the DerpPress Twitter account has been cranking out tweets to amuse followers with clever puns and subtle commentary on WordPress news and development. Of all the anonymous accounts devoted to tweeting WordPress-related humor, DerpPress is the most consistent and dependable source of timely wise cracks.
You’ll find the account tweeting on a variety of topics, including current events, security, WordCamps, automatic updates, and WordPress personalities.
DerpPress is also frequently the originator of playful hashtags that encourage the community to join in creating WordPress-related puns.
Who could forget Valentine’s Day 2015 when the illustrious Derp spontaneously broke out into verse?
The person behind the account has yet to be unmasked. At the risk of putting his/her seemingly never-ending fountain of puns in jeopardy, do we really want to know DerpPress’ real identity?
As part of our continual quest to find out who is behind the account, the Tavern reached out to DerpPress for an interview. Below are unedited answers to some of our burning questions and perhaps even a few clues pointing towards the mysterious voice behind the account.
1. When you created the DerpPress account, what was on your mind? Did you simply hope to have a few laughs? Or were you thinking, “WordPress needs its own satirical twitter account.”
Much more of the former than the latter. As I recall, the WP Honey Badger was rather active back when I started the DerpPress account, so it wasn’t as though the WP community lacked for snarky subtweets. It wasn’t any sort of stated mission or anything — I primarily started it out as a way to gently rib bad WordPress coding practices and missteps (usermeat and such) and honestly it just evolved from there.
2. On Aug 2nd last year, you tweeted from what I can only assume was WordCamp NYC. To whom did you reveal yourself? How many people are aware of your true identity?
Yup, WCNYC. One person guessed it there. As for other folks who have acknowledged knowing it’s me: I know of one definite, two that I’m pretty sure have me nailed and another two who claim to know but I’m betting are guessing wrong.
3. What other WordCamps have you attended?
Quite a few.
4. What do you think of WordPress competitors like Ghost?
Ghost minus the hype is intriguing, but I think its reliance upon Node.js is the real short-term killer for competing against WP. It’s just not possible at this stage to find a decent shared host that will let you run Node, so it’s either self-hosting or expensive “professional” tier hosting (leaving aside their own hosted solution). It’s really hard to compete against WP’s simplicity and low, low, LOW system requirements.
I’ve looked into Bolt a bit, I’ve always kept at least an eye on Drupal and Joomla!, and a few of the static site generators (Leeflets, Jekyll, etc.). While I like Markdown as much as the next web copywriter, those options are still a bit too fiddly for the mass market. My noodling-about shared hosting accounts are littered with the likes of Xoops, concrete5, MODx, Melody, Habari, heck, even a Textpattern install or two.
WordPress is innovating, though, and in a way that many folks seem blind to — the WP-API. The intriguing part of the WP-API is that it will (theoretically) allow multiple other projects to either integrate existing WP installs into their flow or to dramatically “re-skin” WordPress. You could potentially have a Ghost-like dashboard, completely free of WP’s legacy, all driven off the API. It’s pretty exciting.
Also, I miss having MovableType around to kick about.
5. Do you think that John O’Nolan characterized you unfairly in his post on open source culture? Can you respond to his claims? Would you identify yourself as an open source cultural influencer?
“Conversely, it’s sad to see a sometimes disparate culture in the WordPress core community. Anonymous twitter accounts like WordPreh and DerpPress spend all day, every day, mostly cutting down other people and projects. It’s like a niche version of Secret app. Regular ad hominem snark directed at people both inside and outside the WordPress community.” – O’Nolan
An influencer? I certainly hope not.
I think O’Nolan really misses my point. I know that there are lots of WP ecosystem ex-pats tooling about, some with axes to grind, but I do appreciate the ones who take the time to say “This is what I see is wrong with WP and here’s some constructive feedback”.
That being said, the WordPress community can occasionally exhibit behavior best described as “hero worship”. It’s honestly a great thing for “rockstars” to make themselves available, but too often we find ourselves venerating folks for their position. I definitely subtweet a good deal and I really try not to take myself too seriously. I hope others do the same. This is all good-natured ribbing. (Except for when we take shots at Joomla!. Those are deadly serious.)
There’s occasionally bouts of That’s Not Funnyism that runs rampant. I suggest a mild dose of Everyone Calm Down And Laugh A Bit.
6. Were you disappointed by not making Torque’s list of 100 WordPress influencers?
Absolutely no one should ever listen to me about anything. Ever.
7. Can you recommend some strategies for becoming a better WordPress professional?
See point #6. But in general: you should be attending Meetups and WordCamps, making connections, following interesting WP people on Twitter (and clicking the links they share), and working with WP in your spare time, if ever you have any. The best way to get better at anything WP is to practice, and to pay attention.
Also: build a time machine and go back and study WordPress’ history from the beginning.
8. Who would make a good replacement for Matt Mullenweg to lead WordPress and why?
Interesting question. I hear Steve Ballmer may have some free time on his hands as of late and…
Oh. Well, it might be interesting if the respective heads of WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla! each took a year and a half and headed one of the other projects — Matt could head Joomla!, Dries could do WordPress, and, hmmm, I’m not sure who leads J!, but they could take Drupal. Bring some crazy outsider perspective to each, and maybe this way we’ll finally get proper request routing in WordPress.
9. What are 5 crazy facts we’d never guess about you? (Please give us more clues, even if you need to obscure them in riddles)
- I aspire to performing stand-up comedy at some point, but my appeal is so niche, Spinal Tap’s puppet show would attract a larger audience.
- I was chased by a snapping turtle once.
- My best friend is a Tiger.
- Since they changed the Zodiac signs, I have no idea what my sign is anymore.
- As a kid, I wanted to be an aerospace engineer designing the successor to the SR-71.
- I’ll not be bound by your rules or conventions!
- I am a sweater. Take that as you will.
- Oxford comma forever.
- Emoticons and emoji actually hurt to use, so sometimes Tweeting as this persona is painful. :)
10. What’s your favorite plugin?
Markdown on Save
11. What’s your opinion on post formats? Are they dead?
They never really caught on in the first place. Since Tumblr seems to be fading, I would imagine their eventual replacement will be whatever Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, or Medium make into the new hotness.
Aesop’s take on front-end editing (Lasso) is intriguing and I’d LOVE to see story-building replace post formats as a core feature.
Plus, live streaming is hot, so I guess we can expect Meerkat/Periscope/Twitch-alike functionality built into WP 4.4.
12. If you were to speak at a WordCamp, what would your topic be?
“If”? You’re assuming I’ve never done so. :)
“Humo[u]r And Open Source: Why So Serious?”
Maybe someday I’ll present a la why the lucky stiff. Who knows?
PS: #WPMovies was possibly the highlight of my Twitter experience thus far. I love you all deeply for it.