Almost 3 years ago I wrote an article that made me stop writing completely. I’ve never really told this story to anyone before.

Up until I published that article, I’d been writing weekly about WordPress development and industry related issues.

Since then I’ve posted 3 snippet type blog posts, but I stopped writing anything meaningful and the passion was gone.

The article that I wrote on that day got a ton of attention. It spread quickly through the WordPress community and was read by many peers.

Up until the point where I published that article, I was really confident in what I was writing.

I was publishing some interesting articles and many of them were somewhat controversial in that they drew some negative feedback from what I’d refer to as important people in the WordPress community. If you’ve been in WordPress development for even a short period of time, you’d know their names.

I was ok with it though.

I put on a hard face and defended my opinion in the best way possible. In some instances I had my mind and opinion changed through debate and discussion.

And then, that article.

I don’t know what it was about that article.

Maybe the chatroom that I found through my analytics were I was ridiculed by people I really respected.

Maybe the fact that they were trying to tear apart an open source project of mine because they didn’t like the article.

Maybe it was the one time commenters who leave negative comments and don’t come back to finish a discussion.

Maybe I was just tired of constantly having to deal with people trying to break me down.

And so I just stopped writing. I stopped sharing my opinions. I stopped exposing some of my insecurities and even naivety through my writing. Because the feedback was eventually too much to take.

I hear and have seen in some cases, that a lot of the development community works this way. Someone floats and idea through an article, pull request or tweet and if it’s not agreed with by some, the attacks start.

Instead of talking, showing empathy and teaching, names are called, expletives are used and people are broken down. It’s been said before, the anonymity that the internet provides brings out the very worst in people.

Inside, I feel even more vulnerable than before. It’s been a tough few years and I’ve lost a lot of confidence. I know though, the only way to grow stronger is to keep moving forward. To keep writing and sharing my ideas and thoughts.

And even though there are more trolls than before who want to break me down, I care a lot more about the many people who’ve emailed, Slacked, commented and shown appreciation for my writing and how it’s been valuable to them. They’re the reason why I’m back and I can’t wait to start sharing more.

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4 Comments

  1. Hey Matt,

    Boy, do I feel your pain. Thank you for picking up the pen again! I remember reading a thread somewhere about the anxiety of dealing with the worst of the internet – the types of people who hate everything and tell you to “die of cancer” for writing something.

    Someone (can’t remember who) gave good advice: If you write for the “die of cancer” crowd, you’ll both end up miserable. So instead, optimize for the pleasant readers who just want to happily learn something from you.

    I’ve taken this same approach after quitting writing for 3+ years myself. Good thoughts only! Forget the angry & mean folks – they aren’t adding value anyways.

  2. Matt, glad to see you back writing again. I was first introduced to you through your YouTube videos where you helped me improve my local WordPress environment for development. I’ve since moved on from freelancing to full-time plugin development, so thank you for helping me to take that step. Looking forward to hearing more from you in the future.

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