For years, The Beat has been my favorite pop culture “news and reviews” website. The site has a strong comic book focus, but has long since gone on to cover what is described today as “geek culture.” Me, I’ve been a geek since the day I was born, so The Beat is website nirvana to me.
The Beat is — and always has been — run by Heidi MacDonald. She has been, to put it mildly, a tremendous inspiration to me, especially in the way I run my own media site, the Underground Film Journal. While Heidi’s writing style in general is wickedly entertaining, I most enjoy when she tackles thorny issues, such as trying to make a living as an independent artist or a web professional. Her thoughts are always inspirational and thought-provoking to me.
A week or so ago, I saw Heidi mention on Twitter that she was having an issue with WordPress, which she has been using to power The Beat since 2006. So, since I am as devoted to WordPress as I am to The Beat, I pinged her and offered to help her out. I was thrilled when she accepted and since then… Well, I don’t quite know how to explain what I’ve been doing for The Beat, but I’ve basically been trying to be a general WordPress Helper Monkey.
WordPress really is an interesting beast. As a Content Management System, it’s amazing and — in general — super simple to use to create a large and comprehensive online news publication. However, if one keeps at it for an extended period of time, especially as Heidi has done in the way that she’s accumulated numerous contributors and has developed a vibrant commenting community, a WordPress-powered website is going to experience extreme bloat eventually that will slow the whole operation down.
Discarded plugins leave behind large amounts of detritus. Hidden functions that were helpful at one time now add unnecessary code. A missed piece of comment spam triggers Akismet to unleash the floodgates for rampaging comment hooligans. Unoptimized cache settings allow visitors to pound the database vigorously.
It can be a nightmare to keep up for an independent publisher, especially when there are articles to be published!
But, here’s the kicker: I love optimizing a WordPress install! For whatever reason, I get a real kick out of it and I view it as a fun activity, not work. So, working on a major website like The Beat has been a real dream come true.
And, hey, if you’re reading this and are experiencing the “WordPress Bloat,” I’m available to help you out as well!