“What’s in a feed?

That which we call a feed

By any other name should work the same…but not always. “

While attempting to add a new blog to our network last week, I encountered an interesting issue. As part of LexBlog’s efforts to build and advance the world’s largest community of legal bloggers, publishing team member Chris Grim reached out to a law professor who blogs passionately about the intersection of culture, leadership, and innovation on his blog and is a vocal critic about outdated practices in contemporary education. 

The legal community needs critical, imaginative thinkers like this professor who are strategically planning the future of legal education and nurturing aspiring legal professionals. These are the people who LexBlog loves to support, see succeed, and highlight. I was thrilled when he accepted the invitation to syndicate his blog to LexBlog for free. 

One problem, though–his feed did not validate.

For the uninitiated, a little background: LexBlog can present on our platform the content of any blog as long as it has a valid RSS feed (LexBlog’s feed, as an example). RSS is simple internet technology that allows people to receive new content automatically and has transformed how people get their news and stay connected. Feedly is one example, and is easily the most recognizable RSS reader used today.

To make sure a feed is ‘valid,’ or that a blog’s content successfully appears and updates to LexBlog.com, we use this feed validator service. A feed might not validate for any number of reasons, including an incompatible CMS.

We ran the URL through the service and it did not validate. Upon further inspection of the feed, we found many URLs that did not belong there–several of them linking to an escort service. 

The insidious URLs–likely placed there as a gross scheme to elevate those URLs’ search engine rankings–appeared in not only the blog’s feed, but also hid in all pages of the blog. It was unclear whether the blog was hacked or if the URLs came from a malicious plugin.

As people who understand the hard work and personal investment that goes into creating and maintaining a blog, it was incredibly upsetting for our team to see a fellow blogger’s work attacked in this way. A blog is an integral facet of one’s professional and personal identity and to alter another’s identity without consent is, simply put, disgusting.

We informed this blogger of the issue, he was able to clean up his feed manually, and his blog now has another avenue for discovery on LexBlog. More importantly, the integrity of a legal blogger’s work was saved. Moments when we can help bloggers, give advice, and protect their content fill me with pride. And even more exciting, this blogger has re-invigorated his blog in response to LexBlog’s invitation. 

Some takeaways from this story: Change your passwords regularly. Don’t neglect software updates. Make informed choices about which web software and plug-ins to use. LexBlog founder, Kevin O’Keefe made a great argument recently for WordPress as the best content management solution available.

LexBlog is here to support legal bloggers, whether using our platform or not, within our network or not. Even if this, or any other blogger, eventually decides he doesn’t want his feed in our network, we will still be here to help. 

Every job has its benefits. I don’t mean 401k or paid sick leave. No, I’m talking about the unforeseen side effects of working in various industries. I remember getting free pizza at my first job as a dishwasher and I felt exceedingly blessed. I also remember getting free books from my time working at Eastern Washington Univ., but again I digress. So the question, what is the side benefits for working at a company filled with successful bloggers? Since I started working for LexBlog, I’ve wanted to try my hand at a serious blog.

At LexBlog, I will be attempting to use the LexBlog platform to launch my new blog. Unlike my failed attempt at a food blog years ago on google blogger: Grim’s Gratitudes, or my “never-was” blog Tech Comm Corner last year, my hope with this blog is to gain access to a community of scholars. Currently, I have two blogs on WordPress, my nerdy friendship club Currently Undecided and my courtship with my significant other, Intentional Vulnerability. I also write from time to time here on donuts. While blogger was meh and I haven’t had any issues with WordPress, when offered to use LexBlog to launch my new blog, I couldn’t help but think of all that I could learn.

So far, I reach out to a multitude of bloggers to add them to LexBlog for free, but I don’t ask them to switch platforms or even use LexBlog in any capacity though many of them have started subscribing to different channels. However, I never thought to ask what the process looked like to make a blog on LexBlog. I’m curious to see the result. So far, there has been mention of a checklist and I’ll be reaching out to the Success Team for more info. In any case, I’m excited.

My day is filled with looking at blog after blog, some good and some, well, not-so-much. I even follow several law blogs now. My day is filled with people collectively thinking, writing, and sharing about experiences, thoughts, ideas, and innovations. They are doing this at no-cost. Sure, many of these people want to advance their careers, but otherwise, the motivation seems to be more valuable. They want to share and explore the world. I use to have a professor that talked about the “power of thirty people in the room all knowledgeable about a singular subject”. The room has now expanded to incorporate the entire world. Blogs, allow you to step into that room. I hope to take that first step.

Between process and motivation, I feel as though I’ve stacked the deck in my favor. In a few weeks I’ll write another donuts post about all the things I’ve learned. Maybe my motivation will take on a new form different from the “collective experience”, but we’ll see. Right now, I’m in the planning stages. I want to give the serious effort of 2 posts a week and have a good idea on the tone I would like the blog to take. I have images already set for the first several posts. I even have a logo. With all the ingredients for a good blog, I hope to bake me a delicious multi-layered blog. The process will be the most interesting.

In the meantime, I will continue to reach out and learn what good blogging looks like. I’ll sift and sort as many law blogs as I can learning what good blogging looks like. I won’t go into details about what my new blog will entail. I will only say that it involves something that lawyers know all too well. So, stay tuned. We’ll see what we learn.

At LexBlog we manage over 1,000 sites across nearly 30 multisite installations of WordPress. Some of these sites have been publishing unique content for over a decade while some are in their first days of writing, slowly building an audience with each post. These sites share something in common, however, regardless of the subject matter, length of time on the web, or size of the publisher: Visitors are coming to their site on mobile devices at a rate that I’ve never seen before. 

When LexBlog gave me the opportunity to join the team in the summer of 2013 as an Account Manager, one of the first things I tried to understand was the audience of each site that was under my purview. It was my job to provide advice, guide, and suggest opportunities to the publishers and managers of these sites. At the time, LexBlog was just dipping its toes into the world of responsive design and was utilizing WP Touch to serve up a mobile version of our WordPress sites for those sites that weren’t responsively developed right out of the gate. 

Some of the first conversations I had with clients was around the subject of responsive redesigns of existing properties, or trying out a responsive design project on a new publication. At the time, it was a harder sell. Apple had released the iPhone 5 the year before, and was still moving at a relatively slow pace in pushing out new models, and the Android marketplace was relatively anemic. While it was clear there was a new game in town it wasn’t entirely clear what that game was to many internet neophytes.

To our development team, it was obvious that new game was responsive design. The flexibility of this approach was attractive, especially in a world where each pixel was highly scrutinized by marketing and business development teams. 

To our clients, the chief question was why would they spend an arm and a leg on a new technology when only 10-15% of their traffic was from mobile devices. 

Fast forward to today when I got it in my head that I would take a look at our network wide traffic to see what the current trends were. Some of the key stats for 2018 include:

  • Just over 1 in 3 people (34-35% of total traffic to be more exact with that number rising to 40% on some installations) visited a LexBlog managed site on a mobile device
  • Apple devices lead the way with about 60% of mobile device visits coming from an iPhone or iPad
  • Samsung is next in line with about 8-10% of the mobile device share on our network (the S7 through S9+ are the best represented Samsung devices)
  • Google’s devices are still lagging way behind much to the chagrin of our COO and CTO, the two Pixel advocates at LexBlog

Some of this ascent is no doubt due to our emphasis on responsive designs over the years. If a site looks good on a mobile device the first time you see it, you’re more apt to return on a phone or tablet when you’re not at your desk.

Beyond that, however, Google and other search engines continue to push usability as a component of their search results algorithms, and mobile friendliness is a key part of this. If your site does not render well on a phone or tablet, you’re likely to loose a key demographic, especially considering the rise of searches conducted on a mobile phone. 

Today, the conversation has changed from, “This is why you should consider a responsive design,” to “Here is your responsively designed site” without an option for anything else. Why would we suggest a subpar product and reading experience when we know the truth? The internet is expanding to more devices, more screens, more interfaces than we ever thought possible and consumers of content are keeping up with this breakneck pace; shouldn’t your site?

On December 6th, the largest content management system on the internet, WordPress, released one of the largest user-facing updates in recent memory. WordPress 5.0, or “Bebo” as it was named, represents a major shift for the open source project and the community that supports it and so was introduced with a combination of fanfare, disarray, and resentment – aren’t open source projects fun?

While the video above is cheerful and will serve its purpose as a delightful bit of marketing for WordPress, it is certainly not indicative of the feelings of many contributors and small business owners that have made their living from WordPress. Those feelings were on full display in the comment section of Matt Mullenweg’s post announcing that WordPress 5.0 would launch with just a few days notice. 

It’s easy to question the timing of the release (right before WordCamp US and in the midst of many e-commerce shop’s busiest time of year), but many of those questions and feelings of animosity faded after watching Matt respond personally to dozens of comments on his post. Each reply exuded a sense of calm and command of the subject at hand that was impressive given that Mr. Mullenweg is the CEO of an operation of over 800 employees, managing the inner workings of multi-billion dollar company. I hope to have the fraction of his patience one day. 

The initial outcry notwithstanding, it seems that it’s business as usual now that Bebo is out in the wild. New trac tickets are being created and progress toward 5.0.1 will begin in short order. There’s a part of me that can’t shake the uneasy feeling that we haven’t heard the last of Gutenberg-driven drama, but without any hard data to show user engagement or frustration with the editor it’s just that, a feeling.

In the meantime, WordPress continues to be the dominant content management system on the internet, and the changes that Gutenberg will bring go far beyond the content editing experience. If you’re interested in a sneak preview of those changes, take a gander at this post from Matt, posted shortly after his WordCamp US talk: 

This is an exciting week at LexBlog. Not only do we have our amazing Editor-in-Chief, Bob Ambrogi, in town and a new Associate Editor joining us (Welcome, Melissa!), we have a truly thrilling, exhilarating, and delicious challenge facing us. 

What exactly is this exciting trial we must confront, you ask? I give you LexBlog’s Great LinkedIn Challenge! While this is not exactly what one would call an exhaustive marathon run or New York’s infamous Hot Dog Eating Contest, we take this challenge very seriously at LexBlog. To explain why, let me give a little background. 

If you’ve ever been to our CEO, Kevin O’Keefe’s profile, you know he believes in the important place of LinkedIn within a person’s professional development. LexBlog itself had a tagline, “Make a Name for Yourself,” to encourage lawyers and other legal professionals to embrace blogging and networking online. We still hold strongly to that principle for our network – so why wouldn’t we do our best to embrace it ourselves? 

This is how The Great LinkedIn Challenge was born. Earlier this week, I was thinking through ways to inspire a passion for networking and growing online influence among my fellow LexBloggers. I decided that the two things that universally motivate people are 1.) Fierce competition with proximate peers and 2.) Donuts (especially at LexBlog, obviously). And with that, I created this challenge for my coworkers. 

Before a deadline of December 19th, we are each tasked with completing a list of challenges. Each challenge, in some way, improves the LexBlogger’s LinkedIn presence. Some challenges are easy, such as uploading a header image. Some are more difficult, like listing bulleted details about past work experience. 

The most exciting part occurs on the last day of the challenge. In the true spirit of the sweet-filled gluttony of the holiday season, whoever completes all 11 of the challenges by the deadline receives a giant donut cake from Legendary Donuts! Just take a gander at their menu. Who wouldn’t want to win one of those? 

And so, in this time of intense rivalry among us here at LexBlog (not really), we ask that you encourage us as we embark on this journey of improving our online presence. We take donations in the form of non-cake-sized donuts and LinkedIn recommendations. 

*Updates on the winner will most definitely follow* 

After nearly a year and a half of being full immersed in the world of legal blogs and blogging, I’m leaving LexBlog to travel across the country and work for the National Baseball Hall of Fame as their Digital Communications Specialist. It’s a dream job, made possible in large part by my work here, so it seems only fitting that I close out my LexBlogger career with one final Blogging Hour.

I interviewed to intern in June of 2017, a year removed from graduating college and weary from the balancing act of six different part-time jobs. Beyond a desire for stability, though, I was searching for somewhere I could learn and grow; somewhere that could offer some guidance, but also give me room to be creative. I got all that, and so much more.

Some things I’ve learned in my time at LexBlog:

  • Break up your blog posts. It’s difficult to read massive walls of text online, so often many people don’t. Break up your writing into smaller paragraphs, or *ahem* use bullet points.
  • Connect with people, be it in person or via social media. Reach out, ask questions, build those relationships – it makes you a better employee but, most importantly, it makes you a better human.
  • Social media is a powerful tool (heck, it helped me land my initial internship here, and the new job at the HOF!). It doesn’t shrink the world down, but it does make it more accessible – you can trade gifs back and forth with a bar association in the opposite corner of the country (gonna miss you, @TheFlaBar), engage with a law firm in India, and cover a legal tech conference in London.
  • Mistakes happen. Apologize to those affected, fix the mistake and then, most importantly of all, take action to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. It may feel terrible initially, but ultimately it’s another learning experience.
  • Don’t impose limits upon yourself. My friends used to tease me that I operated like a Luddite, or a tech-inept grandmother. When I first took over the front page of LexBlog.com I tip-toed around the backend of the site, ever-fearful of accidentally clicking something that might make the entire thing explode in a wave of code and flame emojis. But I read some WordPress for Dummies, sent Jared far too many Slack messages, and spent a lot of time poking around and testing things out, and ultimately was able to help create and edit demo sites, fix RSS feeds, and all manner of things that once struck fear into my heart.
  • Blogging can change lives. If Kevin hadn’t begun to blog 15 years ago, there wouldn’t be six of us sitting around a table typing away merrily now. And if Bob hadn’t started blogging, well, would legal blogging even exist as it does?
  • Never make a fantasy football trade with Scott. He’s always trying to swindle you.

As I was packing my things last weekend, I found the old legal pad I used when I first started at LexBlog. Each date was carefully boxed at the top of the page, with notes from meetings, thoughts, and assignments scribbled beneath. Phrases like “shine a light,” and “blogging to build relationships” littered the early pages. It seems funny that I felt the need to write those ideas down back then – they’re concepts that are so fundamental to me now that it feels like the equivalent of writing down “breathe,” or “drink water,” or “donuts are delicious.” 

So, thank you, LexBlog. I’ll no longer be a LexBlogger, but I’ll always be a blogger.

And a special thanks to Aimee, for the glorious (gluten free!) wine and cheese spread!

This is not a new question. Not for me personally, not for the team at LexBlog, and certainly not for hundreds of thousands of site managers, theme and plugin developers, and generally interested members of the WordPress community.

Generally, as the WordPress core team prepares a new release, the question of when a new version will be available gets clearer with time. It certainly doesn’t surprise me that WordPress 5.0 is a considerably different animal. 

While 5.0 was slated for release November 27th, it became readily apparent just a few days before the majority of the United States headed toward their annual food coma that the date was not going to be met. On November 21st, Matias Ventura posted on WordPress.org that meeting the previously established timelines was not going to be possible. Without being on the team working on the project and intimately involved in the development, it’s hard to know the exact reason for the delay. Anyone that’s worked on software can make the same guesses that I would (scope is hard, triaging is hard, meeting deadlines is the hardest). 

What I find most interesting at this juncture is that it’s a legitimately open question as to when WordPress 5.0 (and, by extension, Gutenberg) will be ready. In Gary Pendergast’s post on October 3rd, a plan was articulated that seemed to indicate it 5.0 did not launch November 27th the release date would fall back to mid-January: 

We know there is a chance that 5.0 will need additional time, so these dates can slip by up to 8 days if needed. If additional time beyond that is required, we will instead aim for the following dates:

Secondary RC 1: January 8, 2019

Secondary Release: January 22, 2019

However, the core team has been relatively quiet as to the new release date. Honestly, this doesn’t strike me as the worst thing. In reading the room, it seems clear that the Gutenberg team is slowly burning out as the codebase sits in a silo, waiting to be released, while the rest of the core team seems shell-shocked by the constant barrage of complaints. It might be time to take a moment to let everyone catch their breath. 

When I’ve encountered constantly slipping deadlines, that’s generally been my approach. Why are these deadlines being missed? What could I do to manage expectations better; both for the stakeholders and the resources working on the project?

Of course, I’m not working on a project that powers nearly a third of the internet. That would fall to Mr. Mullenweg, who continues to take a strong stance on the speed and development of the new editor:

At LexBlog, our stance has not significantly changed. We’re still working to support the new editing experience, and are wrapping up the last remaining tickets to ensure feature parity with Gutenberg. This is primarily so that internally, we can use and test the new editor well before our clients do, and so that when we do have clients using Gutenberg, our team knows all of the ins and outs of the new interface. This post was written in Gutenberg, my blog has Gutenberg activated, and I continue to activate the plugin on internal properties where I can get away with it 😉 When WordPress 5.0 launches, we’ll move to update our platform as usual, but install the Classic Editor plugin so that our customers can continue writing without having to learn an entirely new interface and we can slowly introduce Gutenberg working with our publishers as we go.

We’re fortunate to have that luxury. We have a great team of developers, and an even better team that directly supports our clients on a daily basis. Not everyone has a team of people working to manage their digital properties, and not everyone managing sites has a team of people behind them. It’s this community of WordPress users (and they make up the bulk of them) that I feel the worst for as we wait for updates.

WordCamp Seattle was this past weekend at the Washington State Convention Center, just a few short blocks away from LexBlog’s offices. This was my third WordCamp in four years and was a return to form (in my opinion) to the first WordCamp Seattle that I went to in 2014 (held at the University of Washington). 

Hot on everyone’s mind, and the subject of many talks, was Gutenberg, the new core editor coming to a WordPress install near you in just a few short weeks (recently, the timeline for the core update was pushed back to November 27th). In talking with various attendees, it was clear that sentiment was mixed on the introduction of Gutenberg and how it would impact their business, but there was also a palpable sense of excitement and interest around the project that I haven’t seen other major core updates garner (such as the Customizer or REST API). As I’ve said before, Gutenberg is a shot to the arm for the WordPress community, and that comes with pros and cons, but Thomas Jefferson was right:

I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.

By this I mean, shakeups in the status quo are a necessary part of any long-term project. If you’re not constantly evaluating and adapting, then you run the risk of stagnation. It’s more clear to me now that the benefits of Gutenberg extend beyond bringing a new technology stack to the table. It’s reengaged the community and brought content managers back into the fold as integral players in the conversation about what WordPress is and how it should move forward. At LexBlog, this is a conversation that’s near and dear to our hearts (as bloggers and managers of the largest legal blogging community in the world) and so it’s exciting to play our own little role as we map out an introduction to Gutenberg for our clients. 

As someone interested in what’s going on under the hood, I spent more time in technically-focused talks, but thoroughly enjoyed Andrea Zoellner’s talk on what Gutenberg could mean for the everyday writer. 

Like many pieces of technology, you have no idea what people will do with Gutenberg once it’s in their hands for an extended period of time. However, if her analogy holds and Snow Fall-esque (an interactive NY Times piece that set the standard for multimedia-driven articles) blog posts will eventually be achievable for the masses, then we’re about to enter a very interesting time for bloggers using WordPress. 

My other two favorite talks were from Alain Schlesser and Jon Peck.

Alain discussed how to change your way of thinking when interacting with Gutenberg, and honestly did a better job of it with his slides than with anything I could write here. The big takeaway for me was that as with all technology, there’s a path to sanity. It just might be a bit circuitous. If you’re looking for a less abstract breakdown, just go take a look at his slides! 

Meanwhile, Jon Peck (of Algorithmia) tackled a subject that is a big topic on my mind and was exciting to see someone in the WordPress sphere musing on it as well: Machine learning. For LexBlog, machine learning holds the keys to how we can effectively tag and organize content on LexBlog.com (which has over 400,000 posts and 150-200+ coming in every day). For WordPress, it could mean better ways to manage forums, create advanced applications, and continue to engage the broader engineering community. His talk was a shot in the arm and has me thinking about how to move forward on projects that include components of machine learning algorithms. His slides are also well worth the review, and there was also a fun WordPress plugin that he introduced that could be used as a scaffold for many different projects.  

In short, an incredibly fun and exciting WordCamp. Here’s to many more!

I’ve been at LexBlog for several weeks now and it has been more interesting than stressful. I have a simple job really. I have only been given one task: find all the blogs from all the attorneys in the United States. This seems like a daunting task, but for someone like me, it’s a massive logic puzzle, a game of Sudoku. I pride myself in finding things, anything really. It is a skill I have built over a decade of curiosity and education. So, you can see why I would jump at the chance to put my searching skills to the test. I would be asking myself “What is acceptable redundancy?”

In the last several weeks I have started and restarted “the master search” multiple times. My master search sheet, of which there are 3, has gone under building and rebuilding. It the first instance I focused on law practices by state. According to the Martindale database there are 386 law practices. That may just be how they narrow “practice” down, but there are definitely more. A search on Martindale for Alabama attorneys returns 54,339 practice areas with a total of 19,222 attorneys. My first problem was finding enough attorneys in a given practice. There may be more attorneys practicing child custody cases, but fewer child protection. For an outsider to law like myself, it feels like splitting hairs. The second problem was many attorneys are apart of firms and those firms cover multiple practice areas. I wanted to be specific; therefore, I needed to start from the beginning.

The second iteration of the master search focused on all states simultaneously, but focusing on a single practice. Using the 386 practice areas, this would result in 19,300 separate searches for all practices over all 50 states. The issue: some practices are not a focus in some states. While that may seem obvious, a genuine lack of maritime lawyers in Oklahoma, the problem was more complicated than that. It meant that law firms may define their law practice outside the definitions of Martindale and I already had my suspicions from the first iteration. It would also mean that I would be going over the same law firms over and over. I am a hard worker, but I’m not going to double, triple, or multiply my efforts times 386, if I’m not required.

I decided to make the ultimate filtering tool and go from there. I revised my second iteration and made an excel that would color coat across all states and all law practices based on a series of duplicates. Red text equals multiple states. Green background means websites with blogs in multiple practices. I think you get the point. This meant that I could cover every search without worrying about overlap. After a few hours, I realized I would again be covering the same firms over and over again. This process still did not resolve the multiple-practices issue. Not the best idea when time is valuable. I wanted to make every search meaningful and cut down on redundancies as much as possible.

My most current master search has lead me to using the most basic and simplified search. I went to the Alabama State Bar(ASB) and discarded Martindale. According to the ASB, there are 13,552 registered attorneys. Makes me think Martindale has some cleaning up to do with their 19,222 result. I went through each attorney,  copied their law firm, and did a basic google search for each firm. It took me an afternoon to go through 1800 attorneys. I found 438 law firms (removing companies, educational entities, and government entities). 287 of those firms had websites without blogs and 154 with blogs. 103 of those with blogs have written a post in the last year. This means that the ratio of attorneys to active blogs is about 1/18. The quality ratio is much lower, but for both those of good quality and poor. Most of the blogs are fairly typical. The amount of time in this process is so far the most ideal. Each lawyer could only ever be covered once and law firms were auto sorted to remove duplicates. I would save sorting by practice for a much later date.

Estimating my time, I should finish sorting Alabama attorneys to their firms in about 35-45 hours. The firms to their website with or without blogs should take another 40-50 hours. This process has been drastically cut down, but I’m sorting the sand from the flour. It is a task that needs to be done and should be completed. Especially if Lexblog ever intends to make bread with these blogs. It may seem like a tedious task, but the reality is much different. I have found some hidden blogs. I found blogs that only a person like me could find. They are tucked away in pages lost in the depths of a website. It is a great feeling finding these treasures. Some of these small blogs are fantastic reads and the authors could really add to the cannon. I hope I can bring these blogs the attention they deserve.

There is a long-running discussion at LexBlog about the benefits and perils of third-party solutions. This discussion has been going on for so long that if you look closely enough, you can find evidence of it in this A List Apart post from 2014 by our own Scott Fennell. This post, is also the subject of Scott’s WordCamp Portland Maine talk this year, so the battle clearly rages on (shameless plug for Scott/WordCamp Portland Maine here – he’s in some rarefied air with this speaker list!).

As with most things, I find my opinions on this subject to be complex. On the one hand, I’ve personally seen what happens when a site manager grows accustomed to a WordPress plugin only to see the support for it slowly fade as the developer (or company) behind it slows their involvement in supporting and managing the codebase. On the other hand, I’ve npm install‘d my way to freedom from more issues than I’d like to admit.

Today was a day where I was saved by a third-party solution. WP Crontrol, a plugin from John Blackbourn, is a handy tool that provides a user interface for CRUDing WP-cron events. Typically, the problems that plague the WP-cron elude us as WP Engine provides a true cron that we use on all of our environments to ensure that scheduled actions take place when our publishers (and us) expect them to. However, this isn’t a perfect solution as long-running crons can cause a bottleneck to appear at the top of the cron stack with those cron jobs stopping others from firing.  This is a pretty frustrating issue for someone that just wants their scheduled post to go live without worrying, and difficult to troubleshoot as cron events are held off in the database without a great way to manage them.

Enter WP Crontrol. After installing this plugin, I was able to easily see a list of cron events that clearly should have fired by now. After deleting the oldest cron, the rest cleared up in short order. 

Now, Mr. Blackbourn is a well-known quantity in the WordPress realm. We use his plugin Query Monitor regularly, he’s a core contributor, and works at Human Made, a highly-regarded WordPress agency. This is a far cry from the sorts of solutions that Scott or other members of the LexBlog product would typically have concerns about.

But where do you draw the line? As I eluded to above, npm is something I’ve grown accustomed to using, and many of those modules have dependency chains that stink to high heaven. LexBlog taps into a number of third-party plugins that are now a core part of our product offering. WordPress itself is a third-party solution that we have built our business upon. There is no escaping the power of these tools, and I wouldn’t want to even if I could. 

The trick, as Scott so eloquently puts it at the end of his post on A List Apart, is knowing when to leap into someone’s helping hands, and knowing when to take a stand:

It’s not that third parties are bad per se. It’s just that the modern web team strikes me as a strange place: not only do we stand on the shoulders of giants, we do so without getting to know them first—and we hoist our organizations and clients up there, too.

So look before you leap. It’s never as easy as just installing and forgetting.