Celebrating Pride Month: Perspectives on Identity, Diversity, Communication, and Change

Throughout June, we’ve published a series of Q&As at WordPress Discover featuring members of the Automattic team. These conversations explore personal journeys; reflections on identity; and diversity and inclusion in tech, design, and the workplace. Here are highlights from these interviews.

“In a World That Wants You to Apologize or Minimize Who You Are, Don’t.”

Gina Gowins is an HR operations magician on the Human League, our global human resources team. In this interview, Gina examines identity and language; communication and trust-building in a distributed, mostly text-based environment; and how her life experiences have informed her work.

I am particularly attached to the term queer as a repurposing of a word that was once used to isolate and disempower people — it was used to call people out as problematically different and other. From my perspective, there is no normal and no other; instead, we are all individual and unique. Identifying as queer allows me to take pride in my own individuality.

Language changes over time, and how we use language shapes our values and thinking. In a culture that is aggressively governed by heteronormative values and where it can still be dangerous and lonely to be LGBTQIA+ — such as the United States, where I live — defining myself as queer is also my small act of defiance. It is a reminder of the consistent fight for acceptance, inclusion, and justice that so many people face, and our inherent value and validity as humans.

“Reflect What Is Given, and In So Doing Change It a Little”

Echo Gregor is a software engineer on Jetpack’s Voyager team, working on new features that “expand Jetpack’s frontiers.” In this conversation, Echo talks about gender identity, pronouns, and names; and how xer identity and experiences have impacted xer approach to development and work in general.

Earlier in my transition, I called myself “E” sort of as a placeholder while I pondered name things. One late night, on the way home from a party, I had a friend ask if they could call me Echo, as it was the callsign equivalent for “E.” I immediately fell in love with the name, and gradually started using it more and more, until I made it my legal name.

I like that it’s simple and doesn’t have many gendered connotations in the modern world. I also appreciate it’s mythological origin! In the myth, Echo was a mountain nymph cursed by the goddess Hera — to be unable to speak, and only repeat the last words said to her.

I think there’s a lot of parallels in our world to that idea. We’re part of systems that are so much bigger than us that it’s rare any one of us can be loud enough to bring meaningful change, to speak new words. But echoes don’t perfectly repeat things. They reflect what is given, and in so doing change it a little. I like to try and live up to that by bringing a bit of change to the world, not by being the loudest, but by reflecting things back in my own way.

“Living My Life Freely and Authentically”

Mel Choyce-Dwan is a product designer on the theme team. In this Q&A, Mel tells us how she got involved with the WordPress community through a previous WordCamp, about her observations of tech events as a queer designer, and about the importance of inclusive design.

Show a lot of different kinds of people in your writing and your imagery, and don’t make assumptions. Talk to people from the communities you’re representing if you can, or read about their own experiences from their perspectives. Don’t assume you know better than someone else’s lived experience. When in doubt, talk to people.

And don’t just talk to people about how your product should work, talk about how it shouldn’t work. Talk about how people think others could hurt them using your product. People of marginalized identities often have stories of being harassed, stalked, or abused on the web. We need to think about how our products can be used for harm before — not after — the harassment.

“Every Person and Voice Has the Opportunity to Be Heard”

Niesha Sweet, a people experience wrangler on the Human League, says she feels like she was destined to work at Automattic. In this final interview, Niesha reflects on her Pride Month traditions and what she finds most rewarding about her HR work.

I would say that we all have to apply an additional level of empathy, understanding, and openness when working together. Just with communication alone — English is not the first language for some Automatticians, and some cultures’ communication style is direct. Assuming positive intent and having an additional level of empathy for one another allows us to effectively communicate with each other, while also appreciating our differences. 

The reward that comes with our diverse workforce is that every person and voice has the opportunity to be heard. Impostor syndrome is real, so some Automatticians may not feel as though they can share their ideas with anyone at the company, but we truly can. Our level of diversity is truly outside of what the typical company is aiming to achieve. That’s not to say we’re not looking to hire more diverse Automatticians, or increase our workforce with non-US hires, but we’re not limited by age, sexual orientation, race, and gender identity. Diversity has a different meaning in a lot of the countries where we have Automatticians, and that alone is rewarding. 

Learn more about diversity and inclusion at Automattic. We’re currently hiring — apply to work with us!

Editing and Enhancing Images in the WordPress Apps

The WordPress app on your Android or iOS device is your companion wherever you go. Manage your site, write and publish, and even add images to your posts — from anywhere you are. Oftentimes, the most engaging posts include visuals, like the photos you take on the go: pictures from last week’s walk, snapshots of your afternoon picnic, or portraits of the family with your puppy.

Have you ever needed to edit your images on your phone? Maybe the lighting wasn’t quite right, or the framing and composition were off. You can now make small retouches right in the WordPress app, like cropping, rotating, and even adding a filter to change the mood of your photos.

Editing photos

You now have the option to edit an image. If your photo is already in the post, tap it, then tap the icon in the top right corner and select Edit. When you’re finished editing the image, tap Done and the previous image will be replaced with the new one.

If you’re adding a new image, you can edit it before inserting it into the post. For example, add a Gallery Block, tap Add Media, and select Choose from your device. Select one or multiple photos, then in the bottom left corner, tap Edit. Edit your image, tap Insert, and that’s it!

If you’re offline, you can still add, edit, and insert new images to a post. 

Making small adjustments

Need to adjust or enhance an image? You can now rotate a photo or crop the borders:

Adding a filter or drawing over an image

If you’re using the iOS app, you can apply a filter to your picture:

And if you have iOS 13 or later, you can also draw over an image, either with your finger or with your Apple Pencil:

Android users, stay tuned: these features are coming soon!

We’re thrilled about these new updates to the Media Editor! Let us know what you’d like to see in upcoming versions. We’d love to hear your feedback.

Expert Advice: Manage Your Site on the Go Using the WordPress Mobile Apps

For many people, the go-to tool for updating a website is a laptop or desktop computer. Did you know, though, that the computer you carry around in your pocket has as much power as the one on your desk? The WordPress mobile apps are packed with features that make it possible to manage your site no matter where you are.

Want to become a WordPress app pro? Register for our next webinar, “WordPress Mobile: Your site. Your inspiration. Anywhere.” We’ll be sharing bite-sized tips that will transform the way you manage your site and connect with your audience. 

Some of the topics we’ll cover include:

  • How to create a site from your phone.
  • Using stats on the mobile app for a deep dive into your site’s performance. 
  • Leveraging the activity log to keep an eye on what’s going on around your site.
  • The recently introduced WordPress editor and the ways it has revolutionized mobile content creation. 
  • Starter page templates and how they can jump-start your page designs.
  • How to use the WordPress.com Reader to find new content and expand your site’s audience. 
  • Making the most of real-time notifications and alerts.

Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Time: 10:00 a.m. PDT | 11:00 a.m. MDT | 12:00 p.m. CDT | 1:00 p.m. EDT | 17:00 UTC
Cost: Free
Registration link

Eli Budelli and I will be your hosts — we work on the WordPress mobile apps, so you’ll be learning and sharing with the people who are crafting your mobile experiences. No previous knowledge using our mobile apps is necessary, but we recommend a basic familiarity with WordPress.com and installing the WordPress app to ensure you can make the most from the webinar. The session will cover both iOS and Android, last about 40 minutes, and conclude with a Q&A session (15-20 minutes), so start writing down any questions you may have, and bring them with you to the webinar.

Attendee slots are limited, so be sure to register early to save your seat! But if you can’t make it, we’ve got your back. A recording of the webinar will be uploaded to our YouTube channel a few days after the event.

See you then!

Enjoy a Smoother Experience with the Updated Block Editor

Little details make a big difference. The latest block editor improvements incorporate some common feedback you’ve shared with us and make the editing experience even more intuitive than before.

We’ve also updated the categories we use to organize blocks, so you can find exactly what you need, fast. Read on to learn about recent changes you’ll notice next time you open the editor.

Move on quickly after citations and captions

Have you ever felt as if you were stuck inside a block after adding a citation? Now, when you hit Enter or Return at the end of the citation, you’ll be ready to start typing in a new text block.

Quotes were a bit sticky…

Much smoother now!

Quotes, images, embeds, and other blocks now offer this smoother experience. It’s a small change that will save you a little bit of time, but those seconds add up, and less frustration is priceless.

Streamlined heading selection

Another subtle-yet-helpful change we’ve introduced is simplified heading levels. Before, the block toolbar included a few limited options with additional ones in the sidebar. Now, you can find all available heading levels right in the block toolbar, and adjust the heading directly from the block you’re working on. (For even more simplicity, we’ve also removed the dropdown in the sidebar.)

Select a parent block with ease

Working with nested blocks to create advanced page layouts is now considerably smoother. Some users told us it was too difficult to select a parent block, se we’ve added an easier way to find it right from the toolbar. Now it’s a breeze to make picture-perfect layouts!

Filter your latest posts by author

Sites and blogs with multiple authors will love this update: you can now choose a specific author to feature in the Latest Posts block.

To highlight recent articles from a particular writer, just select their name in the block’s settings.

Renamed block categories

Finally, the next time you click the + symbol to add a new block, you’ll notice new, intuitive block categories that make it both easier and faster to find just the block you’re looking for.

What’s new:

  • Text
  • Media
  • Design

What’s gone:

  • Common
  • Formatting
  • Layout

You keep building, we’ll keep improving

Thank you for all your input on how the block editor can be better! We’re listening. If you have more ideas, leave a comment below.

👋 Happy editing!

lily hanley making my blog 2020-06-04 23:57:01

I really wanted to do something cool and was very excited to play with stop motion. The day I decided to film came to halt when I realized I need something to keep my phone steady.

I sat for a couple of days and thought about what I would do with little resources and i thought about him traveling across my house, sliding his way using counters and even a banister. Things were quite shaky unless my phone was propped but not everywhere in my house or even outside had that kind of access.

to make it better I decided to I would make it a silly guide, and added the videos at the end as bloopers that weren’t as stable, or cute. I had lots of fun creating my character, based on a real character in a horror game I like called Five Nights At Freddy’s. I found a really awesome video/movie editor that the video will self promote and ruin parts of the video.. and couldn’t figure out how to get rid of. I had lots of fun creating his potato friends but it’s not what I wanted. but still I tried my best to turn it around and make it at least a little enjoyable. I think this assignment would have gone better with more planning and educating myself further on requirements for stop motion, like a tripod. I also didn’t realize how tedious the process is, but there was also reward in that. My family enjoyed my little creations with me. I think I will try stop motion again in a different time, when I have better resources.. and maybe when things are a little less stressful.

I definitely should have given myself more time, and space for error as I came across many. I’ll defiantly do better next time!

Dress Up | Sp20 Final project

This class went by so fast, maybe it was because I was happy to edit again. And I can’t wait to see everyone’s projects! 

For my final I wanted it to focus on something that I am very passionate about, and share it with all of you.

I deal a lot with anxiety and depression, and due to Covid, racism, and recent trauma from a very toxic friend, this year has been very overwhelming. But throughout all these struggles, cosplay has helped me get through it for so many years. For those who don’t know, cosplay is a mix between the words costume and play, and it is the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game. But this hobbie let’s me express myself in a creative way.

But for my final I wanted to show my daily life, and me living with depression. Everything feels like there’s no color in the world. And the scribble animation is done by yours truly, and this is what anxiety looks like to me. And by the end of the video, when I get into the full cosplay, it shows it bringing color back into my life.

For this project, I wanted to show that when things feel down, doing what makes you happy, like art, sports, cooking, music, and even cosplay, will help cope with your day to day struggles. And I hope a lot of people got the message in this project. 

I’m sad that covid got in the way of attending this class in person, but overall, I really enjoyed it, and I enjoyed watching everyone’s creations. It was nice to get to know everyone, and If any of you want to talk , feel free to send me a message. Anyways, I hope your day is good. Stay safe, and stay healthy. -Gyllian


To start off, I’d like to say that for all its faults, I do genuinely enjoy the final project I have made, however, the amount of hurdles I had to jump over to get to this point was frankly ridiculous. Is it possible I made my own life harder? Absolutely. 

Let’s start with the absolute basics: I don’t have an animation program, or at least, one that I understand. With that in mind I had to draw the frames individually in a drawing program, which means that I had the option of making 30 individual files, or one big one that I could use onion skin mode on for convenience. I chose the latter, however, that made inking especially rough, and I didnt like how the frames were coming out. Instead, I inked on the same layer I sketched on. Even though you can see the sketches, I actually like that, I feel like it has more character overall so I don’t regret that decision. 

The audio I actually am quite proud of, despite my subpar voice acting. My best friend played the male knight in this, and I used Epidemic Sound for all of the sound effects. I ended up using a lot more sound effects in this one than I did in the actual audio project, and I think it ended up better for all the risks I took! I especially am proud of the part where the female knight unsheathes her sword and cuts down her fellow knight, that had 3 different sound effects in close succession with my friends groans for good measure. 

Editing it together gave me the most problems. I learned how to use Premiere Pro well enough, but I couldn’t export it as an MP4 until I downloaded a certain driver, which, I cannot stress this enough, I didn’t know how to do. I didn’t know if I had a similar driver I needed to delete first or even which one was the correct one I needed. It got so bad that I eventually had to cut my losses after 4 hours of troubleshooting, and had to re-edit it in an entirely different program. 

With all that said, I think it turned out well! I wanted to do something like this sort of loose ‘animation’, but did not have an excuse to try it. It turns out I really like it! It was fun, I just wish I had done something more experimental with the editing or visuals, but overall, I am very pleased with how this came out.

Final Production

For the final project, I decided to test my skills and patience by making a stop motion animation. I wanted to do something fun, cute, and creative. Using very detailed Playmobil toys as my characters, animals, props and structures, I got to literally play with my ideas and use a sky blue colored sheet to act as the background. Imagining and creating these scenes was the fun part of the project, using a variety of props and animals to show attention to details. I knew that filming would be tedious, because it’s taking hundreds of photos and moving the toys and props a half an inch every frame; but this was not even the worst part.

The most challenging part was by far editing. So initially I was going to use Vimeo, however my Vimeo membership had expired, so I tried to go the free route. Big mistake, I used FilmoraPro to edit my video because it was listed as one of the better softwares for free editing on Google. After completing my video, I exported it and discovered that due to using the free version, there was a giant water mark in the center of the frame for the entire video. There was also a constant piano key being played, actually ruining the audio. So after purchasing the premium software (Filmora9), I had to download more software, only to discover that I am unable to retrieve any of the edits I made on the free version. So we are in the process of starting editing over, and scrambling to redo everything (hopefully it’s done before Sunday). I strongly recommend not using Filmora for anything.

As stated earlier, all characters, props, animals, and structures are Playmobil toys. I was able to use royalty free sounds and music from personal recordings and freesound.com. I used Filmora to edit, but again, It’s great for editing, not exporting. I also used the Stop Motion Studio app on my phone to record all the stop motion clips. Stop Motion Studio is a great app for anyone trying to make simple stop motions, while keeping all photos and videos consolidated in one app. Despite this project to be challenging at times, I do think I achieved all of goals to test both my skills and patience while making an entertaining short film. Please enjoy this preview in the meantime!