Virtue may be its own reward, but a pat on the back and a simple thanks is pretty great, too.
“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”
Author Cynthia Ozick’s words ring a resounding bell for me. Since reading them, I’ve made it a priority to show appreciation for the people that positively impact my life.
I am a Happiness Engineer on the Community Team. It is our job to staff the forums, but we aren’t alone out there. We have volunteers who spend invaluable time and energy assisting users of all experience levels. They don’t do it for a paycheck. They do it because they’re passionate about WordPress.com, and because they have an innate drive to support the people who create, manage, and contribute to blogs and websites. Although they work with little concern for accolades, I wanted to publicly thank the volunteers in the WordPress.com forums for their assistance.
“Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him.” —Albert Schweitzer
Maureen’s work can be seen at:
One of our prolific volunteers is Maureen Carruthers, whom frequent forums visitors might recognize by the user handle, lizthefair. Maureen joined WordPress.com in 2008 to help a friend start a blog about fun stuff to do in Orlando. Shortly after that, she started her own site, Low Hanging Fruit.
I had the opportunity to ask Maureen some questions that have been on my mind about e-volunteering. She graciously answered, then went back to assisting folks in the forums. Isn’t she something else?
Why do you spend your free time assisting WordPress.com users with their sites?
First because it’s fun. I like solving the tricky problems and seeing the light go on in people’s (virtual) eyes when they start to understand how all the pieces work together. I also learned the basics of CSS recently and I love how just a little bit of well-placed code can make such a difference in the look of a website.
The deeper reason I do it is that I’m passionate about how WordPress.com makes having a fully functional, “grown-up” website possible for people who don’t know any code at all. I strongly believe every person has something to offer, and that having a website is an essential platform for getting that offering into the world. If spending time in the forums cheerfully answering the same 5-6 questions every day means the people I help don’t abandon their idea for a new business, or their blog about their life’s passion, then my time was well spent.
What is the most common question you answer on the forums?
If spending time in the forums cheerfully answering the same 5-6 questions every day means the people I help don’t abandon their idea for a new business, or their blog about their life’s passion, then my time was well spent.
The most common answer I give is some variation of explaining the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
If there were one piece of advice you wish you had gotten when you started using WordPress.com, what would it have been?
I’d have encouraged my past self to go to the forums and ask for help, rather than struggling to figure everything out on my own. Not only would I have saved myself a bit of pain and suffering, I also would have met the great people in the WordPress.com community a lot earlier in my blogging career.
For those struggling to keep up their blogs on a regular basis, do you have any helpful hints?
Be kinder to yourself. The energy you spend beating yourself up for not writing can be much better spent living your life or working on your business.
…the pressure you put on yourself…to do it perfectly can hamper the creative process.
It’s important to spend time on your blog, and to share your ideas in writing, but the pressure you put on yourself to do that on a rigid schedule or to do it perfectly can hamper the creative process. If you give yourself permission to publish only when you have something you really want to say, you might find you have better, and maybe even more frequent posts.
The balance to that advice is write every day. Not great stuff that you are willing to publish. Just sit down and write whatever comes out. There is something about this process that clears all kinds of mental blocks and makes it easier to access the good stuff.
What is your favorite type of blog to read?
I love blogs by women who capture the deep wisdom (and hilarity) of everyday life through their words. The two that come to mind right now are the Art of Practice by my dear friend Lesley, and mimi smartypants by a lovely seeming woman in Chicago that I don’t know.
Maureen is terrific, right? Let the standing ovation begin. Her sense of humor and kindness show through in her responses online. If you haven’t yet interacted with her, it’s a real treat.
If you have a moment, please leave a comment for Maureen, or let me know how you give back to your own communities, virtual or otherwise.