We Hire Bloggers Who Immediately Stop Blogging

Years ago in 2007, when I first joined Canonical as a staffer, I attended their yearly in-person all-hands meeting during my second week of employment. During the opening plenary, after the icebreaker where all new employees were asked to stand up and explain the history of their IRC pseudonym, the presenter lamented, “We hire bloggers who immediately stop blogging.”

The presenter then went on to talk about how many prospective candidates make it through to the final-round interviews because of their public open source contributions and blog entires. Which makes perfect sense! Ubuntu is open source. Canonical hires expert open source contributors. And what better way is there to promote your open source contributions than to blog about them!

But the comment about how new hires stop blogging really stayed with me. While working at Pepper before Canonical I used to blog daily here on Inert Ramblings and many other now-defunct platforms and forums. I blogged about everything from diet and exercise to tech industry news to photography and journalism.

I Immediately Stopped Blogging

Three months before my team was officially hired by Canonical, Pepper was contracted with Canonical for three months to work on the then-skunk works Ubuntu mobile project.

Everyone at Pepper, including myself, went heads-down with tighter deadlines and more intensive workloads. We found less time to work on our personal open source projects and endeavors. Which in turn led to less things to blog about. Even our after-hours personal time was now dedicated to Canonical projects.

Don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t a bad thing! I’m a geek. I have geek hobbies. Canonical was my dream job and my workload coincidentally paralleled my hobbies. So, for me, it was a win-win!

The only real difference was that I stopped blogging because I was so busy with work. I stopped posting to Inert Ramblings. I stopped posting to photography forums. I stopped posting to coding forums. I stopped posting to the social media platforms that were active at the time. I even stopped rally racing.

It’s not that the previous culture at Canonical dissuaded against blogging. It’s just that there was no incentive to blog anymore. If we were blogging then we weren’t working towards our deadlines. And, although Canonical management made the occasional comments wondering why folks stopped blogging, there was never an official company policy to promote blogging and make it part of our daily workflow.

Start your blogging engines!

Luckily, things changed a few years ago. Canonical holds quarterly product roadmap sprints for key managers and engineers. I organized most of these sprints and, during numerous plenary sessions over the past few years, upper management made it a point to encourage teams to blog about their non-proprietary projects.

Which is great! Canonical’s Ubuntu Blog started seeing more content and traffic. More content started appearing on employee personal blogs. News organizations started picking up stories based on employee blog entries. And, during every roadmap cycle, managers encouraged their employees to blog about what they’re working on.

And the community took notice! More blog content from Canonical and their employees started getting syndicated. My RSS reader is now filled with content from both the official Ubuntu Blog and personal employee blogs!

So, take note. Your company’s marketing team shouldn’t be your only outreach channel. Your employee’s personal blogs can be just as bolstering for your product and service offering!

Sean Sosik-Hamor is a former employee of Canonical. Working within Canonical’s IS Team Alpha Squad, Sean’s focus was end-to-end logistics, planning, implementation, and photography for corporate events, summits, conventions, data centers, facilities, equipment transport, and constructing offices and data centers.

He is currently entertaining offers for full-time positions within the photography, event, and data center fields.

Create Shell Scripts to Implement Your Own Local Fix for Poor App UI/UX

Repository: Sean Sosik-Hamor’s Snippets-Collection on GitHub.com – Newsvoice.com

I’ve recently started submitting summary posts to Newsvoice.com to expand my journalism portfolio for Hamor Photography in Pelham, NH.

But, like many web-based services, the web app doesn’t implement the same feature set as the smartphone app and vice versa. More frustratingly, neither app seems to allow editors to view a list of their submitted story links or their summaries pending moderation.

So I’ve hacked together a quick shell script to find the latest published summary URL on Newsvoice.com, iterate from that URL through a list of all recently-submitted summaries (both published and unpublished), and do a case-insensitive search for a single-word string that appears in your latest submitted title.

That way, as soon as you submit the links and title, you can immediately find the URL to your unmoderated story links page and submit your summary for moderation before another contributor claims it!

And, once the story links page is is approved by moderators, the script will also find all other stories that link to the page.

Unless I’m overlooking some obvious functionality during the submission process the workflow seems to entail:

  1. Submit multiple links for a news story from different reputable news sources with differing views, opinions, or biases.
  2. Create a short, unbiased, factual title to describe the story links.
  3. Wait for your links and title to be approved by moderators.
  4. Tap the approval notification that’s pushed to your smartphone.
  5. Create an unbiased summary of the story.
  6. Wait for your summary to be approved by moderators.
  7. The final story with summary and links will publish publicly on the Newsvoice front page or channel page once approved my moderators.

It sounds pretty straightforward. But things get frustrating going into step 4.

Once the links are approved by moderators anyone can claim the story links and write their own unbiased summary of the story. Like Wikipedia, shared editing with public accountability is the whole point of Newsvoice. But the only approval notice that you receive is via the single push notification on your smartphone.

When you tap the notification it permanently disappears. If you unlock your smartphone without tapping the notification, and the Newsvoice app was the last app that you used, then the notification permanently disappears without displaying the approved story links screen within the app.

Either way, if you forget to save the approved story links page in the smartphone app once you tap the notification, then you can’t find it again. And, since you’re not given the story ID or URL, you can’t find the story links page through the web app either.

And that’s not even taking into consideration that trying to write summaries on a tiny smartphone screen is less than ideal.

It could take a couple hours for the links to show up as a published story links page with no summary and, in the meantime, someone else could click claim.

So far I’m a fan of the idea of the Newsvoice platform. The more I use the platform as a non-moderator contributor the more frustrated I become. It should also be noted that, any time I’ve submitted more than two links to a story, only one or two links are approved. Other summary pages may show a dozen or more links so my assumption is only links submitted by multiple contributors (or merged pages) display more than a link or two.

Updated Sunday, July 26, 2020 to fix a typo, reorder paragraphs, and add a conclusion paragraph.