Accessibility is good for everyone

It’s great to see the recent changes to Automattic’s long-term hiring processes based upon a user research study into how their approach to tech hiring resonates with women and non-binary folks:

In May, Automattic’s engineering hiring team launched a user research study to better understand how our approach to tech hiring resonates with women and non-binary folks who may experience similar gender discrimination in the workplace and are experienced developers.

What changes did we make?

  • Existing work and life commitments mean that it is important to know the details of the hiring process at the outset: we have published a public page that clearly outlines our hiring process so that people have a concrete understanding of the expectations.
  • We removed all the little games from our job posting page. We were trying to test people’s attention to the job posting and filter out unmotivated candidates; it turned out we were also putting people off who we want to apply.
  • We removed all the language that emphasized that hiring is a competitive process -for instance, removing language about application volume.

Whilst I don’t fit into their target audience for this study, if these changes had been implemented earlier I would have personally benefited from these, instead of being disheartened about waiting for 4 years for a response to a job application that never came (I did eventually work up the courage to apply again at which time I was successful).

This example shows that making your recruitment processes more clear and accessible makes it better for everyone, not just those who experience discrimination – much like web accessibility benefits everyone, regardless of ability.

TestBash Sydney: Automated e2e Testing at WordPress.com

This is an approximate transcript of the talk I delivered at TestBash in Sydney on Friday 19th October 2018.

Alister Scott Test Bash Sydney Oct 2018-1-1

Today I’d like to share my story about how we started with automated end to end testing at WordPress.com since I started at Automattic over 3 years ago.

Alister Scott Test Bash Sydney Oct 2018 2-2

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AMA: BA roles in Automattic?

Iroy asks…

Automattic uses interesting and fun names for different roles (QA being excellence wrangler). Are there Business Analyst roles in Automattic? If so, what is it called?

My Response…

At Automattic we differentiate between a Job Title and a Role. My (current) job title is indeed Excellence Wrangler and my role is Code Wrangling. Anyone is free to change their job title to anything they like at any time so we have some fun ones, whereas the roles are pretty static.

Continue reading “AMA: BA roles in Automattic?”

Getting Started with WebDriverJS & Mocha

See also: WebDriverJS & Mocha Part 2: Hooks

As more and more companies move towards having web user interfaces built using JavaScript (eg. React & AngularJS), as well as towards full stack JavaScript (Node.js), it seems JavaScript is becoming a ubiqutous programming language, with more and more developers mastering it.

It makes sense then to start writing automated acceptance tests in JavaScript using Node.js, as this lowers the barrier for more people to write acceptance tests.

I’ve recently started using WebDriverJS (the official Selenium JavaScript library) and Mocha to write automated acceptance tests for WordPress.com, and I want to share some of my findings so far.

Continue reading “Getting Started with WebDriverJS & Mocha”

Bush Walking (or how a wasp can destroy your iPhone)

Everyone at the Automattic Grand Meetup is required to give a 4 minute (or less) flash talk about any topic they like. I told a story about how I was stung by a wasp bush walking. This was my talk:

Bush Walking by Alister Scott (16)

Continue reading “Bush Walking (or how a wasp can destroy your iPhone)”

Automattic Grand Meetup

My first few weeks working at Automattic (WordPress.com) have been great. As I mentioned previously; I spent my first three weeks on customer support (like everyone else), and this week I am in Park City, Utah for our annual all company meetup (Automattic Grand Meetup).

Since Automattic is a 100% distributed company with about 400 staff across 36 countries, it’s important to have face-to-face contact a few times a year, and this is the biggest meetup where everyone from across the globe comes together. Other meetups throughout the year are for teams or projects and are much smaller.

Park City is a very pretty place, I’ve enjoyed my time here. Here’s some of my photos.

 

An Automattician To Be

I am excited to announce I will be starting as a full time Excellence Wrangler for Automattic working on WordPress.com from this coming Monday.

Improve the quality of the WordPress.com experience through testing and triage. Your work will inform product teams to act on the top priority issues facing our users. Tasks include automated UI testing, creating and executing test plans, effective issue tracking and triage, and identifying and monitoring quality metrics.

I’ve dreamed about working for Automattic/WordPress.com for a long time (I first wrote about working for Automattic in 2008), and with their newly created Excellence Wrangler roles this really is a dream come true.

WordPress is superbly simple yet beautifully powerful software that powers 24% of the Internet (including this blog), not only for blogs like this but sites for businesses, artist’s portfolios, hobbyists and giant media organizations like CNN and TIME.

Some amazing facts about Automattic and how I was hired:

  1. Automattic are 100% distributed with 395 staff across 36 countries all working from home or wherever they choose.
  2. I have already worked for Automattic for almost 3 months on a paid trial, where I was given a real project to work on in my spare time. This is a requirement for all new hires at Automattic. I can’t overstate how great this is, as it gave both Automattic and myself real exposure to each other before committing to a full time job. It now makes taking on a new job without a trial seem too daunting.
  3. Automattic does their entire interviewing/trial/hiring process via asynchronous text chat (Skype/Slack), including the final hiring discussion with Matt, so I have never spoken to a person from Automattic. Whilst this may seem unusual at first, it’s representative of how the company works in such a distributed way, and it’s a great way to eliminate all prejudice/bias from a hiring process as it’s all about what value someone can add, not what they look or sound like.
  4. Everyone who joins Automattic full time spends their first 3 weeks on support, regardless of their position. I am looking forward to this next week as it will give me broad insight into how WordPress.com is used by real customers by working as a ‘Happiness Engineer’: Genchi Genbutsu.

I can’t wait to be a part of the future of WordPress.com, so stay tuned for more updates as I begin this exciting next stage of my career.