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Today we’re announcing that Atavist, a multimedia publishing platform and award-winning magazine, will be joining WordPress.com parent company Automattic.

This news is exciting to me on a few levels — eight years ago I had my first introduction to Atavist when I met a journalist named Evan Ratliff for coffee at Housing Works in New York. He showed me the first pieces of what became a bold new platform for long-form storytelling, which he created with co-founders Jefferson Rabb and Nicholas Thompson. At the time I had just started Longreads, so we shared an interest in seeing a revival for long-form journalism on the open web.

Fast-forward to today and we’re thrilled to have the Atavist and Longreads teams now together under the WordPress.com banner. Atavist’s publishing platform will be moving over to WordPress, and its award-winning magazine The Atavist will continue to serve up outstanding in-depth storytelling with a new feature each month, under the editorship of Seyward Darby. Also joining the team is Atavist CEO Rabb and head of product communications Kathleen Ross.

I chatted with Rabb, Darby, and Ross about what’s next.

Jeff, Seyward, Kathleen, we’re excited you’re here! You’ve had a terrific run over the past eight years — leading innovation around the design and process of multimedia storytelling, winning many awards along the way — what are your hopes and priorities for Atavist moving forward?

RABB: Thank you, I’m thrilled to be here! My number one hope in joining [WordPress.com parent company] Automattic is to bring everything we have built and learned to an audience that is orders of magnitude larger. I’ve spent the past eight years honing a toolset and sensibility for digital journalism, and now I’m excited to put this to use for a mass audience. When these are integrated into WordPress, I am hoping we will have an unbeatable product for storytelling and journalism. There are many fascinating challenges and problems in journalism today, and now more than ever I want to be part of the solution.

DARBY: I’m also excited to be here! I’ve been at The Atavist Magazine for the last 15 months, and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. The list of things I love about our publication is too long to include in full, but some highlights are the intimate collaborations with creators, the anchoring belief in the timeless power of cinematic storytelling, and the commitment to nurturing the next generation of long-form writers. Certainly, we work with big-name journalists, but we’re also a magazine that supports up-and-coming narrative writers who want to take a swing at a really, really big story. I love nothing more than helping someone crack the code on a 15,000-word feature’s complex structure. (I’m a big fan of Post-It notes and story trees, and of fist-pumping to no one in particular when an article section falls into place.)

Moving forward, the magazine’s foundational priorities will remain the same: We’ll tell great stories, design them beautifully, treat our collaborators well, and have a lot of fun in the process. My hope is that, by combining forces with WordPress.com, we’ll get to push the boundaries of our projects: dive into more multi-part narrative investigations, produce more original video or audio where it makes good sense, improve the diversity of our roster of writers and artists, and provide journalists with the resources and time they need to report the hell out of topics they’re passionate about.

Winning awards and getting our stories optioned for film/TV, which we also have a strong track record of doing, will be goals, absolutely, but never at the expense of providing a quality experience to every person who contributes to or reads The Atavist.

Tell us about some of your favorite stories you’ve hosted.

DARBY: I’m proud of every story I’ve shepherded as the executive editor, so it’s hard for me to pick favorites. The most successful Atavist stories share the same key ingredients: a propulsive, satisfying narrative, rich characters, and scenes that make readers feel immersed in the world the writer is describing. At first blush, Kenneth R. Rosen’s story “The Devil’s Henchmen,” about what is being done with the bodies of the ISIS dead in Mosul, doesn’t seem to have much in common with Amitha Kalaichandran’s “Losing Conner’s Mind,” about a family’s quest to save a child from a rare, fatal disease; Allyn Gaestel’s “Things Fall Apart,” about an over-hyped art installation in Nigeria; Mike Mariani’s “Promethea Unbound,” about the tortured life of a child genius; or David Mark Simpson’s “Not Fuzz,” about a millionaire hotelier who moonlights as a serial police impersonator. Yet these stories all have compelling plots about everyday people whose lives are shaped by sheer will and unpredictable circumstance. You can’t put them down because you want to know what’s going to happen.

As for Atavist stories that predate my time at the magazine, I’ll award a few superlatives. Quirkiest goes to Jon Mooallem’s “American Hippopotamus,” about a bizarre plan to alter the national diet. Most Lyrical goes to Leslie Jamison’s “52 Blue,” about the world’s loneliest whale. Most Ambitious goes to Evan Ratliff’s epic “The Mastermind,” about a crime lord whose empire spanned pretty much the whole world. (It’s soon to be a book and TV show.) And Couldn’t Get It Out of My Head goes to Will Hunt and Matt Wolfe’s “The Ghosts of Pickering Trail,” about a family living in a haunted house. I’ll stop there, but I really could go on and on.

ROSS: Before I worked for Atavist, I actually worked right down the hall, so I have been reading the magazine for a long time. To me, the best Atavist Magazine stories are transporting: in “Welcome to Dog World,” Blair Braverman shows us Alaska; socialites head to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for an early feminist victory in “The Divorce Colony” by April White; and James Verini’s “Love and Ruin” (the title story of our 2016 collection) is a romance and historical epic all in one, and I think about Nancy Hatch Dupree’s library in Afghanistan often. “A Family Matter” may be one of the most important stories we’ve done. Finally, I love stories about spectacular failures, so I have to mention Mitch Moxley’s article “Sunk,” which is about a disastrous attempt to make an epic movie about mermaids; plus, the piece has some excellent moments of maximalist design, including pixelated fish that bob across the page.

RABB: I have a soft spot for the very first stories such as “Lifted,” “Piano Demon,” and “My Mother’s Lover.” In addition to being great pieces of writing, they were the petri dishes in which our experimental approach to storytelling was born. They included ideas such as pop-up annotations, maps, and immersive sound elements. Even though the way we distribute our articles has changed dramatically since those stories were published—back then, they were exclusively on the Atavist mobile app and Kindle—many of the concepts and approaches in them formed the DNA of our company’s product. Developing those first few stories was an exciting and vital time for me.

Finally, I’m wondering what you think about the state of storytelling on the open web today. Where do you think things are headed?

DARBY: There are so many stories being told in the digital space right now, in so many ways, and to so many different audiences. Take SKAM Austin, which D.T. Max recently wrote about for The New Yorker. It’s a teen drama told entirely through Facebook posts, Instagram stories, texts, and other digital scraps and marginalia—a story crafted for its young target audience, based on the way they consume information and communicate with one another. That project is fictional, but there’s similar experimentation happening in the non-fiction space. Certainly, publications are pushing the envelope on transmedia (multi-platform storytelling) and rethinking story structure based on how events now unfold in real time in the palm of your hand. I’m thinking of projects like WIRED‘s story on police brutality, “How Social Media Shaped the Three Days That Shook America,” and National Geographic‘s partnership with ProPublica, “How the U.S. Triggered a Massacre in Mexico.” Recently, I was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Lab, an incubator for storytellers who work with emerging technologies like VR, AR, and AI. It was incredible to hear the ways that this diverse group is reimagining how to create and deliver narratives. I can’t wait for all of the projects they were workshopping to be out in the world, and I hope to bring what I learned there to bear on my work at Automattic.

That said, I’m a journalist first, and when it comes to technology, I always have this nagging fear that form might compromise substance. No one should tell a story entirely via social media or VR or video just because they can; they should do so because there’s actual benefit—to the story itself, to the audience reached, and so on. I’m reminded of my very first job out of college, back in the aughts. I was a journalist in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and I also conducted research on media training needs in the region. I met lots of aspiring journalists who said, “This international NGO helped me set up a blog, but I don’t even really know how to conduct an interview or fact-check. Can someone help me with that?” The experience has always stuck with me as a reminder that the basics of great journalism should apply no matter the platform. At The Atavist, we like to say that story comes first, and by that we mean plot and accuracy, then form and reach.

Bookmark Posts with Save For Later - 21 Jun 2018, 10:00 am

Maybe you’re reading a blog post while sipping your morning tea when you suddenly realize it’s getting late, or you’re browsing on the bus — but you just got to your stop.

The WordPress.com Reader is a great tool for catching up with your favorite blogs or exploring interesting new reads. And now, you can save those posts and resume reading at your leisure with Save For Later.

How does it work?

First, make sure you have the newest version of the  WordPress app on your phone or tablet — version 10.2. Open the app, and head into the Reader.

Saving content for later

Whenever you find a post you’d like to save for later, tap the bookmark icon (Bookmark outlined). The icon will change from an outline to a solid color (Bookmark solid background) so you know the post has been saved.

Repeat the process as many times as you like! You can save posts from your list of Followed Sites, Discover, Search, or My Likes — anywhere in the Reader.

Reading your saved content

When you’re ready to read, open the app again, go back to the Reader, and select Saved Posts. Everything you saved will be waiting for you there, even if your device is offline.

Once you’ve read a post, you can remove it by tapping the bookmark icon again.

A few other notes

In this initial release, images aren’t guaranteed to be available offline. More importantly, Saved Posts is currently a device-specific feature — saved posts aren’t synced between devices or the web, so they’re only available on the device where you saved them. Logging out or uninstalling the app will delete them.

Give feedback and get involved

The WordPress mobile apps are free and available on both Android and iOS.

If you have any questions or feedback, reach out to our in-app support team by tapping Me → Help & Support → Contact Us.

If you’re a developer and would like to contribute to the project, learn how you can get involved.

Happy reading, now or later!

 

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Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do in the community.

Members of Automattic’s Happiness team have traveled to Southeast Asia three times since last September to meet people in communities across the region. Our goal? To encourage people based in South Asia to apply to join us in supporting WordPress.com, WooCommerce, and Jetpack users.

In January 2018, the Happiness Engineer Hiring team, our Events Team, and Mahangu Weerasinghe, a Happiness team lead, collaborated to take a slightly different approach to recruitment in the region. Automattic is a company that aims to build a diverse and inclusive work environment, yet we’d been seeing significantly lower numbers of women applying from South and Southeast Asia. There are a few efforts in the WordPress community to encourage and empower women to get more involved, and we decided the add our voice by organizing a workshop for women. Our plan was straightforward: a free, one-day workshop to inspire participants to set up an online store for themselves or put their newfound skills to use for clients. We talked about the Membership and Subscription extensions for WooCommerce and the Sensei plugin — invaluable tools for enhancing an online store, setting up recurring payments, and managing memberships.

The first workshop took place in January. We chose Udaipur, India, thanks to its strong WordPress community. We attended WordCamp Udaipur, which was organized by an all-female team, and took the opportunity to staff a booth there while our colleague, Rahul Gupta, gave a presentation about how WordPress helped him put food on the table. The next day, we welcomed 40 women to the workshop, exceeding our expectations and requiring us to bring in extra seats!

After the workshop, we invited the community to join us for networking over tea and chatted again with some of the folks we’d met the day before. While the main focus of our trip was outreach to women, we also wanted to do something for the larger community.

One of the attendees was Digication’s Surbhi Jain, who works on digital literacy and skills in India and runs WordPress workshops for students — including in remote areas — increasing awareness and teaching WordPress hands-on. Surbhi attended our workshop to level up her skills and to network, and she’s been helping us spread the word about our hiring efforts since the event.

From Udaipur we traveled to Mumbai, where we taught an abbreviated version of the workshop to women of the local WordPress meetup community. We invited them to learn about options they could use to turn their online store into a membership site and to create and manage products with recurring payments.

We had such a positive response in India that we decided to try the workshop model in Singapore, a city with a strong technology community. The Happiness Engineer Hiring team, affectionately known as Athena, met up with Leviosa, another Happiness team, to co-host the workshop. Two team members, Kruti Dugade and Rose Pajaroja, led the sessions. Kruti had recently joined Automattic — after attending our visit to the Mumbai WordPress user group in September! Again, we drew from the local WordPress community to find attendees and also reached out to other women-in-tech groups. Just like in India, we had a very positive response.

One of my favorite moments during this trip happened at the networking event directly following the workshop. I was standing in a circle of six women — three young women who worked at a web-design firm together, one woman in her 50s who was running a successful family-powered marketing business, an expat from the US, and me. We chatted for quite a while as they shared the struggles and joys of tech in Singapore. It was fascinating to get a glimpse of their work and lives, and learn about the commonalities and differences in our experiences of navigating both.

Since this series of events, we’ve seen an increase of applicants from the region, both male and female. We’ve already hired two new Automatticians from among the people we met during our trip and hope to welcome more in the months to come.

As we strive to provide world-class support to our customers in South and Southeast Asia, we want our team to reflect as many of the diverse communities across this vast region. If you or someone you know is interested, we’re hiring.

Meeting new WordPress friends in India in Singapore was a wonderful experience. While we don’t currently have plans for similar workshops, we hope to have more opportunities in the future to connect with people from other regions.

We’re rolling out updates to our privacy features and policies in the coming weeks. You’ll have more control over your personal information and more detail on what information we keep and what we do with it. The updates will also make sure we comply with new privacy laws, and will help you do the same for your own website or store.  

Our New Privacy Features

Over the past several months, we’ve upgraded many of the privacy-related features on WordPress.com, Jetpack, WooCommerce, and other Automattic products. We want to give you more visibility into the personal data we use and more control over the data you share with us.

In recent weeks, we’ve added:

  • More detailed information on the data our products collect and use, like the information you’ll find in the new Jetpack Privacy Center, as well in-product notifications for privacy-related information.
  • Opt-outs for data uses, like the ability to turn off Automattic’s first-party analytics system on your Jetpack site.  
  • Additional contracts (Data Processing Agreements) for paid users who require them to comply with data protection and privacy laws. If you need a Data Processing Agreement, let us know by contacting support for your product.

Over the coming weeks we plan to launch:

  • A way for users to request access to their personal data.
  • Account closure for WordPress.com accounts.
  • Opt-outs for Automattic’s first party analytics system for WordPress.com users.
  • An updated cookie policy that explains the cookies we use in our services.

We’re also releasing features to help you and your site meet the requirements of new privacy laws, like Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) that goes into effect on May 25, 2018. You can read the full text of the GDPR, as well as the European Commission’s summary. Our new features include: a new “cookie and consent” notification that WordPress.com and Jetpack site owners can add to their sites, and tools for our WooCommerce.com merchants to manage data access and deletion requests from their customers.

These updates are in addition to the privacy protections we’ve always had in place to help you control your content, keep it secure, or even move your site to another WordPress host.

What’s New in Our Policies?

We also updated our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Service. Here are some of the updates you’ll see:

  • We GDPR-ized our Privacy Policy. You’ll now see sections explaining your data protection and privacy rights, how long we keep information, and how we handle transfers of personal data outside the EU.
  • We included WooCommerce.com and Polldaddy in our Automattic-wide Privacy Policy. No more fragmenting: we’re retiring WooCommerce.com and Polldaddy’s separate privacy policies — our privacy practices should be straightforward and easy to understand, so now you only have to understand one.
  • We included more real-world, concrete examples in our Privacy Policy to give you a clearer picture of how we collect and use personal information. There’s specific information about how we make Reader recommendations, how Gravatar works, and how we use information for our marketing.  
  • We added a new Privacy Notice to explain the data that we collect, on behalf of our users, about visitors to our users’ websites. 
  • We updated our Terms of Service to reflect the importance of data protection and privacy laws. Our Terms of Service (and those for Automattic Ads) require that our users comply with applicable laws and regulations as the site owners, and, for added clarity, we included privacy and data protection laws as one of the specific examples.

Our new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service will take effect on May 25, 2018. We’re releasing them now to give you time to take a look at them. If you continue to use our services on or after May 25, 2018, you acknowledge that your use will be subject to our new Privacy Policy and you agree to be bound by our new Terms.

And there’s more to come! We’ll announce more detailed information about privacy features on privacy.blog — follow us there for the latest.

Giving your WordPress.com website its own custom domain has long been a powerful way to make your site stand out — a personalized web address helps you tell the world who you are and what you offer. If you registered your domain on WordPress.com, you already had the power to build a website and manage a domain all in one place. But what if you didn’t? The one missing piece was the ability to transfer existing domains you’d already registered elsewhere.

Today, we’re happy to announce that domain transfers from other providers are welcome at WordPress.com. If you’re already itching to move your domain, our support page will guide you through the process.

If you’re not ready to transfer your domain to WordPress.com, no worries. You can still leave your domain registered at your current registrar and map it here instead. Not sure which option is better for you? There are several advantages to moving your domain to WordPress.com:

  • It’s easier to manage both your site and your domain from the same place.
  • The domain credit that comes with any WordPress.com plan you buy can be used to transfer a domain. When your plan renews, so does your domain.
  • Instead of paying a registrar for your domain and paying us to map it, a single charge covers both.

If you’ve already used the domain credit to map your domain, we have good news: you can transfer that domain to WordPress.com for free!

Not sure whether you should transfer your domain here or map it? You can find more information to help you choose the best option for you.

If you’ve already transferred your domain to WordPress.com and want to share your experience, or have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

You’re finishing up a blog post and want to add a photo, but you don’t have the right image. There’s a solution right in your WordPress mobile app: the Free Photo Library.

As part of our never-ending mission to improve Media in the WordPress apps, you now have access to over 40,000 free, high-quality photos (courtesy of Pexels) right from the WordPress mobile app. It’s available to every WordPress.com member.

(Did we mention that they’re free? And so are the WordPress apps, if you still haven’t downloaded one!  They’re available here.)

How does it work?

To get started, make sure you’ve updated the WordPress app on your phone or tablet to the latest version (9.9). Once you’ve updated the app, you can find and add free photos to your library directly from the post and page editor, or from within the Media Library:

Adding from the Editor

Open the Editor by either creating a new post or opening an existing one. Once you’ve opened the Editor, tap the Add Media icon to open the Media Picker. You’ll see a few different options to choose from: device, camera, or WordPress media.

If you’re on Android, tap the Device Media icon ( Device Library ), and select “Choose from Free Photo Library” from the menu.

If you’re on iOS: tap the ••• icon, and select “Free Photo Library” from the options.

Next, search for a photo to add to your post. Select as many images as you’d like and tap the “Add” button on the bottom right of the screen. That’s it! The images are inserted  into your post or page, and they’re also added to your Media Library seamlessly. (Note: these images will count against your site’s media storage limits.)

Adding from the Media Library

To add from your Media Library, navigate to My Sites ( My Sites ) and choose your site. From there, navigate to “Media, tap the Add Media button in the top right corner, and select “Free Photo Library” from the menu.

From here, the process is the same: select as many photos as you want and tap “Add” to put them into your post or page and your Media Library.

Give Feedback and Get Involved

The WordPress mobile apps are free and available on both iOS and Android!

If you have any questions or feedback, reach out to our in-app support team by tapping Me → Help & Support → Contact Us.

If you’re a developer and would like to contribute to the project, learn how you can get involved.

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One of the very first steps in building a website is picking a domain name — one that’s memorable, and that tells people who you are. It’s the first part of your site that people encounter, so you want one that’s just right.

To make sure you find that just right domain, we’ve renovated WordPress.com’s domain search with:

  • A modern design that makes it easy to see and compare all your options.
  • Intelligent recommendations, drawn from more than 300+ top-level domains like .com and .blog.
  • Important information about availability and value for all your recommended domains, front and center.

Take a look:

Best of all, this search tool works for both new and existing WordPress.com websites. To explore new domains for your current site, head to My Sites → Domains.

If you notice anything amiss while looking for your perfect domain, let us know by leaving a comment here. And if you just had a great experience and landed a new domain, we’d love to hear that, too!

Version 9.8 of WordPress for iOS rolls out this week, and includes some great enhancements to publishing: background media and post uploading.

Adding images to a post or page? Now, you can publish — and accomplish other tasks — while your media uploads. No more waiting inside the editor while images gradually upload! Tap the Publish button and the app takes care of uploading and publishing, leaving you free to leave the post editor and get on with other things.

You can do the same thing while saving drafts. And yes, you can have multiple posts uploading media in the background concurrently.

We’ve also spruced up the interface, and added notifications so that you always know the status of your posts and uploads. Visit your post list at any time for a progress report on all your uploads.

You can even leave the app and the upload will continue in the background while you check other things on your device.

Here is a video of the new functionality:

Give feedback and get involved

Download WordPress for iOS on the App Store. We’ll be rolling out the update over the course of the week, so it may be a couple of days before you see the update on your device. You can always manually check for an update by searching “WordPress” in the App Store if you just can’t wait

Do you have feedback on the app? Please share it!  If you’re a developer and would like to contribute to the project, here’s more information on how you can get involved.

As part of the broader open source community, we believe in building products that people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, and abilities can use and enjoy. We strive to create software that works smoothly for English and non-English speakers alike, and today we’re happy to roll out native support for right-to-left languages in both the iOS and Android WordPress mobile apps.

Adding support for languages like Hebrew or Arabic took us longer than we expected. For the past couple of weeks, however, we worked hard to ensure that all elements in our apps are properly mirrored, easy to reach, and provide a consistent user experience that feels natural in a right-to-left orientation.

The WordPress app will automatically detect the language of your device and change the interface language accordingly. If you want the language of the app to be different from the device language, you can change it by going to Me → App Settings → Interface Language.

We hope that this update will take us a step closer to making WordPress the most inclusive and diverse platform in the world.

Share your feedback!

If you use a right-to-left language in one of our WordPress mobile apps and notice that anything is amiss, do let us know — leave a comment here and we’ll try to address the issue as quickly as possible.

Are you using the WordPress for iOS app on your mobile device? Our mobile team is excited to announce a big update to the share extension in the app.

The ability to share content from other apps is a core part of the iOS experience. Last fall, we decided that our share extension was overdue for a refresh, so we rolled up our sleeves and rethought the entire workflow for both iPhones and iPads. The result is a new and improved experience in version 9.6!

Sharing made easier

Now when you share content, you’ll notice that the share extension allows you to format text, add headings, make lists, and more with a toolbar similar to the one in your app’s existing editor. After drafting your post, you can assign a category and add relevant tags. When you’re satisfied, select the site to publish the post on and tap Publish at the top right. The app will then upload your post and images in the background and notify you when it’s finished.

As a bonus, if you share something from Safari, the extension will provide an attribution link and automatically format any selected text in a blockquote.

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A brand-new draft extension

Our customers provide us with great feedback, and many of you have let us know that you often would like to capture an idea for later. Perhaps you want to upload a snapshot from the Photos app, or save a motivational quote from a fellow writer’s website for your next post.

The new draft extension allows you to do just that: now, you can quickly save selected content in a draft post, allowing you to work on it later.

Set up your device and start sharing

Activating both of these extensions requires a few small steps, but you should only have to do this once. To get started, open the app that contains the content you’d like to share and tap the share button. The standard iOS share screen will appear.

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The top row contains iOS share extensions — this is where your WordPress share extension lives. The row underneath contains what Apple calls “action” extensions. You’ll find the draft extension here.

On the share screen, do the following for each extension:

  1. Swipe the row all the way to the right.
  2. Find and tap on the “More…” icon — the Activities menu will appear.
  3. Scroll down the list and locate “WordPress” (share extension) or “Save as Draft” (draft extension) and turn on the switch.
  4. Tap “Done.”

The next time you open the share screen, you’ll see both extensions.

Thank you

The mobile team hopes you enjoy these new extensions and that they offer new possibilities for adding content to your site. As always, we welcome your feedback.

If you’re not using the WordPress mobile apps for your iOS or Android device, download and try them today!

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