Interview with Samuel Wood aka Otto

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you use WordPress:

My name is Samuel Wood, but everybody except my parents calls me
“Otto”. It’s a nickname I picked up in college which stuck. I do
random things for, the WordPress core, plugins, themes,
support, and everything in between. You might say that I’m a bit of a
generalist in that way.

What will you be speaking about?

After speaking at dozens of these events, I found that having
pre-defined topics is boring to many audiences. Either it flies over
their heads, or they already know it. So I’ve taken to the “support”
route. Lots of people attend WordCamps, and leave without having their
specific questions answered. So what I do is to have an “Ask me
anything” type of session, where I will answer any question posed
whatsoever. If I don’t know the answer, then I have the core code up
and ready and I will demonstrate how to find the answer. This evokes
more discussion, more interaction, and is frankly a lot more fun for
all involved, IMO.

Who is your target audience? Who will get the most out of your presentation?

Anybody and everybody. No question is too simple, no question is too
difficult. After doing WordPress for over 6 years, and being involved
in all aspects, I know most of the answers. If I don’t, then I can at
least point the way. I’ve only been stumped once, but it turned out to
be a really obscure issue. πŸ™‚

What do you hope the WordCampers will get out of your session?

Answers to their questions. That’s one of the hardest things in a
community based system, finding decent support. Since I mostly do
support all the time, on all sorts of things, then I hope that
everybody in the room gets their specific questions answered. If
somebody isn’t willing to speak up, then I’m always available for the
entire conference for a one-on-one consult to try to help. Helping is
what I love to do most.

Tell your favorite WordCamp story!

A bit over 2 years ago, the first WordCamp I attended was in Savannah,
GA. Jane asked me to speak, but I replied that I’d actually prefer to
attend one before speaking at it. πŸ™‚

Up until then, I had never met anybody else who even used WordPress
except for two people: my friend Paul (whom I convinced to switch to
WP from Blogger) and Matt Mullenweg, who had been nice enough to
sponsor my BBQ team. I had been working for Matt for about 4 months at
that point, and didn’t realize the amount of name recognition that I
actually had. So when I introduced myself to people as “Otto”, every
single one of them said something to the effect of “Oh! You’re OTTO!”
to me, and usually thanked me for helping them out on the support
forums for some obscure problem a couple of years earlier.

It was bizarre, because I didn’t know that I was actually well known
at the time. Came as a bit of a shock. It’s still very weird to be
recognized, but at least it’s for helping people. That’s a good
reason, I think. πŸ™‚

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One Response to Interview with Samuel Wood aka Otto

  1. drew says:

    Good post! I personally run most of my sites on wordpress, although I do use blogger and weebly. All of the services are good!