I started working on the Event Calendar plug-in when I created The Raven. It’s an online news-letter for her London Druid group. They use Event Calendar to plan their regular sessions and rituals.
I didn’t write Event Calendar from scratch. I started with a plug-in written by someone called “Kitten”, but I quickly got enthusiastic and wrote the AJAX calendar widget, and the iCal feed.
Back in those WordPress 1.2 days, plug-in publicity started and ended with adding a link to your plug-in to the Wiki page. Pretty soon I had hundreds and hundreds of people commenting on my blog, reporting bug, requesting features and asking for support. I was overwhelmed. I started the mailing list to help manage it all. That helped a lot – many people were discouraged by the small effort required to join the list, and just solved their problems on their own (or gave up and looked elsewhere…) Also, the mailing list created a sort of community feeling, where more knowledgeable subscribers would help out newcomers with the simpler questions.
When I upgraded it to WordPress 2, the amount of support queries exploded again, and I just couldn’t cope. Rather than rush around answering the same questions dozens of times, I put lots of effort into documentation and ease-of-use. I was fanatical about resisting feature creep – I wanted a plug-in that most users could just install and use, without having to worry about lots of complicated installation. Darrell Schulte helped enormously, by contributing the WordPress Widget code.
In the last year I’ve been really busy, and hundreds of Event Calendar e-mail just piled up, unread. I was daunted by just the prospect of opening the mailing list folder. But then my wife forced me to upgrade The Raven, and I found to my delight that the mailing list crew had managed to keep Event Calendar working, without needing my constant presence.
Purely by chance just a week later, Rick Boatright from the list sent me an e-mail suggesting that he and some others take over support – they didn’t want to see the plug-in die… Well I didn’t want to see it die either. So now, I’m doing everything I can to build a team of people who can support the plug-in, without it needing my constant attention.