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P2 powers internal collaboration at WordPress.com, and is now free (wordpress.com)
190 points by sochanger 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 40 comments



I work at Automattic, and p2 is (in my mind) _the_ thing that makes our remote-only culture work. We don't really use email that much or other forms of async chat. When synchronous chat (like Slack) gets to be too in-depth, our motto is "p2 or it didn't happen." p2 has the widest visibility in the company -- anyone can search for a p2 post, or cross-post to other teams and divisions. Since many teams are spread across the globe, async conversations are crucial to staying aligned. That's why any kind of in-depth conversation, technical analysis, or decision making happens on p2.

Company culture is also important to making it work, in my mind. p2 is viewed as the source of truth for many conversations (including meeting notes and summaries of slack conversations), which is part of how it works. Additionally, anyone across the company is empowered to post on any p2 to start conversations, ask questions, or kickstart lengthy, technical discussions.

In response to another commenter, Automattic has been using p2 as its main form of async internal communication for years before it even hit 1k employees, so it's not the kind of thing which requires a ton of people to work. Once a few hundred people using it as the main form of async conversation, there is certainly more content than any one person can consume. :)


We use discourse for this. Any type of forum-like product is very effective as a complement to email and instant messages for the reasons you describe. For effective remote I think it's indispensable to have: Instant messaging, email, forum, wiki. Looks like p2 might also serve as a sort of "company directory" thing, which we also use another product for, but I don't get much as value out of that.


In 2000 I worked at a company that used an NNTP server for an internal forum. Back then it was common for mail clients to speak NNTP, so you could flip back and forth between correspondence and discussion in the same tool, easily reply to or forward posts by email, etc. That was the smoothest and most productive application of this idea I've seen.


I think in my mind, P2 fulfills both email and forum roles internally. But it does have a high level of integration with our other internal tools.


I’m so jealous.

We have Stack Enterprise, which is permanent and searchable but admits only straightforward Q&A, no discussion.

We have Google Groups, but many employees expect them to be for announcements only, and will reply angrily to threads that are attracting long discussions. They don’t “get” mailing list culture, don’t configure their GMail filters appropriately, and feel that this is the sender’s problem.

Async decision making, such as it is, happens in Google Docs comment threads on proposals. Our auditors actually require us to click the resolve button on those threads once the proposal is accepted, so the discussion is hard to find if you come across the document later.


I used to work at WordPress.com (Automattic) after they acquired our startup Simplenote. P2 was great.

Now I'm at one of the big tech companies that is suddenly all-remote. I miss P2. It gives you a place where ideas can "stick" much better than with async chat, email, or wikis. At the top-level (per-team or per-project) P2s feel like much more than just another wiki aggregation page. You actually want to visit them to catch up on the latest.

The per-post threaded conversations promote more thoughtful, ongoing discussion. These naturally fade over time as new posts are made, a bit like HN or reddit. Generally this is a useful, organic default, and complements (rather than replaces) async chat.

It can be overwhelming once you're interested in tracking many P2s. But you can address this with discipline, culture, and more tools.


SimpleNote is awesome. Reliably, natively on all platforms, and: for years and years now.


thank you for keeping SimpleNote free! I use it almost every day. it's so... simple!


There is a live demo here https://p2customers.p2.blog/

I don't get it. Looks like a regular news wall with endless scrolling and comments expanded.

Except anybody can post an announcement on top? and the previous ones disappear under the constant flow?


The idea here (I think) is that this is meant for use within an enterprise. Like a corporate wiki, but organized more like an aggregator site. I've seen a few similar products that were like enterprise facebook or enterprise twitter. They are sorta useful, but it's hard to get enough engagement to be worthwhile. Your company needs at least a few thousand people in order for them to generate enough content to keep people interested.


For context, a8c started using a prior version of p2 like eleven or twelve years ago, when we were positively dozens of people. We have smaller p2s for teams of three to four people.

tl;dr: nah, doesn't need thousands of people to be useful.


"a8c" is Automattic (makers of Wordpress) for anyone who was confused.

Obligatory "Mean Girls" ;) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pubd-spHN-0


Lotus Notes?


We DON'T post announcements there, rearely links. The core way we use P2s is to write a thought-out internal memos. Ideally, ever-green ones, that require time to chew on and asynchronous feedback.

My P2 posts are quite often 1000 chars+, I sometimes even write footnotes. (I work for Automattic)


I contracted at Automattic and P2 was critical, but boy do you spend a lot of time reading and writing. You really don't want to half-ass a P2 post for a lot of reasons (a good thing), so what you get is very thoughtful but fairly verbose and voluminous posts and corresponding conversation.

Reading P2 tends to happen in between tasks, like email, but it's a little harder to keep track of what you did and didn't read, or be aware of an important comment that got by you.

It fixes a lot of things for async work that email falls short of, but probably still needs a few more tweaks to make it slightly more manageable given its nature.


This looks really neat! Can anyone shine a light on what makes this different/better than Basecamp (other than being custom built for the way Automattic works, which is obviously a selling point for them). My understanding is that Basecamp does a lot of these things, although it’s not self-hosted.


I'm sure this used to be a theme for WordPress at one point? Either way, it's really unusual how Automattic haven't released it to the public


> Can I self-host my P2? Not at the moment, but we plan to offer this option in the future.

Yea - I see it as weird too. The only reason I'm still an advocate for WordPress are the self-host-ability/full customization aspects. Otherwise, you're just another Medium that's going to take my data and use it against me.

Honestly, I wouldn't touch this until Automattic publishes the code. To a old-timer who's been leveraging WP for well over a decade: ew.



The previous version was a theme and is still available - https://wordpress.org/themes/p2/

This version is also a theme and will be released for self hosting in future too.


Wait so there was the old P2 and now there is the new P2 but at one point there was O2 which was supposed to be the next version of P2 https://geto2.com/ ?


Yep. Naming things is hard.

First there was actually the Prologue theme, then P2 was the second version (~2010?). Then O2 because “communication is oxygen for an organization”. Now back to P2 because that is the name that has stuck and everyone uses.

We (Automattic) use it as both a noun and a verb at this point. P2 or it didn’t happen.


Yes. The technology that made up o2 powers p2 now.


Anyone remember forums? I have been floating the idea in my org that forums are so much better than slack/discord, and we have regressed in our communication abilities.

Topics. Sub forums. View unread, link to posts, quoting, attachments. Voting. Reply by email. So many great things came from forums.


Forums were great. Unfortunately the realtime chat eclipsed it. Then everyone went to Facebook groups.


Lots of comments on 1,000+ people teams.

What about sub 100?

We are fully distributed. Lots of Slack and Zoom. Trying to create a central source of truth in Notion but that feels very static.

Any smaller teams using this?


Any wiki software suffers from the problem that only a small percentage of the company uses it. It's essentially a tax on the most productive people. If someone asks you for the same thing 8x, you will write it down and share it via a wiki.

I've spend years trying to solve the problem - how do you get the average person writing more at work? What I've come up with resembles a company "journal", but helps you automate any routine communication or update (daily standup, weekly update, retros, etc).

Would love any/all feedback on the idea, here's the website (https://www.friday.app/). You can use it as an individual, team, or with the entire org.


> how do you get the average person writing more at work?

Some people have many answers, but other people have many questions. So I think encouraging people to ask more (even stupid) questions might be a way to get the discussion going.


Plug: we built Papyrs (https://papyrs.com) for this.

Its pages can be typical wiki-docs but also things like internal news posts or discussions, and is organized into subsites for different teams/projects.


We're 70+, we created our own version of P2 (H2, react front-end) and have at about 50 instances (split by theme/project).

At this point though, I think Notion may present a better solution going forward.


It looks very similar to Zulip.

Can anybody contrast both ? Zulip would bring the best of slack and p2 right?


We recently adopted Mattermost at Canonical to replace IRC. While it's a great IRC replacement I am very much missing the ability to thread into sub-topics like Zulip. And creating whole new channels is hard for other team members to discover.


I have known P2 since it was a theme. What i dislike is that now, WordPress has stopped development on the orignal p2 theme which could be self hosted. How much of the hosted p2 is different than the theme ? No idea. https://wordpress.org/themes/p2/

This is what i believe goes against the open principles evangelized by WordPress.


I'd like to use some alternative to Teams, but the Office 365 and videochat integration is so convenient that my not-tech-savy staff would have a lot of trouble working with anything else. Microsoft has done a great job on vendor lock-in with Teams.


I used P2 back in ~2012 when Onswipe and Automattic were working together on a joint plugin for WordPress.com. It was a long time ago, but I remember it being… weird? Maybe it was the culture clash, but at the time it felt disorienting.


I could imagine this becoming popular for college classes and research teams. Simple, clean, and powerful.


No pricing information if I want to use P2 for my company internally? Even as a SaaS?


This version is free but there will be premium versions.


All right! Can't wait to see your paid solutions!


SaaS advertising for a closed source/proprietary, hosted, PHP app. No mention of end to end crypto, so third party doctrine applies to all your communications, including DMs. Your chatops are only as secure as their hosted auth system, which you can’t review or audit.

I don’t think the world needs more things like this.

Give me something open source that I can hack on, or run on my own machine, ideally in a modern language.

This feels like too little, too late, in a world already cluttered by shiny, hosted tools that offer you zero privacy from the hosting provider (which you can’t change).

A company that does things like this can’t really be said to have a commitment to free software. Free software is like veganism or respect for the rule of law in society: it’s not something you do sometimes, when you feel like it. Either you believe in software freedom, or you do not.

You should not be writing source code that you expect your customers to use but not be able to read and modify.




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