This Data Scientist Interview Explores the Social Habits of WordPress.com Users

May 9, 2016
 / 7 comments

data scientist interview

Hey bloggers,

Do you know what a “data scientist” does?

I didn’t either until recently.

One of the better definitions I found is from Hillary Mason, Chief Scientist at Bitly. She defines a data scientist as “someone who blends, math, algorithms, and an understanding of human behavior with the ability to hack systems together to get answers to interesting human questions from data.” 

Why was I researching “data scientist”? Recently, an opportunity to talk with one dropped in my lap.

I sat down and skyped with Boris Gorelik, who lives in Israel and works as a data scientist for a company called Auttomatic–they happen to own WordPress.com, which is the free version of WordPress.

Gorelik is constantly analyzing the meta data of the 100 million+ users of WP dot com. Specifically, he specializes in the analysis of the social behaviors of this massive body of bloggers.

Recently I had a chance to skype with Gorelik and ask him some questions about what he’s finding as a data scientists who studies bloggers.

Here is our conversation captured on video.

Enjoy my YouTube video and if you do have any questions or thoughts, I’ll be in the comments (for awhile.)

Cheers,

Matthew

[New Interview]Meet a real data scientist–Boris Gorelik, WordPress.com

 

Data Scientist Interview: Meet Boris Gorelik. He Studies Social Habits of 100 Million Bloggers

 

Boris Gorelik Interview Transcript

(For those who like to read.) 

Boris Gorelik is a data scientist for the Automattic Corporation which owns WordPress.com Boris studies the social behaviors of the 100 million+ bloggers who use WordPress.com He is also an algorithm developer. Matthew asked Boris to share his insights on blogger social behavior–what does the big data show us?

Matthew Loomis: Hey guys! This is Matthew with BuildYourOwnBlog.net, and in today’s video I’m going to be talking to Boris Gorelik. Boris is a Data Scientist, working for a company called Automattic, and they actually own WordPress.com, and he is a Data Scientist and what he does is he studies the over 100 million bloggers that use WordPress.com. He studies their social interactions. So I thought it would be a fascinating conversation to talk to an actual Data Scientist, somebody I have not talked to before.

Boris is over in the country of Israel, and so we had a pretty good Skype connection but, there is a little bit of a slight audio echo on his end when he talks and unfortunately that’s the case. Uh, was not aware of that while we were taping the interview. I did the best that I could, so there’s just a slight echo but, you can still pretty much make out the conversation.

So I wanted to go ahead and share this conversation with you, tell me what you think, after listening to him and our discussion on social behaviours of bloggers, give me your comments or leave your questions below on the blog or on YouTube.

And well here it is my conversation with Boris Gorelik Data Scientist for WordPress.com.

The Interview:

Matthew Loomis: So, Boris Gorelik.

Boris Gorelik: Yes!

Matthew Loomis: How are you today?

Boris Gorelik: I am fine.

Matthew Loomis: We already had small talk beforehand, so…

Boris Gorelik: Yes…

Matthew Loomis: I’m excited about this because Iv’e never spoken with a Data Scientist before, and so this ought to be really interesting. First of all, why don’t you share with the audience who you are and what you do.

Boris Gorelik: So, you have already said my name is Boris Gorelik, I am currently the Data Scientist at Automattic. Automattic is the company behind WordPress.com. And yeah, my professional career started when I was a Pharmacist, I am a registered Pharmacist.

Matthew Loomis: Oh yeah I read that.

Boris Gorelik: Yes, at some point I took a course in computer and drug design and was fascinated about the fact that you can build mathematical models and predict virtually almost anything provided that the demo model is okay.

So, I continued to push into computational chemistry then I worked a couple of years in Biotech companies as an Algorithm Developer and a Mathematician in trying to solve various problems related to human cancer.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, that’s pretty heavy stuff.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, then I moved to Cyber Security I worked at UTSA and then I moved to Automattic and now I study human behavior in the various aspects of blogging and content creation but also I work hard at protecting our universe against spam and stuff like this.

Matthew Loomis: That’s Interesting.

Boris Gorelik: That’s all. yes, I think that in the previous ten years I did not have one boring week, professionally speaking this job is so exciting.

Matthew Loomis: Okay yeah, so let’s get into it a little bit. You studied human behavior, now you studied this, was it more on a group macro level? Not a micro level so can you help here, how do you study human behavior?

Boris Gorelik: Well as you may imagine, WordPress.com is home of I think about more than one hundred million blogs, so there are a lot of human beings involved in that, and they generate pretty nice amounts of data. And, people are social beings so they interact with one another they create interesting stuff and they write about things that they are interested in. So my main curiosity interest is in social interactions between people, I study this mostly on a macro level.

Matthew Loomis: Okay so, basically you are studying how bloggers are interacting with each other?

Boris Gorelik: Yes, yes.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: How they interact and how communities develop and what are the social factors behind blog success and things like that. And yes I am pretty new to this field and it is very fascinating field and yes it’s super interesting.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, it really is – so, let talk about the typical blogger out there and around the world. I saw on your blog that you did a study and saw that a large percentage of bloggers end up quitting within a couple of months and then most bloggers don’t survive within a year. Why is that, why do you think that happens, do you have any insights?

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, well I think mostly because blogging is a very hard job. It is super hard, I tried to run a blog a couple of years ago and I didn’t make past six months I think. And now my blog that you are talking about has only two posts. So, yeah blogging is super hard. And I think, and I don’t have too much evidence to support this but, I think that social feedback is a crucial factor in this because when a person starts writing a blog assuming that this is not a test blog, I think the person seeks some feedback…. some attention.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Boris Gorelik: I mean a person invests some effort and some time and sometimes a substantial amount of money and they expect to get something in return. So this something can be either money or attention from other people. And there is a lot of research outside of the WordPress community that shows that the attention that writers receive from their audience is the major driving force.

Matthew Loomis: Mmm, interesting.

Boris Gorelik: Yes, and so the study that I described in my blog post showed exactly this, that the authors who receive more feedback are more likely to keep writing. So I don’t know yet what is the cause of this and what is the result of this graph because you can say well, authors who write better receive better feedback.

Matthew Loomis: So, when you say social feedback, you’re talking about like comments, social shares, is that what you mean?

Boris Gorelik: This is what I mean, but this is not what I tested in my study, because it depicts the study manageable, I only tested the amount of “likes” a user receives or gives to others.

Matthew Loomis: Okay, so “likes”?

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, yeah, of course we have comments, we have shares and some one’s comments can be positive comments and some can be negative comments.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Boris Gorelik: Right but, if you want to count all these huge amounts of types of interactions your model will be much more complicated.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: And this is the nice part about bringing models is that you can isolate the simplest components of some heavier and draw conclusions and hope sometimes a lot of those conclusions will be correct.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, exactly. So, what were some of the conclusions that maybe surprised you?

Boris Gorelik: Well, the most surprising part was in the second component of this analysis I studied how giving and receiving “likes” affects the authors survival of the blog and then I analysed blogs with multiple authors and I was expecting to see that blogs in which author contributions is approximately equal and survive longer compared to blogs in which there is one dominant contributor and some non-dominant contributors, let’s call them free riders.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: From average and below.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Boris Gorelik: And to my surprise and excitement I saw that the complete opposite was the truth. So It turns out that blogs with the single strong contributor are much more likely to survive longer compared to blogs in which everybody contributes approximately the same amount of content and “likes”.

Matthew Loomis: That is fascinating, because I know, there’s been a lot of studies on creativity that show individuals are much more creative individually than in a committee or in a group.

Boris Gorelik: Right, right. So, I did the study in collaboration with a post doctorate researcher at New York University Leon Zalmanson and he taught me about two competing theories about this big field of social studies. So one theory says yes when there is a group there will eventually be somebody who will do nothing and the total output of the group is smaller than the total input of the individual group members and of course there is a completely opposing theory, that say’s like you said, the opposing theory says that, in some cases weak group participants will strive to catch up with the group.

Matthew Loomis: Yes, yes I did read that.

Boris Gorelik: So, at least in the context of blogging the individual contribution is a much stronger driving force than group contribution.

Matthew Loomis: Wow, I mean do you have any ideas like psychologically that’s the case or?

Boris Gorelik: No.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: No, maybe, you know what I mean at the end of the day, blogging is a single task, it’s the task of a single person.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Boris Gorelik: Even if you and me, even if we write a joint blog post together I will still write it on my own.

Matthew Loomis: Mm

Boris Gorelik: So maybe this …., well I don’t know I am not a psychologist. Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Okay, well what are some of the motivations why some of these individuals or groups, why do people blog?

Boris Gorelik: That’s a good question, I don’t know.

Matthew Loomis: Okay so you said attention and money, sometimes both together.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah I think that money, I mean it’s just a subjective opinion and I didn’t do any research in this field but I think that there are certain people who run blogs as a business.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Boris Gorelik: And there are people who run blogs as a means of self….

Matthew Loomis: … exploration or …

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, self-exploration and then just sharing ideas, and some for self-improvement. So, I don’t know but I suspect that most of the people do it for the feedback and not for the money, I mean for the non-monetary feedback.

Matthew Loomis: I do find that from the feedback I get from people, through e-mails and such at Build Your Own Blog that a lot of people are motivated to do something good for other people. Like they have been through a traumatic experience or you know they have a disability they want to share and help people to overcome what they’ve had to overcome. So, perhaps social benefit or help society you know. I think that could be a factor as well. Do you agree?

Boris Gorelik: Well, yes look at Wikipedia and the stack overflow.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, Wikipedia is a good example.

Boris Gorelik: Huge project, that are driven solely by altruistic people who have just contributed super high quality content.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, there’s a guy that started that?

Boris Gorelik: And they seek no money off of this.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, your right. I was just going to say I read about the guy that started that. I forgot his name, but it’s amazing he’s made very little money from Wikipedia.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: But yet he’s dedicated to the cause.

Boris Gorelik: I should remember his name.

FYI*Wikipedia was initially conceived as a feeder project for the Wales-founded Nupedia, an earlier project to produce a free online encyclopaedia, volunteered by Bomis, a web-advertising firm owned by Jimmy Wales, Tim Shell and Michael E. Davis.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, me too! But yeah, So, he’s you know still I believe he’s committed to date you know.

Boris Gorelik: Yes, yes, but he’s only I mean not only coordinating on the project, but the content is created by millions of people.

Matthew Loomis: Well that’s true, it’s not just him right.

Boris Gorelik: So, this is what I mean, yes he is coordinating and Wikipedia Foundation has I don’t know a couple dozens of employees who receive a salary to keep the system working but at the end of the day it’s just volunteers who create the content.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, it’s amazing, and it’s interesting too because five years ago people were saying, you know, oh don’t trust Wikipedia. But Google like, they’re constantly you know linking to them at the top of the search engine results so they must …

Boris Gorelik: That’s because they discovered that out of ninety-five percent of searchers there was at least one or two Wikipedia results found in the first five results.

Matthew Loomis: Right. Yeah.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: So it’s more credible today than it used to be considered, you know it’s come a long way I think. So, oh I ‘m sorry go ahead ….

Boris Gorelik: No, so what I was about to say is I think that approximately the same motivation is the major motivation in blogging, so people mostly blog for or heed the call for self-expression and not for immediate money, even if some of them do actually make money off of blogging after. Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, now on the social factors that you studied, did you study anything beyond the “likes” or was it just “likes”?

Boris Gorelik: At this point, no I studied more than that but at this point I am comfortable just speaking about “likes”.

Matthew Loomis: So, obviously the more “likes” the more encouraged the blogger is to continue, is that it?

Boris Gorelik: More incoming “likes” but not only that the more “likes” people give to others, the more likely the writer will be writing one year after the analysis.

Matthew Loomis: Ahhh, that’s a good point.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, yeah.

Matthew Loomis: So, bloggers need to you know interacting and giving feedback to other bloggers as well?

Boris Gorelik: Mostly yes.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: Okay. If you consider all of this you should remember that the correlation does not imply acquisition so we don’t know what comes first.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: But yeah, but there is a correlation between the amount of “likes” a person gives and the likelihood of this person to keep on blogging one year after that. There is also a very good correlation between the amount of the “likes” a person gives to the amount of “likes” a person receives.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: So, if you want my take on this is that if you want to receive feedback you need to give some feedback.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, I think that’s true.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, makes sense.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, as someone that’s on most of the platforms I agree, especially certain platforms, like Google Plus, if you’re not interacting with people on Google Plus they’re not going to respond to your post very much, you know, that’s what I found. I think people say a lot of the same thing, you know social media experts say that.

Based on your study, Okay, now is there anything you can tell us on the different platforms like Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest?

Boris Gorelik: No, now because I don’t know. I mean I have a Twitter account and that’s pretty….. I don’t have accounts on any other social platform so I don’t know and I can’t comment.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: I know there was a lot of study, theoretical studies about Facebook and Twitter and Life Journal, there was no published study about WordPress yet.

Matthew Loomis: Okay. So you work for WordPress.com which is hosted by WordPress. Did you study self-hosted blogs like WordPress.org in your studies?

Boris Gorelik: No, because we don’t have the data about self-hosted blogs.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: Some of them use Jet Pack.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: Some of them may have data to analyse them, but I didn’t do this so it was just simply WordPress.com

Matthew Loomis: Okay, so based on your data, tell us which countries are the most active in blogging, do you know that?

Boris Gorelik: No, I mean obviously the English speaking bloggers are the most active ones I think but I didn’t get the paper right, but I think we have very strong Portuguese communities in Brazil.

Matthew Loomis: Brazil? Okay.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah. There is a very interesting case of international communities devoted to K.Pop Culture, Korean Pop Culture, yes.

Matthew Loomis: Okay, Korean Pop Culture? Great!

Boris Gorelik: Yes. Yes and these communities are just so interesting and there is a variety of K.Pop sites in Israel and the Philippians, Indonesia and Korea obviously. And it is a very fascinating phenomenon which I don’t yet know much about, but I do know that it’s very interesting.

Matthew Loomis: I don’t know either, I just know .. what’s that guy’s name, that Gangnam Style singer,dancer? Psy?

Boris Gorelik: Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, he’s good. Um, O.K well what countries have the fewest bloggers, do you know?

Boris Gorelik: No, I don’t know but I mean even if I knew I wouldn’t tell anybody because I suppose we don’t have too much-enough Korea.

Matthew Loomis: Right yeah, there you go.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, yeah.

Matthew Loomis: They probably are the number one.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah. But except for, although I did not test this I don’t think we don’t acquire a country as a data field from our users.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: So yeah, even if I wanted to know this I wouldn’t know it for certain.

Matthew Loomis: Okay, I believe now…. is English the number one blogging language?

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, yeah.

Matthew Loomis: I’m just curious like what’s the other you know, what makes out the top five, what are the other four?

Boris Gorelik: I don’t know – Portuguese? Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Portuguese? Because of Brazil?

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, because of Brazil yeah. I don’t know.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: I know we have a very strong Hebrew community.

Matthew Loomis:  Hebrew community?

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, I know it because I follow some of the people’s blogs, but I don’t have solid data about this.

Matthew Loomis: Okay. I know you’re all about solid data.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah! I can’t just say numbers without checking them.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah that’s great, that’s it you’re a Data Scientist so…

Boris Gorelik: Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: What are the numbers of bloggers globally, at least you can tell me with WordPress.com, how many total bloggers are there?

Boris Gorelik: Well it’s constantly growing, right now we have more than one hundred million blogs.

Matthew Loomis: Wow!

Boris Gorelik: And yeah, and I suppose that approximately the same number of bloggers, most people usually only have one blog.

Matthew Loomis: Do you know percentage wise how many people have two or more?

Boris Gorelik: I think that about ninety-five percent of users have only one blog.

Matthew Loomis: Okay, I was just curious.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, but it’s not because we limit them or something.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, you can create how many number of blogs as you want, yeah and most of the people, most of the users usually only create one blog and keep maintaining it or not.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, and so what are the brackets, you know, how would you break down some of these or this population of one hundred million, based on?

Boris Gorelik: Well, this is a very interesting question, I once tried to analyse what people use WordPress.com blogs for. So I took a sample of blogs and just manually looked at them and I had a person that did the project with me and it turns out there is a very wide range of applications starting from obviously personal blogs to photo portfolios community newsletters.

Matthew Loomis: Mm okay.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, quite a few community newsletters and newsletters that are managed either by small charity groups or companies, churches. Many people use WordPress.com blogs for static sites, so just like a visit card. So, even if you don’t have any time to maintain a blog but you want some word presence many people use WordPress.com for this and are happy with that and happy with us obviously. Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Okay. You don’t get into the motivations obviously? I think we’ve ……

Boris Gorelik: Well, motivation is something that I am very interested in.

Matthew Loomis: Oh okay!

Boris Gorelik: If I can start understanding it but, it is such a complicated task to understand motivation, yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Boris Gorelik: I don’t know yet but, I really hope that if we talk in one year from today I will be able to shed some more light about it.

Matthew Loomis: Absolutely yeah, I’ll make a note and we’ll touch base down the road. Alright?

Boris Gorelik: Alright! So what I know now is just feedback it’s not too unusual as we know people love feedback. I would like to get into more details.

Matthew Loomis: Hey and I just want to ask you as well, kinda get off here a little bit on a personal note, so you are a work from home person?

Boris Gorelik: Yes, yeah, yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah I know a lot of people, a lot of the readers of Build Your Own Blog aspire to that, you know they want to work from home and how do you like it?

Boris Gorelik: Well, I like it very much, I enjoy it so much because I have three small kids, I see them every morning every lunch and every evening, almost.

Matthew Loomis: Mm

Boris Gorelik: And I like it very much, but I know it’s not for everybody, because working for home doesn’t mean just sitting at home and drinking margaritas.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, that’s right.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah. It takes a lot of discipline to work when you have to work, and be with your family when you have to be with your family. The boundaries are very much fuzzy.

And yeah, I like it very much and even the fact that you work from home is nice by itself, but the overall attitude of the fact that you work for a company that values what you do with your output and not just your time just sitting in an office this is also very much inspiring.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah. I could totally relate to, I think it was on your blog I read, somewhere where you were talking about that and you were talking about how you kinda avoid the “chit chat” and “how was your weekend”? And you know people going off on long stories about their weekends and….

Boris Gorelik: Right, it wasn’t on my blog, but yeah I can totally stand on that personally.

Matthew Loomis: Okay, yeah.

Boris Gorelik: Maybe it was in one of CORA answers. (Community of Online Research Assignments)

Matthew Loomis: That’s what it was, yeah, it was on CORA, and you know the office politics and all that so… yeah I’ve been doing this now for almost four years so, it’s … I enjoy it too, but you’re right it’s not exactly for everybody. It takes a special self-discipline to do this.

Boris Gorelik: By the way, at least here at Automattic, if you want to work from an office you can hire an office, the company doesn’t care where you work from, so I know people who hire an office space and work from an office just to set the boundaries or have a better working environment and stuff like that. So the evolutionary part I think of how we work is not that we work from home, but the fact that we work from where ever we want to work from as long as we do our job.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah exactly, that’s the way I see it too and how I practice what I do here. So, beside a Data Scientist, you’re also an Algorithm Developer. And I wanted to just get into that a little bit, you know people hear the terms algorithm all the time, Google algorithms, Facebook’s got a… you know updated their algorithm. Can you share with the Build Your Own Blog audience, just a quick definition of what an algorithm is?

Boris Gorelik: Well an algorithm is a sequence of actions.

Matthew Loomis: Mmm.

Boris Gorelik: As simple as that, so if you asked me how prepare coffee, I would say go to the coffee machine press the button and you have a coffee. But then you suddenly realize that you did not put the coffee cups into the machine. So, you have to be very much detailed about the steps and the actions that you were talking about. An Algorithm Developer is a term that is used very much figuratively by people. I for example didn’t have any formal education in computer science. So, some people would say that I can’t call myself an Algorithm Developer.

Matthew Loomis: Really? Okay.

Boris Gorelik: Because I don’t know, but that’s what I do for a living so, for the last twelve years I have developed algorithms. Yeah. So, yes an algorithm is a sequence of actions and developing an algorithm is developing a sequence of actions in vertexes size and weight.

Matthew Loomis: So, what is doing these sequences and actions is it a robot? What is it?

Boris Gorelik: Well, you program a computer, I mean you probably can’t program at all, but you can program a computer which is a special case of a robot right? And if you want to develop an algorithm that will identify, that will search content for you like Google does.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Boris Gorelik: You have to understand, you have to have a very strong understanding of natural language processing and mathematics and grafio. Grafio is the theory that explains how entities interact with one another like social interactions. If I suppose that Facebook does mostly the same but with higher emphasis on grafio.

If you develop algorithms for I don’t know – a self-driving car there is another field of mathematics and robotics and stuff like that.

Matthew Loomis: I just saw a video yesterday of two guys testing the test less self-driving car.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, pretty amazing.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, yeah so algorithms are all around us, if you go to your grocery shop and you just swipe your credit card and some body tests that this credit card isn’t stolen, when you just pick up your phone and call your mother, there are tens of algorithms that check that everything is Okay and select the best route for your call from your phone to your mother’s phone.

Matthew Loomis: So they are all around us? We don’t really even realise it.

Boris Gorelik: Of course.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, I mean we hear about Google and Facebook, but there’s a lot more to algorithms.

Boris Gorelik: Every action that you do today you trigger tens if not hundreds of algorithms.

Matthew Loomis: So, does pretty much any app – application have an algorithm in it?

Boris Gorelik: Yeah of course, I mean, when you say computer program, you say algorithm.

Matthew Loomis. Okay.

Boris Gorelik: It’s another way to say it, but even more than that your everyday actions trigger many algorithms that you are not aware of, you don’t do it deliberately. I mean when you drive your car and you go to a crossroad,

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Boris Gorelik: There are smart cameras that just monitor the crossroad and that makes sure that the traffic goes and the traffic lights are controlled by the computers and security cameras of course. And your car is most probably full of computers.

Matthew Loomis: Mmm

Boris Gorelik: Yes.

Matthew Loomis: Ya, that’s true you don’t even think about it …..yeah, our cars are very computerized.

Boris Gorelik: Yes, yes, so and I think that the world is moving towards more complicated and interacting more with algorithms. Let’s say, let’s call them computers or applications. So, at some point your self-driving car will talk to the traffic light so that the traffic light timing is optimal to reduce the amount of traffic jams.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: Yes, so it can be very interesting and be a bright future to live in but, as you may imagine some people will try and abuse this.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah. So basically what we used to call computer programs are now called algorithms?

Boris Gorelik: It’s a wider definition.

Matthew Loomis: So, it’s sounds cooler.

Boris Gorelik: Yes!

Matthew Loomis: Hey Boris! is it true Al Gore invented the algorithm?

Boris Gorelik: No, actually algorithm comes from an Arabic term, Arabic name.

Matthew Loomis: Oh really?

Boris Gorelik: Yes.

Matthew Loomis: I was just messing with you there(:

Boris Gorelik: No, he was a mathematician, I think he lived in the ninth century? But I don’t know I didn’t check the dates. His name was Al-Khwārizmī.

 FYI*The words ‘algorithm’ and ‘algorism‘ come from the name al-Khwārizmī. Al-Khwārizmī (Persianخوارزمی‎‎, c. 780–850) was a Persian mathematician, astronomergeographer, and scholar.

Matthew Loomis: I did not know that I have never heard that. Wow!

Boris Gorelik: So, Al Gore did not invent algebra neither did he invent algorithms(:

Matthew Loomis: Well we won’t get into Al Gore but, I thought it was kinda interesting al-gor-rit -hm, you know. So anyway, but the Arabic culture, they started Algebra right?

Boris Gorelik: Yes, algebra is also Arabic name it means adding.

Matthew Loomis: Exactly! Alright, alright that makes sense. Wow fascinating. So, where do you see these algorithms going in the future?

Boris Gorelik: Well I hope that we as a human race will enjoy better algorithms and we will be able to overcome the dangers of that because, I mean people may do bad things with this amount of data and communication and sometimes what you think is a good thing to you, I might think it’s a bad thing. So, we will have to find a balance what I think is good and what I think is cool, and what I think is nice to do with the data and the computer power that I have, compared to what you think.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Boris Gorelik: That’s why we at WordPress take a lot of care not to do and not to be too enthusiastic with human lives.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, I was just thinking that, you’re talking about things like privacy? Okay.

Boris Gorelik: Yes, so privacy is a very important thing to keep that in mind when we deal with human data.

Matthew Loomis: Absolutely.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, I think that the world will be much more computer driven than it is now.

Matthew Loomis: Mmm, so that’s good to know, WordPress keeps privacy in mind. Do you have an official policy on privacy?

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, of course we have an official policy on privacy, you can find it on our home page. But, not only that I mean it’s in our minds even before the policy.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Boris Gorelik: I think that all the people that I talk to in the company are very much privacy orientated and try to stay respectful.

Matthew Loomis: They have got to have some major security, right, on their system? Yeah.

Boris Gorelik: Yes.

Matthew Loomis: Are you involved in that at all? Because you mentioned you have a history working in security?

Boris Gorelik: No, I was involved in spam detection.

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: But, we have a very strong security team that works and they are busy keeping WordPress.com secure.

Matthew Loomis: Cool, hey I’m just curious from your experience on your knowledge base, ‘cause bloggers deal with spam. Do you have any plugins that you recommend or anything to help with that?

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, well we have Akismet WordPress.

Matthew Loomis: Oh yeah, Akismet is good I use that.

Boris Gorelik: Mmm, that’s what I mean, but bloggers host who have self-hosted bloggers.com WordPress installations don’t deal with content spam only with comment spam,

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: And Akismet does a very good job in this. But when you host a platform for one hundred million blogs you have to assume that some of them will fight for use of a platform for spam.

Matthew Loomis: Okay, exactly.

Boris Gorelik: So, this is a unique challenge that most people don’t have to think about, so we take care of this.

Matthew Loomis: Right, absolutely. So Boris you said you had something you wanted to ask me about something I wrote on my blog.

Boris Gorelik: No, no, I just, you said in one of your posts that you highly don’t recommend hosting a blog on platforms such as WordPress.com, because people can hi-jack your account or you don’t have freedom.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, so about this, it’s very hard to hi-jack your account and you have a very strong theme that does just that, it prevents your account from being hi-jacked.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, and so I think I mean I had at some point a very small blog which was self-hosted and it got six views per day.

Matthew Loomis: Mm mm

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, but at some point somebody shared the link and it got several thousand views and just collapsed.

Matthew Loomis: Mmm?

Boris Gorelik: It won’t happen on a large platform.

Matthew Loomis: Oh Okay.

Boris Gorelik: So, yes you have some freedoms that you don’t have only self-hosted solutions such as any plugin that you want that you can install and you are good, but this freedom comes with a price.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, so Okay right, so I think in your blog you said that WordPress.com is actually the largest social media or one of the largest social media platforms?

Boris Gorelik: No, I don’t think it’s the largest one.

Matthew Loomis: No not the largest, one, of the largest so….

Boris Gorelik: It is very large.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Boris Gorelik: It is very large, it is very large most people don’t see it as a social network because most people come to WordPress in general and to WordPress.com just to self-express and many people write blogs on WordPress.com and interact on Twitter or Facebook.

Matthew Loomis: Right.

Boris Gorelik: Which is Okay, but there are a lot of social interactions on WordPress.com, yes.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, absolutely. So, you’re saying that initial or that social aspect to WordPress.com helps bloggers because they get more feedback more interaction.

Boris Gorelik: Yeah, exactly because people don’t write in the void, they write to somebody and they expect to receive some feedback most of the time.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah, now I mean when it comes to free platforms I am…. you know, a fan of WordPress.com but you know, but I do have a gate for self-hosted blogs and…..

Boris Gorelik: Of course I mean it’s a balance between your needs and your expectations.

Matthew Loomis: Yeah.

Boris Gorelik: Yes, and that’s the nice thing about WordPress as an open source solution. You can have it self-hosted on your own computer, you can go to a commercial company that will do some of the job for you, you can go to us and we will do most of the job for you and you just select what’s best for you.

Matthew Loomis: Absolutely.

Boris Gorelik: Yes.

Matthew Loomis: Absolutely:

Boris Gorelik: And the program is an open source which is also fascinating…how, yeah I mean open source is another different…

Matthew Loomis: Yeah that is, another whole topic right?

Boris Gorelik: Yes, yes.

Matthew Loomis: Do you see, I mean, just real quick since you mentioned that, do you see open source… is the future bright for open source?

Boris Gorelik: Yes, of course. I mean major contributors to open source are commercial companies. Automattic, there’s WordPress even Facebook, Google, MicroSoft these huge companies they contribute a lot to open source projects. ENC the company I worked for it has quiet a few open source contributions right, so it’s the new model.

Matthew Loomis: It’s the new model and it still has a long ways to go. Good, alright!

Boris Gorelik: Yeah.

Matthew Loomis: Alright, well Boris Gorelik it’s been a pleasure talking with you today, I know that you have some YouTube videos and you a have a blog. Where can people connect with you?

Boris Gorelik: Well I think that e-mail is the best, the best way to connect with me, just: Boris@Gorelik.net

Matthew Loomis: Okay.

Boris Gorelik: And if you go to: http://gorelik.net/ you’ll see all the things that I think out and all the things that are related to me.

Matthew Loomis: Okay awesome! I will put your e-mail address at the bottom of the show notes here.

Boris Gorelik: Yes.

Matthew Loomis: And it’s been great talking with you, my first time talking with a Data Scientist and let’s make a mental note to touch base again in a year and we’ll see where things are at then.

Boris Gorelik: Okay! see you.

Matthew Loomis: Alright, thanks for talking.

Boris Gorelik: Thank you have a nice day!

Matthew Loomis: You too Boris, goodbye!

 

Show Notes:

To contact Boris Gorelik, email him: Boris@Gorelik.net

Boris Gorelik: Personal Web Page

Boris Gorelik: Blog 

Author Bio:

Matthew Kaboomis Loomis is the owner of Build Your Own Blog. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter

7 comments

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  1. Alphonso says:    •   3 years

    Cool interview!

    Was great to hear from Boris on what he’s seen on WordPress.com – especially liked the insight on how author contributions from one single source had a correlation with a longer surviving blog.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   3 years Author

      Hi Alphonso,

      That was a cool finding, wasn’t it? Interesting how single author blogs tend to survive longer.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this interview, Alphonso. Keep in touch.

      Best,

      Matthew

      1. Boris Gorelik says:    •   3 years

        > Interesting how single author blogs tend to survive longer.

        Actually, I’ve found quite the opposite: authors who join forces tend to survive longer. However, join blogs with unequal contribution by the authors are more likely to survive than blogs with equal author contributions. In other words: it takes a leader to succeed.

        Boris

  2. Matthew Loomis says:    •   3 years Author

    Hi Boris,

    So if a site has a “lead blogger” and includes some guest posts, that would be a strong setup with more likelihood of long life for the site?

    Matthew

    1. Boris Gorelik says:    •   3 years

      Yes, this is a reasonable explanation of what we saw. However, other explanations are plausible as well. It might be the case that guest authors are more likely to write for highly motivated hosts. These two alternative explanations mean quite opposite things.

      Based on the first statement, inviting a guest author will increase your chances to keep blogging.

      If the alternative interpretation is correct, the fact that guest authors agree to write on your blog means that you would’ve done a good job even without them.

      Keep in mind though that we, the humans, learn and adapt to our surroundings. If my alternative interpretation is correct, inviting guest authors is still a good idea. Even if they do not have a direct effect on your success chances, at least you will gain feedback.

  3. Mandy van Zyl says:    •   3 years

    Hi Boris & Matthew,

    What are the most popular topics bloggers love to blog about? What get’s peoples interests up the most? Would you know this off hand, has a survey ever been done on what gets bloggers interested? I mean there are probably thousands of things to blog about, but there has to be one thing that stands out above the rest.

    Thanks for the great post/interview, so nice to know that there are people working towards a safer cyber world – world to live in – which I think is whole other topic(:

    Cheers!
    Mandy

  4. Mandy van zyl says:    •   3 years

    Say what you will about fashion in Indiana. Go ahead and debate whether blogging is dead — these local bloggers don’t care. Most of them are just getting started.

    Technorati.com, a website that tracks more than 1 million blogs, categorizes more than 58,000 of those blogs as lifestyle and within that, 16,000 or so dedicated to fashion. That’s just a snapshot of blogs in existence worldwide.

    With numbers like that, a few bloggers from Indiana may be a drop in the bucket, but locally, they’re making waves.

    Polina Osherov is co-founder of Pattern, a local fashion organization and publication. She says that in small but instrumental ways, local style bloggers validate that the fashion industry is taking hold in Indianapolis.