How I lost my WordPress virginity

I started to write this post for the Carnival of Fail about CoPress. But I realized that the CoPress story wasn't really mine to tell (passing the mic to Bachhuber) and didn't end up writing a Carnival of Fail post. However, the interesting narrative that came out of my unfinished post is the story of my first WordPress installation and my introduction to a group of people who have shaped my life in ways unimaginable. I don't have any friends left from my college experience except -- and probably because of -- the CoPress crew. So here's my underwhelming story about losing my WordPress virginity (Spittle and Nacin might be interested, in the very least). I first heard of the almighty Greg Linch on September 6, 2008. I was just about to start my second year of college. It was a post called How we did it: Moving The Miami Hurricane from College Publisher to WordPress. I forwarded it to Brady Teufel, a new media professor at Cal Poly. It was then that the idea of moving from proprietary, MTV-owned College Publisher to open source, Automattic community-owned WordPress became a real possibility in my mind.

I had already toyed with the idea in the few weeks before I read Greg's post. I remember sitting in the upstairs bedroom of my empty college apartment, pot of coffee brewing in the kitchen, and my fingers anxiously clicking away, Googling every variation of how to set up a WordPress blog. I didn't know what the hell MySQL was and had never toyed with PHP. I remember hitting the "Error establishing a database connection" page over and over. I remember refilling my cup of coffee over and over.

But somehow, someway, I successfully set up my first WordPress installation at 10:06 p.m., Friday, August 29, 2008 (I still have the installation success email in my inbox). At 4:59 a.m. that Saturday, I sent the finished product with my illegally-downloaded Revolution News theme and filler content to my little brother for a critique. (That initial site is still live). Here's the conversation I had with my best friend about it the next day:

Denya: oooooooh i like it how long did you spend on it? :P

me: yeah about that 7:30 a.m.

Denya: :O you were up until 7:30 doing that?! sheesh

me: yeah

Denya: you're crazy :P

me: I know i'm not quite done w/it yet

Denya: looking good so far though!

me: thank you better than that BS!

Denya: definitely!

Boy was I tired the next day. But that was kind of the norm for me back then. I had successfully taught myself how to basically set up WordPress after having no prior knowledge except a little html and css.

Enter: CoPress

So now I knew I could do it. But how the hell would I convince the general manager that we should switch to WordPress? And how was I going to get years of archives switched to the new system?

I had tried to initiate a few conversations about it, but they all fell flat. So I gave up.

Then, on Dec. 30, 2008, I get a glorious mass email from Ryan Sholin on Wired Journalists that was from the same Greg Linch I had previously read about. The email announced a WordPress hosting solution for college newspapers.  "Holy jesus," I thought to myself. "This is perfect." I frantically started sending emails to our editor in chief. After months of waiting for College Publisher to hand over our archives, we ended up launching our new site in April 2009 and I joined CoPress in May 2009.

The rest was history; a story for another time and post.