How The Internet Makes MakeUseOf Possible [Opinion]

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I’m writing this in Boulder, Colorado, where I live. I’m at my kitchen table, occasionally glancing out the window toward the snow-sprinkled foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I’m using a web-based text editor hosted in the United Kingdom, meaning every time I click “save”, the totality of my article is instantly sent across the great plains, the eastern seaboard, and the Atlantic Ocean to end up on an English server.

When I’m done writing I’ll submit this article; in a few days it will be edited in Germany before being published on our American servers and read by a global audience, probably about a week later. Fast forward, and now you’re reading it. I don’t know who you are, or where you are, or what job you’re supposed to be doing instead of reading this. But I’m glad you are, because this is how I make my living.

I love the web. It’s a chaotic place where just about anything can happen. Unknown people become celebrities, revolutions spread from nation to nation and college students become billionaires. And a group of people spread across the planet – most of whom have never met in person – can work together to build a site read by millions. That’s MakeUseOf.

Where MakeUseOf Comes From

The website you’re reading wouldn’t be possible in any other era of human history. Our staff is scattered all over the earth, from Colorado to Australia to the UK to Israel to India. We don’t have any staff meetings, and we don’t have an office outside our homes.

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Check out this map here; we try to keep it up to date.

Aibek Esengulov, who founded this site in 2006, calls the shots from Kyrgyzstan. He built this blog from scratch, and today employs an internationally scattered staff that keep everything running.

Mark, a proud Scot living in Germany, edits most of the articles you read and generally makes sure there is always new content. When staff writers put something together, Mark reads it. He removes the crap and, rarely, sends articles that don’t work back to the authors for re-tweaking. His regular emails to the staff set policy and help us stay on target.

James, a Brit with a passion for urban farming, keeps this site running with his technical skills and an amazing ability to quickly respond to emails saying “it’s broken!” If you ever notice the site is down, know that James is probably pulling his hair out in an attempt to solve the problem.

Jackson, in Australia, manages most of our social media presence, coordinates our giveaways and does a lot more. Saikat, in India, makes sure our newsletter goes out on time. Kaly, the site’s co-founder, runs our directory. I coordinate, edit and put out manuals.

Rounding out the staff are writers and editors from the USA, Israel, Canada and other countries I’m surely forgetting. It changes a lot.

We send far too many emails to each other, sometimes useful and sometimes entertaining. We maintain a wiki, detailing who is writing which articles, so there aren’t any doubles. We use Dropbox to collaborate on larger projects, like the MakeUseOf Guides.

We don’t just write about free software: we use it ourselves. Our entire site is built on WordPress, and you could build a site very much like ours using our free WordPress guide.

Most of us have never met face to face. Until I started working on the Technophilia Podcast, I didn’t know what any of my co-workers voices sounded like. I still have no idea how my bosses sound, and know what they look like only from pictures.

Every once and a while I realize how weird it is that this is all possible. How lucky I am to know these people from all over the world, and how small the world is becoming because of the Internet.

You’re Part Of This Too

But it’s not just the staff that makes this site what it is. It’s you guys. I may block comments using a Chrome plugin for other sites, but not this one: I love hearing back from you guys. I learn in the comments, I take part in discussions and this becomes a better blog.

You guys take it once step further over at MakeUseOf Answers, where staff rarely needs to stop in and answer a question anymore because of the constant input of readers. You constantly interact with us on Facebook and Twitter. In a way, you’re all part of MakeUseOf.

So we should really do more to let you know how we operate. I’m wondering, what else would you like to know about MakeUseOf? I’ll be hanging out in the comments below, so feel free to ask any questions.

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38 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Chubonga

Interesting article. I love the articles you guys write so thank you.

jhpot

Thanks you for reading, and for commenting.

Reply

Joshua Clarke

Hey! One of my questions is included in the screenshot! Cool!

jhpot

¬†You’re famous now. Enjoy.

Reply

Tina

And as of yesterday, we actually do have staff meetings. My, how fast things can change. Thanks, James! ;)

jhpot

¬†Yeah, this was written and edited before that was scheduled…things happen quick around here.

Danny Stieben

Staff meetings? Maybe for the higher-ups. :P What do you guys use, Google Hangouts? I’m curious now. :)

Tina

For now Editors only. But who knows… And yes, we did use Google Hangouts.

Chris Hoffman

Us lowly writers don’t get to participate in such things!

jhpot

The lag was bad enough with just editors, but it might be fun to throw the occasional global party. Start a hangout and we might show up, Chris. 

Chris Hoffman

I may just do that sometime!

Reply

Chris Hoffman

It’s a good thing, too! Without the Internet I’d have to get a — shudder — real job.

jhpot

This is a real job!

Chris Hoffman

Yup, it is. I should have put quotation marks around “real job.” You know that it isn’t seen that way by some people!

Reply

deelirium

Just started listening to Technophilia. I think you need a female voice on there. ;)  :D

jhpot

It’s a great idea. But who should we replace?

Munna

‘Tina Sieber’ can take the place….

jhpot

Tina’s a pretty busy woman…I’m not sure we could manage to book her. I’d love it if she joined us some time, though.

Tina

Thanks Munna and Justin.

Aibek

we both know the answer to that question, the British guy! ;)

James Bruce

Looks like someone just blew their chances of a guest appearance!

deelirium

Nah, females love British accents. You need the token accent voice and the token female voice.

jhpot

I’m not a token. Sad.¬†

Aibek

I second that!

Dave LeClair

I’ll just speak in a high, sexy voice this week, you will never know the difference lol

jhpot

You’re right: I wouldn’t notice a difference. From how you usually are.

What I’m saying is that you’re womanly.

Reply

Achraf52

You are a great blog, just try to make more giveaway in the future of new hot gadgets .

jhpot

We’re working on all sorts of giveaways, so stay tuned.

Reply

Kerry_six

¬†Seek Tall lovers on — Tall mingle.???¬† –, a nice club for tall people to date.

Reply

Mridul Godha

Hello. This article was really required for people like me who read MakeUseOf like everyday and wonder how stuff works at this place. You guys are a perfect example of dedicated teamwork and globablisation!

Reply

James Bruce

What an absolutely epic article Justin, thanks!

jhpot

Been working on it since December, and I’m happy with how it turned out.¬†

Reply

Erez Zukerman

Loved this piece! Very well written. And now you know what the bosses sound like! :)

jhpot

 Jackson remains a man of mystery, however.

Reply

Anonymous

I’m glas to meet you all ! Thank you again for the beautiful job you’re doing.

Reply

Syed Naimath

That’s an awesome post, Justin. Nice! :) I remember taking his interview for Foundora. Aibek is really a fantastic guy and his persistence is something that we can learn from. That’s one reason I think why MakeUseOf is where it is today. :)

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