Pay, Leave and Discrimination

A post about facebook’s pay being “barbaric” is making the rounds. If paying people different amounts depending on location is a bad thing then Automattic has been blazing that trail for years.

A javascript developer in say Texas and another in say Italy will not be paid the same despite the fact they do exactly the same work.

A happiness engineer in France will not be paid the same as a happiness engineer in India despite the fact they do exactly the same work.

What you – or anyone – is paid at Automattic is a secret between you, HR and anyone else at a level to oversee that.

There is an argument here for ‘cost of living’ but secrecy creates uncertainty, bad feeling.

But there is more.

On their “Work with Us” page it states:

Open vacation policy (no set number of days per year). We encourage all employees to take the time they need for vacation, to pursue their own interests, to stay healthy, and to spend time with friends and family.

This is not correct.
HR have stated that it is expected that you take an amount of vacation that is typical to your country.
In the USA? That’s two weeks
In the EU? That’s more like four to six weeks
Leave is also at the discretion of the team lead. If they want to give you a hard time they can. It has happened that team member #1 (in the USA) takes a third week off and gets grilled why, yet in the same team member #2 (in the EU) takes their fourth week off and nothing is said.

By having multiple teams, and several layers of management discrimination like this it is both baked in and deniable.

Looking to apply to Automattic? Ask direct questions.


Tone deaf

The world: so there’s a pandemic out here and people are getting killed in the streets, police departments are on fire

Matt: so let’s talk about my $9k streaming setup


Is Distributed Work a Divide and Conquer Strategy?

Obviously this site exists because people have had negative experiences at Automattic. But many people have also had very positive experiences at the company. Could it be that the distributed nature of Automattic allows for such varying experiences?

It does seem like the distributed nature makes it harder for colleagues to compare notes and experiences. You work alone most of the year, and when you do meet up, you’re too exhausted by the work, activities and parties to have any serious discussions.


Wanted: A script

Happiness Engineers in Live Chat are now being flagged if their responses to users are too slow. Currently 180 seconds is the target time.

A request for a Tampermonkey script.
This should auto-insert a custom response into the chat window at varying time intervals.
This should enable any HE to enter their own list of responses that they would typically use. This reduces the chance of being accused of using a script.
This should also have a range of times in seconds when the insertion will happen.

HE’s can then get on with doing their actual job instead of worrying about their leads spying on them.

Who is driving this increasing micro-managing of HE’s? And what do they do?


Incompetent people

One thing which annoys the hell out of me is that incompetent employees are rarely dealt with. There are some HEs that *every* HE knows is just bad, awful at the job, yet, they are given a pass. They do the bare minimum; they pass the buck; they use every method at their disposal to just send out their shitty replies and hit their target number for the day, and then they check out. Good for them for having a well-paying job that requires a minimum of effort from them, but this behavior hurts every other HE in their team and division.

I’ve seen the same thing happen in other roles as well: people who are clearly incompetent, who don’t meet any goals, who shift blame, who are basically dead weight, yet they stay in place for years and years.

I’m not saying that a8c should ruthlessly fire anyone the moment their productivity drops, no. But, when the slackers are allowed to stay, year after year, it kills the morale of everyone around them.



There’s a lot of happy, shiny press coming out of Automattic right now. The narrative they’re pushing is that it’s a distributed utopia where everyone is supported and empowered to do their best work.

If that were true, this blog wouldn’t exist.