WP Engine has been working on Torque for a number of months. Their tagline for it, as it turns out, is “The WordPress News Core.” Beyond that, they don't particularly say on the site how they plan to frame the content, but they've kicked things off with a number of posts from prominent community members, and they've also arranged a deal to acquire the WP Daily archives.
WP Daily now completely redirects to torquemag.io, the domain for the new site. Also, WP Engine has acquired the WP Daily twitter handle (and inherently its followers too).
I knew WP Engine was working on a new form of WordPress content website, but I didn't know anything about their deal with WP Daily. They asked me to write an article for a new “magazine”, so I did and you can see it on Torque now. I should note that they paid me for that article, and I assume they paid other contributors as well.
I was pretty surprised the other day when I saw the actual site and its focus on WordPress news. I was under the impression based on conversations with Austin Gunter (that we've had periodically for a couple of years) that they were focusing on a long-form magazine style site geared beyond the “bubble” of the WordPress community. For some reason, I actually thought it was a physical magazine too.
I'm not sure if their plans for how the site would function changed after the abrupt closing of WP Daily, or if they had intended all along to be a WordPress news website, but it appears that is their aim based on what I see on the website. Time will tell how exactly they approach content — if it's more WP Daily's style of frequent, “juicy” posts, or longer form “Wall Street Journal long form” as the magazine was described to me by Austin Gunter.
When I asked Austin if he had any comments about Torque and it being a WordPress news site, he said the following:
We're aiming very high with Torque and the content we'll publish. The goal is to let Torque be a vehicle that connects the whole WordPress community, and the content will reflect those big goals. By that, I mean everyone whose lives have been touched by WordPress. There's an opportunity to grow the community into even more of a force of nature, and we hope to be part of that. WP Daily closing….[etc]
In the pending newsletter Austin shared with me, one sentence sticks out to me to succinctly describe what they see as the state of WordPress news and their goal.
We think it’s time for WordPress to have an established, independent resource that can serve as the seminal source of WordPress news for the WordPress community.
One thing is for sure — the larger WordPress companies are seeing value in producing WordPress-oriented content. Automattic owns Code Poet. Matt Mullenweg owns WP Tavern. ManageWP is focusing heavily on their blog and has even teased a more WordPress news style project. I've seen people like Joost de Valk express interest in WordPress news sites for years. And now WP Engine is doing Torque. And really, WPMU set the model some time ago.
Obviously different people probably have different motivations for starting a WordPress news resource, but no doubt they can be a lead-in to products if they approach it that way.
In the introductory blog post to Torque, the editor of the new site introduces herself. Michelle Oznowicz has been brought into WP Engine as the Torque editor, and says in the post about her experience writing and editing for a number of media outlets in the past, such as celebrity-focused publisher EQAL.
We'll see how the community adopts Torque, and how Michelle runs it. She makes a note in the introduction about the importance of her editorial independence from WP Engine, and that they, “will not shy away from controversy. Instead, when we feature biased or opinionated pieces, we will always try to represent both sides of an issue.”