WordPress.com — What’s happening?

Up until now, wordpress.com (not .org!) was THE best blogging community out there. I wonder why the people at WordPress.com are trying to undo all the good name that they have amassed after all these years of hard work?

I was always irked by the fact that WP.com introduced many ‘updates’ without any documentation about it. You either have to go to the Support Forums to find out, or search for a post in Matt’s blog, or visit several other official and unofficial WP related blogs. And to think of the fact that many people don’t even know about such things even after years of being with WP.com is very saddening.

Things you probably did not know:

1. ‘Invisible’ Ads on Your Blogs

WordPress makes money out of your blogs; forget giving a share of it to you, they don’t even inform you about the ads! If you are wondering that you have never seen ads on your blog, then it happens so that WP.com members do not see ads. And its only other visitors who see them. (http://faq.wordpress.com/2005/12/08/adsense/) Here’s what Matt has to say about this: http://wordpress.com/blog/2006/09/06/on-ads/ (Also read the comments and replies)

I’m really not worried about WP.com using my blog to make money from it. Especially since they host my blog for me and the hosting has been impeccable with absolutely no downtime that I have experienced ever since my time at WP.com. However, I’m a little frustrated and a lot worried, and more disappointed.

Why am I frustrated?
I’m frustrated because, nobody was notified about this properly. Also, like I said, I’m OK with WP.com publishing ads on my page to make a little money, but something isn’t really right here. Why stop users from making money from their blogs when they can do it? Why not at least split the earnings; as it is, its our content that WP.com is capitalizing on. I really am baffled at their policy of not allowing members to have their advertisements on the blogs.

Why am I worried?
We all know that Google Adsense is a contextual advertising system. Which actually means that they serve ads based on the content of our website. This system is inaccurate when trying to find relevant ads for the page. For instance, you may see links to unwanted sites (probably even adult/porn sites), which is not really something I’d want my readers to see. And especially since these ads are not under my control, I can definitely not do anything about it. (I won’t even know if or when such ads are shown — see why I’m frustrated)

Why am I disappointed?
Ads are not something that are really pleasant on a personal blog as mine. I’d keep it clean and not make money out of it at all rather than giving my visitors reasons to believe that I’m trying to make money out of a post which has no niche value attached to it.

2. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

This is a very naive approach by WP.com and I really do not understand what they stand to gain from this. (Interestingly enough, we have a ‘possible announcement’ (Seems like Matt’s not sure if he has to announce it!) about it: http://wordpress.com/blog/2008/04/25/possibly-an-announcement/) And please people at WordPress, if you are listening, please do not list this under WP.com features. ‘Cause its bloody damn not! I’d have rather welcomed this update if it brought up related posts from our own blogs, but having a computer decide how my post could be related to the links that come up is so naive. Blogging for me, is a personal experience. I’m not providing content to the public domain, so I’m pretty against this feature right now.

If you actually read the comments on the ‘possible announcement’, here’s what FireFly said:

When I read about this, I was enthused. What a great way to find new blogs!

But then I saw that my hit statistics were reflecting that a racist, white supremacist blog was linking to me through the autolinks. There seems to be no quality control applied to the autolinks other than keywords. When you’re a woman of colour blogging about racial justice, this means that the feature is actually putting you in danger from people who have their interests set against yours. (In fact, white supremacists have attacked other woc bloggers in the past.)

So because of the irresponsibility of this feature, I have to either turn it off and lose a potentially powerful means of networking with other bloggers, or accept the risk that I might be the target of a racist attack. Catch-22.

There are quite a few woc bloggers who use WordPress who I imagine have similar concerns.

And Matt replied:

Fire Fly, that’s terrible! We’ll be rolling out a feature shortly that allows you to block blogs to protect you against something like this.

Again, shouldn’t the related posts be disabled until you roll out your new feature, Matt?

Robin said:

What happens when I end up with a link to a blog on a topic I can’t stand? We have links on our blogs already. We can control where those links go. I don’t like stuff I’m unfamiliar with showing up in my blog.

Matt’s reply:

Robin, right now you can’t do anything, but shortly we’ll be adding a feature that allows you to filter out certain blogs from showing up.

Matt, it would be awesome if we could actually choose the blogs to allow, rather than choose the ones to disallow.

I have currently turned this feature off. If you would like to do it too, here’s how:
Go to: Dashboard
Click tab labeled: Design
Click on tab labeled: Extras
Click “Hide Related Links”
Save changes.

And by the way, the announcement doesn’t tell you how to disable it!

3. Opt IN or Opt OUT?

I agree that people at WP.com put in a lot of time and effort to build really good features and manage them. However, one thing that I don’t understand is the fact that, whenever a new feature is rolled out, it is by default enabled to all the blogs! WP.com does not consider if there are members who wouldn’t need the features. They enable it for all blogs and give us an option to disable it. (Eg: Possibly related posts!) This is more like making us eat sh** and giving us an option to spit it if we don’t like it.

Wouldn’t it rather be nice if there was an announcement about the feature and instructions on how to enable it?

4. make this blog your-personalized-blog.com for just $15 per year.

One thing I noticed new in my dashboard today was the above statement. It was OK; it was a way of letting people know of the upgrades. But then, each time I visited my dashboard the line just stayed there. Until it forced me to click on the link, and read about the upgrade of domain mapping (which I already had). Why was it shown incessantly, until I clicked on it? Are things being forced upon members at WP.com?

That’s all for now. I guess wordpress found me in a bad mood today. I vented a lot of frustration at the Support Forums, and also created this post! I’m sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings. I really love wordpress. And I’m just unhappy with the way things are being handled here right now. Hope things turn out to become better.

Update:

More WP bloggers disappointed with the recent update:

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11 thoughts on “WordPress.com — What’s happening?

  1. woowooteacup

    Thanks for the helpful info on WordPress, Manoj. I wondered about those links suddenly showing up. I like WordPress, too, but it is interesting that they expect us to figure out new features without giving us a straightforward explanation. I’ll have to be sure to keep an eye on this kind of thing. I’ll also be looking up the links you’ve provided about invisible ads. Thanks for telling me how to disable the auto links. That’s handy info to know if I want to shut them off.

  2. 1. We talk about the ads on the features page, which is the most popular page on WordPress.com. Google doesn’t allow adult ads, so you don’t need to worry about that.

    2. The “possibly” in the announcement title was a joke on the name of the feature. It does bring up related posts from your blog! First and foremost. It only shows other stuff if there aren’t enough related links from your own posts.

    The announcement does tell you how to delete it, in the next to last paragraph:

    “If you want to remove the related posts from your blog entirely, just go to Design > Extras and check the box to do so. But if you remove related posts from your blog we’ll remove you from other people’s blogs, so you won’t get traffic from that.”

  3. 1. I have no problems with wordpress running ads, Matt. Its just that I find it not well documented that it does so. Shouldn’t it be included in the TOS?

    2. I was in a pretty bad mood yesterday. So, sorry if I did not take the ‘possibly’ in the statement like the way you meant it. And I must have missed the removal part on your post too. I’ve edited my post.

    And another thing that I have mentioned before and I would like to stress is the fact that, the possibly related posts feature must obtain the related posts from the blogs that we approve, or at least from the blogs we subscribe through the Friend Surfer or the blogs which we add to our Blogroll. Trying to blacklist blogs is something really hard to go about doing. Especially when we have hundreds of blogs being created everyday! 😮

    Moreover, if we could enable this feature on a per-post basis, it will be great. 🙂

  4. Anniyan

    Very bold post i’ll say… Good thing you came out and said it. Its good to know what is happening around us. And about the updates… I don’t like them too.

  5. @Pavan:
    I’ve been with the wordpress community long enough to understand the fact that everyone here is open to complaints as much as they are open to praises. That’s one very good thing about the WP community. Here, everybody acknowledges everyone’s ideas: The person Matt, who has commented above you, is in fact the founder and creator of WordPress. 🙂

    Don’t worry, the recent updates have gathered the ire of a lot of people. They will do something about it.

    @William:
    Yep. I really think it should be mentioned in the TOS.

  6. Gerry Sell

    Now that I think about it, I wonder why bloggers aren’t allowed to see the Google Ad Sense ads on our own blogs???? I think I should be able to see whatever my readers see on my site. (And Matt, if you’re reading this, it IS my site. It may have free ground rent on your site, but all the content is copyrighted by me.)

  7. Pingback: Help! Wordpress is putting advertising on my Blog! « Democratic Investments by the people for the people

  8. You also get a better bang for the buck by hosting your own wordpress blog on your own domain, you also get a better bang for the buck on SEO that way.

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