New Domain and Updates

Foot Prints in SandI’m very happy today. I could finally map my domain sterex.in to my blog. Now you can access my blog using both https://manojbe.wordpress.com as well as http://sterex.in. As a result of this mapping, if you use a RSS reader to read my blog, you might have three nonsensical posts. This is due to the latency in DNS propagation. The posts were from a self-hosted blog which the domain was pointing to, before being mapped to WordPress. My apologies. Please ignore those posts.

Secondly, before mapping the domain to WordPress, I was stuck in a dilemma whether to host the blog on my own (wordpress.org), or choose wordpress.com. If I were to host the blog myself elsewhere, I’d have had to:

  • Buy hosting; add my domain there. I’m responsible for the blog’s uptime.
  • Install WordPress, install a host of plugins and edit a lot of files before my self-hosted blog could match the functionality of the blog here.
  • Manage the SEO, make sure everything is working fine, and make sure the visibility of my blog on the web (which could easily take years!)
  • The biggest pain however is redirecting the traffic from here; which would have affected you.

If I had someone to do all that for me, I could easily invest all that energy into blogging; that’s why I chose wordpress.com to handle EVERYTHING! And it does it without a glitch.

Its been a while since my blog got some real attention. I was held up with my new job, the training in Mumbai, and other things. (More posts coming soon).

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Nice video!

I found this youtube link in the “Add Video” function of the wordpress, while composing a post. It was shown as an example in one of the instructions. Talk of Easter Eggs! 🙂 Anyway, enjoy the video. 🙂

A word about wordpress

For those who have come to wordpress recently (post v2.5 release), I’m sure you found the design, interface, manageability, and the performance of wordpress a satisfying experience. However, for those who have been with wordpress since its early stages, it has been an extraordinary journey (at wordpress.com, also at wordpress.orgWhat’s the difference?) when looked back at it.

I have been associated with wordpress ever since the v1.5 release – which was instantly adopted by thousands of people. I was a n00b at Webdesigning and PHP back then (not much difference now), and was a mute spectator to the exponential increase of the popularity of wordpress. The response to the wordpress ‘blog’ tool was enormous and everyone wanted to be a part of it. And gradually, the wordpress community grew, the number of coders, testers and website managers. The list would never be complete without mentioning the thousands of theme and plugin designers who have made a world of difference to wordpress as it is.

Having said all this, it would be a crime not to mention Matt. Matt is the creator of WordPress, who nurtured it (and continues to do so) as his child. Hats off to you Matt, for giving us such a good blogging software (wordpress.org) and also a blogging platform (wordpress.com).

You can read the wordpress story from the people themselves here.

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:

2 years since I started blogging!

I’m very happy that, its been over two years since I started blogging (05 Apr, 2006) with WordPress.com. Before that, I had an account with Blogster.com, which was formerly Blogster.net. Anyways, it wasn’t long before I switched over to WordPress.

Where are the archives?

Well, when I started off the blog, it was mainly to put up online my large collection of jokes and email forwards. I have now moved it to a different place. (Its still under development, and I’ll give out the link once its up 🙂 ) So, I wasn’t much of a writer then; I’m not so now either, owing to the amount of ‘creative’ time I spend on writing these days.

Anyways, I read Mary’s article on her finding of a news-piece, which put forth the bad effects of addiction to blogging. And also Caroline‘s comment which linked to an interesting post. It talked of the freedom of a blogger and the sense of ‘Blogging Without Obligation’ (BWO). After thinking about it a lot, I think addiction to blogging is the safest addiction out there! 😉 😛