Thinking Aloud on a Sunday

WordPress

For obvious reasons, I have been thinking a lot about WordPress today.

When I started blogging, this platform stood out as being the most user-friendly, to a novice blogger. The set-up was relatively simple, and I was soon up and running with my own new blog. WordPress also enjoyed a huge following all over the world, so this gave me lots to explore, and also attracted followers to my blog. Over time, I managed to get help from many others in the community, and I was able to learn how to add images, change themes, and much more.

Fast forward five years, and my WordPress blogs have become my main hobby. The first thing I do after I get up, and the last thing I do before going to bed. In between, I read other blogs, comment on posts, and reply to comments on mine. Blogging makes me content, and it also inspires me to write. It has given me a large group of blogging friends, and enabled me to communicate with people from many countries. And of course, it has all been completely free of charge to me, courtesy of some small advertising features that WordPress adds to my blog posts.

But then they have to go and mess around with it. They forgot the first rule of successful continuity. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

They changed the editor.
They changed the notification bar.

They cancelled the Annual Report.
They changed the reader.

They altered the space bar, as you can see here.
Then they kept trying to ‘improve’ the visual impact of the platform, determined to make it more suitable for those using mobile devices. This caused no end of ongoing glitches, and showed that WordPress had forgotten that the majority of serious bloggers still used desktop computers and laptops when blogging. Most of us need a proper keyboard. Try typing a 1500 word story on a mobile phone, adding links and images too. Not much fun, I assure you.

So, the people running ‘our’ platform are telling us that is it going to be their way, or the highway. These random annoyances may not appear to be a big deal to those of you who do not blog. But If I cannot comment on a blog I follow, or add replies to comments made by others, then the whole point of blogging –communication– is in serious jeopardy. If WordPress is to be reduced to just another ‘phone app’, then it will no longer be what we signed up for, that’s for sure. Just a pale version of Facebook, for people to aimlessly scroll on, not bothering to write anything of consequence in the process.

Perhaps we should all be prepared to upgrade, and pay for the privilege of our blogging? It is only $99 a year, so not too much to pay for such an all-consuming hobby. But ask anyone who currently pays for the Premium Service, and they will tell you that they suffer those same glitches, still get little feedback from WordPress, as well as no notice of any impending changes that might affect their blog, or blogs.

This weekend, the ‘Press This’ button was removed. This had previously allowed people to reblog the posts of others without having to transport all their images, and also going through the process of adding comments of their own, or links to the other post. No notice was given, it was just removed.
At the same time, many of us are also finding that we are unable to leave comments on many blogs, and we have no idea why.

In the grand scheme of things, is all this stuff important? Well to bloggers, it is. People who have spent many years sticking faithfully to a platform, a platform they helped build into one of the biggest in the world, are entitled to expect better treatment. Even if the service is free to most bloggers, their involvement is what made WordPress such a successful company in the first place, and it is unacceptable to treat them in this offhand fashion. Ultimately, the community we all cherish being a part of will just disintegrate.

So that’s what I have been thinking about today, as I struggle to email people to advise them that I am not ignoring their blog posts, and watch my ‘Thank you’ comments to new followers fail to appear.

92 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud on a Sunday

  1. I think we are old-school and many people do use their phones exclusively for everything these days (I keep reading comments by authors about how in certain countries they might not have computers or even a credit card but they use their phones for everything). I guess it all depends on what we want our blogs for. I agree that they don’t check with people but I’m not sure if they did we’d be a big enough part of their clients to change their ways. As it has been noted above, businesses use WordPress too and I assume their interest is to reach as many paying costumers as possible. I wonder if we are a dying breed.
    I noticed the press this button going yesterday, checked online, followed instructions I found in a post and made it appear again. It doesn’t work exactly the same as it did before (you have to add more information and it sends you to your editing page) but it works. It will probably disappear again.
    I have sometimes tried not to upgrade or update things, but eventually, the old version has disappeared for good, so one wonders (I don’t like the new hotmail/outlook version of mail but we shall see).
    I hope you find an answer that works for you. And if you decide to go elsewhere, do let me know. Take care.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Olga. I seem to have spent most of my adult life being the dying breed in one thing or another. Always showing up far too late to the new things, I suppose. Just when I think I am settled in with using them, they are altered completely, or just gone.
      I was only wondering about DVD players last week. With the hundreds of films I have collected over the years, how long will it be before they stop releasing them on DVD? I have never bought a download, or used a streaming service. Maybe it is time for me to get into the 21st century? I would be upset by the demise of WordPress ‘as we know it’, though. I like things to be familiar, as change is unsettling for me, as I grow older.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Doug makes a good point about getting your own domain and hosting, you could probably do it for less than £20 a year and you can then take a certain amount of control back regarding upgrades and the version of WP used. Although I suspect your problem is more to do with your email address. It might be a good idea to setup an alternative email account (@gmail, @live) and associate that with your WordPress account and comments, just to see if you still experience the same problems.
    My best guess is that your email address has received a black mark along the way and it keeps cropping up when they update the spam software.
    Sadly free software normally means that you are the beta tester for the commercial version and changes are driven further up the food chain 😦

    Liked by 3 people

  3. At this point, I’m just so used to every site I use to regularly update with “upgrades” that I’ve decided to just go with the flow. I still bemoan changes to certain websites that happened years ago, but I try to adapt and just go with it, bad though some changes are.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sorry to hear about the frustrations you’ve been having with WP, especially the disappearing comments. That sounds like a defect for sure. I haven’t experienced too many glitches myself but then I’m not interacting with as many blogs as you are. I have seen changes to the software though. It would be nice if they notified users of updates before rolling them out, and the reasons behind them. (I didn’t notice ‘Press This’ was gone as I never used it. I wonder what drove that change?)

    After a few months of using the free version of WP I upgraded to the $99 plan mainly because it gave me more space for my photos. But it also gave me access to the ‘Happiness Engineers.’ I’ve logged several issues with them and gotten prompt and satisfactory results. I don’t know if that’s the answer for you or not. I just hope you gang in there and keep on blogging! We need you in the blogosphere! Have a nice day and be happy it is not snowing where you are. Today’s snow here seems to be sticking!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Susanne. I am very glad it is not snowing here, although it is very cold, and will be -4 tonight.

      Maybe the $99 option is the way to go, but I am not happy with WP just leaving all the ‘free’ bloggers to fate, as we have given them their start, and made them as big as they are.
      The happiness engineers are all volunteers, and therefore can generate random results. It might be better if WP actually paid some proper IT technicians, and stopped allowing the volunteers to keep experimenting with things that mess it all up for so many of us. (Rant over. 🙂 )

      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Good point. I’m still not clear on how or why the people ‘working for’ WP are volunteers. (I guess they keep their day jobs and moonlight at WordPress?) Not sure what business model that is. I did attend the WordCamp conference in Seattle yesterday and found it interesting. I think most of the speakers and attendees were more on the business side as many companies are using WP for their websites. It makes me want to get more involved in the WP ‘community’ to understand the software on the technical side. Maybe bring the ordinary bloggers into the discussion.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Interesting to hear that you went to the meeting, and your thoughts as a result.
          Perhaps if you became involved with WP, you could sort out some of those constant glitches! 🙂
          Perhaps their present interest in the business side of things is why they are less concerned about the personal bloggers?
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Maybe so. There were around 500 people at WordCamp Seattle. They had some good sessions, including a 2 hour hands on workshop for beginners, focused primarily on the dashboard. Well worth the price of admission which was only $40 and included lunch. I’m planning to do a post on it soon.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello Pete! I fully consent! The “Press this”-Button is not aways, the have “renovated” the button. LOL
    Now, only with a very good internet connection you are able to use em.
    I ever learned “Never touch a running system”, but the folks from WP.com never heared about this. The last IT-change made me angry was at paket.de – the german parcel service. They implemented a Re-Captcha without any need.

    Keep cool, and have a good week. 😉 Michael

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Hear, hear! Well said – even if it only serves to upset WP even more than you already have! You’d think there are enough of us grumbling to give them pause but it seems not. I certainly won’t be blogging if I have to do it from a phone – I’d have to buy a smart phone first. Mine is an old fashioned one that makes and receives calls and on which I can receive and send texts. That’s all I need my phone for – apart from sometimes being used as an alarm clock.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Mary. I have had a smartphone since they first appeared, but I refuse to try to blog on that small screen, using a phone keypad. If WP continue to insist on preferring to support mobile platforms, they are going to end up losing a huge number of their earliest supporters, and most loyal users.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I couldn’t agree more. In my view, the absence of announcing often critical changes to the blogging tools and format is what is most distressing. This is a mirror of what happened at the TCM CFU blogsite; with the users (who were among the earliest consumers by which that channel flourished) disregarded and eventually discarded like so much refuse. It is also interesting to hear that upgrades have no benefit when it comes to friendly usability.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I understand your disgruntlement, and I don’t discount it. These kinds of issues, though, are why I basically avoid getting too attached to any platform, especially a free one. Going by experience, ‘improvements’ and updates will erode the usefulness of almost any online service, eventually. I simply expect it, and try not to focus my attention and efforts/put all my eggs in one basket. Like buses, there’ll be another one along in a minute. Up sticks, pack bags, onward and upward!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Alex. It is looking as if self hosting is the way to go. I will give it a while before I decide. Being retired, and living on a pension, I have to consider any unexpected expenses.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. I’m glad to see I am not the only one fed up with their constant screwing around! I thought the “press this” issue was a glitch, when it first happened, and then I realized nope, it was another WP change, and without even a hint as to when or why it was going to happen. And Before I pay a hundred bucks, I will either go somewhere else or stop blogging.

    Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know many of us are on the free plan, Kim. But nonetheless, we generate income for WordPress through advertising, and inspire others to become bloggers too, thus increasing potential profits.
      The least they could do is to stop messing around with something that once worked so well.
      If I thought that paying $99 a year would stop all this happening, I would happily pay. But I have a feeling that they have become obsessed by the mobile app market, and are following the money, at the expense of ‘everyday bloggers’.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 3 people

  10. may not be the day to tell you this-but I couldn’t “like” your post. Wp made me enter my password first-never happened. Also had to “re-follow” you -not happened to any other reader post. I don’t know why this happened. Hope I fixed it-time will tell

    Liked by 4 people

      1. I didn’t like giving you bad news-but felt you needed to know. Please know I will watch reader for your posts and if nothing shows up, I will let you know. As I said that has never happened before and I still do not get it. Best wishes. Michele

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for that, Kerin. I have had a very frustrating weekend, with my comments on other sites mostly disappearing! Without the social aspect of that communication, it all feels rather pointless.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Hear, hear! You are absolutely right to be frustrated. I wish we would be notified of changes! Is that so hard for WordPress to do? Just send an email to all your customers. I chose to pay the $99 so that I could ask questions and get immediate help. They are good about that, and for me it is well worth the money. I was upset when I didn’t get a New Year’s review (not the right term), and apparently everyone else was, too. The answer I got was that they were reviewing bringing that back. We’ll see come January. For now, tell us when there is a change. Please! Best to you, Pete.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Here is the response from WP:

    Chad C. (Automattic)
    Nov 5, 15:18 UTC

    Hi there!

    Why would comments go to the spam folder?

    WordPress.com sites use a spam filter called to analyze incoming comments for spam-like text, or for comments coming from email addresses that indicate they’re spam or automated postings.

    Sometimes a genuine comment can be caught by mistake, if that happens you (as the site owner) can click on My Site> Comments > Spam to find them.

    If you click on a comment you can hit Approve to move out out of spam and approve it to appear on your site – the spam filter keeps track of these to learn from them over time so it gets better at filtering comments for you.

    Are you having trouble with your visitor’s comments going to spam, or are you commenting on other sites and landing in spam yourself?

    If you have a couple of example comments you’d like to send us a link to we can take a look!

    Chad C.
    Happiness Engineer

    So I will respond and cite that your comment landed in my spam folder and I had to approve you “out of it”. I guess if I approve it, you shouldn’t land in it eventually.
    Not exactly a perfect conclusion to the issue, but I hope it might help you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. At least you got a reply from Chad. 🙂
      Thanks for dong that Cindy, and for letting me know. Some sites do not block comments, others that I commented on a few hours ago now do not allow them. It seems to be too random to be part of the existing Spam folder structure.
      And it happens a lot (to me) too.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Here’s how they replied:
        Cat Scheer (Automattic)
        Nov 5, 15:49 UTC

        Hi,

        If you mark his comments as not spam the spam detection software should learn from this and stop sending him to spam going forward. However, if you continue to have a problem with it, please send us an example of such a comment while it’s still listed as spam so we can take a look at what’s going on and why it’s being incorrectly directed there.

        Regards,
        Cat Scheer | Happiness Engineer

        It sounds like you have to train the spam folder not to send/receive you. Don’t know why you are black-balled.

        Liked by 3 people

  13. I’m not having any problems with comments and such myself, but I get very frustrated with editing posts (‘select’ functions etc work very moderately) and at some point they changed the way to post links, making it more complicated than before (why???). I couldn’t work it out at all, and finally managed to get in touch with a ‘happiness engineer’ who explained WP is managed by a whole bunch of volunteers, who are always trying to ‘improve’ things, with very mixed results. (He fixed my problem, btw, or rather explained the more difficult way of doing it). It does seem to me, however, than instead of griping amongst ourselves, we should make a concentrated effort to complain to WP directly – through said happiness engineers, by writing or other means. Then they might just listen – because, with all due respect, Pete, I don’t really think they read your posts or anyone else’s, for that matter.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree that those volunteer trouble-shooters are unlikely to read any of my gripes, Marina.

      This has happened to me so many times now, and I have naturally asked WP about it. On occasion, they have got back to me, with various suggestions.

      1) Is someone ‘spamming’ my comments deliberately?
      2) Am I adding links that ‘alert’ the spam filters?
      3) Has the recipient previously allowed comments from me?
      And so on…

      Never once did they agree or admit that it might be something to do with them, or their error.
      I am pleased to hear that you are not experiencing those issues yourself, and wondering if it might be because you have a .com site?

      By the way, my comment on your latest post failed to appear after I posted it.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. Like Yahoo, I remain on the old version because it’s comfortable. It’s only for money that they tweak what’s good forcing you to go along –phones, computers, Microsoft–I hate them all. With Word Press, I pay the premium because I wanted to communicate with someone on the other side if I had problems. That allows me to chat with someone. They have and fixed whatever issue I was having. So for me, paying the $99 a year is worth it because I use it every day, hate commercials, and have fun designing my site to a theme. As a mode of expression, it’s worth it to me (Pandora, too).
    I have convenience issues with others who are not on WP. That is, it’s annoying to comment on their sites. Since I have the premium service, what if I “chatted” with someone about comments going to the spam folder problem as a general question?

    Can you imagine if you/we/all of us decided to stop blogging? It’s hard to imagine life before it! I’m sure we’d all adjust after a few weeks, but there would be an ache in our hearts.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I sometimes wonder if all these glitches would be absent if we all paid the $99. But then they could put it up to $199, and we would have to tag along, I suppose.
      As for all of us just stopping, that’s hard to imagine after all this time. I suppose we could keep in touch with the long-term friends by email, and continue to be in contact at some level. But for some of us, certainly me included, it has become a way of life.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I don’t use Facebook. I enjoy writing creatively and expressing myself on my online magazine. Talking with commenters is a real treat. It’s a wonderful avocation for me. And for you. Instant gratification for a solitary endeavor.

        Liked by 3 people

  15. YOU TOUCHED A NERVE HERE FOR SURE PETE. As you know, I share some very specific stories on Facebook fan sites, and get literally hundreds of comments and “likes” – but not a single one of them can comment on my blog post itself, because they are not WP members….that is still the single most frustrating part of this “community”, and as you’ve pointed out, this “community” continues to have new rules and regulations added without our input…if I wanted another form of government….you get where where I’m going!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. There is a sense of the dictatorial about WordPress indeed, John.
      Those people you mention should be able to comment using the ‘follow by email’ option though. I have a lot of followers who are not bloggers, or WordPress users, and they frequently comment.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 3 people

  16. Lol I didn’t even know there was a ‘press this’ button 🙄! I have 1 paid for and 2 free blogs, and don’t seem to have the problems you speak of very often, now and again someone’s comment goes into spam that shouldn’t have and I fish it out, that’s about it. Sorry you (and others) are having so much trouble!

    Liked by 5 people

  17. Pete.. you are absolutely correct.. and some of this is likely the problem you’ve been having with my blog. Perhaps you should consider this….
    You are using the “free” (or the pay enhancement) WordPress.com. My sites I went to stand alone.. using my own domains. Doing that allows you to choose what version of WordPress you want to load onto your site. That gives you a little flexibility. It’s cheap to register your domain name… you can find a cheap host… mine is like $8 to $11 a month depending on the features you may want. If you are shoving $99 a year to WordPress directly and getting all their updates shoved down your throats.. yes.. that sucks big time.
    I went to one of those freelance programmer sites… fivrr.com or upwork.com and find someone to help me with a decent theme, load it up and set it up, and then teach me how to make design changes myself. It’s only a couple hours work (I selected a guy for about $50/hr… but some are cheaper).

    Liked by 5 people

  18. I was having a moan / conversation with Denis about an issue, in the end I said “they want to reinvent the wheel”…No Tone…They want to reinvent the engine…..Its a bit like work someone needs a promotion.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. WordPress please take note. I hate the new editing features, I had to turn off the automatic share on social media. I’ll decide if I want to post to Facebook, reader no longer loads on mobile and hasn’t for over 18 months which makes it difficult to comment and to follow up on other’s posts. I hear you Pete. Hear, hear.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. It is all very frustrating, Pete, and I understand your continuing struggle with this. I refuse to change or upgrade (Yahoo is the same situation for me) just because “they’ve” decided to introduce new programmes or ways of doing things – that they never consulted users on in the first place. I consider it a situation where the techies are encouraged to go wild and invent/create more stuff that, ultimately, doesn’t make the end users’ (us) experience any easier or less stressful. It’s as though they’re saying, “We have the technology so we’re going to continue to change it however we want to our hearts’ content, and you end users be damned!” They’re changing up, just for the sake of change. Sometimes, though, the “good old” is much better than the “new and improved”.

    But what I resent more than anything is that I continue to receive notices to upgrade on both WordPress and Yahoo … Don’t they understand, if I haven’t bothered to upgrade yet, in all this time, that perhaps I might not be interested in upgrading at all? I’d like to tell them directly and make this point myself, but there doesn’t seem to be any contact person out there at either site who is interested in listening to me and what I want from my “experience” of using their sites.

    Cheers,
    Susan

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Susan. After many problems with Yahoo Mail, I changed back to the ‘Basic’ format. I get emails every single day asking me to upgrade, or to switch to the ‘better and improved’ Yahoo. I ignore them too, but fear that one day all these changes will just be imposed upon us, like it or not.
      I am in favour of developments that improve things and make life easier, but have no patience with those changes that are purely cosmetic, just for window dressing, or pandering to the Facebook generation.

      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I would like to think they read things like this, and feel some guilt about all of us who got their blog platform going, and made it so big. But I doubt they do, as ‘progress’ is king, and ordinary old-school bloggers are just collateral damage.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Valid sentiments Pete. I miss those annual report. Yes, I also used “Press This” once or twice but I could no longer find it. Sad for us who use the site for free. Like you, I’ve been here for years, so many changes.

    Liked by 3 people

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