dramarama

I don’t suppose anyone’s still reading the comments over on that Techcrunch article which calls out Matt for not wanting anyone other than himself to make money out of open source, but there’s a guy over there going nuts because his wordpress.com username got hijacked for an Automattic staff member without them bothering to ask whether they could have it.

WTF? If you’re a staff member and the username you want is already taken, suck it up and deal with it like the rest of us have to. If I were to contact support and say ‘hey, you know what, Kate isn’t being used, can I have it please?’ I very much doubt I would get any joy. Not even if I could provide documentary evidence that my name was Kate. (Which it isn’t, it’s just a random name. I could just as easily have gone for Emily or Rebecca.)

And you know why you have that policy? Other than it being too much trouble to faff around with the database? And other than the fact that they might be using the username for the API key or to read their friend’s private blog? Because of the risk that the original owner might be a raving drama queen who promptly accuses the new holder of the username of trying to steal their identity. That is why. I think it very unlikely that Nikolay really is hacking into his namesake’s Twitter account; but if you’ve already illustrated that your company can’t be trusted, he hasn’t got much reason to believe your denials.

(Also, did the controversy over Scoble’s Specialness not clue you into the fact that people really don’t appreciate it when staff and their friends don’t have to abide by the same restrictions as the proles? Why do I have to keep spelling this stuff out?)

32 Comments »

  1. IIRC, mark (podz) reclaimed a username before nikolay.

  2. Alan said

    As much as I think this Nikolay guy is going about his complaints in the wrong way, I do empathise, and think it was a pretty underhanded act by Automattic. Other services wouldn’t pull a fast one like this, at least not without asking the current owner of the account, I don’t see why WP should be any different just because the site isn’t being used.

    I secured the account alan.wordpress.com almost two years ago, used it for a week at the height of my TISM-mania and haven’t touched it since. Every few months or so I get someone trying to get the password via the ‘retrieve password’ form, so I know it’s wanted by someone, but as much as I don’t care for WP.com, I’d be very disappointed (pissed off, even) if Automattic gave it to someone else just because it wasn’t being used. I don’t use roughly 90% of the accounts I have on the internet, but if I ever want to use them, I like to know they’re there. Forums doing house-cleaning on old accounts that clutter up the database is about the only compromise I’m willing to accept here.

  3. Root said

    That is just so sucky. And Matt has twisted the argument badly. He is clever that guy. But utterly shameless.

  4. Chris said

    “If you’re a staff member and the username you want is already taken, suck it up and deal with it like the rest of us have to. If I were to contact support and say ‘hey, you know what, Kate isn’t being used, can I have it please?’ I very much doubt I would get any joy.”

    There’s someone who signed up for an account on LiveJournal using his last name, as I do. Only thing is, I’m very active online with most of my accounts using the same name, and the other person hasn’t logged into LJ with that account since 2004-01-13, hasn’t made any posts since creating the account or modified his profile… nothing.

    Chances of me getting them to prune the name so I can take it? None. Nada. Asked them, knowing the answer would be no, which it was, I moved on.

    I know that AOL still holds my 3 older, outdated AIM screennames for me to grab back any time I wanted, as does Yahoo.

    Automattic needs to grow a pair and fess up, and Matt needs to know when to stop calling the kettle black. (Wait, that expression was popular before his time, he might not recognize it.)

  5. AJ said

    That is just disgusting. The way Matt has turned around the argument to make it seem like Nikolay (original account holder) is the one at fault and Automattic washed in milk is sick to watch.

    And Matt, not everything can be solved by paying someone off. And screwing the users seems to be becoming your favorite pastime.

  6. Root said

    Once you start describing calls from dissatisfied consumers as *harrassment* you are in deep trouble. But with the amount of *unplanned maintenance* outages they need to keep their distance from the hoi polloi with their endless whining about their blogs not being accessible. :)

  7. Mark did get his username from somebody else, but he contacted the guy, asked whether he would be willing to let him have it and then publically thanked him for giving it to him. It probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do because it did apparently set a precedent for staff commandeering usernames that had already been taken, but you can’t really fault the way he went about it.

    Livejournal gets a lot of people demanding dormant usernames because, with 13 million accounts, their namespace is unbelievably crowded. They do recycle deleted names now for this very reason (and they make a bit of pocket money by charging people to rename their existing journals), but everyone knows that handing over somebody else’s account because they don’t post in it right now is something you don’t do. Apart from the endless drama potential, it’s just not right. Mark has argued elsewhere that a decent username is the reward you get for being 1337 enough to bag an account when they were invite-only, and the first-come first-served principle should really apply to everyone equally.

    It’s very lucky for Automattic that this guy isn’t being calm and reasonable. Suspiciously lucky, in fact. You have to wonder whether they deliberately wound him up in order to make him go sufficiently ballistic to lose all credibility.

  8. drmike said

    I love this bit:

    If you had a current account your abuse of Automattic staff and harassment of my personal phone numbers would be grounds for suspension as well.

    But it appears that abuse from Automattic staff is acceptable. Is that true Matt? Must be since you never followed up on my complaints. I never saw Mark, Lloyd or yourself suspended so guess so.

    Matt, stop lying.

  9. @Wank: There are now grounds for the suspension of your account, too! :-)

    Guys, there’s nothing personal in my desperate attempts to make the web a bit more fair. If it was something planned, I would probably do a lot better in wording and stuff, but it was all natural and spontaneous. I don’t care about publicity as Matt suggest, I really think this is unfair based on the thousand of services I have experience with and you, having blogs here at WordPress.com, are the ones that have a lot more to lose than I do. Basically the ToS states that you can get suspended at any time without any explanation given. It seems that contacting customer service leads to suspension, so, at least there’s some lesson learned after all.

    Thanks for the support, guys!

  10. If Livejournal considered abuse of staff members as grounds for suspension they would only have 12 million users ;)

    Seriously, though, if you’re providing a service your users are not going to be nice to you 100% of the time, especially when you have failed them in some way. If you’re a professional you accept the reality of that, you realise that treating people badly makes them treat you badly in return, and you don’t exclude people from your service just because they happen to be annoying you.

  11. drmike said

    Hey did you catch how the FAQ on recycling blog names got modified within the last 24 hours?

    Current

    Google Cache.

    The bit about Automattic staff being allowed to recycle names wasn’t in there 24 hours ago when I linked to it. It’s in there now though. No mention that it had been edited or changed.

    Not the first time Automattic staff has changed policy without letting anyone know ahead of time or afterwards even.

    Sneaky bastards….

  12. drmike said

    Wank, if you see this, I just wrote a fairly detailed post about the Recycling FAQ and how it got rewritten overnight. I believe it got caught by Akismet. Can you please check it for me?

    Thanks,
    -drmike

  13. Woah, this is weird. It’s not in moderation and my Akismet queue is empty. It must have been cleared within the past hour. And support is down, of course.

    Did you keep a copy?

  14. wp.com’s akismet queue occassionally just blanks out. try it again in a couple hours.

  15. drmike said

    Hmmm, I wonder if I got dropped into another Akismet block. Free Speech my a*cough*s. Thanks for checking.

    Short version: The FAQ on recycling name got rewritten within the last 24 hours. I linked to it in a comment in that techcrunch and afterwards, the bit about how recycling name had been added it afterwards.

    Current
    FAQ

    Google Cache

    edit: There’s a thread on the wp.com forums that appears to be getting nasty already where comments are disappearing.

    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=14960

  16. drmike said

    I think it got lost again. I’m including links so it may be getting dropped into moderation.

    Wank, please drop me an email and I’ll send it to you. It contains something that may be of interest to you for a post.

    I kept a copy this time.

  17. adam was spot on, the Akismet queue just came back and I was able to haul you out. Yours weren’t the only comments to get swallowed either, Akismet seems unusually hungry at the moment.

  18. drmike said

    Feel free to condense down.

  19. “eminent domain” for private benefit (rather than public trust) always looks like unbridled evil. clever choice of wording on their part.

  20. If you were lucky enough to get an account here early then part of that action is the blog name of your choice.

    Unless of course your choice happens to be the same as an Automattic employee’s, in which case all bets are off. I love how they say ‘historically’ they’ve never hijacked an active username and don’t rule out doing so in the future. Basically, any man who managed to sign up early enough to bag his first name needs to be worried, doesn’t he? And of course we don’t have any guarantee that this abuse of privilege is going to be limited to wordpress.com staff only, and never extended to that guy who runs the cool site they just added a widget for, or VIPs, or assorted other Friends of Matt.

    I note that Alex King has recently added a second post to alex, but will this be enough to keep the precious username in his hands and away from Alex Shiels? Will Matt favour the erstwhile developer over the current employee? Truly, we live in exciting times.

  21. @drmike: I can’t believe what Matt has done in front of us all.Changing the FAQ overnight is so arrogant! If Matt was a man enough, we would say “sorry!”, admit he (or at least Nikolay Bachiyski) made a mistake and say “we’ve changed our policy”. No, they chose to cover up and make people think drmike and I cannot read. Things are getting worse, not better. I still cannot believe this is happening!

  22. Here’s a more permanent copy of the original FAQ entry:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20070428194943/http://faq.wordpress.com/2006/05/07/recycling-blog-names/

  23. […] Wank’s take on it and the original thread where the complaint […]

  24. publius said

    Wow.

    Stunned really. I can’t believe he would change a page to his benefit and then not say anything about it. I mean, come on. It’s the least thing to do to say the faq was changed. Pathetic.

    Having read the above thread about posting problems sounds like wordpress.com will become the new blogger. How lucky for automattic.

  25. drmiketemp said

    By the way, what blog are we talking about anyway? What’s the URL?

  26. Root said

    I do not know if Nikolai is going about this the wrong way. There is a time for profanity. And this is it. :)

  27. http://nikolay.wordpress.com

    Doesn’t look like he’s even actively using it.

  28. drmiketemp said

    That’s the blog I was thinking about. He made a post in the wp.com forums yesterday and wondered if this was the person we were talking about.

  29. Yeah, the hijacker stole both my username “nikolay” and my subdomain – http://nikolay.wordpress.com

    The funniest thing is that he’s not using it either. He put his face on it and that’s it!

  30. Root said

    Well why don’t we all head over there and tell him his blog sucks ? :)

  31. […] delete you without notice for having a link they don’t like the look of. Or a host where they rewrite the FAQ to allow them to requisition your username at any time without your permission. How do you like them […]

  32. My Habari said

    […] Wank’s take on it and the original thread where the complaint […]

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