Flash! Aaaah!

I know that nothing this mob do should surprise me anymore, but when options posted a screenshot of wordpress.com showing Flash ads for Scientology I admit it, I was shocked.

But I see your screenshot and I raise you Scientology Flash ads on an anti-Scientology blog:

Naturally, wordpress.com spare themselves the flash on their tags pages and content themselves with loads of links:

TOM!!!!
angelina

Also, if you’re bored of linking to the last set of splogshots, how about some wildly inappropriate text ads?

yeah, that's appropriate

I don’t know in which universe it’s OK to advertise ‘Hot & Sexy Single Women’ on a feminist post about an alleged sexual assault, but it’s not mine. Nor do I think this guy necessarily wanted ads for used women’s knickers on his site:

yum

Obviously I would have contacted support immediately to demand that the Thetans not be given airtime on my blogs, except oh, it’s Sunday, and even though they hired a bunch of support staff what, five months ago now? support is still closed on weekends. And I can’t post to the forum because I once asked Matt whether his email was down. I did send a couple of feedbacks to Google, though. For all the good that’ll do. At least they pretend to care.

Also of note: Snap = popup ads disguised as a ‘feature’. Anyone know why neither this nor the Flash are mentioned in the tiny little chunk of disinformation hidden at the bottom of the features page? Or why they decided to encrypt the x-noads code that told us why ads weren’t being served on a given page? The obvious conclusion is that they’re tweaking their algorithms to serve ads to more readers more of the time, and they don’t want anyone to realise.

And now? I’m going to clear out my spam, make my regular backup, and see whether anyone bothers coming over to try and spin this one. I wouldn’t, if I were them. If there’s a single issue that’s destroyed my trust in Automattic, I’d have to say it’s their repeated failure to be honest about the issue of advertising. I’m some months past believing a word they have to say on the subject.

Even if it’s ‘sorry’. Actually, especially if it’s ‘sorry’.

35 Comments »

  1. Dr MIke said

    Someone raised the Scientology issue on the support forums a while back. Stuck on the locked down terminal so I can’t go get you a link. I do remember that no one could figure out what the poster was complaining about though.

  2. Hi there. I came here from my stats (perhaps obviously). Can I ask where/ how you see the ads on my wordpress blog? I don’t see them whether I’m logged on or not.

  3. If you log out, clear cookies and search Google using Internet Explorer, they’ll show up more often than not. I was searching on ‘johnny vegas wordpress’ (since Stewart Lee’s blog is hosted here).

    The good news is that they don’t appear on your blog’s front page, only permalink pages. The idea is that only casual searchers coming in from Google will see them and not your regular readers. And people using Firefox never have to see any because it’s Matt’s favourite browser.

  4. @drmike: all I can find is this one. (The poster’s clustrmap widget takes her to a page full of Adsense. Not WP’s fault.)

  5. options said

    strike when the iron is hot…

    Random facts:
    * 43% of pageviews to permalink pages.
    * About 93% of pageviews were to people not logged in.

    …people using Firefox never have to see any because it’s Matt’s favourite browser.

    and Google’s too ;-)

  6. beardeddave said

    Whoa! I’m “that guy” and no, i DEFINITELY didn’t want these ads on my page and I didn’t put them there. I had my page checked out by a friend and she didn’t see any. You said you contacted the wordpress guys? Did you hear back yet? I guess I’ll contact them if I figure out a way to see those ads and make a screenshot myself…

  7. WordPress support is closed for the weekend, but I did file a complaint with Google.

    This article on when wordpress.com serves ads is possibly outdated by now, but still useful.

  8. Matt said

    On top of everything else, the Scientology logo is freaking horrible. Why in the world would they put the cross in place of the “I” when there’s a “T” right there?!?

  9. options said

    good catch, Matt!

    yes, indeed it is horrible. I was wandered myself about it. perhaps, it supposed to suggest a holy shudder of horror.


    aside: would you possibly consider adding something to your display name? :-)

    I had my eyes literally :roll: when I saw your comment… in RSS reader (there’s no userpic or FromURL in this feed).

  10. Matt said

    Crap, I keep meaning to do that. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Matt A. said

    Dang, I thought it would change on old comments. Oh well.

    Say, now that I’m here, has anybody else noticed lately that when they mouse over a link their browser acts like it’s trying to process the link? It doesn’t seem to be happening here, but I’ve noticed it on several other wp.com blogs in the last week. I just checked, and one that I noticed does not have Snap Shots turned on, so that isn’t it.

  12. Thank you so much for this heads up. I did a Google search for that post (logged out) and I saw the ads. That is infuriating.

  13. Oh, they’re showing ads on Mature blogs now.

    But they’re for child porn, so that’s OK.
    :roll:

  14. Humor – It’s all a Jewish – World Govenrment – Illuminati – Microsoft conspiracy anyway. :)

    By the way, there’s a plugin on the premium wpmudev site to do adverts like this:

    http://premium.wpmudev.org/project/Who-Sees-Ads-for-WPMU

  15. Oh FFS! I really hope the WP team is taking this seriously because I really think they’ll lose users over this.

  16. Have they lost significant numbers of users over any of the other fiascos?

  17. Kissing Bandit said

    Even if some users abandon ship, their blogs and content will still be online raking in dough for Automattic anyway.

    Most users aren’t entirely well versed in moving a blog to their own server and are more likely to either a) quit blogging at WP.com with content in tact and start a new blog elsewhere or b) grumble a bit, but continue in the hopes of it getting better.

  18. Ben M said

    It’s good to see that child porn ads aren’t actually on mature blogs. They are just on non-mature blogs. That’s very comforting.

  19. timethief said

    @kisingbandit
    I agree with what you have expressed. I have been amazed to find that some wordpress.com bloggers who are unhappy about the ads and about the “possibly related posts” feature say they don’t want to move to self hosting because it’s too expensive however, they do buy a css upgrade. wtf? One can find quality web hosting for $25 per year at A Small Orange. Another line I have heard is they don’t want to leave because they will experience a loss of the sense community here at wp.com. What the heck are they talking about? Where is it? On their blogs, I suppose, because I don’t see it on the forum.

    @that girl again
    Did you see this? http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=12414&page=45&replies=1347

  20. Yes, I expected Matt to take the ‘not our fault, tell it to Google’ line, because to be fair wordpress.com has limited control over which ads get shown, only which blogs they get shown on. Clearly his lawyers have advised him not to apologise to users anymore in case it’s seen as an admission of liability.

    As it happens, I have been reporting this stuff to Google. I complained, among other things, that the anti-Scientology blog was violating the Adsense ToS by advocating against Scientology :).

    No, they won’t lose significant numbers of users over this. For every jaded ex-wordpresser who storms off to blogspot there’s another freshfaced sign-up, or possibly two. And don’t underestimate the power of inertia; people do worry that they’re going to lose pagerank and readers if they move, and some may even believe they’ll be given a choice about ads one day.

  21. timethief said

    Here’s another noteworthy forum thread http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=28342&replies=19

  22. timethief said

    “I have confirmed that Matt Mullenweg of WordPress fame will be on Episode 17 of WordPress Weekly on May 23rd 2008 at 9PM EST. Matt will be hanging around for an hour and I have a wide ranging amount of questions for the guy. Here is what I plan on covering with my interview with Ma.tt:

    * WordPress Trademark Usage
    * Status Updates on all projects under the Automattic umbrella
    * The new hire along with the scaling of WordPress
    * The future of WordPress
    * I’ll have Matt explain how the new 2.5 dashboard design became a reality
    * I’ll ask him how the guy who doesn’t know PHP from their ABC can contribute to the development of WordPress …”
    http://www.jeffro2pt0.com/matt-m-to-be-on-wordpress-weekly

  23. I have yet to listen to an episode of WordPress Weekly, though I suppose it can’t be any worse than the WordPress Podcast. I think the only mildly entertaining thing I have ever heard on the WordPress Podcast was when they did the session at WordCamp Dallas and Matt pointedly refused to answer Lorelle’s question about when themes.wordpress.net would be coming back. I would kind of like to hear Jeff do a Jeremy Paxman, but I somehow doubt it will happen.

  24. Jeffro2pt0 said

    All I can say is that there are those out their who do not believe in the softball way of questioning people. I am not afraid to ask questions so if you have a question you would like me to ask Matt, let me know and I’ll ask him. Other than that, show up to the show, call the phone number and I’ll put you on the air where you can ask him the question yourself.

  25. In general, the publisher has SOME control over AdSense; in particular, they can ban ads for particular domains. One hopes that this has been done for the ‘puberty pictures’ thing…

  26. Asking Matt questions is not the issue with these interviews. Jeff, when he lies, are you going to call him on it?

  27. Kissing Bandit said

    Almost off topic, but, Jeff, I certainly hope you’ll also provide a full transcript for those of us who can read faster than it would take to listen to the whole thing. (It’s the reason I–and I assume many others–don’t much care for the WordPress Podcast.)

    Plus, ditto what TGA said and what Mike asked.

    -KB

  28. Jeffro2pt0 said

    I’m not providing a full transcript of the interview, are you kidding me. That would take forever. I’ve read all of the comments on this post and the other post about being a sucker and I think I may have stepped into a firestorm that I shouldn’t have. If the above allegations are correct in regards to some of the ads appearing on some wp.com powered blogs then I agree, that is pretty distasteful. I was merely stopping by because I noticed the link back and because that girl again made it seem like I was just going to ask a series of questions to softball the situation. I ask questions to which I want answers to, it’s that simple. My podcast is the only one in which the use has the ability to interact with the guest live in the form of asking a question in the chat room, or calling in via a phone or sip client and getting to ask their question to the guest live.

    As for dr wendell, I don’t use wordpress.com I use the self hosted version of wp.org. Therefor, I have no idea if he is lieing or not.

  29. I ask questions to which I want answers to, it’s that simple.

    I’m glad about that. Whether or not you’ll get the answers remains to be seen, but that’s sort of beyond your control. Be prepared for him to answer subtly different questions from the ones you’re actually asking, that’s all. Something like ‘when is themes.wordpress.net coming back?’ is basically impossible to answer honestly because both the possible answers (‘It’s not’ and ‘I don’t know’ ) are publically unacceptable.

    As for the ‘puberty pictures’ ad, it’s not even a question of banning them from the domain, it’s a question of banning them from Google. The Scientology ads could be barred by Automattic (Livejournal have already done it) but evidently they’ve chosen not to do so. You’d have to ask them why not, but I suspect it’s a simple question of economics. That’s a lot of ads they’d be rejecting.

  30. Jeffro2pt0 said

    By the way, I watched the Paxman videos that you linked to in an earlier comment and that guy is awesome. He is exactly the kind of guy I’d love to watch give interviews. I found myself watching all of his interviews and they were awesome. However, I think he would of been equally as successful as a weatherman :)

  31. [...] saying that I’ve never been able to see ads on the notorious Global Tags™ pages for myself. Now it’s changed, I do stand corrected in this post because That Girl was always right on money from the very [...]

  32. options said

    TGA, I am really interested in your possible opinion about HARDtalk hosts: Stephen Sackur and Sarah Montague.

    this particular interview is just an example, picked mostly because I couldn’t find another one which may be of interest for everyone here.

  33. options said

    so, the show went off already.

    at 00:11:30 Matt was asked about ads on .com, but the only word from his reply I could get was something about “the upgrade”.

    (.mp3 is here — 26.2MB)

  34. Root said

    I shared a table with Jeremy Paxman in a cafe once. He is absolutely charming and a lot of fun. I have always wanted to see him interviewing some US politicos. Yuuuueeees. :)

  35. [...] when they do appear, are far from discreet (not much point in having them, if they were) and b) they’re not always text ads. If it bothered me that much, I’d be bribing Automattic to make them disappear, [...]

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