bitchery in slugs

Isn’t it strange how when you write an article slagging off TypePad and praising WordPress you are inevitably ‘honest’ and ‘insightful’, ‘interesting’ and ‘eloquent’, and when somebody from Six Apart tries to make a counterargument they are ‘venomous’ and guilty of ‘falsehoods and misdirection’?

Sadly, my comment on Lloyd’s post is still languishing in moderation. I’m sure this is merely an oversight, since nobody would tell their readers ‘Please challenge me on my views!’ if they were going to censor dissenting comments. I’ll reproduce it here for now, and link to it when it’s published:

I don’t see that Anil’s any more abrasive in his defence than Matt is when people come out attacking WordPress. (That is, possibly a little too forthright, but hey, fanboys are annoying.)

For someone with ‘extensive experience of both platforms’, Michael seemed strangely confused about the distinction between wordpress.com and .org and TypePad and MT, attempting to draw direct comparisons between Automattic’s non-hosted software and Six Apart’s hosted service when it suited him, and switching back to comparing TypePad with wordpress.com when that fitted his argument better.

For example: he thinks TypePad makes it too difficult for people to add third-party widgets, conveniently forgetting that wordpress.com doesn’t let you add any third-party flash or javascript widgets at all. But he thinks it’s cool that wordpress.com won’t let you use Adsense, conveniently forgetting that wordpress.org has dozens of plugins which make it easy.

I’m afraid that by the point where he claimed the separation of WordPress and WordPress MU was ‘a different developmental strategy’ rather than a historical accident I’d lost all patience. WordPress MU isn’t a fork of WordPress; it’s a fellow fork of b2 that got swallowed up by its sibling. Incorporating multiblogs into core would have broken backward compatibility so much it was no longer an option. And it’s not for people who need to run a handful of blogs off a single installation, it’s a specialist tool for site admins who need a blogfarm. It would make more sense to assess it alongside the Livejournal open source code than to pit it against Movable Type. http://mu.wordpress.org makes this perfectly clear, but proselytising fanboys trying to push it as ‘the upgrade to the upgrade’ don’t do anyone any favours.

I left out how he’s praising the 2.5 interface when Matt has already pretty much acknowledged it was a failure. Or how he thinks monthly security upgrades are cool because they’re a ‘a testament to a vibrant developer community’, which comment alone constitutes the loopiest piece of fanboying since ‘the blogging market is c.l.o.s.e.d.’

But no. Mocking the fanboy is a cheap distraction. My point is how nasty things are getting now the market is contracting. I’m not talking about the consumer market so much; people are still starting new blogs, though in the current economic climate they’re going to be less willing to spend money on them and that’s not good for either company. I’m talking about getting more funding, or going public, or finding a parent company willing to take you under its wing and shield you from the hard times ahead. These things are not going to be as easy as they were a couple of years ago. You are competing for increasingly scarce resources. It’s easy to be nice to each other when things are going well, but these days it’s survival of the fittest, and the way these spats are conducted both sides seem about equally worried.

Which would be odd, if Six Apart really were the underdog; but they’ve stolen a march on Automattic by making their anti-spam service free to everyone. Short-term this shouldn’t make too much difference as most paid-up subscribers won’t be interested in switching till they’ve got their money’s worth, but long-term it threatens one of Automattic’s major revenue streams. That’s the real reason the gloves are off again.

And the accusations of being splog-ridden have evidently hit home because they’re, um, true. How could they not be? Akismet can’t hope to catch them all at sign-up and you’re relying wholly on volunteers to report the ones they happen to see. Plus, all reports have to be dealt with individually by support staff, who are generally sort of busy with support. At least they’ve blocked drmike’s wordpress.com account now so they won’t be getting any more of those pesky spam reports from him. That should help with the workload even if it doesn’t help with the splog situation.

26 Comments »

  1. Kissing Bandit said

    Something tells me that your (as well as my) comment will be languishing in moderation over there for quite a while. Hope you don’t mind if I drop mine here for posterity, plus I did give WP Wank a nod.

    I have absolutely no problem with your point that it’s easier to plaster ads all over your TypePad blog than it is to do on WordPress. None whatsoever.

    This comment made me giggle out loud.

    I find it somewhat amusing that you’re offhandedly taking a dig at TypePad for allowing their users to make money from their blogs by “plastering” it with ads when you don’t even address the fact that WordPress.com plasters AdSense all over user blogs and doesn’t even give them an option to disable it. It’s come to the point where some of the wiser users have needed to put disclaimers in their sidebars stating the ads are not theirs.

    Making money from one’s blog is not evil, nor does it automatically make it a splog — otherwise WP.com would just be a large splog-farm. Except to those who can’t see the ads because if they can’t be seen, they must not exist.

    Re WordPress.com SEO – that made me giggle too. Especially when you used a URL as an example. One thing you forgot to mention is that WP.com 302 (Temporarily) redirects the traffic when the WP.com URL equivalent is accessed.

    If Automattic were truly concerned about SEO for the WP.com users, then those URLs would be 301 redirected to the domain name equivalent. Of course, this problem only comes up when someone starts out with a wp.com domain and then decides later to upgrade to domain mapping, but in my experience, that’s a large chunk of people.

    And let’s not even discuss the linkfarm that is the WP.com tag cloud pages. That’s a deep murky sea of issues that aren’t entirely whitehat.

    Oh, and if you have a large blog on WP.com and think about moving to WP.org, be prepared for a headache. It’s not as easy as one may think as I’ve heard of people complaining about incomplete export files from WP.com, missing comments, missing content, and a slew of other problems. Then when it comes time to import that content into WP.org, it’s another bear of a problem because their are file size limits. But, again, this wouldn’t affect the little guys too much, but it’s something to be aware of.

    I’ve not used TypePad extensively, but I certainly didn’t care much for what little experience I did have with it, so, don’t think I’m a TypePad fanboy–just trying to point out a few inconsistencies.

    On a final note, I always love to see when you update this blog because you always seem to find some new and amazing information to share and you put it in a way that makes people stop and go hmm.

    Definitely hope you’re making regular back ups and double checking to make sure they’re complete.

    -KB

  2. Andy said

    TGA – please start a spinoff blog where excerpts of Matt’s posts are mirrored and people are allowed to comment without censorship. It’s totally ridiculous what he won’t push through moderation. I had a comment only slightly critical of wp.com and only slightly supportive of Typepad and it wouldn’t appear.

  3. [...] About this blog There are so many great comments posted to ma.tt. We’re sad that so many of them get lost in moderation. That’s why we’re publishing the comments that get lost — so Matt doesn’t have to. Inspired by wank’s blog. [...]

  4. It’s Matt’s blog, if he wants to censor it he has the right to do so.

    I would like to be charitable and think he keeps a tight rein on which comments appear not because he’s afraid of open criticism, but because he fears the ridiculous things his groupies will say in his defence. Posting anything semi-negative on ma.tt is asking for the fanboys to flame you. I think Matt is bright enough to realise that his supporters cast him in no better a light than his opponents.

    (Of course, he could moderate the flames, but that would be terribly ungrateful, wouldn’t it? Better to keep the fanboys in blissful ignorance that anyone could ever disagree with them.)

    And comment threads filled with complaining or even mildly discontented users aren’t the best advertisement for any company. There’s that. Don’t mistake ma.tt for anything other than a corporate blog. Everything there has got to be VC-friendly, whether it’s chatting about conferences or indirect boasting about how well he (and by extension Automattic) is doing financially.

  5. I was going to post this over on the WPMU advanced forums but since you bring it up here, I’ll go ahead and mention it. Typepad Antispam is free for WPMU installs while it’s $500 a month for Akismet. Have an email from them and everything.

    It’s Matt’s blog, if he wants to censor it he has the right to do so.

    Agreed but he needs to 1) acknoledge that he does so and not tell everybody that he only moderates for “spam and stupidity” and actually for “content and negative opinion” and 2) stop promoting himself as free speech when it’s clearly not true.

    I actually thought about doing a Fake Matt blog myself but desided that 1) It would be censored, 2) wasn’t worth the time and 3) no one would believe it.

    Please excuse typos. Stuck with IE and no spell correcting.

  6. Andrea said

    “And it’s not for people who need to run a handful of blogs off a single installation, it’s a specialist tool for site admins who need a blogfarm. It would make more sense to assess it alongside the Livejournal open source code than to pit it against Movable Type.”

    I can’t tell you how much I a) agree with this and B) repeat it on an almost daily basis to people who expect that the multi-bpg part of MU works like the multi-blog part of MT.

  7. Ben M said

    Guess it didn’t take long for MattWatchDog to be taken down. Or did the authors really delete it?

  8. It probably has been deleted by the author. Blogs removed by Automattic either have the ‘this blog has been archived or suspended’ message for ToS violations, or an unstyled, non-specific ‘this blog is inactive’, presumably for blogs which haven’t actually broken the ToS but which they want gone for other reasons.

    And yes, Matt does occasionally promote himself as a defender of free speech, but I don’t think anyone seriously believes this amounts to anything more than warm fuzzy wind, so it’s not as if they’re being misled.

  9. Josh said

    I don’t know what arbitrary criteria Matt censors on but it’s not criticism:

    http://ma.tt/2008/04/new-spring-design/#comment-443014

    http://ma.tt/2008/05/dont-check-your-valuables/#comment-443684

    Why is it so hard to get comment links on his site it’s like he doesn’t want people linking the comments.

  10. You know how sometimes Akismet slips up and lets spam through? Sometimes Matt slips up and lets a couple of critical comments through ;) (I actually think that publishing the ones on the ‘I lost all my stupidly expensive camera equipment because I checked it in’ post was — like writing the post in the first place — a form of self-flagellation because he knew he’d been dumb, but then amateur psychoanalysis is a bad habit of mine.)

  11. form of self-flagellation

    You mean you didn’t see it as more of a “I’ve got thousands of dollars of camera gear, lost it all but yet I’m going to replace it all with newer, top of the line stuff” post?

    Maybe that’s just me being cynical though.

    Of course the cynic in me would also point out that by letting a single negative comment get posted, he now can point at it and state that he allows negative comments to appear on his sites and doesn’t censor while the rest of us wonder where our comments have gone.

  12. Kissing Bandit said

    I’d just like to point out a couple things about those linked comments–they are both irrelevant to the posts to which they’re made and, in turn, left the commenters with egg on their faces.

    For instance, the first comment rambles on about WP’s coding when the post was about Matt’s redesign of his site. What, exactly, does WP code have to do with Matt’s decision to redesign? He offhandedly mentions WP 2.5, but in general, nothing really.

    Had that comment been published on a relevant post (i.e. discussing the poetry that is WP code), one has to wonder whether the comment would have been “accidentally deleted” or approved only to be flamed down.

    In the second comment, the commenter calls Matt a bad photographer rather than call him out for his stupidity. His photography skills are irrelevant in that post and chances are, if the comment had referenced that stupidity, it would have been nuked.

    Again, both instances, Matt is left unscathed by the comments because the commenters end up looking like the whining ninnies. (MHO only.)

    -KB

  13. options said

    And let’s not even discuss the linkfarm that is the WP.com tag cloud pages. That’s a deep murky sea of issues that aren’t entirely whitehat.

    I’d say this linkfarm is rather blackhat; absolutely not whitehat, at least. I bet if anyone else established a linkfarm like that, then they’d probably be called rats.

  14. I’m pretty disgusted by the latest trick of ‘updating’ all the global-tagegory-free themes to include the links. It seems to me that a number of people chose their theme precisely because it was tagspam-free, and it’s extremely bad manners to overrule the wishes of your users and the original theme developers purely in order to boost the pagerank of your ad-ridden tag pages. What proportion of blogs were even using those themes? Would it really have hurt them that much to continue without the linkage?

  15. Root said

    And just think – RFLMAO – those themes were developed at no charge by the poor suckers who bought the hype.

  16. Root said

    @ options; In the Black Hat SEO stakes Ma.tt has a lot of *previous form* as we say. Notably the spamgate scandal.

  17. Root said

    Ouch. I guess the *Co founder of WP* thing must have cut deep. How many millions do the other dudes enjoy?

  18. sucker is the theme developer who thought that releasing free templates would mean that everyone who used the theme would use it exactly as it was released. sucker also is the user who thought that the few themes that the themes worked that way by design, as if the theme designer somehow knew how to develop for wp.com’s global tag system, and intentionally declined.

  19. The original releases of Iceburgg and Light did not include post category links. You could argue that this is a bug, on the basis that categories are something most people would expect to find on their posts, but it could also be a design decision based on a reluctance to clutter the page with multiple duplicate links. I don’t know — you’d have to ask the designers.

    Either way, the time to ‘fix’ it was before the themes were implemented on wordpress.com. But they didn’t. Obviously they didn’t think it was a problem at the time. I don’t believe for a second the changes are user-motivated; if you wanted tagegories on your posts, all you had to do was switch to one of the remaining 96% of themes which had them. If this was about standardising theme functionality, then all themes would have taglines. And date formats which respected the user’s dashboard settings. But fixing that wouldn’t boost global tag rankings, would it?

  20. Root said

    The big flaw in this is structural. Are categories or the lack thereof a design feature / choice? Or are they a functionality / end user choice? And should the user be able to have any feature in any style? To some extent the whole question of design in CMS themes is confused.

  21. options said

    re: the latest trick of ‘updating’ all the global-tagegory-free themes to include the links

    I dunno, there’s a chance that there were requests from tag-happy users of those themes indeed. and this is surely a high priority ‘bug’.

    in contrary to the one of excessive # of ads per page. which is not. not a bug at all even. not sure why there’s a need to repeatedly call this designed feature as ‘a bug’, though? if you (and we) perfectly know that this isn’t.

    on a related note:
    the Fauna (one the best themes around here, imo) is still not updated.

  22. Considering that Lloyd doesn’t understand that spamming is bad (a friendly reminder that Lloyd used to review splog reports a long while back on wp.com and many many times I had to resend in reports to the support address to get them removed. The issue with them ignoring spam reports has been going on since nearly day one.) and got caught putting false information into wikipedia, (wp.com isn’t free, it’s advert driven) do you expect anything less?

  23. As a side note since I’m seeing the comment I just left up there while none of you are, (Only two links in there. Wank, did you move back the number of allowed links within a comment back to a lower number?) it sure would be nice if they would spend their time actually working on issues with their themes instead of what they think the problems is. On my own mu installs, every theme will display a note if a comment is held within moderation. Takes about two minutes to code in there if that. Amazes me that they haven’t done the same.

  24. Thank you again for pulling those out of moderation for me, wank. It’s a pity that you keep having to do that.

  25. I have requested the ability to whitelist regular commenters, but it doesn’t seem to be a feature they’re interested in implementing. Wonder why?

  26. [...] the very poorly edited entry on wordpress.com lacks this important heading. its importance is due to the fact that [...]

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