Archive for forums

cutthroat

You thought all was forgiven now Chris Pearson finally got bullied into split-licensing Thesis? No, of course you didn’t. So here you go, more grudgewank:

Cutline was sold a few years ago and had a more restrictive license placed on it. The original author of the Cutline theme has gone on to produce other themes with more restrictive licenses. Using Cutline has been seen as a promotion of that work and that’s not something we want to do–so, we made something better: Coraline!

So yeah, by the sounds of it they’ve tarted up Cutline with some code from the new default, changed a couple of letters in the name and are calling it a new theme.

Stay classy, guys.

I’m not really sure why they chose the theme in the first place if it’s such ‘junk’, and I fail to see why existing users have to be screwed around. If you hate it so much, couldn’t you just deprecate it by making it unselectable as a new theme? Come to that, why do we still have three versions of Sandbox cluttering up the place? I can’t see what’s so difficult about hiding a theme option without removing it from existing blogs. All you would have to do is add a BIG WARNING to the theme description saying that the theme is deprecated, it is recommended that you upgrade, and if you do change themes, you will not be able to get the old one back. Simples! And then I would no longer be troubled by the continuing existence of Sweet Blossoms.

[ETA: unsurprisingly, though it was a surprise for them since evidently not all Cutline users lurk in the CSS customisation forum, existing users are not massively pleased about the whole being screwed around thing.

If I were the person whose theme changed halfway through a presentation, or I were having to fend off emails from my boss about why the company blog suddenly looked weird, and then I found out the only reason this happened was because some guy had a vendetta going against some other guy because of a disagreement over SOFTWARE LICENCES… wow. I don’t know how I’d even begin to compute that level of estrangement from reality.]

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bbpress dies

bbpress lives? I wouldn’t call being downgraded to plugin status living, exactly, even though I’ve been saying for years that it would work better as a plugin. As forum software it only appeals to existing fanboys who want to display their allegiance to the Automattic brand, and naturally they’re all running multiple installs of WP anyway.

I wonder whether talkpress will ever make it out of beta now? I wouldn’t be surprised if the idea of offering hosted forums has been shelved as being more trouble than it’s worth (illegal downloads and libellous content are far more likely to be disseminated through forums than blogs). Or maybe they realised that Vanilla had pipped them to the post, providing free forums with more features than bbpress could offer. Or maybe it’s going to be buddypress all the way. Who knows? Who cares?

Either way, Automattic have finally twigged that bbpress is an intrinsically second-rate product that is never going to make them any money and it’s no longer worth paying someone to work on it. Took them long enough.

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unasseptable

I don’t really have time for this (I am meant to be NaNoing) but, yeah. Here we have somebody getting banned from the forums for wanting their personal information removed from someone else’s blog comments, and wondering why staff were willing to do this a year ago yet not anymore.

I suppose we should be grateful that these blowups aren’t as frequent as they used to be. I’m not sure which is worse: leaving RL information up for the world to see or poking around in other people’s comments, but having had my comments messed with in the past I would probably agree with the most recent line that it’s the latter.

I still have no idea why people are never warned before they get banned from the forums. I’m not talking about obvious spammers; I’m talking about people who get censored purely for questioning policy. How long would it take to write a post saying ‘While you are welcome to ask or answer support questions on this forum, if you post about this subject again your account will be blocked and you will no longer be able to receive support from this source?’ I don’t know, a minute, maybe two. Anybody who’s ever watched Supernanny knows that you issue the warning before you dish out the punishment.

I think they’re worried that if they give a warning the person might actually comply, and then they wouldn’t experience the pleasure of wielding the banstick. Power corrupts, and that.

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the smiley liberation front

I am now so enraged by the mysterious disappearance of my beloved roll-eyes smiley, and the replacement without notice of ALL existing smilies with anaemic substitutes and the lack of any response to my bug report concerning same, that I need all you logged-in people to go along and rate this FAQ as Very Poor, at least until it stops telling lies. != .

(Yes, I know, there he is. But I need him in comments! And for some bizarro reason even though I can post VIDEOS in OTHER PEOPLE’S comment threads I can’t post an ickle 16×16 gif in my OWN, even though there is a clearly visible BUTTON in the edit window inviting me to insert an image. In what universe does this make any form of sense? I told you I was enraged.)

Would you go into my blog and change the font or header image without my say-so? No, you would not, so quit messing with our content and give us the option to choose the old smilies. We know they are not things of great beauty and they do not match the floofy backend, but at least you can see what they’re supposed to be.

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hating on netscape, those were the days

OK, who took their eye off the ball and let Matt post in the forums? You know he only ends up antagonising people.

Did anyone else look at the ‘acquisition’ of blo.gs and think of our old friend BrowseHappy, i.e. third party finds itself with domain it can’t be bothered to maintain and offloads it onto Matt so he can put backlinks on it? True, it’s only a PR6 at the moment — the site is so neglected it’s dissing Netscape 4 rather than IE — but that’s easily taken care of.

eta: turns out the stats issues were down to a code overhaul of which Matt was obviously unaware. Not in itself a problem — nobody expects him to be heavily involved in the day-to-day running of this place nowadays, any more than they expect him to read wp-hackers or write his own blog posts. The trouble is, when you post as staff that gives your answers the appearance of being authoritative, even when you have no more idea what’s going on than the average volunteer. I think that’s one reason why support staff prefer not to post on the forums if it can be avoided.

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more of the same

Reasons why I am glad I can no longer participate in the car wreck that is the wordpress.com forums:

  1. Sticky threads for spammers. How come this guy gets to have a URL signature when anybody else trying that particular way of cirumventing no-follow gets slapped on the wrists? Are forum stickies the latest way of promoting commercial partners who aren’t spending enough to get a link from ma.tt or the news blog? I thought the purpose of the support forums was supposed to be support?
  2. oh, wait, no, sorry, the purpose of the support forums is to sail in every couple of months and deliver the smackdown to the poor saps who are actually trying to do support, as opposed to plugging your sites. If this guy wanted a Polldaddy poll, he’d have implemented a Polldaddy poll. What he’s trying to do is a women’s-magazine-style quiz in which each answer carries a certain number of points, and if Polldaddy’s capable of that they really need to publicise it better because it’s news to me.
  3. Global tags redux. There is no point trying to argue about this, because the forces of logic are powerless against the might of the Google dollar. The suggestion of adding one’s username to tags to render them unique is a decent workaround, though.

The penguins are quieter nowadays, though. Do you think they’ve all gone to Twitter like everyone else?

Comments (4)

spoor

I was reading about the PollDaddy acquisition, and now I keep thinking of the version of Spore on my sister’s iPod, where you float around in a big foetid pond absorbing whatever helpless little bits of plankton you stumble across, trying to get big and strong enough to survive to the next level.

at times we have been pushed to the edge due to our various growth spurts over the past couple of years […]Thank you to all of our users who have stuck with us through good times and “down times.”

Down the hatch with you, little drowning minnow! This is opportunism, pure and simple, despite what Matt is now trying to tell us about his fascination with all things poll-related:

For a year or two now, I’ve been minorly obsessed with polls and surveys as a method of lightweight interaction that engages casual users of your website and also can get you some really fun data to play with.

‘Minorly’, I suppose, is the operative word, since I have never seen him put a poll on ma.tt and he didn’t bother publicising the polldaddy shortcodes when they were first introduced. In fact, the only use I have ever seen Automattic make of polls was the recent admin interface surveys, which as we can now see was motivated as much by a desire to play with the new toy as the need to canvass user opinion. So, yeah, flannel.

People were asking for polls pretty much from day one on wordpress.com, but their requests were bracketed alongside those wanting chatboxes, adsense and assorted other blogspot-esque tat, and ignored by staff accordingly. I know timethief did a lot of work sourcing workarounds in the face of Automattic’s indifference. If I’d fielded the queries and done the testing and sent the feedbacks and now had to listen to Matt trumpeting his ‘obsession’ with the blasted things, I don’t know whether I’d giggle or spit.

It would actually have sounded better to say ‘yeah, we didn’t really get the whole poll thing at first, we thought it was all a bit teenage and downmarket, but our users kept on and on and on and in the end we caved in because we love them soooooo much.’ Except, of course, that would be flannel too, because they don’t love us that much. They love the plankton which pushes them to the next level, and that only once it’s been safely digested.

In honour of the occasion, we should really have a poll:

what the hell is that orange thing?

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all your site are belong to kids

I observe that Matt is compensating for the loss of his beloved default blogroll by sneaking a link to his blog into the footer of wordpress.com:

pimpage

Cute. He’s got couple of years at most before people cease to find his obsession with being #1 in Google endearing and start to think it sad (it is rather adolescent, after all), so he might as well optimise while the sun shines.

Also, they have done away with the stupid faux-blog design of the forums and made the fonts teeny-tiny to further discourage participation by anyone over the age of fourteen. Yay!

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sting

Hurrah! We have a new moderator/secret staff member who is still in thrall to the commonsensical notion that categories are local and tags are global, and has as yet no clue about tags and categories actually work here.

Ah well. They’ll learn.

Still on the tagegory hobbyhorse: in which universe does catapulting your readers away from your blog and into wordpress.com’s global tag system without warning constitute ‘easy navigation’?

Easy navigation would be if you told them where they were actually going before they clicked on the link. Easy navigation would be if the same link text didn’t take you to entirely different destinations depending on the location of the text. You must be using the word ‘navigation’ in a different sense to designers and usability experts. Or maybe you’re just redefining the word ‘easy’.

At least they sold a few more CSS upgrades and gifted themselves another couple of thousand tag page links. Ad revenue must be suffering in the credit crunch for them to do this now. It’s only a matter of time before all non-logged-in users start seeing ads on wordpress.com, if they don’t already.

Oh, and anyone else notice that Matt’s pet designer has been hauled out of the chilly waters of freelancing? Anyone else not surprised? I suppose it significantly lessens the pain of having to hire somebody outside your company if you transform all your subcontractors into employees sooner or later. Not to mention suddenly being able to claim that Monotone was designed entirely by Automattic. Still being beaten hollow by Tarski and Dum-Dum in the download wars, though, despite the front-page screenshot. That must sting.

Comments (22)

answerable

I think we are all aware by now that Automattic are generally averse to having official policies on anything much, apart from affiliate links/adsense/spam/miscellaneous profiteering etc. being Teh Evil (unless they are doing it, in which case it is OK). Official policies, like, totally stifle your freedom to make the rules up as you go along. Hence, while having over a dozen tagegories on your posts probably will get you kicked out of the global ad tag pages and labelled a spammer, it’s ‘not a published rule‘ (in fact, the exact nature of the rule is a closely guarded secret) and the FAQ blithely insists there is no limit on the number of tags you can have. Who knows, one day Scoble might experience an urge to tagspam. It’s so much easier to change the rules if they’re obscure in the first place.

Inevitably, however, sometimes the freedom to invent policy on the hoof leads to staff inventing entirely different policies on the same thing without each other’s knowledge.

Last January, Mad at blog-well.com appealed for the ability to redirect traffic from their old wordpress.com blog to their new wordpress.org blog. Matt responded in comments with a workaround:

Did you try adding the domain to this blog, making it your primary URL, and then switching the DNS back to GoDaddy? It should redirect all visitors from blogwell.wordpress.com to the new domain on the new host, at least as long as you pay the 10/yr for parking.

Yay! Mad was very happy and grateful for this solution, as were several people who showed up later in the same comments thread. In response to the support issues arising from this thread, six months later Mad produced a PDF tutorial on how to make the move from .com to .org. Yay again.

Unfortunately, Matt appears to have neglected to tell his head of support that he has been promoting this feature, and when a year on from Mad’s how-to guide somebody shows up on the forums asking for clarification Mark censors the link to the tutorial, says it’s ‘unsupported’ and could stop at any time, then suggests that accounts caught doing it could be nuked. Raincoaster backs him up, having experience of seeing such blogs deleted.

Look, I know it can be hard for everyone to be on the same page because you’re all in different countries in different timezones doing different things, but your communication breakdowns should really not be the users’ problem. The original poster’s question was very simple: is it allowed, or is it not allowed? That should be answerable with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Qualified ‘yes’ and ‘no’, perhaps, such as ‘you would need to have hosted your blog here for x amount of time’ or ‘you would have to have bought your domain through us’, or ‘only if you opt out of global tags’. Or even, if that would be too boring and straightforward to fit with the way you like to do things, the standard business-blog response of ‘contact support detailing your individual circumstances so a decision can be made’. But still, you know, some sort of reasoning other than the whim of whoever happens to be answering the question today. People who are promoting solutions given to them by your boss can be forgiven for thinking the solution is company-approved.

Comments (15)

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