Archive for global tags

it having been established on multiple previous occasions that i am a sucker

…I am entering Design Vitality’s WordPress Theme Design Competition even though:

  • it is quite the most blatant bit of PR-building I have seen since, oh, yesterday, when I was looking at my global tag links
  • I have no compelling reason to believe that the prizes a) exist or b) will be awarded. (I was there for the kcyap scam; if I wasn’t cynical, I’d be stupid.)
  • The fact that the public are voting and themes aren’t anonymous means it’s a popularity contest rather than a design one. (Actually, I don’t know whether they’re even checking IPs, so it could just be rewarding whoever has the most time to set aside for clicking on their own theme.)
  • Even if it were not for the above, I have not a cat in hell’s chance of winning anything because a) I’m not that good, b) I just can’t bring myself to do yet another design with a Big Blue Header, and c) I am lamely trying to do something different, and different never does well in popularity contests (or design contests, come to that)

because:

  • I am too lazy to do any theming nowadays without pressure of a deadline and faint chance of remuneration
  • I wanted to experiment with a ridiculous number of sidebars. I don’t know whether it works, but it was fun trying. If you can’t take risks, why bother?
  • On the same lines, it’s part of my campaign to free the wordpress from the stranglehold of the ubersafe Big Blue Header. (Also, enough with the ‘premium’ ‘magazine-style’ themes already. WordPress isn’t actually that great as a CMS. Go learn textpattern and save yourself the pain of screwing around with query_posts.)
  • ooh, imaginary iPhone! imaginary Wii! Shiny!

[I am a moron, aren't I?]

Comments (28)

never mind the usability, feel the dollars

Interesting post on how wordpress.com chooses when to serve ads. Especially good on the global tags racket:

tags are typically the keywords you use in search queries as well, and here you have pages optimised for such a keyword, with lots of inlinks from relevant posts using that keyword as anchor text, on a high-authority domain.

Of course, said relevant posts aren’t using the keyword as anchor text voluntarily, but who cares about usability when there are backlinks to be exploited?

Comments (7)

if you don’t want their $200 million, you won’t be wanting my 2 cents either

Without venturing a comment on the truth or motives behind techcrunch’s $200 million story, here is my worthless prediction: they’re not going to sell until they’ve opened up global tags to everyone (or at least everyone with an API key, got to keep those signups rolling in). Because being the new technorati, except with super-duper servers that never fall over, has to be worth something. And I expect they’d like to get whatever something it is worth.

Also, maybe they’re dragging their feet on the Adsense upgrade because it would be such a hassle to switch everyone onto Yahoo Publisher ;) If Google was in the frame, wouldn’t we have the option to place Adsense units by now? Discuss.

Comments (10)

google’s pocket

I probably could have written a better comment on this but Matt’s use of the royal ‘we’ never fails to set my teeth on edge, plus the inevitable fanboy fawning was making me feel slightly unwell. What I was driving at is that if sponsored links were ever going to do people real harm in Google (which isn’t proven, by the way; do you know of any blogs that have been downgraded because of sponsored links in their theme? I’m genuinely interested. So far all we know is that Google is penalising people for running Text-Link Ads and participating in blog networks such as b5media.) that would have killed sponsored themes without any intervention from Matt. And we would still have themes.wordpress.net, unless of course Matt managed to find some other excuse to kill it.

If people are gaming the system that’s Google’s problem, and it was always Google’s job to fix it.

I sort of love this comment over at Andy Beard’s post:

Of course, here is the part that drives me bonkers. Little ol soon to be Google Partner (just a rumor) WordPress.com, didn’t get smacked, with all of those subdomains, weirdo linkage, unnatural linking. Hmmmm.

for its wild speculation and usage of the word ‘bonkers’. And because surely wordpress.com is one of the biggest blog networks out there. Of course, wordpress.com is also a big Adsense client, stamps down hard on any other form of advertising or paid linking and has an owner who loses no time in leaping when Google says ‘jump’, so if Google turn a blind eye to their peculiar linking practices it shouldn’t surprise anyone. Google doesn’t need to buy Automattic; it already gets to dictate company policy.

I don’t want this place to go to Yahoo. I really don’t want this place to go to Yahoo. But what if it’s the only way to get Matt out of Google’s pocket?

Comments (10)

in which i invent the word tagegory, which is as ugly as the messed-up concept it describes

I demystify the behaviour of post tagegory links. Again. No, this time I think I’ve got it, especially as another thread shows us bloated global tag PR in action (hat tip: timethief, in comments).

In a nutshell, they point to global tags in order to get Google traffic to the tag pages, because that traffic gets shown ads. The lack of labelling? I’m still thinking about that. Possibly it’s to get more people onto the tags pages and back out onto other blogs, so that people see viewers coming in from tags and think ‘hey, this is cool, if I use more tags maybe I’ll get more visitors!’ More tags = more tag links = higher PR for tag pages = more ad revenue.

That, or they can’t be bothered to edit the template function.

When mature blogs are fixed so that they are no longer forced to link into a system that does not benefit them, I will consider this an acceptable form of monetisation. (Granted, a form of monetisation that relies on confusing and irritating your users, but then so is advertising in general: it’s a necessary evil.) Forcing people to link back to a system that gives them traffic is fair enough, though refusing to label the links remains shady. Breaking their links purely for your own benefit? Doesn’t look good. Although I suppose the Automattic mentality is that they deserve to be punished for failing to be family-friendly and depriving them of adsense pennies (seeing as how Google’s ToS prevents them showing ads on those blogs).

But add to this Kissing Bandit’s contention that Google has already banned Technorati’s tag pages and options’s discovery that VIPs are allowed to opt out of global tags, even though they’re told when they sign up that those linkbacks are required; and things are getting slightly murky again.

(Global tags needs its own global tag, I think. This will be pleasingly meta.)

eta: well, whaddya know, Matt just locked both threads, so we must be on to something. Wonder if he’ll stick around to answer any actual support questions? :roll:

Comments (23)

above the law

Root says, in the middle of yet another thread about global tags (I don’t know where Lorelle gets this strange idea that if we complain, they might change it):

Of course strictly speaking there are no *kids* at WordPress dot com anyway.

Which seems as good a moment as any to mention that Xanga got fined $1million for COPPA violations last year. They had well over a million kids, though, so I don’t expect Automattic are worried. We have a lot fewer than that, and at less than a dollar a child, the ads on the kiddieblogs would easily cover the fine ;)

What I would like? I would like wordpress.com to wipe the illegally-obtained email addresses of under-13s from its database. (Yes, I know they’re not going to do anything bad with that data, but do any of us know where we’re going to be in a few years time? You can’t promise that any future owner wouldn’t sell addresses on, any more than Danga could promise that there would never be ads on livejournal.) I would like some way of telling wordpress.com that I am over 18 and I don’t need protecting from content that they or one of their users considers ‘mature’. And I would really like somebody to explain to me why, if both wordpress.com and livejournal are based in California, only one of them is required to abide by US law.

(Before you try, I don’t think the ‘common carrier’ argument is going to work on a host which actively monitors content for links it doesn’t like the look of. And I’m not going to be convinced by ‘we don’t ask for birthdates so we don’t know how old they are’ either. If I go to a blog’s About page and it tells me the author’s twelve, I’m going to go ahead and assume the author’s twelve. And you should probably be grateful that I am neither a paedophile nor a Daily Mail reporter.)

Comments (17)

also, don’t you just love how they only add shit when support is shut?

As predicted, tags are here.

As could also have been predicted, they’re a mess.

Nobody has bothered to explain, either in the announcement or in the faq, whether the ‘global tags’ pages are going to be, in fact, global tags, or whether they are going to continue to be global categories (and change their name accordingly), or whether they are going to pull from both (and, if so, what they are going to do about duplicates). Nobody has bothered to explain whether tags get auto-submitted to technorati or whether this is still the job of categories. Apparently tags aren’t showing up in themes. Lorelle also tells us that post tag links will be internal but post category links will continue to be external. If true, this behaviour is precisely the opposite of what most users would expect: most of us would define a tag as an external, mob-folksonomical term which you use in order to connect with what other people have had to say on the same subject, whilst a category is a recurring topic within your own blog. I have no problem with my TAG links sending people to global TAGS. My category links, however, should stay within my blog.

Basically, because of the lazy way they tried to pass categories off as tags, they can’t now do a sensible, intuitive implementation of tags because it would take too much functionality away from categories. What would make most sense would be the option to automatically convert all categories on archive posts to tags which would link into the global TAGS system, and then let people decide whether they want to continue to use both, or just categories (keeping them out of global tags), or just tags (avoiding redundancy and page clutter).

I’d guess, though, that any such automated process would be far too great a weight for the servers to bear, even if people did have to choose to activate it. Plus, of course, making a clear distinction between categories and tags would a) draw attention to what a godawful mess the taggification of categories was and b) be insufficiently confusing for users. So that’s out.

So: is there any point in tags at all? I mean, presumably if they were getting fed to global tags or technorati surely they’d have mentioned that, as an incentive to get people to use them. But the notion of them being purely internal is boggling my brain, because that’s not what tagging is for. I have to conclude that they are here simply because they are in 2.3 and ignore them accordingly. Can I have an option to collapse the input field, please?

Comments (17)

bad words and maturity

I was commenting on the whole censorship imbroglio over on adam’s blog t’other day (you missed this? erotica bloggers were bitching about being kicked out of the global tags system. I tend to think the best riposte to this would have been to ship their content, traffic, and all their friends to a more welcoming host and let wordpress.com become a kids ‘n’ Christians ghetto, if that’s what they want. Bitching a lot and slamming the door on my way out, obviously.) My line remains — it’s shouldn’t be up to wordpress.com to protect me from content they (or whatever random who clicked ‘flag as mature’) think is unsuitable by hiding it from my tag searches or keeping it out of my dashboard. It’s up to me to tell wordpress.com whether or not I want or need it to be hidden from me. Which naturally got me thinking about COPPA again, and the fact that Automattic doesn’t ask for reassurance that we’re over 13.

So here’s a thread and here’s another where drmike has to think fast and censor the age of the original poster. Because a disclosure that they were under 13 would automatically put wordpress.com in violation of COPPA for knowingly having users under the age of 13 and not requiring parental permission to keep their email addresses on file.

It’s nice that they have an experienced webmaster looking out for them on this, because left to themselves I’m not sure they’d have a clue. At the moment, they’re still got deniability. Yes, drmike knows there are users claiming to be under 13, and anyone reading the forum can surmise that there are users claiming to be under 13, but we’re not employees so it doesn’t matter. But the moment an irate parent comes along saying ‘why did you let my twelve-year-old daughter sign up to this pervert-ridden site without even asking her to lie about her age to do so?’, the game is up.

I’m not sure kids can be reasonably expected to understand or abide by this ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ age policy they have in operation here. And I am not especially happy about the fact that adults can’t choose for themselves what they can and cannot view in the shared spaces of wordpress.com because of a child audience that officially doesn’t exist. So please. Flag the users, not the blogs.

Comments (3)

and today, on wordpress.com

Gee, a new green and blue theme. That will provide a great alternative to the existing blue, green, black, gray and occasional-maroon-or-orange-accent themes. Somebody needs to get you guys a color wheel and cover the “cool” part of it with masking tape.

Yeah, what they said.

We can buy extra filespace now. I don’t know what they’ve done on the backend, but whatever it was appears to have had the side effect of fixing my thumbnails (which vanished mysteriously last time they messed with the uploader). Yay. Slightly odd that the post doesn’t mention the amount we have already, but at least we no longer have to scour the FAQ for it, or guess how much space we’re using up.

Following a couple of other critical posts on the .com forums, options apparently got temporarily banned. Mark doesn’t believe him. I’m afraid I do.

Also on options’s blog I work out the main reason why it’s so important to fool visitors into heading for the tags pages . It is so simple, I would feel embarrassed to restate it here.

Comments (4)

lovely piece of necromancy

options resurrects the global tags thread. Whereupon everyone piles in again and I finally twig that post category links are not broken through accident or carelessness, but by design. It’s such a lovely piece of necromancy, I would kind of like to pick the whole thread up and carry it over here.

Also on the forums today, nice long thoughtful thread about using wp.com for commercial sites. That anyone would wish to do this (limited number of themes + no plugins + no ads + no sponsored links v. do whatever the hell you want) is a triumph of branding over common sense. Don’t these people want professional-looking sites? A nasty site effect of wp.com marketing itself as the newbie solution is that it’s made everyone assume that installing and running wordpress by yourself is rocket science. It’s not. It’s only once you start tinkering with it that things get complicated.

Yes, I am finally being allowed to add new themes to wordpress.net. Yay! Unfortunately, I didn’t want to upload any new themes, I wanted to update my old one. Since there is no way of claiming it as my own and getting edit privileges on it, I’m going to have to upload the new version separately, which is messy, but meh. I’m past caring. The templatemonster theme is still there, but they’re apparently not bothered (no reply to my email) so I don’t see why I should be. Maybe I should reverse-engineer a couple of their other demos and throw them up there.

Comments (15)

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