you’re so very special

So: if heavy traffic –famous author –unique subjec–soaring traffic –press coverage –or if friend of WP employee allowed to do it, everyone else not? What is criteria to enable advertising on WP blog?

That would be ‘be Scoble’, I assume. Scoble really needs his own FAQ entry, doesn’t he? Suggested wording:

Yes, you have seen a wordpress.com blog which used a custom theme. That was Scoble’s. He is special. Yes, you have seen a wordpress.com blog with the top half of the sidebar taken up by affiliate ads. That was Scoble’s. He is special. Maybe when you are an A-lister who writes WordPress.com’s Top Blog of Every Day, such favours may be granted to you. In the meantime, Scoble is special and you are not. Deal with it, or buy your own domain to be king of.

I think that strikes the authentic note of ‘piss off and buy your own hosting if you’re not content with what we’re giving you for free’, don’t you?

34 Comments »

  1. Tiara said

    Reading through the links, it seems that having an affiliate link could get your blog killed.

    So if I linked to a book on Amazon that has my affiliate ID in the link, would my blog disappear?

  2. Hexx said

    WordPress.com has been kissing Scoble’s ass from day one. They use him as a publicity tool. They needed the presence of an “A-List” blogger to convince people to switch from whatever platform they were already using, to WordPress.com.

    Automattic is a company looking to make money off its users; they don’t want the users making money off Automattic.

  3. wank said

    Tiara: affiliate links are a pretty grey area. They’re not mentioned in the FAQ or the ToS, and for whatever reason drmike hasn’t been able to get a straight answer from the admins on whether they’re allowed. The nearest I can find to official word on this is that you can post the link but your affiliate ID will get stripped, which, if true, would render the whole exercise pointless anyway.

    Hexx: true, and of course there’s no way Scoble would have come here if he’d had to use one of the five themes that were available back then, or had to submit to the same rules everyone else does. But I wish Matt had thought through what he was doing, creating a two-tier system from the get-go. Surely one of the most attractive things about a universally free bloghost is that everyone’s on the same level — nobody is ‘better’ than anyone else because they paid for their account, or because they don’t have ads on their blog, or because they’ve been here longer. But Scoble’s blog makes it crystal clear to newbies that they’re not on an equal footing with everyone else here. They’re not important enough to merit their own ugly template, or their sidebar full of ads, or their plug on the front page.

    And nobody has ever come out and said ‘look, if your traffic rises high enough you’ll get these privileges too’. If they did that, it might be OK. People would have something to aim for. As it is, we’re second-class citizens with no clear possibility of ever becoming anything else. This seems to me profoundly un-American. I know that is a ridiculous overstatement, but it’s the best way I have of articulating my problem with it.

  4. britgirl said

    First of of all “roar” for your post. Secondly did you not know that “All animals are equal but some animal are more equal than others?”
    “Animal Farm” by George Orwell.

    Thirdly, it isn’t a ridiculous overstatement at all.

  5. britgirl said

    Hexx – Personally I would rather pay for something – or have the option to pay and have a chance of additional “privileges” rather than be reminded all the time of the “free” service that somewhat limits us. I don’t want the hassle of mucking around with hosting, not because of the cost but because of the extra work There is no such thing as a free lunch. But how is Automatic making money of its users? They’re not charging something I was amazed at when I saw the high quality of the WP platform. Or is this some future plan?

  6. wank said

    If there wasn’t going to be money made somewhere down the line, they wouldn’t have got funding; venture capitalists are not charitable donors. WordPress.com isn’t directly profitable at the moment, but it makes Akismet more efficient (hence more money from corporations who need a successful spam stopper) and it’s given the developers a lot of experience in scaling large sites (hence more money from corporations who are willing to pay for their expertise). Also, it makes you look good at conferences and presentations to be able to say ‘we host X thousand blogs, including Scoble’s’.

    At the moment, the real value of wordpress.com is as a PR tool, as a testing ground for future wordpress releases, and as a source of spam for Akismet to crunch on. There may be money to be made out of charging in the future, but it’s difficult to see how they’d square that with using us as beta testers. People are a lot less tolerant of breakages in services they’re paying for.

  7. timethief said

    @wank
    I’m puzzled as to why you would think I was acting like a moderator and why you think I was “taking you to task”. I thought I’d said so many times over and over on the forum that I was a NEWBIE that I sounded like a broken record. I just wasn’t comfortable with your wording and I said so. However, I do not believe there should be advertising of any kind (no exceptions) on free wordpress blogs. I have previously stated this on the forum, more than once in fact, and I have stated it again this evening. I believe we need a clearcut policy without exceptions. http://wordpress.com/forums/topic.php?id=1696&replies=26

  8. adam said

    while scoble clearly gets his perks (he’s using an amazon iframe), i’ve seen plenty of *amazon* associate links around these parts. amazon associate links are about half the length of ‘straight’ amazon links.

    i’m pretty sure they would have had to make _someone_ more equal, whether that was matt, scoble, or the news blog, just so they could test. or show off. would it be more palettable if it was a dev’s blog that was doing the advertising/custom theme? only if you’re being really pointy-headed.

    but fer chrissakes, they are wacking every puppy’s nose for all it’s worth when the subject comes up. i think this might be better categorized under ‘campaign for a TOS’. not that your categories mean anything. some animals being less equal, as it were.

  9. adam said

    @ tt –
    wording/tone of voice _is_ a moderator thing. and i’d rather see more people talking openly than being vague and dismissive. those are the ones you should be questioning tone. “banned” was the linchpin of that post, it deserved hilighting. the puppy needs to know when it’s going to get the newspaper.

  10. adam said

    and suddenly, the point is moot.

  11. drmike said

    Not necessarily. Remember that this is only a test on a select few blogs and it’s WordPress’s adverts, not end users. That’s what’s got me iffy. Granted Matt appears to be against adverts for the most part from reading that post. I’m a little concerned though that it appears we may see WordPress’s own advert in the mix if and when they are allowed.

    Nie to see though that someone noticed that I couldn’t get a straight answer out of them on the subject. Heck, I was telling folks that it appeared that affliate links were overlooked as long as they weren’t the main reason for your blog. Matt finally shoot that one down though after a few months. (Sorry, too busy to go looking for the post.)🙂

  12. timethief said

    How could anyone who actually tried to help people on the forum evry day like moi not notice that drmike could not get a gold plated answer? I just don’t believe that poking bears with sticks is good practice is all. You see I’m accustomed to participating in effective advocacy and negotiation processes and there is no platform for that here.

    I’m interested in your responses. Would the following produce an outcome that everyone could “live with”?

    (1) Free blogs remaining ad-free.

    (2) Paid for extra service and more customizable (like cnvas that doesn’t mess with CSS) blogs being allowed to have subdued and tasteful “complementary” ads, including one for WordPress as drmike points to above.

    (3) Scoble and all other “friends of the developers” converting from having free blogs to paying for blogs as in (2).

  13. wank said

    That sounds like a sensible model, and doesn’t differ significantly from my previous speculation about how ads will be introduced.

    As drmike mentions in his comment on the announcement the potential earnings from ads are not that high, especially if wordpress.com implement some kind of revenue share. My feeling is that anyone hoping to make more than pocket money — hell, even pocket money — off their wordpress.com blog is living in a dreamworld. Unless they’re Scoble.

    Personally, even given the current exchange rates I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a dollar a day (though I imagine that if I had VCs throwing money at me, I too could afford to disregard such piddling amounts, and sneer at those who don’t), but I don’t think most blogs here would make even that much.

  14. Michael said

    I used to use blogger, and I had almost half less views to my blog I do now here on wordpress. And I had adsence on my blog over at blogger and I usaly pocketed about $15-30 a month.

  15. wank said

    Ah, but the extra pageviews you’re getting over here wouldn’t earn you any extra revenue because a) you’d have to pay wordpress.com for the privilege of having ads and b) there’s a possibility they might take a cut of your earnings. In monetary terms, you’d have been better off staying at blogspot.

  16. britgirl said

    I wonder if we’d have heard anything about the ad testing if the Special Scoble ad on his blog hadn’t been mentioned. Personally, I don’t want ads on my blog. I don’t want a WordPress ad on my blog either. I am in favour of an equal footing for all. An ad is an ad is an ad.

    On charging for services, hope they’ve built into the plan that many people will simply leave if they have to start paying for a previously free service, unless there is an obvious value add over other free services. And if payment is going to be introduced there definitely needs to be propoer terms and conditions. Wonder if the payment will cover customer service too. Doubt it.

  17. Jimbo said

    I wrote about this very subject yesterday, suggesting exactly what TT did above:

    http://swindonua.wordpress.com/2006/07/27/give-me-fuel-give-me-fire-give-me-adsense-i-desire/

    I don’t want ads either. At the very least it should be a paid option!

  18. timethief said

    Without doubt my sensible model was built on the foundation that wank provided and the information I acquired through listening to drmike sharing his knowledge on the subject on the support forum. It was also borne from a desire to see a platform for a co-operative decison making model for WordPress changes being legitimized by Matt/management.

    And Jimbo definately deserves 100% of the credit for drawing “canvas” to my attention, as well as, lorelle’s article on it. I read about canvas on his blog yesterday between blood tests and poking and prodding. It was in fact a bright spot in an otherwise dark and miserable day for me (thanks jimbo) so I went off finding more links and visting sites.

    It’s not likely that I will ever place ads on my blog. In fact the primary reason I no longer read blogs like professional blogger is because of the ads. I find them utterly distasteful and distracting. Some of them are so garish that their very presence on a blog puts my teeth into grinding mode and any animated ones guarantee that I will click out before you can bat an eye.

    It’s unlikely that I will ever go over to webhosting, unless it’s with extraordinary support mavens who will babsysit me like drimke and podz. Therefore it’s unlikely that I will ever design my own site with an application like canvas but I do support WordPress offering pay for features and services blogs too.

    I have found this dialogue to be really stimulating and hopefully WordPress management will establish a separate forum from the support forum so we can have these kinds of ongoing discussions recognized as being legitimate and important part of WordPress’s growth. What do others think of that?

    I also think canvas is a very interesting means of providing more customization as a paid WordPress service without compromising security because it allows you to design a professional looking site without touching a line of code. What do others think of WordPress offering paid options/services like canvas?

  19. wank said

    hopefully WordPress management will establish a separate forum from the support forum so we can have these kinds of ongoing discussions recognized as being legitimate and important part of WordPress’s growth. What do others think of that?

    I think that there is zero chance of that happening. A lot of people come to the wordpress project thinking that because it’s open source and anyone can contribute, they can also have a role in deciding what direction it’s going to take. This illusion rarely lasts very long. They either accept that everything gets decided by Matt, or they leave. WordPress is many things, but ‘democratic’ ain’t one of them. He would probably tell you this makes things faster and more efficient — that discussion and trying to reach consensus slow progress down, and it’s not like everybody’s ever going to agree anyway — but mainly it’s a control thing.

    The main power the community has is in applying pressure (like on the forum with Scoble’s ads, like Valleywag with the funding, like Andy Baio when Matt was hosting spam at wordpress.org) to force them to at least be open about what they’re doing and where they’re going. It rarely leads to a change in direction, but we find it cathartic😉

  20. timethief said

    @wank
    Okay, okay. Sigh. I guess I’ve been behaving like the eternal optimist, a Polyanna and expecting the best instead of smelling the BBQ burning. Thankfully it’s not my body on that spit too because there may not be much of my ass left after this “treatment”.

    I did so hope that establishing an appropriate platform for management and blogger dialogue was just a matter of WordPress growing up and growing out to become inclusive, vibrant and responsive to bloggers sharing their collective wisdom aimed towards improving WordPress alongside the management.

    As individuals we all have some knowledge, some life experience and some wisdom but “some” isn’t really “much” when we’re individually subjected to the microscope. Collectively the total knolwedge, life experience and wisdom of all of us would exceed the sum of the parts or the resources of any single individual by far. Sigh. Not a chance for change, eh? Not a chance for these kinds of ongoing discussions recognized as being legitimate and important part of WordPress’s growth. Sheesh what a downer.I’m sad.:( And, worse still here comes another nurse carrying another needle arrrggghhh! I suppose a fitting end to this post would be a “stick it” remark but not aimed at you, of course, right wank?😉

  21. Collin said

    Ya know, I can’t help but wonder if anyone (except Matt!) has asked Mr Scoble his opinion?

    Yeah, I know, he’s famous and used to being talked about. I wonder what he might say about it.. I might just ask him…

  22. britgirl said

    Even if there was a chance of a separate forum (which as wank says is unlikely) I wouldn’t go for that. Again as said, the only power we the people have is using the forum to register our voices and feelings about things like this… that are patently unfair and would have, in my opinion remained well under the radar but for this thread.

    At least we’ve registered our feelings about the issue whatever the final outcome.People have been told in no uncertain terms about the siupposed “ad policy” only to now see it only applies to most of us un-Special plebs. The point (to me anyway ) isn’t about whether or not ads are good bad or indifferent.. Or even about paid services. I hardly think Scobel is paying, or that he will ever be asked to. The point is about being upfront about what you’re doing. And being fair. I don’t think that’s too much to expect.

  23. As far as gripes against WP goes, this one is really pretty weak. Everyone in the free world that owns a business hooks-up their friends and VIPs. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    If you own a restaurant, and you give a good friend a free lunch, would you honestly feel bad about that? What you’re saying here is equivalent to other patrons in the restaurant demanding a free lunch because your friend got one. If it was your restaurant, you’d probably tell those people to get bent, and pay for their damn meal.

    Of *course* there’s going to be favoritism among friends and colleagues. That’s life.

  24. Everyone’s getting a free lunch here, the reason people are narked is because Scoble apparently has special dietary requirements and gets to order things that aren’t on the menu😉

    He’s their ‘friend’ because he’s an A-lister who helps publicise their service, but whatever. Since I wrote this post I’ve re-thought my position on this. Considering Scoble as part of the wordpress.com community is a category error. He may have a wordpress.com subdomain but to all intents and purposes the service he gets here is the same as he’d be getting if he went to Dreamhost or Textdrive. I’d be surprised if he hadn’t made a voluntary donation to wordpress.org, either, seeing as how he can afford to pay his way and not doing so is… well, a bit cheap.

  25. timethief said

    @wank

    Others have in essence congratulated youfor digging up what you may consider to be wordpress “dirt” and for slinging it around as though it was and is “mud”. Some, myself among, them sided up holding their self righteous noses in the air while quoting democracy and fairness whn it came to Robert Scoble. In the beginning I was seduced into thinking I needed to take a stand and pick a side. But I too have re-thought my position. I stopped to considered the pattern you have established and what the cost of repeating it over and over is to yourself and to others.

    We don’t in fact know what the arrangement with Robert Scoble is and more to the point it isn’t any of our business . Yes”, this is a retraction of the comment I expressed above. And my retraction is based on coming to the same conclusion that Sean has. So I’m rcommenting again to register my “no” your manipulative style of back peddling to enable you to suggest that Robert may be making donations and would be cheap if he wasn’t. Who admires the bait a switch tactics you use to attack the character of others? I sure as hell don’t.

    Frankly I’m doubtful that you have enough of what it takes inside to be able to give up this negative anti-Matt/ anti-wp/ anti-Automattic addiction you suffer from. But I’m also hoping just as strongly that I’m wrong. I’d truly like to see you put you do have to work on the side of building community, so I’m challenging you to do that.

    Turn away from the dark side wank – stirring this pot of poison is not a valuable time and energy investment. And it doesn’t become you.

  26. britgirl said

    @TT. I have to ask…how is it anti-Matt anti-wp anti-automatic? If one says what one thinks/feels about a situation is it now a bad thing to talk about it? Should there now be a time limit after which the subject should die and never be mentioned again?

    OK, so it might not give some the warm fuzzy feelings of praise, but the whole thing about RS and affiliate links is a legitimate issue – particularly when every so often someone wants one and finds they can’t have one and then finds some can.

  27. wank said

    I’d truly like to see you put you do have to work on the side of building community, so I’m challenging you to do that.

    Healthy communities involve a measure of criticism and debate. Unhealthy communities try to stifle those things because they know they’re not strong enough to withstand them. I’m leaving your negative comments in place, the same way I do with all negative comments, because criticism and debate is what it’s all about here. I will, though, start assembling some links to fan blogs, so if the snark gets too much for you you can click away to some ‘wow! great new theme!’ posts or lengthy articles on how to blog. Can’t say fairer than that😉

  28. Alan said

    Man, I don’t know how this blog comes off as overly negative and ant-Matt. It points out good things often, but when the main theme of it is pointing out the seedy underbelly of WordPress as a whole it’s naturally has a lot of snark. I mean, it’s expected, really, like it was expected at GFY before they had that tiff amongst themselves and imploded like a collapsing star (even GFY managed to plug and have a lot of positive comments about some web 2.0 ventures though, so there you go). And, of course, if you don’t like it you don’t *have* to read it. Wank hasn’t been putting guns up to your head, to my knowledge.

  29. timethief said

    Gosh darn, golly, cheese whiz – I thought maybe I like made a big, fat, ugly mistake and gored someone pet ass or is it ox?

    I thought maybe if I looked more closely at the blog posts, blog comments and input to the WPsupport forum I would prove myself wrong. Oh no! 😦

    I thought maybe there was no pattern of anti-Matt, anit-WP, anti-Automattic rhetoric and sniping always coming from the same wanker. Yep, I thought I’d lost it and imagined vitriol where none was manifest, for sure, for sure.

    Sooo quick as a bunny I determined to make a list and check it twice – a list of all the good stuff I had previously and grieviously overlooked. But the trouble is I haven’t found a single thing yet to record in the number one spot on my good stuff list. %I Sooo I guess I’ll just have to stick around with my blank list and sharp pencil awaiting that momentus occasion.

    Now as for those very special people who pointed the way out and politely invited me to find other blogs , I thank you sooo much for casting the die. In fact I’m here to give you the single finger salute.

    It was you who made me see so very clearly see that I must stay and fulfill my destiny as the true voice of dissent on the WP voice of dissent blog.🙂

    ROFLMAO isn’t blogging fun.😛

    So I guess I’ll sign off now singing my theme song – Turn away from the dark side wank – stirring pots of poison is not a valuable time and energy investment. And doing so doesn’t become you.

    ’til next time tra la.

    P.S. Sarcasm is very hard to pull off in writing I assure you that I’m a far better stand up comedien than this post reveals. 😉

  30. But the trouble is I haven’t found a single thing yet to record in the number one spot on my good stuff list.

    You don’t like my Sandbox styles anymore? :pouts: Oh well, never mind. I’d rather they were judged on merit than the flaws of whoever designed or ported them.

    I must stay and fulfill my destiny as the true voice of dissent on the WP voice of dissent blog.

    I thought Matt was doing a pretty decent job of defending WP already, and we do get the occasional fanboy dropping in to abuse me as well, but if you still think the cause needs the aid of your formidable copying-and-pasting skills you’re very welcome to continue.

    (This thread is starting to remind me of the ‘bitching about other people bitching’ paradox I posted about a few weeks ago. Somebody says ‘stop whining’, somebody else says ‘well, you’re whining about them whining’, somebody else says ‘stop whining about everyone whining’ and the whole thing can stretch into infinity if you’re not careful. I think if we get up to, say, 50 comments I shall shut it down and send everyone to the most recent post instead. If this were a forum thread it would already have been killed on the grounds that necromancy is bad.)

  31. timethief said

    OMG you just pointed out the obvious. The good things that you did didn’t have to do with your bitching at all.

    loved your sandbox themes and I said so. So yes! they get to be number 1,2 and 3 on the “good” list, even though one is a boy theme in blue. And every one of them earns you an outstanding gold star.

    It’s hard to write humour. So trust me that when anyone, including me, starts claiming a need to fulfill their destiny by bitchin and a bitcher I’m ROFLMAO.

    Your remarks about fanboys dropping in to abuse you are absolutely hilarious. If you weren’t inviting or expecting attention you would be writing your wordpress bitching in another blog some other host and not here. Bu what I find remarkable is that Matt even chooses to defend wordpress on your blog at all. If I were him I wouldn’t bother but then he’s young and earnest and I’m old and crusty.

    Moribund thread … yep .. you called it….

  32. If you weren’t inviting or expecting attention you would be writing your wordpress bitching in another blog some other host and not here.

    If I wasn’t inviting or expecting attention I doubt I’d be bothering to blog anywhere😉

  33. timethief said

    If I wasn’t inviting or expecting attention I doubt I’d be bothering to blog anywhere😉

    Now ain’t that the truth, girlfriend – right on! I’m so glad that you have a sense of humour too wank.

    I spent the summer on the receiving end of chemo learning not to sweat the small stuff and to be grateful whenever I could find something no matter how small to celebrate or laugh at. Actually the primary source of my own amusement these past couple of days is “me” picking on you. You know because you have previously nailed it – bitching at a bitcher. *lol* Only one thing can be more amusing or is it confusing than that and it would be bitching because soemeone was bitching at a bitcher. “ROFLMAO*. Yep, you nailed it, girl.

    I laugh more at me when I’m playing the a brave bitch or clown role than when I’m being a bawl baby so thanks for the memory. I’ll try hard to be good now.😉

  34. […] Unless they’re obviously a spammer (and it’s pretty damn easy to tell the difference between a kosher book review blog and a splog), a genuine member of staff would give them the chance to remove the links before threatening suspension. Quite apart from this being the polite thing to do, you can’t rely on people to have read the ToS because it was only implemented after a couple of hundred thousand people had already signed up, and those people were never required to read it and agree to the conditions. And you can’t rely on them to know that Scoble is Special and they are not, and that although he has Amazon ads on his blog, doing the same thing on theirs will get them zapped. There’s no warning to this effect in Scoble’s sidebar, after all, and genuine members of staff would not assume psychic powers on the part of the recipient. […]

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