i am officially a sucker

Apparently, wordpress.com is still pimping our blogs with six ads per page.

I am furious with myself for letting Matt fob me off with his ‘bug’ excuse. Now I re-read the email, of course, I notice the conspicuous lack of any promise to fix the ‘mistake’. Or, indeed, any indication that it’s being worked on. Or any suggestion that it will be monitored in future. And I note that a tasteful display of ads is only a ‘goal’. Well, people fall short of their goals all the time, don’t they? Especially when falling short of them brings in extra money.

I thought I was at risk of getting too cynical, but obviously I haven’t been cynical enough. I also thought I was beyond being disappointed, but actually, yeah, I’m disappointed.

I am probably the least trusting user wordpress.com has. I gave them the benefit of the doubt on this one thing and I turned out to be wrong. That may make me a sucker, but what does it make them?

31 Comments »

  1. Kissing Bandit said

    …but what does it make them?

    Big Business™ in training.

    -KB

  2. Root said

    I hesitate to use the word but if by inclusion / ommission you deliberately induce a misunderstanding as to the truth then you are er lying I think.

  3. drmiketemp said

    *chuckle* maybe the bug was there was supposed to be six adverts and five wasn’t enough.

    Got to admit though that since it’s pretty much useless for me to be logged in, I see Adsense all over wp.com. Amazed that there isn’t a larger revolt on the issue.

  4. The reason more people aren’t outraged is because they don’t know. Hiding ads from logged-in users was a very smart move. I have a big post in draft about how livejournal gets hung, drawn and quartered by its users for things which pale into insignificance besides what Automattic get away with.

  5. Toni said

    I should probably let Matt clarify his comments, but he is traveling, so here it goes:

    In his recent email to you, I believe Matt agreed that the ads in question looked ugly and were badly formatted. That has been fixed.

    It looks like his comment about more than one ad per page was made 9 months earlier in the forums (not in the email you quote). Back then we were showing one ad unit per page, so having more than one ad would have been a bug. Since then we’ve experimented with different ad units and ad placements to see what works best with AdSense (including multiple ad units per page). We’ve also been working with Google to make the ads more effective. As we’ve mentioned in several places, we are now working on a way to offer opt-in ad serving as a feature to our users. Everything we’ve learned about ad optimization will be passed on to benefit those bloggers who want ads on their blogs to earn money. And Bloggers who never want an ad will be able to turn them off. Both ‘more ads’ and ‘no ads’ will likely be a paid feature. For everyone else, we will likely continue to show occasional ads. We’ve talked about the fact that we sometimes show ads on the main wp.com blog and more recently on our feature list, so hopefully users are aware that this is how we earn part of the money to operate wordpress.com.

    Feel free to email me if you have questions about how we run our business. My contact info is on my blog.

    PS: You are incorrect that ads are shown to non-logged-in users. The algorithm that decides when to show an ad is based on different rules.

  6. Alan said

    Ha. Make them pay you guys money for the privilege put ads on their own blog, and then laugh as they reap ad revenue that will more than likely not even cover the price of entry to put ads on their blog. It’s brilliant.

  7. drmiketemp said

    Feel free to email me if you have questions about how we run our business. My contact info is on my blog.

    Don’t expect an answer though.

  8. Kissing Bandit said

    PS: You are incorrect that ads are shown to non-logged-in users. The algorithm that decides when to show an ad is based on different rules.

    <sarcasm>Is one of those rules not having a WP.com cookie anywhere on your hard drive?</sarcasm>

    -KB

  9. > I thought I was at risk of getting too cynical . . .

    When? Ten or twenty years ago before it happened? 😉

  10. timethief said

    Have you read Toni’s official response?
    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=16322&page&replies=17#post-121380

  11. timethief said

    OOPS! I just noticed that it was posted above. I apologize for the duplication.😦

  12. drmiketemp said

    Oh, and Matt left us a comment.

  13. Root said

    If we are the *anti Matt brigade gathered here at Wank* – then it’s a badge I wear with pride.

  14. I believe Matt agreed that the ads in question looked ugly and were badly formatted. That has been fixed.

    I’m afraid I’m having some difficulty believing there is anything you could do to make five/six ads per page look attractive. Then again, I’m dealing with a company that thinks huge teal buttons are aesthetically pleasing.

    What troubles me about this is the way the level of advertising is being upped by stealth. First of all, it’s a ‘test’. When the testing period is over, the ads stay, but this isn’t mentioned until a bunch of people post in your comments about how much they love not having ads. We’re told we get one unit per page; then this apparently got increased, but nobody admitted this until now. We were told that ads wouldn’t be shown to logged-in users; now you’re telling us that they are. At least the ones I’ve seen were text-only, but who’s to say whether that’s still the case? Or will continue to be the case?

    I realise that such ad-creep is probably inevitable. I also realise that advertising is central to the business model of pretty much every start-up out there. So it’s fair enough that we’ll have to pay to opt out of advertising; but as things stand, although you’ve been talking about paid opt-out for months, it’s not here yet and nobody seems able to say when it will be.

    Ads have not been mentioned on the news blog for over a year now, and I doubt that many existing users read the feature list. (Come to that, I doubt that many potential users bother scrolling all the way to the bottom to see the bit about ads.) At any rate, we’re still seeing people in the forum who are surprised to have seen ads on their blog, or believe that they are served only on high-traffic blogs. If/when you launch the opt-out, I think you may be surprised by the number of people who respond ‘huh? what? we have ads on our blogs? and now you want money to get rid of them? I came here to get away from all that.’ I’m realistic about the need for ads, but you only have to glance at livejournal to see that a surprising number of bloggers aren’t.

  15. Kissing Bandit said

    @drmiketemp – I believe that’s partly my fault. I couldn’t just leave that thread alone without simply saying something. I tried, but my will is weak.

  16. hari said

    Hey, I’m working on a WP 2.3 to b2evolution 2.0 converter!! Anybody interested to test it out?

  17. Stevie said

    Well, I just wanna know why Matt doesn’t have the balls to come here to answer for himself, if he is so concerned about your blog he would have left a comment here but he didn’t. And for the record we don’t have anything against you personally Matt, just your methods of maintaining, taking control and administering open source software, and focusing 85% of your attention on WP.com rather than .org we feel that you have alienated your (regardless who) developers by taking away their rights to say nay, I see it all the time on Trac and now on the Wp-hackers list.

  18. hari said

    My converter is done now. Anybody who wants to test it out, can do so.

  19. drmiketemp said

    Matt’s out of town attending a conference. He mentioned it on his blog.

    *chuckle* Which is blocked from here as having questionable content so I can’t give you a link.

  20. Toni said

    “We were told that ads wouldn’t be shown to logged-in users; now you’re telling us that they are.”

    That’s not what I meant. We’re not showing ads to logged in users. But we’re also not showing ads to lots of other types of users. Being logged in is not a sufficient test for showing ads or not.

  21. AJ said

    I like this about Matt’s response on that forum post:

    swyves, when we launch the Ad Control upgrade it will tell you how much money we think you will make on your blog based on your traffic so you can decide whether you’d like to “go professional” or not.

    Emphasis mine.

    So the ad click-throughs will be according what Matt and his cronies feel people should get and not what they actually do based on the ads on their blogs (at least when they are shown). Interesting that.

  22. Root said

    It is a breach of the Google ToS to discuss money in the way Matt proposes.

  23. hari said

    Be sure to keep your posts archived in a safe place… you might need it one of these days😉

    I find that WordPress has been steadily going downhill over the few years I’ve used it. I started with 1.5.2 and at that time it was lightweight and decent and had a specific target audience (geeks). Now with WP.com they confused the whole issue by making it so newbie friendly and popular. It just won’t work both ways. You can never have two brand images and manage them at the same time.

    WordPress.com can never become blogspot. Blogspot is meant for newbies and was made for newbies. There is no confusion there. WordPress is a blog software that was born as a geek-friendly, lightweight and highly configurable blog tool and today it has a severe identity crisis. In my view WP.com is a wannabe “blogspot”. Even blogspot.com is more powerful than WP.com. At least they allow you to change the HTML and CSS without having to pay for it…

  24. Stevie said

    Well yes, if I wanted a free blog I would go with blogspot, I don’t understand why WP.com is so crippled, even other services out there offer free CSS and HTML editing for gods sake! but I think Matt and Co don’t want to bother enhancing WP enough to allow this option as it would be too hard to code, thats why WP.com has stayed minimalist and severely crippled because it goes beyond Matt and Co’s amateur coding skills. Also Blogspot doesn’t force you to put ads on your pages (or so my test account shows none whatsoever) unless you say so.

    By the way Matt here is a suggestion, make WP.com a actually stable platform instead of treating it as a guinea pig for your evil creations, mwahahahahaha.

  25. It is a breach of the Google ToS to discuss money in the way Matt proposes.

    Not if the figure they give you has no relation to what they’re currently making. I imagine any competent marketer would be able to give you a rough estimate of income based on pagerank, number of ad units, and keywords.

    Also, of course, we don’t know whether people will be allowed to use an existing account or have to sign up for a new one through Automattic (potential for some nice referral earnings regardless). And we don’t know whether they will rotate their ads alongside the user’s own. Basically, we don’t know anything about how this is going to work, and judging by the length of time it’s been in the pipeline they don’t either.

  26. Kissing Bandit said

    I imagine any competent marketer would be able to give you a rough estimate of income based on pagerank, number of ad units, and keywords.

    True. Very true. However, those marketers cannot factor one of the most important aspects of your click through revenue rates: quality score.

    Google now pays out per click depending on the quality of the page an add was displayed. Some websites, though in a high paying niche, will earn pennies because the content is deemed “poor quality” and vice versa.

    It was Google’s solution to advertisers complaining about receiving poor quality traffic from individual websites.

    Just something else to think about.

    -KB

  27. Kissing Bandit said

    Just one other clarification…

    Although Matt could say he thinks you’d earn $X.XX, since your page was considered high quality and had good keywords, Matt would actually be making $XX.XX from your blog or more.

    -KB

  28. Root said

    and KB that is going to be a very big unknown unknown as Rummy would say.

  29. […] Buying webspace and self-hosting the blog instead of keeping it at WP.com. There is no real justification for this, except that if I buy webspace for email and archival, it might make sense to move the blog as well. Another reason for thinking about self-hosting is that I would be immune to Automattic’s highly annoying strategy of introducing text link advertisements on Mirkwood without my knowledge. I wasn’t too worried about this until recently, and so I am an even bigger sucker than “that girl again”. […]

  30. timethief said

    Have you read this? http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=16710&page&replies=6

  31. […] i am officially a sucker – by wank […]

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