tinfoil hats? they mess up my hair

Andy Beard wonders how much Automattic made from their deal with answers.com.

I would put his chances of getting an answer on that at round about nil. Though Matt might well pop in and say that answers.com is a great site that many people like to link to🙄 . I wouldn’t bet against him mentioning tinfoil hats either.

If I wonder (again) whether wordpress.com’s studious refusal to acknowledge requests for a last.fm widget might possibly have something to do with their deal with Sonific, I’m going to get accused of conspiracy-theorising (again), aren’t I?

(This is my third theory on the absence of a last.fm widget so far today, and I have to say it is my favourite.)

36 Comments »

  1. it’s not that they’ve never acknowledged the last.fm requests, it’s that they’ve never acted on them. I think it’s far more likely that answers.com just has more money to throw automattic’s way. FWIW, i don’t see an issue with automattic making money this way, it’s a terribly clever marketing ploy on answers.com’s part. andy’s post is definately worth throwing the tinfoil label at, you can add a nofollow tag to the answerlinks just the same as any other link in your post, and they automatically add a class, so customCSS users can mark them if they choose to.

  2. drmiketemp said

    *chuckle* I hope you weren’t seriously expecting an answer, wank.😉

    Answer.com has to be hurting when it comes to the search engine results. Ever since Wikipedia gave themselves that bump up in the search results when they added in the “rel=noindex,nofollow” bits to all of their outbound links, you rarely see them when doing searches for stuff. Seems like wikipedia has jumped back to being listed at the top all of the time.

    As to the “conspiracy-theorising” bit, it’s just Matt and company blowing off actually responding to questions and complaints. Makes me wonder why Toni gets listed as CEO but yet seems to ignore the ethics issues of his employees. (And, yes Toni, if you see this, you still haven’t answered the questions I raised to you months ago about your company’s lack of a ethic policy.)

  3. Toni said

    “I’m going to get accused of conspiracy-theorising (again), aren’t I?”

    Yep. There’s a simpler answer. Sonific created a WP widget and we added it. Last.fm have not created a WP widget so there’s nothing for us to add (though we are talking to the Last.fm folks about working together).

    “Toni, if you see this, you still haven’t answered the questions I raised to you months ago about your company’s lack of a ethic policy”

    I’m not sure I know what you are referring to.

  4. drmiketemp said

    though we are talking to the Last.fm folks about working together

    Toni, don’t you think it would be good customer service if, oh I don’t know, maybe a staff member stated that in the forums when the request is made? Or is this just another example of many where Automattic just pays lip service towards customer service? (And please don’t tell me that staff monitors the forums. I’ve had three of your employees tell me that they don’t.)

    Also, that’s a BS answer. Sitemeter had a widget created for it but it wasn’t added to wp.com. Other sites have as well.

    edit: Two second google search -> last.fm widget

    I’m not sure I know what you are referring to.

    Your company’s lack of a ethics policy. Something I complained to you about in a pair of emails a few months back when I expressed my annoyance for your company’s extreme lack of respect towards its many volunteers, the way you folks handled my removal and a large number of incorrect statements that Matt and others have made about Automattic and wp.com.

    Come on, Toni. You’re supposed to be in charge here. Please tell us you’re not this ignorant of what’s occuring.

  5. Toni said

    don’t you think it would be good customer service if, oh I don’t know, maybe a staff member stated that in the forums when the request is made?

    Not necessarily. We can’t promise anything until Last.fm (or us) agree to build something.

    Sitemeter had a widget created for it but it wasn’t added to wp.com.

    There are hundreds of WP widgets. Making one doesn’t mean we’ll automatically add it to wp.com. However, not making one precludes us from adding it.

    Two second google search -> last.fm widget

    We looked at that widget months ago and determined that it’s not suitable for wp.com because it writes to the file system.

    Your company’s lack of a ethics policy

    We run our business in a highly ethical way. In addition to our standard business practices, I’d include in that things like giving our software away as open source and running the leading anti-spam service for blogs free for over 99% of users.

    It sounds to me like you have a personal ax to grind because we asked you to no longer volunteer on the wp.com forums. The reasons for that decision were communicated to you. We appreciate your past contributions to the forums, but please don’t expect me to answer you if you continue to take every opportunity to spread baseless accusations about us.

  6. Kissing Bandit said

    Chances are Automattic and Answers.com both signed a non-disclosure agreement barring either party from specifically discussing monetary gains or otherwise.

    That way, when anyone at Automattic is asked “how much did you make” (unless you’re the FTC or IRS), then can honestly answer with “we can’t tell you”.

    But I could be giving them far too much credit when you consider how they handled other legal issues.

    Frankly, I wouldn’t have such a problem with this cunning deal if Matt hasn’t been so vocal about the exploitation of ignorant and unsuspecting WordPress users for personal gain.

    It may be a bitter pill to swallow, but in this case, it would be less hypocritical if Matt disclosed the exact terms of the deal and whether there was any type of monetary investment on the part of Answers.com. And if so, how much?

    Then went a step further and explained to the widget users how the links affect searching engine rankings and offered instructions for adding the rel=”nofollow” attributes to the links, plus an explanation of why it would be good to do so.

    -KB

  7. @toni: nice to read it has been looked at — I’m the author of the plugin and have sent in several requests. Would it be more suitable if it used a database table for caching the cd covers?

    It’s just my personal dislike for storing images in a database that it using the file system. By the way, it has been running on several wordpress mu environments for some time now.

    Let me know — I’m curious!

  8. timethief said

    Excuse me but right now at this very minute I’m listening to my lastfm widget. I placed it in a text widget on my wordpress install hosted by A Small Orange and as I answer questions on the wordpress.com forum I’m listening to it. So there most certainly is a widget. Please let wordpress.com bloggers install lastfm widgets on their blogs Toni. The selection from sonific is “insufficient” and lastfm has all kinds of great music.

  9. Chances are Automattic and Answers.com both signed a non-disclosure agreement barring either party from specifically discussing monetary gains or otherwise

    And sure enough here is a spokesman for Answers.com saying “I really can’t confirm or deny”. Which is fair enough, we’re none of us shareholders, though I kind of wish that somebody could beat the sheep bleating ‘but I want this for Wikipedia!’ about the head with a cluestick. What do they think this place is, a charity?

    There are hundreds of WP widgets. Making one doesn’t mean we’ll automatically add it to wp.com. However, not making one precludes us from adding it.

    You’re incapable of coding it yourselves or adapting a third-party one to suit your needs, so we should be sending requests for this widget on to last.fm rather than to you? OK, and why couldn’t you have told people that when they started asking for it months ago? If they needed to be trotting off to last.fm and telling them to show you the money code, then it could all have been done by now.

  10. drmiketemp said

    We can’t promise anything until Last.fm (or us) agree to build something.

    I didn’t ask you to promise anything. I suggested that it would have been a good idea to at least respond to customer requests that were made. I’m seeing over and over again “We believe in Customer Service” but this is a perfect example of where you and your company failed at it. Time after time we see these ideas pop up in the forums with no response. At the very least I looked into a number of them and responded if they won’t work on the wpmu platform. That’s more than what you and the other members of the company are doing.

    Oh, and by the way. Your statement goes directly against what Matt said a long time ago in the forums when this came up. We were told not to contact outside sites for wp.com support. Is this a reversal of policy now?

    It sounds to me like you have a personal ax to grind because we asked you to no longer volunteer on the wp.com forums.

    No, i have a problem with the way i was treated by you, matt and the other members of the company. And, no, I was not “asked”, I was removed. Please kindly get your terms correct.

    Toni, if I made a public statement calling into question all the time you’ve spent working on wordpress, how would you feel about it? This is what you and Matt and others have done towards me. There was no communication towards me about any issue previously or at the time of my removal. This is yet another reason why I feel you and your company slapped me in the face over this issue.

    The reasons for that decision were communicated to you.

    No, they weren’t and I’ve been asking for two+ months now. Nothing was told to me ahead of time either.

    Toni, I have to ask and I would like a specific response. Please explain to me how answering over 7 thousand questions for you and your company equates not being sent an email saying that there was an issue? Do you realize how rude this was for your company to not do this? Please expalin to me how this is a good example of Automattic’s commitment to “customer service” when you insult the one providing a good deal of that customer service?

    We appreciate your past contributions to the forums,

    You have a funny way of showing it. Sorry but I don’t equate rudeness upon your part as apprecation.

    but please don’t expect me to answer you if you continue to take every opportunity to spread baseless accusations about us.

    Well I didn’t get an answer two months ago when all of this occured. Can you please at least understand why i am so angry at you and Automattic? It troubles me that you can’t. And it makes me even more angry when I see matt making his lies in public like he’s been doing.

    I can prove every statement I’ve made in the past and have done so. Can you say the same about every statement that you, matt and the rest of the company have done so? I can prove many of them to be false. I’ve asked you and other to retract statements that you have made when proven to be incorrect but you have failed to do so. Please kindly explain to me why you feel that you’re free to make these false statements?

    Your company need a public ethics policy for your employees. When I see statement after statement that contains sometimes flat out lies made by Matt and others, it troubles me. Your company’s ethics have been called in question a number of times in the past by others as well.

    I sent you an email two months ago questioning how I was treated. It was never responded to. How is this ethical? How is this thanking me for the work I’ve done? It’s not and it’s yet another slap in the face made against me by your company. Yet again, you;ve insulted another volenteer who has spent a great deal of time trying to assist your company.

    I’d include in that things like giving our software away as open source

    Please stop stating that as it’s not true. There is a great deal of coding that Automattic hasn’t released as Open Source but yet you and others keep saying over and over again “We’re Open Source” Please kindly correct your statement.

    Toni, could you at least respond to the first complaint two months ago when I was trying to figure out what had occured and why i was not notified that there was an issue ahead of time? It amazes me that after almost three months now no one at Automattic has done so.

    Toni, you’ve insulted me, my own work ethic and the work I did for your company and for wordpress. This became personal when this occured and refused to follow up on my requests to understand what was occuring. You insulted me when no one took the time to let me know that there was an issue. Blowing of my complaint yet again like you did previously is just another insult. No, you didn’t show any thanks for the work that I did. All I got was a “FU, go away” from your company. Please explain to me how this shows your company’s appreciatation of my work. It doesn’t.

    To follow up though on the last.fm issue, I know we had one on daria.be that didn’t require file writing. To be honest, the one that I linked to was just the first one I found via a search.

    To answer Dog of Dirt’s question, probably not. It seems like anything that adds additional tables to the database is something that wp.com doesn’t want to get into. I say that nicely and in no way against wp.com or anyone else. That was mentioned to me in passing when adding polls were discussed way back when and, if I remember correctly, is even a requirement for the VIP hosting. (I seem to remember a bit about how even them couldn’t add in additional tables.)

    Dang that was long. Please excuse any typos.

  11. drmiketemp said

    By the way, Toni. Thank you for at the very least responding to the comment I’ve made. Your few words are more than I’ve received within the last few month on this issue.

    You folks need to learn some serious manners and understand that treating your volunteers this way probably isn’t a good idea in the long run.

  12. Matt said

    drmike, I’ve sent you 9 emails over the past year, including responding to every one you sent me. If you didn’t receive those, or other emails from members of Automattic, perhaps there is something wrong with your mail setup. (Though that’s odd considering you use Gmail.)

    When I asked you to stop participating on the forums on 9/14/2007 I sent you an email, this was the first line:

    “I wanted to thank you again for your help with WordPress in the past,”

    You’ve been publicly thanked for your former help on the forums several places, including above by Toni, and your comped $500/mo commercial Akismet API key are still fully functional, which I also mentioned in that same email.

    You obviously have a lot of passion for technology, I’m sorry our forums did not end up being the best place to express it.

  13. dirkie said

    `Dog of Dirt` — that’s funny. Excuse me while I step away from the crime scene.

  14. When I asked you to stop participating on the forums on 9/14/2007

    Depriving somebody of mod status because you’ve had complaints about their attitude is one thing (though most managers, in the interests of keeping bitterness and recriminations to a minimum, would probably issue a clear warning or two before taking action). Ordering them not to answer any questions at all is rather odd, though perhaps unavoidable if other prolific forum members were threatening to withdraw their services.

    But oddest of all? Giving the guy mod powers without bothering to ask him whether he wanted them or assessing his suitability to exercise them, then snatching them away because all of a sudden he’s somebody you don’t even want posting on the forums. Automattic is a young company, mistakes are going to be made and hopefully you’ll learn from them; but in the meantime, you can’t really be surprised that he’s bitter about the way this was handled. You may have said ‘thanks’ on multiple occasions, but it generally appears to be followed by ‘now please go away’. Actions speak louder, you know?

    treating your volunteers this way probably isn’t a good idea in the long run.

    As I’ve said before on the forums, support is like whack-a-mole; you drive one volunteer away and another one pops up. If your community is big enough you can treat your volunteers however the hell you want without it having any visible effect. Sure, they might go around badmouthing you on other people’s blogs, but it’s easy enough to follow them around and rebut them.

  15. James said

    Incidentally, I can pretty much back up the last.fm widget thing – I’ve wanted one for edublogs for a while now… I even went to the trouble of trying to get one of their investors to get them to fix one up for us, but no joy😦

    The one linked to is naff as well – our users don’t want CD covers, they want tracks that play.

    Whereas I actually got an email from the CEO of sonific when they noticed we were using their widget!

  16. Kissing Bandit said

    Interesting how Matt pops in to rebut drmike, but doesn’t even acknowledge the other issues that have been raised regarding the deal with Answers.com and Automattic.

    I wonder if he wears blinders at all times…

    -KB

  17. drmiketemp said

    @James, I got a number of emails when we worked in Teachertube on my own wpmu install. They wanted to make a rather big deal over it but I passed them towards edublogs since what they did was more geared towards you folks.

    @KB – I politely point out that Matt didn’t rebut what I stated. Looks more like yet another attempt at spin to me. (I’ve got a reply but I’m buried in work today)

  18. James said

    I have mixed feelings over teachertube… now that’s advertising!

    Was good of them to put embed in edublogs things up though.

  19. I even went to the trouble of trying to get one of their investors to get them to fix one up for us, but no joy😦

    The difference is that sites like Sonific and teachertube are desperate for the extra users that MU widgets will provide, whereas last.fm are doing quite well without their help,thanks. They don’t have the same incentive to put time and effort into developing code for other people’s sites.

    I wonder if he wears blinders at all times…

    If the speculation about a financial deal with answers.com wasn’t true it would have been denied by now, no doubt about that. So actually the absence of an answer is far more informative than any answer would have been😉

  20. […] speculation this has prompted. (Spending money makes you a far better proposition than merely making it, I suppose.) The most compelling of these for me is Should Yahoo buy WordPress?, since I’ve […]

  21. miklb said

    Toni, you state

    I’d include in that things like giving our software away as open source

    . Can you clarify what software is it that Automattic owns, that you are giving away?

  22. Well, Akismet and wp.com aren’t open-source and it’s difficult to see how WordPress could be anything else. (It irritates the hell out of me when people rave about Matt’s generosity in making WP open-source. It’s a b2 fork. He didn’t actually have a choice.)

    That leaves bbPress. Matt did actually invent that one, chose to release it under GPL, and Automattic are the only people who care about it so I guess that means it’s theirs. Put it this way, if development stopped tomorrow I doubt anyone would bother to pick it up and fork it. Of course, some people might question whether giving away something that nobody would ever pay for anyway is really that altruistic.

  23. adam said

    there is, i suppose, HyperDB, which they were not obligated to release. Akismet’s client is open source, as are widgets and fauxml. not that most of these projects would stand by themselves, but saying that wordpress.com isn’t open source isn’t the _whole_ story.

  24. Picture Improvement said

    I’m pretty sure bbPress re-used large chunks of the WordPress codebase, so it probably had to be GPL.

  25. adam said

    it feels weird to be the one defending automattic here, but again, you’re only “bound” by the GPL _if you redistribute_. It had to be GPL, but it didn’t have to be released. sure, bbpress ain’t great, but 9rules and other sites are getting a kick out of being able to have SSO between blogs and forums, without writing the connector themselves.

  26. It had to be GPL, but it didn’t have to be released

    I don’t think Matt’s ego could stand for bbPress not to be released😉 But yeah, bbPress is a sensible solution if you’re looking to bolt a forum on to a WP blog. It would make a lot more sense and probably pick up more users if it was marketed as a powerful plugin rather than a halfhearted piece of standalone software.

  27. timethief said

    Apparently “answer links” are being auto-inserted into blog posts and cannot be removed http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=17849

  28. What. The. Hell?

    Even if that is a bug, crap like that should not be happening. Here is this guy who’s trying to talk about his philosophy of life and they’ve stuck a big tacky button at the end of his post? Ick. I don’t care how much answers.com are paying them. It’s unacceptable.

  29. Ben M said

    Unbelievable. How could that sort of bug be inadvertently created? That screams blatant tomfoolery. I wonder how widespread this is.

  30. timethief said

    @Ben M
    I’m also wondering how widespread this is and why staff did not immediately respond to the post.

    If we wanted to determine how widespread this is how would we do this please ? I’m particularly interested to know if this “auto-insertion” is going on in my blog posts.

  31. drmiketemp said

    I can’t dupe the issue. I was able to remove and add the answer’s links fine and they did not auto add them in. Tried it with both editors. Had to remove the links manually which was a pain.

    The example they used on the original wp.com blog post was for Artie Shaw. That’s what i tried. Every other subject I tried didn’t generate any hits with answers.com. (Whish was very surprising.)

  32. Kissing Bandit said

    Haven’t you guys heard yet? It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.😉

    Knowing the Automattic track record, that’s probably how they’ll try to spin it, too.

    -KB

  33. Kissing Bandit said

    Wank, my comment was relegated to Akismet hell, mind fishing it out for me? Thx.

    -KB

  34. Matt needs to stop using Akismet as a tool to silence people who don’t agree with him. It’s getting old😦

  35. […] I think it would not be an exaggeration to say that request to add Last.FM support is the most asked one on .com (see forums). Last.FM is a pretty much open platform itself, the sombre black WP logo is promoted on ’copy + paste code’ of every of its widgets. besides, there are at least dozen of various Last.FM plugins and widgets for WP from community. so, what’s the deal? […]

  36. […] 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 […]

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s