Archive for bubble

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?

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i <3 blogger

Hands up who’s in love with the fact that the corporate sponsors of wordpress.com’s first LJ-style competition host their own blog on blogspot?

Sadly, since the contest requires the use of expensive proprietary software (needless to say, I am not the only person to have noticed the incongruity here) there has not been a huge response from the freeloaders of .com and Automattic have had to resort to plugging it on ma.tt.

Looking at his new bloated uberheader, I’d say cod Dali is probably the way to win the hearts of the judges. Also, if you were wondering why there’s no linklove for the guy who converted the comps into code, it’s probably because he’s using a theme by somebody else and that’s never good for one’s credibility. And I’m really, really sorry, but I cannot resist pointing out its utter failure to validate. You know I would never normally be sufficiently assholish to mention that but hey, glass houses.

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rip codex. oh, sorry, i meant R.I.P. codex.

So, according to Lorelle, Codex is officially dead and being superceded by the WordPress HandBook. Lorelle being Lorelle, she doesn’t admit that Codex is officially dead, but nor does she provide any coherent explanation of how and why two ‘online manuals’ sharing much of the same content can operate side by side. (She can’t seriously believe that Codex will still have a role as ‘a highly technical and historical guide to WordPress’. Firstly, the techies wouldn’t touch Codex with a bargepole, they’re all about the PHPXref. Secondly, a historical online manual is about as much use as a chocolate teapot, otherwise we’d still be directing people to wiki.wordpress.org so they could read about how to get the best out of 1.2.)

Obviously, switching from mediawiki to XML and SVN is going to effectively debar all but the most dedicated from contributing (for which, read Lorelle and people on the Automattic payroll), but that’s not a bad thing, since a) Codex was not exactly overwhelmed with volunteers, the docs project being a proud part of the long-standing WP tradition of treating volunteers like crap, and b) community-written documentation is next to impossible to keep up-to-date, especially when pursuing a quarterly release schedule. Bringing it under the Automattic umbrella at least means that it will be updated, even if it does constitute another step in the process of taking the community out of wordpress and wordpress away from the community.

It’s nice that Automattic have decided to focus on documentation this cycle — it was about time — but I can’t help wondering how much cross-referencing will be going on between the new written documentation and the new proprietary traffic-building ad-carrying video stuff…

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spinner

More proof, if proof were in fact needed, that ma.tt long ago ceased to be a proper blog and is now a corporate mouthpiece. (I’d have linked to the actual comment, but no, we can not has permalinks.)

wordpress.tv itself is, exactly as you would expect, a wordpress.com blog with a bunch of videos, aimed at getting Automattic a monopoly on video tutorials and driving its rival purveyors of ‘spammy promotional videos’ out of business. (At the time of writing, wordpresstutorials.com is still top of Google for ‘wordpress video tutorials‘ — why else do you think Automattic are linking to this new blog so assiduously? Look at the wp.com version of the announcement and its eight links to the target site, it’s like SEO 101.)

Since I can read faster than most people can speak and am not a raving fanboy, I am not the target audience. Naturally, the only community-produced content is the wordcamp stuff (enough to keep the fanboys happy) and the instructional videos are all produced inhouse so there’s no risk of anyone promoting any themes or plugins that aren’t. I don’t know how much they’ll make out of the Adsense on this one but as many of the users will be totally new to WP and looking for all the information they can find on the topic, I imagine it will be quite the moneyspinner.

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here we go again

Late to this one (Christmas shopping, meh), but, yeah, if you didn’t already hear, Matt has, unilaterally and without prior notice, purged extend/themes of over a quarter of its content. As well as targeting premium theme sites, this allegedly includes any theme linking to a site which carries an affiliate link to WooThemes. Whether this ban also encompasses affiliate links to theme sites other than Adii’s, I do not know (though affiliate links to Revolution are presumably kosher, seeing as how wordpress.org was carrying one till they were called on it). How Joseph felt about his theme-vetting skills being publically dissed in such a way, I do not know. What the hell was going through Matt’s brain at the time, I also do not know, but it’s December again so we can’t go expecting too much in the way of rationality.

Somebody in the sacred inner circle really needs to point out to Matt that if he doesn’t let go of his obsession with persecuting theme designers it’s going to start seriously hurting the community. For a start, it should have been apparent to anyone with half a brain that premium themers were going to release freebies and submit them to wordpress.org as a promotional tool; partly for the linkage, partly to showcase their skills. If Matt didn’t want people doing that it should have been made clear at the outset.

Of course, there is no logical reason why he should not want them doing that. A GPL theme is a GPL theme, regardless of who designed it or the motives behind its release. And if it’s been made to persuade you to invest in the designer’s other work, it needs to be a decent one. Free themes by premium designers? What is so terrible about this, exactly? Nobody is forcing people to buy whatever other themes the designer or his/her affiliates has on offer. Nobody is even forcing anyone to keep the link to a profit-making site. The whole concept of GPL is that you can’t enforce these things, that it doesn’t much matter who originally created the code, and that you can take it and make of it what you will. Refusing to distribute a GPL theme (or plugin, for that matter) because you personally dislike what the developer has done with their website pretty much flies in the face of that spirit of openness. The code is rejected because of who made it, rather than judged on its own merits; and end-users are deprived of a free theme.

(Still, let’s face it, it’s a very long time since anyone involved in this endless GPL jihad bothered to think about the poor bloody users.)

People stipulating that you can’t remove their links? Also to be expected by anyone with half a brain. I mean, Michael Heilemann tried that with Kubrick, and that was apparently GPL enough to make it into core. If designers can’t be bothered to ascertain what the licence you’re imposing upon them actually entails, that’s their lookout. My understanding was that in submitting your theme to .org you render your theme GPL, because that’s what you agreed to when you uploaded it. And at this point it ceases to matter what you want people to do (or not do) with your theme. If you still care about things like being credited for your work, and you don’t want your free labour commercially exploited, then the only way to clarify your terms of use is to CC-licence your content and keep the hell away from wordpress.org. Come to that, it would be prudent to steer clear of designing for WordPress entirely and focus your efforts upon a platform that allows you to distribute your work under whichever terms you see fit.

I fully expect that the next offensive will be to ban links to non-Wordpress sites entirely, as was proposed for the abortive Marketplace. That could probably be handled on an automated level, and would prevent chucking the baby out with the bathwater and junking a perfectly good theme because of an iffy footer link. It would also prevent people from gaining any extra traffic or pagerank from designing a successful theme, not to mention preventing end users from following up on a theme they see on someone else’s blog. But then, SEO spamming is Serious Business and should be left to those with multiple PR8 and 9 sites at their disposal.

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change lightly

We don’t take change lightly, but the good news is that this redesign provides a solid foundation that we’ll be able to build on for the next 5 years of WordPress, just like the last one was basically the same for 5 years.

Years? Don’t you mean ‘months’? It is eight of those, by my reckoning, since the last ‘new dashboard design’ post. You have to love how 2.5 is being erased from the official history before 2.7 is even out of the door. (Also, of course, wordpress.com hasn’t been around for five years, which would make it difficult for its dashboard to have been the same for all that time, though if last April was five years ago in the WP universe I suppose it is feasible enough.)

I had to switch colour schemes to escape the default icons (something about them screams ‘barebones Linux distro’, which was only to be expected given their genesis) but I’m not about to get too angry with or attached to something which will inevitably be superceded come 3.0.

Meanwhile, I want to know who came up with the name ‘blavatar’ and whether they have been punished yet. I was initially baffled by the decision to make people upload new images rather than just using the 16×16 version of their current avatar, but then I remembered — multiple blogs. This way you can vary your favicon from blog to blog. I have no idea why this wasn’t explained in the post. Maybe it was covered in the video, but I don’t bother with videos because I can read.

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automattic v. designers, part 378194

Now they want professional icon designers to produce an icon set within two weeks. That’s not just designing the icons; that’s designing the icons, checking they look good in two sizes, ‘possibly’ throwing colour versions into the mix, submitting them to Automattic, making the changes Matt demands, re-submitting them to Automattic, making further tweaks, and so on until the deadline’s passed. The finished work will of course be GPL, meaning everyone and his dog can rip and redistribute them as they see fit without mentioning the designer’s name. And all the fanboys will hate them and complain about bloat and extra loading time.

It will be nice to have another set of GPL icons to use in blog design, but I am slightly worried that some idiot will offer to do it for nothing and will get the nod over those who are charging appropriately. Fast, cheap, good. You can only have two.

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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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the sword of pedantry swings again

We sometimes display discrete AdSense ads on your blog to help pay the bills. This keeps free features free!

We sometimes run discrete text ads on your blog to users who aren’t logged in and aren’t regular visitors

I still think you mean ‘discreet‘. Sorry.

I’m not even going to whine about the facts that a) the ads, when they do appear, are far from discreet (not much point in having them, if they were) and b) they’re not always text ads. If it bothered me that much, I’d be bribing Automattic to make them disappear, wouldn’t I? No point fretting about those inaccuracies. They’re there for a reason.

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