Archive for cars

the fundamental goodness of humanity

Dear Matt,

Since this would never make it past moderation on this post I am putting it somewhere that people other than you and I will actually have an opportunity to read it. I agree that Monotone looks all kinds of cool and clever, and people have only been asking for a photoblog theme for about two years so it is timely too. However, don’t you think it is a little bit tacky that we have to view CSS in order to find out who actually made the thing? I’ve already seen blog posts crediting it to Automattic. OK, I’m aware that more than one shoutout in a week might destroy your hard-won reputation for hating on designers, but really, would it hurt that much to mention the actual designer somewhere visible? If you don’t ‘fess up on the wordpress.com announcement post I’m going to have to blow your cover. Oh wait. I just did. And don’t think about messing with style.css. I made screenshots.

love, that girl again

P.S.: leaving your car unlocked is not a touching expression of your faith in the fundamental goodness of humanity. It’s just dumb.

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things of which we cannot speak

Has everyone else noticed the recent flurry of forum posts about being excluded from global tags? Either something’s broken or there’s a serious crackdown going on. Conspiracy theorists may wish to dissect the following Mattquote:

Things may or may not show up on the tags pages based on a variety of factors, many of which we can’t talk about. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

One of these things of which we cannot speak, presumably, is that global tags don’t work for future-dated posts, which turned out to be the solution to the poster’s question, and neatly much disproves to the argument that volunteer support sucks and staff always know best. (Sometimes volunteers are better placed to give an answer, because they actually blog here on a daily basis and are not afraid to say that something is a bug.)

Oh, and speaking of things of which we cannot speak, staff have admitted that ‘[b]logs created by young children outnumber mature blogs many times over’. OK, there goes your COPPA deniability. I hope you took legal advice before doing that. Or at least checked that Matt was happy to pay the fine.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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?

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slow start

via drmike in comments comes news that Automattic have finally realised that support for a million users + whoever has been suckered into paying for their executive service is too much for one person (unless of course they have learned to function without sleep). Also, possibly, that restricting official support to West Coast office hours barely constitutes a service at all as far as large proportions of their community are concerned. I am glad to see that ‘patience and grace’ are required, presumably not so much for coping with customers as for being a dutiful underling and not bitching in public when you get overruled by the benevolent dictator.

I bet Trent is secretly a bit miffed they felt the need to advertise, though.

I am very slightly worried that it is mid-September and they are still ‘gearing up for a similarly exciting 2007’. That’s what I’d call a slow start.

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free as in speech

Is this for real? Are Automattic actually so lacking in spine that they need their community to tell them how to handle third-party attempts to censor their content?

This bit worries me:

The number of our attempts to inform and warn you regarding these defamation blogs must have been at least twenty, many times through your support page, a couple of times to your legal department and we even sent a regular mail to Mr. Matt Mullenweg. Most of our attempts were unanswered.

Guess what? Ignoring complaints, even if you think they are groundless, even if they are coming out of repressive states with a dodgy record on human rights, even if they are about blogs in a language you can’t read, doesn’t make them go away. You hire a translator and give the translations to your lawyers. You tell the complainants you are doing this. If the blogs are in violation of US law and/or the ToS, they come down and the bloggers are informed of your commitment to upholding US law and/or the ToS. If they are not, they remain in place and the complainants are informed of your commitment to free speech.

It worries me that Matt seems to think there is a decision to be made by anyone other than the lawyers.

Even if your entire Turkish community were to cry out with one voice ‘take down those pesky blogs, so we can get back to writing about cars without having to faff about with proxies!’ it makes no difference one way or the other to the legality of the content. We should not need to have a poll on this. And I should not need to be spelling these things out.

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oh, the homogeneity!

No, this isn’t my post on the Sandbox competition results. That’s probably coming, though. (It’s going to involve the word ‘paradigm’. Be warned.) No, this is about Automattic’s latest attempt to tell us how to categorise our posts.

You know, when I look at the most popular tags on the front page, I don’t see ‘Cars’ or ‘Business’. I see ‘Music’. I see ‘Books’. I see ‘Food’. Apparently Automattic don’t see these topics, or think they are important enough to merit their own ‘department’, and would prefer for us to tag such posts as ‘Entertainment’ (books are entertaining, right? along with music and tv and movies and celebrity gossip and games and concerts and theatre and I don’t know, did I miss anything that can’t be shoved under that header so as to further deprive the tag system of any usefulness?). Or ‘Family’, presumably, for ‘Food’, because, you know, families eat. Obviously too many people are writing about music already. We need to encourage them to write about cars.

I was puzzled by this for approximately thirty seconds before I realised that a post on ‘Cars’, linked from the front page so as to capture some of that random traffic from the cookie-free masses, is going to have higher paying ads than one tagged ‘Art’.

Just as every wordpress-related decision nowadays is made in the interests of wordpress.com, so every wordpress.com-related decision is made in the interests of increasing revenue. There is nothing wrong with this, of course. They’re a business. Making money is their job, and if they can’t do it properly then all of us on wordpress.com are screwed. So it’s in everyone’s interests to make this look like a place where middle-class American men chunter on about cars and finance and technology, rather than one where people chat about unprofitable things like culture.

Allow me another thirty seconds in which to be depressed by this, please, before moving on?

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