Archive for monkeys saying BOO!

cutthroat

You thought all was forgiven now Chris Pearson finally got bullied into split-licensing Thesis? No, of course you didn’t. So here you go, more grudgewank:

Cutline was sold a few years ago and had a more restrictive license placed on it. The original author of the Cutline theme has gone on to produce other themes with more restrictive licenses. Using Cutline has been seen as a promotion of that work and that’s not something we want to do–so, we made something better: Coraline!

So yeah, by the sounds of it they’ve tarted up Cutline with some code from the new default, changed a couple of letters in the name and are calling it a new theme.

Stay classy, guys.

I’m not really sure why they chose the theme in the first place if it’s such ‘junk’, and I fail to see why existing users have to be screwed around. If you hate it so much, couldn’t you just deprecate it by making it unselectable as a new theme? Come to that, why do we still have three versions of Sandbox cluttering up the place? I can’t see what’s so difficult about hiding a theme option without removing it from existing blogs. All you would have to do is add a BIG WARNING to the theme description saying that the theme is deprecated, it is recommended that you upgrade, and if you do change themes, you will not be able to get the old one back. Simples! And then I would no longer be troubled by the continuing existence of Sweet Blossoms.

[ETA: unsurprisingly, though it was a surprise for them since evidently not all Cutline users lurk in the CSS customisation forum, existing users are not massively pleased about the whole being screwed around thing.

If I were the person whose theme changed halfway through a presentation, or I were having to fend off emails from my boss about why the company blog suddenly looked weird, and then I found out the only reason this happened was because some guy had a vendetta going against some other guy because of a disagreement over SOFTWARE LICENCES… wow. I don’t know how I’d even begin to compute that level of estrangement from reality.]

Comments (20)

commentary

I appear to have become one of those people who does their blogging in other people’s comments threads. Oops.

So, here am I on putting the P into wOrDpReSs: 1, 2 and 3 (bonus link to camelcasers needing to get out more).

And whipping the dead horse of GPL just to make sure it will never rise again (oh, it just did):

All this debate does is make Thesis sound better and more important than every other theme that exists.

I feel sort of disappointed that this has sunk to the level of personal attacks. (On re-reading, I’ve decided I was a little harsh on Jane here. What actually irritates me about this post is the focus on how loud and aggressive and generally ignorant Chris is in comparison to gentlemanly Matt and sweet, altruistic Jane. He might be mean and you might be lovely, but it doesn’t follow that he’s wrong and you’re right. I hate to break it to you guys, but copyright law doesn’t care whether you’re nice.)

I wish somebody could build a time machine and tell Michel Valdrighi what a mess his decision was going to make years down the line.

and for the obligatory wordpress.com slant:

Seems harsh to get rid of wordpress.com themes purely on ideological grounds (no, I don’t know why permalinks to comments on Matt’s blog are broken either. Probably something to do with SEO).

I wish people would quit pretending this is a legal issue rather than an ideological one. Hands up who believes that a judge’s decision that themes did not have to abide by GPL would change Matt’s position, and that he would immediately throw open the doors of wordpress.org to non-GPL themes and quit badmouthing non-GPL developers? Nobody involved in this actually cares about the law, any more than the law cares about whether they are nice or not. Chris wants the power to licence his work as he chooses and Matt wants everyone else to licence their work as he chooses. And the GPL is obscure enough that it is possible to interpret it either way. Can we stop squeaking now? Thanks.

Comments (12)

unasseptable

I don’t really have time for this (I am meant to be NaNoing) but, yeah. Here we have somebody getting banned from the forums for wanting their personal information removed from someone else’s blog comments, and wondering why staff were willing to do this a year ago yet not anymore.

I suppose we should be grateful that these blowups aren’t as frequent as they used to be. I’m not sure which is worse: leaving RL information up for the world to see or poking around in other people’s comments, but having had my comments messed with in the past I would probably agree with the most recent line that it’s the latter.

I still have no idea why people are never warned before they get banned from the forums. I’m not talking about obvious spammers; I’m talking about people who get censored purely for questioning policy. How long would it take to write a post saying ‘While you are welcome to ask or answer support questions on this forum, if you post about this subject again your account will be blocked and you will no longer be able to receive support from this source?’ I don’t know, a minute, maybe two. Anybody who’s ever watched Supernanny knows that you issue the warning before you dish out the punishment.

I think they’re worried that if they give a warning the person might actually comply, and then they wouldn’t experience the pleasure of wielding the banstick. Power corrupts, and that.

Comments (3)

little helps

My response to the hastily convened sidebar poll (after people started whining about the front page redesign being an uninformative mess):

1. The tag cloud. I know they’re sooo 2007, but it kids people into thinking you care about the long tail.

2. A big picture of Matt in a sunny location, wearing a cowboy hat

Tags going from the front page is on the surface an odd decision considering how important tag pages are to ad revenue, so I’m wondering whether they got some kind of warning from Google about their SEO gaming? like ‘you can keep the obfuscated links in themes if you stop linking from the front page’? Or maybe they want to encourage internal users to use search instead of clicking on tags, so that the majority of tag traffic comes from outside the site and improves the ratio of clickthroughs per pages served? I’m just thinking aloud here. I know nothing about adsense optimisation or SEO, except that every design decision on a commercial site is ultimately motivated to maximising ad revenue, which is increasingly hard to come by nowadays. Also, of course, presenting yourself as the home of eleven VIP blogs and ignoring the messy penguin-ridden millions isn’t going to hurt when it comes to luring businesses away from Typepad.

In other news: how to promote your brand in a zillion tweets. Forget the guff about linkrot and fear of spam (if they actually cared about this, Automattic would have just bought tr.im or some other struggling minnow), this is all about being sad that link shorteners take your brand name out of your urls. (And squeezing an affiliate link to GoDaddy into your announcement post — every little helps…)

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the smiley liberation front

I am now so enraged by the mysterious disappearance of my beloved roll-eyes smiley, and the replacement without notice of ALL existing smilies with anaemic substitutes and the lack of any response to my bug report concerning same, that I need all you logged-in people to go along and rate this FAQ as Very Poor, at least until it stops telling lies. != .

(Yes, I know, there he is. But I need him in comments! And for some bizarro reason even though I can post VIDEOS in OTHER PEOPLE’S comment threads I can’t post an ickle 16×16 gif in my OWN, even though there is a clearly visible BUTTON in the edit window inviting me to insert an image. In what universe does this make any form of sense? I told you I was enraged.)

Would you go into my blog and change the font or header image without my say-so? No, you would not, so quit messing with our content and give us the option to choose the old smilies. We know they are not things of great beauty and they do not match the floofy backend, but at least you can see what they’re supposed to be.

Comments (17)

depressingly like somebody forgot to clear their floats

I poked my head around the door of the attempt at an official theme repository, and, well, you know me, I’m no good at keeping things in the respectable obscurity of censored comments and feedback forms:

Theme tags don’t paginate properly. http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/tags/fixed-width/page/2 throws a 404, making it unnecessarily difficult to browse themes. Either scrap the page links or make them work. My preference is for the latter, as ideally I would like to be able to view more than 15 themes in any given category.

Also, as I’m sure you’re aware, search results display diagonally rather than vertically or even horizontally (http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/search.php?q=widgets). I applaud your willingness to try new ways of presenting information, but on the other hand it does look depressingly like somebody forgot to clear their floats.

If I were logged in on my usual account there’d be screenshots and debugging. Sigh.

I am not normally this snarky in my bug reports, but a) they had a year to get this right, b) it’s a part of the site used by designers, and not bothering to test whether your own design functions properly is sort of rude, to be honest, as it betrays once more how very little you care about their vocation and c) I can’t view more than fifteen themes in any given category?!? are you real?

Comments (9)

world of penguin

In case you missed today’s bout of penguin spam, I’ve archived it for your viewing pleasure here. If you or your family live in the US and have been personally affected by the issue of allowing children to blog here without parental consent, you may be interested to learn that the FTC have made it much easier to file a complaint about COPPA violations. If you are a staff member of Automattic, they have produced a useful checklist to help you comply with US data protection law and pre-empt any such complaints here.

Perhaps once they have ensured that they’re not going to get hammered with a fine they will be less afraid to deal with children when they misbehave. Right now, when they ban a child they run the risk that they or their disgruntled parents are going to grass them up and let them in for a world of pain. Taking personally identifying information from children and claiming to be unable to delete it? Inadvertent pron on kiddy dashboards? Ads for dating agencies on kiddy blogs? World. Of. Pain. It’s a good thing that penguins and their guardians are neither that smart nor that malicious.

(I’m also not wholly convinced that ‘your mom!‘ is an especially constructive approach to take towards trollkids, but if staff think it’s acceptable who am I to argue?)

Comments (18)

did akismet break or something?

No. I did.

This is unacceptable. Automattic want to control who gets to comment on my blog. Even spam gets sent to a queue where I can approve it if I want. Hence, I have emptied the contents of my Akismet queue onto my front page, since it is clearly more acceptable to our hosts than comments from my readers.

Also, if you must bitch about people in private blogs, I find that spaces or other miscellaneous characters in the url are very good at preventing those embarrassing trackbacks, assuming of course that your readers are au fait with the mechanics of copy/paste. 🙄

I was going to write a post about how it might be a good idea to carry out usability testing before a major admin redesign rather than after, and how it might also be sensible to rip off the Tiger interface before paying Happy Cog to make you something custom, but it will just have to wait.

Comments (36)

Flash! Aaaah!

I know that nothing this mob do should surprise me anymore, but when options posted a screenshot of wordpress.com showing Flash ads for Scientology I admit it, I was shocked.

But I see your screenshot and I raise you Scientology Flash ads on an anti-Scientology blog:

Naturally, wordpress.com spare themselves the flash on their tags pages and content themselves with loads of links:

TOM!!!!
angelina

Also, if you’re bored of linking to the last set of splogshots, how about some wildly inappropriate text ads?

yeah, that's appropriate

I don’t know in which universe it’s OK to advertise ‘Hot & Sexy Single Women’ on a feminist post about an alleged sexual assault, but it’s not mine. Nor do I think this guy necessarily wanted ads for used women’s knickers on his site:

yum

Obviously I would have contacted support immediately to demand that the Thetans not be given airtime on my blogs, except oh, it’s Sunday, and even though they hired a bunch of support staff what, five months ago now? support is still closed on weekends. And I can’t post to the forum because I once asked Matt whether his email was down. I did send a couple of feedbacks to Google, though. For all the good that’ll do. At least they pretend to care.

Also of note: Snap = popup ads disguised as a ‘feature’. Anyone know why neither this nor the Flash are mentioned in the tiny little chunk of disinformation hidden at the bottom of the features page? Or why they decided to encrypt the x-noads code that told us why ads weren’t being served on a given page? The obvious conclusion is that they’re tweaking their algorithms to serve ads to more readers more of the time, and they don’t want anyone to realise.

And now? I’m going to clear out my spam, make my regular backup, and see whether anyone bothers coming over to try and spin this one. I wouldn’t, if I were them. If there’s a single issue that’s destroyed my trust in Automattic, I’d have to say it’s their repeated failure to be honest about the issue of advertising. I’m some months past believing a word they have to say on the subject.

Even if it’s ‘sorry’. Actually, especially if it’s ‘sorry’.

Comments (35)

priorities

In the course of breaking everything else, they accidentally fixed global tags again. Obviously Matt fixed it as soon as he found out, gaming Google being so much more important than letting people upload images or check their spelling.

I think they will lose a few people over this dashboard thing. 150-post threads where staff do not bother responding are never good. You’d think they’d have put someone on firefighting duty, publically addressing people’s concerns and giving some vague impression that they listen to their users, even if that isn’t actually true. Clearly we are going with the SUP school of community management (‘so what if a vocal minority of customers hate us? they can go cause trouble on someone else’s service’) rather than Six Apart’s (‘we’re so sorry we upset you! we love you! we’re listening! right up to the point we sell you out!’)

Fair enough. I mean, we all know they’re not going to listen to their users, so it would be disingenuous to pretend.

Comments (7)

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