Tag Archives: Wordpress

#WordPress – new vs old

I’ve been blogging with WordPress since December, 2011, so I still have access to the old WP dashboard. I still prefer the old WP dashboard… because it works, but today I thought I’d give the ‘new’ interface a try.

The task: to find the shortlink [abbreviated URL] for one of my older posts.

I found the post in question [an interesting journey in its own right], and then went looking for the shortlink command:

[Click the screenshot to see the full sized image]

It wasn’t under any of the options on the menu to the right, so where was it? I knew it had to be there somewhere and kept looking.

I finally found the shortlink feature…hidden behind this tiny, clear-as-mud icon :

…with an even clearer context sensitive description of ‘Edit post URL’

Now, I didn’t want to edit the URL, I wanted to copy it, but for lack of a better option, I clicked the icon. A popup appeared with the option of copying the post URL. Eureka!

This is what the URL looks like when it’s pasted into the address bar of a browser:

Not exactly short, but at least I found it… :/

Now, let’s compare the new version with the old. The screenshot below is from the old dashboard interface:

As you can see, the feature I want is clearly labelled…in words, shock horror.

When I click ‘Get Shortlink’ this is what happens:

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a shortlink. If you use Twitter like I do, the difference between the two URLs couldn’t be more stark. The ‘new’ version is long, the ‘old’ version is short. Now, you can get a ‘short’ URL by using the online app ‘Tiny URL’, but why bother when you already have the option in WP itself?

I’m all for progress. I’m all for software interfaces being pitched to the newest of users; giving them lots of help is only fair because they’re the ones who need it the most. I even like nice, clean interfaces where there’s little clutter to distract the eye. Unfortunately, the current WordPress interface ticks only one of those boxes – the lack of clutter.

I know they say that one picture is worth a thousand words, but the WordPress GUI [graphical user interface] is not empowering new users because:

  1. Advanced, and not-so-advanced features are hidden behind icons that have no intrinsic meaning – i.e. the icon doesn’t look like the thing it’s meant to represent.
  2. This results in users not even knowing what is possible,
  3. Learning to associate a random looking icon with a particular function requires a great deal of trial and error on the part of the user,
  4. Learning by trial and error involves making mistakes,
  5. Making mistakes takes curiosity and a great deal of courage,
  6. Most new users are terrified of making mistakes, therefore they don’t venture past the functions that are ‘obvious’,
  7. Obvious functions usually involve words with which new users are already familiar.

I’m not sure if this is still a buzzword amongst the young but…fail, WordPress, fail.

Teaching theory

I’ve been teaching both children and adults for a very long time, and the one thing I know for certain is that humans of all ages learn best when new material is linked to old material.

For example, if I wanted to teach someone the difference between a post and a page [on a blog], I might say that a page is like a billboard because it’s permanent, whereas a post is more like an article in a newspaper – i.e. constantly changing. The analogies don’t have to be perfect, they simply have to tap into something the user already knows. Once the similarities are established, it’s much easier to learn about the differences.

So how does this teaching theory relate to the WordPress GUI? It doesn’t, and that’s the problem. The new GUI makes one piece of new information dependent upon a second piece of new information, and that usually leads to poor learning outcomes.

I can only assume that the WordPress GUI is aimed at very young people who may already be familiar with certain symbols from their use of mobile phones. But where does that leave the older user, or those who use their blogs on pc’s and laptops rather than mobile phones? Come to think of it, does anyone actually pick out the words of a post on a mobile phone? I can’t think of anything more tedious.

Anyway, that’s my rant for the day. Now I’m off to use old fashioned words to write another how-to book.

cheers

Meeks


Is this a bot or a scammer or what??

These ‘comments’ appeared in my WordPress notifications from yesterday. I have no idea what they mean. Is this a bot, many bots, one person with many bogus accounts, or a weird scammer [for what though]?

Has anyone else been visited by this weirdness? More importantly how do I stop this ‘thing’ from visiting again? Any ideas?

Baffled,

Meeks


WordPress vs Medium

This post is not a full on comparison of WordPress and Medium. Rather, it’s a comparison of my expectations of the two blogging platforms. When I first started writing on Medium, I thought I would gradually shift my focus from WordPress to Medium. But things haven’t worked out that way. Instead, I’ve come to realise that the two blogging platforms bring out different types of writing from me. And I enjoy both.

Based on the reading I’ve done on Medium, I’d have to say that the writing is generally more ‘formal’, like articles you might find in an old-fashioned newspaper or magazine. By contrast, WordPress is more chatty, like a conversation amongst friends. Of course, these could simply be my perceptions of both platforms, but I do enjoy the freedom of being able to alternate between the two styles of writing.

lol – And then, of course, there are the weeks when the two overlap, like this week. I wrote an article about getting an ABN on Medium and posted almost the exact same article here on WordPress. I also created a ‘Books’ page for both Medium and WordPress. Nevertheless, these overlapping weeks will probably be the exception rather than the rule because I’m simply more comfortable writing certain kinds of things here.

What kinds of things? Well, recipes for example. Or music posts. Or progress reports like this:

The pic above is the new cover I’m working on for Vokhtah. It’s as rough as guts because I’m still experimenting with ideas, but I’m happier with this particular idea than I have been with earlier ones. In case you’re curious, these are some of the ones I’m less happy with:

or this:

or this:

There are a couple more, but they’re far less finished than even these. Once I have some finished covers that I’m happy with, I’ll ask for feedback from you guys, especially the artists amongst you. 🙂

Okay, well that’s it for this Friday in Australia. I hope you don’t mind if I start the weekend without you. :p

Enjoy!

Meeks


The price of integrity

I’ve been thinking about this all day, trying to find a way of doing the right thing without sticking my neck out. But there isn’t one. I can’t stay silent and not feel ashamed of myself.

So here is the response I received this morning from the WordPress/Automatic representative:

‘….For your site the ads placement is correct for the double sidebar option you have enabled under Settings > Theme options
There is an issue I see though where the the first ad in the sidebar is appearing blank. I have reported this to our ads team as well as the “asian girl chat” ad.
I will remove the ads from your site for the above reasons. Like I mentioned though, the ads do appear in their expected places on the site.
Write back to me here with any further questions/concerns about this. I will not be able to disable ads for every report in that forum thread. The thread will be closed once I’ve reached everyone by email.
Take care,
Liz
Happiness Engineer
WordPress.com’

If you stop receiving notifications of blog posts from me, it may be because Meeka’s Mind is no longer here. Should that happen, I would dearly love to hear from all of you on my gmail email:

meekasmind@gmail.com

-massive hugs-

Meeks


#WordPress – do you know what your blog really looks like to visitors?

When the ongoing saga of the sidebar adverts. began [here, here and here], I started a thread about it on the WordPress forum. In the days since then, more and more WordPress bloggers have left comments about the same thing happening to their own blogs. This is what one of the commenters said today:

‘I only by chance even found this out by going to my blog on another browser that I wasn’t logged into at the time. Many (most) bloggers have no idea that these new and multiple ads are on their blogs. If they were aware, there would be far more outrage on the Forums. ‘

That got me thinking. Many of my blogging friends can’t see the ad at all because they run adblocker software, but what of everyone else on WordPress? Surely we are not the only ones being targetted by these ads?

And then the penny dropped: the reason more bloggers aren’t screaming is because they only ever see their blogs from the inside, and from there, everything looks fine. What the…?

When I’m logged in to WordPress and click the button to ‘view my site’, I only ever see what’s meant to be there. I never see the ads so if I didn’t have my blog set as the home page of my Firefox browser, I probably wouldn’t know what visitors are seeing either.

But wait…it gets worse. When I write a post and preview it, the ads don’t show. I know because I just checked the preview for this post – no ad. Then I hopped on Chrome and checked my site – ADVERTISEMENT! So the ‘Preview’ function doesn’t show your blog from the outside either.

So how could this happen? Do the ‘view site’ and ‘preview’ functions only display setup choices, not real time information? Or is there a deliberate deception going on?

I hope I’m wrong. I hope it’s just one of those programming over-sights and not an attempt to hide the ads, but I’m asking all WordPress bloggers who don’t have adblocker active to check their blogs from the outside. To see how their blog appears to a stranger. And don’t just use your normal browser. If at all possible, use a variety of browsers to see exactly what kind of ads are being displayed on your blog.

These two screenshots were taken within moments of each other. The first one shows what appears on the IE browser. The second displays the ad. on the Chrome browser:

Yes, that Chrome ad is all about chatting…right…and that pretty young thing is showing all that boob because it’s a hot day…of course. No way is this an ad. for a dating site. And of course it isn’t an ad. for a porn site. Silly me.

Even if you think I’m a crazy old prude, check your blog from the outside just in case all your free content is being used to advertise something you really, really don’t like.

If you see your blog from the outside and don’t like what you see, please join the discussion here:

https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/expoitative-advertising/page/2?replies=36#post-3073849

The forum thread is on to its second page so click on page 1 to get a complete picture of what’s been happening. If you’re logged into your WordPress blog you will be able to add a comment without the need to register or sign up for the forum.

Not happy,

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 


Automatic – the power behind #WordPress…and those ads.

While doing some research on WordPress, I discovered that the parent, if you will, is actually a company called Automatic. Ring a bell? Yes, I was surprised too. Automatic is the name on the advert I’m fighting.

I’ve been calling the placement of that one, particular advert coercive and the intent of forcing us to pay to be free of ads, stand-over tactics. Yet, lo and behold, Automatic think they’re the best, most honourable thing since Sir Galahad:

‘Howdy! We’re the people behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, and a bunch of other products for WordPress.’

‘We are passionate about making the web a better place. We don’t build software for free –– we build it for freedom. Our goal is to democratize publishing and commerce so that anyone with a story or idea can share it with the world regardless of income, gender, politics, language, or location.’

‘Your feedback is how we learn, and we treasure it. This year we’re proud to have delivered happiness to 85% of the users who contacted us.’

‘We’re constantly learning from our users and each other about how we can improve our products and make the web a better place. Our community holds us accountable to our purpose and we wouldn’t have it any other way.’

There’s more, about how nice they are to their employees blah blah, all the current buzz words, and they may well be all those things, but here’s a reality check for Automatic:

  1. The WordPress.com platform is not a charity. In exchange for providing bloggers with a ‘home’, WordPress, and by extension Automatic, receives billions of words of free content. Think about it. Do readers come to your blog because they’re enamoured of the way it functions? Because they like the colour scheme? No, they come for the content you have written.
  2. Once the popularity of our content reached a sort of critical mass, it encouraged businesses and people who wanted to monetize their blogs to pay for WordPress.org. WordPress.org is a way of building your own website with your own domain name by using the WordPress engine. This is money coming in to Automatic because of our content.
  3. All the free bloggers on WordPress.com are guinea pigs for the changes WordPress introduces. We are never informed in advance. We are never given a choice. We are given the changes and then WordPress sits back to see what will happen. If most of its users [us] don’t complain too loudly, they keep the changes which then go on to grace the websites of paid users. If the free bloggers kick up too much of a stink, certain ‘innovations’ are quietly withdrawn and replaced with less obnoxious alternatives. But we have to yell pretty loudly for the developers to decide that something isn’t worth the effort.
  4. Now we’re into a new phase of experiments in which Automatic/Wordpress place adverts in different, more visible positions on our blogs. Some people have had their actual content obscured. Others, like me, have simply had our ability to attract new followers curtailed. In all cases, however, the aim of the experiment is to see how far the guinea pigs can be pushed before they react.
  5. As far as Automatic is concerned, no matter which way we guinea pigs jump is going to be a win-win situation. If we upgrade our free acounts to paid accounts – just to be free of these intrusive adverts – they win by gaining an ongoing ‘subscription’ from people who were just ‘freeloaders’. If we accept the situation without much complaint, they get to place paid advertisements where they will be most visible to visitors – on the best parts of our blogs. On the other hand, if we scream loudly enough, they will simply go back to placing adverts after our blog posts while they think of some other way of squeezing blood from a stone.
  6. The one thing Automatic is not worried about is losing market share. Why? Because they believe the WordPress platform is too popular to fail.

On this last point, Automatic may be right, at least in the short term. Bloggers who have been on WordPress for years, like me, have built a brand here. Search engines know where to find us. Our community knows where to find us. Moving now would mean that most of us would have to start again from scratch. Not a pleasant prospect.

But, nothing online lasts forever. Geo Cities? My Space? Remember them? Those are the only two I can think of from way back when, but at the time, they were huge. What made them fade away? I suspect it was a combination of user boredom, mismanagement and the rise of newer, more exciting, more user-friendly platforms.

Will WordPress fade away like those other platforms? Absolutely. The only unknown is when, and that depends a lot on how greedy Automatic become. You see, if Automatic push too hard they’ll cross that fine line between too-much-to-lose and anything-is-better-than-this.

It can happen with any relationship: inertia holds us in place until misery, and the lure of something better finally galvanises us into action. Bottom line, there are a lot of blogging platforms out there, and they all need our content. Our.  Free. Content.

I’m not ready for divorce yet, but the point of no return is getting closer. And no, I’m not a modern-day Donna Quixote. I am stubborn, but the truth is that I simply can’t afford to pay even the base cost of an upgrade package. Thanks to my late parents, I have a roof over my head, but the only income I have is from the ‘Dole’. To earn the Dole, I work over 15 hours a week as a volunteer. For my efforts I ‘earn’ about $270-ish per week [not sure what the conversion rate is to USD, but it’s less]. If I were paid for my teaching, I’d be earning between 35 and 40 dollars per hour. Taking the lower rate, that would be $525 per week. But I can’t get a paid job so I’m trapped below the poverty line, hanging on by my teeth until I qualify for the pension. At the moment, a pensioner receives approximately $100 more a week, plus they can earn over $6000 per year before their pension is reduced.

I hate displaying my financial situation like this, but sometimes only the truth will do, and the truth is that paying WordPress is simply not an option.

I intend to spam this post on Twitter, but I don’t want my blogging friends to feel like the meat in the sandwich, so I’ve turned comments off. If anyone wants to contact me directly, you can find me on:

-hugs-

Meeks


Please help!

The on again, off again advert in my no.1 sidebar is back for the umpteenth time so I’m asking everyone who visits my blog to click the button under the advert that says ‘Report this ad.’ [or words to that effect]. I’m going to re-run this post once a week until something happens to break this deadlock.

I have no idea whether I’ll achieve any lasting reversal, but my only other option is to shut up shop and start a new blog somewhere else. Meeka’s Mind has been a wonderful home to me, and I really, REALLY don’t want to leave, but in these circumstances, paying not to have ads would feel exactly like paying protection money. Can’t do that. 😦

Thanks in advance,

Meeks


#WordPress…what the…? 1:32pm update

 

Okay, this time I’ve been taking screenshots to prove I’m not going nuts. The timestamp of the first one shows 12:47 pm – i.e. just before lunch here in Oz:

The second one is timestamped 1:36 pm   – i.e. just after lunch in Oz. The advert in the sidebar is not the same, but it does duplicate the one below my post:

Something, or perhaps someone, is playing funny buggers, and I’m not impressed. I left a complaint on the WordPress.com forum, but until I receive a proper resolution to this issue, I’m going to keep posting updates about it.

Apologies, everyone, but I’m so angry there’s steam coming out of my ears.

Meeks

 

 

Sunday, February 4, 2016. This is beyond a joke. When I logged into my blog ten minutes ago, the advert was back, even longer than before. I started updating this post and decided I needed a screenshot. Viewed my site again, and the advert gone, again.

Am I going mad?

If anyone viewed my blog in the last 8 hours, could you please let me know whether there was a long, blue advert in the sidebar?

Honestly, I am starting to feel as if WordPress has it in for me. Am I too outspoken? Have I been too critical? Or am I being not-so-subtly pushed to upgrade from free to paid?

I don’t want to think so. I would really like to think there is a reasonable explanation. I would really, really like to think that WordPress is a company with too much integrity to play underhand tricks like this, because just at the moment it feels a lot like…coercion? standover tactics?…blackmail?

Meeks

I’m not sure how it happened, but that advert I was complaining about has disappeared, and I have my sidebar back. -dance-

When you run a free blog, you have to accept some advertising.

After all, the company that runs the platform that makes that free blog possible have to recoup their costs somewhere.

Until very recently, that ‘somewhere’ was just after my blog posts.

Now, I have this:

Right at the top of the page, taking up PRIME realestate in my no.1 sidebar. That’s the spot where I put all my important widgets, the ones I want visitors to see, even if they don’t see anything else. That is my critical spot. Now it has a great big advert. in it.

But that’s not all. The same advert. also appears at the bottom of the post, along with a second one for some other company so visitors to my blog are hit with three adverts, coming at them from all sides. Nothing discreet about this!

I was furious and clicked the ‘Report this ad’ button’ which is why it now has just a placeholder. But is this enough? Or will this disgusting placement simply return tomorrow or the day after?

What the hell were you thinking, Workpress?

Fair use is one thing. Blatant exploitation of my blog, to the detriment of my blog, is another. This is a step too far.

Soooooo not happy WordPress. 😦

Meeks


It’s lucky my prose isn’t purple…

Okay, I admit it, I’ve been playing all day, and I’ve reached the point where I don’t know what works and what doesn’t anymore, so..purple? Too much? Hurts the eyes? Makes you gag?

You’re allowed to be honest. The purple was not my first choice. In fact, I wanted something much more tasteful, like this:

It’s pretty, and I put a lot of work into the ‘window’, including making the window frames in Corel, but none of the WordPress themes worked with the image as the background. I guess if I had my own website, I could design it however I wanted, but these days it’s just not worth the cost of the domain, plus the hosting, plus the ongoing headaches…

And then there was the problem of functionality. I wanted visitors to be able to see my books without having to go digging for them because…ahem, I am a writer. So I looked at an old theme with a ‘carousel’, but it just didn’t do it for me either. So I decided to jazz up the theme I’ve had since 2011. Elegant Grunge isn’t new, and it’s not pretty, but it is functional.

Oh, and the purple kind of tones with the purple of the binary star image, you know, melding the symbols for Innerscape and Vokhtah? -sigh-

So. Do I keep the purple? Change the purple? Sleep on it and try again tomorrow?

Meeks


Another post about a perplexing WordPress.com ‘feature’

I’ve had issues with the WordPress Reader in the past, but this latest one has me scratching my head. Have a look at how many screens I have to go through to comment on a post from the Reader:

This is a screenshot of the Reader. Notice the function circled in red? Comments are definitely available.

So I click on the heading of the article to read what it’s actually about and get this:

 

‘Share’, ‘Comments’ and ‘Like’ are still available, as you can see, but if you click on the ‘Comment’ function, WordPress just refreshes the page you’re on without allowing you to:

  • leave a comment or
  • see what other comments there might be.

You can, however, click the ‘Like’ function.

Something not shown in the screenshot [because it wouldn’t fit] is a very small link in the top right corner of the screen that says ‘Visit page’. I didn’t notice that link at first, and assumed that I was already on the page. But no. To get to the actual page, I need to click again, either on the ‘Visit page’ link or on the heading of the article.

Then and only then do I finally get to the poster’s blog where…glory be…I can leave a comment!

And, of course, with all these clicks needed to simply leave a comment, you’ll have to click back just as many times. 😦

Is this a WordPress change-in-progress that isn’t quite there yet? I hope so because this layering is annoying and will probably stop all but the most determined reader from leaving a comment, and that is bad for all of us.

WordPress is not Facebook. It’s a blogging community that interacts via comments. That is its strength and beauty. Likes are all well and good, but we all know that it’s comments from friends and potential new friends that puts the joy into blogging. Anything that creates a barrier between members of this community should be avoided at all costs.

Let’s get back to a format where the Reader provides not only tasty samples but also a direct gateway to the main course.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. And after all that, you can read Chris the Story Reading Ape’s blog post here. 🙂


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