Tag Archives: Wordpress

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,
Happiness Engineer

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:


-massive hugs-


#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:


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,







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:



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,


#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.




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?


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. 😦


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?


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.



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

Happy 5th anniversary…ME!

I just received a notification from WordPress that Meeka’s Mind is five years old. Colour me amazed.

Five years is a respectable milestone in the real world. You expect things to happen after five years. You expect things to have changed, and my world certainly has.

When I first started this blog, I was sending posts out into the void, not really expecting them to be found. Given how long and evangelical they were, I’m doubly amazed that any of you found me at all!

The following excerpt is from the very first post I ever wrote, on this day in 2011:

I love the good things in life as much as anyone, so I too I like things the way they are now. Nonetheless, if things must change then I’d rather get used to those changes gradually. And I’d rather have some choice in the matter.

– If  power production is part of the problem [as it is] then I’d rather pay a competitive price for solar panels than keep on  paying for dirty power.

– If petrol driven cars are part of the problem [as they are] then let me choose to buy a hybrid or electric care instead [which I can then charge from those lovely solar panels I put in].

– If shipping food from one end of the globe to the other is part of the problem then let me choose to eat only food that is in season and grown locally.

Adjusting to change does not have to be horrendous. Those who have money only have to change their priorities. Those who do not have money should get assistance, and most importantly re-training opportunities so they can take advantage of the new jobs the new industries will bring.

A smooth transition is possible, but only if we get our collective heads out of the sand, and only if we recognize that helping the most vulnerable amongst us is not charity but an investment in the future.

As a writer I can see the possibilities for a better, brighter future, but only time will tell whether we make the transition smoothly, or fall in a heap as a species.

As a human being I’m hoping we don’t go the way of the real dinosaurs, but as a writer I have to acknowledge that at the moment, an end-of-the-world scenario is more likely.

My ideas haven’t actually changed, but boy, have I ever learned to keep my posts short[er]. That particular post on Climate Change contains something I’ve rarely seen in the WordPress environment – a page break. -rolls eyes-

Something else that’s changed between then and now, is how I view myself. Back then I was too embarrassed to even call myself a writer. I had a story – Vokhtah – but no idea how to publish it. I also had a blog, but saw it only as a ‘necessary’ vehicle for the dreaded marketing monster.

Now, I’m proud to say, I have a blog I love for its own sake. I have online friends who have stuck with me for years. And I’m finally the author of 7 published books.

Thank you, each and every one of you.




#WordPress dumbed down for mobile phones

meekathara furiousI tried to show a friend some tips and tricks for her new WordPress.com blog site yesterday.

Imagine my confusion when I realised that her version of WordPress.com does NOT have the WP-Admin button! This is what it looks like on my blog:


Clicking the WP Admin button takes me to the original WP Dashboard, which looks like this:



I cut a bit of the screenshot out in the middle so you could see it more clearly. Click the image to see it in full size.

This old Dashboard is quite powerful and great for serious bloggers who, like me, have literally hundreds if not thousands of blog posts to manage. I admit that it might be a bit daunting for the casual blogger. I also admit that the new WordPress interface may be easier to learn/use for the casual blogger, but so far, every time I’ve tried to use it, I’ve just been frustrated by how awkward and clunky the whole thing is. And slow, let’s not forget slow. As a fairly seriously blogger, I find the new-ish interface a poor tool. But horses for courses, right?

Wrong. Apparently, I still have WP Admin because I’ve been a blogger on WordPress since 2011. New bloggers are not so lucky, they don’t get a choice at all, and I fear that in time, us old guard bloggers will end up with no choice as well.

But why dumb WordPress down so badly?

In search of answers I went to Papa Google and found this:


Again, click on the image to see it at full size.

The screenshot was taken from a WordPress forum dating back to late [November?] 2015. The thread is about WP users complaining about losing the link to the old Dashboard [via WP Admin]. A couple of European Moderators have chimed in as well, complaining about not being notified of such a serious change by WordPress, and hence not being able to help their forum members.

The thing I found most interesting on this forum was the comment by an actual WordPress staff member – supernovia – who says, and I quote:

If it helps, all of the mobile apps have been like the newer admin area for a while now,
and as we transition WordPress.com to make everything more consistent, having two different interfaces was confusing new users.

And right there – ‘the mobile apps’ – is the nub of the problem. WordPress doesn’t want to maintain two separate interfaces – one for mobile apps and one for pc’s – so the interface for the pc is being dumbed down as much as possible to save development costs.

Lots of large developers have done the same thing – remember Windows 8, the OS that was meant to bridge the gap between mobile phones, tablets and pc’s? All seem to have missed the most basic point about demographics – app users don’t work on their mobile phones. People who work still use pc’s because pc’s are still a million times more powerful and convenient to use than something which can only be used by your bloody thumbs.

The corporate world doesn’t like the dumbed down, mobile version of programmes because they are not cost efficient for the user. Many of us on WordPress run what amounts to a small business via our blogs. Something designed to work efficiently as a mobile phone app will NOT allow us to work more efficiently at home, in front of a nice LARGE screen with a full-sized keyboard.

Don’t believe that the new interface is weaker and less efficient? Here’s proof. Just before starting this post, I ran an experiment using both the old Dashboard search function and the new interface search function.

The result? Dashboard 1, new interface 0. The new interface search function failed. Completely.

What did I search for?

I was searching for a draft post on making scones. This is the original post title:

Lois’ Soda Water #Scones

I typed ‘scone’ into the old Dashboard search function and it found:


This is a ‘closest match’ which found the post I was looking for.

Then, I tried to find the new interface search function. This is what it looks like:


Before you can type in any search words, you have to click the magnifying icon…excuse me? The standard for most programmes is to type the search words into the search box and /then/ click the magnifying glass to carry out the search. I guess the WordPress devs wanted to be…different.

Then, having finally found out how to actually do a search, this is what happened:


The one nice thing about the new search function is that it searches as you type so it begins displaying possible search results before you even finish typing. Or in my case, not.

Clearly the new interface search function is set for exact matches only – remember the title of my blog post is Lois’ Soda Water #Scones. The hashtag threw the search engine off completely.

Now, in the real world, I have 996 blog posts, including close to 100 drafts. I often link back to previous posts when I write new posts. After 4 years, I very rarely remember the exact title of any of my posts. That means a ‘closest match’ is VITAL. For me, the new search function is next to useless.

So, will WordPress see reason and give serious bloggers back the tools they need to work efficiently? Or are we going to have to live with this dumbed down, mobile phone app?

Sadly, I think we’ll have to live with a poor interface until someone, somewhere, realises that you can’t do real work with just your thumbs.

Unhappy, WordPress.


#WordPress vs #Facebook?

I spent five minutes on Facebook this morning, and I couldn’t wait to leave.

I commented on a couple of family posts and liked a couple of Hugh Howey’s posts, but I still couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I also liked posts by some of my friends, most of whom are on Facebook, yet it didn’t feel like a genuine interaction. That only seems to happen on our respective websites and blogs.

I know there are special interest groups on Facebook – like Indies Unlimited – that should be of interest to me, but I am so uncomfortable on Facebook that I’m never there long enough to interact with them.

I don’t know why I am so viscerally ill at ease on Facebook, but I would like to find out, so forgive me if this post turns into a form of digital navel gazing.

Okay, starting with the factual, the following graphic is a side-by-side view of my WordPress and Facebook pages. WordPress is on the left, Facebook is on the right:


What strikes you first when you compare these two pages?

If you’re anything like me, your first impression of WordPress will be that it’s visually restful. Your eye is drawn to centre stage for the main event while the ancillary functions stay modestly in the wings.

I’m no graphic designer but I have worked with images most of my life, and to me, the WordPress layout design is:

  • easy to read
  • easy to navigate
  • and uncluttered

By contrast, as soon as I glance across at the Facebook page, my eyes start to spin. Everywhere I look, the realestate of the page is packed with information, all of it trying to get my attention in some way. I can actually feel my body tense up as my brain tries to sort the clutter into something I can work with.

And before you think I’m a neat freak…I’m not. I love the elegant minimalism of traditional Japanese interior design, but I loath the sterile feel of contemporary interior design.

My idea of warm and cosy is this:


In case you’re wondering, this is a mockup of the website I was thinking of creating about two years ago. I gave up on the idea for a number of reasons, the main one being that moving ‘house’ would have meant losing most of the visibility I had gained on WordPress.com. I’d rather have a simple blog that everyone can find than a snazzy website that people would have to find all over again.

Anyway…the background photo is of my actual loungeroom and illustrates the kind of clutter I love – warm, cosy, intimate.

[Slight graphic correction: the walls are not dark brown as shown in the photo; they are actually a warm, olive green]

To me, Facebook is not intimate at all. It’s like walking into a barn filled with strangers having a party. There’s no room to dance or do things so everyone stands around, drinks in hand, shouting to be heard over the high decibel background noise. And even when I find a group of people I actually know, I don’t feel as if we can have a deep and meaningful conversation because you can’t do deep and meaningful while shouting at the top of your lungs.

By contrast, all of my interactions on WordPress feel like an intimate dinner party, regardless of who’s hosting the meal.

And right there, I think I have my answer. I am who I am, and I take myself wherever I go, even online.

I’m not a typical introvert though. I’m not shy. I can stand up in front of a class and give a lecture without the slightest twinge of discomfort, but I simply can’t do big, loud parties. Never have, never will. I don’t even understand why other people enjoy them so much. It’s as if I’m missing the big party gene, and when I am forced to attend one, you will generally find me in the kitchen – if there is one – or standing in a corner somewhere, bored out of my brain.

In the real world, my preferred form of social interaction is dinner with close friends. While we eat, we do catch up on the minutiae of life, but once coffee and dessert arrive, the conversation inevitably turns to issues – political, ethical, philosophical, universal – and I’m like a pig in the proverbial. My brain is on fire, and I am totally in the moment. I could stay up all night because we’re all firing off each other. It’s wonderful.

In the digital world, I frequently have dinner at Pinky’s house. Pinky runs a salon where debate is the dessert served up with coffee. Or I might pop in to the Passive Guy to catch up with the latest issues in publishing. And then there’s dancing and trips to the Museum of Modern Art with Candy, or afternoon tea with EllaDee. Anne invites me in for an afternoon of botanical drawing, while David Prosser has me in stitches with his sly-yet-gentle humour.

Take a look at the people in the sidebar of this post. They are all my friends, not because we’ve friended each other, but because we’ve shared moments of mutual understanding. They are all kindred spirits in one way or another, and WordPress [for all its faults] makes our intimate communities possible.

Thanks WordPress, and sorry Facebook but this square peg will never find a home on your pages.



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