How Matt Mullenweg and Automattic deals with complaints

Wordpress censorship

WordPress censorship

Looks like I “offended” Matt Mullenweg a bit too much.  Write a pair of posts describing how they have ignored a long list of splog reports and I now have my wordpress.com account suspended and my posts in the support forums edited without permission.  But in addition to that, I’ve been blackballed by Akismet and it appears that my comments on wordpress.com are being trashed automatically. (A picture of that after the fold.  Guess I won’t be posting comments to your blog anymore, wank.)

What bothers me about all this is that it started on Matt’s end when I suggested that since most of the support forum volunteers were not going to be able to attend the first WordCamp, that it would be a great idea if Automattic would drop each of them a tshirt into the mail.  That way Matt and crew would show how thankful they were for the time and the work that they put in.  This, of course, didn’t fly over too well and since that point, many of us noticed a “cooling” of staff’s attitudes towards those who helped out.

There, I said it.  All this because of a lousy tshirt.  A simple gesture that would have taken at most an hour or two and would have meant a lot of some people.  Hell, the gallery folks sent me a tshirt for reporting an issue with their website. (I still need to blog about that.  There’s pictures here and here.  Yes, it was 6:30 in the morning.  It was early and I was tired and hadn’t shaved.)

Since that time, I’ve had Matt and others from Automattic lie about me, post insults, make light of my physical handicaps, and make light of my former relationship with my ex fiancee.  While he goes on and on about how approachable he is, he has refused numerous times to discuss how his company has acted towards me and has refused to follow up on the questions that I raised.

All this does prove three things though.  WordPress.com is not pro free speech, not pro customer service and fully believes in censorship.  Can’t wait for the next time Matt gets up on his soap box shouting out to the whole world how they support it so much.

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Looks like WordPress.com has gone pro-spam

drmike-128.jpg

A few days ago, I wrote about a splog over on wordpress.com that I had reported a number of times that, after a pair of “Report as Spam”  and a support ticket still remained online.  It took three hours after blogging about it but it finally came down.

Folks have written that wordpress.com is as spam free as possible.  In fact, Matt Mullenweg recently commented that they’ve removed over 800,000 such sites from the service, 24% of all blogs created on that site. (I agree with the commenter.  The math is off.) That number seems rather low to me considering that numbers between 50% and 77% get used all the time.

I’ve questioned this in the past a number of times as it really sounds like PR coming from Automattic. (And if you haven’t figured out yet that anything coming from Automattic should be questioned, you may want to give that some thought.) Simply going around the site with their Next Blog link in the admin bar will usually show a number of splogs.  I’ve always reported them in the past.

Here’s something else I’ve been doing.  I’ve bookmarked every splog reported since the middle of January, 2008.  I have a list of 917 splogs located on wordpress.com that, having just checked a large random sample of them, appear to be mostly still on line.  Nearly a thousand.  You would think that a site that’s going around and stating how anti-spam they are would have deleted them a long time ago.  Guess not.

Here’s a sampling from that list.  These are 70 that were reported this past weekend that as far as I can tell are still online as of today.  They’ve all been marked with nofollow and noindex so they won’t get any credit from me.

I wonder how long it’ll take for someone to catch up on these.  I also wonder what the problem is this time.

edit: Here’s another one.

digg_url = ‘http://digg.com/tech_news/Wordpress_com_and_Automattic_turn_pro_spam’;

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Is WordPress.com going Pro Spam?

Wordpress ethics

WordPress ethics

Say hello to Poker 101.  I don’t normally link to sites filled with affiliate links and the like (At least I try not to.) but I’m making a big deal about this for one very good reason.

It’s still there.

You see, a couple of months back, I noticed (see the comments section) that sometimes I had to resend spam reports into wordpress.com when they didn’t get acted upon them.  Now, I know it’s only Mark over there dealing with those reports (Lloyd used to do them as well but I noted that he got removed from that position.  At least he’s no longer following up on reports any more.) but after two reports sent in previously, (and a third one in today) the site is still there.

– Affiliate links? Check

– Adverts? Check
– Content stealing? Maybe.  Copied at least.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this either.  This guy had his sites up for more than a week after first questioning what the issue was.

Sure, maybe wordpress.com has a public face of being anti-splog.  We all know that previous experience shows otherwise.

Matt Mullenweg lies again

drmike-128.jpgYou know you would have thought by now that Matt Mullenweg would have learned his lesson about lying in public.  Guess not.

Link

Love this bit:

Anyone is welcome to participate.

I guess that means I’ll be getting my original wordpress account back.

edit: Considering he’s now changing his story on other points, it doesn’t surprise me.  I wonder why he is the only person who I’m not able to get emails from.  Donncha has emailed me.  Mark has as well.  But for some reason, email from Matt can’t show up correctly.  Never gets resent either.  Hmm, I wonder why.  Could it be that it never got sent in the first place?  Now there’s a thought.

Reedit: Oh wait, they’re doing advertising on the Dashboard of WordPress.com now.  Something Matt called stupid many eons ago. (Gone to find that link.)

What should I write next?

I’m thinking about doing some more writing in the future and was looking for some input on what to start off with.  Feel free to comment:

Opinions?

edit: Added a link to Mission to Hell Chapter #1

Today’s Scary Thought

whosmorepopular.png

I was over at Quantcast registering a site for a client and noticed that wordpress.com is listed on their front page as a “Recently Quantified Publisher.” We’ll ignore for now that they’ve been registered with them and Quantcast’s javascript has been on the site since February, 2007 and what they mean by “Recently” but I had a chuckle looking at the traffic numbers for sites hosted on their servers.

Rather interesting that icanhascheezburger.com gets roughly ten times the traffic that scobleizer.com does.

WP-Forums is hackable

drmike-128.jpgI’m no longer supporting WordPress but I wanted to mention this as I had been suggesting this WordPress plugin to folks in the WordPress Multiuser forums previously.

It’s been announced that the wp-forums plugin is hackable and a security risk.  Considering that the author hasn’t been around much, don’t expect a fix for it any time soon.

I, for one, have been suggesting folks use Simple Forum instead.  There’s no import route though for you to use.

Cough up a few bucks and get a slightly used username over at Livejournal

livejournal.pngI was poking around my sister’s LiveJournal site (Side note: She’s started one of those A Picture A Day sites as well) and noted that Livejournal allows their endusers to get previously used names that have been recently “deleted and purged.”  You can change the URL of your site for $15 bucks. (As I read it, you may have to cough that up if you get one of the used names.)

Gotta admit that I don’t know how I feel about that.  While I may gripe about WordPress.com and their lack of respect for their volunteers who provide the first line of support in their forums, one of the pluses I’ve had for the service is how they don’t reuse usernames.  Allowing such a feature may lead to problems with personal identity theft, confusion, and the like.  Livejournal will only keep a name around unused for 30 days. (At least that’s how I read it.) That seems like too short of a time in my opinion.

Matt apoligizes for a volunteer but Automattic employees are free to insult

drmike-128.jpgAnyone else think it’s strange that Matt takes the time to apoligize for a response from options but yet rudeness from an employee directed towards another volunteer goes unanswered?

 

edit: By the way, I noticed that root has been marked as inactive as well.  I haven’t seen anyone else mention that.

 

Oh, and Mark?  Maybe the reason why we’re having to create new usernames and email addresses is because you folks are locking us out of the forums.  You may have noted the “Inactive” notation besides our usernames?  Gotta admit that I scratch my head though when the folks who have answered most if not all of the questions raised in the support forums keep telling you that you, Matt and the rest are wrong and have been rather rude and insulting.  It’s a pity you folks can’t see what is occuring and you would rather call it a “hate campaign” instead of being open minded and respond to complaints.

And again Mark, if you want that list, I’d be happy to provide it to you.

WordPress says no to Sponsored Links in Themes but gets caught adding them into their own sites

Wordpress ethics

WordPress ethics

Yep, it’s yet another post on the topic of Sponsored links found within WordPress themes.  Now, before I begin, let me state my opinion on the matter:  Personally, I don’t care.  I can see why some folks consider such links to be “evil” and I can understand why some folks consider them to be a “necessary evil.”  If I really wanted to use a theme that had such links, I’ve got to admit that I would take a look at the site that’s being linked to and make a choice to leave them in or remove them.  That’s up to me.  I still think my idea of doing a tag labeled “Sponsored Links” within the main WordPress theme site would have been a better idea than removing them.  Let the “purchaser” decide with the best information made available in front of them.

But what bothers me about all this though is what occurred recently on the BrowseHappy.com site.  You know the one.  Where a number of Automattic staff, volunteersdevelopers, and others had that discussion and Matt Mullenweg goes out of his way to show how he listens to his endusers try to explain to him how a website that hasn’t been updated in years, contains outdated information, and even he finds to no longer apply really shouldn’t be linked to from the WordPress backend, totally ignores them, and we still have the link on the backend. (Quick aside: Instructions on how to remove said link.  Not sure if they apply on the latest 2.3.2 version of WordPress but you should get the idea.)

So imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I was reading a thread over on the wordpress.org forums on browsehappy.  I decided to take a look at the site as I remembered that site having Adsense affiliate code links on it and I wanted to see if they were still there.

 

Browse Happy link

Browse Happy link

Imagine my complete surprise (I’m going link happy on the post, I know) to discover that there was actually a hidden link to freecookingrecipes.net in the footer of that site.  As well as a hosted image.

Hmm, well that was strange.

I saved some quick screen captures to cover my ass in case anyone doubted me, reported it to that thread on wordpress.org and fired off an email to the WordPress Security email address.  The links disappeared within a few minutes but my comment on the wp.org forums went unanswered and the email to security went unanswered as well.  Again, someone must have heard because those links were gone within 15 minutes.

OK, let’s think about this for a second and cover some history.  The folks at WordPress have done the hidden links previously and appear to not really be willing to talk about it.  Matt says on his blog (I can’t find it right off.  I guess you don’t get that link tonight.) that he made a mistake and/or the linkage was placed without his own personally knowledge. (Again I can’t find it right off so that may not be 100%.  Please forgive me if it’s not.) edit: Here it is.

So anyway, let’s give some thought about this link and what it is doing there.  I’ve been thinking about it for quite sometime and I can think of three methods of how it got there.  Let me list them and explain the reasons why they shouldn’t be the cause. (Please note that I said “shouldn’t” instead of actually proving them not to be the cause.  Keep reading.  You’ll understand shortly.)

  1. The link was placed there by a well meaning Automattic employee, done with the holiday spirit in mind and everything’s fine and
    browse happy code

    browse happy code

    cool.  Gotta admit that this is the one that I want to believe but I can’t see it.  The link was hidden and not visible within the browser. (Note the screencap to the right.) If the link was added with good intentions, it was done in such a strange way.  I would think that you would want folks to be clicking on that link but no one could see it.  Also a quick check of the main WordPress developers at the time showed no one else having such a link.  If an Automattic employee had been exciting with adding in such a link, you would have thought that they would add the same link to their own personal websites.  This was not the case.

  2. The link was placed as part of a hack against the website.  I’m iffy about this one for two reasons, one more important than the other.  The lesser argument, which Options makes here is how was the hacker, if there really was one, able to upload an image to the server.  Granted, if they had access, they could have done it but wouldn’t they have gone after juicer options like the main wordpress.org site? (Which, by the way, did not have the link.) The other argument ag
    ainst this comes from personal experience.  I’ve had sites hacked before and every time it’s ever happened, someone else somewhere else has had the same thing happen to them.  Hackers don’t pick a single site as a target, at least I’ve never seem them do it.  A quick Google search shows no discussion about folks getting hacked with this link.  In fact many pages have posters who seem quite happy to be adding in link to this site.
  3. The link was placed as a sponsored link with the intention of at least one member of Automattic staff.  Gotta admit that I don’t like saying this but this is really the only choice we have left.  There are arguments against this of course.  The main one being of course  how they got caught previously with the hidden links to advert pages on the wordpress.org site a few years back.  Matt made a big deal with pulling themes with sponsored links in them from the WordPress Themes site. They make a big deal in the WordPress.com support forums over affiliate links and usually either get them removed from the blog or ToS the blog.  It’s real hard though trying to find solid arguments against this as being where those links came from.  I really can’t think of any but I’m trying.

That’s all I wanted to say.  I think I’ve provided a case for what I believe really happened.  I’m sure folks will disagree with me but I can’t do much about that.

Two forums threads on the topic as well as that email to security went unanswered. Email to the recipe site went unanswered as well. (I was curious.)

edit: Please excuse any typos.  It’s been a long day and it’s time for me to go home.