Afterthoughts on WordCampIL

not the official WCIL banner

I chronically write my post-WordCamp summary about a month after the event and this time is no different. At least I’m consistent. :)

This year’s #WCIL took place at the end of May and a day before we left on a long-planned and long-awaited, 2-week vacation to Norway. Knowing that I was not yet packed, my time at WCIL was really limited this year. While I found the few sessions I attended interesting, most of my time was spent networking and reconnecting with folks I haven’t seen in a while (apparently much to the consternation of a few people sitting behind us, sorry!).

Click on each image to read a bit more about each:

One of the biggest changes to earlier WordCampILs, next to the move to the Tel Aviv area, of course, was the addition of several sessions in English. In my view this also contributed to the nearly 400 WordCampIL signups and according to the stats that were shared at the beginning of the day, apparently 70% of those were first-time attendees. While not all 400 showed up, it was clear that  both the change in venue and English language sessions contributed to the explosion in interest.

What was missing from the day’s sessions, for me personally, was a continuation of getting one’s feet wet in WordPress (the standalone software), following last year’s Getting to Know WordPress (Hebrew link).  When I look at the above statistic, it doesn’t tell me how many of those 70% newcomers were developers or users and catering to everyone’s WP needs in a one-day event is, of course, a challenge. While there are plenty of resources (free and paid) on the internet to learn WordPress, face-to-face interaction  is always first priority for me.

Sadly, by mid-afternoon I had to say goodbye to WCIL and, therefore, missed the last 3 sessions of the day. My empty suitcase and a 03:30 wake-up call were waiting for me at home.  All in all, it certainly was worth it!

WordCamp Israel – May 27th in Tel Aviv

WordCamp Israel-the official banner

A stunning 400+ WordPress enthusiasts signed up for WordCamp Israel this year. That’s a new record and even before the event schedule was published! You can check out the schedule here, and the list of speakers here.

Given previous years, we know that not all 400 WP’ers will be attending the event, but it’s not entirely clear how to let the organizers know that.  So if you find you won’t be able to attend and want to free up your place for someone on the waiting list, either use the email address info at wordcamp dot org or the contact form on the WCIsrael website.

Remember: WPcomMaven will be there as well and I’d love to meet you and talk about setting up and getting the most out of WordPress.com. Drop me a note in the comments here or use my contact form.

See you Tuesday in Tel Aviv!

 

Registration is open for WordCampIL

 

banner-wcil 2014_2

With a little less than 3 weeks to go before WordCampIL, registration is officially open.

Mark your calendar:

When: 27th May 2014
Where: Google Campus, Tel Aviv
Hours: 09:00-18:00 (subject to change)
Cost: Nothing

While there’s no fee this year thanks to Google’s generous donation of their co-working Campus space, you still need to register ahead of time. Last year’s WordCamp in Jerusalem saw nearly 250 WordPress enthusiasts, so lock in your place now. (And hurry! 75 people signed up within 3 hours of registration opening.)

I’ll be there the entire day, so if you’ll be attending WordCampIL this year and would like to chat about WordPress.com, leave a comment on this post or use my contact form.

 

Reblogging Revisited Again

Following several tests in two different browsers, it now seems that in spite of a Staff remark to the contrary, if a site owner has disabled the Reblog button on their site, it does not appear to be possible to reblog a post from that site via the WordPress.com Reader or anywhere else the Reblog button may show. Even if the Reblog button does appear, it is a “placebo button”, i.e. it seems to work, but does not produce the expected results.

With assistance from Sylvia of 2Sojourners, we know the following as well (as of the end of March):

When reblogging from a WordPress.com website that has  images embedded from a 3rd party site, like smugmug, those images are not transferred to a reblogger’s Media Library. They are, however, hotlinked from the 3rd party site if that site allows hotlinking. Consequently, if you are paying for bandwidth on that 3rd party site, anyone reblogging those posts on WordPress.com is adding to your bandwidth costs.

If the original poster initially allowed reblogging on their site, but later turned off reblogging, the entire content of the reblogged post disappears, including the link back to the original site. This leaves behind only the reblogger’s comment (if any) and any images that may have been transferred to the reblogger’s Media Library. In the case of my test post from 2Sojourners, this left only the post’s Featured image in my test site’s Media Library. (Featured images must be uploaded to WordPress.com in order to appear.)

Screenshots of the test process are being worked on and I hope to upload them shortly. Many thanks again to Sylvia for giving me permission to test reblog her site.

Will it stay this way? Given WordPress.com’s ever-changing environment, probably not.

 

The New Reblog, Part 2 – Images Gone Awry

Over the last couple of years WordPress.com has focused on making and promoting its site as a great place for photographers and other visual artists to showcase their work. Multitudes of new themes have been introduced to support these communities in making WordPress.com their home on the web. Sadly, however, it seems that the new Reblog is a far cry from a welcome wagon to those same creative folk if protecting their copyright is any concern.

raincoaster, a long-standing member of the WordPress.com community, posted in the forums about her experience with the new Reblog when she discovered that all the images from the original post she reblogged had been copied to her site’s Media Library. According to a Staff reply in that thread, “This is actually not a bug, but is intended behavior at this time. We do this intentionally to prevent unwanted changes to reblogged posts”.

To understand the full impact of this behavior, here are screenshots of my test Reblog from Leanne Cole (with her permission) to illustrate what currently happens when someone’s post is reblogged. Please scroll through the Gallery below by opening the first image and reading each image description in the Carousel. You may have to scroll a bit to see it.

All in all, a total of 27 images from Leanne’s original post were pulled in to my test site’s Media Library, while only 2 images were actually used in my Reblog of her post; one image for the featured image and the second for the image in the post.

I would like to believe that this is a bug, in spite of what Staff have said. Otherwise how can WordPress.com legally justify copying images, let alone the wholesale transfer of the full visual content of someone’s post, to another WordPress.com site’s Media Library? This behavior does not come under “fair use” and entirely ignores copyright owner’s rights. At the very most, displaying the one or two images used in the Reblog may fall under “fair use,” but not their actual copy and transfer to another user’s website.

Let me explain a little further. Every single WordPress.com site comes with unlimited bandwidth and one can “hotlink” from one WordPress.com site to another WordPress.com site without the onerous tag of stealing another person’s bandwidth, which, indeed, is a legitimate concern when the other person is paying for bandwidth. Looking at the few earlier Reblogs I have done, I do not find a single image from those Reblogs in my own site’s Media Library and, therefore, can only conclude that those images are being hotlinked from the original WordPress.com site.

In that context, let’s revisit that Staff reply (and the added emphasis is mine):

… is intended behavior at this time. We do this intentionally to prevent unwanted changes to reblogged posts.

I read that to mean that WordPress.com’s concern here is not to break a Reblog should the original content be removed or changed by the original post creator, from whose site the images were previously hotlinked.

Under the WordPress.com  Terms of Service :

By submitting Content to Automattic for inclusion on your Website, you grant Automattic a world-wide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, modify, adapt and publish the Content solely for the purpose of displaying, distributing and promoting your blog. If you delete Content, Automattic will use reasonable efforts to remove it from the Website, but you acknowledge that caching or references to the Content may not be made immediately unavailable.

The Staff reply above would appear to contradict the last part of that clause about “caching or references to the Content may not be made immediately unavailable.” If I choose to delete or change or transfer my content elsewhere, I certainly would not want my original content to continue to appear on someone else’s WordPress.com’s website. Furthermore there is nothing in the Terms of Service that I see which condones copying and transferring my images to someone else’s website.

Is WordPress.com now going to be responsible for removing images from each and every website’s Media Library that acquired them through reblogging? Can WordPress.com guarantee that the re-blogger isn’t going to reuse those images in another manner that perhaps the original creator may not find acceptable?

And the only notification that Leanne received was the pingback notification that I had reblogged her original post on my test site. According to Leanne,

I had no idea that [Ed: image transference]  was happening, my posts get reblogged all the time and that means there are so many copies of my images in so many other media libraries.  Of course the worse thing is that you get asked to approve it, but it is too late and you can’t stop it.  You should have that option to stop people from reblogging your posts.

As mentioned in my earlier post on the New Reblog WordPress.com site owners can now disable the Reblog button in their Dashboard’s Sharing Settings. However, this will affect only the Reblog button which appears in your posts, as well as in the WordPress.com Admin bar. It does not affect the Reblog button in the WordPress.com Reader, which will continue to show.

Sadly, however, this does not address the very legitimate additional concern about the wholesale copy and transfer of images from one site to another which is done without the knowledge and consent of the original copyright owner.

If this is not a bug, as Staff have indicated, it is very, very disconcerting.

Again, many thanks to Leanne for agreeing to be the reblog victim to illustrate this post.