Real Life is bad for blogging

After spending an amazing month mostly away from the computer and immersing myself in horizons and vistas much wider than a computer screen, it’s been hard to sit down again to blog. So let me sum up briefly what I’ve learned since returning to WordPress.com in case you missed it, too:

Gutenberg is now available in your New Dash Editor

Upon opening the Editor to write this post I encountered the following:

Having been (blissfully) away I’m not certain when the Gutenberg Editor was introduced to the New Dash, but it was pushed out to “Horizon” the official WordPress.com public testing environment, about a week ago. The feedback there has been limited and with few responses from “regular” WordPress.com users. If you are posting about this new editing experience on your own WordPress.com site, you do have the opportunity to test and get your findings in front of people in a place where it counts.

Adoption of Gutenberg is currently set for November 27th with the release of core WordPress 5.0. My money and hopes are on the release being pushed back to the 2nd fallback date of January 22nd to give everyone some breathing room. The inclusion of this new editing experience has been contentious (to say the least).

I’ll post about editing options once I’ve had a chance to explore more on my test sites.

For those of you who activated the new New Editor (aka Gutenberg) in your New Dash/Calypso and now want to deactivate it, you can do so via the WP Admin dashboard. Add /wp-admin to your WordPress.com site address if you don’t have a direct link from the My Sites dashboard.

Advertising in Subscriber Emails

WordPress.com now includes advertising in subscriber emails on free-hosted websites, the same free-hosted sites which already have advertising on their site. Now your email Followers get to see ads too. Again, the only way to remove these ads is by upgrading to one of WordPress.com’s plans, which completely removes all WordPress.com generated advertising.

My only thought is that democratizing publishing on the web just keeps getting more costly. Yes, I know that Automattic/WordPress.com is a for-profit company, and the up-sell is highly visible at every turn here, but this change to advertising for free sites is a step too far, IMO. Next I expect to see ads in the WordPress.com Reader. (Said half-jokingly.)

What can you as a free-hosted WordPress.com website do? There’s no way to block people from Following your site since Following is built-in to the WordPress.com ecosystem. Possible options include creating an external newsletter for your subscribers, like MailChimp or other newsletter options, but that involves more work for you as a content creator.

As always, Time vs. Money.

8 thoughts on “Real Life is bad for blogging

  1. Real life is bad for blogging – and often, blogging is bad for real life. Always good to take time off blogging – especially if you’re going somewhere nice to do it!

    Urgh. I decided to try Gutenberg a few weeks ago, in a test blog. I hated it and turned it off. I may try it again in a different blog some time but I’ll continue to use the old (really old, via wp-admin) editor for as long as I can. The thing that most annoyed me with Gutenberg is that each block has its own toolbar and when I went to turn those off and put one just above the editor, it didn’t hold. Also, have to turn things on and off in such stupid places. I think if it ever comes in and one can no longer remove it, I’ll have to do my writing offline and just copy and paste it in. Images, though… a nightmare.

    You can’t block followers but you can remove them, via the ‘People’ setting. Some insist on returning, I usually let them follow again for a while, then remove them again. Either they or I will get tired eventually, who knows which it will be? But I’ve found a better way to survive the annoying spam followers and that is I’ve turned off follow and Like notifications, completely.

    As for the ads in emails, I had a whinge about that to wordpress.com via their contact form not long ago. I’m seeing the ads and I pay for a domain and a no-ads upgrade. So I turned off email notificiations and don’t get any at all in email now – there are some things that are just over the top, as far as I’m concerned, and this is one of them. I’m currently designing a blogroll to use (probably on a page) instead.

    Do you think WordPress.com is attracting more commercial than personal bloggers? I think so, but am not sure if it’s just that I find far fewer personal bloggers here than I used to.

    1. You made some very valid points. I didn’t even register the tool bar issue (and the changing sidebar depending on the tool you pick), which I also found annoying. Even copy/paste in Gutenberg isn’t completely free of annoyances. :/

      I’m less concerned about blocking/removing individual followers than turning off Following altogether, but you can’t get rid of the Follow option from the Action Bar. At least with the MailChimp signup widget for WordPress.com, users can sign up directly on your site. With any other newsletter service (MadMimi, Constant Contact, etc.) it’s more complicated.

      Ahead of my trip I turned off all email subscriptions to public sites except the WordPress.com Blog so the ads issue has less of an impact on me. I did that on the thought that I’m here on WordPress.com nearly every day anyway so I can read it in the Reader, which is why I mentioned that it wouldn’t surprise me if ads started showing up there.

      I’m not really sure about the number of commercial vs. personal bloggers since I’m not Following many sites these days. How do you go about finding new sites to Follow?

      1. Yep. It’d be good to be able to turn of or at least modify the actions of the Follow option. Can’t see that happening, though. Not in wp’s interests.

        I always turn off email subs, etc, when I take a break from my blog otherwise I’m too distracted. But until this ad thing I’d always turned them on again.

        Generally I find new sites to follow either by the usual way of following the home page links from interesting comments in other blogs that I already follow, or by the Reader’s tag panel, or simply by doing a within-quotes search on Google using keywords and restricting the search to the wordpress.com domain. Right at the moment, though, I’m paring down my current number of follows which are far too many!

  2. I agree with you that it is a step too far to have ads in emails but specifically because of the ads themselves. I just got an email and one of the ads is ‘Mother earns £16,411/month’ They are just rubbish ads to trap the gullible.

    I added a comment on the WordAds post about the quality of the ads – let’s see whether it gets past the comment moderation. I also wrote a post about it – with a poll, if you want to add to that.

    Just reading your comment, Val, and I didn’t realise one could delete followers. I just opened the page and I’ll start working through it.

    1. Hi David, Keep in mind that what ads are displayed to a visitor changes depending on a number of factors. You may see one ad and I another. Regardless, you can report objectionable ads at https://en.support.wordpress.com/about-these-ads/

      If you haven’t read it, there’s a marvelous article in The Atlantic, although a couple of years old, about real-time browser ad bidding. Don’t have the link handy, but it should be easy enough to find.

    2. It’s a good way to get rid of the spammer pests, David, but the really determined ones come back and re-follow. From the speed at which some return, I am thinking that they have some way of knowing when they’ve been unsubscribed…. Aside from those, though, it gets rid of the opportunists who just follow to get follow-backs, and it’ll get your followers down to the ones who really do enjoy your blog.

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