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WordPress

People who use WordPress seem to love it or hate it.  Love it because it’s a simple, easy, accessible format.  Hate it because it’s formatted and hard to customize beyond rather narrow parameters.  Love it because it gives them easy access to other bloggers.  Hate it because it’s not easy to access bloggers in other systems.

I’ve been doing this weekly blogging thing for two years and mostly I’m content with the system.  I don’t have to bother with things I don’t want to worry about.  I’ve managed to learn to use the tools I need and the rest don’t get in my way.  I appreciate the editing check before publishing (even when I don’t agree).  I occasionally find a gem of a site in the recommended links.  I’ve also found some wonderful “blogging buddies” several of whom have since left the WordPress fold.

However, this week I’m apparently on WordPress’s “watch list”.  They closed down my second blog.  I’ve posted about it.  lisaspiralreads.wordpress.com   where I took on the challenge to write 50 book reviews in one year.  Apparently they think I’m either selling something or in serious copy-write violation.  Who knows?  They don’t actually say what the offense is, other than somewhere in their list of rules and guidelines a rule has been broken.  Or at least bent to the point of needing some checking.

How do they even figure this stuff out?  Maybe one of the authors or publishers of one of the book reviews I wrote googled themselves and didn’t like what I posted?  Three people this weekend posted questions to Facebook about books I’ve reviewed and I commented referring them to the site, was there a sudden spike in traffic?  (One NOT caused by being “freshly pressed”.)

I do use an Amazon affiliate link to post links to Amazon.  I mean it’s a book review site!  Where else are people going to find the books?  Anyone reading book reviews does not NEED an Amazon ad to know they are there!  Posting links this way is easy (it’s how I figured out how to DO IT.)  Posting links to the library (where I get most of the books I read) is HARD, and probably counts as an affiliate too since it would be MY library and not at all useful to readers.

I put up lots of links to Wikipedia too, but apparently that’s okay.  The “recommended links” at the bottom of the page are often paid sites as well, but I guess since I’m not getting a cut……..   Anyone on WordPress knows their spam folder is full of WordPress sites actively promoting “getting rich off your blog.”  Somehow there is a serious disconnect here and I don’t think it’s really mine to fix.

I’ve never actually been issued any money from Amazon since I never told them where to send the $0.33 credit on the account.  The obvious conclusion based on the evidence is that I’m running a business here without buying the business site!  Add to that I’m in Minnesota and Amazon (leading the pack)  has terminated payment to all affiliate accounts linked to the State because of a new tax law.  What a threat I am to profit-making.

Of course after this post they could close this site down as well.  I don’t think I did any name-calling, but I know you all heard the tone.  I probably did more “advertising” for Amazon affiliates in this one post – without any links to Amazon even the “recommended” one – than in total at the other site!  Hopefully this is all in error and the “surely you must be mistaken” email I sent will result in a quick return to access.  How else am I going to keep up with those reviews?In the meantime,  WordPress, you’re on MY “watch-list”!

 

****   Look, they got back to me before noon!  It’s nice to know that the review team is almost as on top of things as the automated “close down the blog” system.

Hi there,

Thank you for getting in touch.

Your site was flagged by our automated anti-spam controls. We have reviewed your site and have removed the suspension notice.

We greatly apologize for this error and any inconvenience it may have caused.

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100

Many of my earliest image postings were clip art.

Many of my earliest image postings were clip art.

This is my 100th post on this blog!  That may not seem like such a big deal, especially for those bloggers who are writing something every day.  But I’m posting once a week, which means it’s been almost two years of posting on WordPress.  I’ve made mistakes and I’ve had plenty of opportunities to learn.

I still have to get a handle on the whole writing process thing.  I find myself making amazing misspellings and bad uses of there’s and it’s ( inevitably pointed out to me by my readers).  I know how to use these words, but apparently my fingers don’t care when I type.  I don’t always catch it in editing, especially when I’m a little sleepy or rushed to hit ‘publish’.  I’ve had to learn the discipline of meeting the weekly commitment .  (Sometimes a day late, but still….)  I’ve worked hard at learning to be open and authentic both with the personal posts and when I am posting about a larger event.

One of my most popular posts was inspired by a book I read about Great Apes.

One of my most popular posts was inspired by a book I read about Great Apes.

I’ve been disappointed in my expectations.  Who knew that hundreds, no thousands of readers who would love this blog are having so much trouble finding it?  🙂   I’ve never been Freshly Pressed.  I haven’t gotten a blogging award.  Some of my friends, the one’s who ask “what’s new with you?” are clearly not even checking in.  My Mom doesn’t read my blog! (But then, she doesn’t have a computer so I suppose that’s to be expected isn’t it.)

I’ve learned to be a bit more reasonable about expectations.  Now I write as much for myself as anything and am delighted when others find something useful, or inspiring, or entertaining in what I have to say.  I recognize that winning those blogging awards often requires things like writing a post with 24 things about yourself – one for each letter of the alphabet.  I’m grateful to have avoided that.  As for freshly pressed, on the few occasions when I’ve checked “this weeks list” I’ve not been impressed.  It seems that photography blogs are popular and occasionally a humor piece.  I’m delighted when my blogging buddies make the list, but even they seem confounded by the selection process.

The post that generated the most comments (July 2012) was about Trolls

The post that generated the most comments (July 2012) was about Trolls

There’s another thing I’ve learned.  I really can have friends on the internet who I’ve never met, but feel I’ve truly gotten to know. The blogs I tend to read are like mine, a little personal, a little day to day, observations and perspectives on life.  I’ve found several “blogging buddies” who I’m sure would be delightful to spend time with in the real world as well as on-line.  Someday I may just  drop in on them.  (Well, there would be discussion and planning and schedule checking and making arrangements for Orion, but you know what I mean.)

So thank you for going on this journey with me.  I hope you will continue to enjoy my posts and will share with your friends.  Who knows.  Those thousands of potential readers may find me yet!

The post that I continue to get feedback on (not always in this forum) is my post on Prayer Beads.

The post that I continue to get feedback on (not always in this forum) is my post on Prayer Beads.

Trolls

I realize that the more I write the more likely I am to attract trolls.  You know, those gruff insulting comments that really don’t have anything to do with what you’ve actually posted.  The kind of comments that promote a world view or an agenda that is so opposite of the point you want to make that you wonder why (or if) they even bothered to actually read the post.

Trying to be cute, but still a troll

I don’t mind “allowing” commentary that’s critical when it is thoughtful, to the point and not loaded with derogatory, demeaning or threatening remarks.  I have let through several comments that question my intention or direction.  I pretty much let anyone who has commented continue to do so without a filter, but reserve the right to screen new posters.  I filter, but pretty lightly.   I do have a much heavier “filter” on older posts than I might on current ones.

I find it incredible when someone who has never posted suddenly sends a “how could you be so horrible” comment about a blog post that’s over a month old.  What did they do?  Go scanning through all the posts looking for something to get pissed about?  Not worth my time and energy and not worth adding, at that late date, to the commentary.  Although I do recognize new readers will sometimes look through back posts, especially if something catches their eye, the conversation has mostly moved on.  On the other hand I always appreciate someone commenting just to let me know they’ve looked and what they thought.  I read all the comments.

I do appreciate WordPress for their spam screen.  They do a pretty good job of cutting out the viagra ads and the please send money contingent.  Occasionally though I still find a reasonable comment in my spam file.  Somebody who clearly read the post and is maybe not quite as glib, or as accurate a typist, as they might like to be.  Not everything that looks like a troll is a troll.

I try not to be a troll myself when I post on other people’s blogs.  My dear internet  friends and fellow bloggers, the ones I read regularly, don’t deserve trolls any more than I think I do.  But I know that sometimes when I zip off a comment before coffee or on the run I can be a little careless with my phrasing.  A comment that I think is just a funny tease could be offensive.  I can be a little short and seem judgmental.  I can mean to cheer someone on and instead come off critical and negative.

Luckily those bloggers I read and comment on regularly have enough sense to ask, “What did you actually mean by that?”  The advantage of regular reading and commenting is that you do get a feel for where the other person is coming from.  It makes it easier to allow for the possibility of a misunderstanding.  My blogging comrades have heard enough from me to guess that I probably didn’t mean to be gruff.

It’s harder with that first comment to spot where the controversy originated.  Is it in the mind of the poster, or is it how I’m reading the comment?  Did the poster misread the blog or is there really something there in that nasty comment that is worth examining?  As welcome as the praise and encouragement may be it is often the critiques that we learn from.

The blog is such a varied and personal media that it really doesn’t warrant directed and demeaning criticism.  Someone can have a different point of view.  There should be room for discussion and expansion.  But when someone is writing about “this is the way I see and experience the world” there really isn’t anything to argue about.  What they write is the way they see and experience the world.  It might be different than the way I see it, which makes for an interesting line of comments, but where is the argument?  Can’t we both be right given our perspectives?  Can we at least have a discussion rather than reverting to being trolls?

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