DON’T LET THEM NEAR A COMPUTER

Today, ignoring everything going on in the world, the Daily Prompt is “Five a DayYou’ve being exiled to a private island, and your captors will only supply you with five foods. What do you pick?

It’s a pretty dull prompt. Unlikely to inspire anyone. Trivial. Not funny. Dull, flat, and forlorn. So, instead, I’m going to tell you a true story. The names have been not been changed to protect the guilty.

Just before Christmas this past year, I treated myself to a long-deferred gift: a premium theme. It is/was not WordPress’s most expensive theme. At $49, it was on the low-end, but it was the first one I liked enough to consider buying.

It wasn’t cutesy. Blogly is tidy, squared off. Black on white text, with a choice of background colors. Flexible layout. Many post styles (which, it turned out, never worked).

A left-hand sidebar for widgets. Pictures feel cramped when hedged in by a right-hand sidebar.

Looks good, doesn't it? Caveat emptor!!

Looks good, doesn’t it? Caveat emptor!!

The more I looked at it, the better I liked it. I gave it several test runs. Finally, I bought it. I figured, hey, I’m a blogger. I can have a nice theme. It’s a one-time purchase I can use forever.

It turned out that forever was not long. In January, WordPress decided including an “Edit” link in the “My Sites” drop-down menu would ruin their design. This made no sense. Regardless of any other consideration, the ability to conveniently edit your blog is critical for all of us.

It was particularly important to me, because Blogly, unlike most themes, had no built-in “edit” link. Without its own link — and after removing the Edit function of the drop-down menu — making even a simple correction became nearly impossible. I was not the only one who got upset. A lot of furious bloggers later, WordPress restored the edit function to the “My Sites” menu.

But — they weren’t through messing with me. They decided to “fix” Blogly because, they explained, it should have its own internal edit link. All themes should have an edit link. So the talented development team (they keep telling me how great they are) put an edit link in Blogly. Not where it belongs, in individual posts, but only when you are looking at posts in “home” and scrolling. So if you had an individual post open to read it, there was still no edit link. I consoled myself that at least they’d restored the link on the drop-down.

Thing is, half the things it says it does don't work. But you won't know that until you already own it. There's only so much you can test in their trial mode.

Thing is, half the things it says it does don’t work. But you won’t know that until you already own it. There’s only so much you can test in their trial mode.

Then they did something else to Blogly. I don’t know what they did, or any idea why , but suddenly, when you clicked a comment, you went to the comment. The rest of the post — the rest of the site — became inaccessible.

You could not scroll up past the start of comments. Getting home was daunting. Complaints from readers poured in. I checked the function in Safari. IE. Chrome. I checked on my laptop, desktop, Kindle and iPad. I had the same problems across all platforms and browsers.

Blogly was dead. I could not re-size graphics. Text got weird. I was never sure what margins I would get — or what size titles would be. So many issues. A couple of nights ago, when all my text got pushed to the far right into an ugly narrow column with pictures glued together in a solid lump, I gave up.

I was pissed. The next time the annoying “How can we help you” box popped up, I asked for my money back. Barring that, I suggested they let me select a different theme that actually worked.

They said it was too late to get my money back -- you only have 30 
days to change your mind.

I pointed out that I hadn’t changed my mind. They had trashed my theme. They broke it and they owed me. They called in the infamous “Happiness engineering” development team. They were sure it would be a simple fix. Not.

Today I got my money back. Apparently it was not simple.

The good news? They did the right thing. Somewhere, somehow, someone in WordPress stopped spouting the party line and acted like a professional.

The bad news? How could this mess happen? And why are they still offering the theme for sale?

It was not always like this. Those of us who have been blogging on WordPress for more than a few months remember when it was a happy place with support, encouragement, and sometimes, inspiration.

They’ve taken all the good stuff away and left us with warmed over prompts and what has got to be the most incompetent crew of developers and customer disservice people anywhere. They are worse than my cable company and I don’t say that lightly.

It doesn’t have to be this way. They have taken a good thing and are destroying it, piece by piece. Bad choices, a determination to create a platform for a market that doesn’t exist. Despite their firm belief that the future of blogging is on small devices, it’s not true. People may view blogs on small devices, but no one writes or creates them that way. All of us use a computer. With a keyboard, mouse, or other pointing device.

The success of WordPress depends on having bloggers who attract readers. That means content creators. Writers, photographers, artists. Chefs, craftspeople. All if whom need professional tools to do their thing — and that thing is never going to be done on a phone or tablet.

We are their customers. We generate revenue for WordPress in exchange for a platform. At which WordPress keeps chipping, making it harder and harder to do what we do. Making it easier to view blogs on cell phones while taking away critical tools bloggers need to produce content is stupid. Short-sighted. It will eventually bring down the house.

So I say, send them all to their favorite desert island. Give them just five foods to eat forever. Most important, don’t let them near a computer.



Categories: Blogging, Customer Service, Daily Prompt, WordPress

Tags: , , , , , , ,

56 replies

  1. Thanks for this information, Marilyn. I intended to buy Blogly but now I’ll stick to my current Twenty Eleven which is fine but simple and not the happening modern type hence I haven’t seen many people using it. That’s my only reason I wish to change it…to be trendy and not look boring.
    Very confused about themes.

    Like

    • They ought not offer a product with that many problems. But it was bad. You’re better off without it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • True. In any case, if I ditch Twenty Eleven, then I need a theme that has truncated archives and category posts.

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        • Twenty Eleven is a good one. I went back to Able which I used for a long time before this mess started. If you aren’t getting any major glitches, I actually Twenty Eleven. Twenty Twelve is nice too, but I had problems with it.

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          • Not enough idea about Able theme. Your site looks good. In Twenty Eleven, each page opens up in its own show page. Other than that it lacks glamour that the new minimalists have. The hidden menu and all

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            • Able is very simple. You can make it look any way you want because it’s basically a blank slate, menu at the top … you can add a picture of any size. Its strength is its simplicity. But the newer ones, like this one, have a bit more snap and dash. I’m not sure yet how I feel about not having a header picture. I’ll need to use it for a while before I know how I feel.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Wow!! I saw it now, your new theme.
                Looks beautiful in blue. I thought of this one too. Yes, no header pic here but side one is equally good and the posts are enclosed, the font is clear and bright.

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                • So far, so good. It’s hard to find just the right image, but when you do, it’s quite striking. I’m pleased with it. It doesn’t mean I’ll never change my theme. I change themes more often than most people because I like playing with graphics, but I’m happier with this than I’ve been with anything else for quite a while.

                  Liked by 1 person

      • Hey, you got your money back. It is what it is.

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        • I figure that’s some kind of victory. Since this happened, I’ve heard other horror stories. I actually thought that they had some kind of quality control on the themes they are selling. I was deluded.

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  2. “Despite their firm belief that the future of blogging is on small devices, it’s not true. People may view blogs on small devices, but no one writes or creates them that way.” Thank you for saying that. Sometimes I feel like some kind of dinosaur because I don’t even OWN a small device with which to view the internet, and I don’t usually think, ‘Gee, does my blog look right for someone reading it on their phone?’

    Like

    • My small devices are for toting around. I use them as readers, to listen to audiobooks. To check email, but not to answer it.

      My laptop resides in the living room. My desktop is in my office. The devices are wherever else I am, usually the bedroom, but they also go with me to doctors’ offices or other excursions. I can’t write on any of them. They don’t have keyboards or enough memory to edit. I’ve checked around. I have yet to find a single blogger who creates anything on a cell phone or tablet. Including the iPad. You can, if you are patient, maybe fix a typo, but it’s easier to go to the nearest computer. It’s ridiculously difficult to do anything on a tablet. It take maybe 10 times longer than it does on even a minimal laptop. WordPress is so totally wrong about this. They are redesigning everything for a market that does not exist.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh so glad it wasn’t JUST me that had trouble navigating your new/old place. I had to tap or click on your post title to find your comments. Then with the font size and color change I thought my sight was going.
    Very strange and difficult.
    Great you got your money back.

    Small devices, that’s me and I hate it. Very difficult to use. I want a new laptop, after looking into a iPad and Fire HD.
    The Fire HD still interests me and that is the problem, I can’t decide. I don’t know what I need for the least amount of money.
    I feel so lost when I go in to buy.

    I agree about Amazon, they treat me very well for being such a small time customer.

    Like

    • It took me a while to figure out that it was the theme that was broken. I had to switch to a different theme before I could know for sure and I was seriously pissed off about it. It took me two years to decide to buy a theme, then have them make a total mess of it … Well, at least I got my money back and I’m again using the theme I was using before I bought Blogly. This one, Able, is at least dependable. What a disaster and a thoroughly unpleasant experience. Those twerps who think they know everything are SO annoying!

      The Fire HDs are nice little tablets. I’ve got two (a big one and a 7″) and Garry has a 6″ version. But just know they are not real computers. None of the tablets are. They are good for email, and some other things, but they have significant limits and are not a substitute for a laptop or desktop. Maybe someday, but not yet. I also have an iPad and it isn’t a real computer either. It has a bigger screen, though.

      I got my big Fire HD 8.9 — the big one — refurbished. It was $175 and it’s a great machine for what it is and how little it cost. But if you need a computer … well … a Kindle will not replace a computer. I love them and enjoy using them, but if I need to do any work, I go to one of my computers. I’ve bought a lot of refurbished equipment, both cameras and computers. Maybe a good quality laptop, refurbished?

      Like

  4. And I thought I was the only one having issues with that glitch after commenting on your blog! Not that I’ve ever been tempted to buy a premium theme (I still use the same default theme I picked in 2011 and can’t imagine my blog looking any other way), but I certainly wouldn’t want to after reading this horror story. I hope a few of those foods the natives allow WP are broken glass, crow, a shit sandwich….

    Liked by 1 person

    • At least I got my money refunded. I thought I was just screwed.

      These people who we deal with are kids. Really young. I get so tired of dealing with arrogant children. They don’t listen because they already know everything. I’m just glad I got my money back. That was a truly awful experience. I wouldn’t mind serving up a little crow to a few “happiness engineers.” Talk about misnamed.

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  5. Great post Marilyn. It is so frustrating that WordPress don’t get that in order to read someone has to write first. Or maybe they think that our blogs should all shrink to the size of Twitter comments. I used to enjoy being part of the Flickr community and enjoyed reading and writing descriptive comments on photos. Then the changes came and a lot of people myself included didn’t like them. Many left. I didn’t but I did give up my paid account and now use Flickr as an extra place to store favourite photos. I miss the people I liked communicating with there. I have looked at Blogger and a couple of other sites but don’t really like the format as much as WordPress. I hope they take notice or that failing that some frustrated bloggers who do website development will come up with an alternative.
    As for the Daily Prompt it was rubbish and deserved to be ignored. I did like the idea of sending the WordPress Happiness Engineers there though. Engineer yourselves out of that people. 🙂

    Like

  6. Oh no, poor you! I’ve heard from others about a variety of problems with upgrades that I’ve been scared to do any changes. No edit? That is a deal breaker.

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  7. Many good points there, Marilyn. They alway seem to have to make changes. As for the food – well I would want a little more variety than that. With five items to pick from you’re bound to get sick of them in a very short time.
    Leslie

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  8. Well said. I wouldn’t want to buy a scheme unless there were guarantees it would work consistently – and as advertised. Let’s hope someone at WP takes notice.

    Like

  9. I would choose Jumbo sized eggs, peanut butter, naval oranges, ice cold whole milk and spinach.

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  10. This is a very good post. Sensible and straight forwards and the points very well put. I too have a bought theme, two actually, both Adelle. I also have two bought .com sites. I don’t do new clothes, do not go on world travels and my health would not allow it, just once a year to see my dad in London for as long as I have him, so I spend my money on computers and all that jazz which is my hobby and pasttime in my golden oldie years. I noticed when I commented on the theme you chose, that it cut off the top of your blog where you had actually written the blog. Do they really think that we are all fiddling around with the little buttons on our phones and pads to post here? Never, I write on a computer, a lap top and use the other stuff for just looking and the odd comment, but not writing pages of blogs. I like to relax in my own little computer world. As far as the rehashed cooked up prompts are concerned, you know my opinion. An interesting read Marilyn, not just a read but food for thought. There is a list on Internet of the top blogging sites and WordPress is No. 1. I still think it is. you might shake your head, but the others do not offer very much. I also read that they employ 180 people. Whether this is still the case I do not know. It does not seem a lot, but software companies do not need large amounts of personnel, just gifted devoted people. I rest my case and thanks again for this write.

    Like

    • WordPress has hitched their corporate wagon to the small mobile device market, apparently forgetting that for people to view content, others have to create it. Like us. We create it. We are both producers and consumers. Most of us expected the tablet market to slack off and the computer market to come back … and it is doing exactly that. Touchscreens are not for serious users. Fingers aren’t a precise pointing device and fingernails are forever in the way.

      I too spend my money on technology. I don’t need much clothing. I don’t go anywhere and I haven’t changed sizes in years, so clothing from 3 years ago is fine.

      I buy cameras. Computer stuff. So I thought it would be nice to have a special theme, but what a disaster!

      There isn’t much competition for WordPress — right now — but I’m sure this will not always be true. I’m curious to see who jumps in. I’m betting Amazon is going to come up with something. They have their fingers in many pies and keep baking new ones.

      I hate the way WP has gone. It really pains me. Because it DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. They don’t have to ruin it. But they are bound and determined to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I couldn’t agree with you more. Everyone in the business thinks that touchscreens and mobile devices are the wave of the future, but that wave has crashed on the shore. As you said, we do like them to read stuff on, but until they implant stuff into our brain that will write long things out and modify it into a legible page, keyboards and big screens ain’t goin’ anywhere. Can you imagine writing a thesis on a tablet? Not happening.

    Like

    • And touchscreens are physically difficult for many of us. Inaccurate. Hard to pinpoint a precise place in a sentence to add a word, or change something. Tablets are “computing light.” Everyone has a few of them lying around for a quick peek at email or seeing how the blog looks. But if you want to DO anything, buy anything, create anything, you go to the laptop or desktop. How WordPress can fail to see this is baffling.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I hate touchscreens with a fiery passion that will never die. I used to have slider phones with the QWERTY keyboards but they don’t make them anymore!!! >_< Can you freaking believe that? I'm thinking about giving up this whole smartphone business and going back to just a regular phone. Until they stop making those.

        Like

  12. I do a lot on my phone, or did until I finally replaced my laptop a few months ago. The big excuse they give for catering to mobile devices is BS. “non-mobile friendly” is easy to fix if you’re reading, they are just catering to the lazy (and leading with that example too)

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    • I can understand wanting to make it easier to read on small devices … but they have completely forgotten that if they drive away the people who create content, there won’t BE anything to read. Stupid, short-sighted, dumbass planning.

      Like

  13. Excellent post in which you expressed the frustration that some of us feel over the “improvements” WordPress keeps making. I still have to click several times to get to the “old” stats page and often get pop-up asking me four questions about why I like the old one better. And I always respond. But still, it’s a pain to get to the “old” (and in my opinion, better) stats page. Is anyone at WordPress really listening. Does anyone at WordPress really care what we think?

    And as to today’s Daily Prompt, all I can say is: Really?

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are convinced that the future is with small devices. They are wrong. We may view on small devices, but if you want content — something TO view — we all work on computers. Laptops or desktops, because you can’t do what you need to do on a tablet or phone. You just can’t. That’s not my opinion. It’s a fact. But they don’t get it and are determined to make everything “mobile device friendly,” no matter how much damage gets done in the process. They are NOT listening and worse, they are not thinking.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And that’s why the sale of tablets has leveled off and the sale of laptops is back on the upswing.

        Like

        • Yup. That’s what I expected. And if Microsoft puts out a decent OS this time, it might really improve the market. A lot of people have been holding off buying new computers because they don’t want to start over with a new OS (Apple or Linux), but dislike (hate?) Windows 8. It’s always bad business to base a company’s future on limited data collected over a very short interval.

          Like

  14. I love this post, Marilyn, and I feel your pain. Perhaps WordPress, with the rest of the world, has been bought up by Microsoft with the express diabolical plan of ruining it like they have ruined Hotmail, Skype, OkCupid (Oh, wait, it was Match.Com that ruined OKC.) At any rate, I am so glad you got your money back. Not that it compensates for the time, pain and frustration. Perhaps a new career for blog lawyers? I, too, hate many new functions of WordPress, including the stats page where I can’t find anything I really want to know and that comments thingie in the upper right that I can never figure out how to scroll down on. That a competent and talented person such as yourself is frustrated is, forgive me, comforting to me. WHY CAN’T THEY JUST LEAVE THINGS ALONE AND INVENT NEW THINGS TO MESS UP INSTEAD OF FIDDLING WITH THINGS THAT ALREADY WORK????? Okay. Old fogie rant over. But, thanks for your post. Judy

    Liked by 1 person

    • You aren’t being an old fogie. Young fogies need edit functions too. No one, young or old, creates blog content on a cell phone. You can’t. You can’t even access a functional “new post”page on a mobile device. The small devices lack the power and are too small to see anything. WordPress is committed to making itself totally mobile friendly, catering to a market that does not and never will, exist. In the end, we will ALL lose.

      Liked by 1 person

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