BREAKING NEWS? HOW ABOUT A BROKEN WORDPRESS SEARCH ENGINE? – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

Not exactly luminescent. More like the exact opposite.  

If you are on your dashboard and you go to Reader (I don’t know what dashboard you are using because they keep “fixing it” and this latest fix has REALLY fixed it but good). Open Reader, go down to “Search” and type in your name. See what you get. If you are lucky, you will see most or all of your posts including recent posts.

If you are me, you will find nothing — not the name of your site or your name or any post from your site at all. Almost everyone else can find at least their older posts. In my case, I effectively do not exist in the WordPress search engine.

Why is this such a big deal? Because the search engine — otherwise known as “the database” — is how WordPress hangs together. It’s the core information about who is who and what is what on their gigantic server farms. That’s how you can look up “Serendipity” and find all the various posts on Serendipity — despite there being other posts that have included the word in their titles and a few that just plain stole it. All of this is linked to our URL, which is our “address” on the  world-wide web — the big virtual world of which we are part.

CBS Images

I have been posting pretty much daily for six-years. That’s more than 7,000 posts, almost 11,000 WordPress followers (probably half of them are Russian bots) and another 3500 (give or take) individuals from social media. I have 669,975 views including almost every country on earth. I’m missing North Korea (we all are) and a couple of central African countries, but otherwise, I’ve gone everywhere and most of you have also traveled the globe, at least virtually.

Right now, those who are already following you or me or anyone (and vice versa) will continue to get emails and notices in the Reader. No one new will find us in the Reader — or at least won’t find any of our new material. They may find you through Google, though. As long as Google keeps crawling through WordPress, we are alive. Sort of.

Search engine history

For me, it’s a complete wipe out. None of the five of us who write on Serendipity show up as existing at ALL in the search engine except as reblogs on other peoples’ sites.

By the way, I had no idea how many reblogs of our pieces were around. Thank you, all of you!

So, the regulars who follow me can (so far) continue to follow, but casual drop-by people looking for pictures or information or book reviews or whatever we write about won’t find it if they are searching for us on WordPress.

Google is alive and well, so far. I’m assuming that’s true of whatever other search engines (Bing, Yahoo, etc.) are crawling through WordPress.

This is a major issue for WordPress. A broken database is serious business.

Databases were what I worked on for most of my professional life. Technical writing — with a VERY heavy emphasis on data management. A company’s  search engine is the center — the core — of a system. It’s not a spare part.

The database is how a system knows about itself and can find its various pieces. If it breaks down, that is very bad. The “old bloggers” — we who have been doing this for years — are the hardest hit and I think I’m the only one who has been obliterated completely. We aren’t completely dead as long as our links still work and Google picks up the pieces, but if the whole database (search engine) collapses, WordPress will collapse with it.

And then, there is WordPress

It’s important that you make sure WordPress knows you know what’s going on and they need to fix this. Pronto. They are working on it, but it’s possible I was the first person to get on their case and make them realize how deep this issue goes.

They have been messing with the “reader” and “search engine” for years without giving a thought to what might happen if things went terribly wrong. And with databases, thing go terribly wrong pretty fast and rather easily. Just know that a database is how your system remains A SYSTEM and not a lot of random pieces floating in cyber-space.

The longer it goes on, the more pieces of our work will disappear and possibly never be found again. Anyone who codes will understand what I’m talking about. This should not have happened and they should have been working on it from day one instead of just doing their “we’re just messing around, don’t let it bother you” thing. Eventually, mindless coding will break something serious.

They finally did it.

Most of us only use a few search engines. Amazon for its own products. WordPress. Google. Bing. But there are thousands and thousands of search engines dedicated to specific tasks — finding cheap hotel rooms or airplane tickets — or anything else you might need or want. There are local bases and international bases. Medical and scientific bases. Every subject and science has a variety of databases, some of which charge fees for their use. Some require that you have degrees in the subject or are teaching in the field.

WordPress’s database is its fundamental tool. It isn’t “just” WordPress, either. It hooks into all the other databases. It matters. Its absence matters to us more than most of you may “get.” Time for them to stop messing around and start addressing the real issues on the platform — while there still is a platform.

72 thoughts on “BREAKING NEWS? HOW ABOUT A BROKEN WORDPRESS SEARCH ENGINE? – MARILYN ARMSTRONG”

  1. Okay, I admit I’m one of the ‘dumb’ ones in the crowd….I understand what you’re saying and could follow it, but had no idea of the impact that you’ve uncovered. Have you looked into other venues for blogging? If so, please share. You’ll take a portion of WP’s customers with you. For myself, I checked the “discourages search engines” button long ago (I have stalkers or did) because there are those I’d rather not have reading my stuff. But you’ve explained one thing today .. why my friend Glyn cannot find another friend of his who blogs here. He’s tried the search engines and they don’t work (as you pointed out). So it’s not just the ‘old’ bloggers who are impacted, it’s new ones too. WP seems to have a bigger problem than they may realize.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far, Typepad is the only one that isn’t Blogger (Google) or WordPress. Typepad is pretty new and I don’t know what they actually cover, world-wide. I DO know that WordPress has hugely expanded without giving much thought to the implications of this rapid expansion. What has happened was probably inevitable. I keep hoping someone will show up wit a good, sturdy product and we can all jump on board, but it won’t be that easy. There used to be others, but they got bought out — and disbanded — by Google and WordPress. These monsters do NOT want competition.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I wanted to point out, however, that at $8.95/month, it’s actually only $8 a year more than what I wind up paying to WordPress. The hard part is figuring out if I can migrate 7000 posts and lord only knows how many photographs. I’m not sure I can. Maybe a year or two, but surely not the whole shebang.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s confusing as I still see “Serendipity” posts by you on your blog, but I don’t know where they are coming from, or how current they are? Are you still having trouble with WordPress, or have they fixed it and are just getting around to upchucking posts that were in que?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’a their database-search engine that’s broken. You don’t use it anyway and you are already following me, so for you, there won’t be any difference. For anyone who is NOT already following me, they will not be able to find me on WordPress’s search engine. It’s a broken database.

          Liked by 1 person

        1. Hot flash. You aren’t showing up in it, either. This is affecting everyone. There are NO posts showing for ANYONE since mid March. NOTHING in April at all. I’m totally missing, but everyone’s current material is missing. Yours too. I checked.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I typed my name (Fandango) into the Reader search thingie on my WordPress iPhone app and it showed only one of my posts, along with a handful of other posts that were either reload or had the word fandango in them. Maybe that’s the way it works on the iPhone. I’ll see what happens when I try it on my laptop.

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    1. Yes. Go. Please add YOUR complaint to all the others. The more of us are on their backs, the more likely they are to really make an effort to fix it. On the other hand, Typepad is beginning to look pretty good. It’s $8 a year more than my “premium” payment to WordPress and they’ve been around longer than WordPress and have managed to survive. I’ve about had it with them. It’s just one horror after another.

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  3. Eh, this isn’t the only website I use with a broken search engine. I know of three off the top of my head. I knew all of this before because I’ve tried looking for my old blog and couldn’t find it via Google. I’ve also talked with WordPress about it, and like you they told me they’re “working” on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t find ANY of my work. NONE. Most people can find a few odds and ends, but no one seems to be able to find an up-to-date version of their site. If the search engine is busted, effectively, the site is busted. You can’t generate followers if they can’t FIND you.

      Who the hell do they HIRE for these jobs? Are these high schoolers who know a little coding and work really cheap?

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I guess that explains why I can no longer comment on so many posts. If the email identifier has been added and goes red, you simply can’t like or post. Unfortunately, many I follow are in the same boat, WITHOUT the email identifier so know that I’m still following, loving and liking, you just can’t see it or me! dang it. Seems like they need some REAL experts at this stuff! Ya think?

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              1. I know. I went through that last year when they lost me. It’s taken, unbelievably a year to get back to finding everyone. Thank you for being persistent and keeping me. That’s one of the special as are you moments and people I’ve found here, that make coming here worthwhile and putting up with the BS possible.

                Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, WP really has it in for you! I typed my name (well my blog name) into the search engine and all my posts came up, even the Not CM posts and many of the guest posts I did for other bloggers. But then I figured maybe the search engine was affected by the fact that I was logged in as Cordelia’s Mom. So I put YOUR name into the search engine – and got nothing. Nada. Zilch. There is something seriously wrong there. Hope WP can figure it out for you. And I seriously hope that in the process of fixing your problem, they don’t create problems for the rest of us. Probably too much to hope for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, BTW, when I searched your name, I did get hits on other people’s sites, one of which was mine. I can only assume that’s because at some point I linked to your site as a reference to something I was posting about.

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  6. I just paid in and got my premium account a few months ago. I have had WordPress since 2015 though. I had no clue about this issue but have had some major issues with WordPress so far such as not being able to see anything in my saved list that I have been working on, not being able to upload videos for my blog , it freezing up on me as I am trying to write and not having my stats update properly. I did just try the search thing in the reader and found that you are correct about your site not showing up at all. I searched my own and everything came up fine. However, like someone else suggested, it could be because I am currently signed into myself. I hope they fix this soon.

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    1. This is a big issue and I suspect it is affect almost everybody, but it seems that the bigger the blog, the bigger the hit. It’s really unacceptable. We are customers. We deserve to be treated as such. They had to know this was happening but they never saw fit to mention it? What, we are such children we aren’t allowed to know what’s going on? I’m beginning to give Typepad a real looking at. it’s just $8 more per year than what I already pay to WordPress and these people are really pissing me off.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I tried me and it worked fine. However I can’t find you under “Marilyn”, “Serendipity” or “teepee” 😦
    But don’t worry, they’re bringing out a new post editor to make up for it.

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  8. Bloody hell. I’ve never searched for myself before but apparently Meeka’s mind only goes back as far as January 2 2018 [by relevance] and December 2017 [by date]. Couldn’t see any way of going back earlier, say to December 2011 when I started blogging. Just going to try from my classic dashboard. Fingers crossed. Okay, I can go right back to the beginning using the original WP dashboard. -phew- I backed everything up a while ago and I’ve migrated most of it across to Medium so I’m okay, but I really hope everyone else gets their posts back. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m actually quite enjoying Medium but it’s not without its own niggles. They’re pushing this membership thing to avoid having ads. $5 per month to read everything and the bloggers who take part get a share of the proceeds.
        Great in principle but a) as an Aussie I wouldn’t be able to get paid and b) it’s a bit annoying clicking on an interesting article only to find that it’s for paid up members only.
        Us ordinary types do get 3 free articles a month….-rolls eyes-
        Anyway, I’m straddling both platforms at the moment as I’ve made too many friends on WP to walk away entirely.

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        1. I’m in the same place. I’ve made a whole lot of friends here … and unless I move to Typepad — that’s $9/month but it really only adds up to $8 a year more than i already pay here — well, I don’t know. It is very frustrating.

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          1. With the wisdom of hindsight I really, really wish I’d resurrected my website instead of testing the blogging waters with WordPress. Truth is, I never thought I’d enjoy it, never thought I’d still be doing it for so many years. [I’m in my 7th year]. -shrug-

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  9. Never fear, you’re there, all right. I typed in teepee12, Marilyn Armstrong, and SERENDIPITY into the WordPress search engine at https://en.search.wordpress.com/, and each time, there you were, big as life. I clicked on “DATE” in the “ORDER BY” option and this particular post came up first, second, or third (for SERENDIPITY) at the top of the list. The same applied to the search feature on the WordPress Reader, except that SERENDIPITY is too common a word (too many bloggers have used it), so your post was probably pushed way down on the list.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. This could be something like a simple WYSIWYG issue (What You See is What You Get). Other people may not have found any reference to your site because they didn’t type what the WP computer needed to find a match: “Marilyn” all by itself, capitalized or not, in all upper case, or all lower case, is probably too common of a word for your site to show up anywhere near the top. The same goes for the word “Serendipity,” as well as for the word “teepee” (with no “12” affixed to it).

        Computers are stupid: they think only in terms of “on” and “off,” so if a term typed into a search engine doesn’t yield the hit you’re looking for, it’s because there is no exact match; or else, because a hit list display is done according to the time stamp on an entry, what you are looking for is buried under too many other exact hits that got into the system before yours did.

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        1. First of all, Serendipity comes up fine. Just not MY site. Every OTHER site with the word serendipity in it shows up. I do not just type in my first name. I worked in high tech my entire life — I get computers. I tried my entire name, my name plus serendipity. The titles of recent posts — full titles with and without my name attached and titles of other people’s posts too. Tried the names of all four other writers.

          ALL WE GOT WERE REBLOGS of our pieces on other blogs. This isn’t a WYSIWYG issue. It’s database error. After six years using the same title — Serendipity — when I could easily get my stuff through the search engine, NOW it’s entirely missing. That ain’t a GUI issue. It is an error in the database-search engine and it affects a lot of other people, not just ME. If the only way anyone can find me is by already KNOWING my URL, you figure that’s really going to pull in new readers? Think about that for a while.

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          1. Unfortunately, having a lifetime of computer experience no longer counts. I was programming computers back before the last two generations of geeks were even gleams in their daddies’ eyes. Such is life.

            Like

      1. I have no idea if they fixed anything. Your own name (entered first and last together) came up right away, as did the URL.

        People may not “know” your URL (teepee12), even if they know about your book, because its not the title of your book, but those who do visit you will find out your URL immediately because it’s right up there in the address bar.

        If by the name of the site you mean “Serendipity,” it did come up at https://en.search.wordpress.com/, but a little farther down the list of hits. The time of day you post something will affect that.

        If you want a URL that’s more discoverable for the blog name “Serendipity,” you have to change your URL. Otherwise, the name “Serendipity” is just another blogged word, and depending on how many thousands of people use that word on any particular day, your blog name may rarely (if ever) appear in the top ten hits of the Reader search engine, no matter how long you’ve used the word as a blog name.

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        1. And GEE, just a month ago that name brought up thousands of posts because I’ve been on the site longer than anyone else using that title and my URL is supposed to be SAFE. No one else can legally use it. You know that, right?

          I’ve been writing on this site for a long, long time. A month ago I was getting 500 hits on a post and now I’m barely there. You think maybe, just this once, it may not be MY fault? Just this once? And when I enter my name, both names, NOTHING COMES UP AT ALL. NOTHING. Just reblogs. Not one post of the 7000 and considering I’m closing on 700,000 views, I think possibly the problem isn’t ME this time. I am sorry. It’s time WordPress accepted some responsibility for taking care of paying clients.

          Liked by 1 person

            1. They sure fixed this one well. There’s really not much I can do. My title is my title. Changing it will just confuse everyone who already know me as Serendipity — under which name I actually REGISTERED and my URL is legally supposedly protected. Not that anyone knows it offhand. I sometimes forget and have to look it up. But my name as the author of about 5000 of the 7000 posts on this blog works fine on Google. As do all the OTHER people who write with me. It’s broken. And they have a bunch of inept kids doing all their work. I assume that is because they work cheaper.

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  10. Better is the enemy of good.
    According to videos from a recent WP Camp, they are working on a massive redo ( and they make all these promised how it will be fabulous)
    WP has always been quirky, but downright nuts over the last year.
    (I worked in research and used data bases frequently…they need to hire some serious people)
    Bookmarking your page and hoping I can find you that way.
    Seeing rocky road ahead

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    1. Databases break easily and are not necessarily so easily fixed, either. That was also what I did for all those long years in tech. I’m actually thinking about migrating. It’s just such a massive process and this has been a very long investment — not just mine, but that of four other dedicated writers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Revamping for a shift perhaps. Expect much change spring/summer/fall depending on how they work – they are still tweaking the product apparently
        Shifting more towards business? Like Facebook? WP has morphed over the past few years – at first no one could even hint of selling product – authors were even called down if promoting book too much. There are now payment-style buttons and lots and lots of business “blogs”. The updates seem focused not only on making mobile use easier, but also business (in one WP camp video they discuss how you can schedule a sale announcement to followers…)
        So maybe while they make money off blogger’s words ( and the desire to not feature ads or the cost to add more space), perhaps making more money is driving the “progress”?
        Sad. Hope they don’t end up messing around and “killing” the golden blogger geese?

        Like

  11. You might be soft banned. I remember a blog post ages ago from another blogger who had a similar thing happen to them. If I remember correctly Automattic’s system will delist you if it thinks your site breaks the terms of service in some fashion, usually involving links for financial gain — this was so long ago that I read that so take it with a grain of salt. Essentially what that blogger had to do was unlink anything that was directed to an outside store and the next day they were coming up in the search results again. (It’s all algorithmic based there isn’t an actual person that delists you so any algorithmic system can get false positives). The idea behind it is to stop spammers from getting free blogs and then using it to, well, spam people.

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      1. Yeah. I think if it were the case they could tell you. I remember when that blogger chatted support they were able to tell her what was going on. If anything its probably some sort of flag tripped somewhere in all the updates WordPress does. I thought being gone a couple years things might be more stable but I guess not. Go figure.

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    1. Nope, not that. I made ONE change earlier that has helped, by adding what had been a second line in the title and making it part of the title, so it’s no longer just “serendipity” but “Serendipity – Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth” which apparently makes the name more unique — although it was plenty unique enough until about three weeks ago. It’s kind of a lot for someone to type into a search engine, too.

      Like

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