I reread the letter from this engineer and I realized suddenly, with a certain horror, what it means to me, to you, to all of us who have been here for a while and built sites.
WordPress decided to change their algorithm so that “new, fresh material” will get pushed up to the top of the search engine and everything else — like me and you, for example — will go to the bottom. Instead of promoting blogs with solid statistics and followers, they are pushing the latest thing, whoever has just opened a new blog and … well … as someone already said: “Who made this decision? What do they mean by ‘relevant’?”
Some engineer. Maybe a developer. Someone — 25-years old?
Here’s the core of the letter I got. You might want to read it twice because he is talking about all of us. Please note that the reason nothing is missing from my site (except about 6000 posts) is because I went and changed the title. They didn’t fix anything at all. They just buried me with their exciting new algorithm.
Nagesh Pai (Automattic)
Apr 27, 07:53 UTC
Thanks for your reply. Once again, I truly appreciate your time and effort in writing to us.
I would certainly and sincerely like to apologize for anything that has caused an unpleasant experience to you – whether it is any technology glitch, or my conduct.
Like I mentioned earlier, any technology platform will have its glitches. I hope we have resolved issues whenever you faced them in the past. We are always on the lookout for any faults that may crop up. Unfortunately there are a few that do sneak past.
I would like to focus on anything that is pending to resolve from our side right now.
There is nothing deleted from your site at all! (NOTE: THIS IS BECAUSE I CHANGED MY SITE ADDRESS – BEFORE THAT, THERE WAS NOTHING AT ALL, NOT THE SITE NAME, MY NAME OR ANYONE FROM THE SITE.) The appearance of your articles on WordPress Reader search by relevance is determined by what i explained earlier as “competition”. It would not be fair to use harsh terms like – Fault, here. If there are other articles that rank higher on relevance, it is likely the search algorithm finds it to be more relevant. Rankings keep changing with competition between newly published articles and older ones. The search engine will always try to deliver what the reader would find fresh and relevant, not what the content publishers would like to push. This is a little difficult to grab, since as content creators, we would always like to believe that our posts are the best ( just like we think about people and things we love with all our heart).
In other words: whatever buzz words the algorithm thinks might means “fresh and new” to someone (who?) gets to the top of the pile. “Old blogs” — mine, yours, our friends — are obviously boring and don’t need to even be IN the pile, much less on top of it.
Who decided what’s relevant? It’s not based on our statistics or our standing in “the community.” Not based on the number of our followers or readers. Someone said “that’s relevant” and “that’s NOT relevant.” Because they said so and we just have to live with it.
I don’t know if I want to live with it.
Effectively, what we suspected all along is true. If you have been with them for years, you aren’t fresh and new and why bother with you? So this isn’t an accident. They haven’t made a mistake. They literally decided we aren’t important enough to bother with.
This is probably why if you take a periodic break from blogging, you get more readers because now you are fresher and newer than you were two weeks ago.
The final astonishing thing about this is what they are aiming for — a fresh, young audience — doesn’t exist. Kids don’t read blogs. They are on Instagram and other social media. Blog readers tend to be older and they are readers. Book readers. Newspaper readers. Writers. Photographers. They aren’t kids looking for fresh, young material … and they are not going to be paying their way on WordPress, either.
As a business model, WordPress is setting itself up to appeal to a non-existent market. All those young, fresh bloggers … you know … the ones who write three posts, realize it’s too much like work and abandon their sites? Those kids aren’t readers. That’s why they love Instagram and other short focus sites.
So, if someone specifically is looking for us, they can find us. But if they are looking to discover things to follow? We’ve not relevant and won’t show up. Ponder that. It’s a big lump to swallow.
I’m going to read a book. Something with magic.