BLOGGING DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE – Marilyn Armstrong

WordPress’s new “algorithm” has made a lot of bloggers unhappy. I’m sure they regret our unhappiness, but I think what is really making them unhappy is that other companies — like Google and Facebook — are raking in fortunes — and they aren’t. It’s not that they aren’t profitable, but in this world, merely profitable is not enough. I’d like to say that Trump is at fault, but I think he is the product of greed, not greed itself.

They want it all. Big money. Bigger money. Now.

We aren’t the money machine they want and we can’t be. It isn’t that they don’t appreciate our writing. It’s that we are not bringing in business and their bottom line isn’t big enough.

They made an ugly mistake with the new algorithm. I am guessing it was supposed to show off “new posts” but instead, effectively “disappeared” older sites and thousands of posts.

Originally, it seemed like it was just me and some other “big” sites with a lot of followers, but it’s going around and hitting all kinds of sites. The only thing we have found that fixes it is to rename the site. This is unfair and annoying, but it works.  I am seeing posts from people whose sites have been missing so long, I thought they were closed.

A lot of people don’t check to see how they are doing in the search engine. I never did. I don’t like the Reader, but they have centralized their engine into it, so at some point, if you want to find other blogs  — and they want to find you — that’s where  you have to go. At this point, it is the central “finder” for 23 million blogs around the world. It doesn’t work well and they are always fixing it.

It never gets fixed because as soon as they get it settled down, they decide to take another whack at it.

WordPress has gone from two or three million sites when I joined to 23 million now and it includes every connected country on the planet. WordPress has grown too big. too fast. They are understaffed. Worse, WordPress believes — because their marketing people told them so (watch out for those people) told them they can attract young, chic, bloggers who are looking for a home.

The problem? There are no such people. That audience doesn’t exist.

Bloggers are readers. Most bloggers are past 40 and more or less settled. Blogging is time-consuming and requires dedication. Most kids aren’t readers. Sure, some are, but not nearly as many as there were back when we were younger. We didn’t have telephones, so we read books. And newspapers. And magazines. I even read the back of the cereal boxes in a pinch.

WordPress’s attempt to attract kids is doomed. Wrong audience. Youngsters look for short, snappy products like Twitter and Instagram. They want stuff that works on their phones and doesn’t take hours of thinking to produce.

For us, there aren’t many choices remaining.

GeoCities became Yahoo and they closed their blogging sites. There were a bunch of smaller ones. All but TypePad are gone and I really haven’t figured out what Medium is trying to do. I am not sure Medium knows what they are about, either.

All the others — aside from Blogger on Google — are expensive. If you’re in business, the expense is not outrageous, but if you just want to write and post lovely photographs or poetry or your art, $25 per month is a big chunk of change. Paid services (few though there are) have better customer service and technical staff, but they lack “reach.”

I hoped someone else would jump in and build something, but it hasn’t happened. Maybe blogging isn’t profitable enough. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon — they make money. WordPress? Not so much. WordPress was not supposed to be a sales platform, but that’s what they want to be today.

Blogging is something else. We aren’t selling stuff. In fact, most of us pay to NOT have advertisements on our sites. Few of us “monetize,” even though they have been trying to convince us to do that for a few years.

What’s will happen? Blogger with Google at its back, will hang in there because their platform is a small piece of a much larger enterprise.

A well-founded rumor is that WordPress is pressing for more business accounts, fewer bloggers. This bad new “algorithm” was one of many attempts to push that concept through.

That this has been a disaster from which they already are pulling back is temporary. They want money and international reach — like Google has.

Either they will go out of business and start over, or they will make it harder and harder to use them without paying much more. Some people can afford it, but many of us can’t. One way or the other, when the bottom line is money, they aren’t going to quit. They will keep at it until they are bankrupt or they find a way to get richer.

I hope we still have a place to write a few years down the road.

39 thoughts on “BLOGGING DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. I am on the “Personal” plan, and as far as I can tell, all I get for my money is no ads. Oh, maybe some more themes, but I’m still using the same theme I started with almost a year ago because it’s too much of a hassle to set up a new one.

    But yeah, most of us bloggers here on WordPress — at least the ones whose blogs I regularly read and who regularly read mine, are at least middle aged. So maybe “long-form” blogging will die out with our generation and go the way of cassette tapes, 45 rpm records, and VHS tapes. Maybe WordPress will be tomorrow’s Blockbuster, Radio Shack, and Border’s Book Store.

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    1. You also get extra room for photographs and the ability to alter your format — change the fonts, etc. I’m in the middle, so I get a lot more room for pictures, which I need, and I can pick any template, no charge (that’s new for this year — you used to have to buy some of them). Mostly though, I pay to have my own domain name, no ads, and to manipulate my format. Fonts, mostly. At $99 year, it’s manageable. Up from here, there’s just a business site and I’m NOT a business.

      I paid that kind of money — more, actually — when I was running a business, but it was the cost of having an online business and as long as I was money ahead at the end of the month, all was well. When the economy went bye-bye in 2008, so did my online shop. I did well for almost 4-years. I was trying to be the “J. Peterman” of online sellers and I kind of was. My sales pitches were really entertaining. it’s also when I really got it together with photography. You can’t sell old things — antiques and collectibles — without good photographs.

      Basically, I wrote blogs with pictures for people with credit cards 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “I pay to have my own domain name….” Yes, that was another thing. I dropped the “wordpress” from my URL. I think I only pay $49 for the “personal” plan. You must have the “business” plan if you pay $99. I don’t think, the way I blog, I can justify the extra cost.

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        1. I think my point is that you READ. Whether you read on your phone or a Kindle or a book, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that YOU READ and a lot of people — young people — don’t. Not only is that a fearsome issue for writers, it’s a fearsome issue for education. Did you learn most of what you know in school? Betting you learned a lot more from reading … and they don’t read.

          So whatever they know, they re getting it from the Internet or TV or rumors. But they aren’t learning from many sources. They aren’t digging into a subject they care about and really LEARNING it.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. My son and daughter are voracious readers, but neither of their significant others reads much at all. Which, to me, is a disappointment. But, hey, it’s their lives.

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            1. I agree it’s their lives, but ultimately, it’s OUR world and if we are growing up generations of ignoramuses, it will be all of our losses. My granddaughter doesn’t read either. She did, but her mother doesn’t and whatever her mother does, that what SHE does.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. I have been on a few sites, my long time favourite being Multiply and they really did close down because it was Indonesia based, and they went into marketing which was their downfall. Blogger is a catastrophe and you are really only doing your own thing. I like WordPress, but I am not interested in statistics. Of course it is always good to see that people visit, and good to meet people that almost can become friends on an online basis, but I am not interested in the graphs they build showing how well you are doing. I blog because I like to blog. I read other blogs and my action is mainly in the reader. I like WordPress and hope they survive. They are just joining the public rat race like everyone else, trying to make a profit. Everyone goes for business that is where the money is, but I do not do business. Just enjoy my daily blogging sessions and if WordPress happen to fail, there will always be someone else waiting in the wings.

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    1. I just hope that we still have some choice as to where to blog. WordPress is doing what Multiply did — and I suspect the result will be the same. There ISN’T ANY YOUNG MARKET FOR BLOGGING. This isn’t an activity for the Twitter and Facebook set. They want short, two sentences — one sentence — and a picture. We are looking to try to say something and hope others enjoy it too. Mostly, we are writers or artists and this is where we show off our stuff. It was NOT supposed to be a commercial site.

      I was SO hoping someone would come up with a new site — and get the point of what a blogging site should be and which WP was in the beginning — but I think the problem is it doesn’t bring in the huge dollars other places get from being more commercial.

      What will be? I don’t know. Garry pointed out that whenever The Suits get involved, creativity goes down the tubes. I want him to be wrong, but he is usually right.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I pay to not have ads on one blog, but not the other blog. If what you say is true that Word Press is looking for businesses, that might not work well. I’ve seen blogs by businesses, and it looks like their life-activity span is about 6 months. Blogging takes time. It requires thought and content that visitors will want to read rather than solely about the business’ service or products. The latest themes that do not provide a menu or border to find previous posts, or what I call screenshot homepages, are not the most attractive for having regular visitors either.

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    1. Yes, yes, and yes again. They want to make this “more commercial,” but bloggers aren’t businesses. Nor will we be. So if what they want are mega billions, we aren’t going to be able to pay that kind of money.

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      1. If Word Press wants to make more money, they need to promote their blogging platform. They should also remove outdated “how-to” articles. Thankfully, I can usually find a forum or “chat” online with a support person if I have a question.

        I don’t think that Blogger offers that type of support, and neither does it promote blogging communities. I’ve been to some blogs on Blogger where I couldn’t find previous posts and when I do Google searches, seldom does it ever return anything on Blogger.

        In other words, I think that Word Press is the best blogging platform. Even when they make changes, such as with editing posts and in the Reader, I don’t complain because they are hosting my blogs for free, and I don’t have to spend time programming. I’m grateful for that.

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        1. For many of us, it is not free. I don’t mind paying. They are entitled to earn their way too. But random software changes that make it impossible to do what you normally do are bad for everyone. They should decide who they are and what they want to be.

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    1. I keep hoping that someone who already has a lot of money — like Zuckerfokker — will open a blogging site as a sort of non-profit. Maybe to make up for all the harm he’s done. Or maybe Bill Gates will decide that we need more art on earth. Someone needs to put together a site that has some support other than advertisements because as a commercial business, we aren’t making them NEARLY rich enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I do like the Reader but I might never have realised that I too had a problem had I not become curious and tried to search for my blogs after reading about your troubles. I’m still getting emails from “Happiness Engineers” wanting to know how they did but I think your suggestion is probably what solved the problem.
    Most of the bloggers I follow are over forty. I’m sure there are younger ones out there but I guess I gravitate to writers whose content I can relate to, those with a similar outlook on life. I don’t have much in common with “Mummy Bloggers” for example although I will read them if they are funny.

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  5. I haven’t paid WP anything but have been thinking about it. I haven’t noticed less traffic though, not that I’ve ever gotten much on this blog. Back in the day I did, on a different blog, when I really worked at putting out 2-3 little posts every day and sprinkling silly comments everywhere.

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    1. If it weren’t for the photographs, which take up a lot of space, I probably would pay the lower fee just to keep the advertisement off. But I admit I like messing with the typography and fonts and design too. I love design work, even though i never studied it.

      I post daily as a general rule, but I have help — four other writers. And I reblog good material and rerun (and rewritten) older blogs. I’ve got more than 7000 posts to pick from, so I could probably rerun things forever 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. What happened to you, happened to me a year ago. It took forever to get my blog up and running again with many attempts. Thankfully, my son knows what he’s doing otherwise I’d be in ‘neverland’ and long gone. He was persistent and persistence pays off in the end, well in my case, and yours too for that matter. If you hadn’t persisted, you would be long gone. I for one am delighted at your persistence and what’s more, your explanations of what’s been going on. Since the ‘happiness engineers’ never once contacted me about my problems. I also agree with the failed market attempt. They are barking up the wrong street! Teens and some a tad older don’t read, could care less about learning how the past has affected the future. Their interests are immediate and immediate gratification between a very small group of friends on aforementioned platforms. Until someone builds something else, we’re stuck. I fell in love with blogging the instant my son set it up for me. I’m constantly enthralled at the variety of people, ideas, thoughts, poems, etc on any given subject and ALWAYS by individuals thoughtful adept and interesting. I follow many younger than me but hey these days, that’s easy to do, not that I’m complaining, the alternative, of course, isn’t impressive. haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The problem is money.

      It is ALWAYS money. They want more of it and this product was never designed to be the best financial site on the internet. It was for bloggers — writers and other artists. It was for community and art and creativity. But now, the people at the top changed and all they want is the bigger bottom line and that spells ill for us as a group.

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  7. I hope we have a place as well, but it ain’t looking good. I tried using Blogger before I found WordPress, and I thought it sucked. I came from a site that closed, and which wasn’t as user friendly as WP, but it still took some time to adapt to how WP work(ed). If WP changes and keeps wrecking things and tearing down established popular features, and installing crap for kids, well I guess it’ll be time for me to move along once again. You have contacts and networks that are awesome, can you find someone who will jump in and build a site for people who actually want to READ something, and write now and then, show their art and photography? Maybe that’s the way to go…find someone who wants to do the heavy lifting of starting up a new site dedicated to people who want to BLOG. Maybe have user support features, so people with knowledge, like yourself, can give input and be listened to. I don’t know, is that a pipe dream? Anything must be better. This is getting discouraging.

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