RETROSPECTIVE: AFTERTHOUGHT AND FOND FAREWELL – Marilyn Armstrong

RETROSPECTIVE: afterthought & farewell


Do you remember when we competed to get the “Freshly Pressed” award? When there was a weekly prompt that they actually read and supposedly “judged” for quality and uniqueness?

Remember when one day, it vanished? We didn’t even get a marketing letter about that one. It vanished and never returned and Freshly Pressed went with it.

Can you recall when we got little prizes and bonuses for however many views we got … or the number of “likes” or “follows”? That was when blogging was what the platform was about. Almost every author I followed had an active blog on Word Press.

Gradually, all of that has dribbled away. With dissolving the last of it including the Daily Prompt which has got to be the most effortless prompt in creation (and is probably done by a generating app in someone’s laptop), they’ve taken a platform famed for its connectivity and unique friendliness and dropped to see if they can make two billion next year on top of the billion they got this year.

The Years of Serendipity

I know everyone says that “WordPress is free,” but how many of you do NOT pay a fee to upgrade your site? Most of us pay. It’s not the $49.99 a month they want for their business site, but most of us don’t have that kind of money and what’s more, we aren’t businesses. Authors, artists. Thoughtful people with ideas to share. Painters with art. Musicians.

Religious people and atheists share a platform and manage to communicate with each other in a world where this kind of communication is almost unheard of.

I would like to think that somehow, WordPress will still be the same place it used to be, but I doubt it. In every other blogging site where they have wrenched the soul out of it in the name of somehow making a lot more money, the results have been catastrophic. Most of those sites are gone — entirely. The rest have become something so different no one recognizes them. Remember when Reddit was the “hot spot” to get your work recognized? They changed it and now, it’s no kind of hot spot. No one cares if their material is there. It doesn’t matter.

Now, it’s all about monetizing your site. Monetizing? I am retired. I don’t sell anything. When I was selling things, I had a commercial site on a commercial marketing platform. I paid my way along with all the other business sites. In 2008, when our economy crashed, I ended that business. It was not a good business for those financial times.

I missed the extra money, but I was done with business. Meanwhile, I had been blogging a little here and there. GeoCities (remember when Yahoo did something?) and Storyline (I think that was the name — they sold themselves to Facebook which promptly dissolved them; they are gone). There some others until I hooked onto WordPress and found a home.

The blogging platform that is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

There were good years — 2012 through 2014 — and then they started urging us to make money. They would help us. Which was interesting because before that, it was illegal to try to make money on your site. We were bloggers, not businesses. Our goal was to talk about art and books and ideas. To be thoughtful, intelligent, creative.

Now … what will it be? If we aren’t bloggers – thoughtful and creative – then this is another Ruby Lane where businesses line up on a platform and everyone sells whatever they’ve got. I’m not a business. I’m not going to be a business. If I wrote another book, I could publicize it, but that’s not a “business” and anyway, writers don’t have a lot of spare change.

So this is a retrospective to what this platform was and I wish would remain. It is a sad farewell to something which is about to start its long slide to nothing special.

Should WordPress — against all odds — create a business audience out of 12-million bloggers (something no other organization has yet done), it won’t be “our” WordPress, just be another business platform.

Worse, it’s doomed to failure because this isn’t that audience. I keep saying it. The first and possibly ONLY rule of marketing is “KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.”

WordPress doesn’t get that.

And then, there is WordPress

I am linked to many of you as followers and vice versa. If you get my emails indicating I’ve posted, we will stay in touch. There are a lot of people trying to figure out a more direct way to keep in touch. I’m on top of that.

In the meantime it turns out money is what matters, forever and through all eternity. Ah-men.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Writer, photography, blogger. Previously, technical writer. Retired! Yay!

51 thoughts on “RETROSPECTIVE: AFTERTHOUGHT AND FOND FAREWELL – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. It happened to the journal things like Livejournal too–that was a superb active community for a long time. Dreamwidth.org has made a sort of clone of it, but it somehow didn’t get very happening, in my experience.

    It’s too bad that the people who run the company–many companies–don’t get the idea of money, which is that ‘people need money to buy things that give them good quality of life’, but that the smart person goes for ‘good quality of life’ in the more direct way, in this case through companionship, friendliness, no pressure to perform for money and earn earn earn. Oh well–

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Basically, they’ve dumped everything except making more money. That’s what happened to ALL of them and I see no reason why WP would somehow survive this catastrophe of their own making. Yes, I could be wrong. But I’m not.

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      1. It’s too bad, like making a restaurant no one wants to eat at anymore and thinking that’ll make more money–oddly, a local place in Woodstock that used to play 60s and reggae and hippie music decided to play ‘the Amy Winehouse channel’, which apparently plays only music of this sad dead addicted young woman who did music in the 1990s or 2000s and died of an overdose at a young age. The mood of the place stinks now, since it went from ‘this is Woodstock and this is hippie sound and vibes and everything feels possible’ to some odd undertone of poverty, drugs, and death, with music that means nothing to any of the customers and which they could listen to at a rest stop on the highway. It has actually affected the business perceptibly. We used to go all the time and leave great tips, but it just FEELS so bad due to their music choice that the staff is depressed and we don’t go anymore, even though we wish them well. Why do out of your way to ruin your own established good brand…?!?

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        1. I don’t know. But it’s a known “thing.” Some places get past it and keep evolving and keep relating to their customers. Others get a bunch of marketing people who tell them “this is the only way to go” and they believe them. Because they are paying them a lot and they have to be right, right? I’ve worked for a lot of companies that went bankrupt for the same reasons — a refusal to understand their REAL market and make choices that worked for their actual LIVE customers. Why do they do it? Ask DEC or any or a thousand companies that vanished because they dug in to doing it their way which wasn’t a good way.

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          1. Yup. For some reason this place seems to think that being ‘hip’ (gag) like Brooklyn will make things better, whereas everyone escapes from Brooklyn to come to Woodstock…oh well. Best wishes to all.

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    1. WordPress is NOT listening. Not to me or you. But we ARE listening to each other and that has to count. We shall keep in touch. I certainly will try. But I think we are going to lose some, too. They dug a trench this time and a lot of people will just jump ship. I’ve been looking at Mind and trying to see what else might be out there which is affordable and basically lets me do what I already am doing. We’ll see. I don’t know if I have the strength of character to rebuild again.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. And the quest for the next “good (great)” blogging site continues.. or are we all just too tired to do it again? This is the third blogging site I’ve been on. It took me a good bit of time to learn how to effectively use it. And now to sense that it’s going to be a place I won’t care to write is just depressing. Ah well…as Scarlett would say “Fiddle dee dee…tomorrow’s another day”. (paraphrased of course). Take care Marilyn. I’ll be here, reading your Serendipitous blogs until the end.

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    1. This is my third (fourth?) site and I don’t know if I can do it again. I’m getting old and tired. But yes, I’m looking around. You are one of the blogs on my email list, so I know when you post. I don’t get to read every post everyone writes — there aren’t enough hours in a day — but i try to get to at least one and even when I don’t comment, I read and chuckle too.

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  3. I don’t know you and read you for a long time, in fact, I read you for a FAR too short time – but you always impress me with the kind of posts I’m eager to see. You are so intelligent, interested, knowledgeable, you are posing questions, offering ideas – you really should get a paid post somewhere important. But please don’t go …. just don’t. I don’t know what could come after – I have come to love Serendipy and its wide range of topics. Of course, I would be just as fed up as you are if I had a blog, and I made the same experience with other sites but should we really give in?
    Wishing you all the energy you need to fight a good fight. WP MUST listen… Love and courage to you and the Serendipitiers…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not leaving. Or if I do, it won’t be voluntarily. I already pay WP to be here. They are “free” except they really are only free when you first start. Pretty much everyone pays in the end. But WP is changing and eventually, there may not be room for me anymore and I simply don’t know if I have whatever it takes to do this again.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I will stay because there is not really anywhere I want to go without you and all the other good friends I have met on this site. It is more than just blogging. I learn things from the eveyone about life in their countries. Most of my connections take part in the Reader I get e-mails so I notice who is posting, even if I do not read the mails, because I do my reading in WordPress. That was a good piece you wrote, and really summed it all up. Are they deaf and blind at WordPress, and dumb too, that we get no reaction?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s greed. Simple, stupid, mindless greed. They made a BILLION DOLLARS last year, but that’s not enough. This year, they need to make a billion and a half dollars and the year after that, a trillion. It’s insane. If anything drives humans off this planet, greed is going to be what does it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m assuming that the Reader is not going away (yet, anyway) and that every time you post, it will show up in my Reader. It is a shame that WordPress seems to be catering to businesses rather than to those of us who blog for fun and for the joy of the community of fellow bloggers. I still cannot fathom the rationale for stopping the daily one-word prompt. I mean how much effort does it take to pick one word a day and throw it out as inspiration for a whole lot of bloggers? What are Ben and Krista and Cheryl and the others going to be doing instead of posting these very popular prompts?

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    1. I think we deeply underestimate the power of greed. It’s what really drives humankind. In the end, it’s about making more, always more. There is no such thing as “enough” money or power. Greed will kill us all. I’m sure the reader will stay because it’s where they keep their search tool and they can’t get rid of that — it’s the heart of their engine.

      It take zero effort to generate a single word prompt and post it (which can also be done automatically) to a grid. Literally ZERO effort. They are just letting us all know how unimportant we really are. But I already knew that. I’ve been on WP a long time and I’ve been watching where they are going and how they are getting there. It’s all about money.

      As they say in all the cop shows we watch:

      IT IS ALWAYS ABOUT MONEY.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. On YouTube they use to give you the option to monetize your work. They’d pay you some fraction of a penny per view and wouldn’t pay you anything until you had about $10.00 worth of views which amounts to a heck of a lot of views. No doubt they make the better part of the penny when you do monetize. I refuse to put anyone through that annoying add so I never monetized. I still don’t pay anything to WordPress either.
        Leslie

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  6. I know WP is changing, especially their self-hosted side. I started out as a Free blogger, then bought a domain, then slowly built my following with the blogging university and the weekly photo challenge, learning so much along the way. I went self-hosted for awhile with lofty dreams–too much work–then came back to dot com and bought the premium package and theme. I will hang out as long as I have stories and pictures to share. I appreciate your thoughts and fear you are right!

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    1. I never went to the self-hosting area because I knew that was too much of a challenge for me, at least technically. But after the first few months, I bought the premium site – as most of us have done.

      WP made over a billion dollars last year, but apparently, it isn’t enough. It is NEVER enough. We live in a world where even when you have so much money that you could not possibly spend it all in three lifetimes, you need more and more and more. We destroy our world so we can get a little more power, a bit more gas. We rape the landscape for minerals. Dam the rivers for more power and kill the fish with dams and trash and hazardous waste — all to make a little more money for people who already have way more than anyone needs.

      That has never changed, you know. But we have better technology now so we can REALLY destroy the earth and probably, as a species, we deserve whatever we get.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Ebay once used to be a platform for private people in the beginning (well at least here with us in Germany). Now it is just a stupid boring marketplace like Amazon! Hope the same does not happen here

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I, too, am very disappointed with the direction WordPress is going in. I am not a business either. I am retired and get pleasure from writing my blog and reading others’ blogs and sharing ideas. Because I post a lots of photos, I have been ‘forced’ onto the expensive business plan. This is my hobby and not as expensive as some hobbies but WP is not the site it was when I started to blog almost 7 years ago.

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    1. You mean you are on their $50/month site? I am on the $100 a year plan, like most of us. But it’s all about the photographs and if you are posting full size pictures, then you are using a lot of space. No matter where you go, that will cost money.

      This is not anything like the site was when I started here in 2012. It’s a different — and NOT better — world.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, a different and not better world. Do you find that new followers are often selling sites, not the real people that we used to follow and develop friendships with at all? All the best to you and Garry. 🙂

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        1. Yes. They don’t even read a post, but they stick their links in. I delete them and spam them, too. That’s not how we do things, at least not anyone I care to deal with. AND a lot of them are really spammers.

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  9. I get so fed up with ‘monetise’ all the time. Sure, it would be great to make money from blogging…it would be great to make money from any kind of writing we enjoy! But that is not why I blog. I don’t want adverts all over interfering with what folk read on my pages. And I pay to make sure they aren’t there.
    I blog to share thoughts, ideas, connect with people… and if that helps sell the odd book, that’s a nice bonus. But I am here for the people, not the cash.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Which was the original idea of this platform. Somewhere or other, they went terribly wrong and I’m not optimistic about the future. I wish I saw a better choice somewhere, but so far, I don’t.

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        1. I think there will come a time when we have no choice. Hopefully not too soon, but I think they are going in a direction we aren’t going to be able to follow. Want to put money on when prices are going up? Suddenly and a lot? Bets anyone?

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  10. I will be leaving when my paid for sites expire. I may be writing a personal blog on wordpress.org. I’m checking it out. I will be looking for another hosting site for the website of my novels. Without the Daily Prompt I’m paying WP for nothing.

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  11. Ive been around computer land since 1996, or thereabouts. The big deal then was message boards. my first one, Excite, was HUGE. It was basically uncontrolled, and within a year we (and I do not mean that loosely) had managed to trash it into a quivering smoking mess.

    Someone directed me to a poetry site, and I stayed there for several years until it, too, was trashed (but not by me this time) by intergalactic shouting matches. But poetry crit sites were huge, as were message boards that were gradually becoming more topic specific. More Sysops, more control. I was a sysop on several poetry boards, and on one elegant little message board. And I do remember Yahoo and GeoCities, and yahoo and Games, probably the best games overall in the known universe. Cheaters and porn killed those.
    Yahoo also had dodgy email, and a very nice Messenger, which has been subsumed by the dodgy email and is now nearly unworkable.

    But the communication that the computer is about, keeps shifting. it morphs. Right now it’s Twitter and Facebook (which is wobbling) and Instagram, and very specific Blogs about very specific things. and those too are beginning to wobble a bit.

    When sites of this size begin to shift the rugs under our feet, and start changing the look and feel of things to suit themselves (and remind us of how they are doing it for US), you know that light at the end of the tunnel, as Terry Pratchett says, is probably a flame thrower.

    Im curious as to what comes next. And unless everything goes dark some day, there will be a next.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember message boards, and you’re so right. We as a society are just feeling our way through this technological age. I mean, think about it, as little as thirty years ago, the internet wasn’t even world wide… Hell, within my lifetime, there wasn’t such at thing *as* the “internet” or even personal computers come to think of it. Man, I’m getting old. hahahaha! Anyway, everything’s growing so fast. Shifting, changing. We’re still learning *how* to communicate online. Heck, in ten years, there might not be such a thing as a “blog”. People would be all, “OMG, you’d air your thoughts online like that? What are you, a weirdo?” Who knows? ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember message boards and not in a good way. They started off fine, but the trolls got there and made it too difficult for everyone else and eventually everyone left. I wound up here. Spring 2012. It was a great year to start blogging too because the Internet was crazy wild with politics and everything. I went from zero to more than 400 posts a day in five months. I don’t think I’d even discovered the prompts yet, but i was a little lucky and I met some people who promoted . And writing every day really improved my skills. I’d been writing every day most of my life, but this was different. I wasn’t writing about something but rather to other people.

        We had a lot of fun those first couple of years. There were a lot of technical glitches and the templates weren’t nearly as good, but we really enjoyed each other. bey 2014, they started changing the format without any reference to what we the bloggers might want. Which is when I knew we were going someplace “else.”

        Mind you, I still have no idea why they are doing this. They don’t have to. They are highly profitable and very effective, but money talks.

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    2. But the thing is — most of us are doing VERY well on WordPress. We are the larger blogs that bring in new readers. We really aren’t fading. They are pushing us away. We aren’t what they want. We are too old. They want that 18 to 45 age groups, also know as “people who don’t blog because they don’t have that kind of time on their hands.” Bloggers tend to be older, more settled, retired, disabled.

      They are trying to make THIS audience — US — into the audience they want and it won’t work. It has never worked.

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  12. It seems that each time I get into something that I like doing, it changes or fades away. I am not in this for money, yes some would be nice to have, I today, did pull my store set up on my site, I do not see me going there. As long as I can do what I am doing now writing and posting with a few likes, reads, etc to as many as I can get I will be happy. I am sure others are out there but it is the times in which we are living, the $ is the get all. I am paying the Business plan because I have more options to work with. I do not mine it, but yes I have tried the free ones and heck that was an FB mentality. So as you said if I see you doing something I will like and go from there, and I would hope the same would come from you. I have to understand what is happening but nothing I can do about right now. A good and complete read/write.

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    1. It’s a shame because this used to be a lot more fun. Now, it’s a little more like work and a little less like play. I’ll stay until I can’t. It’s really not up to me. It’s up to WordPress.

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  13. I will stay as long as it is still fun and I hope that I’ll be able to continue to read the blogs of the people I follow. If some of you go elsewhere let me know where. We only just moved up to the Premium plan, nearly didn’t after WordPress “lost” us for a while but with two of us posting photos now I knew we’d need the extra storage even though we shrink our pictures for posting online. Eventually we’d have run out of room.
    I used to be and in fact still am on Flickr but I rarely post there any more. I used to have a regular group of contacts and we would comment on each other’s posts. Then Flickr was “improved” and a lot of people left. It didn’t feel the same to me any more. It looked different and more people were posting pictures with no comment or explanation so there was less conversation.I know it’s a photo site but I like communicating too. That was when I started looking around for something else. I was introduced to WordPress.org first as I was asked to post to a blog for a local church where I was volunteering. I started my own blog on WordPress.com so I could learn more about blogging without stuffing up the church site but self hosting looked complicated. WordPress seemed easy to use and I soon became an enthusiastic blogger myself. I don’t really want to move on but if a day comes when this is not fun I’ll be on my way.

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    1. As I said, I’ll stay as long as I can, as long as they let me. I also used to use Flickr and Geocities and Storyline, and a couple of others. They all eventually get it into their corporate heads that they need to make MORE MONEY. Lots more money. Lots and lots and lots and then, suddenly, you aren’t a customer — you’re an annoyance. You are no longer “bringing in reader,” you are in the way of their planned “changes.” It has been quite a while since I sensed that WP cared about me as a customer or client … or anything.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s where I am. Also, I don’t need almost anything they are offering for a LOT more money. But that’s where they are going and I think we will get less and less for our money.

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