STATS FOR THE FIRST HALF OF 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Stats

This is a good time of year to look at statistics. It’s just past the middle of the year and in theory, it should give you a reasonably good idea what the year will look like. But my stats have gotten pretty erratic and I have bursts of big numbers, then occasionally surprisingly low numbers … and we are still hoping to go on vacation next week which will probably mean a nearly zero week for the numbers game.

July’s bar chart (it’s still early today …)

I really shouldn’t care. I’ve been at this a long time and I know that stats don’t mean much except when they dip very low and I realize WordPress has disappeared me from their database.

Again.

Overview. I had 1500 additional Facebook followers a couple of weeks ago as well as 2000 more Blog followers. I wonder where they went?

I’ve had years when I got a huge explosion of big numbers from them and years when I get almost nothing. For reasons I don’t understand, about 1000 of my Facebook followers have recently vanished along with about 2500 blog followers. Not sure what that’s all about but I haven’t cared enough to follow the trail of crumbs and see what’s going on. It would require yet one more annoying conversation with their Happiness Engineers.

Aren’t those people embarrassed by that title? I would be ashamed to tell anyone I was a Happiness Engineer for WordPress or for that matter, for anyone.

Yesterday’s reading states. For unknown reasons, it was a good day.

But I suppose a paying job is a paying job and these days if you get one that pays the most of the bills and keeps and your family living in a house with heat, light, and a roof that doesn’t leak, you’re doing fine.

We used to have higher standards, but as time as marched on and things like “raises” have become scarcer than hen’s teeth, we are just happy if we manage to keep even.

Now that we are on a fixed income, we can’t even count on staying even. In theory, Social Security pays “cost of living” raises to its recipients, but whenever Congress is feeling poor, the first people whose “cost of living” that mangle are retirees. After all, we are old and therefore we don’t need anything, right? Like … you know … food. Medication. A home. A car. We just need a little, dark room in which to quietly disappear.

If we would just stop doing annoying things like voting, we could be completely dismissed.

Except we do vote. More than any other age group, we vote. Moreover, we think about voting well in advance of doing it. We actually watch the news with all the advertisements for medications we can’t afford, reverse mortgages that will ultimately leave us living on the sidewalk, how to sell off our life insurance, and how to sue people who have ripped us off.

Can we sue the Federal Government? They are the biggest ripper-offers of all time.

In God we trust. We might as well trust in God because we sure can’t trust the people we elected. Or other people elected. I’m sure I didn’t elect them!

Stats. I have pretty decent stats. I don’t work at them anymore and when the numbers drop into low digits, I shrug. Tomorrow will be better. Probably. If it isn’t, does it matter?

Basic numbers

All of this mattered more years ago when I was trying to establish a “base.” Now? I’ve got one. It isn’t gigantic, but it’s not tiny, either. If I keep writing, someone will read me. Maybe someone who matters will read me. Maybe I’ll make a difference.

I would like to make a difference, though I’m not sure what that means anymore. The world in which I live is twirling on its ear and the future is looking a bit abbreviated.

BLOGGING – IT’S A NEW YET SOMEHOW OLD WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

I’M NEW. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

It’s interesting, looking at an earlier post and realizing how many “givens” have changed since you wrote it. It was just a few years ago. But oh my, how times have changed.

Maybe I’m just getting a bit beat up from having hung around the blog world too long … or maybe it’s the endless pressure of political reality that is making me crazy and mentally exhausted. Maybe it’s everything.

I think it’s harder to blog now than it was. We used to be able to have fun –without feeling the responsibilities of the world. Funny, light, and airy have become harder to find. Some elements of humor have gone out the window. It’s not that I wanted them to go away, but it has been hard to let go of the awful developments going on around us.

That being said, I can’t talk about the “issues” all the time. I can’t even think about them all the time. In that direction lies madness.

Everyone knows that there are dangerous developments in the world, but we can’t think about them every minute of every day. The world is undergoing a bad turn. We are atop that evil pile. I often wonder if I’m still living in the same country. Is this America?

And it’s international too. Is this my world or have slipped into a parallel reality?

Nonetheless, the basic rules still apply — with a few caveats. WordPress is no longer providing any kind of support to bloggers. No prompts, no awards, no nothing. They ply you with endless advertisements to join up with their “business plan” even if you don’t have a business. They pay no attention to what we ask for. Instead, they give us what they feel like giving us … IF they feel like giving us anything. And they do not believe in beta testing their software.

Don’t count on WordPress to give you a hand. They won’t. Do count on fellow bloggers to give you a hand because we will if we can.

So:

    • Do what you love. If it’s writing, write. Photography? Take pictures. Excuses are boring. A lot of people spend more time explaining why they can’t write or take a sharp picture than actually writing or focusing the camera.
    • Don’t whine. We all have problems. (Remind me I said this.) If you are going to whine, try to be funny too.
    • We are all entitled to a good online rant. Just not every day.
    • Funny is good.
    • Keep posts short or at least as concise as you can — given the subject. Some things need more words than others, but when you’re running over a thousand words, put the post away and read it again later or better yet, the next day. I bet you’ll find at least 500 (or more )words you can cut.
    • Don’t post blurry, bad pictures. Learn to look at your work and appraise it as if it were someone else’s.
    • Work on improving your craft(s). Write better. Take better pictures.
    • Proofread! If, like me, you’re a terrible proofreader, use whatever free proofing device you can find. I’m using the free version of Grammarly. I hate to admit it, but it has helped.
    • Follow your gut. If your gut isn’t telling you anything, try your brain and imagination. If that’s not working, read a book.
    • STICK WITH IT. You don’t build a following in a week or two.
    • PERSEVERE! You need to post regularly and often. If you don’t post regularly and often, your readers will wander away.
    • Many followers will wander no matter what you do. They have their own lives and their own reasons. It isn’t about you. Every two or three years, with some important exceptions, you’ll find you have a new group of followers.
    • You never know who is reading you. Many folks read, but many fewer comment. Most won’t even drop a “like.” I’ve been shocked at who reads my blog.
    • Don’t let other people’s stats make you envious. If you stick with it, you’ll get there too. 
    • Check your facts if you are writing anything that contains facts. It’s called credibility. You need it no matter what your government is doing.

NO SPELLCHECKER – Marilyn Armstrong

There will be no spellchecker. I asked and they answered. This was WordPress’s response:


A. Jay (Automattic)

Jun 22, 07:25 UTC

Hi there,

Thank you for contacting us.

The spellchecker was a part of the publication process. I don’t like Grammarly and it interferes with other apps — and Google’s isn’t very good. What was the problem with including it? Was it in someone’s way? Was it harming someone? I do not understand.

Spell checkers are a specialty product, and it’s not something we specialize in. The WordPress.com spell checker was developed years ago when there didn’t exist any alternatives yet. Since then things have changed and a lot of other companies have started specializing in this, which led to the decision on our end to step back from the field and focus instead on the things we do specialize in.

Modern browsers now provide built-in spell-checking tools, so we have removed this feature from our product to avoid maintaining unnecessary dependencies. I read that you do not like Grammarly or Google’s spell checker, however, following are our recommendations as an alternative option:

        • the spell-checking built into most browsers
        • a browser extension that offers additional grammar checks
        • a third-party service that offers additional grammar checks

You can read more about some of these options here – https://en.support.wordpress.com/proofreading/

Please let us know if you have any questions or if we can help with anything else.

Best,

A. Jay | Happiness Engineer
WordPress.com | Automattic Inc.


I’d be interested to find out in exactly what WordPress does specialize. Certainly not in helping bloggers do whatever bloggers do … or creating functional software for bloggers to use. They have been forging ahead with their preconceived notion of what we are supposed to want for years.

None of us were ever consulted. No user surveys were ever taken among users. So with each “update,” they make the software harder to use. More awkward, slower. Essentially, dumber.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. It certainly didn’t surprise me.

WORDPRESS AND REGENERATION – OH NO! – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Thursday – REGENERATE

They’ve done it again. I don’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it.

For those of you who actually use the various settings for your blog? WordPress has, without any notification to users, changed the way it’s done and what can be done … and worse, changed what the things used to mean to something else.

A lot of changes that were easy to find in a single column in the “old dashboard” are spread into other “new” files that I will only try by using an “open in new tab” option. Otherwise, I’m sure it will become the only option I’ve got. I made that mistake with the block editor, which I wanted to look at to see if I was interested (I wasn’t) — and instead, they installed it and made it impossible to get out of it — after which I spent a week trying to get the old one back.

They have set it up so you CAN get the old one back, but ONLY if you pay them much more money — which is to say, their business rate.


I am not a business.


Nor do I have that kind of money to spend on a blog that’s supposed to be fun. Apparently, it is, as always, entirely about money.

Seriously, not merely how things are done is different, but the same headings don’t mean what they used to. Go to your dashboard and try to set up things like your “primary menu” and “comments.”

That they keep fixing things that aren’t broken, but after they change them are indeed broken. These changes make organizing your posts enormously more complicated. My frustration level is over the top.

I don’t have time or energy for this. I pay them money, they give me what they feel like giving me and change what they want without consulting me or anyone else. I’m still simmering about their changing the “fonts” to “Large, Normal, Small, and Unreadable” as opposed to using the same point system in use everywhere else on the web.

I want to be informed about changes WordPress is making and I want a choice about whether or not I use it.


I AM A CUSTOMER.
I WANT TO BE TREATED LIKE A CUSTOMER.


SPELL CHECKING AND WORDPRESS – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Semantics

It’s just a matter of semantics.

Since they got back to me from WordPress to tell me they had fixed the “Settings” function in the Reader “Manage” area, I said, “Thank you very much.” After all, they fixed it in one day. It’s a miracle!

Then I said a lot of people were really upset about the removal of the spell checker.

What they said is that almost everyone “up there” uses the free version of Grammarly (I have been using it for a while, too) — and that all browsers include free spell checkers with the browser. Of course, they seem to be unaware that if you are using an iPad or a phone, there might not BE a spell checker in there, but that was their explanation.

A lot of water pouring over the Mumford Dam right now. Another picture to keep us from losing it.

If you are on any browser, from Safari to Windows to Opera — any of them — all have spell checkers, usually somewhere in the “Language” section of the settings. My Google checker only works sporadically, possibly because when Grammarly is working, it decides to not bother. What I did count on from the WordPress spellchecker was for typos — sort of the “last outpost” before publishing.

I suppose this is truly a  matter of semantics since all spell checkers are free, assuming you are working with some standard browser. I don’t think Grammarly works on a phone, by the way (I could be wrong), but there is probably something that does work.

Spring comes to the Blackstone Valley. It has nothing to do with spelling or checking, but it’s pretty and I thought we needed a few moments of pretty.

My real objection is that they do this stuff without ever consulting their customers — us — or even sending a note to tell us about the changes they have made so we don’t get ambushed.

There are a lot of people who want the spell checker back. It’s an open issue, but I don’t know if they are going to do it or not. I see their point, which is valid, but stupid because really, how much extra work was it to just leave the spell checker there? Not everyone is equally good at dealing with browser settings. In fact, many people aren’t entirely clear that there ARE browser settings.

Snowballs and the Mumford dam in “downtown Uxbridge.”

They do have an explanation in their huge folders full of information about WordPress. The problem is that although these explanations are good, many of them are old and based on everything from XP to Windows 10 and various versions of Safari and Android built in there too. It can be difficult to figure out which of these many choices is what you need for your equipment.

Since I already use Grammarly and I upgraded (still free, but with a few extra perks to include awkward grammar). The grammatical fixes both aggravate me and yet can also improve the phrase, so I never know whether I’m going to be annoyed or pleased.

Semantics indeed!

The little footbridge in the merry month of May by the dam on the Mumford

Anyway, Grammarly is free and it does handle punctuation better than spell checkers. We tend to be sloppy about punctuation, especially online. I know I use a lot of dots and dashes rather than correct punctuation. You can turn that part of it off. Actually, I had to make a separate installation to make that piece work  and it is called “Ginger.” Also free.

However, the simplistic WordPress version is gone. Maybe they will put it back, maybe not. But it was intentionally removed.

The little canal along the Mumford

Wouldn’t it have been a nice touch to tell us? Not just do it, but inform us what’s going on?

Spelling isn’t usually the problem anyway. Most of us can spell reasonably well and can look it up in Google if we can’t. The problem is typos and repetitive statements from too much cutting and pasting — and leaving pieces behind.

So that’s it, kids.

We were ambushed. Again. But at least they fixed those settings and we urgently needed that particular fix.

IT NEVER ENDS – Marilyn Armstrong

Bird pictures are included for sanity reasons.
We need some. Birds are good for that.

Yesterday, after spending my entire day trying to make a breakthrough on WordPress — and feeling that maybe I had made a tiny dent — I realized that Amazon had sent me my package with the wrong stuff in it. It was almost the final straw, not counting that the software people have removed the spell-checker from the post writer.

The singing Carolina Wren

This must be one of their improvements, like when they removed the “edit” function from all posts once they were posted. When asked why they did that, they said why would anyone need it?

They restored it when about a million of us told them they had their heads up their asses and to please PUT THE EDIT BUTTON BACK. Some of us like to fix errors and even (gads!) rewrite awkward sentences or fix typos.

Downy Woodpecker

Do any of these people actually write a blog or post anything? Do they have any beta testers? Do they have any Omega testers or Alpha testers — or anyone who tests anything before they shove it down to us? They also seem to have removed the help button again. I guess too many of us used it and now they have to (gasp) fix stuff.

Or maybe not.

It’s hard to believe that anyone at WordPress gives a rat’s ass about their “customers.” No one has ever made me feel valued.

It’s a woodpecker, but I can’t see enough of him to know which one.

I’ve had it for the day. If you haven’t heard from me yet, I’ll try to get to you today, but we have a long funeral in Boston on Wednesday and I don’t think I’ll have time or energy to do much, after that, there’s Thursday. If I’m still mentally capable.

Is this a test? Do we get an “A” if we pass? A gold star? Something? Anything?

ANYWAY ANYWAY ANYWAY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Anyway

I’m sending this to everyone because I think maybe I stayed with WordPress long enough to get them to start fixing the problems that have been bugging everyone.

Please forgive the spacing issues. It another one of WordPress’s never repaired problems. Some days, it’s worse than others.

This was the final note:


Steve D. (Automattic)

May 6, 19:30 UTC

Hey there!

We had a live chat recently where you noticed the settings within the Reader appeared to broken. After some investigating and a discussion with developers, it seems there are quite a few things that need to be fixed. I’ve opened up an issue with them to have this fixed. We’ll reply here once we have more information.

Thanks again for your patience and understanding, and for bringing this to our attention. Let us know if you have any other questions in the meanwhile!

Best,

Steve D.
Happiness Engineer


After Trent could not make a comment, though I did find both his comments in “spam” — usually I don’t find them at all — I went into my followers/manage/setting file to reset his link to me only to discover that the setting didn’t work. At all.

Click?

Nothing happened. I checked up and down the 75 blogs I follow (which is why I never seem to have time to actually keep up with everyone!) and all of the “settings” links were dead.

That was one bug over the line for me. These connection issues — the pingbacks that don’t ping or back, the comments that don’t work, the now you are connected, now you aren’t bug, not to mention the disappearing post notification issue and the “What happened to my followers?” problem … and I think and have said this before that ALL OF THESE PROBLEMS ARE CONNECTED.

They are not separate issues to be dealt with one at a time, but no one was listening.

Steve wasn’t listening either until he realized HIS settings weren’t working either. Suddenly, it was a bug. When he went to the developers, they said “Ooh, there are a LOT of bugs!” which of course is what we have all be saying for weeks, maybe months.

We have connection issues and I think it all goes back to the database which for at least two years has not been working as it should. The entire Reader is a mess of bugs.

What they have done is keep pushing forward without ever fixing the bugs they’ve left behind and they have accumulated and now, the problem is finally big enough for them to actually try and fix it.

You are welcome to send me congratulations. Cash would also help.

I just stayed on the line literally since I got up this morning. I refused to give up. Because no settings is not a little bug. It’s a really big one and you can’t work around it.

They were supposed to send me a transcript of the “chat” but for some reason, didn’t. All I can tell you for sure is that I really did my best and I hope something comes out of it. Because it is getting harder and harder to use this platform and sooner or later, any number of us will just give up.

I copied most of the relevant sections from the actual chat:


What’s a specific example of a setting on https://wordpress.com/following/manage that you’re unable to change? I want to see if I see the same problem on my end, but want to make sure I do exactly what you’re doing.
ALL of them. NONE of them are working. Up and down the page, the grey settings function is not working.
Ah, the button I’ve highlighted in this screenshot, yes? https:/1/cld.wthms.co/a3im2A
I can click on the green “Following” and IT works, but not the settings underneath.

Gotcha! okay. I can see not only the issue on your end but I notice on my own Reader, the settings button doesn’t do anything as well. Give me just a moment to do some more digging.
Ah, so it isn’t just me. That helps. If it’s more general, you can track it down (I hope).
Not just you! Definitely makes it something we can troubleshoot easier. Let me get a hold of a developer to take a look with us. Give me just a few minutes.
No problem. I live on this computer. At least we know there’s an actual
problem
Yup! Thanks for bringing it to our attention 🙂
I suppose you’ll get back to me? Hopefully, it will turn out that all of these weird connection issues are somehow linked. That would be fine. Not being able to adjust settings is a big deal, so sooner would be way better than later. At least we found the bug. No small thing, that. I’ve done a LOT of beta testing over the years. It went with writing manuals and other documentation. You could use more beta testers. Just saying. We can save developers a lot of time by finding bugs BEFORE users!


You’re definitely right 🙂 I just heard from the dev team who said they noticed some other odd things with the reader as well. I’m going to file this bug report for them now and I’ll contact you via email, where we can notify you once we have an update and a fix.

Thank you! I work at home, but I work.

Hey, me too 🙂

Ah, the Internet. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

The truth!

I shall await you. Meanwhile, I will tell all and sundry that finally, this is getting tracked down. It will make people REALLY happy!

😀

Closing down and thank you. I don’t have your name … what is it?

Steve!

Gotcha!

Have a good day! I’m going to send a follow-up email to make contact now, and we’ll reply in that thread once we know more. Thanks again for your patience and understanding!

Hey, if this gets fixed. that’s huge. Can I save this chat? I don’t see a link for that.

Yup! Once the chat is over, you’ll receive an entire transcript via email. You can also open a new one and the entire history should be here as well.
Great. Have a wonderful day!


You too!


The transcript didn’t show up. I copied this from the actual “chat” file and it’s not the whole thing, but I think it’s the most relevant pieces.

RDP Monday: PLANGENT