Tag Archives: community

This is the last time, I swear

There’s no reason I should still be posting about wordpress.com. I guess I’m just annoyed that I ever thought it was a good place to blog/journal/post. The exclusion of anyone who’s not a child or a christian has reached a fever pitch. They’ve just released the following guidelines ((taken to their logical extreme, with commentary)):

  • No inappropriate titles. Do we suppose this means that if you’re posting about the really hot sex you had last night, you should make sure the title is “fluffy kittens for everyone”?
  • No profanity or nudity. This means that my cuss-like-a-sailor-because-it-makes-people-respond-not-just-think-about-it tactic is definitely outlawed. I hate to think what it means for ICHC.
  • No extraneous categories. I’m sure my 2.0 category was causing serious consternation. let alone “cult-of-matt”. In fact, only the officially sanctioned categories are allowed. Anything else and you’ll be relegated to the dustbin, because then you won’t drive traffic to our ad-laden tag pages.
  • And really, you should only post to one category at a time. nevermind that wordpress.com categories can’t be used as categories, since the links lead out of your blog. if you use categories as tags (meta information), you’re definately going to be banned

Basically, if you’re not an aspiring member of the web 2.0 a-list-aspiring echo chamber, you’re not welcome on wordpress.com. fantastic. glad i left. now I’m off to find the 11 most relevant tags for this post.

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Buckshot, EP. 2: Social Networking sites

There is no ‘the next myspace’. there will be other sites that replicate pieces of that experience.

  • case 1 – virb.com: since signing up, i have been bombarded by friend requests from bands, and have visited their pages to find customized pages and music samples. this is one part of the myspace experience. although it’s been championed by the grown up myspace haters for it’s visual panache, it’s not something i want a part of.
  • case 2 – facebook.com: since signing up, i have been plunged into old friendships that have been buried by time and distance. it’s the same experience i had when i added my real name to my myspace profile. except with less blinking text, annoying music, and ugly slideshows.
  • using the ‘posted items’ feature on facebook led me to understand which sites value my presence there, via the meta description tag on my profile pages:
    • case 1 – Last.fm:

      Listen to sunburntkamel’s personal radio station (17,480 tracks played). sunburntkamel’s top artists: dredg, Cursive, In Flames, Hot Water Music, The Appleseed Cast, Opeth. Favourite tags are seen live, emo, Progressive rock. Get your own music profile at Last.fm, the world’s largest social music platform.

    • case 2 – flickr:

      Flickr is almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world. Show off your favorite photos to the world, securely and privately show photos to your friends and family, or blog the photos you take with a cameraphone.

    for flickr, i am an advertising vehicle. last.fm does their advertising in the description of their home page, not my profile:

    The world’s largest social music platform. Show off your taste, see what your friends are listening to, hear new music, get personal radio, recommendations, and downloads, all for free.

    can you guess which site’s persuaded me to support their efforts?

Trust and the pink ghetto

The Napoleon-Clarke Law:

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice

Paul Ciszek

It’s amazing to me how much wordpress.com has grown. what used to be the realm of a few geeks in need of akismet keys has turned into a real competitor to livejournal and typepad. Along with that come users who aren’t as forgiving of glitches, because they’re not just geeking out, they’re writing down their lives. Which means i’m finding out about “the cult of matt” from The Pink Ghetto, which isn’t something i read for geek news.

For instance, i’m willing to accept that apparent contradictions between stated policy and specific blogs that exist around wordpress.com is the effect of there being more blogs than the members of automattic can actively police. I’ve found this by reporting blogs, despite fundamentally disagreeing with the mature/non-commercial policy. Since making certain of this, i’ve attempted to warn users before they get nastygrams from mark.

most users aren’t this forgiving. They see their blog getting blown out of the global tag pages, while other blogs that depart farther from the ToS are allowed to stay. Naturally, this only matters because the global tag pages drive such good traffic. The automattic defence is that nowhere in the terms of service do they claim to provide blog owners with a workable tag search engine. (this causes most people consternation when they find out their categories don’t link to their own content). Nonetheless, they provide this search engine for most people. Intentional or not, it is a slight to not provide that engine to everyone. Especially the ones who want it.

It seems especially malicious, when the global tags and top blogs are built from the ashes of blogs of the day(.com), which allowed users to self regulate, via the NSFW tag. if you used it, your post was only listed in the mature section. As much as there’s a precedent for keeping the christians children from accidentally stumbling upon porn, there’s a tendancy to misinterpret all sexual information as porn. which is what automattic seems to be doing.

2 Solutions:

  1. mark shouldn’t be choosing which blogs are actually mature or commercial. that job belongs to a lawyer. that lawyer should be actively policing. the global tag pages are reasonably good at crosslinking blogs. it’s not hard to find the ones that violate the ToS.
    Then mark can continue giving real support, and have the all-important disconnect with the policy makers that will allow him to be his friendly self. and have a few fewer expletives and insults hurled at him.
  2. increase the ability to self-regulate: letting users use the NSFW tag to kick themselves out of the ‘all-ages’ tag pages means people won’t be as shocked when they get ‘de-listed’. allowing users to put up an under 18 warning, that stores a cookie (so new readers always see it, and regular readers never see it) would keep people from being offended when the click the ‘next blog’ link.

there’s a whole lot more thought that needs to go into this. sex in the public square is taking it on, but automattic needs to do more than drop by to leave their one comment that pretends they’re listening. this is way more important than adding kewl new video features.

Theme Repositories Redux

Disconnected.sf.net is now mostly operational. it even runs wordpress. w00t. now i have an official demo site. there’s no outbound traffic, so i can’t run akismet, or get the latest wordpress out of SVN, but i can get my own theme out of SVN. actually, i can get any of the themes hosted on sf.net that have code hosted (not just downloads).

This blog would have probably died out a year ago, if i hadn’t pissed shadow off during the last competition, to the point that he left the theme viewer and thomas took over. at the time, he had a far better and more automatic system for generating screenshots and displaying themes. now that tactless theme designers have caused thomas to switch to manual operation of the theme viewer, he’s more swamped than shadow was, and just as unwilling to take on assistants.

so in jumps themebot. they’re now doing what thomas can’t, providing an open and automatic theme gallery. although it’s unclear what would happen to their servers if they suddenly became ‘defaultified’ the way that the theme park was. it’s also unclear exactly who’s running the thing. although they do have a privacy policy, and a terms of use. These are good things, which automattic only seems to believe in when forced to. +1 themebot.

Actually, there’s a correction to the last paragraph. the theme park wasn’t defaultified. the ‘official’ list comes from a different repository, one that’s run by matt. i’d link you to the front page of it, except there isn’t one. dev.wp-plugins.org has wp-plugins.net, but dev.wp-themes.org has bupkis. even if you could hook that repository up with a workable front end, you’d still have to beg off SVN access to your own theme from matt, who (i’m only guessing) has even less spare time than thomas does.

All of this points to what i said originally: there can never be One True Theme Viewer. you have different theme viewers that do different things:

  1. truly open and automatic, a la deviantart. sooner or later this will be overrun by spammers, and crappy themes. it’s possible to find really good themes in these repositories, but it requires a lot of searching. or you wind up with something like dA’s windowsblinds gallery, where the ‘top themes’ haven’t moved in 2 years.
  2. genuinely open source (a la sf.net, google code). the bar of technical knowhow is too high here for most designers, so the odds of really good themes being showcased is really low.
  3. moderated, a la the community theme viewer, in both incarnations. bound to overwhelm the administrators eventually, as they gain traction.

None of them can ever make the others completely obsolete.

now, that said, sf.net can actually be a #1, since it’s relatively easy to just upload your theme and your screenshot and call it a day. it’s not that setting up a website, or SVN is hard, just that the documentation is kind of hidden. and that kind of defeats the purpose of not just hosting it yourself. other than it being free.

Hey, I was doing research here!

The “what’s the worst theme?” thread got slammed shut sometime yesterday. presumably for being overly critical of the service provided here. (queue eye roll) Of course, whichever admin made that decision was presumably attempting to protect the egos of said theme designers. Although i’m sure the devs get plenty tired of complaining much faster than theme authors, since most theme authors don’t seem to pay wp.com users any mind. And of course, whoever closed it didn’t seem to notice that the thread is the other half of the “what’s the best theme?” thread, which when combined provide a valuable tool to see what’s missing from the themes here, and themes in general.

especially on the eve of theundersigned’s competition.

More Dissent, less community

remember this comment? you know how I started laughing because i thought that getting my first comment deleted was amusing? because all i did was suggest ‘featured blogs’ would incentivise misspelling tags or using oddly named tags. It looks like there’s only more of that to look forward to.

Everybody’s favourite firecracker doesn’t exist, according to the gods of WP.

Shall we start a countdown until i need to buy myself a commercial akismet key?

Previously:
Community and Dissent

Templates vs. Design

further musing on the licensing and rationale behind making templates, via coyote’s post:

i’m now really bugged by pro-bloggers complaining about the lack of templates. if you’re blogging for money, you should expect to need to hire a designer.  despite the shaky-at-best legality of canvas‘ non-comercial license, it makes sense for them to want to release it as such.  those guys are designers.  if they successfully make every template completely customizable, they’ll  be working themselves out of a job.  it wouldn’t surprise me if, should they be convinced that they can’t distribute canvas without falling under the GPL, they stop distributing it.

clearly, i need to think about this more.