blogging gobbledygook and such

Half a year ago, DrMike suffered the same fate.

This time, it is Timethief‘s turn. While she was not a moderator, she has been an invaluable, tireless, selfless volunteer who has not only devoted her time helping hundreds of WordPress.com bloggers, but also dedicated several blogs to such issues for the benefit of new bloggers.

It all started with this. It was even predicted that it would come to this by wank. Timethief had even continued volunteering despite that, until she was unceremoniously rendered inactive.

I am flabbergasted, indignant, outraged, disappointed, upset, and confused.

Many are saying that they’ll be staying away from the forums, but that was what others said during the DrMike Débâcle too. I wonder who will take over what DrMike and Timethief used to do.

Timethief, I’d never have imagined your contribution to the forums when I remembered you hardly even know blogging then! And I certainly would never imagine your volunteering would come to an end like this.

Related link

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Ironically, they now need our votes. For people who has just fired one of their biggest supporters, I am really just… amazed!

Comments on: "Volunteer at the WordPress.com Forums at Your Peril" (31)

  1. Oh my lord! I’ve only been here for a few months but the folks involved in this episode all seem to be the most helpful folks I had the pleasure of running into.

    I know all too well how thankless and stressful being a moderator can be. I used to moderate a few very popular and very controversial forums before starting to blog here and I basically left for the same reasons. All you do is bend over backwards helping people and all folks can do is complain, complain, complain. Plus, even when you do what you’ve been instructed, you are always the fall-guy that everything can be blamed on.

    I left and never looked back. I still miss a lot of the people I met at those forums, but I was done trying to make them a better place after the treatment I received. I actually had someone make the most racist remarks I’ve ever seen on one of the discussions, and when I chastized the person for doing so, I was made an example of for being “vindictive” as a mod. Long story short – owner of website called for poster to be banned. I, as the mod appointed by said owner did so, only to have said owner come back and say “why did you do that? that seemed harsh and uncalled for!” Not surprisingly, when I tried to post quotes of the original emails/threads asking me to ban the guy, they all got deleted. WTF??? The net result was that peolpe turned on me and suggested I was starting some sort of “witch hunt.” Yeah right, all this just for doing what I was told. I didn’t need that crap and didn’t have time for that drama, so I picked up and moved. It was with much joy that I watched the forums disintegrate then into mob rule with people posting daily “don’t we have any mods here???”

    I guess what I’m saying is that I totally understand if we don’t hear from these helpful individuals anymore, and can only thank them for the help they have provided thus far.

    What a bummer…..what a way to start a weekend?

    sulz: sorry to hear your terrible experience as a mod. i guess my wallflower personality works to my advantage in this case because i don’t like calling too much attention to myself, even when online. and i definitely don’t have any desire to be a mod, having witnessed what had happened!

    see, that’s the thing. timethief would have continued volunteering, though on a less frequent basis. wordpress wanted her to stop completely, which is why they banned her. why they did that? i don’t think we’ll ever know the answer.

  2. I was wondering what the deal was with the forums and what was happening. This is bad, real bad. I’ve seen timethief contributing in there and I can bet my ass on it that she’s really good and an inspiration to all the volunteers up there. It’s sad that they should do this to the volunteers. We don’t ask for anything..not even a thank you and still this happens. It’s just not fair. WordPress.com has been popular for all the community support it provides and I till date haven’t seen any thread go unanswered or any person not helped. That’s the kind of enthusiasm the people in the forums have and when something like this happens..it makes me go and think, why the hell are we doing this if we’re gonna be treated like damned rats?

    sulz: the worse is that, we’ve seen this happened before and we seem to be none the wiser, ironically! :) will i continue my volunteering there? yes, but only because i’m clear of the benefits i may get and not out the goodness of my heart. i want the hits, but i won’t go out on a limb to help out there. friends/acquaintances with benefits. ;)

  3. i feel the same way you feel, except for confused. i am merely chagrined that it has finally come to this.

    sulz: i’m confused because i don’t understand why. with drmike, things were messy even before he was ‘fired’ as mod, so in a way i understood that. i don’t see why she was banned from the forums for doing what she has always done!

    but that’s me, you know. nosy! :P you’re just chagrined? i guess wordpress has created many cynics. ;)

  4. sulz, You have been very helpful on the forum(s). And, you are a kind person. I’ve only been on WordPress for six months, but always felt supported here by staff and volunteers. I think we can sometimes take comments by forum posters personally, and drama can result. I have overreacted a couple of times, and timethief helped me out, which I appreciated, as she speaks from experience!
    I don’t know the long history of all this, but I can only state my own experience, and that is that timethief has been extremely helpful to me both with technical issues and personal ones.

    sulz: thank you, though i’m nowhere as dedicated to volunteering as timethief is! well, obviously timethief’s comments must have been taken personally or taken the wrong way, because i do not see why this has happened.

    she has helped so many, too many to count!

  5. To be honest I’ve been frustrated with WordPress for the last couple of months and seeing all of this happen has just cemented it in my mind. I’ve been thinking about self-hosting or even using Drupal, but what’s kept me here is the community. But I don’t know I feel the same way now.

    I volunteer because I like to help, and I started because there was a 3 hour gap when most of the main volunteers weren’t online. I’ve never wanted anything from it; just getting the occasional thank you from the original poster is a wonderful validation. But I hate seeing the volunteers being taken for granted, and what’s happened to TT has just stunned me.

    She deserves so much better… I almost think people forget we’re human beings because of the way we communicate online; it would be unacceptable in the “real” world. To TT and all of the volunteers, a big thank you for everything you’ve done… I’m not sure who’s going to take over in the forums now, and I’m cutting back… the sad thing is that in the end, it’s going to be average users who are hurt the most.

    sulz: exactly, i love the community too. i love the friends made here and i know that i could easily get to know more people through tag-surfing. you’ll never get the same feeling if you move your blog.

    nobody deserves to be treated like this when they have dedicated their time and effort doing something for nothing.

    when it happened to drmike, i thought it was a one-off thing.

  6. Oh but we have a forum that we can use, and it can include timethief!

    And it can only be us. No spammers, nobody looking for cheats for those whatever games, just dissfunktional sanctuary stuff.

    c’mon… let’s play!

    sulz: love your optimism. :) this was tried before by drmike, but unfortunately it didn’t take off. what the forum offered was a neutral place for anybody to hang out and help out. having our own forum would be too exclusive and eventually there may be problems like the ones encountered in the forums.

    but hey, if you set one up, you can put me on the attendance list. ;)

  7. I am a little confused as to why timethief is being discouraged from helping. She has helped me on a number of occasions, when I was new here, and I can never forget that.

    sulz: join the confusion club! your guess is as good as mine. :(

  8. Actually the folks on the mu forums who answer questions have a forums:

    http://mu.thunderlounge.com

    There’s a private area set aside for us to discuss what issues with the mu forums we have.

    sulz: ooo, i didn’t know that. how are you? nosysnoop has been asking about you. :)

  9. while TT and i have had our differences, i do not agree with the way this has been handled. It’s messy and unprofessional, but in my experience that’s the sort of thing that happens when start-ups (internet or otherwise) are run by people with no people-handling skills.

    It’s sad.

    sulz: indeed, very sad that she has been treated this way. :( i believe in karma; things like this have a way of finding you around and biting you in the arse!

  10. timethief said:

    Hi sulz,
    Basically, it does seem that Matt and his wp.com staff are silencing me: making it impossible for timethief and for thistimethisspace (both made inactive) to post on the forums, making it next-to-impossible for them to comment on people’s blogs, and hiding my blog entries at wpbloggingtips.wordpress.com from the global tags pages. (They are no longer appearing there and those that previously appeared have been eliminated.)

    Note what Tellyworth stated on the forums ie. ‘inclusion in tag listings is at our discretion’
    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=19743&page&replies=29#post-151620) I think we can take that to mean that there’s no obligation on them to include any blog in global tags pages and that they can remove any blog at any time for any reason or for no reason at all.

    It would appear that my IP address has been fed to Akismet. Many bloggers have repeatedly despammed timethief’s and thistimethisspace’s comments out of their Akismet spam filters without any indication that Akismet is “learning” anything. Some bloggers have been given the unique email addresses for both usernames and they have commented on their own blogs using those email addresses and the associated usernames as though they were me. The comments have posted immediately without having to be fished out of the spam filter. As the only difference is the IP address it seems reasonable to conclude that my IP has been fed to Akismet as though timethief and thistimethisspace are spammers.

    The purpose of this shameful behavior seems to be twofold: it shuts me up and stifles debate within the wp.com community, and it makes it look as if I’ve done something wrong.

    It’s also a power trip. Matt has been acting like a power tripper (posting anonymous comments, poking round wank’s admin, making that forum post http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=10824&page=2&replies=65#post-150198). Yes, it seems that from time to time Matt feels the need to demonstrate that he’s still in sole control of WP by doing something outrageous, whether it’s selling links on wordpress.org, shutting down the theme viewer, demoting drmike or muzzling me.

    I’m not the first casualty and I’m unlikely to be the last. In fact, as Matt’s actual power diminishes with further financial investment being made to wp.com and with the prospect of wp.com acquisition, it will probably get worse.

    I don’t have the time or energy for this crap. It wasn’t always fun answering the same questions over and over again and that’s why I created a beginner’s blog. Also there’s no sense in arguing with those who have this kind of power and who have abused it. I’m moving on.

    sulz: you’re right. thanks for the links, good for reference. i totally support you moving on; just don’t leave us behind. ;)

  11. Judy makes a good point but I’ll take it one step further. Looking at the employee page, there’s not a single person on there with any hosting or hosting support experience.

    That’s what wp.com really is. It’s a hosting company. Sure there’s the software but wp.com’s endusers are just hosting clients, not software clients.

    There is a difference.

    sulz: i wonder how are the support in other blog hosts like? the employees may not have hosting support experience, but i don’t think they’re the one who’s got much to do with yours and timethief’s ‘elimination’ from the forums…

  12. I have read a number of posts on Wank’s blog (after I started using her themes) and now on yours. I have been helped by TT just very recently and she was the kindest of all volunteers. It will be a big blow to the Forums. People might get discouraged from becoming volunteers for WP.com. I had absolutely no idea about the politics going on at WP.com until I read yours and wank’s posts. Very sad.

    sulz: there’s always more than what meets the eyes, eh? there will be the initial lashback, but the volunteers will turn up; this was what happened after drmike’s dismissal. will wordpress have a next target? only if someone’s bold enough to speak up the truth.

  13. there’s not a single person on there with any hosting or hosting support experience.

    The big problem that brings with it is they’re not used to customer service. They actually think it’s OK to block people from posting to the forums without bothering to tell them why they are no longer entitled to volunteer support (that’s receiving support, of course, as well as giving it.) They think ‘damage limitation’ consists of shutting people up after treating them like crap, rather than not treating them like crap in the first place. They’ve failed to realise that there is a difference between dissing fellow geeks and handling paying customers. Banning, flaming and censoring people on a whim is OK if you’re a hobbyist running a hobby board, but it’s no way to run a business, especially not a business that values itself at the figures being flung about in relation to Automattic.

  14. timethief said:

    w00t! It seems that staff have “fixed” my Akismet problem and I may not have to send you an email to fish this comment out of the spam bin.

    Wank said it all and said it well. It’s high time for wordpress from Matt all the way down to the newest employee get the training they need to become less “personal” and “amateurish” when it comes to how they treat bloggers, who are offering their free services by answering forum questions.

    They may prefer the company of fan boys. They may curry the favor of a bombastic old troll, who makes unsubstantiated allegations that volunteers are admonishing those asking forum questions and treating them with contempt, when they are not. But the bottom line is that … “banning, flaming and censoring people on a whim is OK if you’re a hobbyist running a hobby board, but it’s no way to run a business, especially not a business that values itself at the figures being flung about in relation to Automattic.”

    sulz: good to hear you’re not spam anymore. :P i guess we can say ‘em till the cows come home, but i don’t know if they’ll accept the message, motive notwithstanding.

  15. What’s sad is that Timethief had an issue with Akismet in the first place. A year ago, volunteers in the wp.org forums, myself included, were outright begging for them to be whitelisted with Akismet as we all get caught from time to time over in the wp.org forums. Zero response from staff on the request.

    sulz: well, you did say they had no experience in customer service… ;)

  16. Just finding out about this. I’m very disappointed in Matt and outraged on timethief’s behalf, for the consistent patience and kindness she has displayed to have been repaid in such a scurrilous manner. This incident more than anything else makes me think I should get off my lazy ass and find another webhost for the seven sites I have at WP.com. At the very least, I will not be evangelizing for WP.com anymore among my friends; I’ll send them to Blogger or Typepad instead. Wank was right.

    sulz: join the club, dave. :) you have seven wp.com blogs?? wow. haha. i think self-hosting is a good option to consider if you can do it, though personally i’d be reluctant to even if i could self-host because i love the community here.

  17. timethief said:

    Hi sulz,
    The trackback link above should be to http://wpbloggingtips.wordpress.com/2008/01/07/closed-google-they-search-we-blog-we-think/

    Also note that the posts that were restored to the wp.com global tag and categories pages yesterday have disappeared again today.

    I’d also like to tell everyone posting here and elsewhere how much appreciate their support.

    Your support has meant the world to me. All those who regularly give of their time to do the very best job they can of answering wp.com forum questions are fine people. There is nothing wrong with the voulteers. There is something very wrong at wordpress.

    sulz: what’s up with the now you see it now you don’t routine? ;) you’re right, absolutely nothing wrong with the volunteers.

  18. timethief said:

    The answer is now clear as to why this has all happened. WordPress hired “hanni” as our “happiness engineer”. She has been lurking on the forum with no “member” key master” or “staff” behind her name now for 4 days. Check this out http://wank.wordpress.com/2008/01/07/our-new-robotic-overlord/

    sulz: ooo, and i thought she was the next clueless well-meaning volunteer. :) guess i was the clueless one!

  19. timethief said:

    As she is being paid to work full time on the forum, I don’t expect that the regular volunteers will be falling all over themselves to do her work but, stranger things have happened. ;)

    sulz: i admit i am still volunteering, but i never bend over backwards when i volunteer. if i feel it’s too much hassle i just leave it to the others. i find it strange that she’s called a happiness engineer though.

  20. timethief said:

    This is an update to let you know that I have deleted the controversial posts from my blog and why I did that. The blog at http://wpbloggingtips.wordpress.com is a beginner’s blog. It contains valuable information that I put together with good intentions.

    Ironically I had already planned to back way off so I could fulfill my new commitment and I had arranged for that with raincoaster. It’s sad that the management and staff in wp lack the social skills that one would think are required of people in business.

    I do not want the work I did on the forum and in that blog to be smeared with the taint of the crap that has gone down. I’m turning my backside to wordpress, breaking some wind and then I’m walking away.

  21. This is all so sad. It seems that taking care of the community is not a priority with the wp.com folks. While self-hosting is not in my future (time, not cost), I will certainly be looking for another wpmu install to take my blogs to.

    sulz: it is sad, but it’s not something we can anything about unfortunately. yeah, i’ll probably go your route and find another wpmu install, because i hate the name blogspot and i do like wordpress. if i ever get to join the ban club. :P

  22. Check out this link where Mr Mullenweg is moanign about poor customer service from another online company.

    What was that about mote’s and beams?

    sulz: well, i think by now we know irony and wordpress are almost synonymous. ;)

  23. If the regular wp.com volunteers think it’s business as usual on the forums they are wrong.

    In Adam’s blog Matt says:The forums are changing to (we hope) better serve users, who they were created for. More of those changes will be apparent later in the year, but the gears are turning. Think less like discussion forums, more like Yahoo Answers.

    http://archgfx.net/blog/2008/geek/blogging/desaparecidos-wordpresscom-sucks

    sulz: thanks for the link.

  24. [...] of the pound but nothing has really sparked me enough to make any comments (well, that’s not quite true, but I think everyone else has said everything I would say quite eloquently enough so I’ll [...]

  25. [...] what happened to timethief. I don’t want to go too much into what happened again as there are other accounts, but TT was the most active volunteer in the WordPress forums; she has helped countless thousands [...]

  26. WordPress says no to Sponsored Links in Themes but gets caught adding them into their own sites

    Yep, it’s yet another post on the topic of Sponsored links found within WordPress themes.  Now, before I begin, let me state my opinion on the matter:  Personally, I don’t care.  I can see why some folks consider such links…

  27. [...] Shortly thereafter, their forum accounts were suspended [...]

  28. w00t! I’ve been a lot away… timethief I’m sorry about you…

    sulz: you have indeed, it seems! anyway she maintains her blogging tips site at here now, just in case if you’re wondering. :)

  29. The forums certainly have changed. When we, the volunteers, have had enough, we simply walk away, thanks in part to what we learned here (even those of us who kept our mouths shut and I’m looking at me here). And then staff takes up the slack. I think this schism more or less told them this is what they’d HAVE to do, so (not being stupid) they put those protocols in place.

    And I’m surprised to find I didn’t weigh in on this sooner: what happened to TT and Dr Mike were both travesties: one of over-reaction, one of inappropriate reaction and coverup (in reverse order).

    Since that time, numerous people have come forth and touted TT’s wisdom, both in old posts and blogs and in new ones, and many a forum volunteer has regretted the loss of Dr Mike and his near-endless patience and technical knowledge.

    It was a watershed. It was a huge loss. Our forums work well, but there’s no pretending they’re all that they could have been with the participation of this group of solid, knowledgeble, helpful people (yes, even Root, with whom I’ve had my differences).

    sulz: yeap, changed physically and socially. i’m quite surprised nothing else happened after these two incidents – many were predicting that was just the beginning, but what you know, we’re still here. :) though that could change without us realising anything, looking at history!

    i miss root. i wonder how is he. drmike is still on and strong, as evident on wank’s blog of her pet love, wordpress.com. :P

  30. I’m curious to find out what blog system you’re working with?
    I’m experiencing some minor security issues with my latest website and I’d like to find
    something more safeguarded. Do you have any recommendations?

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