blogging gobbledygook and such

This thread in the WordPress.com forums got self thinking. The thread is discussing how the wp.com team only highlights the improvements they’ve done, but not the problems that occured.

disembedded said:

Well, Matt has posted his rousing “monthly roundup” today, followed by all of the groveling “we are so grateful to you, oh great one in the sky” messages from his supplicants. I sent in this little “back to reality” comment. It’s in “comment moderation” right now. I bet that it won’t see the light of day. Well, except here!

“This all sounds good. However, it also should be mentioned that major, major issues occurred during the month. Unexpected server downtime, some due to WP administrative errors, huge problems with widgets, problems with editing and posting during the month, as well as concerns about WP administration inattentiveness to users’ frustrations about those and other problems. And as of today, if you read the forums, you can see that some of these same problems persist.”

engtech replied (edited):

As far as all the server outages and issues this month — that’s wordpress.com. It’s a hybrid of the test server for new wordpress builds and VIP hosting.

Our free accounts aren’t insured by any means against issues. We’re testers. What we get for testing is a blog host that:
– is free
– handles huge amounts of traffic (usually)
– gives us better search engine results than if we were on our own
– gives us a wider audience if you get enough traffic to be on the top 100

We’re complaining about something we’re getting for free… only it doesn’t seem like free because we spend a lot of time and effort on our blogs

disembedded replied to engtech:

While I certainly can see and appreciate your own perspective about “something we’re getting for free,” my own perspective, at a somewhat different level, remains in some measure different. Specifically, my own feeling is that a person might begin to lose a sense of one’s own freedom to the degree that she or he is always reminded that one has gotten something for free, is led to always feel beholden to the giver.

sunburntkamel concurred with disembedded, and commented:

just because it’s not insured (or given a guaranteed uptime) doesn’t mean that “Very Fast and Reliable Service” wasn’t promised as a feature.

That last comments by disembedded and sunburntkamel make a lot of sense, but so does engtech‘s argument. So, WordPress.com as a free service, is it considered distasteful to offer criticism? Or should we encourage constructive criticism in the spirit of freedom, no strings attached?

And on the other side of the picture, it would be nice if WordPress.com adopts a more open approach. If they’re going to announce the improvements they’ve made, they could also admit the problems they’ve faced in that period. True blue WordPress fans wouldn’t throw brickbats for their honesty, but would probably appreciate even more the improvements the WordPress team has made despite the bugs.

Or is that too much of an unwanted critique? 😉

Comments on: "Can you critique something that’s free?" (4)

  1. +1 for open communication (status.wordpress.com anyone?)
    +1 for open critique (obviously, given my posting history)

    i’ll post more about this in the near future.

    sulz: the blog is deleted? good, would like to hear what you have to say. 🙂

  2. cut-and-paste of my latest from the forums:

    @disembedded: Every time I get frustrated with wordpress.com (which is a lot) because I:

    – can’t use Google Analytics
    – can’t use Google Webmaster Console
    – don’t have a fully integrated FeedBurner feed
    – can’t edit my template
    – or I have to spend several hours coming up with a complicated hack to what should be a simple installation of a plugin

    I stop and remind myself that it’s my own fault for going with something that is free versus something I have complete control over. This is something I’ve caught myself doing quite often. I’ll waste time building something with free tools instead of paying what would have cost a lot less than what my time is worth.

    What I was trying to say in my original comment is that as a customer if you don’t like a product you don’t have to use it. And that is never a defense of a bad product or the suggestion that criticism should be suppressed. It is about customer/user empowerment. Once you realize you have control over a situation it doesn’t bother you as much as it does when you’re blaming someone else for it.

    I recognize that my frustration with wordpress.com is because of my own choice and I don’t blame them for the constraints I have to deal with for being on wordpress.com. It’s not like I can’t download my entire blog as an XML file and go install it where ever I want. The only thing they don’t let me do is redirect engtech.wordpress.com to another hosting provider.

    Anyhow, I’ve (as usual) completely diverged from what your original point was and instead used it as a soapbox for some of my general ideas that might not be specific to this case.

    They should mention some of the bad stuff during the monthly roundup instead of just the positives. Like any company, if they don’t pay attention to when they screw-up as well as when things go right then they’ll be doomed to repeat their mistakes.

    sulz: what you’ve bolded in your comment is very true, though that should be clarified whenever one says something like if you don’t like it, don’t use it, simply because this is the defense often used in response to a complaint of a service.

    this blog is pretty liberal about going off-topic, so don’t sweat it. 🙂

    yes, am very keen on wordpress to be more transparent in its announcements of anything.

  3. As long as they take the time to make available a system to answer questions and complaints I have no disagreement with their methods of operation. It is free and if I do not like the product I can always go elsewhere. It is their product and in many ways it is like book where they creative control. Heck I pay for a internet provider just to get on line and they also go down. When I was with AOL it was always going down and I was paying as much for the service as I am now paying to get my service combined with my delivered local paper. Yet as a blog service I have noticed several blog owners in my area have moved to WordPress. Those that have switched tell me it is far superior to the blogger accounts.

    sulz: wordpress is superior to blogger in certain aspects, but by its own standards sometimes it doesn’t meet the mark it has set before. while they do have a system to respond to feedback, many blogging questions are solved (relatively quicker) by the volunteers over at the wordpress.com forums, people who perhaps deserve a small mention and thanks.

    you do have a point similar to what engtech is saying.

  4. +1 for open communication

    Any corporation that does not communicate with it’s end users creates animosity and compromises its ability to grow. Not communicating with the end user community for the products or services their corporation produces means that management is precluding the best possible avenue for valuable feedback and for improvements they could ever have access to.

    +1 for prior warning with respect to changes that are likely to effect functionality

    Any corporation that makes adjustments likely to effect the services they offer to end users without prior warning creates animosity. By giving warnings the opportunity for end users to exercise patience and cheer technical staff on is replaced by bitching and moaning. Those with management skills always do what is required to bring end users on side when changes are being made.

    +1 for open critique

    Any corporation that wishes to improve its products and services as well as, increasing its client base, requires open and constructive feedback as well as discussion focused on solutions from its end users.

    Mature, healthy end users wish to communicate openly with staff and management here and elsewhere in the corporate world. They are motivated by a desire to be part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.

    IMO those who choose to be silent out of a mistaken sense of loyalty and gratitude for free service clearly lack the maturity expected of functional adults. Hence they readily volunteer to become pawns as opposed to players.

    sulz: thanks for sharing your view. that’s basically what some of the commenters and self would like to see in wordpress.com too.

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