The WordPress Wild West

For months now, my blog has not shown up independently in the WordPress reader. If you followed my blog you would be able to see it, but otherwise, you could not.

Tagging your blogposts is supposed to help get you exposure on WordPress, and one reason why I started writing on WordPress since I had a blog on Blogger, and that platform was horrible for trying to get followers and connecting with a blogging  community.

Well, I have about 146 blogposts logged, and am only getting a maximum 5 views a day. My follower numbers have been stuck at the same number for weeks. I always wondered why. It wasn’t until I searched in the tag cloud in the WordPress Reader for Mass Effect, when I noticed my blog was not showing up under it.

Xbox 360 tag? Nope.

Gaming diary tag? Not a chance.

Alrighty then, let’s do some research. My highly analytical mind likes to read up before asking any questions in a public forum so I don’t look like a fool. I discovered some of the reasons my blogposts wouldn’t show up in the Reader which are as follows:

1. It’s been flagged mature. Um, okay, I have been writing about the bewwwbly matriarch in Mass Effect, but otherwise, no nudity here.

2. I have been using more than 15 categories / tags per post. Nope.

3. No duplicates of tags – that’s considered spam tagging. Not on my blog.

I could not figure it out. So, I wrote the WordPress forums.

I went in thinking, “This could be dangerous.”

Funtime at the ol’ hacienda… (Photo: romanoroberts.com)

The forums are the wild west of WordPress dot COM. There are 25 million bloggers and a small number of volunteers who man that helm, along with “happiness engineers” which are staff with actual abilities to solve your technical glitches.

I posted to the forum over a week ago explaining my issue and that I had already looked over their solutions in the support area and other past posts…none of it applied to my blog. I waited. And waited.

In all fairness, Easter Weekend was around the corner, so I knew there would be a backlog. Okay, fine.

Then I got my hand slapped by a forum volunteer for posting an update to the forum. Whatever you do, if you use the forum, ask your question and wait ’til the mods look into your problem. My “update” set me back another 3 days in the queue. Alright, my bad.

And while I’m talking about it, let me say this about the forum volunteers: you guys work tirelessly to answer questions, but some of us can tell when you have had enough of the inane repetitive questions. If you are tired of the same questions being asked in the forums over and over, maybe you ought to move away from the computer, because yeah, some of your responses to some posters could use some kindness in the responses. I understand the difference between rude and blunt and there is quite a fine line there. Some of us are stressed out and need an answer; your blunt responses do not help anyone. /rant

In the end, I had a KIND WordPress Happiness Engineer email me to tell me one blogpost from last June had a link to Big Fish Games. This was against WordPress dot COM’s terms of service, because I guess it linked to the page where you could buy a game. I went in and removed the link, and wouldn’t you know it?

My blogs are appearing in the Reader again! Hooray!!

The moral to the story? Use the WordPress forums but expect to wait. The volunteers can be blunt, but in the end you’ll get your issue resolved.

Now, back to Mass Effect…

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51 comments

  1. OK, you opened a whole world of questions for me! I’m wondering now if I’ve ever linked to something verboten, and how I’d know. I’m also wondering what exactly spam tagging in. For example if I tag something “Music” and “Rock music”…?

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    1. Checking there in the reader with your latest post on Ratt, it doesn’t show up. LeBrain doesn’t have a tag either.

      The rule is the less tags you use, the better. It is a combo of categories and tags with a total not exceeding 15. No repeats between the two, meaning if you have a category “rock” on your blog, don’t repeat the tag “rock” as well. duplicate names flag you with the wordpress system. It’ll think you are spamming the system so your blog won’t show up in the tag reader.

      Another thing I discovered: if you link to ebay or online retailers like itunes anything like that, WordPress will flag you and you won’t show up in the reader. My Shiver Vanishing Hitchhiker blogpost (one of my first from June) was the culprit – I had linked to Big Fish Games pay site for the game. A big nono, as you are not allowed to make any money off of the free WP site, not even linking to where money can be made. It was totally innocent on my part. Lesson learned, although I can tell you straight up, THAT isn’t written ANYWHERE on any WP support anything.

      Let me know if you have any questions.

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      1. One more question: Does the system flag blogs, or posts?

        I can cut down on the number of tags I use, but I was under the impression more were better. I didn’t know! I can’t go back and change all the past ones though.

        But I’m always going to be linking to sites where things are for sale though, that’s part of what I want to be doing. A band that sends me a CD, by all means I’ll post where to get it. So in that way, I value what I’m putting down there for content over other concerns, I think. Does that make sense?

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        1. My understanding it’s blogs, not posts.

          You can go in and change your categories and tags – I have. It’s no fun but it can be done in the dashboard.

          I hear ya about the tagging, and I had the same assumption, but wordpress doesn’t see it that way. And surprisingly, neither does google’s bots. They can also detect spam tagging and ignore your site (just learned that!)

          And your last point about valuing your content. Yes, absolutely! WP doesn’t like promotion – that’s my sense, anyway.

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          1. I think I’m ok with Google. I’ve found myself on the second page of searches before, I’ll take that as success for sure.

            Glad to know all this, but in the end of not going to edit out old tags, just because I also won’t edit out my promotional links. So I may as well leave it.

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            1. Yep, I would leave it alone. It just really bothered me, and I am pretty tech savvy, so when it wasn’t coming up I wanted to know why.

              I cleaned up my tags just for housekeeping purposes.

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            2. Yes, me too.

              When I think about it, the majority of my followers have been those that I have found and followed. Yours was found when I started following Geoff (who is in the Reader…) and then I started following you. Makes sense!

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            3. Geoff is what binds us all together!

              I’m disappointed in these policies. I haven’t made a dime. I got some CDs for free. I’ve paid for a domain and will eventually have to pay for more storage.

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            4. I am not sure about all of this, but If you move it to dot ORG I think you can do what you want. Another thing to consider is moving to Blogger (Google). Blogger is free and you can sell and advertise to your heart’s content. I liked the flexibility of Blogger, but there is zero support (basically, Google has systematically dropped support little by little), and no community. It’s pretty bare-bones, but if you’re comfortable with coding (xml, c+), it’s a great way to hack your site.

              I have considered my own domain, etc. But right now I am just so, so lazy. lol

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            5. Now you’re getting into territory that I have no knowledge of — c+ etc. I think I’m pretty content right now on WordPress. Growth has been very slow, but on the other hand, quality is more important to me. I think the readers I have, regular or otherwise, are just fantastic. Full creative control is important, as is me having fun. Screw you WordPress for thinking I’m a spammer!

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  2. That’s really weird! So wait, if you write a book review and then link to the page where readers can buy the book if they wish, is that a no-no? You aren’t making money, so it doesn’t seem to make any sense that that would be disallowed.

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    1. Hi Janelle, I don’t know with absolute concrete certainty. BUT, I had a WP Engineer email me personally to tell me that the links I had going to Big Fish Games in my blogpost was a big nono and against WP’s terms of service. I have also been reading the WP forum about all this tagging stuff among other things and some other blogs have been flagged for linking away from their blog to sites that sell stuff – perfume, music, clothing…I am putting two and two together over here. BFG sells games. I linked directly to where someone could buy that game outright. So your best bet – don’t put any links in there. WP’s “spybots” will find them and your blog won’t show up. It was quite instantaneous too. I removed the errant links, saved, and checked – voila! There’s my blog in the reader.

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      1. Weird! I understand not wanting users to be profiting off of the free site, but not allowing links to third parties that sell things is weird, since lots of people write reviews of all sorts of things on their blogs. Well I guess as long as my blog posts show up in my reader I know I’m okay! Glad you got your situation sorted out! 🙂

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  3. Well this is super interesting. What if you had a premium account, is it the same rules or does that change things? You’re probably not the person to ask, lol. Thank you so much for deep diving into this. 🙂

    I am going to have to go make a ton of edits on my Review blog, lol.

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    1. I wouldn’t change a thing on your site, Green. Your Recommends blogs are showing up in the Reader (that’s how I found you in the first place). 🙂

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      1. Nice. We were double tagging and matching categories still. Probably better to clean it up anyway (which turned out easier than I thought, I think I’ll make a tutorial video on that). Also I really needed some spring cleaning on my personal blog too, lol.

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  4. This is great stuff! I didn’t know anything about this. I link to record shops and stuff if I’ve bought stuff there so I guess that’s a no-no too… and sure enough, I’m not on the Reader! I guess I’ve got some work to do!

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  5. This is great info! If you upset the little WP cart, even without intention…they make you invisible except to those that have accidentally found you the hard way. I would not mind getting a notification of any breech because I am probably guilty of something. Again…great post!-thanks

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  6. Wow! I didn’t know any of that stuff about tags at all – I duplicate all the time and (so far) I’m in the reader I think.

    I think you got done for excessive alien boobage.

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        1. I’m cutting down on my tags going forward, specifically in regards to genre. Instead of having, “Hard rock, rock music, heavy metal,” I’ll pick just one. But I do like to tag the different band members’ names. That way, if you like David Lee Roth, you can click it and see all my content related to Van Halen, solo, and otherwise. Same with Richie Sambora, or Steve Vai, etc.

          But if that puts me over the spam limit on some articles, I still prefer having the ability to tag like that.

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    1. You could very well be. Those WordPress spybots are primed for big retailers like Amazon and Big Fish Games. Not sure about yarn stores, though I am sure Michaels, Craftsy and the like are in their crosshairs too. Best just to not link to them, or be cheeky and spell out the web address like: sales at yarnstore dot com instead of using a hyperlink to the actual page. That’s what I’ll do from now on.

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      1. I’ve noticed via my stats that people do click the links to buy CDs that I discuss. I’ve linked to Amazon, Discogs, CD Japan and various official band stores. If people come to my blog by Google “Kiss Japanese bonus track,” and they find me, and through me they’re able to buy it, I’m cool with that. That’s what I would look for in a blog, so that’s what I will do. I’ve also set up blogs linking to fundraisers.

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        1. That’s what I enjoy about your blog, Mike. Don’t change a thing! My blog has a small audience in comparison. I can use all the help I can get! That said, it’s Big Fish Games…c’mon! :\

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          1. Yeah but my audience is all misguided souls looking for porn, and then about half a dozen fellow music geeks 🙂

            By the way the WTF barrel is filling once again, today someone googled “chad kroeger douche” and came upon my blog! I’m really proud of that!

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            1. Hahaha! That’s great! I get: Where’s Waldo and the classic “how to get big fish games for free torrent”. Nice. Now my blog is the go-to for ahem* pirated games…

              Yes, I’m one of those half dozen music geeks…the same half dozen that follow my blog, ironically, lol I have a blog on casual gaming, and mostly it’s my music dude blogger friends that read it, and on an off day maybe 2 women. Hilarious!

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            2. I know a bunch of my old buddies from the store still read mine, because when I run into them they’ll say, “Hey, that review you did on Metallica, you were totally wrong!” And I know my mom reads the record store tales. She says specifically that she enjoys the comments! She will ask me things like, “Now who is 80smetalman?” And I’ll say, “A guy who lives on another continent!”

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            3. That’s sweet. No one I know except the hubs, a co-worker and maybe my cousin from Brazil reads this. I’ve tried pushing it to FB, but I’ll get asinine responses or none at all. My Testament of Sherlock Holmes review got pushed to FB, and I’d get comments like, “so, is it any good?” all the time! I was like, “Dude, if you read my review, you’d know…” Irritated me so. That’s it, no more posting to FB. I’ll push it to Twitter, and no one reads it off of there either. Meh.

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            4. Haha, I get the same thing on Facebook sometimes! “Mike, have you heard this yet?”

              Yes, it’s my review!

              But occasionally the discussions on Facebook get really into it, and I have to post some of the best comments to the WordPress. Because especially in a negative review I get some doozy comments!

              Maybe the difference is more just in who you’ve “befriended” on Facebook and Twitter. For me, just because of working in the record store, anybody who’s not related to me is a music fan.

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            5. Right! I don’t think any of my friends are gamers – especially women. My subject matter is a little niche, so that’s where that is at. I also have a lot more interests than just gaming…music, for example, but most people I know aren’t into blogging or reading blogs. So, what are you gonna do – you can’t fight City Hall.

              I’m just happy to get to know different people, read what they have to say and share my perspective. Keepin’ it realz, you know?

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            6. Yeah same. The only negative is the amount of new info for me to absorb. I’m sure you can relate. “You absolutely need this book,” or “You will love everything by this band,” etc. I’m sure they are 100% right! I only wish the laws of physics allowed me to slow down time enough to read and listen to them! In video games you could be talking a very similar investment of time, to try every single thing somebody raves about.

              Nice problem to have, though!

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            7. Yeah, the “first world problems” problem! lol

              I agree though – there is a lot of great info out there. And it’s hard to retain it all or find time to try it all.

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            8. I have not caught up on movies I got for Christmas. I have not played my Trailer Park Boys board game either. I have not finished listening to my Toronto CDs. The Quiet Riot I bought three weeks ago is still sealed!

              Argh!

              But I looooorve them all.

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            9. Aw man, and there is a new TPB movie coming out…new tv show too. Haven’t caught up on Walking Dead, Mad Men are on…All these shows! And I’m into the Mass Effect thing which is awesome, but sucks all my time away…so much!!!

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            10. And on top of that, there’s this thing called “exercise” that my doctor wants me to do more of. And then there’s this other hobby called “eating” that I also enjoy, along with a side hobby of “cooking” and “watching Chef Ramsey’s shows”. I’ll never get ahead.

              I’m not complaining at all! Sometimes I prefer my younger days when I only know about 50 bands in total, tops, period!

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