PSA: #WordPress – Whoring Out the Free Blogs

Yep, it’s official. Time to bend over Free WordPress Users, Big Daddy Pimp has shown up. We all know that the free blogs have ads on them but if you have an ad blocker you don’t notice. Big Daddy has decided that it’s time to take things up another notch however. Introducing, Native Sponsored Posts!

Yep, ADS are now going to full on posts inserted into our free blogs. If you read the above article closely, you see that right now it is just for WP’s use but they promise that eventually these sponsored posts will be available for use to others. So get ready to be gang raped by proxy.

And they lie their asses off about it on the official forums: My Website has been taken over/hacked by an ad. In particular, please note Quote ##3610590 by JerrySarcastic. He states that “As long as one post is published on the site, this sponsored post is not shown.” That is a complete lie and Jerry is an official staff member on the official WordPress.com forums.

I can testify that I have seen these native sponsored posts on extremely active, but free, sites. I’ve seen them at BookWyrmReads and EarnestlyEccentric. Unfortunately, I did NOT take a screen shot. Thankfully, and I have permission from Alex to use his address, I did catch a screen shot of what they look like at AlexonFilm.com. Alex, while using a dotcom address, is using a free wordpress.com plan.

The reason I’ve included this screenshot is because these “posts” are a moving target. They don’t stay there. They’re inserted and then randomly disappear. So you can go visit Alex’s site and chances are you’ll never see that post at all. I want a record because if anyone brings up the issue on the forums I fully expect Jerry and his ilk to backpedal and lie again.

I’ve deliberately used inflammatory language throughout this post. That is because I’ve only got words to use. Make no mistake, this isn’t some Call to Action, or to Boycott WordPress.com or to leave or to take ANY action at all. The truth of the matter is, there isn’t anywhere else you can go for free (and remember, if you’re not paying for it, you are the product). Over the last year WP.com has been actively and I might say, hostilely, doing everything they can to monetize their services and make using the free option as painful as possible. What this post is is a call to awareness. You need to know what is going on on your own blog and then make the choice what you’re going to do about it, even if that choice is to do nothing, like me.

I have decided to do nothing for now. But being aware of this, I’ve decided where my Rubicon is. If WordPress starts inserting posts sponsored anyone other than WP.com then I’ll have to leave the free plan. Whether I leave WP or just upgrade to the personal plan (ie, dotcom) I have not decided yet.

In closing, please give this a minutes thought and at least decide if this is an issue or not for you.

69 thoughts on “PSA: #WordPress – Whoring Out the Free Blogs

      1. I‘ve seen the writing on the wall in the past couple of weeks, when I started to gain bunches of new followers on my old blog who don’t have anything in common with me (and no conceivable interest in the contents of my blog), who very much look like they all subscribe to the same kind of mailing list, blogging group, or whatever, and whose blogs are all about marketing something. It‘s clearly not a coincidence. Right now they‘re still in numbers that allow me to toss them out again manually (either instantly or when they start to misbehave), but I‘m going to have to think about what I‘ll do if it gets any worse. (Mind you, I don‘t expect the thing to be limited to people who actually go ahead and follow you, if only to keep track on whom they use for marketing purposes. But all this sudden attention from one particular corner can‘t possibly be a coincidence.) Either way, it bugs me that I‘m still having to worry about my old blog, even though technically it‘s not even active any longer as from the beginning of this year.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So why do you bother about the old blog? Does it matter if a bunch of fake accounts are following it?
          I semi-regularly clean out those following me, as a lot of dead wood accumulates over the months 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Well, as long as they‘re just following the old blog, I‘m not all that bothered — but if deleting them is a step towards stopping them from selecting it for targeted “ad“ post inserts like the ones you‘re describing, I‘ll just as soon delete them. And yes, I remember your policy from BL. Still “6 months silence and you‘re dead wood?“ 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Hahahahaa. It’s a good policy 😉
              But really, I have found I tend to modify it for those following me. Some people are just once or thrice a year bloggers and I’ve come to accept that such people are real and consider themselves bloggers 😀

              Liked by 1 person

              1. That’s a relief, because I remember your rigorous approach used to apply to me once or twice, too, when I was so inundated with work that I barely had time to eat and sleep … 🙂 (You always refollowed when I returned to BL, which is how I found out about it in the first place, and you‘d been frank about it beforehand, so all it caused me was a grin. But I‘m still relieved it‘s less likely to happen on WP. 😀 )

                Liked by 1 person

  1. Yeah, I don’t like it, but ads are taking over everything. Which is no surprise. Whenever I go on Amazon now and do a search for something over half the results I get are “sponsored” products. And these are products that are usually totally unrelated to what I’m looking for. Then there’s YouTube, which used to be clean but now gives you ads constantly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is just a (hugely invasive) outgrowth of their campaign to monetize everything. If you’re not a paying client, they’re going to use you like slave labor online.

      It has seriously made me think about going dotcom just to avoid it. But I”m not quite ready to pull the trigger.

      Like

  2. I’ve just seen the sponsored post on two of the blogs you linked to. Unsettling to say the least, but I don’t think there’s much we can do about it. Aside from the money, do you think it’s a reaction to so many people using Ad-blockers?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is nothing we can do about preventing it. But people should be aware that it is happening.

      It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the proliferation of adblockers has helped us get to this point.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, it sucks. Thanks for the heads-up. Gotta dash. I’ve a meeting with some company that wants to project short commercials onto my forehead. They’re offering a “free” blogsite in exchange…

        Liked by 3 people

    1. We’ve always had ads on free plans, but this takes the idea of ads to another whole level and considering it is masquerading as a post, seems much more intrusive in a “this is my blog” way.
      Posts are the very essence of a blog. So to have them not be sacrosanct is very jarring.

      I agree with you. Free just means YOU are the product. But at the same time, it is coming across as a sea level change that hasn’t happened before. And the only thing to do is pay up….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Long live .ORG!, seriously. Not to joke, because this is disheartening. I was looking the other day and you can rent a “KVM web slice” server for around $3 a month that would run 10 websites, depending on the traffic load, which would put you on .ORG. I ended up having to pay jetpack.com a little bit of money ( less than $10, so they could fix my comments problem ). Which ever way you decide to go, I hope you are somehow free’d from “being the product”. -S.D. 🤠

    Liked by 1 person

    1. See, I like the ‘community’ that WP.com has setup. the notifications of likes and comments and the feed. It works great. I don’t want to leave that.
      And I’ve seen nothing but hassles for people who use dotorg. Those hassles might be worth it to you, and others, but to me, it isn’t.

      I suspect I’ll keep on being the product. Despite what some may think, magic money doesn’t grow on trees for the picking 😦

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I understand that. Money . . . yeesh. I hope you get more, enough to buy the hosting plan and to have enough left to get some more of those energy drinks and manga.

        For me, I know WordPress started out as completely free software, so I will stand my ground in the .org, so .com doesn’t make a total @$$ out of themselves.

        And I totally agree that a whole post is just crossing the line! They push and push and push until there is backlash. Might as well give em the backlast straight off the rip! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I”m pretty upset so I’m deliberately NOT making decisions about it. Surprisingly, while being upset might make for great post fodder, it does not make for great decision making skills.

          Like

      2. I’m on wordpress.org and I still get a feed through wordpress. I’m not sure if it’s because I originally had a .com account or not, but they’re there. It’s only comments that I’ve made on other blogs though and not my own but I’m in my own every day and can see so I wouldn’t need it those alerts in any case. I haven’t had many hassles from .org and certainly alot less than blogger.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wpdotcom does allow people to use their jetpack, which allows dotcom people to interact with you dotorg’ers much easier. But you are the only person I follow who doesn’t seem to have perpetual problems with it. Every other dotorg’er has done nothing but convince me that going selfhosted is the last thing I want to deal with.
          If it all went like yours I might be tempted…

          Liked by 1 person

  4. That is worrying and potentially a huge annoyance… I think Re-E is safe, as we’re on the cheapest plan and it says: “All WordPress.com advertising has been removed from your site so your brand can stand out without distractions.” We went for it some time ago, so that the guest are not bothered by the ads… I treat it as just one of the annoying subscriptions that unexpectedly appear on my credit card statement once a year 😦

    The truth is, it’s not as easy to be on the internet for free as it used to be, that was bound to happen.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. As of now, any paid plan by dotcom should do the trick. I think that’s their real goal, annoy the people like me enough so we shell out for a plan 🙂

      I don’t know if you had American Online back in the day (or whatever equivalent) but man, you signed up for the free trial, had 6months free and everything online was free. now? they’ve learned to monetize what people do….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In the old days, we used to pay same money we would pay for a local call, so it was never for free… the connection itself is way cheaper now, I pay under $15 for 100mb with no limits…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Funny that my oldest brother just told me this morning i should dtsrt my own site which i will have more control over. I dont know if i should care about adds, as long as i am not selling penis enlargers as my spam folder suggests i should, ill be ok for now. But the thought of running my own site does sound great if not a little overwhelming…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Give it another year or two and see what you think. If you did do your own site, you and your wife could be co-hosts and have your own sections. Of course, you’d have to come up with a name that you both like and fits you both 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think books and booze might fit into anything we try… seeing as shes a drunkard and i an aholic😂. Call it drunkaholic i guess🤷🏼‍♂️? Will see, ot feels daunting enough just thinking about my own website. Like what is it, what do i do? Can i continue just doing what i do here?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hahahaha. that is right, you both have boozy related sites 😀

          I am the completely wrong person to talk about for that kind of thing. My only thought would be would you want to go with a paid plan through wordpress.com [and pretty much have exactly what you have now with just more control] or would you go through wordpress.org and host the thing yourself and really get into the guts of running a website.

          If I ever went paid, I’d go through dotcom just so I keep everything how I have it and like it 🙂
          Ola and Piotre have a dotcom plan, so they might be able to give you some tips about what it does. And SDMcKinley has gone full on dotorg so he could give you details about that.

          Worst that will happen is you learn something and do nothing 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Will see, mine will be a .co.za thing which will be free as my bro works for a webhosting company in SA, can get a domain name for free through him, says he can help with migrating my WP stuff over to that then.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. I only have one free blog the other two are on plans so I presume they won’t be affected. I checked out the links and found one of the ‘sponsored posts’ bliddy horrible to have that stuck between your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Maybe they can use some of that sweet sponsored books cheddar to do something about the Spanish-language spam comment problem. I just checked my spam comment folder for the first time in a few days. 24 of 40 comments in there were the exact same Spanish spam comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh dear lord, the spanisho spam bots!
      I ended up having to resort to putting part of the stock phrase it uses into my disallowed comments box so now any of that goes straight into my trash. I still have to empty my trash comments every week but at least I’m not wading through the spam looking for the real comments that were accidentally put there.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. At least now you know what is happening and can decide how you want to react to it. I know a lot of people don’t even know this is a thing, as they only visit people through the reader and hence never see the whole site.

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  8. Can’t say anything more than what was already said here. This just sucks. We went for the paid option ages ago and its basically like extortion money, we get to be left in peace 😜 the problem is that there are no real alternatives if you just want to have your blog and not worry about technicalities 😔

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The days of free blogs are coming to a close. If this works for WP, I can see blogspot (owned by google) doing something very similar. Of course, google doesn’t have a great ecosystem for their blogs like wp does…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I do prefer WordPress over other blogging sites and I can’t afford to pay for a site. So, I’ll keep using it as it is and seethe quietly.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Well I can say that if Blogger do the same, I’ll quit blogging rather than put up with that. I have no interest in paying to continue my hobby so it would be the end for me and I refuse to be bombarded by ads every time I go to blog! Are these people trying to get us all to throw in the towel???

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jeez. This is a bit of a kick in the teeth.
    Ads I don’t mind, they’re everywhere, but an ad that’s disguised as a blog posts leaves a bitter taste.
    Thankfully, I’m among the unaffected dues to being a self hosted WordPress user, but even so it doesn’t look good for me fellow wordpressers who aren’t self hosted and on the free plan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You seem to have managed the dotorg side of things pretty much, in terms of integrating into the dotcom ecosystem. How’d you get things to work so smoothly? Nobody else I follow who is self-hosted has had so few issues (that I can tell)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t realise there was much that could go wrong to be honest.
        I’ve been suing WordPress for, on and off, the past 10ish years though so that might have something to do with it.
        If there was something I didn’t understand though, I asked Google!
        I think it helps that my website requirements were simple, hardest thing to do was get a contact form to go to my inbox not my junk folder.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. For me, the jetpack plugin and the comments/notifications are what have buggered up every dotorg’er that I follow. To the point where I unfollowed a couple because it wasn’t worth the hassle. Comments are that important to me.

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  11. Definitely not surprising considering, like you said, we are the product if we are to opt for a free plan. I guess it all comes down to how much that free-plan-blogger cares about their page and content. Hope you don’t run into the issue, and if you do, that you stick around by feeding the beast a couple of $$$$ 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m stuck here at WP. With 15 years worth of book data, and only 5 more to go, I’m thoroughly mired down here. I have this feeling that I will be paying much like Ola & Piotre sometime this year. Unless finances change and I HAVE to stick with the free plan.

      Like

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