A few days ago WP introduced a questionable new feature called reblogging (see the announcement in the wp.com blog, with the silly title “We All Like to Reblog” – italics mine).
Read the forum thread on the issue: [*] lots of posts (including several by me) exposing the problems and replying to some fantastic posts by WP staff (who apparently think we’re all idiots).
Read the following relevant posts too (ordered by date) – all by experienced bloggers volunteering in the wp.com forum:
• Reblogging: WordPress.com takes the thinking out of blogging, by thesacredpath.
• WordPress.COM reblogging revisited, by thesacredpath.
• Say No to the Plethora of Exclusive Like Buttons, by arifsali.
• Is WordPress.com now a Social-Networking/Micro-Blogging Platform?, by arifsali.
• Thumbs down on WordPress Reblogging, by timethief.
• Do Really ALL of us want to Reblog ?, by phoxis.
• Customer Dissatisfaction, by justjennifer.
The day the feature was introduced, some of these bloggers very reasonably suggested that we should have the option to disable it if we wish. WP doggedly refuses to add such an option, and avoids to explain why. As feartheseeds wrote in the forum, “the continuing resistance to such a simple change is bizarre“.
If, like us, you don’t like splogging, here’s two things you can do:
• If you have the CSS upgrade, add this to your CSS to get rid of the “Like” button (but see Update below):
• If you don’t have the CSS upgrade, you can use the brilliant idea Tess came up with (and I expanded on): create a suitable 100px wide image, upload it via Media > Add New, copy its URL and put this at the beginning of your posts (in the html editor):
The image won’t show up in your post, but it will show up in the splog post if someone “reblogs” yours. It can be something like this:
Or like this:
Or it can be your Copyscape or other copyright banner (thanks to timethief for the suggestion).
Of course the splogger can delete the image after the post is published. But at least you will have expressed your disapproval, for those that do it innocently and might be willing to respect you. And if your posts include other images, none of them will be reproduced in the splog post (it displays the first image to be found in a post).
Or you can use a nice irrelevant image instead, making it less likely that it will be deleted. One of the problems with this feature is that you get no notification whatsoever when someone “reblogs” your posts, so adding an invisible image with a distinctive file name is your only chance to find splog posts by searching for the image name. (Thanks to Tess again.)
Or you can include invisible text as well (or instead, if you omit the image code):
If the text is around 450 characters long (including punctuation marks and spaces), the splog post will display that text alone, without a single word of your real, visible, content. One possible version here. Caution: your feeds will display the invisible text.
[*] Note: Suddenly the forum thread was closed by Matt (owner of WP), with this announcement:
I would like everyone to try out this feature for two weeks. See if your blog disappears from Google, if aliens come and attack you, if your traffic goes up, down, or stays the same. Reblog a few posts and see what it looks like. Like a few things. In two weeks I’m happy to have a discussion with everyone on their concerns, ideas, bugs, and hugs, but we really need people to actually use and comprehend the feature first!”
He’s right. There is confusion and misinformation going on re this feature. Just not by us.
Update June 10:
Matt has posted four different replies on arifsali’s (first, second, third, fourth). At first I had chosen to concentrate on replies given by WP staff in the forum. But now things took a very interesting turn…
• Matt claims (again and again):
“It[‘s] a user feature which is why it’s in the admin bar, not your template.”
“The admin bar belongs to the user, not the blog.”
“Why would the admin bar, which belongs to the user and is 100% consistent whether you’re on my blog or CNN, change depending on which site you’re on.”
They put the Like button in the admin bar, and then they use this as an excuse against adding an opt-out. I don’t see why the admin bar has to be 100% consistent, but if you want it so, this by no means excludes the possibility of an opt-out: just don’t put the button there; or keep it there, and make opt-out blogs bring up an alert when you try to reblog from them (just like you get an alert when you try to visit a private blog).
Compare this seeming concern over the admin bar with the fact that they even allow you to remove the credits to WP from your footer (while we forum volunteers consider this not fair and as a rule advise against it).
• Matt pretends to wonder (again and again):
“I’m not sure how or why opt-out would work.”
“How would opt-out work? Would they be able to favorite a post on every site powered by WP.com except for yours?”
“Could I like a post on every site powered by WP.com except yours?”
Could I reblog from a blog except if the blogger doesn’t want that?
Yes, why not?
“That would be confusing.”
“It’s confusing, annoying, and utterly unacceptable.”
“That would be a terrible, horrible user experience”.
Why is it confusing and all the rest? Because Matt would like us to believe so. In reality it would be no more confusing than not finding some blogs via the Tag Surfer etc. (because the bloggers themselves have marked them mature or because they don’t use tags and categories) and no more confusing than finding a post that says “this post is password-protected”, or a blog that says “this blog is private”, or a youtube video that says “embedding disabled by request”. All it takes for an opt-out to work without any confusion at all is a similar alert: “reblogging disabled by request”.
• And now the hypocrisy is gloriously revealed. Dave Bonta / sonofbruce was the first to publish (in the forum) the CSS that hides the Like button. As shoreacres noticed today (thanks shoreacres for pointing it out!), Dave’s suggestion has been replaced by this:
“[removed — modifying your admin bar like this is grounds for suspension]“
“The original vision of WordPress (and WP.com) wasn’t to freeze blogging at a moment in time and never evolve and listen to our customers, it was to constantly iterate and adapt based on features our users ask for, or we like.”
And Mark (head of WP Support) wrote:
“Fair Use does exist as do many posts and bloggers who deserve a way to get wider exposure. And that’s what it is all about.”
So WP says: we listen to you, and we’re dedicated to providing what you ask for and what you deserve; but if you don’t want what we want you to want, we’ll suspend your blog.
I have no further questions, Your Honor…
Update July 11:
Check followup forum thread on reblogging. Notice Matt (“happy-to-have-a-discussion-with-everyone” Matt) playing deaf this time and only replying: feature stays, you go if you don’t like it… Notice same Matt (“use-and-comprehend-the-feature-first” Matt) suggesting that not being able to reblog anything but the latest post from the Time Newsfeed blog may be due to trying to reblog deleted posts…