Quitting WordPress – April 30, 2020

I’ve gotten several complaints about ads on my blog.

When I set this thing up in 2009, I didn’t know much about the web— I’m an AI programmer; web stuff I do when there’s a reason to do it— and I used WordPress’s free offering, and it worked. At the time, you published a blog post and there it was. No ads.

At some point, WordPress began running banner ads under my essays, without paying me, because I was using the free tier, so I guess the attitude was, fuck that guy. I never saw the ads on my own blog, when logged in, and now I understand why. If WordPress bloggers (like this dumb sap) knew how intrusive the ads were, they’d be less likely to create content.

The banner ads were ugly— and I wasn’t making any money off the damn things— but I was willing to tolerate them… laziness, inertia, not wanting to start over.

This afternoon, I looked at my blog, while not logged in, and saw this:

Screen Shot 2020-03-25 at 2.57.38 PM

Not just a banner ad, but a block ad, right between paragraphs. A fear-based fake-news ad, on top of that. Fucking garbage, in the middle of my writing.

I never allowed this. I am embarrassed that this piece of garbage ran between two paragraphs of my writing. I am fucking done with this shit.

What have we let happen to the Web? Fake news, interstitial ads, egregious memory consumption, and those obnoxious metered paywalls. Social media is an embarrassment. I am so sick of all this fucking garbage, the blue-check two-tier social platforms, the personality cults, the insipid drama, and the advertisements for garbage products no one wants and badly-written ad copy no one needs to read.

I am sick of “Free” meaning garbage. Yes, I’ll pay for news— but never in a million years if you punish me for reading more than my “4 free monthly articles”, you rancid stain. Make it free or charge for it; don’t be an asswipe and play games. Stop “giving away” a garbage product in the hopes of someone paying for something better.

This blog goes down at the end of April. I’m done with WordPress. I’m a programmer; time to roll my own.



27 thoughts on “Quitting WordPress – April 30, 2020

  1. Michael, I’m so sorry this happened to you. I tell ya, I learned my lesson on GeoCities, before WordPress was even born. We were all HTML-ing in those days, and experimenting with the “free” 2MB of space with only ftp access that GeoCities gave us…. and then the frame insets with ugly ads started appearing over pictures if my babies. I’m enough of a programmer that was able to put frame-busting code in my HTML, but I saw the way it as going with frame-busting-busting code, and I wanted out. I’ve been paying my own hosting ever since and have never looked back. Eventually WordPress code became available, and its entire ecosystem of paid and free plugins was born, so I do run the open source WordPress.org code on my sites, but the only ads that appear on any if them are my own. You CAN export all your excellent articles from here, and import them into whatever platform you choose to go to. But paying for your own hosting will give you MUCH more freedom from this kind of trap. In fact, even Google’s YouTube is still running ads on supposedly “demonetized” channels, so don’t go to Bligger, which is also Goigle-owned. Do take your articles with you and tell us where you go.

  2. Ironically, I have been worried about my hearts health. I am pretty sure you can find a paid service for blogs that won’t do this. It has been my motto to avoid free internet. Just use select few paid services. Free internet is like unprotected sex at this point.

    • Oh, I’ll have no problem finding (or putting together) something better. But “free” isn’t supposed to mean garbage. It wasn’t always this way.

      I have no problem paying for quality, either. But a free product that breaks in ways I’m not even informed of is not going to convince me that the paid product is better. It’s just going to piss me off.

      • Well, every free service somehow needs money to pay resources. Google can provide free Gmail/Calendar/Drive/.. services, because primary income of Google is something else, and plus advanced and business paid tiers of these services.

        WordPress needs some income, and that’s just the way to make that income happen,… Though, it doesn’t need to be in such intrusive way. Also, there are alternative sites, where publishing is free, and reader pays fee (after going over free reading quota).

  3. In what I see as a touch of irony, by attempting to show us the ads you so hate, you placed one in the middle of one of your text paragraphs.

    Anyway… Although we have been proven to disagree in many areas, our first and best point of agreement was agile/scrum and the cancer it represents to the software industry. I remember , when my company showed us the YouTube videos and hired the scrum consultants, I heard a little voice in my head saying ‘your career is over’. And I was right, but the people in my organization made me feel as if I were crazy. And then I got furloughed, probably because I didn’t embrace scrum. Your blog gave me a forum to connect with other software developers who had similar experiences. It showed me that many,many other developers felt just as I did and provided me with a sense of vindication. I wasn’t crazy after all, at least not because of what I saw in agile/scrum. So thanks for that.

    And you might want to take a chill pill or something. Try to find a way to relax, because if I read your current emotional state correctly, you have a ton of pent up anger. That stuff will kill you unless you find a way to let it go. Good luck in your next endeavor.

  4. I have worked on two continents, 6 countries in total, over the span of 35 years. I have studied in an organized communist country based on self-management, worked in a disorganized communist country based on self-management, worked in a capitalist country where responsible capitalism was about to transit to globalized capitalism, worked in a socialist country transiting to capitalism under the keen eye of IMF while the globalization was in a full swing, and worked in a disorganized, allegedly capitalist country. This last one being the worst shit of all. By far. If I were using simile to describe this last one I would call it Shitada.
    I started to work in early 80s as a young electrical engineer moving quickly to computers and software. If I were to summarize my 35 years in the field with only two words I would say: Hunger Games. Games of hungry people, whether it is capitalism or socialism or communism. The worst kind of people I have been encountering for 35 years have been my fellow electrical engineers (back in those times only electrical engineers were hired to do anything computer and software related; only when I came to Shitada and broke into an internal network of a big job agency curious to see who the heck is being hired for those Hunger Games positions I learned that shoe salesmen, anthropologists, English majors, biologists, housewives, even preachers, had precedence over engineers. This was in the 90s. In 2000s it was supplemented by a huge influx of hungry mujiburs of all sorts), software engineers, etc.

    Corporations are led by shitty ignorant fools. Deming’s 14 principles of optimal economy have never been implemented anywhere except in post-war Japan 45 to 65 (German people have much deeper engraved strive to work for common good by themselves than other nations, that’s why they are number 1 country in multi-factorial productivity and will remain in that spot forever), but with globalization taking over even Japan abandoned most of those principles.

    I now wait for Big Dismantle. I am old and probably Big Dismantle will not occur in my lifetime. But I dream about it.

    • I’ll figure out what it costs. Can’t imagine it’s much. It’s high time I build an author website (for Farisa’s Crossing) and I want to do it from scratch. Compared to the stuff I do in C, building a half-decent website shouldn’t be hard.

      • While doing it from scratch is fun, I’d recommend using a static site builder to host it on S3 or some such. Jekyll, Hugo, and more abound.

        Could also do it by hand w/ HTML & CSS, and host it somewhere ultra cheap, too, though the best part of the static generators is that you can blog using them, too. Lots of great guides out there.

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  6. Michael, I’m a long-time occasional reader and never commented before, but I’m making an exception now to encourage you to export your WordPress.com contents to an independent WordPress instance. I can host you for free on a professional server (without ads or any of that crap; I have the same abhorrence for those as you have), and would be delighted to do so, simply because I consider your blog posts to be a public service. Please, don’t stop your blog just because of this bad experience. The world needs your writings.

    So please take me up on my offer. Simply send me an email (you have my address since I’m commenting here) and I will be glad to help you with this (including the migration process), with nothing asked in return. My server already runs dozens of my websites or friends’; it doesn’t cost me anything more to offer you a proper independent space on the web.

  7. It’s a typical Build vs Buy decision. Time is money, so don’t waste much time rolling your own unless you can’t find something else that meets your needs for a fair price.

    There’s got to be something suitable already out there. Since you are already familiar with WordPress, maybe just spin-up your own WordPress instance in AWS cloud (it’s a few button presses and YOU control it):

    I’m guessing you could port your articles over somehow easily enough too.

    • I could do hosted wordpress, but I also want more control in this iteration.

      My career imploded in the late 2010s because I trusted my reputation to privately owned technologies. My objective in the 2020s is to create a web presence that I control. And then, after pulling this off, I can share knowledge and perhaps build tools for other people.

      • Thankfully, nothing of WordPress is privately owned. That isn’t necessarily a panacea for all ills, but it is entirely open source.

        That said, I mentioned static site generators in a previous comment, and for a site that is entirely focused on your writing, and promoting your literary efforts, that would seem to be a better fit overall? Though comments are tricky to provide that way!

        • I’m thinking about it. I might get a small Amazon instance and host from that— although it doesn’t seem web hosting is that expensive.

          Rolling my own CMS that does all the things I need isn’t that hard. I’ve come to the conclusion in any case that minimalist designs with some basic CSS are the way to go. Most web pages are far too cluttered (and ad-ridden) these days. And, given the times we’re in— there’s going to be an appetite for simplicity in presentation and publication. That tends to happen when the world pulls inward.

          • I really wouldn’t roll your own CMS. It’s true that your use case is relatively simple but it’s an utterly solved problem I guarantee that you’ll be diving down the wrong end of the 80/20 rule. If you just do the bare minimum to get going it will show. Then you’ve worked hard but for a marginal negative return. If you go hard at it you’ll be spending so much time re-inventing the wheel that could have been spent on something else. I’ve been a rails dev in a number of companies and despite having all these accomplished people who know the framework that rose to fame with the “Build a blog in 15 minutes” video and still they use an existing CMS for that stuff.

            Considering you already have your wordpress and all its comments then migration to your own instance makes some sense. If you really want to move to different tech I’d strongly consider a static site generator. Jekyll has a wordpress.com importer and it integrates nicely with https://pages.github.com/ which is free hosting that will never mess up your content with ads.

            That’s because all they’re offering is for you to make a /public dir of files and they’ll host them under michaelochurch.github.io (and additionally your own domain if you have one). Frankly, you could hand-code all the HTML files in that public dir or use another site generator like https://gohugo.io/ which I kind of prefer. With both you can use a template and tweak its CSS and HTML as you wish (although that can be heavy-going). Both of those generators can you can be managed through https://forestry.io/ if you prefer a proper CMS interface over writing posts in Markdown in your text editor.

            My guess is that github pages is free 1) because one of the github founders wrote Jekyll for fun and wanted to see it used by a lot of people 2) Unlike wordpress it’s not a dynamic database backed server application, it’s just some file storage attached to an http connection. 3) As with the rest of github, you have to get a Pro account to make the repo private. (With a blog I personally wouldn’t bother.)

            The whole thing is too simple for much to go wrong. There’s no database, comments are managed by embedding a widget from something like Disqus.

            If that last part sounds too much like trusting a private company and is a dealbreaker then yes, you need to host the comments database yourself. The wordpress on AWS option sounds decent.

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  9. Fellow programmer here. Don’t bother with a CMS, just use a static site generator (there are dozens, I started with middleman a few years ago but I’m sure jekyll or others are fine), push the whole mess onto S3, and use a system like Disqus for comments (they handle all the bullshit with moderation, spam, etc).

    SImple, no ads, low cost, no database, complete control. I push articles into a git repo on a server I have, with a post-commit hook that triggers publication to s3. It’s worked for 3 years so far and I never have to deal with exploits, database configuration, setting anything up, or any of the other garbage I’m sure you’re familiar with.

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