The title of this post is ‘Should Automattic Disallow Scammy Ads’.
Scammy is an urban dictionary word rather than something you will find in the Oxford or Webster’s Dictionaries, but I am sure you get the idea that it means anything that is and/or related to a scam.
It doesn’t have to be fraudulent to the extent that it is illegal, just a crappy way of hooking gullible people into a dream that hasn’t a hope in heck of being fulfilled.
The first question then is, are there, in fact, any scammy ads on WordPress.com – at the end of posts and in emails?
For the answer, read on.
First, a bit of background about who owns WordPress.com.
In case you didn’t know, the WordPress.com blogging platform is owned and hosted by Automattic.
WordPress.com is run on a modified version of the open-source WordPress software at WordPress.org that is used by bloggers on their self-hosted sites.
In a nutshell, if I run a self-hosted WordPress website, I can do pretty much what I like as long as it does not violate the terms of service of the hosting company.
And if I don’t like the terms of service of the hosting company, there are other hosting companies with more liberal policies and I can switch to their hosting.
Running a self-hosted website costs money. Having your site on WordPress.com is free.
There are some restrictions that come along with ‘free’. One of the restrictions is that I have to accept advertisements at the end of my posts.
That’s not quite true. I can pay Automattic a yearly sum so that I don’t have ads at the end of the my posts. I do that with this site at PhotographWorks.me and the reason above all that I do it is because of the poor quality of the ads.
In an article I entitled ‘Why, Dear WordPress, Oh Why?‘ back in 2012, I asked why the ads were so crappy.
It was a rhetorical question, although I kind of hoped that the people art Automattic would listen.
I hoped they would listen because I bought into the idea that Automattic wanted to do its bit to foster, nurture, and encourage the WordPress community.
That had to be so because it kept declaring that community was dear to its heart in the democratisation of the Web.
In fact, if you go to Automattic.com, the first thing you will see emblazoned in big type across the page is this:
We are passionate about making the web a better place.
Ads In Emails
In a post entitled Real Life Is Bad For Blogging, Jen mentioned that advertisements will now be included in the emails that followers get when they subscribe to a WordPress.com blog to hear about new posts.
I just saw my first ‘ads in an email’ today in an email about a new post from Dapplegrey entitled Gone, Leaves.
This is the advert section at the end of the email:
Oh come on! Mother earns £16,409/month! The ad is so obviously a scam designed to hook in the gullible.
Does Automattic Monitor Its Ads
Does the Ads team monitor the quality of ads?
I clicked the ad and it went to a blank page. I stripped out everything except the subdomain URL and got a 500 error and similarly with the main domain. Well, that’s good.
The ad for how to invest in bitcoin without buying bitcoin also led to a dead page – blank dot org. Strange.
My point being that Automattic states repeatedly that it supports community and the integrity of community in the democratisation of the Web.
Advertisements like these don’t do anyone any favours – not least the WP.com readers who have sites of their own and wonder exactly what is being put out in their name at the bottom of their blog posts and in the emails notifying other readers of their blog posts.
If you want to add your two cents, worth – you can go to the post at WordAds Now With Ads In Email Subscriptions and offer your opinion.