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.
Ads are supposed to be shown “in limited places” even on free sites according to WordPress.com, but the advertising quality ranges wildly from schlock to surprisingly relevant. What ads are served up on a free site depends on your or your site visitor’s browsing habits and whether advertisers have interest in the site content and audience. I think the ad quality goes up if you are on one of the upgrade plans and choose to run WordAds, but that’s only an educated guess.
Personally I haven’t run into much schlock lately, more ads for overseas calling packages or for travel. 🙂
Yes, I am on the Premium plan. I recognise the style of ad from what I see on Yahoo pages. And I have never seen a relevant one. 😀
I got a reply to my comment on WordAds to say they had received other notifications of poor ads and are going back to their ad partner to query it. Hurrah!
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There have been many posts in the community forums lately about scam ads, so the ads team must be busy!
Thanks. Have you got a link to the forum where this is being discussed?
There are several threads open there so I don’t have one link. Try tag searching for spam ads.
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Thinking about this again the forum threads are not really about the quality of the ads but an issue where folks are reporting that their clicks are being redirected to scam sites. Different issue entirely.
I just saw that – I wonder how that is even happening? If Automattic is the host and no plugins allowed, it should not be possible…
David, thanks for this post and for drawing my attention (and hopefully many others) to this unfortunate practice. I’ve voted – and hope lots of other people will too – hoping that Automattic will pay some heed. As I don’t see my own posts in an email form (or many others as I use the WordPress Reader) I would not have known this was happening. I do very much appreciate your insights into WordPress and Automattic! Deborah Rehmat /Dapplegrey
I have several wordpress.com sites and only recently realised how much more ads there seem to be now than when I started out years ago. The quality of the ads are often appaling. Whenever I post on my food blog, I check what it looks like on the phone and what keeps coming up right on top of a food post is either a scammy weight loss ad with horrible pictures or an ad about some foot disease – who wants to see that on a food blog?
Also, I have a photo blog where I only post one picture with no text, and it’s terrible to see an ad above the picture I posted and below. That’s not just overkill but it really ruins my post.
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I just looked at https://dinnerfornone.wordpress.com – It’s a lovely site and so obvious that a lot of work goes into it. Please vote on the poll if you haven’t done so already – and do follow the link to WordAds that I mentioned and add your voice to the discontent.
Thank you, David! I have bookmarked the WordAds link, will compose a message and definitely voice my discontent.
As for your poll – I don’t get a link from your site. If it’s supposed to be via “A Poll, A Poll! Answer Here!” then I don’t get anywhere when I click on it – or am I looking in the wrong place?
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It’s at very the end of this post https://photographworks.me/2018/11/15/should-automattic-disallow-scammy-ads-poll/