WordPress Screwed Up – Big Time!

Yesterday, many of you might have seen the following when you attempted to connect to Tech Thoughts. WordPress had archived or suspended, my blog for a violation of their Terms of Service.

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I’m sure that this notice left you with questions – chief amongst them might have been, “I wonder what Bill did to incur the wrath of WordPress”. As my Australian friends might say, “that’s fair dinkum”. But, I can assure you, I did nothing wrong – nothing that justified the removal of my site.

I’m fully aware of the WordPress “Conditions of Service”, and I adhere to them scrupulously. Despite that, this is the second time in the last two years that I’ve gone through this “suspended” scenario. Both times, it turns out, WordPress has encountered a system glitch as the email (received this morning), and shown in the following screen capture, indicates.

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As a technologist, I’m more than aware that automated systems are prone to glitches – nothing is perfect. Nevertheless, I have strong objections as to how WordPress handled this.

It seems like a pretty heavy handed way to deal with an issue – giving no warning, and not being specific about the supposed transgression. REALLY heavy handed, given that my Blog is one of their top sites. Hell, it’s one of the top sites on the Internet.

From what I read in the forums on this, a common reason for suspension could be as simple as linking to a site they don’t like. Really! Once a suspension is in effect, there is NO appeal. Your site is gone, and WordPress will not allow you to recover your content. I kid you not! The only set of circumstances under which a site is reactivated is, as in my case, if WordPress has made an error.

Imagine getting fired for breaking a company rule you weren’t aware of, and when you queried your boss as to which rule, you were told – “Well, it’s my interpretation of a rule, and you no have choice but to accept it”.

In an adult world, I can’t imagine broad scale acceptance of that type of behavior. But, apparently in the world of WordPress, you’re expected to meekly accept some nameless, faceless person’s decision that you’ve broken a rule, and then go away!

At a minimum, WordPress needs to seriously review and then revamp their whole approach to the question of perceived violations of their Conditions of Service. In the meantime, if you blog on WordPress, it’s imperative that you backup your content religiously. If this can happen to me – it can happen to you. If it should, you may well be one of the thousands who did not get their site back.

Finally, I spent most of last night replying to the hundreds of regular readers who emailed me wondering what was going on. In virtually every case, those readers were astonished that WordPress had suspended my site. I trust that this article has answered your questions, and you have my appreciation for showing your concern, and loyalty.

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45 Comments

Filed under Blogging Tips, Opinion, Personal Perspective, WordPress, Writing

45 responses to “WordPress Screwed Up – Big Time!

  1. BOB SLYKER

    Hey Bill,

    Sounds like Santa needs to bring the good policy folks at W P a serious “attitude adjustment” for Christmas!

    I guess every day with the Word Press gatekeepers is April one!

    Rest assured knowing that the PUBLIC APOLOGY must be in the mail!!

    Thanks for all the great tips and timely advice throughout the year!!

    Best wishes to you and yours,

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!!

    -Bob

    • Hi Bob,

      Your right “WordPress needs a “serious attitude adjustment”. Dealing with that crew is an adventure!

      Thank you for being such a loyal reader, and let me wish you and your family, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

      Bill

  2. mrlokinight

    What ho Bill ! I missed my dose of Mullins yesterday

    My morning computing experience yesterday became the equivalent of decaf coffee & NO bagels….
    i.e. The end of civilisation

    I recommend that you ‘republish’ yesterdays posts because I can’t access them all. Could be just me though.

    Peace’N’Love
    Nightjar

    • Hey Nightjar,

      Decaf coffee and no bagels is a definite downer, alright. 🙂

      I checked around and there doesn’t appear to be a problem with yesterday’s posts. Maybe clear your cache?

      Best,

      Bill

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  4. vasa1

    Great to see you’re back!

  5. Bill,

    I am with you on this. WordPress needs to take a look at their suspension policy. When I saw you site “gone”, I thought one of the cybercriminals captured you. I was waiting for the email that you were in Nigeria and you needed ransom money. Seriously, glad to see you back! Would not be the same without you here.

    Rick

    • Thanks Rick,

      Momma in her kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter’s go at the Scotch with some friends, when I got the message something was amiss with WordPress. What a way to end the day!

      Cutting people off at the knees like this is just sadistic – not to mention an insane business policy. It’s hard to understand how some 20 something, who wouldn’t know a bot from a bottle, gets to make this kind of decision. I don’t believe, for one minute, this was caused by a system glitch.

      This nonsense has convinced me to go “self hosting”, which I’m now in the process of researching.

      Bill

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  7. Bill,
    I was very, very pleased to see your site “back on the air” this morning. Your writings are not only a great information resource, but your advice is a genuine Public Service.
    (Had I my drothers, you would be Required Reading before someone could earn their Internet Surfer’s License.)

    My heart skipped a beat when I saw that message. I am very glad WordPress got you back online quickly.. and I join you in hoping they will look again at their policy. (Most especially the part of no notice, and no time to correct the {perceived} transgression.) Web 2.0/Blogs/Bloggers have changed the world and how we access information.. I think we deserve more respect and consideration than you were shown.

    • Thanks Paul,

      I’m in absolute agreement with your comment that “Web 2.0/Blogs/Bloggers have changed the world, and how we access information.”

      There are bloggers, and then there are BLOGGERS. You and I, and many of our friends and associates, fit into this latter category. We do, in fact, provide a public service – given our focus on keeping people safe in an ever increasing hostile Internet environment. And yes, we should, as you say, be accorded more respect and consideration from WordPress – as should all WordPress bloggers.

      I very much appreciate you support on this important issue.

      Bill

  8. Hey Bill,

    Great to see you back. 🙂

    • Hey Paul,

      It’s not always true that the innocent are given a reprieve, but in this case it looks like I avoided a terminal penalty. Whew! 🙂

      Thanks for all your support.

      Best,

      Bill

  9. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    Very happy to see it sorted out. A mistake in the system? What a load of crap. I tell ya, if they hadn’t fixed this, I would have been telling everyone and their dog what a pack of bastards WordPress was. And WordPress too. And my mother, my mates at the pub, the local doctor, EVERYONE. It would have been my small protest.

    Keep up the good work mate, we appreciate it.

    Cheers
    Mal

    • Hey Mal,

      The next time this crew closes me down, I’m hiring you as my publicist. There’s a wild beast under that calm, cool exterior it seems. Just the kind of guy I’ll need on my side. It must be that Ned Kelly Australian thing 🙂

      I’m very grateful for all your support on this piss up.

      Best,

      Bill

  10. TRY

    Great to see Tech Thoughts back online Sir 😀

    I too saw the site offline and quickly realized the error was definitely on WP part.WP needs to do things better,this kind of approach from them is really appalling and deplorable.Hope they don’t repeat this ever again.

    Self-hosting definitely looks like the best way to deal with these kinds of nuisance.

    • Hey TRY,

      Yes, you’re right – WordPress needs to overhaul the entire system on how they deal with supposed violations. It is, as you say “appalling and deplorable”, currently.

      Thank you for your support.

      Bill

  11. kenneth lunkins

    i haven’t figured out why your email was going to spam. then i see this mess on the screen and tried
    to send you coded message(smile) because i thought
    i had been hacked. so i spend the rest of the even tried to run virus checks on my machine. but
    all and all i am so happy it was their darn mistake!
    your are a professional, i could not think of any thing you could or would do to warrant such action.

    kenneth lunkins

  12. Patrick Barnes

    Hello,

    Knew there was something goofy yesterday. If I thought I couldn’t trust Bill Mullins I’d probably just stop using the freaking internet. I’m very nearly serious. Thanks for all your insight and help. Welcome back my Canadian brother.

    Pat Barnes

    • Hi Patrick,

      I hear what you’re saying. It points out, just how damaging the WordPress philosophy regarding perceived wrongdoing really is. It can have a serious impact on the reputation of a blogger caught up in this trap.

      Thank you for keeping the faith – I am most appreciative.

      Merry Christmas to you, and those you care for.

      Bill

  13. Hi Bill,
    Well mistakes happen but I have to admit it was a little disconcerting when I saw your site down. You have a great blog and community I’m happy to see things back as they should be.
    Mark

    • Hi Mark,

      Well, it’s the thoughtful and considerate friends, like you, that I’ve made here, that make the community so vibrant and special for me. I had no idea, when I set up this Blog 3 years ago, that it would become such an incredible experience. Wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

      Best,

      Bill

  14. g

    I was at a Christmas holiday function until late last night so I wasn’t able to check my daily blogs. It was meant to be lol! BTW, I’m playing catch-up right now.

  15. Bill,
    Great to see you back. I agree that there needs to be an attitude adjustment at WordPress. I think they’ve forgotten who their customers are…us bloggers!! I’m going to take your advice and backup my articles…as soon as I figure out how to do that.
    Best,
    Paul

    • Hi Paul,

      Exactly – they’ve forgotten who their customers are. That kind of attitude should be classified as an infectious disease.

      To back up your site there are a number of ways:

      On your Dashboard, got to “Tools” – “Export” and “export your files as an XML file to a folder on your machine. This file can be imported back into WordPress, or into another site that will accept this type of file, and many sites do.

      Since I’m very cautious I get an email copy in Gmail of every article I post.

      I use Windows Live writer to write my posts, and I backup all drafts and posts in Live Writer, to a data partition and a flash drive.

      Finally, I use WinHTTrack, a free website copier application, to copy my site to a local drive.

      This might sound excessive, but with almost 2,000 articles on Tech Thoughts, I have no intention of losing even one.

      I hope this helps.

      Best,

      Bill

  16. Michael Cole

    Hey Bill:

    I had to have several Black Labels after punching up your blog and getting that message. Big Brother at work, you are taking it better than I would. My response would have been filled with many many bad words. I am glad that you are back online, my favorite email, bar none. I have learned many things from your blog. Glad your back, kick some ass!!!!

    • Hi Michael,

      Wish I could have joined you in a couple of those Black Labels – sounds like a cure. 🙂 By the time I wrote the article, I just might have used every curse word in the book – couldn’t think of any new ones to sprinkle into the post. 🙂

      Thanks for your support – it’s much appreciated.

      Merry Christmas.

      Bill

  17. Nick

    When you can put here the winners in a PC Tools Internet Security license ? 🙄
    All the best and Merry Christmas !!! 😀

  18. John Bent

    Hi Bill,
    I was blissfully unaware of this until today’s blog, must be something to do with the time difference. What a bunch of w*****s, as the great Scottish comedian Billy Connolly once said “hangin’s too good for them – it’s a good kick in the arse they need!”.
    Was going to suggest a denial of service attack as they’re fashionable at the moment but that would be counter-productive. In fact that, in effect is what they’ve done to you.
    I know from recent experience how frustrating it is when you can’t connect to the internet for some reason. For you it was multiplied a thousandfold. Their miserable one line apology was about as effective as a chocolate teapot and not nearly as good to swallow. A plague on their houses!
    Going to lie down in a darkened room now.

    Kind regards
    John

    • Hi John,

      I’ve been watching Billy Connolly’s “Journey to the Edge of the World”, these last few weeks – a wise, and very funny man. A good kick in the arse, might be just the right approach to use on the Neanderthals over at WordPress.

      Best,

      Bill

  19. Hey Bill,
    I wonder why this happened to YOU of all WP bloggers. I can imagine the shock! lol
    Anyway, I’m glad I just found out about this after it was all over and resolved.

    • Hey Pochp,

      The problem is – with the punitive system WP has in place, this can happen to anyone. The system sucks and needs to be overhauled – sooner, rather than later.

      The problem I’m having is; how can I trust this crew, ever again?

      Merry Christmas to you and your family Pochp.

      Best,

      Bill

  20. Elyn

    Great to see you back! I don’t often comment but your site information has helped my pc experience in too many ways to list. All the best to you and yours this holiday season!

  21. tim

    I know I am not aware of your reasoning on this matter so pls don’t take it as an offence, but why aren’t you running a hosted version of WordPress? Then you can blog about whatever you want without fear of some nameless faceless decision maker making some arbitrary decision.

    You can also have advertising if you so choose. But hey, I’m sure I’m not telling you anything new.

    I’ve experienced the same draconian approach as WordPress in my dealings with Google adsense. I used to run their ads on my blog when l of a sudden they tossed me for click fraud. I must have been ripping their advertisers off pretty bad after accumulating like 30 bucks over the course of 2 years! There wasn’t any explanation or recourse in that instance either. I never did get any actually money from those ppl!

    • Hey Tim,

      Well the issue here isn’t why, or whether, one would choose to blog with WordPress. Instead, the issue is – why WordPress finds it necessary to operate in a draconian fashion. It seems to me, that to not bring this type of unprofessional behavior to light, abdicates my responsibility to inform.

      If WordPress offers a free blogging service, subject to their TOS, of course, then it is incumbent upon them to operate in a responsible and ethical fashion. Suspending a site for a perceived infraction, is neither responsible, or ethical behavior.

      There are people who accept anything that’s handed out to them, no matter the circumstances. I’m not one of them. Assuming guilt rather than innocence, is abhorrent to me.

      Bill

  22. It’s quite reminiscent of Kafka’s Trial. 🙂

  23. Nice to see the Blog back Online.

    This one thing that I hate WordPress and Blogger for. Suspending blogs without even a warning and then, you cant even get your data back until you are lucky.
    That’s the only reason which made me have my own domain and hosting so that I got control on my data fully. No one else can take it over but me .
    May be you should think on that line too. We cant guarantee that it wont happen again in future.

    Again, glad to see you back. 🙂