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The Lows of WordPress Customer Service: Right from The Founder

January 2, 2007

82 million monthly page views must mean that founders don’t have to listen to customers anymore. I’m just a software developer with a tiny real estate video company and a real estate video blog that gets some traffic but not lots of traffic. I’ve said before that I felt as though I’ve been in a beta group of wordpress blog and that I wanted off – hardly a bad spirited request for a normal user.

As background, the software teams that I ran at Microsoft each had their own groups of volunteer beta testers.  If you were in a beta group, you knew it because you volunteered to be in it. We didnt force anyone into a beta group that didnt want to be in one….and tried to warn people about using beta products for their main systems. 

So Matt, founder of WordPress, has a post where he says that 10% of wordpress blogs are included in a beta group for the snap preview. Ahh..so my suspicion was correct, there are indeed blogs in beta groups for features. I posted my thoughts about the snap plug-in (too much branding, dog slow, etc.) and ask to be taken off of the beta group as the thread has many willing volunteers to be in such a group. I am avid wordpress user with more than 5 active blogs with real estate video in multiple languages and i wasnt rude.

Is it really too much to want a WordPress blog that isnt part of a beta group….since i run my blog as part of my business, there is no rational reason that I should be eating WordPress dogfood…unless of course WordPress wants to assume any legal risk. At best, I cant log in at least 3 times per day. At worst, I’ve lost entire posts that took 30 minutes to write at 3am (so much for autosave)….not fun.  The video links alone take time to find and post.

Here is what I received in exchange for my requested feedback:

– my comment was removed from the Snap thread (it isnt there as of this blog post)
– I receive a curt email directly from Matt himself acknowledging my comment and *recommending* that my best option would be to move my blog to another platform or delete it (nothing says “customer service” like when a founder doesn’t even want to hear about issues with his software)

Never mind that Matt *asked* for feedback and simply didn’t like what he heard; honestly, I dont want to be involved in the high school level politics of A-Listers and just want a WordPress blog that reliably works. In my case, Autosave didnt work for weeks…and the production implementation still doesn’t go back to any saved version if there was a issue after clicking “Publish”.  The login issue really is frustrating (cant have gone to a wordpress hosted dedicated URL like scobleizer.com, can’t have other wordpress windows open when logging in, etc….all just to login). 

The problems that I’ve had with WordPress are hardly trivial. I cant be the only one experiencing them (at least in whatever beta group my blogs are a part of). Why not just fix the problems or at least listen to figure out what might actually be going on??

Update: Can’t respond to comments on my own blog now.  I get a “Duplicate comment – You’ve already said that” error…yet no comment.  Here’s my response to Matt:

Instead of blaming some X factor without even asking about my issue, wouldnt it just be easier to say, “hey, weird problem. We haven’t heard of this before…I’ll have someone from tech support contact you right away to see if we can get this cleared up”?

With a question or two, you might have discovered that the browser status reads, “done but with errors on the page” each time the login fails. Not likely a user error and perhaps worthy of a look… especially since successful logins dont have that message in the status bar. I wont assume that you are churning production code across all of your blogs as much as I have errors so being in a beta group seemed like a fairly likely hypothesis.  In any case, kicking a user to the curb just for not going along with all-is-well-in-wordpress-land mantra may work in the short-term but at some point may backfire in the long term.  The inability to post comments in my own blog would be a nice issue to fix as well. 

Update 2: Consistent error that happens much more when logging in or comenting in the morning than the afternoon or evening.

Likely offending code is at line 38 – Error: ‘blockedReferrer’ is undefined.  This is the most consistent error when I absolutely cannot login and the name likely indicates that it may be the source of my commenting problems as well.

Other intermittent errors:

line 1727 – Error: ‘addEventListener’ is null or not an object

page = stats
———————
line 566 – error: Object required

———————–
line 256 Error: object required  (when I tried to login via the http://wordpress.com main page)

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3 comments

  1. Howdy. If you want to post a comment that is about Snap, which is what we were asking feedback for, I’d be happy to let it through.

    You’re not in some weird beta test group that we’re constantly breaking stuff for. Snap is the first time we’ve rolled out any code that wasn’t to the entire site, and the selection was purely based on your blog ID number.

    Your assumption about all the other problems based on being in a beta group that doesn’t exist, therefore, is actually indictitive that something really isn’t working for you here.

    I’ve never heard of someone not being able to login 3 times a day, etc. If those were widespread problems, we’d know.

    There is an X factor we can’t identify which is causing your experience to suck, combined with the overtly commercial nature of this blog, probably means that’d you be happier hosting your own WP with a third-party hosting provider. On WordPress.com we’ll never be able to be all things to all people, and I’m genuinely sorry we’re not a good fit for you, but I wish you well in your blogging endeavors.


  2. You’re not being kicked to the curb, and we certainly encourage criticism in our feedback and comments.

    Since there is a message on the WP.com blog about not using the comment form for support, I had assumed since you were leaving a comment (and blogging your troubles) you had already contacted support and they weren’t able to help you.

    I don’t know how much they will be able to help you anyway, given that there are no known bugs around the issues you’re describing so it’s likely a problem local to your computer, which is hard or impossible for us to debug.


  3. I must say in reading the above that there is a lot to be said for having your own software on your own webhost.
    I cannot imagine trying to run a business with open source software hosted by the same company that puts out the software, at least judging by the above it doesn’t look like a viable business plan.

    Your site and plans are simply too good to put up with all this.



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