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When a follow is hard to swallow


Hey WordPress! You’ve broken something!

When I follow a blog I do it by email. I’ve never really seen the point of following through the WordPress Reader. If I feel like reading poetry, I’ll go to one of the poetry blogs I’ve bookmarked. When I feel like a science essay I’ll go to one of the science blogs … Why should I have to scroll down through multiple blogs I don’t feel like reading right now to find one I do? Especially with my pathetic internet connection. Most of the time the Reader just times out and I’m left staring at that spokey little wheel going ’round and ’round forever.

By following blogs through email though I can avoid some of the problems that come with half-speed dial-up internet. Thunderbird strips out all the pictures that so often prevent me from properly loading blog-sites with large graphics content, vastly reducing the load on my tiny bandwidth. OK, I know it doesn’t do your hit counter much good if I’m reading your post via Thunderbird, but were it not for that there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be reading it at all. I just don’t have the time to sit around all day waiting for blogs to load. (BTW, I would do a lot more ‘liking’ if I could actually get the ‘like’ button to load more often. I try to ‘like’ through the button in the emails but often as not the page will not load completely enough to register it. At least I don’t think it does. If I can’t see the ‘likes’ I can’t really tell).

There is also a problem with how Firefox and WordPress work together. Often a page will keep chewing through my bandwidth even when it has fully loaded or I have hit the ‘X’ button to stop it from loading further. Occasionally it happens with other websites but it is ubiquitous with WordPress ones. Even my ‘Add’ and ‘Edit’ pages do it, preventing me from using the ‘Publish’ or ‘Update’ buttons until I have closed the browser, restarted it, reloaded the pages and tried again, sometimes more than once. Fortunately I compose my posts with a word processor and copy them into the browser or I would have abandoned WordPress in frustration long ago. It’s still a pain in the arse having to reinstate all the links, tags, categories and pictures.

Lately, following by email has become less useful to me. More and more are coming through with a three line ‘teaser’ only and if I want to read the whole post I have to try to make it load in my browser. Given the problems detailed above I now think a bit harder before reading a post. Or trying to.

Over the eleven months I have been a wordpresser I have accumulated more than sixty blogs and five hundred comments that I follow by email. A few blogs have been deleted or are rarely used but quite a number get pretty frequent posts. Some of the poetry bloggers manage five or more posts a day for weeks (how do they do it?) and ‘About’ pages can still be getting frequent comments for a long time after you follow them. Combined with emails from my own followers, likers and commenters that makes for a lot of WordPress generated emails (well, OK, I don’t really get many emails due to ‘likes’, but some days I get nearly as many ‘follows’ as I do page views). Generally it’s not an issue, but over the past few months multiple computer problems have kept me offline for weeks at a time and when I come back on and load Thunderbird a deluge of emails comes pouring in, monopolising my internet connection for up to an hour. That can be a bit annoying when you’re waiting on that urgent email you haven’t been able to read because your computer was in pieces all over the lounge-room floor. It reminded me of the time a former Sydney Morning Herald journalist stole the ‘confidential’ addresses of those who had subscribed to her SMH blog then incompetently compromised the internet security of thousands of her former readers. There was no ISP level spam filtering back then and I was ultimately forced to abandon my email address in the face of hundreds of spams per day, some of which contained trojans or viruses.

So I decided to downsize my follows.

I have stopped reading about a third of the blogs I follow and almost all the comments were only followed in case someone replied to something I had written. Some blogs had become repetitive or self-indulgent (even by blogging standards!). Some had gotten tedious (hey guys, I know the progress of your football team and minutiae of your love life are important to you, but …). A few were just too bitter or too misanthropic too often, even for a grumpy old bugger like me. Mostly they were just blogs I had followed on the basis of one or two never to be repeated posts on topics that interested me or comments that I no longer expected replies to.

So I loaded up the bandwidth hungry WordPress Reader and comment section of my dashboard and painfully went through the page of blog follows and 33 pages of comment follows at around a minute load time per comment page, checking the box next to the twenty or so blogs and hundreds of comments I would unfollow. Almost an hour later I was finally ready to select the bulk action ‘unfollow’ and confirm. No good. Bulk actions only apply to the page you are currently on. The other 32 comment pages had been a complete waste of time. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

I knew that doing it one page at a time from the start wouldn’t work properly as each batch of unfollows would cause the list to shuffle down and return me to the first page, meaning I would have to keep returning to the same page over and over until no comments I wished to unfollow dropped into the slots vacated by those I had already eliminated. Using more than a couple of browser tabs at a time would almost certainly trigger the ‘never-ending load bug’ I mentioned above. So instead I worked backwards from the end. This had its problems too. Every time I selected unfollow I would be returned to the first page of the list, losing my place. Even worse was that there were only buttons for the first three pages and the last one displayed on the first page so there would be no direct click access to most of the pages I needed. So I copied the URL from the page I was working on and when I had finished and it was trying to return me to the first page I would re-paste the URL back into the browser bar, manually decrement the page counter imbedded in it and hit return. It was slow, but it worked and after another ninety minutes I had finally reduced my list to comment pages and blogs I actually read.

Or so I thought. You can imagine how I felt when less than ten minutes after completing this mind-numbing task I received another email from a blogger I had just unfollowed.

Back to the WordPress Reader. Check to see I had properly unfollowed that blog. Yep, it’s not on the list. Go to the blog-site. Dammit, it’s one of the ones with lots of graphics that takes ages to load. Go and make a sandwich and fruit juice while I’m waiting. Get back to discover the page has timed out. Hit the refresh button. Go and clean my bedroom. Come back. Most of the page has loaded this time but it has timed out again without displaying the follow/unfollow button. Hit refresh again. Go and collect some weeds for my pet rabbits. Back again and, ahh, this time it’s loaded. Sure enough, the button displays ‘unfollow’. WordPress has not registered that I already unfollowed this blog. Click unfollow. Good. No more bitter, character assassinating emails from this particular blogger. Now I just have to wait for unwanted emails from other blogs to come in and repeat the procedure. Which I did. Three times over the next twenty four hours. Then I got another email informing me of another post from the blogger I had first tried to unfollow.

Sheesh! What do you have to do to unfollow someone in WordPress these days? Go to their house and shoot them? It seemed to be working fine a few months ago.

I can think of another method. I can go back to all those unfollowed blogs. Follow them again. Then back to the  WordPress Reader telling it I do not want to receive emails from these blogs when a new post or comment is made. It might even work. But I estimate it would be almost a full day’s work at the internet speeds I am restricted to. And if I still kept getting their emails I’d be frothing at the mouth, rolling on the floor and chewing the carpet.

What I would prefer would be for WordPress to fix it’s software. While they’re at it it would be nice if they could optimise their Reader a bit so it didn’t munch through such an incredible amount of bandwidth when it’s only displaying a few dozen lines of text with gravatars. If WordPress software gets any shonkier than it already is I will be forced to abandon blogging. Every ‘feature’ they add seems to make it more and more difficult for me to post new pages or edit existing ones.

And what’s with this redirection through they’ve recently implemented? Apart from wasting even more bandwidth, don’t they know that site is famous for its phishing scams and anyone conscious of internet security will have blocked it? I can override my WOT block but I bet many blogging from internet cafes or other shared or networked computers can’t. Do they really think they’re improving security with a site that compromises security?

So how about it WordPress? If one of your people is reading this, would she please put a bunger under the boys in the back room who cut such lousy code. I know there are very few wordpressers with internet connections as bad as mine (and none with worse or they wouldn’t be able to use it) but when I was an analyst/programmer I took a bit of pride in the quality of my work. That means not wasting the bandwidth of your clients unnecessarily. Aren’t the ads you now attach to blog pages enough of an impost on users?

Postscript (08/05/2014): I think I fixed it. By copying the blogsite portion of the email links to unwanted posts into the URL box of the ‘Blogs I follow’ page of the Reader I was able to ‘refollow’ without having to load all of those blogs again.  Then I switched on the ‘receive posts by email’ option, switched it off again, then unfollowed the blogs. That was almost a day ago and I’m yet to get another email from those blogs.

From → rant

  1. Rexie permalink

    “And if I still kept getting their emails I’d be frothing at the mouth, rolling on the floor and chewing the carpet.”

    I am almost frothing from my head reading this unbelievable story of torment! So WordPress is the reason you are not giving likes to my superior posts 😉 Damn it WordPress, you really need to something because this is urgent 😀

    “No more bitter, character assassinating emails from this particular blogger.”

    But why do you get into all this? I still remember this post of yours where I came to know that had the patience to deal with that jackass who did not even learn the basics of intellectual discussions! And you were responding to him, that was your fault too!


    • I started following him eight or so months ago. I liked him for what was originally cynical humour.

      Shortly afterwards he took a gamble that is not paying off and his life seems to have become more frustrating. He’s lost his sense of humour, takes everything personally (even statements from dead people who’ve never heard of him) and almost half of his posts are shallow, ill-informed, humourless dumps on celebrities of one kind or another (at least the dumps on people I was familiar with were ill-informed. I suspect his criticism of those in his own field were better informed, but still bitter and nonconstructive). Anyone who questioned his output in even the most polite way was automatically the enemy and subjected to personal attacks in which he would claim all sorts of unlikely negative insights into their lives and motives.

      Even after I’d stopped interacting with him it was sad watching his continued deterioration. I don’t think he’s a heavy drinker but it was that sort of decline.


      • Rexie permalink

        But I thought sense of humour is for those who seem to understand the life is frustrating. It is strange in his case he lost it after that experience.

        For me, it is okay to write ill-informed posts because probably that is one’s level of factual knowledge and intelligence too. But I consider it a blessing when someone comes and informs of our errors and our way of thinking. It is sad he lost a reader like you. Good riddance for you, definitely!


        • Yeah, I guess it was faux humour all along.
          Real humour is understanding that all the jokes are on you.


        • Rexie permalink

          Absolutely. I love it when someone makes jokes on me. If there is something really sexy and glamorous in this whole world, it is sense of humour 😀


        • But when you think about it, even the jokes not specifically aimed at you are on you.

          Jokes are actually pretty cruel. They almost always serve to underline stupidity or misfortune. Without the ability to empathise with the target – i.e. to perceive your own sensitivity to your stupidity and misfortune – you can’t get the joke.

          One of my favorite jokes involves a particularly hurtful incident involving the death of a bunny.
          I’ve got to run just now but in an hour or so I’ll put it in the comments below.


        • Rexie permalink

          I am off to some place as well Cabrogal. It’s long weekend for me. Planning to read something substantial because it is not alwyas that I get time. see you soon anyway!


  2. Sid is lying in his hammock in the garden on a warm, lazy spring afternoon. He has knocked back several cold ones and would like to take a nap but his dog keeps disturbing him with something it is playing loudly with under the house. Finally he pulls himself up from his comfy abode and goes to investigate.

    He is horrified to see the dog tossing around the neighbour’s pet rabbit. The rabbit is beyond help and Sid’s head is filled with images of what might happen when the huge, short tempered biker who lives next door arrives home. After a minute or two to collect himself and recover from his shock, Sid gets to work.

    Retrieving the rabbit from his disappointed dog Sid wipes away as much dirt and saliva as he can and brushes the bunny’s fur down in an attempt to hide the teeth marks in its tiny battered body. Leaping the fence he carefully arranges the deceased pet in its hutch, folding its stiff little legs beneath it and pushing closed its glazed, staring eyes. It almost looks like it might have died peacefully in its sleep. He fills in the hole the dog dug under the fence and carefully arranges leaves and loose grass over the disturbed dirt. Finally he returns to his property, downs a couple of stiff whiskeys to steady his nerves and drops into the hammock where he finally drifts off into an uneasy sleep.

    He is awoken by the piercing screams of a young girl.

    “AAAHHH! DADDY! IT’S FLUFFY! Oh no! Fluffy! My Fluffy! My poor little bunny! Waaahhhh! Sob, sob …”.

    “No it can’t be sweetie. JESUS CHRIST! IT IS! WHO DID THIS! I’m gonna KILL him! I’ll mash him to a pulp! I’ll smash every fucking bone in his fucking body!”

    Sid leaps up to see his enormous neighbour stamping around the garden holding up the dead rabbit, his inconsolable daughter in a sobbing heap next to the hutch.

    “Oh, that’s terrible”, says Sid, “Your rabbit died. You must be terribly upset. But don’t get carried away. Why do you think someone must have done it? Rabbits are delicate little creatures. Sometimes they just die.”



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