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Does Open Source = Full Disclosure?
March 30, 2005 10:45 PM   Subscribe

SCANDAL!!! Wordpress caught with Spam and Hot Nacho! Blogosphere Cheesed! (Waxy investigates)
posted by shoepal (56 comments total)

 
This is exactly the kind of angry mob justice I was warning about in the first part of my post. Can we please keep it civil?
posted by waxpancake at 11:11 PM on March 30, 2005


As a WP user, I'm worried about the apparent slimy doings and awaiting a calm explanation from Matt. A swift reply will halt the mob.

As a starving writer, I want to send Hot Nacho an article. I will feel like a dirty camwhore or telemarketer.
posted by NickDouglas at 11:43 PM on March 30, 2005


[this is angry mob justice]

The thing is, it has upset people. Cloaking links on the main page has no purpose other than bumping the page rank of the linked pages. That's not a good thing, no matter who it is that's doing it. The fact that this is the site of a piece of software that is currently being driven by community momentum (not that I'm discounting Matt's work here) is only making it worse. The fact that the linked material is sponsored without disclosure isn't really a good idea, but has minimal impact on why people are upset.

Being sneaky is bad. If you are hiding something, chances are you're hiding it for a reason.

The real question will be: can Wordpress' community survive this and continue to thrive? Six Apart/Movable Type lost a lot of support after they made some silly mistakes, so I can only guess that this is going to hurt Wordpress.

[this is sad]
posted by Lionfire at 11:48 PM on March 30, 2005


As a starving writer, I want to send Hot Nacho an article.

I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one, NickDouglas.

I read their little "job listing" and thought, hmm... how hard could these things be to write? And then I said "I'm -- not -- that -- poor."

I've never used WordPress, but this is kind of troubling. It doesn't really effect WP directly, right? It's a GPL product. But it seems like bad judgement on the part of this Matt guy. Hopefully he will just end it (assuming he can—what if this is how he is paying that new employee? If he really wants to make a living at this, the GPL may not have been the best choice).
posted by teece at 11:56 PM on March 30, 2005


For what it's worth, I should mention that running a big site with a high pagerank does attract folks like the hotnacho site. I've had countless requests to buy text links, do link exchanges, and create hidden links on mefi to lame spammy companies. I've also had content companies ask if I wanted to institute a NYTimes type of system where archive pages cost a buck to view after 30 days, and I've gotten offers from ad firms to do keyword smart tag type advertising on all old archive pages.

I've refused them all, and developed a mix of self-service ads and donation/payments for new users that supports the site and my time well. I remember way back when the keyword/link buying stuff started and a few high profile bloggers took the cash to embed links to poker, travel, and pharmacy sites and I was surprised, disgusted, and lost a bit of respect for them. I'm really, really surprised Matt took the linkfarm bait, the hidden div thing makes it seem like he knew it would be a bad thing but did it anyway.

Why not add a suggested donation of $10 via paypal to the end of the download process? It doesn't have to be like nagware that bittorrent has become (I've seen that photo of the BT guy begging for money way too many times), but just a suggested donation of a few bucks. I'm sure he could make a shitload of capital that way.
posted by mathowie at 11:59 PM on March 30, 2005 [1 favorite]


I would like everyone to keep in mind that Matt is out of town at the moment, so if he doesn't give an immediate response, that would be why.

I don't think the -9000px div positively incriminates Matt as knowing "it would be a bad thing". If WP needed the money for development costs (or any other legitimate expenses) and decided it wouldn't be terrible to host a little linkspam (okay, I admit it's hard to write that without a little shiver), I think that keeping the links out of the human visitors' reading space could easily be seen as a considerate thing to do.

That said, I'm sure this brewhaha will force WP to find a new way to break even.
posted by quasistoic at 12:20 AM on March 31, 2005


I think that keeping the links out of the human visitors' reading space could easily be seen as a considerate thing to do.

heh. I think it's quite a stretch to call this good usability. It's hidden so that search engine bots find it and people don't.
posted by mathowie at 12:29 AM on March 31, 2005


Also, to be clear, I think it's good that WP is around, it keeps MT, Blogger, and others on their toes and competition in the space means software keeps improving. I just think this was a spectacularly bad way to fund the project.

I bet a small donation request at the end of the download phase (maybe after the 5 minute intro to setup) that isn't too heavy handed would be lucrative for the WP developers. If 100k folks downloaded the new version recently and just 5% donated just five bucks to keep the software project alive, they'd have raised $25,000. That's a good 6 month salary, a great 4 month salary. You release a new version every 4-6 months and everyone is paid really well.

People spend $15-30 a month on webhosting all the time, surely they could see that dropping five bucks once every few months for major upgrades is worthwhile?
posted by mathowie at 12:37 AM on March 31, 2005


I wouldn't want to see the links even if the developers had actively disclosed that this was going to be a source of revenue for the project.

I do worry, as many other commenters on the waxy entry do, that this seems to undermine WP's commitment to the "nofollow" attribute. Knowing that the WP site hosts spam that google prohibits, I no longer feel comfortable that a link back to the main WP site ships in every installation of WP by default.

I still think that WP is a great project and is incredibly useful and well designed, and I will continue to use it for my own projects. If, after this uproar, I still feel uncomfortable providing that link back to the WP homepage, I will add a "nofollow" attribute to the WP link itself. However, I feel confident that Matt and the others will respond to their userbase appropriately.
posted by quasistoic at 12:39 AM on March 31, 2005


All of this over some GP blogware written in PHP/mySQL? Is there anyone left that CAN'T write PHP/mySQL blogware?

:P

Still, though, pretty sleazy of the dude to embrace such obvious spamming/Google tricking ways while touting an anti-comment spam agenda.
posted by mrblondemang at 1:08 AM on March 31, 2005


>I wouldn't want to see the links even if the developers had actively disclosed that this was going to be a source of revenue for the project.

I guess that's like an ad-block on the provider end, what a revolutionary concept!

I think this is polluting the pool, it effects more than just blogg-folks and nofollow. If search engines are the way to find information on the web, populating it with even more inadequate results is not a good thing and interferes with *everybody* who uses the service.

I used to be of the mind that Google is creepy, now they're just that creepy rich person you eventually feel sorry for. They have their problems, and they can become our problems if all the ways of finding material are corrupt.

I'm looking forward to the spin on this one... that hidden div is hard to explain away.
posted by gsb at 1:39 AM on March 31, 2005


It really a shame that this thread will be gone and forgotten by the time he has a chance to respond to it.

People spend $15-30 a month on webhosting all the time

Then a lot of people are over paying. Maybe 3 years ago, but unless you need an unbelievable amount of space or have a ton of traffic, 15 is high, 30 outrageous.
posted by justgary at 1:58 AM on March 31, 2005


WordPress is great blogging system (once you download a few essential plugins, of course) and I will continue to use it because it has excellent features and has (or should I say had?) a great community of developers.

I have, however, removed all hyperlinks to their website for two reasons:

1) I don't support search engine spam.

2) I work hard to earn my PageRank.*

*Correct me if I am wrong but doesn't Google also penalize websites that link to search engine spammers? If WordPress.org is search engine spamming, wouldn't sites linking to WordPress lose PageRank as well?

Out of fairness and respect for Matt's hard work, though, I will keep the "Powered by WordPress" message on the site. I only removed the links and will happily restore them if Matt decides to do the right thing.
posted by stringbean at 2:00 AM on March 31, 2005


Ironic that the only piece of open-source code I've tried to contribute back into the community was an anti-spam addon for wordpress. This *really* upsets me.
posted by seanyboy at 3:33 AM on March 31, 2005


I'm a wordpress user who's also a professional programmer and I've gotta tell you, the temptation to take some easy money to get a project off the ground must be pretty great...

I mean, in some sense, what's the big deal? Matt gets a bunch of money and hot nacho, whatever they are, do whatever k00ky thing they're doing... in the end, wordpress users directly benefit and no one gets hurt... yeah?

Wordpress, by its nature, is going to have a high pagerank anyway... so why not take advantage of it for awhile?
posted by ph00dz at 5:02 AM on March 31, 2005


The real question will be: can Wordpress' community survive this and continue to thrive?

Yeah, of course. It's an error in judgement and one that will probably be rectified soon.
posted by Firas at 5:05 AM on March 31, 2005 [1 favorite]


poor wordpress server is on it's knees.
posted by dabitch at 5:28 AM on March 31, 2005


Nobody's mentioned the other annoying aspect of all this. The more people that say yes to HotNacho, the more companies of their type will pop up, and the more time you'll waste the next time you need to Google something with a generic name.

Quite frankly, I'm tempted to push the overreacting, crucification-style reaction to this sort of thing, because if we all treat it like it's just some little mistake, there's no consequence. Other bloggers should be so fearful of public reaction to for things of this sort that they don't think twice about saying "no" when a check is waved in their faces.

I'll point to the slippery slope in the corner called "adware," which has flourished thanks to ad dollars from companies you patronize every day.
posted by VulcanMike at 5:28 AM on March 31, 2005


I'm sure this brewhaha will force WP to find a new way to break even.

for the good of the brewhahasphere, i hope you're right.
posted by quonsar at 5:30 AM on March 31, 2005


ph00dz: I mean, in some sense, what's the big deal? Matt gets a bunch of money and hot nacho, whatever they are, do whatever k00ky thing they're doing... in the end, wordpress users directly benefit and no one gets hurt... yeah?

This was my first take on it: what's the harm?

On reflection I've come to feel that this harms people in several ways. Firstly, it pollutes the commons by making Google less useful. Sure, he is by no means the only person doing this stuff but that doesn't make it right.

Secondly, anyone who has ever run a weblog for any length of time is aware of the problems with Trackback and referrer spam. This kind of link farming only reinforces the belief of some that it is an efficient way to advertise -- considering the fact that nearly every one of God knows how many WP weblogs link back to Wordpress.org it probably *is* efficient. Trackback/Pingback/referrer spam when distributed in large enough doses has the potential to damage the infrastructure and bring even the best configured server to it's knees impacting everyone in the shared environment.

There is also the impact it has on the WP community. I would hate to see a half-dozen or more forks as active developers become frustrated with the possibility their work has financed a European vacation. Sure, it may be just to cover hosting costs (in which case it does benefit anyone who uses WP) but considering the lack of transparency it's hard to say. Matt is under no obligation to explain anything to anyone, but it would be a sign of respect for the WP community if he chose to do so.

On the other hand, this isn't something that is going to impact the next guy who downloads and installs WP and really isn't that big a deal. Checking the Waxy comments this morning it seems that Google is in the process of 'adjusting' to this so whatever Matt's motives or results, this little experiment has probably reached it's conclusion. It's unfortunate that Mr. Mullenweg isn't available to comment but considering his history I don't have much doubt that he will address this quickly and to the satisfaction of all.

In short: The kid made a mistake, but the sun will rise tomorrow and WP is still a great piece of (free) software. In the end the only victim is likely to be WordPress andMatt M. -- Google don't play this and bloggers have long memories.

On preview: dabitch, I don't the site being down has anything to do with this. WP is hosted on TextDrive which seems to be having some data center issues at the moment.
posted by cedar at 5:31 AM on March 31, 2005


shoepal you suck. go get attention somewhere else.
posted by reflection at 5:33 AM on March 31, 2005


Not everyone spends months writing their own blogging software? feh.

There seems to be a lot of people who think that somehow only independently rich people write software, and that they can thus easily afford to give it away for free and have no means of income indefinitely... sure, some people -- ok, actually only Matt -- have suggested donations, but let's face it, it is only a fraction of a percent of users who will donate money. That's just a reality of "teh blogosphere".

Actually one would expect a story like this to result in some Google blacklisting. If nothing else one may expect WP's pagerank to be greatly downgraded by Google, which, when its attention is called to it, does deal with this sort of cheating in a firm manner. I mean, if they can blackball from one day to the next a site in which information about their cookie appears, surely they can correct inflated pagerank?
posted by clevershark at 5:52 AM on March 31, 2005


Good point, cedar... and I'm sure you're right about this situation being resolved.
posted by ph00dz at 5:55 AM on March 31, 2005


As a starving writer, I want to send Hot Nacho an article. I will feel like a dirty camwhore or telemarketer.

Avoid Hot Nacho; they only pay 3 dollars per 300-800 word article. Other companies, which have been recently mentioned in AskMe, pay 10-15 dollars per article of the same length. If you're gonna wordwhore, get paid for it, yo.
posted by headspace at 6:48 AM on March 31, 2005


The front of wordpress.org is no longer the top hit for a google search for "wordpress". Oddly, it's a top hit on the development blog, but still...

This is obviously bad news for wordpress.
posted by Remy at 6:48 AM on March 31, 2005


As stringbean mentioned above, the thing that really worries me is whether people linking to WordPress will be penalized as well. As innocent bystanders, basically, I hope we won't, but I'm a little worried about it.
posted by litlnemo at 6:56 AM on March 31, 2005


One more time I wonder if people really vote with their wallets?! I know several OpenSource/Website developers who have a hard time raising money for good and well used projects.

Overall users like 'free' stuff - and never bother to pay what they use on a daily basis.

WordPress, MeFi and a gazillion other web/software gimmicks NEED our support. Anyone remember the dreadful discussion about the Suicide Girls ads on MeFi? How many people donated some money instead of complaining about these ads?

I think we will need a better community support and economics to make these sites and tools run well funded - so they don't have to make strange stuff like Matt or cry for help every few months, because great admins, writers, coders and their sites/projects live on a shoestring budget.
posted by homodigitalis at 7:20 AM on March 31, 2005


More clever merch would part me from my money.
posted by NickDouglas at 8:09 AM on March 31, 2005


I know donations are tough to live on, esp. for open source projects that everyone thinks of as "free as in beer" but WP has so much goodwill, if people could give money in an easier fashion, I'm sure WP would get much more money. Don't compare it to some random open source networking software. WP fans are fanatical about their software and if Matt was upfront about it and said "hey we need to bring in money to properly support this project with employees" I'm certain he would get it. And we're talking small percentages, at small donations being enough to support at least one full-time person.

Also, there are funding sources galore, like the OSAF and Pierre O's (dude that cofounded ebay) foundation that both specialize in giving money to open source software projects.
posted by mathowie at 8:19 AM on March 31, 2005


reflection you suck. go eat hot dogs somewhere else.
posted by BobFrapples at 8:34 AM on March 31, 2005


I think the only issue with this is that it was done on the down-low all this time. Something that funds the hiring of staff to take the project to the next level needs to be visible to the rest of the project, especially as the proprietor in this case seems to care what people think. People are going to say what they think now, and they will be a bit of an angry mob - partly because people overreact and all - but also partly because they feel lied-to. Each user is actually complicit in building that 8/10 pagerank, so I don't blame them if they are upset about full disclosure.

Rather than pooh-pooh people for being too flamey, I think this just needs to be addressed head-on and resolved.
posted by scarabic at 8:36 AM on March 31, 2005


It tickles me that that people get so upset about this kinda stuff. Here's a few modest proposals:
a) maybe the fault lies in Google and their advertisers. Their ranking algorithm and, heck, their whole business model is flawed. Shut 'em down!

b) maybe the fault lies in the end-users' reliance on Google as a single source of information. If Google is skewed (or somebody has taken advantage of it), why not switch, huh? Stupid lusers. So take away computers from them!

c) Matt should just shut WordPress down and move to Cuba. To hell with supporting an ungrateful mob! Viva la revolucion!

d) actual spamming, as opposed to pagerank rigging (see (a)), has proven to be much more lucrative to the enterprising young e-generation. I say Matt should turn WordPress into a full-on email spam/phishing project.
Scarabic, I think pooh-poohing is exactly what's needed. The guy isn't even around to address the issue. Although, the pooh-poohing is generally not constructive, no.
posted by RockCorpse at 9:11 AM on March 31, 2005


I think that everyone needs to realize that the community is what made WordPress popular, as such, the money should be divided up amongst the people who contribute... It's only fair right? Abuse of power gets everyone no where. But I love a scandal. I'm curious as to what kind of company Matt is starting. Is it revolving around open-source and spam?
posted by pixelsmoke at 9:21 AM on March 31, 2005


I have had a lot of respect for Matt Mullenweg, but people who think he deserves slack here should recall comments he made about LockerGnome a year ago:
I care about the health of the web, the long-term viability of the sites and pages and documents that are shaping our culture and society. On a deeper level I hold a number of principles that the web should be efficient, standards-based, and accessible. No site is perfect, but some try and some don’t.

Lockergnome regressing from the standards-based is more than just a bad business decision, it is essentially giving the middle finger to the community around the world that cares about these things. ...

I’m not just unsubscribing, I’m boycotting. There comes a point when you see blatant disrespect for things you care about and you can either sit back and pretend it doesn’t bother you or you can speak out. It’s two different types of people, and if you’re one of the former then you should examine the effects of your apathy.
Lockergnome's crime against the "health of the web"? Switching from a CSS- to a table-based design.

How do you reconcile that stridency with his decision to pollute Google with 168,000 pages of spam bait?

It was a huge mistake for him to cash out on the credibility bestowed on WordPress with this shady, intentionally hidden advertising scam.

Perhaps he's earned the right to be forgiven for it -- assuming he apologizes -- but let's not defend his actions by pretending they're not a middle finger to the community around the world that cares about these things.
posted by rcade at 9:25 AM on March 31, 2005


@rcade: Amen!
posted by homodigitalis at 10:26 AM on March 31, 2005


All of this over some GP blogware written in PHP/mySQL? Is there anyone left that CAN'T write PHP/mySQL blogware?

Yes, there are many people that can't. And even if they could, it's not just software, it's a community of users and developers who make WordPress (the software) what is it. So where is your PHP/mySQL blogware project? How does it compare to WordPress in the support of user and developer communities?

I care about the health of the web, the long-term viability of the sites and pages and documents that are shaping our culture and society.

And in Matt's post on the support forum he sure makes it sound like it was planned as a short-term "experiment" to cover some costs so he wouldn't have to pay them out of his own pocket.

When I accepted ads on one of my sites, I made a promise to myself that I'd donate at least some of the proceeds to open-source projects that I liked, and I just sent a donation to WordPress, because I want to see it's development continue. Who hasn't done things in life they perhaps didn't want to, all for the sake of getting some money out of it, in some cases, just to scrape by? (Not counting trust fund babies.) At least Matt did it for what seems like a good cause, keeping WordPress costs covered.
posted by raster at 11:07 AM on March 31, 2005


This is definitely in violation of the terms of service of AdSense. Setting aside even the cloaking issue, it is explicitly stated that "No Google ad may be placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads, whether or not the page content is relevant".

I'm surprised that Google lets this be a viable business model at all.
posted by Caviar at 11:57 AM on March 31, 2005


At least Matt did it for what seems like a good cause, keeping WordPress costs covered.

But the ends don't justify the means. I keep hearing this described as a small mistake and helping degrade search results for everyone in exchange for money seem like more than a small mistake.

I'll reiterate: asking for a suggested, completely optional donation after a WP download would raise more money than all the search engine spamming in the world would for the WP.org site.
posted by mathowie at 12:02 PM on March 31, 2005


In fact, I will go so far as to say if Matt pulls these articles, apologizes and promises to never do anything remotely spammy again, and adds the ability to easily donate after download, I'll donate and run my next blog on WP.
posted by mathowie at 12:04 PM on March 31, 2005


This is not good. I was prepared to jump in and defend Matt and hoped this was done without his knowledge but, that's clearly not the case. Good for Andy for writing a level-headed article and begging for calm but, I don't think there will be much of that either. We all respect him quite a lot and I'm confident that there will be an answer and an apology forthcoming. We all know what it's like to starve for a living too... but, there are other ways to raise money.

I think donations are the short-term answer for now. I can't believe that some free speach foundation out there can't kick in some operating capital. I mean if CivicSpace can get funding... I'm sure that there are orgs out there that would fund WordPress as an aid to whatever... Some of you folks would know about this better than I would. I'm just sayin'
posted by Dean_Paxton at 12:41 PM on March 31, 2005


Mathowie: I heard that.

Just like I heard PST's promise to record Jingle Rock Bell if someone would send him an instrumental track.
posted by quasistoic at 12:49 PM on March 31, 2005


Yeah this is crummy. I'm getting pretty sick of blogosphere pile-ons, but I get where this one's coming from at least. Though it looks like wordpress.org has already been penalized by Google and that's about all there is to it. Wrists = slapped.

If times are tough, it seems like there are lots of other avenues for money with Wordpress that aren't being exploited at all. Jamming the donation button in people's faces more would be a very easy start.

I worry that the open sourcers go to such an extreme to remain above being compensated for their efforts that it makes sneaky cash grabs like this necessary. If we could work some good ol' capitalism into the system so that hard-working, talented folk like Matt and the rest of the team got paid from their efforts rather than having to resort to shady side-deals I think it would be a great improvement. But those guys tend to have a severe anti-capitalist bent it seems, which is unfortunate.
posted by frenetic at 12:52 PM on March 31, 2005


Looks like I'll be waiting this one out as I was just getting ready to install WordPress because Blogger has been so pathetically slow and "forgetful".
posted by fenriq at 1:30 PM on March 31, 2005


Well, fenriq, it's honestly a good platform that I've enjoyed using. Let's not take away from that.
posted by adampsyche at 1:41 PM on March 31, 2005


mathowie says: "asking for a suggested, completely optional donation after a WP download would raise more money..."

A better idea might be to ask for the donation in the WordPress admin after initial setup, this at least presumes that someone who downloaded it took the time to install it, and log into to attempt using the system.

I know that with Movable Type they came up with some number like 38 cents per download, but I probably downloaded it a few times and never actually implemented it on any site.

Of course, this might border on making WordPress into "nagware" I guess...
posted by raster at 2:09 PM on March 31, 2005


A better idea might be to ask for the donation in the WordPress admin after initial setup

For someone who hasn't even made their first post, or gone through their trial run to see whether WP meets their needs, that's not the ideal moment to be hitting up for cash.

However, an unobtrustive permanent link in the admin interface ("donate to support continued enhancements to WP"?) would at least keep the need in mind. As someone grows more attached to the software, or desireous of a new feature, they can kick in a couple bucks toward the cause.

Going beyond donations, though, OSS development does not require a vow of poverty or even nonprofit status. The GPL was designed for "free as in speech", with recognition that a smart player would see the opportunities it creates for generating income through other (legitimate) means. Plenty of independent developers as well as corporate resellers have done just that. For example, EZPublish making money via packaged copies, hardcopy manuals, premium support contracts, etc. LiveJournal is (was?) OSS, but look at how many thousands of users paid for a subscription rather than having to set it up themselves. When Dean Allen needed to prove to his mortgage lender that TextPattern was financially viable, he launched TextDrive and voila plenty of money from people who'd gladly pay for quality hosting that happens to come with TxP pre-installed. The business models are out there aplenty.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:44 PM on March 31, 2005


Overall users like 'free' stuff - and never bother to pay what they use on a daily basis.

Heh.
posted by anildash at 3:10 PM on March 31, 2005


@anildash: I hereby crown you the first bloggo-stalker ever.
posted by homodigitalis at 3:28 PM on March 31, 2005


This is all over the place and the one constant is people asking, "Why didn't they just ask for donations?"

Isn't it obvious? People are cheap and many (most?) will not voluntarily fork over a few dollars for something they can get for nothing.

It's a shame that software developers can't get the equivalent of MacArthur grants or at the very least get someone with deep pockets to fund the bandwidth required for distribution. In lieu of this, it would be wonderful to see more hosts pitch in (like TextDrive) and help fund the software that their customers use. Hosting is cheap and it wouldn't take much to kick 5-10 percent back into the customers choice of open source projects.
posted by cedar at 3:49 PM on March 31, 2005


People are cheap and many (most?) will not voluntarily fork over a few dollars for something they can get for nothing.

Yeah, no way anyone would put a few bucks toward applications or services that can be obtained free...

*cough* "Linux-related services deliver more than $1 billion in annual revenue to both IBM and HP."
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 6:30 PM on March 31, 2005


Bleh. Who cares?

Companies that make products I like do things I don't like all the time. I still buy their products. Hell, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I bought an RIAA-produced CD last week.

Compared to the shit that goes down in the physical world on a routine basis, this is tiny potatoes.

He did something bad, someone caught him. Hopefully he stops and maybe apologizes, case closed. Direct all this outrage into a more worthwhile cause. I'm sure you can thing of something.
posted by Fabulon7 at 7:05 PM on March 31, 2005


People are cheap and many (most?) will not voluntarily fork over a few dollars for something they can get for nothing.

True, but as well-liked as WordPress is, and as many weblog-related companies are getting funding these days, he should have recognized there were better opportunities for fundraising.

If he did this because the out-of-pocket costs were getting out of hand, I think he could have shared this concern with WordPress users and would have been gratified by the response.

A model that seems to be working for some open-source development is to pair the project with a commercial company, such as SleepyCat with MySQL. Companies that want guarantees of support and other services could hire WordPress Inc.
posted by rcade at 4:46 AM on April 1, 2005


Matt has posted his first response.

Here's another comment worth noting:
The scam personally affected me & I don’t even use WP. I am one of the original small investors in Texdrive, the hosting company that developed a special relationship with Mr. Mullenweg for the purposes of developing WP & whose trust Mullenweg abused by running his scam on Textdrive servers. It is not clear whether more than one dedicated server was affected, but the scam certainly tarnishes the reputation & thus the prospects of Textdrive, its investors & customers.
I had forgotten he was hosting it on someone else's servers, but TextDrive has to be non-plussed about this. The company was donating 10 percent of its hosting fee for WordPress development whenever a user joined to use that software, as I recall, so they've been supporting it enthusiastically.
posted by rcade at 5:23 AM on April 1, 2005


For posterity. His second response is posted:

The articles hosted content thing was just a short-term experiment, an interesting idea (original and relevant Wikipedia-type content on the site) that was badly implemented. As an experiment it could have been conducted much better than it was. The content should have been more topical to WP issue, I should have kept up with the content that was going up, the links should have never had the overflow CSS, and I should have discussed it with more people. Each was a mistake and they combined badly — I’m very sorry

Explanation and apology. Personally, I am most satisfied with this.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 9:46 AM on April 2, 2005


Chad Jones (owner of HotNacho.com) post: WordPress Spam Scam Explained .
posted by ericb at 10:48 AM on April 4, 2005


Am I the only one that looks at search engine optimization (SEO) experts as one step above spammers in the Internet marketing food chain?

Chad implies to some extent that his greater project is trying to protect all those poor web developers who are getting clobbered in the search engines by evil ad clonebots. Is keyword and SEO really the solution people are still buying? Aren't there now dozens if not hundreds of other, less snake oil style ways to promote your site and gain audience share? (Actually paying for Google ads, for one).

Isn't SEO just another page in the brochure for the place that promises to get your message in the inbox of millions of customers who are dying to hear about your product?
posted by VulcanMike at 6:39 PM on April 4, 2005


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