Beware: WordPress.com targeting authors and reviewers


So, WordPress.com has targeted one of my favorite bloggers and book reviewers.  I tried to access her blog two days ago to read about a book she reviewed and I got the following message:

[name of blog] .wordpress.com is no longer available.

This blog has been archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service.
For more information and to contact us please read this support document.

Upon looking at WordPress.com’s Terms of Service, I noted they had highlighted one clause:

the Content is not spam, is not machine- or randomly-generated, and does not contain unethical or unwanted commercial content designed to drive traffic to third party sites or boost the search engine rankings of third party sites, or to further unlawful acts (such as phishing) or mislead recipients as to the source of the material (such as spoofing);

Why is this clause potentially problematic to authors, publishers and reviewers?

1.  Authors are a huge family. We stick together. We promote each other because we want to see each other succeed.  When one of our author friends has a new book or short-story published, we chat it up. We talk about it. We tell everyone  we know about it and where they can find more info.  Many times there are youtube videos, vlogs, book trailers, in which case, there is invariably a link to a third-party site.  Wordpress.com even allows for linking to youtube videos; however, it is still a third-party site, and if those with the power at WordPress want, they can stop allowing WordPress.com users from posting these videos that authors rely on.

2.  Authors, especially debuting authors, and many of their publishers (often small, indie houses) rely on blog tours to promote their authors. These tours usually consist of one or more the following:  book reviews, cover reveals, giveaways, etc.  I’d like to focus on the giveaways here, as most of them point to Rafflecopters.  Since WordPress.com doesn’t allow ‘flash’ files on their free blog hosting site, the giveaway appears as a Rafflecopter link in the blog post. The reader clicks the link and is taken to a third-party site.

3.  Most authors have Goodreads and an AuthorCentral Amazon.com page. Most blog posts supporting authors and their works have links to both Goodreads and Author Central pages, thus taking the readers to a third-party website.

4.  Most bloggers promoting an author and/or a book provide links where the reader can connect with the author.  These links usually include social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.), the author’s blog site, the author’s website, and other sites where the reader can find out more about the book and the author.  These are all third-party sites.

5. Authors rely on reviewers to help get the word out about a book. Many readers rely on these reviews and they want quick, easy links to the authors and the books.  If WordPress.com views all of these links to third-party sites as being in violation of their Terms of Service, book reviewers like the one I mentioned above, will soon be targeted and their blogs suspended.  I can only imagine that authors will find themselves in the same position.

6.  SEO-driven blogs will falter without links to third-party websites. Good blogs loaded with information will almost always have links to third-party websites because that is where the blogger got his/her information to begin with.  They need to link to that site so it is not claimed as their own information.

#Wordpress.com, if you’re listening and reading, please take note: your blog hosting site is a HUGE hub for authors, reviewers, publishers, etc.  These blogs not only give personal insight into what the person liked or didn’t like, but they also turn the entire populace in the world onto some works they may have never heard of.  That is the purpose of a blog. To enlighten. To share. To be a part of a global community. Artists need these blogs, they need these websites to let the world know about them. The links provided to the reader enlighten, and connect individuals in a way that is personable and fun. Yes, it drives traffic to other sites, but that’s inevitable. Artists need traffic. They need word of mouth. They need to connect on a personal level with their readers/followers. If you decide that all authors/reviewers/publishers who promote the artists are guilty of violating your Terms of Service clause because there are links to third-party websites, then I’m afraid you might lose a huge number of bloggers. I know I would be one of the first to go.

I will definitely keep my eye on my fellow blogger/reviewer’s site to see what happens.  She has sent several e-mails to WordPress.com contesting the suspension of her book review blog.  I will keep you posted on what happens. If, indeed, they suspended her book review blog because of this ridiculous 3rd-party clause, then I will slowly move my blog to another site (maybe my own website or Blogger), and say good-bye to WordPress. I hope that doesn’t happen.

Then again, I might switch anyway. Blogger has some really cool templates. 🙂

Advertisements

63 thoughts on “Beware: WordPress.com targeting authors and reviewers

  1. WP suspended my blog too two days ago and after several emails they still haven’t got back to me to offer, if anything, an explanation. I am an indie author and have used my blog for a year to promote my own work and the work of a multitude of fellow authors. I explained this to WP but it seems, to no avail. My understanding is they simply don’t care. Perhaps they’re trying to get us to buy the self-hosted solution but I’ll be damned if I go with WP after this. I bought my own domain today and got hosting with Hostgator to build my own site. I’m not giving a penny to WP. The way they treated me after the trust I put in them is simply disgusting. The bad news is I lost a year’s hard work. The good news is I’ll make sure to steer clear from them from now on.

    Like

    1. OMGosh, this is horrible. I know some of the other authors I’ve spoken to who have gone through this problem said that WP did give them their blog back under certain conditions that they remove certain things or purchase the .org site. It stinks, especially for indie authors who barely have two nickles to rub together. I hope they return your site to you so you can back up your blog and transfer it to another site. It really bites to see WP do this to artists who are trying to get word-of-mouth recommendations going around the globe. Good luck with your new site and make sure you send me the link so I can follow.

      Like

      1. Thank you for your reply. I am happy to say that today WP reinstated my blog but with limited functionality. I cannot enter images or hyperlinks in blog posts, neither can I amend existing hyperlinks. They also went and removed all hyperlinks where I had put affiliate links. It’s a mess. I asked them to fix it but I don’t care any more what happens. I am now backing up my precious articles in the blog for safe keeping and of course, I am carrying on with building my site. I invite you to visit my blog as I iregister it on this comment and to keep in touch if you wish. Then you’ll be able to hear all about the website building tutorial when I blog it and the details of my new site when it’s up. Thank you for your interest 🙂 Happy to connect with you honey 🙂

        Like

        1. I am so sorry to hear about all of this. I hope WordPress wisens up and realizes that our blogs are important to spread the word. I will definitely love to read your blog on building a site. Make sure you pop over an email to me when it’s up and running – kford2007(at)gmail.(dot)com. I am sure a lot of people would love to read about how to go about doing what you’re doing.

          Like

    1. Hi Rosie. I don’t want to give the wrong impression. WordPress.com is a wonderful blog home. I think with them there is a balance of posting. You can’t have all your posts pointing to 3rd party sites nor can they all be about selling. I think that may be one thing they are trying to cut down on. However, with that said, I think it is also upsetting that authors can’t help authors with blog tours, promotions, etc. because it violates some sort of Terms of Service.. This is one way authors spread the news. It’s a form of word-of-mouth. I hope they begin to make some sort of compensation for artists. Then again, if they make acceptions for one, then others will want the same acceptions. Like I said, I think it’s balance they want. Blogging to be blogging and then some reviews here and there, and giveaways. They just don’t want the entire blog to be like that.

      Like

    1. “Professional Blog Tour Companies”? Since when? you participate in blog tours but not by ‘professional’ companies, well, unless they consider the tours you did by publishers “professional”. What poppy cock. oh well. have fun over at Blogger. I, for one, will follow you over.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is quite worrisome. I have been planning for a while to start my a new blog for my book reviews (have been reviewing them on Goodreads since last year) and short stories. I am not so sure regarding Blogger as it doesn’t have the charm that wordpress blogs do but if this is what the site is doing to reviewers then I guess Blogger would be a much safer bet.

    Like

    1. Wasio, i don’t think you’ll have a problem with reviewing provided you don’t link to 3rd party sites in the review. It seems they don’t like people who are part of blog tours that all lead an author’s website or Goodreads or the publishers’s site or Rafflecopter. if you’re just reviewing, I think you’re ok. The thing is, many reviewers don’t just review the books, they promote, which means they show off cover reveals, they participate in author giveaways. They really try to drive people to put the book on their TBR list. The problem I think WordPress has, is that they feel people are driving others toward purchasing merchandise. To that end, I guess I can see their point that they don’t want ads all over their free sites; however. As an author and a participant in many blog tours/reviews/cover reveals and giveaways, no one is ‘selling’ anything. There are usually links to Goodreads where the the reader can discover more about the book. There may be a rafflecopter giveaway (WordPress.com doesn’t allow Flash items on their free blogs, so they cringed at Rafflecopter), and most always there are links to the author’s websites/blogs/social media which may or may not have links to purchase the merchandise. Their Terms of Service doesn’t allow for driving traffic to other sites, which is stupid in my opinion, because that’s what bloggers do. We drive traffic to other sites, and isn’t it what they do when they “Freshly Press This”? Talk about sending hundreds of people to your blog in one day, driving your rankings upward. I guess they don’t want you doing that for someone else’s blog.

      Whatever. WordPress can have whatever Terms they want. If we don’t like it, there are other options and we can take our blogs elsewhere. It’s just the principle of the thing. And, after discussing this with a few other bloggers last night, it is becoming more evident that WordPress.com is starting to tell book reviewers who have links in their reviews, that they can keep their WordPress site with the blog tours, etc….provided they pay for a WordPress.org account. I have a feeling it’s all about the money in the end, which is very sad for up and coming authors and their wonderful reviewers and promotors.

      Like

      1. That makes sense. For me it gets a little more complicated as I reside in Pakistan and no credit card originating from my country is accepted by WordPress.com website. Even if I want to move my website or even take their Guided Transfer, I don’t have any means to pay them.
        After reading this post I ended up making a backup of my existing blog. There are plenty of hyperlinks in my blog posts but they don’t drive traffic anywhere, just proof of what I am trying to stress in the post. Since it’s more of personal+political blog, there isn’t an issue with ToS … but what reviewers and promoters are going through with their experiences (as highlighted on this post), it will be challenging for me to take this step.
        Pakistan’s blogger community had shifted to WordPress when Blogspot came under government’s attack and remained blocked for two years. Most of us have felt safe using this service despite so many restrictions (no flash, adwords/adsense etc). Finding that safety eroding, even in obscure manner, is emotionally challenging to say the least.

        Like

        1. Wow, talk about a true global effect. In this particular case with these reviewers’ sites, I hope it is nothing more than a WordPress.com “oops, we’re sorry”, and the sites go back up. it still leaves an unsettling feeling behind. Thanks for giving a shout out all the way from Pakistan!

          Like

  3. This is just awful (I never realised the Terms of Service were this strict for those of us who are trying to promote other authors). I’ll keep a close eye on what happens. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  4. Blimey, what an awful thing to happen, that’s nutty.
    I wonder if that’s an issue on .org as much as .com? Obviously WP.org is full of paying customers and I’ll be they’re treated a great deal better than those who don’t pay.
    Ugh, what a terrible thing.

    I’ll keep my eyes and nose peeled for more of this, I’m so glad you brought it up. And I’ll be reblogging to spread the word.

    Like

    1. yes, it seems to be only a .com issue, not a .org. i guess they feel if you’re not paying, you can’t have any of the perks. To a certain extent, i understand, but come on. We’re talking promotions, not selling. if we were directing to Amazon or B&N with a note to say ‘buy this’, i could see the issues, but that’s not what the average blogger is doing. of course, WordPress.com can make whatever rules it wants and if we don’t like it, we can go elsewhere. i just hope that they realize what a huge blog base they have with writers and reviewers.

      Like

  5. Ms J, you sure did, and I actually had a wonderful birthday other than that. And yes, I have a feeling it’ll be “back up” because that was ridiculous, which in the case, I will be posting that I will be moving. I am officially starting over, but I actually contacted blogger- hey they emailed me right back, and asked them IN DETAIL and they are fine with it. actually they were cool because they say they can use it to promote more ads LOL but I will still make sure not to try to offend anyone.

    I also want to say I AM SO SORRY for those of you who are going through/went through this nonsense. It has bothered me all weekend, like I sat on my iphone refeshing my website page over and over until my own family told me I was becoming a nut case LOL we’re cajun so the words were so much more animated but inappropriate *giggle* but thank you so much Ms J! I now have everything there to follow, and if there is anything else you recommend I’ll always take advice!!

    Like

  6. I just went over and looked at the hosting sites that WordPress suggests and it is way more complicated and more expensive then I can afford right now. They make it sound cheap ($3.95 to $6.95 a month but that’s if you are opening a new account). If you’re transferring an existing account it’s more expensive per month and there are other fees involved. I think for me, it’s going to be a posting that will say I’m moving my account over to blogger and not post as much on WordPress. And now the fun begins.

    Like

  7. This has actually happened to me and I have now got to switch to WordPress.org in order to keep my site. It makes me wonder if some of it isn’t a little bit on the extortion side. If you don’t want to pay their $129 fee to do a guided transfer (I take care of an elderly parent and don’t have that kind of money just sitting in an account somewhere) you can attempt to do it yourself. And on top of that I have to pay a fee each month. All because I do blog tours and have done for over two years. I do have a separate blogger account but I started with WordPress and I don’t want to lose any of that content.
    In WordPress’ favor, they said I could keep the free site if I took down all the blog tours. How would I be able to go through all those postings and catch every single one. If I miss any, they will take the site down again. And in a way, I feel that inhibits my free speech. I should be able to say and post what I want on my own blog (free or not).

    Like

      1. Just this past week and I didn’t find out until 9pmEST when I went to put a post up. I have to get switched over to WP.org before the weekend is out otherwise they will shut me down again.

        Like

        1. This isn’t right. That’s why they’re doing this … to get more money. It sucks, and as far as I’m concerned, bad business. I’ve backed up my blog just in case they come after me. I will also look at blogger to host my blog tours and book reviews/giveaways. I feel so bad that this has happened to you.

          Like

    1. I hope it doesn’t come to that. I think WordPress.com realizes how many authors/reviewers make up their blogs. If I had to guess, it would be close to 1/2. That would be a huge amount of people to lose and I’m not sure Blogger could handle them all. For those that don’t move, they would probably have to change the way they blog, which is scary in itself. I guess we’ll just need to see what happens here and not jump the boat until the final verdict is in.

      Like

  8. *sigh* yes I’m still freaking out and no after my 5th email with no reply I’m thinking I’ll be moving to blogger 😦 but I have too many authors and publishers who rely on my stops to promote things and honestly, I’m still so upset. I’ve never received a warning or anything that would be considered offensive so poo on them lol!! I’m a little dbfounded in the fact that they want book reviewing blogs but they also want to make sure you don’t copy copy written things so if I didn’t write the book I need to give the author credit… See I feel a little stupid as I totally love to promote giveaways and it seems that really isn’t thought if in a nice light either… So I’m now getting to work for a new site. THANK YOU ms J!!! Your support has literally almost brought me to tears because you’re just that awesome!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maghon, I’m so upset over this. You are such a great reviewer and promotor. You always find something positive to say about a book, always trying to build up authors, and not rip them down. you always include a review. I just don’t understand. Hopefully it will all be resolved soon. In any case, you can move everything over to blogger and you’ll just have to tell all your wonderful authors and publishers that you’ve moved your site (if it comes to that). Trust me, it won’t deter them asking you for reviews because you’re awesome! 🙂

      Like

      1. well I think YOU’RE AWESOME!!! LOL and yes, I am now learning every little detail about blogger. I’m worried that even if this gets resolved with wordpress, it’ll just happen again, because I refuse to stop promoting books and authors and their giveaways!! Yes, it seems ridiculous, and it is, but this way, I’m hoping that for whatever reason they’ve shut my whole damn blog down, they think about doing it again to someone else. Also, another author sent me an email that I am the THIRD person today who’s blog has been suspended. They are having the same trouble, so I am going to make sure that I keep my stuff safe and continue spreading the word about good books! 🙂 PS, my new site is now happytailsandtales.blogspot.com 🙂 I’m working on it now, but it’s live. I just have to learn how everything works, and redo my whole thing. But it’s all good!

        Like

    2. Hey Maghon — If it’s any reassurance, when this happened to me, I went through the same stuff you’re going through now, and there was never any response to my many emails. But after 3 or 4 days, my blog went live again and there was just a simple message from WP saying something like “mistakes were made.”

      Don’t expect an apology, but I bet you’ll be back soon!

      Like

  9. Wow, this is awful! What on earth are they thinking doing that? Like you say, if they were to target every blog that links to third-party websites they might as well just close their doors for business because I would suspect it’s a huge proportion of WordPress blogs that do this. It’s a shame because I’ve had no problems with this platform these last 3 years…thanks for giving us all a bit of a heads-up on the issue! I might do like some of the other commenters and archive my content soon.

    Like

  10. Really? I’ve heard of worry about this clause, but I’ve never seen it acted on in this fashion. When I questioned Amazon Affiliate links, WordPress told me that as long as the site has other content, then the links are okay. However, if the purpose of the site is to take the reader “to another site” then there is a violation.

    I even had them check my site to give it a seal of approval before I placed the links on there.

    I’d be interested in seeing what she had. But if every post had a link to rafflecopter, that may have been a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve had other book reviewers tell me that they were ‘warned’ by WordPress.com that they were violating the Terms. Even though they wrote reviews for their readers, they were linking to 3rd party sites which was not allowed under the Terms of Agreement. After they explained to WordPress that they were book reviewers and that their posts just weren’t links to other sites, WordPress.com backed down, begrudgingly. Two other reviewers were told to purchase the WordPress.org sites if they wanted to ‘advertise’ by using 3rd party sites. They went to Blogger. It really makes no sense as they allow widgets, which are picture links to 3rd party sites. This one has me quite baffled and it’ll be interesting to see what WordPress.com comes back with.

      Like

    1. I’ll be watching and waiting for the answer from WordPress, Katy. it would be silly for them to be so tight with this Term, as far as authors go. We have to link. it’s not like we have affiliate marketing sites all over our blogs. i hope she finds out soon why WordPress did what they did.

      Like

  11. Yikes! What’s the point of blogging if you can’t link? Seriously, it’s often just proper etiquette. Half of WordPress is book review blogs, as I see it. They will cut off their nose to spite their face?

    Like

  12. Reblogged this on WHAT THE HELL and commented:
    Not sure if this is one of those pesky errors or an overzealous seek n’ destroy program WordPress uses, but it’s still cause for concern. My followers might remember something similar happened to me early this year…

    Like

    1. I don’t know, but it’s quite disconcerting to me as an author/reviewer and promoter. I’ll be waiting to see what WordPress comes back with. This particular book reviewer has several posts lined up this coming week to help out the authors, and she is flipping out as she can’t figure out what she did ‘wrong’. Seeing as they highlighted that particular clause, I’m assuming it is because of the multiple links she has to 3rd party sites.

      Like

Please join in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s