Interaction with WordPress Customer Service… Not so fun.

I’ve been running WordPress for this blog since the beginning. It’s a great platform. I’ve officially been drinking the Kool-Aid. I tell my friends about it. I heard Matt Mullenweg speak (at SXSW last year) and I rave about that.

So when it made sense for us to spin up a little blog for RescueTime (my fledgeling time management software business), WordPress got the nod. Rather than host another WordPress blog, I opted for a hosted WordPress account. WordPress offers barebones options for free, but I opted for a few premium options, making me a paying supporter of WordPress. It felt good.

The other day, I got an email from a few strangers telling me that the PowerPoint deck I had posted on my most recent blog entry (“DIY Web Marketing: 16 Resources for SEO, Social Media Marketing, & Viral Marketing”) was a dead link. It HAD been working (I know several people who downloaded it). No big deal, I thought. Tech glitches happen. As a guy who runs a SaaS biz, I’m quick to forgive on such things. It was inconvenient timing though– I’d just had a speaking engagement at Seattle Tech Startups and the PowerPoint deck in question was my deck for the presentation (I’d promised at the end to make it available– which is why I was getting peppered with emails).

My first step was to log in to see if I could fix it myself. No go. In fact, I couldn’t even log in. It told me my account was suspended.

I dutifully researched their message board (I know how expensive support is, so I figured I’d try to help myself) and found that random/accidental suspension issues were occuring as a result of a recent bug. Ahhh– that made me feel a bit better. When I finally got an email response, I was dismayed.


Your blog was suspended because it violated our ToS.
Basically, we don’t allow blogs created solely for commercial purpose,
or for Search Engine Optimization purpose.
I’ve temporary unsuspended your blog, so that you have a chance to review our ToS,
and clean it up a little bit…

www.wordpress.com/tos

Trying to keep my cool, I replied:


What?

It’s a blog about a tiny web service with 8 or so posts (so far). It doesn’t have any advertisements or any revenue generation capability whatsoever. I mentioned SEO in my last post because I did a little presentation at SeattleTechStartups.com a few weeks back– but RescueTime (http://www.rescuetime.com) has nothing to do with SEO (and, at present, isn’t even remotely a commercial enterprise). I reviewed to ToS fairly carefully and see no violations.

Are you SURE it was purposefully suspended? I’ve read several threads (covering the last few days) that seem to indicate there is a bug going around:

http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=16792&page&replies=5

http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=16787&page&replies=10

It seems a heckuva lot more logical to me that I’m a victim of this bug… I assume that if someone shuts down a blog for a breach of ToS that it would have some sort of note attached to it (to discriminate it from a bugged account)?

Several days have passed with no response. I have no idea if my blog is temporarily not suspended, if it was a bug, or if there truly was a breach that I’m not aware of. The blog is a simple product blog (I know a lot of startup guys who have such a thing– presumably that doesn’t count as “commercial purpose”?). I understand that suspending blogs is something WordPress has to do to be vigilant in the fight against spam, but would an automated notification hurt, citing the ToS clause in question? Given that I was actually a paying customer (not just freeloading off of their free offerings), would it kill ‘em to respond to my last email?

For the record, the blog gets VERY little traffic (thousands of uniques a month is all).

WordPress will continue to be my blog platform of choice– I’m too darn used to their fabulous interface. But (if nothing changes) I won’t be spending money with them again and I certainly won’t be recommending them as I have in the past. As they say, “customer service is the new marketing“.

  • http://InternetDuctTape.com engtech

    funny, I was one of the people who hit the suspended account bug.

    But yeah, they’re a bit nuke happy with the suspend account button — which worries me since they’re making a play for being a major openid provider.

  • http://forum.vbulletinsetup.com Brandon

    I’ve never had to use the WP customer support, guess I can count myself lucky :)

  • http://aosp.com The Tools Guy

    Your better off getting your own blogging software than using a hosted solution for just these reasons. Community Server makes a great platform that and it also does forums, files and photo’s.

  • http://sixside.com Jason Grunstra

    Curious why you didn’t just install your own version of WP on the RescueTime server? What benefits were you looking for from the hosted app?

  • http://www.tonywright.com Tony Wright

    @Jason – Good question. It’s something we considered. The reason we went with a hosted option was:

    A) We’re expecting spikey traffic to the blog and don’t want it to effect our app performance. Once we have some interesting data with RescueTime, I think we can post things that will perform well on Digg, Delicious, Reddit, etc.

    B) Our App is Rails and we don’t necessarily want to support PHP on the same server.

    C) We don’t want to be dorking with WordPress upgrades/patches/security/etc. Presumably Matt and Co. at WordPress are better at that than we are.

    Of course, all of this could be dodged by spending more money (spinning up a second server, having more dev-hours to fiddle with such things), but we’re a bootstrapped outfit.

  • http://blog.royalfx.ru Le secret

    Thank`s Smith.

  • http://photomatt.net/ Matt

    Late to this blog entry, but I’m very sorry this happened.

    Spammers exploit open systems so badly we end up suspending tens of thousands of blog every week, and unfortunately sometimes we screw up like above. I think what happened was probably caused by the bug, but when someone re-reviewed your account the “SEO” post stood out and raised a mental red flag.

    Simple information that should have given you the benefit of the doubt, like the fact you were a paying customer, weren’t easily accessible to support folks. Since then we’ve cleaned up our processes and completely changed how the suspension system works so a f-up like above should never happen again, but if you have any problems in the future feel free to email me directly.

  • http://blog.zeta-studio.ru zeta-studio

    Thank you.

  • http://mp3zzzz.com Meareeinift

    Snx for you job!
    It has very much helped me!

  • http://keywordsearchpros.com/seo-serm/ SERM

    what?!!

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