Interlude

The start of a new year always encourages me to step back and make an internal review and reassess the things that add value in my life and take a hard look at the things that need to be jettisoned. One thing I’ve found as a result is certain online activities no longer bring me the joy they once did and, like another blogging friend, I seriously considered locking up my site. While I don’t think I’m quite ready for that at this point, I am considering where this site will be going forward.

I’ll also be publishing new blog posts less frequently. In the meantime you’re welcome to dig into my archives and featured posts. If there’s a particular subject you aren’t finding an answer to, leave a comment on this post or use my search widget on the front page.

In other news:

WordPress.com Free Sites-Now with more ads

A Native Sponsored Post promoting an in-house ad has already popped up on one of my free Private sites where I am the only user. That means I’m the only one who will ever see it which I guess was WordPress.com’s gentle way of indicating the rollout has begun.

Over the 14 years I’ve hosted sites here, the amount of advertising on free websites has gone from the occasional ad visible to logged-out users to ads visible all the time to ads that appear in subscriber emails to MOAR ADS. It’s starting to remind me a lot of Angelfire, where I maintain a website for our local knitting guild, though I hope never to see flashing banner ads! The only way to remove ads from your free WordPress.com website at this time is to upgrade to a paid plan.

It’s understandable that WordPress.com needs to recoup its operating expenses for hosting millions of websites and I certainly don’t grudge them that. Having said that, free sites provide WordPress.com with traffic in a symbiotic relationship. Run ads if you must, but keep the number and placement of ads sane.

Learn with WordPress.com’s Happiness Engineers

Many old-time WordPress.com bloggers learned the ins and outs of blogging on WordPress.com through Blogging U, which currently is still online as self-study email courses. When it was new, Blogging U was not just a course but also a community where new bloggers received help and feedback from both other community members and WordPress.com’s Happiness Engineers.

The current wpcourses on offer.

WordPress.com’s newest offering, wpcourses.com, takes that idea a big step further. There are self-paced and self-directed lessons, a private P2 site* for students to mingle and help each other alongside Happiness Engineers and a weekly “office hour” over Zoom led by a Happiness Engineer. The current offerings are “Blogging for Beginners” and “Podcasting for Beginners.” Each is an immersive course available by an annual paid subscription. Make sure to read the FAQ page to answer any questions you may have prior to signing up.

If you are interested in either course, but find it too expensive, WordPress.com regularly sends out promotional emails, so make sure to get on their mailing list.

*P2 is a standalone, free Automattic product (it is not the old P2/O2 theme) and, as of this writing, is advertised as an ad-free experience. You can read more about P2 in this post.

As always, the information in this post is correct as of publication date. Changes are inevitable.

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By the time you read this post, I will be experiencing the side effects of my second Covid-19 vaccination. If I can go by reports in the news (as well as conversations with friends and relatives), I’ll likely be offline for a few days and will reply to your comments after that.

Published by JenT

After 4 years hand coding HTML and CSS websites, 2 years setting up and running WordPress sites, I launched my first website on WordPress.com back in 2006 and never looked back. Since then, I’ve helped other WordPress.com site owners navigate through the ever-changing WordPress.com ecosystem. Find me at wpcommaven.com

24 thoughts on “Interlude

  1. I started a new blog so I could use the Blank Canvas theme. At every step of setting it up there was a prompt that the ‘best’ way was with a paid plan. The route was not transparent (big button for a paid plan and tiny words for the freebie) it made me feel something has been lost in the supposed ‘supportive’ relationship with Automattic. But I got my site.

    One thing that made me smile, the theme is so blank that the key frame is a question mark – as in ‘image file not found’.

    1. Yes, it’s definitely getting harder to see those links to start a free website, but they are there. /squints 🙂

      Automattic is a for-profit company, so the upsell will continue. I just have issues on their approach to it.

      1. Yes, that is exactly my feeling. I feel protective of fledgling WordPress users who put their heads in the lion’s mouth for the first time.

  2. Just found out this about the Blank Canvas theme: “:This theme is designed to hide the site logo, site title, and tagline on all single posts and pages”. Yes, OK. But unless I did something wrong, it also hides the post title…. ?

    1. The new Blank Canvas theme is pretty much a one-trick pony. It’s meant for building a single-page website. If you haven’t, take a look at the announcement on the WPcom blog as well as the comments.

      1. Yes, I saw the announcement, which is why I wanted to try it, just to see what it looked like. I switched the theme back to it just now and when I have time I will see what it can do. On self-hosted I use GeneratePress theme with the pro plugin and GenerateBlocks, so some of the things I see on Blank Canvas look familiar.

  3. And while I am on a roll – I set up the home page on Blank Canvas, decided I didn’t like the minimalism and changed to TwentyTwentyOne. I should have thought a bit more before just doing it. TwentyTwentyOne stripped out the home page content and replaced it with the Berthe Morisot stuff. Poor Berthe, she is going to become the bete noir of the WordPress users who like to change themes…

    1. So you didn’t get a notification that switching themes from Blank Canvas to TwentyTwentyOne would change your front page content? If so, that sounds like a bug.

      I really should dive into TwentyTwentyOne when I can concentrate on things again. Not anytime soon though.

      1. There may have been a warning. I am so blasé when the consequences are zero that I just push on. Now I switched back to Blank Canvas, all the changes I made to the page are still there and the front page of 2021 and Seedlet (which I also played with) are now in draft in the back end.

    1. Thanks. After a mostly pain-free day yesterday following the vaccination, the fever and chills started late evening and lasted through today. I slept through most of it and feel much better this evening. The first vaccination was a breeze and it’s very encouraging to hear that you’ve got an appointment for one. Some of my friends have been sharing some real horror stories about trying to get one.

  4. You must come back after a respite else I shall be totally lost if/when WP decides to throw a spanner into my works and I can’t figure out how to post anything! What side effects did you have from the vax? I got part 2 of my shingles today and won’t be eligible for THE vax until end of next month maybe.

    1. You know where to find me if you need help with something. 🙂 Hopefully there won’t be any major spanners thrown in the immediate future. Tfu, Tfu, Tfu!

      The first vaccine was really nothing but a sore arm for a day, but like the Shingrex, it’s the second one that gets you. That’s a good thing.

  5. Hope all is well your way

    Had a serious go around with the new block headed editor on a secondary site of mine – what should have been a 5 minute copy and paste from a text document was almost 45 minutes of screaming pain – have some work I should do on my main site but the new editor was just too painful – need to see if there are any good fixes – the old clunky editor was just fine – the new one just too painful

    Good luck with the vaccine – I saw your country is at about 25% first shot and infections are starting to drop a bit – my first shot is about 4 or 5 weeks our but some of my relatives lucked into a 10 minute signup window and got their first shot last week

    take care

    1. It’s been ups and downs. We’re again on lockdown and for whatever reason, this one has been onerous.

      Block Editor: I’ve been helping a friend with her backup site here on WPcom and what works for me when pasting text is to switch to the Code Editor and then paste. When you switch back to the Visual Editor, all that will be automatically placed in a single Classic Block. From that point, you can either continue with the Classic Block, or convert to separate blocks from the toolbar. The Powers that Be also say that it’s possible to just paste into the Block Editor interface and for me that approach has been hit or miss.

      As far as the vaccine goes, we’re the world’s lab. That was the agreement between Pfizer and our government because our HMOs are digitized so data is available relatively quickly and we are a small population. In spite of the big push to vaccinate, the number of critical cases and deaths haven’t come down as much as they’d hoped mostly, they think, due to the variants. We’ll know within a couple of weeks. Glad to know you’ve got yours lined up. Take care!

  6. I hope you continue to blog and write the post about P2 right away 😉 regarding vaccines, I want to stay away from them for at least another year, until I know what are the expected side effects.

    1. Thank you, Thiago, you make it sound like you’re on a deadline. 🙂 A post about P2 is in the works, you needn’t worry, but “soon” might be a little too soon.

      On the vaccine, if you’re waiting a year, I assume you mean long term side effects? The short term side effects are the same for any vaccination, and there will always be exceptions to the rule with any vaccine.

      1. Yes, I am referring to the long-term effects, but as they are all experimental, the short-term effects deserve extra attention. Anyway, if I take it, it will only be next year (and there is still the question of deciding which vaccine, because in my country several are being made available).

        All the reviews about P2 interest me, especially those made by who are part of the user community. I am already using it successfully with groups of students and as a small publisher’s intranet, but although I think it can be used as a forum, in this case I am inclined to upgrade to the business plan and install the Asgaros forum (which, in my opinion, it is the best forum in WP).

    1. The thing that annoys me the most about these Native Sponsored Posts so far is they look like a part of the site you’re visiting. Even Reblogs are differentiated more.

  7. (Please note: This comment has been edited for brevity by JenT)

    Hi Jen T. My name’s Lea, and I’m new to this, blogging and postings for my writing. For years I’ve been writing on a vast expanse of topics, ideas, creative writing, short stories & poetry in notebooks. I have many books around my home I’ve written in at various times over the last two decades or so. Inspired by many different things over time. I’ve never attempted to post any of my exerpts or theories; mostly fear, judgement, or being copywriten. Actually, plagiarized, I guess would be a more accurate terminology.

    Anyhow, I’ve moved beyond such superficial concerns. I have many things that I want to go forward with sharing, and I’d appreciate any information, suggestions, ideas or advice on the way I might be best able to start working on sharing some of my narratives, theological interpretation, fictional plot ideas or outlines.

    1. Hello Lea, I just wrote a reply to you and the internet ate it up. 😦 In any event, welcome to my site. It sounds like you have a lot to share with the world. If you are new to WordPress.com, the place to start is by setting up a free website, which will be Private, only visible to you, and then head to the tutorial at https://wordpress.com/learn That will help you get started with the basics. If you have questions along the way, check out the Support site search, and if you need more detailed info, the community forums are filled with helpful volunteers and Staff members. Best wishes for your new adventure. Thanks for visiting!

  8. Another post suggestion (to encourage you to continue blogging): a tutorial on how you managed to make this beautiful website from one of those Gutenberg themes available on WP.com (for me, at least as far as normal posts, they are inferior to the old themes).

    1. I’m pretty sure that I wrote something up about that in this post, Just Write, even if it didn’t specifically mention what I’ve done here. But you’ve given me an idea, so *thanks* for poking me. 😉

      Edited to correct stupid autocorrect.

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