WordPress recently announced a new feature it hopes will act as a catalyst for WordPress bloggers to get to know each other. Unfortunately there are people using WordPress who should never meet. Like racists and civil rights activists, or Sci3ntologists and people with mental health recovery sites.
But a few days into the launch and that’s exactly what’s happening, and the WordPress solution of “just turn it off” isn’t working because most WordPress bloggers have no idea how the feature got onto their blogs in the first place.
The new feature is called “Possibly related posts”, it’s a series of links automatically placed at the end of your posts. The links are supposedly random and are determined by the tags and/or categories you’ve chosen. So if you tag something as “photos of home” and choose a category of “photography” the links should take you to a WordPress site with similar interests and hobbies.
But if you’re writing about the corrupting influence of Sci3ntology (Co$), and tag it as such, there’s a very real possibility you’ll have Sci3ntology’s WordPress page linked to your page.
The problems with this are pretty obvious, you don’t want ten Tom Cruis3 disciples showing up and asking why you’re being such a disturbing influence.
There’s also the problem with how the feature interprets your recommendations. How does it make sense, for example, if a ‘woman of colour’ writes about a violation of her rights, only to have a link to a racist blog at the bottom of her post?
My problem with the feature is having someone new to their mental health recovery having to put up with links at the bottom of their posts to people who might take advantage of them… or links back to them from people who want new members for their ridiculous science fiction cult.
And it’s already happening.
In these screenshots from a blog called “The Frame Problem” you can see where the blogger has written about someone who was attacked for years by Sci3ntology, and who has suffered greatly from them, and in the “Possibly related posts” there is a link to the WordPress homepage of Sci3ntology.
…the black arrows show his anti-Co$ material, the green are WP links which make sense relative to the post and the red arrow is to the completely out of place link.
This might not seem like a big deal, but the problem starts with the link on your page and readers thinking you put it there. The problem ends with your link on their page and your blog being noticed by them. By the racist who hates women of colour, and by the Cult who believes all mental illness can be cured by staring intently at a wall and giving them all of your money for the privilege.
The “Possibly related links” feature is based on a similar feature on YouTube.
“…you can start with a single video and then see something else interesting in the related videos and you lose yourself…”
But on YouTube the links are clearly marked as being offered by YouTube, and the links never appear on your account or take anyone back to your account. In short, YouTube is not a blog… it’s a video hosting site with blog features.
The best thing to do until WordPress fixes this feature, in my opinion, is to turn it off and maybe even ask WordPress to make sure your blog isn’t ending up on other blogs.
You can turn the feature off by going into your Dashboard, finding the Design Tab, then click on Extras and there will be a little box there… just click it.