Blog Plugins – A Truly Unpopular Post

Tonight, I’m going to talk about a little bit about this blog itself. No one reads these posts, and that’s okay. This month has been more of an exercise for me than for anyone else. A couple of decent thoughts floated through this space, but for the most part, these posts have been my attempt to be productive daily, whether I want to be productive or not.

Tonight’s one of those nights where I’m not feeling it all, but we have a job to do, dammit!

Anyway. This blog. Brian C. E. Buhl dot com. I’ve talked about why I’m doing this before and I’m not going to bore you with that subject tonight. Instead, I’m going to “delight” you with information about the mechanics of maintaining this blog, and how it’s become more of a pain in the ass.

I use several plugins with WordPress to add some minor functionality. Jetpack is one which offers me some interesting utilities for checking the health and security of the site, as well as metrics on how pages are tracking in regards to visibility. Jetpack is how I know that meta posts about the blog do badly, while more heartfelt posts about family or clever posts about writing do a little bit better. During regular months, I get about 10 views per page. During Blog-tober, I have a couple of posts that hit 50, and some that get 1 or 2. I get tired of writing these posts, and people get tired of reading them. It would be better if I wrote 1 or 2 posts a week, focusing on content and quality rather than just getting something out the door.

Based on the stats, I know that the content I put into this place does not generate broad interest. People aren’t going to their friends and saying, “You should check out Brian Buhl. He is insightful and sometimes funny.” There is no growth in readership here, and that’s fine. This is more often a personal exercise than an attempt to promote myself. It’s a blog, and blogs are out of fashion.

In other words, I do not make money with this blog, and even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. This isn’t a business. This is a personal project that I’m paying for completely out of pocket.

You’ll understand then why I’m frustrated with another plugin called Akismet, which is used for preventing spam in the comments. With just 10 or 11 views per page, or a handful of visits in the day, one might think spam isn’t an issue in this place. Unfortunately, bots know about WordPress and are capable of dumping enormous messages into the comments without generating traffic. Akismet detects the spam and disposes of it without me having to acknowledge it. Because the spam is generated by bots, this saves me having to wade through hundreds of pages of garbage every day.

Akismet used to be free, then it was pay what you can afford, and now it demands a considerable amount per year or per month. While it was free, and back when I was using WordPress for the afterschool program I was running at Creative Connections Arts Academy, I had Akismet running for both instances. I eventually took down the other blog, but Akismet still thinks I’m using it in multiple places and wants me to pay twice as much.

There is no way for me to communicate with Akismet directly to clear up that mistake.

Recently, they sent me an email stating that I overused their service and that they were limiting me access to their API. Now I’m wading through spam comments again.

To help preserve my sanity, I’ve changed the comment settings for the blog. A few people have commented here, and I appreciate it! I read all the comments that come in, and write acknowledgements when I have something I can say in response. People will still be able to comment, but the comments will be turned off on posts after 7 days. There’s another contact me form that’s still open and people can use that, too, though most of the people reading these posts have other ways of contacting me.

I like maintaining this blog, but I don’t want to spend much on it. If the spambots hammer hard enough on the site, I might turn off commenting altogether. If that doesn’t bring peace, I’ll have to look at other options, including shutting it all down. I need to have an author page, but not if it’s distracting me or pulling time away from writing.

Tomorrow, I’ll get back onto schedule.