Nuke “Possibly related posts” from your blog

Apologies for the brief blog hiatus; I’ve been at two different CU conferences for the past two weeks, and each has been a whirlwind of activity. I have much to write about both of these events, and hope that time permits soon.

This post is for WordPress.com blogwriters only, and those planning to set up a blog via WordPress.com. Please do yourself a favor, and immediately eliminate a new scourge infecting your blog, the “Possibly related posts.” This well-meaning service was brought to you by WordPress itself. However, with this one, they got it WRONG.

Here is how you eradicate the pestilence: Go to your dashboard, then click Design, then click Extras. Then click the checkbox for “Hide related links on the blog, so which means this blog won’t….” so that the checkbox is CHECKED.

Why is “Possibly related posts” antithetical to what good blogging is all about? Because good bloggers are people who you TRUST. Good bloggers will tell you what THEY think is important, and provide you links to that information. But when WordPress shoves auto-generated content in your face, it APPEARS to be endorsed by that blogger. This whole thing could have been avoided if WordPress had handled it differently.

For example, WordPress could have added a button to the end of a blog entry that read something like: “Click here to generate a list of other blog entries like this one.” That would have been much less onorous from a reader and writers’ perspective. But the way it is set up now, it looks like those extraneous links are being endorsed by the author. And many times, the WordPress suggestions have nothing whatsoever to do with the author’s true subject. The other problem I have with these “possibly related posts” is that I can EASILY accomplish the same thing by doing a Google search, or even better, a Google blog search.

When I am reading a blog, I expect all links to come from the author, and that the links are being either endorsed as worthwhile or discussed in some way. When I want random, machine-generated blog posts on a topic, I’ll google them myself.

Thanks, but NO THANKS, WordPress.

What WordPress has done here is very different than when they introduced Snap Shots (a link pop-up preview window system). That was a good service, in that it helps the author give the readers an even better/quicker/easier glimpse at the sites to which they are discussing and referring.

(P.S. It also would have been very NICE, POLITE, and PROPER if WordPress had notified all its millions of blog authors BEFORE making that change to their blogs, EXPLAINED it clearly, and made it an option to ADD, instead of SURPRISING everyone, adding SPURIOUS content to millions of blogs, and making it opt-OUT.)

Update 6/10/08: Here are some others writing about this WordPress feature:

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5 Responses to “Nuke “Possibly related posts” from your blog”

  1. Jeffry Pilcher Says:

    This must be in the version hosted by WordPress only. I downloaded a “Similar Posts” plugin that references other posts within your blog. It does its best to generate results automatically, but you can tweak the settings to make it work more effectively.

    No plugins in the WordPress-hosted version though.

  2. Morriss Partee Says:

    Indeed, WordPress could only infect WordPress hosted blogs (wordpress.com), not self-hosted blogs. I’m sure the WordPress team was well-meaning with this initiative, but they should have done some asking around of their established blogging base before foisting this upon the rest of us. Perhaps they are subtly encouraging serious bloggers to get off of their hosted version. :)

  3. Mike Templeton Says:

    I think a plugin like Jeff mentioned is nice to see on a site, but the algorithm needs to work well. If it doesn’t, it’s just like hitting one of the category links or post tags and being brought to a page full of similar topics.

    As for what Morris is describing, which is WordPress linking up to “related posts” from other blogs, I agree that widget needs to be canned. In my opinion, blogs are all about community, credibility and trust. Because links are commonplace in blog entries and are provided by the author, readers are highly likely (at least I am) to click on the links. If we start generating “random” links to places the author has no control over, I think it could create problems and make people more skeptical of what they are clicking.

    So, as Morris said, let’s nuke that idea and keep our blogs on the right track.

  4. telecommutingtruths Says:

    Thanks for this post. I am a new wordpresser and appreciate the help!

  5. Birdwhisperer Says:

    Thanks. I had this turned off in my main blog, then registered another one and couldn’t remember how to turn this off.
    I don’t have it on because I don’t know what is being put on my blog, and what my friends who read my blog might read if they click on one of those posts. My dad has told me that three links from anywhere will get you somewhere you really don’t want to be, and I most certainly don’t want an automatically generated link-thingie to make my blog one of those! You make a good point too.

    Thanks again!

    ~Birdwhisperer

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