Ethics in Software … Even When It’s OpenSource
Let me make this perfectly clear: JetPack Stats Plugin from WordPress.com Hijacks Your Commenting System Without Permission. This post IS NOT about FREE WordPress.com blogs. If you are using JetPack Stats, which replaced the older WordPress Stats plugin, the information below affects your self-hosted blog. The plugin just happens to come from the Automattic Team at WordPress.com. Those using the Lite version of the plugin (by a different developer) apparently are not affected. (Thanks to Freelance Writer extraordinnaire, Sharon Hurley-Hall for that tip.)
Anyone who formerly used WordPress.com stats on the blog most likely upgraded to JetPack Stats when WordPress.com discontinued that stats plugin.
- The WordPress Stats system was widely used on both free WordPress.com blogs AND self-hosted blogs. On the free blogs, it was built into the system, no plugin needed.
- For self-hosted blogs, it was made available as a plugin and you had to obtain an API key — from WordPress.com — in order to use it.
For some, the logical choice was to install JetPack Stats because it was the successor of WordPress stats. I remember the hold-out: many self-hosted blog owners did not want to use it because it seemed like overkill and appeared to be foisted upon us. While WordPress Stats was hardly perfect, there didn’t seem to be any reasonable reason to stop using it in favor of JetPack Stats.
Choice was not really a part of the equation.
A little time passed … people installed JetPack Stats and hoped for the best.
Last night, I experienced the “no choice syndrome” that seems to be a way of distribution life for the folk behind JetPack Stats. The screenshots (with just a wee bit of narrative) tell the story. In the final analysis, I removed JetPack Stats.
I hope you have not been adversely affected. Maybe you saw this article, my tweets, or some of the retweets done by people who seem to care more about what happens to your self-hosted blog than some of those developing software for blogs. And managed to avert disaster.
Or maybe you had the foresight that Sharon Hurley-Hall had and never installed the JetPack Stats plugin. At any rate, make up your mind about what you will stand for, and stand for it. Let your voice be heard because according to the latest Technorati Report on the Blogosphere, bloggers are gaining influence and lots of movers and shakers now want bloggers to wield that influence on their behalf.
The First Clue
Second Clue – WordPress.COM ???
Podcaster and blogging tips expert, Ileane Smith surmises that the issue is likely with the latest update of JetPack. She was right.
JetPack Update Adds Features, Activate Them Without Permission
JetPack Stats Modifies Existing Commenting Form
There are two knavish results of this activity by JetPack Stats.
It usurps authority over your existing comment subscription management.
It ultimately sends your visitors to an external site to subscribe to your comments.
If those results are knavish … the evil is in how you, as the blog owner, are kept in the dark about what is now happening to the site you own!
Confusing Subscription Requests From WordPress.com
Opening email, you’re greeting with this graphical request. Nice graphic, but from WordPress.com? A caring message … a thumbnail graphic of my site … All very legitimate looking but only one problem: No permission requested, no permission granted.
Here’s My Unequivocal Response
Once JetPack Stats plugin for WordPress was deleted, the original commenting subscription system was restored to normal operations.
It Is Not Enough To Just Delete JetPack Stats Plugin
It has been said often enough …
Power concedes NOTHING without a demand! — Frederick Douglass
I urge you to voice your displeasure with heavy-handed, strong-arm tactics. (Don’t think they’re heavy-handed? Did anyone ask you if they could create extra work for you without first gaining permission or offering compensation? Do you not mind having your precious visitors, colleagues, and clients getting confused and jumping through hoops you did not design?)
Further Response … Twitter Notifications
Let the screenshots be a warning.
Just because WordPress is free and open source software does not mean the creators can freely step in and muck around in it, on your site, without your permission. Ethics in software development and distribution are highly desirable.
Here are some further thoughts, resources and alternatives to JetPack Stats provided by concerned, caring blog owners . . .
- Alternative Plugin: JetPack Lite – an unofficial fork of the original plugin that only includes stats and wp.me link shortner, by Samuel Aguilera.
- Chrome Browser Extension that shows the number of visits (also cleverly named “WordPress Stats.”) Thanks Ileane.
- Clicky Stats includes Dashboard widget and sidebar widgets.
- Article by SEO content strategy expert Doc Sheldon: Automattic Jetpack, You Crossed the Line! You’re FIRED!
- Article by internet strategist Gail Gardner: Automattic JetPack Stats Plugin Hijacks Comments on Self-Hosted WordPress Blogs without Permission
Do you know of other resources, alternatives or related articles? Leave a message in the comments and I’ll update this section with them.
- July 2012 Discover Local And Online Auctions uncovers yet another Jetpack Stats run-in ==> Love CommentLuv Premium? Discover A Plug-in Not To Install
Have Your Say … Comments Are Open
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