Need help? Check out our Support site, then


complaint about WP disclosure of private stats

  1. I have not been on my blog or following WP blog posts for a few days since I was on jury duty (in NY courthouses -NY Unified Court system- which have wi-fi, I discovered that WordPress is blocked!). Today I read for the first time the Sept 21 post about the new "Follow" button. As I posted on Scott Berkun's post, I turned it off immediately because I do not wish to broadcast publicly how many people subscribe to my blog period. From my POV that is private info like my stats. Over the past seven days, some regular readers of my local news blog, including peole in government, undoubtedly saw this number and I probably lost a lot of cred. What, she has only a tiny number of subscribers! The number creates a false impression because it is inaccurate. It includes only the very small number of people who have email subscriptions via WordPress and not the greater number who subscribe via Feedburner and Google reader.

    I strenuously object to WordPress's Facebook-like implementation of this feature and the disclosure of private info.. Like Facebook, you changed something and made it the default. To make it go away, one had to go into settings to opt out. While I understand WP can and will change features on this free blog service anytime, I don't remember giving WordPress the right to broadcast my private information including stats. Is this included in the terms of service?

    The blog I need help with is amusingthezillion.com.

  2. We Volunteers answering support questions cannot help you with this issue. We do not receive advance notice of changes. We get the same notice that every other member gets. This is the relevant announcement > http://en.blog.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/more-traffic-for-your-blog-with-the-follow-button/

    May I suggest the you contact Staff directly with your feedback on this change? Here’s the link http://en.support.wordpress.com/contact/ After you use the searchbox, under the search results, at the bottom of the page there will be a section that says “Have you found the answer to your question?” You can choose either “Yes I found the answer to my question.” or “No I didn’t find the answer to my question and I would like to contact support for help.” The no option will reveal the contact form.

    Aside:
    As you are concerned about the subscriber count being displayed to visitors, I'm wondering if you are also aware that all of our other traffic metrics and demographic metrics for our blogs are publicly available from quantcast.com and from alexa.com?

  3. thank you, Time Thief. yes, I contacted Support directly, on Tuesday, but have not received a reply. On the comment that I posted on WP's blog, also on Tuesday, it says "Your Comment is awaiting moderation." For the record, my comment was "I also turned it off–from my pov there is no reason to say how many people are already subscribing. This is not Facebook. In any case the number is inaccurate because it does not include the greater number of people who are “following” via feedburner, Google reader etc."

    Since I haven't heard anything from WP, I looked at the Privacy policy, which is here:
    http://automattic.com/privacy/
    One of the things it says is "It is Automattic’s policy to respect your privacy regarding any information we may collect while operating our websites."
    In my opinion it was a breach of this privacy policy for WP to disclose the private and inaccurate number of subscribers on the new Follow button that they went ahead and put on our blogs. Some people might say it is mitigated by the fact that the button can be turned off and we were notified about it on their blog. My point is the info was disclosed without advance permission on my very own blog. This was not something that I ever expected.

    This is the first time that I've taken issue with anything about WordPress.com. I have loved having my blog here and everything they have done for us, including the delightful holiday snow. So I am very disappointed not to hear back from anyone about my concerns and to have my comment "held for moderation." At the very least, I wish someone would clarify the Privacy Policy.

  4. I am guessing that their line would be that stats data of this kind is their property rather than yours (as opposed to, say, your email and your IP address), so they can do what they like with it.

  5. My guess is that someone said "way kool idea" and some of the fine tune did not get really thought of much if at all - I see several nice sites that only have a few subscribers - I turned mine off.

  6. I'm not using this subscription service. I use Feedburner which has for eons advertised the numbers of subscribers if one was into posting the widget but I never have used it. The bottom line is that all WordPress.com blogs are all quantified and all our stats on our public blogs as well as other metrics like demographics are available on the quantcast.com site.

  7. Access to Quantcast can be turned off - I have seen some sites that have marked their data as Private - the sites were hot to trot for Ads on their sites but looking at a different visit source showed they were somewhere around # 15,000,000 for popularity - maybe 5 page views a day - not sure why they were hiding the fact they were not popular at all.

Topic Closed

This topic has been closed to new replies.

About this Topic