I know, I know; all blogs that’s hosted on WordPress inevitably turns into a blog about WordPress… Sorry! This is just a post of aimless complaining about an issue that’s so minor you won’t believe it, but these days there aren’t anybody on my lawn that I can shout at.
I started this blogging lark like a decade ago using WordPress.com, because I really didn’t want to host WordPress myself. WordPress.com is easy, safe, and the support from Automattic is unsurpassed.
The problem is that the fine people at Automattic have a tendency to make changes.
I know, the outrage! How dare they improve their products!
But even small changes have annoying effects. Like, for instance, their Jetpack super-plugin, which I’ve used to post oh-so-interesting tweets so that the huddled mass over at Twitter can enjoy my oh-so-interesting blog posts. This is what they’ve looked like since when I started:
The tweets have the blog title, a link to the blog, and then the first image from the blog. Nice and simple and, most of all, predictable. I think the Tweet stream looks kinda purdy?
So then, the other week:
They switched to a different format. Now the image is apparently a random one (they probably have Highly Advanced AI to pick it out, right?), and then there’s an excerpt of the text (which makes little sense of context, it seems to me), and the image is small and ugly.
Or even worse! From that movie log blog:
Perfection, right? Right? (I used So Much Math to compute the correct font size to get the same apparent director name size since the aspect ratios are different, and the X size on Twitter is constant, but not on my blog. I’m so proud.) It changed to:
Ack! Gasp! Sad!
So you’d think there’d be a way to customise the twittering in the Jetpack settings? I looked and I looked, and I found nothing.
Reader, you’ll never guess what I did next: I moved the site from WordPress.com to a self-hosted DigitalOcean droplet.
It’s probably more expensive, and it’s definitely a whole lot more work, but I just can’t deal.
I know, if you’re using a service like WordPress.com, you can’t expect to get everything your way, but there’s a feeling of being helplessly trapped in a system where you have no control over minor things — for instance, the snappy server-rendered WordPress dashboard suddenly becoming unavailable on some sites, and you have to use the slow, low-density React based interface, and having no way to switch back.
Oh, and not being able to post MP4s on a personal plan, which I just think is ridiculous — why force people to post enormous GIFs when MP4s are so much nicer and smaller? Yes, Automattic needs to make money, but that’s just churlish, these days.
So if anybody at Automattic is doing an A/B testing thing to determine the success of this Twittering feature, you can count my slightly lower invoice next month as a vote.