WordPress seems to be going a bit Nineteen Eighty-Four all of a sudden…

“What is one thing you would change about yourself?” (question posed by WordPress to me today, Dec 5 2022)

Greetings vintage mates. Has anyone else been receiving spammy questions from WordPress, such as the one above, whenever you prepare to draft a new post or copy an older post?

The reason I ask is because last Saturday (3 Dec) as I was preparing to draft a post, a WordPress question appeared on my draft page: “What are your feelings about eating meat?” Below is the screenshot.

Happiness?

I contacted a Happiness Engineer to ask why I was receiving spam messages on my draft pages and that I was unhappy to see such a question. I supplied them with the same screenshot as above, and this is the answer I received today:

“Thank you for contacting WordPress.com support!
 
We appreciate you sharing your feedback on this and the screenshot of what you are seeing. We recently introduced a feature that displays writing prompts as a placeholder on posts, with the goal of encouraging users to write and publish new posts. I have shared your important feedback with the team. For now, you can remove that prompt that shows on your post by
 clicking on it and then pressing backspace or delete on your keyboard.
 

As you can see from the very post you are reading today, the “writing prompt” courtesy of WP is: What is one thing you would change about yourself?

Hmm, hadn’t really considered such a question, dear WP, nor my feelings lately about eating meat. I’m only here to archive vintage images, not to be dictated to what my posts could contain via some sinister WP thought-control method.

Tin foil hat outrage third world problem alert?

No. But I regard this intrusion of WP’s “writing prompts” as just that: an intrusion. My reply today to the Happiness Engineer:

“Hello. Thank you for your reply. I regard this new feature and ‘prompt’ as a distraction, as well as an infringement on my workspace which I pay WP to use. Also, it is an unnecessary chore for me to have to delete it each time I open a new page to post. Please can you pass on my concerns to the team responsible and request that this feature be removed. I do not need writing prompts nor wish to be distracted while preparing to post. Thank you. Ford, TVTA.”

If you are a creator; an artist, a musician, a writer, a cartoonist, a designer, a poet, a sculptor… and you open up your studio or office doors one morning to begin work on your newest creation, do you really need someone standing in the shadows saying, “Hey, how do you feel about eating Quinoa?” or “What advice would you give to your younger self” or “Do you believe in the existence of Unicorns?”

Same applies to bloggers. We open a new post to post something we already have in mind. Not to be distracted by WP’s mind-nannies and have a narration dictated to us. Looking at it all as innocently as I can, WP are simply trying to stimulate a conversation. But why not do this by WP posting a weekly prompt in the Reader and not on every single new draft post we make like some creepy Big Brother?

Okay, I can easily ignore and just “remove that prompt that shows on your post by clicking on it and then pressing backspace or delete on your keyboard. like the Happiness Engineer told me to. But what next… personalised ads on our draft pages? QR Codes to enter a lottery to win a subscription upgrade? A button to consent to the switching on of microphone and camera and third-party cookies? (let’s not give them ideas, folks).

WordPress, please stop intruding on my blank page!

Dear readers, if you are happy to open up a draft page and be questioned by WP on random topics, then please ignore my post. Move along. Nothing to see here. But if, like me, you are unhappy with seeing WP “Writing Prompts”, then please contact your nearest Happiness Engineer to tell them you are unhappy. Simply click on the ‘question mark’ button on your site and then hit the ‘contact support’ button.

Remember, folks, George Orwell’s Ninety Eighty-Four is not meant as a blueprint, but as a warning.

Spam image courtesy of Tasteofhome.com

Big Brother image courtesy of Wikipedia

Finally, please let me know in the comments what type of questions you have been asked by WP as part of their “Writing Prompt” effort. I’m interested if they’re blanket-spamming all of us with same question or tailoring their questions.

Poem: The Joker, the Snow, and the Beast from the East

Editor’s note: This poem is currently away on a top secret mission and will return later.

Editor’s note: This poem is currently away on a top secret mission and will return later.


Poem and photos by the editor.

Toy images by TVTA. Poster and adverts scanned by TVTA from own collection. Batman and Joker copyright DC.