Deactivation Blues

Maybe it's time to stop writing website names on my photos. (Image from none-a-yer-got-damned-bidness)
Maybe it’s time to stop writing website names on my photos. (Image from none-a-yer-got-damned-bidness)

As some of you know, I had a traumatic experience last Sunday.  I wrote another one of my typical posts, whining about this or that.  I plugged in a few internet-scavenged photos to keep it sexy.  I didn’t use actual sexy pictures, I just know that a page full of nothing but words can be scary to some people.  A couple of pictures with snappy captions may keep them from switching over to travel blogs composed of nothing but snap-shots of someone’s trip to Italy last year.  As is my habit, I included the source of each photo in parentheses after my caption.

I did my usual bit of half-assed proof reading, then hit “Publish”

I hadn’t fully taken my finger off the computer key when the giant pink box with red lettering took over my screen.  WordPress had “deactivated” me, effectively shutting me out of my own blog – my online home of the past 11 months.  All 124 of my posts were gone from me, including the one I’d tried to post merely seconds before.  Anyone trying to look at my stuff got a message saying my blog was deactivated and no longer available.

The pink box described people who would violate the terms of the website, using WordPress for ulterior motives; spammers and slicksters trying to sneak advertising into posts and comments.  It was made clear that these sorts of people are not welcome at WordPress.  It was implied that if my blog had been deactivated, then I had likely proven myself to be just such a piece of vermin.

Clearly there's been some kind of mistake.  For Pete's sake man, I've been Freshly Pressed!  (Image stolen from the interweb)
Clearly there’s been some kind of mistake. For Pete’s sake man, these sorts of things aren’t supposed to happen to me – I’ve been Freshly Pressed! (Image stolen from the interweb)

There was a link I could click to report that my deactivation was in error.  I clicked it frantically, pleading my case wherever I could.  I tried to identify myself as a good blogger, not some spam-planting reprobate.  Sure I make poop jokes and I once wrote a post all about a professional athlete’s urine, but I’m generally a good person.  I’ve got followers to think about, for heaven’s sake!

I sent the request for reinstatement.  As the minutes dragged by, I started to panic.  I Tweeted a few of my WordPress cohorts.  Then I wrote emails to a couple of them who had foolishly let me know their online addresses.  I got some helpful support from them, but as the time dragged on with no word from WordPress, I started to accept that my blog was gone.  My many posts,  strings of comments back and forth with blogging chums, pages and pages of unbridled goofiness, all vanished forever into the black hole of “Crap-that-disappears-from-the-computer-without-warning”.  Despondent that my blog was gone, I even tried to send farewell messages to a few people telling them my actual name and asking them to watch out for my novel, which I would surely finish and publish with all this newly available time-not-spent-blogging.  I’m hoping that not too many of those tearful goodbyes made it through.

I finally gave up on staring at my in-box and got cracking on my non-blog chores for the day.  As I strolled the aisles of the supermarket, I pondered life without a blog.  I couldn’t even consider going and starting a new one.  Putting in that amount of work and time to build a new audience and community for something so fleeting seemed like an idiotic idea.  By the same token, I couldn’t imagine how I’d go on without this forum.  Blogging is the creative outlet which I’d been seeking for so many years.

On the other hand, I felt pathetic.  How had I become one of “those people” who write blogs and then insist on trying to get everyone I meet to read them?  Worse yet, what kind of odd nonsense would I move onto next?  Maybe I could get a clip-board and go door to door getting signatures for or against some cause or other.  I could just start hanging around the local coffee joint and talk about the weather or “kids today”.  I could become one of those doomsday preppers who I made fun of in several posts – without a blog I’d be well on my way to a life without technology, living off the land and shooting anyone who got too close to my bean field.

One of the free-sample people at the store gave me a nibble to try and asked how my day was going.  I hesitated, trying to figure out how to begin to tell this guy how my world had been shattered.  Before I could put it into words, he gave a piece of cheese on a cracker to the lady next to me and asked how her day was going.  I turned and walked off toward the paper products, relieved I hadn’t been midway into my story of blog-love and blog-loss when he turned to the lady.  No one would understand except my fellow bloggers, and I’d lost them.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I got an email from someone at WordPress whose job title was “happiness engineer”.  The last time I dealt with someone whose job title was happiness engineer, they were trying to sell me a latex-free marital aide which ran at several speeds and had “life-like” features.  The batteries weren’t included.  The WordPress happiness engineer asked me to please remove the reference to a certain website from my blog.  The website was where I got one of my aforementioned photos.  I had typed in the web address in an effort to give credit where credit was due.  As it happened, the website was on some WordPress no-fly list and had triggered the shut down.  One stupid little web address in a photo caption had caused all this turmoil?

After being dumped by Fox News, she quickly found work as a "happiness engineer".
After being dumped by Fox News, she quickly found work as a “happiness engineer” She’s seen here with the “Filly-Buster” model – batteries not included. (Image from all over the internet – find it yourself!)

Obviously my scrape with near deletion has had an effect on me.  Hopefully I’ll eventually be able to get my old swagger back and start posting poop stories and making adult-diaper jokes.  For now though, I’ve got to take baby steps and work my way back into blogging in tentative little strides.  I hope my readers can understand how difficult that time was, and how deeply I missed each and every one of you, for every minute of those several hours away in deactivation limbo.

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27 thoughts on “Deactivation Blues

  1. I took away a lesson from your experience, so I’m sure it was all worth it. Don’t post tearful good-byes until I hear from the Happiness Engineer (for whatever reason, it makes me think of the little yellow characters in Despicable Me). Also, I’ve backed up all of my posts. So thank you – your suffering was my advantage. Let me know when the next lesson is…

  2. This is exactly the reaction I would have had! I think I’m slightly addicted to blogging, and when something like that happens (or tragic computer failures), no one else gets it if they aren’t bloggers too.

    As far as the pics go, I try to select royalty free, but honestly, most pics on the internet have been copied and recopied so many times, finding the original source might be impossible. Plus it could get you banned! We really should get to see the “no fly” list.

    1. The problem with the no-fly list is this: If “We” could see it, then “They” could see it. Giving them the list would just open the site to the next wave of garbage.

      On the other hand, if you’re going to shut people down, you should explain why much sooner.

      From a marketing standpoint, I’d be more than happy to “Upgrade to Pro” if there was some sort of guarantee in place to keep from being deactivated for hours and hours.

      To date, I’ve received no more advertising from WP than the usual upgrade button.

      1. I think if you do WP.org then it’s yours, basically, but you have to go through some hoops of some sort. I forget how much it costs. I’ve seen some comparisons – wp.org vs wp.com etc.

        Good point on the list. But yeah, some way to let you know what happened earlier would be a good idea.

  3. I knew you would turn this around and you have done so masterfully.

    While the drama was unfolding, it occurred to me that it was a lightning fast fall from FP grace to spammer scum, but I sensed you were in too fragile a state for me to make that observation.

    Love your new approach to captions and the captions themselves and the scene of you and the sample guy at the supermarket — who among us couldn’t relate to that?

    You’re too funny to have your voice silenced. Welcome back (again).

  4. My gosh – you actually got a response from someone within a normal amount of time! Try getting any attention from a Facebook employee. There are no happiness engineers on that site. They deliver pure misery all the time. That site is a happiness void. Your post has been quite instructive for me, anyway. I wonder where I can get ahold of that WordPress “naughty list”.

  5. Wowsa! Glad it finally got resolved. I think I will adopt your way of crediting photos, etc. just in case.

    And to the commenter that said the Facebook team is made of misery engineers; isn’t that was FB is mostly about anyway (or at least nowadays): misery and Zynga apps?

  6. I told them all about me the moment I signed up to avoid any future conflict. I told them that “I might sometimes use naughty poopie-mouth language and talk about mommy and daddy things.” I avoid pictures because I forgot to tell them about any pictures I might use right from the start, and am afraid of any conflict re-opening the issue of my naughtiness may involve. From your experience, I am very happy that I don’t include images – I just don’t know what I would do if I got shut out of my blog …

    Mirkin Firkin

    1. That was an interesting strategy – telling them up-front. I started off timid and quickly moved on to PG-13 when no one reprimanded me. Before long I was writing about kahkah and pro athletes who used their rottweiler’s tinkle to try to pass drug tests (really).

      When I found myself deactivated with no reason given, I started wrackig my brain trying to figure out wht horrible thing I’d written. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a dopey web address!

    1. Help yourself. I sought counsel as well. Susie Lindau and Hippie Cahier among others tried in vain to calm me. The tough part was not having any idea whatsoever why it had happened. When I found out it was the silly web address, I was relieved and yet upset that something so innocuous could have caused me all that grief.

  7. Catching up on my blog reading, I go from Susie’s wild-riding heart surgery to your near heart attack at being so abruptly (and unfairly) shut down. I’m learning BIG lessons on WP today. Sorry for your anxiety-provoking experience. I’m glad you’re back with your sense of humor intact. (Image from all over the internet – find it yourself!) — That cracked me up!!

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