Browsing my Reader reminded me of a nifty WordPress feature you’ll love if the subjects you enjoy are often ‘hijacked’ by less scrupulous bloggers – or if you want to block anyone who is going too far. It’s hidden in plain sight so you may not have noticed it.
I’m not talking about bloggers you are following, but some of the ones who appear when you explore topics. Tag-hoggers who clutter up your Reader with multiple posts you don’t want to see again. Ever.
You know the ones I mean. You’ll find them:
- Using the same popular tag on a rapid succession of posts.
- Jumping on a news story to insistently sell you their (unrelated) product.
- Publishing lists of hashtags. (What’s all this about? Am I missing something?)
- Posting a stream of other people’s pictures copied without permission from photo sites such as 500px with an abrupt instruction to like and follow in bold type.
Don’t get me wrong – I love photography. By all means compose a thoughtful blog post to introduce me to photographers you admire and link to some of their work. I’ll gladly take a look, especially if I’ve learned to trust your opinion.
I follow some very talented business bloggers and I’m comfortable with blogging being used as a way to sell or promote something, to raise awareness or to influence us. But if that’s the plan, be honest about who you are and what you’re trying to do. Exercise some common sense and don’t set out to monopolise what I read.
It’s About Respect
My sweetheart recently wrote an article about the tragedy of the commons – how we all gain when we respect shared resources, whatever they are – and lose when we don’t.
After nearly a year of blogging, I’ve come to see the Reader as a shared treasure trove we are free to mine for whatever we value. It can be infuriating (thank goodness ‘Explore Tags’ is back after the recent updates!) – but it’s rewarding too.
Tags (used the right way) are helpful little signposts, directing us to recent posts on subjects we enjoy or want to research. The community benefits if we tag unselfishly, for our readers’ enjoyment, and suffers when we tag selfishly, so we’ll get the most possible eyes on our posts, even reluctant ones.
I want to dedicate my Reader time to finding genuine people who create original content. People who broaden my mind by giving me glimpses of their pain, joy or insight; those who see every ‘like’ the way it was intended – as a small token of pleasure, given or received. And I don’t want to wade through something that approaches spam to get to them.
You’ve met tag-hoggers if you’ve ever used the Reader to explore popular topics such as ‘news’, ‘flowers’, or ‘roses’. Some of them are quite entertaining, but others are not.
If their posts doesn’t bother you, or you haven’t noticed what they’re doing, that’s fine. Just scroll past them. But if it does, you have a remedy. Block them from your Reader for ever!
Blocking A Site
Click on the dots and a drop down menu appears.
Click on ‘Block Site’ to prevent the blog from appearing again in your search results.
If you somehow manage to do this by mistake, you have the option to unblock the site immediately afterwards. I couldn’t find a WordPress help document about this feature, despite some searching, so I’m not sure how you’d go on if you later wanted to reinstate a blog you’d accidentally blocked.
If you’re not sure, just scroll past and give the blogger the benefit of the doubt – this time! I’m not suggesting we go wild and block people for the slightest of reasons just because we can – we’re presumably setting a filter which might noticeably slow down our searches if used to excess.
Luckily, these people turn out to be more rare than they appear – a few weeks of using this feature sparingly to block the worst offenders has made my own browsing experience much more pleasant.
Let me know what you think. Am I just being mean, or is this something you do?