For those fortunate enough not to know what I’m talking about, I’ll explain. Recently, clicking ‘Like’ on a blogger’s post has often had no effect. It took some experimentation to work out why.
Likes would work if I was signed on in The Reader, but once I’d clicked through to visit a blogger’s website, clicking the ‘Like’ button did not work. An empty white box would briefly flash up then disappear, but my like was not registered. If I tried to leave a comment instead, I’d be asked to fill in all my details, as if I wasn’t signed in.
It got worse. Sometimes I could not even like or reply to comments on my own site, which was both irritating and baffling. If I happened to be answering comments via The Reader, or was using my notifications panel, all was well, but once I’d clicked the tempting ‘View Site’ button in the control panel, and tried to answer a comment from my blog, I might as well have been a complete stranger: I seemed to have been logged out.
I discovered various work-arounds that helped, but they were awkward (if you’ve missed me interacting with you recently, now you know why). For me, reading and interacting is as much a part of blogging as writing and I found I didn’t enjoy the one without the other.
I left a request for help on WordPress.com’s forum, but the timing was bad. Everyone was away at a meeting and I didn’t get an answer. It was tempting to blame WordPress, even though I knew in my heart of hearts that this kind of bug could not be happening site-wide. Liking and commenting are such essential parts of blogging that site-wide problems were sure to be highlighted and resolved if it was under their control. Luckily, I figured it out.
Why Likes and Comments stopped working
Turns out it’s a side effect of one of Safari’s default privacy settings. An update to my MacBook’s software (I’m on MacOS Mojave) had at some stage silently altered my browser settings. For those unfamiliar with the term browser – it’s the thing you click on to access (or browse) the internet. In my case it’s Safari, but you could be using Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Opera, etc.
The recent (and justified) furore over Facebook privacy concerns led to Safari blocking our ability to move from a site we had logged in on to another site and remain logged in. And that’s the issue. While we might think of WordPress.com as a single site, it is a fellowship of many millions of individual sites. (That’s why instead of clicking on just one ‘Accept cookies’ banner to comply with European law, we have to click on a hundred or so).
When using the latest version of Safari on its default setting, even though we have signed in at one place (for example in The Reader or on our own site), we’ll become anonymous when we click through to visit our blogging buddies. The only way our personal picture or logo can appear when we click Like is if the system knows who it is from. By allowing Safari the power to track us across sites, it will remember who we are and the fact we are signed in on WordPress blog A when we visit blogs B,C and D.
How to re-enable likes and comments while using safari
If you’re a Safari user and have been unable to like or comment on some WordPress posts, try the following steps:
1. Click on the word ‘Safari’ at the top of your screen as shown below:
2. Click on ‘Preferences…’. A menu pane will appear.
3. Click on Privacy, as shown below:
4. If the box to the left of ‘Prevent cross-site tracking’ is ticked, untick it to allow cross-site tracking.
Note: I haven’t experimented with any of the other settings on this menu, but with all these options unticked, as they are shown above, my powers to like posts and comment on them have been restored. Yipee!
5. You should now be able to like and comment on posts across sites if you are signed in on any WordPress site.
Warning: Be aware that this setting will enable or disable ALL cross-site tracking, which might include some tracking you would prefer not to enable such as by Facebook or advertisers. At least you have the choice. If you know an easy way to allow cross-site tracking only by WordPress sites, please let me know.
How to enable likes and comments Using other browsers
I’m not sure this will be a problem yet on other browsers unless you’ve prevented sites from setting cookies or tracking you across sites, in which case you’ll be able to reverse the setting if you choose to. If you are experiencing problems, search for ‘allow cross-site tracking on’ plus the name of the browser you are using, for example: allow cross-site tracking on Google Chrome.
The exact wording will vary depending on the browser, and unfortunately may include working your way through double negatives (e.g. disable ‘Send a Do Not Track request’). I’m not familiar with all browsers, but I hope this may be a pointer in the right direction. Good luck!
Can’t like or comment because you don’t have a WordPress.com account?
If you’d like to interact with WordPress blogs, it’s easy to register. You don’t have to blog unless you want to, and you’ll find support to help guide you through the steps. Just search for Create an account on WordPress.com and follow the instructions.
I share what I can because I know how frustrating it is when things go wrong, but I don’t claim to be an expert. If you have corrections or can usefully add to anything I’ve written here, please let me know.