Sometimes, when I want to try something out, or I am writing on a topic that I’m not sure I will continue to have enough passion to write about, I will start a free blog on WordPress.com to see how it goes. Often, that free blog satisfies my needs when it comes to that topic, and other times, I will end up transferring most of the content to a new WordPress hosted blog.
Self-Hosted WordPress versus WordPress.com
Quick Refresher for those not intimately familiar with WordPress as a blogging platform. There are three ways to have a WordPress blog.
- Use the WordPress.com website where your blog will be hosted for free by the same folks who run and develop WordPress. Your domain name will be whatever.wordpress.com. There are various rules that come with this setup, including being unable to run most third-party plugins, and not being allow to use advertising like Google AdSense on your blog.
- Use WordPress.com to host your blog, but pay to upgrade to the Pro version. Then you can use plugins, have advertising, and use your own domain name. For example, just whatever.com.
- Pay a webhost to host your WordPress blog. This is referred to as a self-hosted blog, and it is supported by WordPress.org, instead of WordPress.com. You can do whatever you want, including modifying the underlying WordPress binaries, if you want to be so bold. This freelance writing blog, for example is a self-hosted blog.
I have a handful of blogs on WordPress.com that fall under #1 above. They are, frankly, neglected and underutilized. They go months without an update and when I do update them, the updates tend to be hasty. For example, I started A Freelancer’s Writing with the intention of linking to all (most) of my published writings with the idea of being able to show friends and family what I do, since freelance writing is apparently a difficult job to comprehend for those who don’t do it.
The remainder of this article speaks only of the blogs I have hosted for free on WordPress.com. Everything else was unaffected.
WordPress Suspended My Account and Suspended My Blog
One of my blogs has a broken links checker. Essentially, it follows the links on my website and detects when those links are broken. For the most part, I use it to make sure that I didn’t accidentally delete something, move something, or just cut and paste the wrong URL. However, earlier this week, I noticed that one of the reported broken links went to afreelancerswriting.wordpress.com. When I tried to login in, I got a message that my account was suspended.
This is where it gets tricky. The WordPress forums’ rules state the you can’t really discuss why or how an account was suspended, so I didn’t really know what to do. Worse, the email address that I used to sign up for my WordPress.com account wasn’t active because I didn’t think I was still using it, so I didn’t move it over when I ditched Dreamhost. After poking around, I found one single page that said I should contact WordPress for help. I filled out the request and said that I didn’t know why or how my account was suspended.
Fortunately, instead of any rigamarole, my account was reactivated. I never got a notice or response, so I’m not sure if my inquiry worked, or if it was something automated. However, when I got into my account, I found out that four or five of my blogs were “archived or suspended for violating our terms of service.”
That puzzled me as well, because none of these blogs really does ANYTHING, let alone doing anything unsavory. In fact, two or three of the blogs are old blogs that I setup back when I was naive enough to believe that there was any strategy to playing the game Mafia Wars. The posts were nothing more than “strategy” tips. They didn’t link anywhere, there weren’t any pictures to violate copyright, and they hadn’t been updated in years.
When your WordPress.com blog gets suspended, it is a little easier to figure out what to do. A message on the dashboard with a link to let them know something is wrong is right on top. Again, I send a quick message saying that while not the world’s best blogs, these blogs weren’t violating any TOS.
It seems that they are coming back online, including A Freelancer’s Writing, one by one, again without any sort of message or explanation. Since these are all neglected little side projects for me, I can file this whole thing under No Harm, No Foul, but I can’t help but wonder if other writers working online got caught up in some sort of algorithmic sweep.
If you lost your WordPress.com blog, do contact them. They may get them re-enabled for you quickly, assuming, of course, that you really weren’t violating any of the rules.
Did you have a WordPress.com blog suspended? Did you get it back? Do you know why?