2011 WordPress.com Wants After One Year of Hosting 14 Network Blogs

Here we are, a year later, after making a triumphant Boles Blogs Network return to WordPress.com.  We temporarily left WP.com to unwittingly head into the gaping maw of a horrible experience with a self-hosted Movable Type installation — but we quickly remedied our dismay and rejoined the Automattic servers.

We currently publish 14 public blogs on WordPress.com — and that’s a lot of writing and publishing and marshaling of both paid elements and volunteer resources.  We have enjoyed our year back with WordPress.com but there are a few things that we’d still like to see changed to make the service even better.

The first thing that must be fixed is the addition of a Shopping Cart for upgrade purchases.  We spend about $600.00USD a year on buying features on WordPress.com to make the blogging experience the best for you.  We buy the “No Ads” feature for $30.00USD per blog and we pay $12.00USD for domain mapping for each blog.  We used to have the CSS upgrade on all our blogs but, at $15.00USD per blog, that’s an additional $210.00USD we decided to save this year by refusing the upgrade in exchange for looking a little more graphically generic.

The problem with the WordPress.com upgrade process is that you have to purchase EACH ONE for EACH BLOG in MULTIPLE TRANSACTIONS!  That’s 28 separate purchases to add domain mapping and no-advertising for each blog.  MADNESS!  Can you imagine adding 14 more “upgrade transactions” if we’d bitten the bullet and paid for the CSS upgrade?  Never!

In order to upgrade on WordPress.com, you have to input your purchasing information 28 times.  Your credit card information is not stored and either PayPal or your credit card gets charged 28 times.  The easily anticipated outcome of so many identical purchases is that 28 fraud flags are set on your credit card account because WordPress.com can’t find a way to offer buying 28 upgrades in a single credit card transaction.  That is awkward and bad business. No Shopping Cart is costing Automattic money in lost upgrades because of purchasing terror.

Here’s how my credit card looked after spending 90 minutes, and several calls to my credit card company, to “clear” all those ridiculous single purchases:

When I complained a year ago to WordPress.com support that there had to be an easier way to pay for upgrades — when I went through this with them the first time — I was told that adding a Shopping Cart was one of their top priorities.  I was thrilled!

In January of this year, I wrote to support and asked about the Shopping Cart and I was told that it would not be happening, but that they would be happy to send me a single bill for my renewing services that I could pay with one transaction.  I was thrilled a second time!

When I contacted WordPress.com support last month to get that single bill — I was told it was not possible, and I was not thrilled a third time! — and I had to make 28 individual purchases again and that it was up to me to work with my credit card company on the fraud flag issue that WordPress.com was causing because of how they choose to bill for services. Blaming the consumer is not good for business relations.  I don’t think Automattic understands how credit card fraud transactions are triggered and set — and they could easily remedy the pain for us, and their reputation with the credit card companies, if they only cared enough to do so.

Another feature that we need on WordPress.com is the ability to do multi-site searches from within a single blog for all the blogs we operate under our username.  We have a neat new “link” feature that searches the current blog for inserting related links, but having all username blogs linked in the same fashion would really help to cut down on the “outside of WordPress.com” time spent doing Google searches for help in finding the right article in the mix of thousands of posts.

We love the idea of buying theme upgrades, but at $65.00USD or so per blog, the price is prohibitive at $910.00USD if we were to buy one template for each of our blogs.  We would appreciate the capacity to have theme upgrades linked to the user account and not an individual blog.  Or, let us buy a multi-blog license for a theme to promote design unity without bankrupting the blogging bankroll.

Sitemaps on WordPress.com are currently limited to 1,000 articles.  If you have more than 1,000 articles, and if you use an indexing service like Google Webmaster Tools, only the most recent 1,000 articles will be indexed using that Sitemap.  I mentioned that limitation to WordPress.com support and I was told they were working on a solution that might include multiple Sitemaps we could use for submission.  Nothing is yet implemented on that Sitemap front.

We would also love our readers to be able to use their Facebook accounts to comment on our blogs as long as there was a way for us to somehow keep a local copy of their comments. We’re all about identity confirmation and Facebook helps to make that owning of words possible.

With anonymous cowards who comment, there is always an identity problem, and we would love to have a way to — :Blackhole: — those commenters based on IP address or username or email address.  We don’t want them moderated.  We don’t want them marked as Spammers.  We just want them to disappear, forever, without any processing on our end.

The last year on WordPress.com has been a great experience.  I realize WordPress.com works best for a single person writing a single blog — but why can’t one run a 14-blog strong Blog Network on WordPress.com?  If you seek reliability and ease-of-use, then really, there’s no better value in the world for hosting your own blog network on WordPress.com — just as long as your have patience in paying for upgrades and invincibility when it comes to dealing with an unhappy credit card company having to clear fraud flags from purchase behavior that mimics illegality.