(UPDATE:  UrbanSemiotic.com is now hosted on Movable Type 4.1.  We are keeping this article in publication to keep the record preserved.)

I love WordPress.com and I moved my standalone blog from being self-hosted to the .COM version because I didn’t want to deal with any of the backend technical stuff. 

That doesn’t mean problems and bugs aren’t an issue, though, and there is a current bug that I call a WordPress.com SuperBug — a regular “bug” is bothersome, a “SuperBug” modifies published content — and here’s why.
WordPress.com

There is a known problem on WordPress.com where Published posts can mysteriously become Private posts.


That means an article everyone used to be able to search and see is
made Private so no one can see it unless they have the direct URL.
That’s a Big Problem. A SuperBug Big Problem.

If I decide I want to make a Published post Private, I have to edit the
post, change a radio button from “Published” to “Private” and then Save
the post to update its status in the system.
There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the how or the why of
the SuperBug — it just seems to decide on its own which posts to make
Private that were once Published.

This is a pernicious problem that should be immediately resolved and I
hate talking about this in a public post — public so far, at least —
but you need to know some content may be inadvertently missing without
my knowledge.
It looks like this SuperBug was first reported in the WordPress.com
Support forum on February 15.

Sunday I reported in the support forum one of my articles — Jesus Found Dead in His Grave — was taken Private from Published.
This morning I returned to the support forum to ask how we — as Blog
Authors on WordPress.com — can easily check to see if other Published posts have mysteriously become Private.

The hard answer, it seems, is to just page through every article title
and look for the pernicious “Private” word the system adds to your post
title. Then you have to open that post, mark it “Published” and then
re-publish it.

What a mess!

My wrist is killing me from clicking through around 1,000 posts looking
for a “Private” that should not be there, but I’m glad I did because I
found a second post that was taken Private from Published and I had no
idea this had happened behind my back!
In a curious and ironic — and perhaps even fascinating twist — my How to Provide Online Tech Support
article was also made Private by the WordPress.com SuperBug!
Yeesh!
How many other Published Posts have been taken Private across the
current 720,000 WordPress.com hosting service without the Blog Author
even being aware of the danger?

We have Authors here on this Urban Semiotic blog, but none of them has ever had Admin area status higher than “Contributor” — so no staff trickery is possible.
I am calling on you to do some searches on this Urban Semiotic blog
for your favorite articles.
Can you find them?
Have they disappeared?

If you have a link here, or a Trackback to a certain article, can you
please click on those links and see if a pernicious SuperBug “Private”
has been added to the title of the post? If so, that means the post is
not visible to the rest of the world and you need to contact me
ASAP and leave a comment here reporting your test results.

I guess I’m doomed to paging through all my article titles every day
until confirmation that this SuperBug has been quashed becomes a
reality.
Let’s see if this post gets bitten by the mysterious WordPress.com
SuperBug and gets taken Private by the system!
There may not be active human censorship going on behind the backend
scenes at WordPress.com — but doesn’t allowing the system to take
Public Posts Private serve the same end?

32 Comments

  1. Thanks, Emily!
    You’ll have to keep checking until this is resolved, because the “Privatization” can happen at any time with any article.
    There’s no predicting how or when it will happen so what might be Published today could be Private tomorrow!

  2. I actually got a little concerned when I saw the post turn private. I thought that perhaps someone had threatened your life, or something along those lines, and made you do it. How sad, I thought, that someone might react to a blog post like that.

  3. I actually got a little concerned when I saw the post turn private. I thought that perhaps someone had threatened your life, or something along those lines, and made you do it. How sad, I thought, that someone might react to a blog post like that.

  4. GORDON!
    If you EVER EVER EVER see something like that happen again, please let me know. Could you see the Private post or did it just disappear?
    I think it was gone for about 5-6 hours right in “Prime Time” viewing and posting. Those are hours and visitors that we can never get back.
    It took me a long while to figure out what had happened. The post disappeared on my Blackberry but I could see it here — because I was logged in — it was totally bizarre.
    You don’t see 99% of the hate waiting in the moderation queue. There’s some nasty stuff there from self-proclaimed “Christians.”

  5. GORDON!
    If you EVER EVER EVER see something like that happen again, please let me know. Could you see the Private post or did it just disappear?
    I think it was gone for about 5-6 hours right in “Prime Time” viewing and posting. Those are hours and visitors that we can never get back.
    It took me a long while to figure out what had happened. The post disappeared on my Blackberry but I could see it here — because I was logged in — it was totally bizarre.
    You don’t see 99% of the hate waiting in the moderation queue. There’s some nasty stuff there from self-proclaimed “Christians.”

  6. It actually just disappeared. The only way I knew it had ever existed other than I had read it was the comments on it were there.
    Ironically the post was one of the hot posts on wordpress at the time it disappeared.
    I think you should make a post breaking down number of comments and type of remark made like
    10 people wrote that I am scum
    20 people wrote that I will burn eternally
    8 people quoted the Bible.
    I will let you know immediately if I should ever see it again.

  7. It actually just disappeared. The only way I knew it had ever existed other than I had read it was the comments on it were there.
    Ironically the post was one of the hot posts on wordpress at the time it disappeared.
    I think you should make a post breaking down number of comments and type of remark made like
    10 people wrote that I am scum
    20 people wrote that I will burn eternally
    8 people quoted the Bible.
    I will let you know immediately if I should ever see it again.

  8. Gordon —
    So the article was gone but the Comments remained here?
    It is a hot post again — I just posted a new post on the hotness of that post!
    :mrgreen:
    That’s a funny idea for a post, Gordon, but that means I’d have to read the entire hate comment!
    😉

  9. Gordon —
    So the article was gone but the Comments remained here?
    It is a hot post again — I just posted a new post on the hotness of that post!
    :mrgreen:
    That’s a funny idea for a post, Gordon, but that means I’d have to read the entire hate comment!
    😉

  10. engtech!
    Great to have you with us! Welcome to Urban Semiotic!
    Good luck with your export file. Let us know if you find any Private gremlins bothering you there!
    I wish we had some automatic way of looking in our Admin interface to present all articles posted as Private. That would help a lot!
    Oh, and thanks again for writing the great Tag Cloud that we happily use here!
    http://urbansemiotic.com/cloud/

  11. LOL your comments I copied and pasted below are both ironic and funny.
    I had the same thing happen to me not that long ago. And, just last night after adding the Sonific widget to my sidebar, when I clicked “view page” it wouldn’t view the page and instead my browser download bar opened up and started to download the page as an .html file!
    Also, what’s weird is that I couldn’t use an apostrophe (‘) – it just wouldn’t let me – instead, it would open ‘find’ in my browser as though I was going to do a search.
    Annoying and frustrating.
    I don’t like it when things like that happen – when a widget is added, like the Sonific, which I gather is a type of plug-in, it’s like a big hole in space for any intruder to come in. That’s exactly what it felt like. I could hear the stir of my hard drive and quite frankly, it’s as though it was listening to someone elses’ commands, not my own!
    ___
    “My wrist is killing me from clicking through around 1,000 posts looking for a “Private” that should not be there, but I’m glad I did because I found a second post that was taken Private from Published and I had no idea this had happened behind my back!
    In a curious and ironic — and perhaps even fascinating twist — my How to Provide Online Tech Support article was also made Private by the WordPress.com SuperBug!
    Yeesh!”

  12. Hi ascreamingwriter!
    Ack! We need to get this Published-to-Private WordPress.com SuperBug fixed ASAP! I’m sorry it bit you! I hope you reported it to Feedback so everything can be logged and tracked.
    I try to keep a lot of the fancy Widgets that toot and smile off my sidebar. It adds to the page load time and, as you suggest, it can bog down both you and your end users in an undelightful experience.
    I hope you reported the apostrophe issue! That needs to be tracked as well.
    Thanks for the kind support! I hope you stick around, though I understand because of privacy reasons, why you might need to leave WordPress.com.

  13. Welcome to Urban Semiotic, drmike!
    Yikes!
    It happens on the latest Firefox using Mac, too.
    It does seem to happen posts that are edited. As I look back I realize I went back and changed a couple of posts with images to fix a padding problem with my new theme.
    I guess the quick workaround to avoiding the SuperBug is to be really careful when you edit an old article to make sure it doesn’t go Private when you’re finished.
    I also noticed a couple of times when I edited a published comment to remove private information from view, the radio button would change on its own from Approved to Moderated. I clicked it back to Approved before saving the edit and I thought it was odd — now I realize I guess I should send in some Feedback on the matter.
    The URL you provide talks about a soft reset — I didn’t ever do any refreshing. I just opened the old posts, edited them and saved them as usual. No refreshing by me was done at any time.

  14. I have too many posts on too many blogs to page through them all. I did run through them “by month” in the manage tab on the admin on one where I only post one item per day.
    I guess a silver lining of my own struggles with the public to private bug (and hey, could our Executive Branch have contracted this?) is that I found your cool blog!

  15. Welcome to Urban Semiotic, farlane! You can always export your blog and then do a search on the line of code as Lloyd suggests above to check everything is working right.
    I thank you for the kind words and we hope you’ll stick around a bit! 😀