When WordPress.com first introduced the Freshly Pressed concept, I was quite excited. Here was an opportunity to learn about blogs about which I was unaware — with 50 million blogs being counted in 2006 and nearly 200,000 new ones being made every day, it’s impossible to sort the wheat from the chaff without some kind of assistance. According to Joy Victory, the Editorial Czar at WordPress, it is not too difficult to get your WordPress blog featured on the Freshly Pressed page.

Each post that makes it to Freshly Pressed contains original content created by the WordPress user. Bad stuff includes (but isn’t limited to) plagiarism, hate speech, fear-mongering, adult/mature content, improperly used images that belong to someone else, spam or content that is primarily advertorial.

It’s a relief to know this because if you look across the Boles Blogs Network you will find no so-called “Bad Stuff.” For the last few days, I have been wondering if the Freshly Pressed page was stuck somehow, because one of the blogs I saw getting featured was getting featured every day, with the rest of the featured blogs moving their way down the page. Here is a screen grab from this week of the Freshly Pressed page with the blog in question circled in purple:

It was only after looking at the page for a few days in a row that I realized that the stationary “fresh” blog was there not because it was fresh but rather because it is a paid advertisement for Internet Explorer 9. The advertisement tells us that WordPress.com blogging gets better with their new beta browser. I didn’t even click through to the blog because it felt invasive and just a bit too much like Spam for my liking. This was the point at which I realized the irony of the situation.

Ms. Victory had explicitly stated that the only path to being featured on the Freshly Pressed page was, in her words, “all about the content.” It is great to think in theory that you can write something fantastic and get featured as our own Boles Blues blog entry, American Folklore and the Blues Black Cat Bone did in July, 2010. It is a feeling that gets just a little deflated when you see organizations with enough money pushing their way to the top of the page — not through the strength of the content, but by the strength of the checkbook.

I understand that 30 million Windows Live Spaces blogs are being transferred to WordPress. I don’t even mind it when Ms. Victory posts about great new features for Internet Explorer 9 users on the official WordPress blog. However, when you only have 11 slots designated for Freshly Pressed blogs and one of them is suddenly a Sponsored Blog that never moves down the page, it has a tremendous effect that diminishes the quality of the Freshly Pressed page.

8 Comments

  1. This is an interesting take on the meaning of “Freshly Pressed,” Gordon. I don’t think Joy gets much of an editorial say in what sponsored advertising is placed on that page, but you make a good point that “Freshly Pressed” has come to mean something important and exciting to the WordPress.com community — and when a valuable slot for a blogger is taken over by a paid post — well, it does tend to quickly go stale with disappointment.

  2. Not only the fact that it takes a FP slot out of the running, but it actually HIDES a FP’ed post. If you go to the previous day’s postings, you’ll find at least one post that seems to not have shown up the day that the other’s were FP’ed. So it eventually shows up on the FP list, but not until it’s moved from under the sponsored post’s location.