Matt Mullenweg draws wordpress.org in muddy waters

Following what will (at best) be considered as a colossal error of judgment from Matt Mullenweg, who ran a link farm (aka "search engine spam") on wordpress.org, Google has responded by removing from its index more than 160,000 dummy pages of pseudo articles published on wordpress.org and nullified its PageRank. This last punishment is, as dr Dave says, the equivalent of getting spanked publicly on Times Square with everybody watching. "Unlucky in cards", indeed. [Update: Google has reinstated the PageRank of wordpress.org after the site was cleaned up.]

I have a personal take on this subject, simply as a neighbor of wordpress.org (both sites are hosted by TextDrive):

If that's true it's really ironic to see WP's main developer involved in SEOs dirty tricks, knowing that some of those guys are responsible for all the shit-load [Ed. i.e. comment spam and referrer spam] that hit our sites and decrease TxD servers availability. Justifying this by "the money is helping to cover his costs and hire their first employee" is clearly not enough. Why not sell heroine on the streets then, it might be even more lucrative? The end does not justify the means.

And that's  also bad for TextDrive.

"Do not attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity" as the adage says. Here I'm more inclined to think about a big error of judgment.

See also Suw Charman's take on the Wordpress linkfarm furore.

Update: Matt has written a long answer and a short summary:

I guess the problem with a long piece is many just skim it, and the more words there are the more chance there is for the meaning to be lost. I’ve given a lot of thought to putting things as succintly as possible: Knowing what I knew then, I would probably make the same decision; knowing what I know now I wouldn’t even consider it. Not thinking through all the ramifications was a big mistake. So was not having more community dialog from the beginning, which would have caught this earlier. I am extremely sorry for both, and it won’t happen again. Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive. Amazingly, WordPress has gotten more donations in the last 4 days then it has in the past year — what an incredible community.

It's good to see that the WP community was supportive.

4 Comments

Maybe if we, the users, were a little quicker to pay for the services we use while Matt scrambled to cover the costs–nobody predicted the growth rate WP has seen–he wouldn’t have been faced with that tough decision. I don’t defend his actions, but I am donating three figures today.

Yes Andy, but as Michel Valdrighi (one of the WP developers) pointed to me, the money Matt was drawing from those blackhat SEOs practices go to Wordpress Inc, not to WP.org. I'm not familiar enough with the WP scheme to fully understand all the differences between the two.

It seems that Merlin Mann has joined in on the linkfarm mania with his new "store" on 43folders.com, linked directly from www.43folders.com, no less. See it for yourself: http://store.43folders.com/

I get a 403 Forbidden on store.43folders.com

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