I was totally flabbergasted and bemused.

Apologies

Gentle reader, I’m sorry if you were notified about a new blog post but then couldn’t read the post because this blog was temporarily down. So, I thought I’d explain in my usual OTT style, in case you were wondering what was going on and whether I’d been arrested and locked up. Or, at the very least, I’d been bad-mouthing someone, or gone off on a rant about something and been censored.

On Wednesday my blog was suspended for no apparent reason.

What I learned

  • It’s not fatal.
  • If you query such a suspension as a mistake, WordPress responds very rapidly and appropriately. (And considering my site is free, that’s pretty impressive on their part.)
  • Back up you your blog after every single new blog post (with WordPress it’s so easy it’s like ‘stealing candy from a baby’).
  • Finalise the content, and save it somewhere else, for the record, before posting. (Till now, I drafted all blogs in Word first, and then edited them online. Time-consuming, and other people probably don’t, but it’s the way I liked to work. From now on, I’ll make sure the Word version is the final one, and then just copy and paste.)

What happened?

On Wednesday 25 Jan. I posted a new (revamped) blog about ‘on tender/tenterhooks’. As I always do, I publicised it on Twitter, with a link to the blog. I’m glad I did, because a tweep alerted me to this notice that now appeared when he tried to follow the link:

This blog has been archived or suspended in accordance with our Terms of Service. For more information and to contact us please read this support document.

How did I react?

That sounded pretty drastic to me; a visit to my site did nothing to reassure me.

All I was able to see was a kind of disembowelled, disembodied ghost of a dashboard with only a couple of options. No blog post of any kind. Things just seemed to be getting worse and worse. Glug!

Where had all those tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of words posted over the last six or seven years gone?
How dare they snaffle and then annihilate my intellectual property!
How am I going to start again from scratch?
What about those thousands of visits I get very month? How can I build those up again on a new site?

Fortunately, however, and despite my mounting irritation and anxiety, that wraith-like d’board still allowed me to export my content, which I promptly did.


If you’re enjoying this blog, and finding it useful or informative, there’s an easy way for you to find out when I blog again. Sign up and you’ll receive an email to tell you. “Simples!”, as the meerkats say. I blog regularly about issues of English usage, word histories, and whatever language point floats my boat on any given day according to my mood swings. Enjoy!


Reasons for which I surmised it was suspended

Once I got over the initial puzzlement and shock, I asked myself what Terms of Service I could possibly have infringed. The User Guidelines page mentions all the things you’d expect: basically, no hate speech/porn/nicking other people’s stuff/advertising/infringement of copyright.

My brain went into a paroxysm of mini-paranoia.

  • Someone’s got it in for me, and has maliciously reported me.
  • My blog’s been hacked.
  • Oh dear, I’ve used an image that is copyright, and the copyright lawyers have got it in for me.
  • The OED have complained, because I quote profusely from it, and have got it in for me.
  • I’ve used ‘naughty’ words (such as ‘toilet’), and somehow this has been picked up by a naughty-word-cleansing algorithm, which also has it in for me. (Better half was adamant it was my title ‘toilet talk’ that had caused it.)
  • I included a sarcastic mention of the SNP in a blog, and they’ve got it in for me.

And so on and so forth.

My head is going to explode.

At the back of my mind I thought: ‘Shurely, this is shome ridiculoush mishtake?’ At the same time, I was incensed because the notification did not mention a specific fault or infringement.

I felt myself plummeting into a literally (?) Kafkaesque nightmare world of being tried by an invisible judge for a nameless crime. (The ToS page said something along the lines of ‘The final decision is ours’.)

Why had it been suspended?

Fortunately, the ghost dashboard also allows you to send a message if you think your blog has been suspended in error.

I sent such a message, explaining that my blog is purely about ‘language’, and wondered how many days or weeks it would take to hear back (if I ever did).

Well, ‘my relief was palpable’ (what a strong collocation that is, isn’t it?) when, within the space of a couple of hours a Community Guardian got back to say:

Your site was mistakenly flagged by our automated anti-spam controls. We have reviewed your site and have removed the suspension notice.

They also apologised for the error and any inconvenience.

I’m impressed, actually, by the speed of response.

So there you have it. The culprit was an automated routine, not a person.

So, all’s well that ends well, but the answer raised another question: what in my site fell foul of the automated routine? And, might it happen again? Well, at least I know what to do now.

I asked if any specific words might have caused it, and they told me that doesn’t happen.

In any case, I’m thankful to WordPress for such a quick response. And I’m thankful that I don’t have to start from scratch. Phew, and double-phew! Everything is luxe, calme et volupté once again.


‘Luxe, calme et volupté’, Matisse, 1904, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Title taken from Baudelaire’s poem L’invitation au voyage, from Les fleurs du mal.

18 Comments

  1. What a terrifying experience, Jeremy! I was holding my breath waiting to hear/read how it was resolved. But I must admit to a comfortable smugness: I ALWAYS draft my posts in Word, check and double check and spellcheck, make sure the pics are right, save to my hard drive, then post on WP. We editors generally develop nit-pickiness to an irritating degree.
    PS: I get a great deal of pleasure from your (tidy) ramblings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Sue. Yes, you’re so right to do it that way. I missed out the bit about saving to hard drive. I now save doubly, to an external drive and to Dropbox, in case one or t’other goes wrong. I’m glad you enjoy my ‘ramblings’. I’m trying to rain [sic] myself in nowadays, and make them a bit shorter.

      Like

  2. My experience is a bit different. It is (was) a blog about “adult comic parodies”, created about 7 years ago. Suddenly it disappeared, showing “This site has been archived or suspended for a violation of our Terms of Service.”
    No warning and no additional info was given.

    All content was legal according Dutch laws (parody-exception). Some blog entries had a tiny picture of the original example included in low quality to show that my parody was based on someone else’s work. Looks like “fair use” to me.

    I immediately responded to the given feedback link and also wrote them a separate message about why it was suspended / blocked and tried to contact them on the twitter account. Several days have passed without any reply from them.

    The blog has been completely vanished so I’m not able to access any blog data anymore to make a back-up or so.

    Like

  3. Backups… yeah… let’s say, lesson learned…

    Some may think this is to be expected with a free service like this, but “free” for you doesn’t mean they just give away their things. After all, they earn money by adding ads to the content *you* make available.

    As I’m writing this down the next message comes in from wordpress:

    ——————————-
    Upon review of your WordPress.com site we have determined that your content does not align with our Terms of Service or User Guidelines. As stated in our Terms, we may choose to stop providing service to an account at any time, for any reason, or none at all.

    As such, your site has been suspended and will not be returned.
    ——————————-

    How helpful. Still don’t know what I did wrong to get my blog deleted. They also included a link, which will be active for 2 weeks only, where I can download a backup from the site. Too bad the link does not work, and never will. It points to my ../wp-admin/ directory, which doesn’t exist anymore.

    Needless to say that I’m extremely dissapointed by the way Automattic handles these issues.

    Like

    1. I am very sorry to hear that. It certainly is rather shocking that they have effectively destroyed your content and not even given a reason. You might try one more email, to see if they can give you a proper link?

      Like

  4. I sent a polite reply right away about the non-working link and that I really want to get that backup with 7 years of articles. No response yet…

    Like

    1. On top of the vanished site, the people at wordpress.com now removed my whole account without answering my questions about how to get hold of my backup.

      People, be warned…

      Like

  5. Thanks, but it didn’t help 😦

    Sent 3 message’s about the non-working backup link without any result. Still no sign of life from the people at Automattic.

    Like

  6. Hi Jeremy, I recently had my website taken down for no reason, and I don’t have a ghost dashboard. My Sites page? Only my 1st site, not the one I had taken down. So I crossed my fingers and went to the website (freegamespromotion.wordpress.com), only to find: Your site has been archived or suspended. So I went to the ToS, looked around and saw that your site could be taken down for illegal things. But then I remembered, my site is a free games PROMOTION website, and what noted me towards this was the fact that downloadsims.wordpress.com was still up, and that’s pure free sims expansions. So, how else do I message them? (Please don’t take down ^, because that is my only source of Sims expansions.)

    Like

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