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Is Jetpack Misleading Users to Promote WordPress.com?

Are you using Jetpack’s publicize feature on your site?

Recently while browsing through Facebook, we found several folks sharing links where WordPress replaced the site domain. Along with that, the status also read like this: Michelle Schulp published an article in WordPress.

Facebook Status being hijacked by JetPack publicize

This was alarming, so we decided to investigate the issue.

When you click on the link, it takes you the website. However when you click on WordPress, it takes you to a WordPress.com signup page on Facebook.

Landing page for WordPress.com's app

We looked further to see if these sites were hosted on WordPress.com, a blog hosting service. Most of them weren’t. (see the difference between free WordPress.com vs self-hosted WordPress.org)

However, they all had one thing in common. All of them were using the Jetpack plugin which is created by the parent company of WordPress.com, Automattic.

In order to verify our findings, we decided to install Jetpack on a test site. We replicated the issue, and it is connected with the publicize feature of the plugin.

When setting up the publicize feature, you are asked to connect with Facebook and grant several permissions.

Facebook permissions for using Publicize feature in JetPack

Allowing WordPress.com to post on Facebook for you

During the permission process, you see the blue W logo instead of the grey W logo. How is that different?

Well, one is for WordPress.com (the blog hosting service) and the other is for WordPress.org (the software that we all come to love and use).

Confusing isn’t it.

Often beginners do not know the difference, so they think they’re really authorizing their WordPress site, not a third-party WordPress.com platform (see the relations and differences)

Furthermore, the wording through out the process does not make it clear that you’re authorizing WordPress.com rather than your actual site. See the confirmation screenshot below:

Connected to Facebook

Now if you want publicize to do what it’s suppose to (automatically share your post when its published), this is what your users will see.

A Post shared on Facebook using JetPack's publicize module

We did some further research to find that it’s not a new problem. It has been reported several times since 2013.

Considering Jetpack is auto-installed and auto-activated on several major WordPress hosting providers by default, this should be corrected to decrease the confusion between WordPress.com vs self-hosted WordPress.org.

While we understand that Facebook has it’s limitation, there are certain things that can and should be corrected to better inform users.

First, in the link data below post title, it should actually show the user’s domain to promote their brand instead of showing WordPress. As Jeremy from the Jetpack team pointed out in the comments below, this is not possible due to Facebook restrictions.

Second, the wording that says Syed Balkhi published an article on WordPress should be rephrased to clear confusion.

One of the user who reported the issue, offered a suggestion on wording: Vikas shared a link via Publicize instead of saying Vikas published an article on WordPress.

Another alternative could be: … shared a link via JetPack because that’s what is really going on.

Lastly, in the confirmation dialog, it should say “you have successfully connected Jetpack with Facebook” or “you have successfully connected your Facebook account with Jetpack”. [Update: Ticket #1476 created by Jeremy]

We hope these suggestions help improve the Jetpack Publicize experience for users.

Jetpack Image

Jetpack is a great plugin for beginners who move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org because it allows you to retain a lot of cool features of WordPress.com while giving you the power and freedom of WordPress.org.

Note: The goal of this post is not to start a flame war rather it is to encourage discussion and share our opinion with the community. We have tremendous respect and appreciation for Automattic and the work they’ve done.

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Reader Interactions

29 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. hi mr. experts! i’m inos. i am a real wp beginner. now i’m starting building my personal blog. i’ve decided to have a personal hosting for my blog. after some experience in wordpress.com, i’m interested much in some inherit features of wordpress.com, which one of them is the capability of showing our blog posts in wp readers. i’ve successfully installed jetpack, but i don’t see any of my blog posts appears in wp reader. how to do so? thank you..

    • Hi Inos,

      If the URL of your website has changed after moving to self hosted WordPress.org website, then your users will need to Follow your website again. They will see your posts in reader under Followed websites.

      Admin

  2. The wordpress word is there because its the WP FB app that is being used, i dont think you can do much about it. If i has to be replaced by blog title or site title , then there has to be some way to dynamically change the app settings. Doubt there is such a way as of now

  3. That is very sneaky indeed!

    I use Jetpack for some of it’s better features, but I’ve never liked Publicize.

    WP to Twitter is better.

  4. Don’t use Jetpack. Use properly-written plug-ins like Next Scripts. They are more reliable and configurable.

    • Hi this comment is for ROZ, just wanted to say thank you for recommending NextScript plug-in to post my blog to social media platforms, instead of JetPack. NextScript made sense and allowed me to specify the post going to my Fan page and NOT my personal page and was very easily configurable. Much appreciated, and much better plug-in!

  5. Do you recommend another plugin other than Jetpack to pubish WP posts onto social networks?

    I use Jetpack & really don’t have to much of an issue w/ the wordpress promotion, but I was told that “Jetpack in particular is a very bloated plugin as it has a lot of features and mini-plugins built-in. Jetpack’s source code is even bigger than the WordPress code. If you’re not using majority of its features, it will be best to deactivate and delete it.”

    I only use Publicize and the social icons on each blog post. Thanks in advance!

  6. First of all, @SyedBalkhi you again moved to Disqus!
    Lately JetPack keep coming back for negative things. Its just a feature packed sub-system (I will not call it a plugin), but probably too much in a package.

  7. Forgive me but now I’m confused :) I have a WordPress.org site self-hosted at http://LeLacAppelle.com. I use (and love) JetPack to publicize my posts to Facebook Page. I don’t see any reference to WordPress.com in my Facebook Page Posts EXCEPT when I’m logged in as an admin/manager to my Facebook Page. Even then it only says “Posted by WordPress” in gray and a note upon hovering over the question mark “only people that manage this page can see who posted”. Can you look at my Facebook Page at the first two most-recent posts and tell me if you see any reference to WordPress.com ? https://www.facebook.com/TheLakeIsCalling OH WAIT… I’m posting from my WordPress.org Site > JetPack > to a Facebook “PAGE”. Is that the difference? If I were to post to my own “Personal” Facebook Profile/Page, then would I see the behavior you speak of ?

  8. I hope this Jetpack vs Facebook issue can be figured out. But I suppose the best way to share articles or blog posts is to do it manually. Nobody likes a machine anyway. I have also heard that posting manually vs automatically can be discovered by Google the same as it can be by users and SEO Juice is distributed differently.

    • “… posting manually vs automatically can be discovered by Google”. I’d like to see something to back that up. Seriously, unless the automation includes some sort of identifier this isn’t possible. Nor do think Google cares. Why would they?

  9. This is a somewhat tangential question, but isn’t the publicize feature “implicit sharing” via an app, according to the facebook algorithm?

    For the pages I manage, we’ve taken to not using publicize via JetPack for blog content after last spring’s changes to the algorithm that deemphasizes implicit sharing via apps (http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2014/05/news-feed-fyi-giving-people-more-control-over-when-they-share-from-apps/)

    Manually copying article links and using the facebook link debugger to make sure they’re working the way we want has the best effect in content actually being viewed: https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/

      • I think I closed my earlier reply without posting it, sorry

        Paste this after the newsroom.fb.com base url and see if that works for you: /news/2014/05/news-feed-fyi-giving-people-more-control-over-when-they-share-from-apps/

        Sharing via jetpack is deemphasized in your readers’ news feeds vs. taking the exact same url and manually copying and pasting it into the “share this” box on a facebook page, that’s what the fb algorithm change does, as far as I can tell.

        Not a different link, just a different treatment of the link based on where/how it is submitted into the fb software.

        Speaking of fb algorithm and pages, there are plenty of other concerns for page owners about how content you share is NOT viewed – not jetpack related, but content issues: http://newsroom.fb.com/news/2014/11/news-feed-fyi-reducing-overly-promotional-page-posts-in-news-feed/

  10. I’ll be honest, I did think this was straight up self-promotion by the WP.com folks. But as usual in these things there’s another option: they’re using a common app to making sharing easier and not confuse the issue by asking for keys. (Apologies for assuming the worst, Jetpack folks)

    My preference is for them to document the current behaviour in the app to be a bit more transparent about things, and give an option to use an alternative custom app. But that’s adding a significant chunk of functionality and I’m guessing the Jetpack team are quite strict about any additional lines of code going in to combat potential bloat.

  11. Hey there!

    I work for Automattic, and I’m part of the Jetpack team.

    First of all, thanks for the feedback!

    That can indeed be a confusing issue. As you mentioned, Facebook has its limitations, making things complicated or sometimes impossible whenever you want to customize the output of an update posted from an app.

    First, in the link data below post title, it should actually show the user’s domain to promote their brand instead of showing WordPress.

    To use your own site name or brand there, you’d have to use your own Facebook app. Since Jetpack aims to help you easily push your content to multiple Social Networks, we won’t ask you to create a Facebook developer account, create an app, change the app settings, and copy app ID and secrets somewhere in your WordPress dashboard. That’d be the opposite of “easy” :)

    Second, the wording that says Syed Balkhi published an article on WordPress should be rephrased to clear confusion.

    That’s not something you can change, whether you use Jetpack or any other app to post to your Facebook Profile. Facebook itself builds the update and the sharing sentence based on the app settings and the object types. You can read more about it here:

    https://developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph/creating-custom-stories/

    One of the user who reported the issue, offered a suggestion on wording: Vikas shared a link via Publicize instead of saying Vikas published an article on WordPress.
    Another alternative could be: … shared a link via JetPack because that’s what is really going on.

    That would indeed be an option. It actually used to say “WordPress.com” instead of “WordPress” in the past. We changed it to “WordPress” because Jetpack users found it confusing to see “WordPress.com” there.

    We’ve considered other options as well, “Jetpack” being one of them. Unfortunately that’s not possible with the way our system is built at the moment, since we use a single app for WordPress.com sites and Jetpack sites.

    It’s still on our roadmap, though! We’re currently working on a lot of improvements for the Publicize module, and will release these changes soon in an update that we’ve dubbed “Publicize Next”. You can check a few of the things we’re working on here:
    https://github.com/Automattic/jetpack/milestones/Publicize%20Next

    Lastly, in the confirmation dialog, it should say “you have successfully connected Jetpack with Facebook” or “you have successfully connected your Facebook account with Jetpack”.

    I’m not sure I understand your suggestion here. Do you mean to replace “your blog” by “Jetpack”?

    We hope these suggestions help improve the Jetpack Publicize experience for users.

    They will! We’re always happy to iterate and improve things based on user feedback.

    If you find bugs, you can also contact us directly or create an issue on GitHub!

    • Thanks for the detailed reply Jeremy. I understand the technical limitations on why a user cannot change the verb “published an article on WordPress”

      My point is that you (Jetpack team) can as an app developer to accurately represent the action, and I’m glad to see that you guys are already working on that.

      This confusion can be solved if Jetpack uses a separate Publicize app for .org sites rather than using the main WP.com app — this keeps the “easiness” entact for users :)

      As for the confirmation dialogue, currently it says your blog is now connected with Facebook. This implies a direct connection, but there is a third-party involved (currently WordPress.com).

      I think a clear confirmation message would say: “You have successfully connected your Facebook account with Jetpack”

      This would be perfect if/when there is a standalone app for Jetpack.

      Once again thanks for your reply and I’m looking forward to the new version.

      • > This confusion can be solved if Jetpack uses a separate Publicize app for .org sites rather than using the main WP.com app — this keeps the “easiness” entact for users :)

        But if we did, how would that solve your assertion that we’re ‘misusing users brands’ to promote Jetpack? It’s just changing the word from WordPress to Jetpack, which is even more branded to us than the generic WordPress.

        • George, having the app name on the status is a natural behavior on Facebook, I understand that.

          The issue that’s creating confusion here is the term “WordPress” which there are two of. The open-source software, and the hosting company WordPress.com

          Also the choice of word on the action object of your app furthers the confusion:

          “published on”

          If the action says published on WordPress.com (wouldn’t that be an inaccurate description of the action because the user isn’t doing that?) — Just like that saying published on WordPress while displaying the wp.com app is inaccurate as well.

          It implies that the user is publishing their article on WordPress.com which is a misleading statement.

          If you describe the action accurately:

          XYZ shared a link via Jetpack then you’re not misleading anyone.

    • > That’d be the opposite of “easy” :)

      By the way I use a Non WordPress app that gives the user 2 publish options.

      Option 1 : Easy publish which uses the plugin settings mentioned above.

      Option 2: Custom domain and app settings, this requires about 5 minutes of work and to be honest you just need to copy/past the app keys and fill in at most 2 fields and hit save.

      You should really consider giving your user both options. Easy does not mean what you think it does nor does it really service all users.

      • You should really consider giving your user both options.

        That’s something we’ll definitely consider when working on “Publicize Next”, as I mentioned above. If we were to provide that option, we’d probably have to keep it simple though, to avoid cluttering the dashboard with more options. But we can see if we can provide filters to do that. I created an issue to keep track of that idea here.

        Keep in mind that all communication with Facebook is done via WordPress.com, though, so it makes things a bit more complicated for us as we’d have to build a new system to allow you to post from your site to your Facebook app without going through WordPress.com and our app. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but at that point, and since there are already plugins that do that well, it might be best to use one of these plugins instead. You don’t have to use each and every Jetpack module, it’s perfectly fine to deactivate a module and use something else when you need something different :)

        Easy does not mean what you think it does nor does it really service all users.

        “Easy” might not have been the best way to describe what I had in mind there.

        The way Publicize works today is certainly faster to set up than if you had to create your own app. It’s a turn-key solution, much like most of the other Jetpack modules.

        You could get by by copying and pasting things around and following instructions, but you would also become responsible for your own app, and for keeping up with any changes Facebook may make to the system and the interface later on. It works, but it’s not for everyone. :)

      • I think easy in this context is more about understanding — easy to understand or “I have no idea what a Facebook API key is or how to get one. Give me the easy button”.

        Option 2 is all geek speak. Easy for you is an obstacle for others.

  12. This is … disturbing, but not surprising. It’s also kind of old news.

    Speaking pragmatically, I can defend WordPress, in much the same way I might defend Facebook when they invent an email address for you or Disqus, the service processing these comments, when they hijack your SEO juice.

    Speaking a bit more ruthlessly, I can say something like “they give you something for free, and while they likely disclosed the policies inside dense terms of services neither you nor anyone else ever read, they disclosed, … err … right? So suck it.”

    But speaking honestly I’m afraid my reaction mostly goes back to the “not surprising” angle. Not surprised they’ve done it, and not surprised you didn’t stop and consider it was going to happen.

    At its core, this is what http://thewordpresshelpers.com is about. And while calling out WordPress/Automattic, et.al. is not the point, what we’re interested in is calling out everyone for everything; The WordPress Community is arguably larger and more important than Facebook or anyone digi-nation … and all of its citizens have a responsibility to act as involved, informed members of the community.

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