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WordPress, ads and Yak Shaving

pesse profile image Samuel Nitsche Originally published at cleandatabase.wordpress.com on ・3 min read

Since I started blogging 1,5 years ago, I have been struggling with the WordPress.com platform I’m using. The main reason for this is that it injects ads you have no control over if you are using the free plan.

People who follow me and read my stuff know that I am very critically against ads and the whole attention-based industry and this attitude has been reinforced during the past years. In fact, I highly suspect the way ad-driven platforms like youtube or facebook are built support and even encourage radicalization, therefore adding to the growing toxicity, hate-speech and even hate-crimes of our time.

Nonetheless, I had no clue where this blog would lead me to when I started and I am generally rather hesitant to spend money on media and tech (sounds strange, but that’s me).

There are also some minor things that annoy me once in a while, though for most things I have found workarounds meanwhile.

I read some things about static site generators during the last year and the possibilities and advantages really made me curious. It promised more flexibility, more customization, learning opportunities for modern tech tools and also a possibility to get my values more in line with my actions: avoiding advertising.

However, moving a blog to a static site is a huge amount of work and there are many very convenient things I’d lose or have to invest even more time and work to get them back.

But the idea was born and another thing happened: While my rejection of the ad-industry grew and so did my urge to get rid of ads on my own blog, my brain interpreted this urge as a reason to switch to a static site. Just – it wasn’t the only possibility. There was the very practical, easily achievable possiblity to spend some money and get rid of the ads. Strangely, I was completely unaware.

Yak shaving

I recently spoke with Marcus Blankenship, who had agreed to mentor me, about the projects and challenges I am facing during the upcoming year and I also mentioned causally that I wanted to move my blog to a static side but am hesitant due to the amount of work.

His response was very short:

Why? Yak shaving?

Even though I didn’t know about Don’t shave the Yak, which basically means that one idea or need leads to another which then leads to another until you have a solution which could be solved much better with a compromise, this simple “Why” led to a cascade of thoughts in which I realized what I had totally forgotten:

My by far biggest urge could be solved much simpler.

With this aspect out of the equation, my decision was quite easy and all the remaining shiny arguments around customizability (I won’t invest the time to customize), learning a new tech tool (my list of things I’d be curios to learn needs a continuous scrolling mechanism) and performance couldn’t stand an evaluation versus the things I’d give up by moving.

The real question I had to ask was: Is it worth to spend money to bring my values in line with my actions?

The answer was easy at that point.

The same day I upgraded my subscription (a nice side effect I noticed: the moment ads were disabled my blog experienced a significant performance boost!

Are you about to shave a Yak like me?

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Samuel Nitsche

@pesse

Curiosity-driven software-developer, database geek, always willing to learn. Compassionate coding advocate, father, husband, 10x underpants. We don't need more rockstars, we need more mentors.

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