29 Comments

  1. Peter Shaw
    · Reply

    The evidence indicates Automattic are not being straight forward in characterising their relationship with google with respect to AMP.

    I’ve been a long term critic of AMP. Pre dating by far Jeremy Keith etc

    About two years ago I gave a negative review the official AMP plugin. Both criticising its poor performance and the negative impact of AMP on the web.

    The review was deleted twice, and I was warned and put on probation. Despite breaking no policy and being a former user of the plugin.

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    • Not A Forum Moderator
      · Reply

      If you don’t like Overall AMP technology and posted review for it, it will be removed, it has to be specific to the AMP WordPress plugin.

      Also, the AMP plugin doesn’t put ads on your site you can’t blame the AMP plugin for features that the AMP plugin doesn’t offer.

      Since you abused the plugin review system to express your frustration about AMP you are put on probation.

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      • Fabio Geriouzzi
        · Reply

        So you are “not a forum moderator” but you know exactly what happened, are you aware that this kind of damage control causes even more damage?

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      • Peter Shaw
        · Reply

        My first review criticised the plugin on both a performance and technology point of view. It was deleted, with an explanation to limit the review to the functionality not technology. No policy cited and I would have thought a bad technology could be reviewed if the plugin enabled the technology.

        I added a second review (with the same poor rating) limiting it to performance and database issues (I had used the plugin previously). It was deleted again with an “explanation” that I was acting in bad faith, a refusal to elaborate and I was put on probation.

        Neither review mentioned ads.

        Happy to share the emails etc that document this. I wonder how many other reviews criticising Automattic and the AMP plugin have been deleted.

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        • Not A Forum Moderator
          · Reply

          Please share the documents, We would love to know the performance and database issues you faced.

          Also if the plugin has issues you open a support topic, don’t directly go for reviews, let devs give a chance to address the issue.

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          • Fabio Geriouzzi
            · Reply

            So you are “not a forum moderator” but you know exactly what happened around those unwanted reviews and now suggest that you are involved in development of this plugin and then demand to do this and that. As explained, this kind of damage control causes even more damage, please stop posting and ask for communication instructions at your managers desk.

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          • Peter Shaw
            · Reply

            To clarify

            I used the plugins years ago, it had performance and database issues. I uninstalled it.

            I later came to the conclusion the whole technology was harmful, and then left the reviews which were deleted. IMO unfairly and suspiciously

            I have no intention of using the plugin again and advocate others uninstall it so I won’t be posting on the support forums. However I checked the forums then and it appears the issue with the plugin filling up the database with rubbish is still around.

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  2. Stephen Vaughan
    · Reply

    This does stink. It demonstrates some of the rock’n’roll BS that you often see in the tech world. Google seem to have constructed an amalgam with AMP and core web vitals. While on its own, core web vitals does function well to impel improved speeds and better UX, it also drives a lowest common denominator in terms of design and impedes unique creativity. I would be sceptical when I eyeball a site loading promptly on a slow 3.8Mb connection and then being handed a so-so score from Page Speed Insights.

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  3. Max Ziebell
    · Reply

    I really like this article. I was and am vocal against AMP as it is at its best an intermediate solution for performance (given the web and devices are getting so much faster). Like the long gone WAP was once on the advent of Nokia phones accessing the first mobile Internet.

    Apart from that, it is mainly used by its proponents to exert dominance over the web. We shouldn’t yield the open web to a standard like AMP in the long term, and therefor should look to abandon it asap.

    Even the latest page speed campaign by Google, even if good on the surface, is showing us how much dominance Google already wields as it becomes such a big selling point for Plugins, Themes and tech. development.

    I am not saying that bloat or slow pages are a good thing, but all these initiatives come at the cost of diminishes creativity and unified design. Let’s make the web fast, but most important fun, again.

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  4. David Anderson
    · Reply

    Stop using Chrome. Allowing Google to be present at all points of the stack, combined with the facts of human nature, is a recipe for various bad things at different levels. These kind of stories that we’re seeing with AMP are not shocks, they’re just what you expect when too much power is in one set of hands.

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  5. Matt Terenzio
    · Reply

    All the arguments against AMP seem to ignore all the good parts.
    Speed was only one part of it
    Benefits:
    An abstracted analytics tag. Let’s face it. Most news sites suffered from hundreds of Javascript tags. We needed a way to have one protocol to broadcast that info out to all the providers we want to have that data.

    In a world that’s quickly becoming distributed, we need a safe and uniform way too cache on the edge. AMP is the only open solution I know of that enables this.

    These are huge and all within an open project that Google has handed off now that we have uptake.

    Thank you Google.

    This doesn’t mean I don’t see the negative points others make. But they never include the positive parts.

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    • Carl Hancock
      · Reply

      Google handing it off was a ruse to try and stem bad publicity. They did so when there was already speculation that AMP was a trojan horse designed to benefit Google itself.

      Now that we know that was indeed the case all along, and actually even worse than originally speculated, there is nothing positive to be gained from continuing to support the AMP project.

      The performance benefits have already been debunked given we know they were throttling non-AMP pages to make them appear slower.

      As a project it needs to die. If there are any beneficial aspects to the technology the community can fork it and allow it to be developed without any ties or involvement by Google or Alphabet.

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  6. Bastian
    · Reply

    We chose to partner with Google because we believed that we had a shared vision of advancing the open web.

    Research surveys suggest a rule of thumb: the more ethically dubious the business, the more grandiose and sanctimonious its mission statement.

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  7. Rupert
    · Reply

    Who thought AMP was anything but anti-competitive BS from the getgo? Any trust placed in it was misplaced. Hence I wouldn’t frame it as “losing trust,” I’d call it “belatedly finding out the truth.”

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  8. Eric Karkovack
    · Reply

    So many good points here, Sarah. I think what bothers me most is that, without the willing cooperation of web designers, Google wouldn’t have grown to this point.

    We happily added their APIs. Many of us trusted them, even if we had no concrete reason for doing so. And they essentially took advantage of that trusting nature.

    Look at some of their business practices and maybe they’re not so different from any other enormous company. They simply package it in a more user-friendly way. Otherwise, they’re no better than an oil company.

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  9. ZigPress
    · Reply

    Automattic associating Google with “the open web” is laughable and definitely not believable.

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  10. Henry Chicxulub
    · Reply

    If this concerns you there are things you may be able to do. Do immediately or soon.
    1. Use a certain browser less.
    2. A search engine.
    3. A mail service.
    4. AMP.

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  11. EJ
    · Reply

    The one second delay for non-amp compliant ads is to ensure a quality reading experience. AMP ads are server side fetched and validated to not require subsequent client side loading. Non-amp ads have no such restrictions and can cause jank as they load, which the AMP experience is trying to avoid by delaying them a bit.

    More here: https://wptavern.com/amp-has-irreparably-damaged-publishers-trust-in-google-led-initiatives

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  12. David Gehring
    · Reply

    This is like asking “when did you stop beating your wife?” The question assumes as fact something that is false. I’m certain WP had no prior knowledge of Google intentionally throttling AMP ads because that didn’t happen!

    I know because I was there!

    This whole theme seems to be based on a false narrative and I’m beginning to assume there must be a reason for the false narrative. Please let your readers know why you are so willing to push a false narrative with regards to AMP.

    It’s harmful.

    Many local news publishers are relying on AMP to power syndication and new streams of desperately needed revenue. AMP as a syndication format is incredibly beneficial to quality news media publishers in general and the severely challenged local news media publishers in particular.

    Of course there are ways to make AMP better. But to say AMP was born out of some malicious or nefarious intent is a FALSE narrative. Again, I know because I was there.

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    • Max Ziebell
      · Reply

      Hey David,

      I understand your stance, but the opposition is more based around the origin of beneficiaries you are clearly pointing out yourself. It solves problems for companies like Google and maybe some publishers, although in Germany, many publishers don’t like the fact that their content is syndicated away from their sites, but have to play along as there is no way around google these days. Adding the fight over the point of contact with content. Maybe let’s leave that topic aside.

      What I wanted to get to is the notion around AMP being in any way Web Designer centric. It is not, really. It rather forces everything through a sieve to be easily digested, cache and delivered etc.
      Not only that, but it is an unwanted optimization/variation pushed onto the Web Designer or Developer to fulfill extrinsic demands.

      I actually don’t believe in some malicious intent, but there is a force weighing on the community if Google decrease something like AMP to benefit in ranking. Like the YouTube ad money, the rules around page ranking or prioritization are a real and powerful sword to wield.

      Hence, there are grounds to assert an agenda at work, even if it might just have grown and evolved over time.

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    • Max Ziebell
      · Reply

      Hey David,

      I understand your stance, but the opposition is more based around the origin of beneficiaries you are clearly pointing out yourself. It solves problems for companies like Google and maybe some publishers, although in Germany, many publishers don’t like the fact that their content is syndicated away from their sites, but have to play along as there is no way around Google these days. Adding the fight over the point of contact with content. Maybe let’s leave that topic aside.

      What I wanted to get to is the notion around AMP being in any way Web Designer centric. It is not, really. It rather forces everything through a sieve to be easily digested, cache and delivered. Not only that, but it is an unwanted optimization/variation pushed onto the Web Designer (/Developer) to fulfill extrinsic demands.

      I actually don’t believe in some malicious intent, but there is a force weighing on the community if Google decrees something like AMP to beneficiary in ranking. Like the YouTube ad money, controlling the rules around page ranking or prioritization are a real and powerful sword to wield.

      Hence, there are grounds to assert an agenda at work, even if it might just have grown and evolved over time.

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  13. Louis
    · Reply

    I don’t trust anything Google. And WordPress entertaining their suggestions in anything makes me a little concerned about where WordPress is heading. Nuff said.

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  14. Victor
    · Reply

    I used to be a “fan” of Google and keep up with their latest initiatives.
    But AMP never made sense to me.
    The work required could as well be used to just make your site faster in general.
    It didn’t take long for the bugs and workarounds to appear, making it an ever bigger mess.
    Publishers used great time and energy just to push their content out to Google, mostly to Google’s benefit, as the clicks rarely went to the publisher.
    The experience wasn’t even that good. Basic, bare bones. Publishers struggled getting their ads shown and tracking the results. Almost no branding and if not clicked to the publisher, people would hardly know where the article even came from.

    I don’t use Chrome and neither Google as a search engine. I use DuckDuckGo which is quite good. Hell, even Bing has gotten a lot better the last few years.

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  15. kriskl
    · Reply

    well, if google doesn’t punish websites anymore that don’t use AMP.. time to delete and good riddance.

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  16. CW
    · Reply

    Fantastic coverage, and the question about the performance push regarding core web vitals is very timely. I’m excited about possible performance improvements, but I would love to see more conversation about how we can avoid simply catering to the whims of a powerful company.

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  17. Ari
    · Reply

    Despite all the bad that AMP did, we should not forget that it also did some good… I don’t know what happened internally at Google, Automattic, or between the 2 of them. What I do know however, is that AMP made me think.
    One of the “restrictions” of AMP was the amount of CSS used, and a lack of support for JS in its initial versions. It made me think about the CSS and JS I was writing.
    I always disliked AMP… If on a non-AMP site I applied the same restrictions that AMP had, the result was a far faster site. But the truth is that I became a better developer because of it.
    Things like conditionally printing styles on-render for Gutenberg blocks were not ideas that came out of thin air… These things came to be because AMP was applying some tree-shaking, removing all styles for elements that were not on the page, and then inlining the resulting CSS, limiting it to a few kb.
    AMP was not a good thing. But it did use some techniques that were brilliant. It pushed people to try and do more with CSS instead of JS. It pushed us all to write better frontend code.

    A new performance team for WordPress core is being spearheaded by Yoast and Google-sponsored employees. The initial proposal is to improve core performance as measured by Google’s Core Web Vitals metrics.

    As one of those developers, I can say that I don’t really care about the “Core Web Vitals”. What I care about, is reducing the carbon footprint of the web. Since WordPress accounts for 40%+ of the web, every single byte I can save on a page visit counts immeasurably. Improving performance is good because building a website that requires downloading 4MB of data on each page load is insane. Not everyone is as fortunate to have unlimited, fast internet… And we seem to have forgotten that.

    is there a long game that serves Google’s interests being woven into this initiative? Would these employees even be aware of it if there were?

    I can’t speak for Google employees… But as a Yoast employee, I am not aware of any plans or long-games. I was given the freedom to try and improve the performance of WP because my personal beliefs of improving access to the web and its sustainability aligned with my employer’s principles.
    So far WP has democratized publishing… it’s about time we democratize content delivery as well.

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  18. Von Chucwuemeca
    · Reply

    I for one love AMP, it seems that those who are critical of it are very vocal, and a large majority of us who like AMP and can appreciate the benefits that it brings to the web are really not so keen on being so vocal and outspoken, because we have things to do, and AMP works perfectly. And so in the zeitgeist of the domain, all that we hear are the critical voices.

    No, there are no database issues, it simplifies the site build and yes makes it load fast. I mean people on the critical side are looking for all sorts of issues and I don’t think there’s any solution that those on the critical side would ever agree to.

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  19. Bui Trung Hieu
    · Reply

    I had a bad experience with Google AMP. And I advise general users not to use it.

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