WordPress, Ads and Yak Shaving

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?

I didn’t know about Don’t shave the Yak until then:

“I want to wax the car today.”
“Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I’ll need to buy a new one at Home Depot.”
“But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls.”
“But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor’s EZPass…”
“Bob won’t lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though.”
“And we haven’t returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it.”
And the next thing you know, you’re at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.


But even though I didn’t know about the phrase, 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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