This old blog of mine has been around for quite awhile now. Nearly 6 years as of this coming February and over the years all sorts of fluff, cruft and nonsense have accumulated. Bits of code and database entries left from past plugins, themes, previous versions of WordPress, upgrades and updates that no longer serve a purpose but end up getting left behind nonetheless. These bits of fluff and matter kept accumulating until one day things started getting funky. And so it was with my old DYI WordPress powered blog.
First my venerable old caching plugin, WP Super Cache, stopped working then the Text Link Ads (TLA) plugin stopped showing ads anywhere but the Home page as well as other bits of weirdness popping up here and there. These irritating little problems turned out to completely the fault of Text Links Ads and their latest versions of their WordPress plugin. Turns out that the powers-that-be behind the TLA plugin decided not to allow showing ads site wide any longer (with no announcement of the fact, of course) and purposely disabled caching for all pages viewed by adding a “DONOTCACHE is defined” statement to the source of each page viewed (also without any announcement of any kind).
I happened to find this out while I was troubleshooting my way through the back end of the blog equipped with hammer and screwdriver and packets of my favorite explosives. WP Super Cache has this lovely debugging mode which, when enabled, creates these horrendously long log files filled with all sorts of fancily structured information that one can happily spend hours sifting through–if left on long enough that is. I only left the debugging mode enabled for a couple minutes but it was long enough to tell the tale.
Since I do make enough pocket change from TLA for the occasional doughnut and coffee every month and since I’ve never had a problem with TLA in the past, I decided to contact them about this situation. After several attempts they finally responded to one of my emails and informed me that they would consider adding an “Allow caching” option in the TLA plugins’ “Settings” page in order to solve my non-caching problem. Two days later I receive another email from them saying that the newest version (3.9.9) of the plugin now has that option included and I should try it out and let them know how it works.
Long story short, it worked like a charm. The ads show up in the sidebar and footer widget areas just like they used to and all pages are cached properly once more. But the ads were still only showing up on the Home page and not site wide just like the previous version of the plugin (3.9.8) The version prior to that (3.9.7) showed the ads site wide although it prevented page caching as well.
So I fired off another email to TLA explaining this new ‘old’ problem and they responded that the site wide function had indeed been removed since they felt that showing ads only on specific pages gives better results than showing site wide
Really? Considering that the plugin only allows showing ads between content on the Home page or via widgets/templates, I guess the only “specific page” I’m able to show ads on is the Home page unless I list specific posts/pages I wish to show the ads on or resort to using an old fashioned style script placed in the code of specific posts.
Considering I have well over 1000 posts on my beloved old site, manually inserting the TLA script is not a viable option. The folks at TLA did say in their reply to my message, that they would consider putting site wide showing of ads back into the plugin sometime in the future. Well, at least they’re talking with me and after all they did fix one of the problems. And I still like the buggers as well so patience is and all that.
So while I was troubleshooting all of the above I decided to remove as much of the fluff, cruft and nonsense that was left over from the nearly 6 years of pounding on my particular install of WordPress. I deactivated and removed every single plugin except for a very few and then cleaned out all related entries from my WordPress database. This included entries from themes I have long since stopped using. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead and all that.
When all was said and done (and seeing that the blog still existed despite my best efforts) I reinstalled most of the plugins I had previously removed and slowly activated them one by one, thoroughly shielding myself from any random explosions should they occur. Thankfully none did.
So did it work? Well, if you happen to stop by and the blog is still here then I can safely say that it did. However, if you happen to stop by and suddenly drop into hole in cyberspace then I’m afraid it may not have. Please let me know either way–if you can. If you do drop into a hole in cyberspace where the blog once existed please leave the name and email address of your next of kin and I’ll do my best to alert them of your untimely (and certainly unbelievable) demise. And my deepest apologies to you as well.