Blogging Life: Why You Need To Understand Your Platform

April 7, 2017

Oh hai friends.

I learned a pretty critical lesson this week. Honestly, I don’t know what happened. But, it turns out one of the plug-ins I use on my blog compromised the whole thing. Death by Tsundoku was off-line for over a day, and it wasn’t until my Admin got in touch with WordPress that we figured it out. I don’t recall updating any plug-ins, but one of them was the source of my blog’s distress. In the end, we had to shut down all the plug-ins and we even removed quite a bit of theme functionality.  Now I have access to my blog, and you can read my posts, but all my reviews are a bit, well, broken without my enhanced functionality.

Due to the availability of my Admin as well as some WordPress research needs, Death by Tsundoku will be on hiatus until we can get to the source of this problem. 

Apparently, the system is down!

I have spent a lot of time pondering this. While I am technically still able to post, I am floundering without my aesthetic and metadata structure. I didn’t realize how much I relied on them until the foundation for the structure of my posts vanished. Suddenly, I feel lost when it comes to writing. As Strong Bad might say: The System Is Down.

This has been a strangely distressing moment for me. I didn’t realize what a source of joy and release my blog has become over the past year. I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ve developed an incredible community. And I look forward to the time I get to spend on my blog.

My blog is a source of pride, as well! I spend a lot of time thinking through my reviews. It’s important to me that I am thoughtful and considerate of my words, as well as how I articulate my opinions. Plus, I love the conversations we get to engage in!

I learned a lot in this process about my ignorance in how WordPress functions. I learned that while plug-ins are great and have really helped me with my aesthetic (which I am REALLY struggling with), they are a challenge to maintain. They don’t always update at the same time that WordPress does, which requires attention and testing. But the scariest part for me is that plug-ins can cause security breaches if they are poorly coded. And since my blog is hosted on a server with a few other of my friends’ sites/content, I refuse to potentially compromise them. I don’t want to accidentally give anyone a virus.

I know that this is a bit of a fluke, but it was a scary one. I definitely want to learn more about the platform and understand what I can do to keep my blog rolling. I couldn’t do this without my Admin, but I hope that in the future I won’t have to rely on him as much. It’s unfair to us both.

I’ll be around in the blogosphere, though. Expect comments! Twitter! Following! All the things! Perhaps this is a good time to reconsider how I can keep providing what I want to provide without these plugins. Ugh! So much struggle! HELP! So many questions below…

I love you all, and I appreciate your patience with me while I figure this out. Please stand by! Your patience and advice is welcome and appreciated!

What do you think?

  • Are you self-hosted or not? What do you like about your situation?
  • Do you have plugins which you cannot live without? Which ones? Why?
  • Do you have a template for your book review posts? How did you come up with it? Any recommendations?
  • How do you share your book covers and the related book metadata (page numbers, author, genre, etc.)?
  • Do you have an archive page for your book reviews? How do you manage it?
  • What tips do you have for me to get a better handle on my aesthetic?


  • ChicNerdReads April 7, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    oh i am so sorry to hear about this!!! i hope everything gets resolved quickly. i can only imagine how you feel. still here for you always <3

    • Jackie B April 10, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Thanks, Gretchen! That means a lot to me. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m the only person who fears a hiatus will mean starting over with blog networking. O_o

  • Shouni April 8, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    Oh no!! I’m so sorry, Jackie!! I hope everything works out. I don’t use any plugins except for the basic ones like “Email subscriptions” and “likes” etc (are those even considered plugins, I don’t even know). I guess I also don’t know too much about how the WordPress system works in the background.

    I am kind of playing with the idea of self-hosting but I’m not sure; are you thinking about it? Your blog designs are much better than mine so I really don’t have any tips. Good luck with everything though, I hope you can come back to blogging soon but don’t stress out about it too much!

    • Jackie B April 10, 2017 at 9:22 am

      Thanks, Shouni! I appreciate your kind words.

      I am *sorta* self-hosted. I have a friend who owns a server and does Admin work for his friends hosting their websites as a side business. I am only self-hosted because it seemed easier to have my Admin hold my hand the whole time! I really appreciate him, but it’s hard with him as a middle man sometimes. There are pros and cons to everything. I love the additional plugins I get to use as a self-hosted blog. But, that’s what put me in this mess. O_o

  • theorangutanlibrarian April 8, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Oh gosh that’s awful! I’d have been really stressed out- I’m glad it’s working now though!

    • Jackie B April 10, 2017 at 9:12 am

      Thanks! It is a bit stressful. I am so happy the blog is back up, and I didn’t lose any of my posts, but I am really struggling with the lack of infrastructure. I’ll need a heck of a lot of time to restructure my posts without those plug-ins. Hopefully we’ll figure it out soon.

  • Books, Vertigo and Tea April 8, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    Oh girl 🙁 This is super lame. I am afraid I will be of little value in this are. As I am not yet a full year in (but my blog grew faster than expected), I am currently just a WP premium member. I am not self-hosted although I have looked into. I am also not one for plug-ins really. A few widgets and a theme work.

    As far as review posts and templates.. I sort of just developed my own format and accompanying logos and kept it simple. I am no fancy pants haha. I do generally share as much book data as I can and keep a review index. I leave it at that 🙂

    • Jackie B April 10, 2017 at 9:31 am

      The LAMEST. Sometimes, I wonder if being self-hosted actually hurts my blog networking. I’ve considered going back to, but using my domain still. Very complicated. I’ll be talking with my Admin and seeing what the right next steps are; I just hope we figure it all out sooner rather than later!

      Do you manage your review index manually?

  • Lin April 9, 2017 at 12:21 am

    This is the biggest issue with WP, I myself work in a webhosting company and we have a lot clients that have experienced the same distress with their websites. Usually our techs fix such an issue by doing weekly backups of the websites in case something breaks they can restore the website from previous backups. If you did not try this out this might work in your case. Also keep in mind that sometimes the plugins, even the themes got broken then the issue should be solved with the developers of the product.

    Do not worry too much, even with some technical difficulties your website will still be visited!! I myself have experienced issues with mine due to a theme bug that I nor my webhosting cannot fix, but still I do not let this put me down and so you should do the same.

    I hope things will be fixed for you and if they do not turn out the way you hoped do not worry too much about it :_

    • Jackie B April 10, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Thanks for all the tips! That’s great. Unfortunately, I don’t know what’s broken exactly, but I’ll be reaching out to the developers once my Admin and I figure it all out.

      🙂 And thanks for the encouragement. I definitely worry that if I got on hiatus my blog will go back to being in a black hole. But it’s nice to know that my friends are here. 🙂 It’s just hard to deal with unforseen setbacks.

  • Anna @MyBookishDream April 10, 2017 at 6:07 pm

    Oh no! I’m soooo sorry to hear that! 🙁 I hope you manage to get everything fixed as soon as possible! <3

    • Jackie B April 12, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      Thanks, Anna! I feel a little naked, but it could be worse. I think we’re at a point where I can make non-blog posts, though!

  • AvalinahsBooks April 11, 2017 at 3:32 am

    Aww my gosh, Jackie, so sorry about these blog troubles! I remember when my blog was down for over a day. I couldn’t post anything for two weeks because I was sort of blog-shell-shocked. It is an odd feeling, and truly not a nice experience. It’s really too bad you won’t be able to post much, but don’t get lost! I’m sure a lot of us would like it even if it was short text-only updates 🙂 maybe you can use this time to participate more in GR groups? Don’t know if you’re in that group, but I’ve recently joined Inge’s Of Wonderland group, and quite a bit of other bloggers are there, and the monthly there for April is reducing out TBRs which is pretty great 🙂 maybe you should join us?

    I really hope your blog troubles get resolved soon. I also hate relying on someone and my theme being like a creaky old cabin, just waiting to fall apart. But I guess we can’t do everything ourselves… can’t know how to do absolutely everything.

    • Jackie B April 13, 2017 at 3:00 pm

      Your encouraging words mean so much to me, Evelina! It’s been emotionally much more challenging for me than I expected, honestly. I took a break from blogging for most of the week because reading other people’s posts just made me a bit jealous. I hopeI’m over that hump, though.

      Relying on others is pretty rough. I agree that we can’t do everything ourselves, but it doesn’t change the fact that I wish we could. Would it be nice to know all the things about WordPress and just be a wizz? My brain just doesn’t work that way, sadly…

  • Laila@BigReadingLife April 12, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    Ugh, I”m sorry! I hope you get everything figured out soon! I’m so tech-unsavvy that I’m just using a WordPress ready-made theme and don’t even know what a “plug-in” is! I sound like a Grandma, for pity’s sake, and I’m only almost 40! Ha ha! But I guess that technically I *could* be a Grandma. 🙂 Anyway, I hope things get resolved soon.

    • Jackie B April 16, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      Hey, I’m only “almost 40” myself. Plugins just make it so that I don’t have to think too much about my archive or formatting. I enjoy it. This whole thing has been quite mentally challenging, though. I hope things get resolved quickly!

  • Diana April 19, 2017 at 7:28 am

    All the best Jackie. I hope that you will be able to sort out all the issues soon. I don’t know about plug-ins. I really don’t know much about the sites apart from posting and commenting. Never even figured out how to add badges lol so I can’t be of much help but I do wish you all the best.

    • Jackie B April 19, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Thanks, Diana! It’s definitely something I’m working to understand. I’ve been working with my admin, and I hope things are in place ASAP! We’re definitely close. Your well-wishes are greatly appreciated!

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom April 23, 2017 at 7:48 am


    I came here because I hadn’t seen a post of yours come across my inbox for a while! I never got this post notification via email 🙁

    I’m so sorry you are having so many issues. Are you getting close to a resolution?!?! I miss you my friend!

    • Jackie B April 24, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks, Amanda! This has been a challenge for me both physically and mentally. I am *almost* there as far as fixing everything on my end. I hope that this weekend things will get back on track and I’ll be back to full function for May.

      Emotionally this has been quite a set back for me… I honestly felt pretty sad looking at everyone else’s blogs, and I just sort of vanished from the community. I didn’t realize how important my blog has become in my life and how much this community means to me. There’s been a strange amount of emotion to work through. I hope that when the blog comes back to full force I will step back up as well. Here’s hoping!

  • Marie April 25, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Oh no!! I missed this post obviously since I am so late at commenting on this – I hope you’re working towards a solution at the moment and that everything will be okay for May? I so get the feeling of, well, feeling a bit lost when you’re unable to blog and feel like you’re not really part of the community because of these drawbacks. I’ll keep my fingers crossed everything get resolved soon.
    I’m not self-hosted and even if I’m forever considering this, it’s this kind of technical difficulties that scare me a bit ahah.
    sending you love <3

    • Jackie B April 25, 2017 at 4:43 pm

      Thank you so much, Marie! We are *almost there*!! It looks like things might be back and rolling this coming weekend, just in time for my Month in Review post. It’s weird being dark for so long… and I’ve definitely been in a funk. I hope that getting things back online will put some lift in my step again!

      Yes– Self-hosting requires a steep learning curve! If things are going well for you now, well, I’d keep at it! As they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

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