Issue 248 – google fonts

This is an archived edition of MasterWP from February 2, 2022, written by Alex and Ben.

an eye looking through a magnifying glass

This is an archived edition of MasterWP from February 2, 2022, written by Alex and Ben.

No Legitimate Interest for Using Google Fonts

Or any third party content CDN

After last week’s ruling that Google Analytics is illegal in Austria, Germany has decided that using Google Fonts is also “improper”. And this probably extends to any third party owned CDNs such as jsDeliver.

I’ve linked to a summary of the ruling on Reddit, but if you’re interested the full decision, in German, is available here.

The issue is that a website making a connection/ request to a third party server means that you are sending that server personally identifiable user information without the user’s consent. Your IP address, and the referring page amongst them. This information is not necessarily used by the receiving server, but there’s no way for anybody to know for sure and, with large services like Google, this could potentially allow them to track people across the web.

IP Addresses in themselves are not necessarily personal information but when used across multiple websites this information can still build up a profile. Plus, when talking about Google, we can assume that a large percentage of website visitors are logged into Google which could give them even more information.

There’s no suggestion that Google is doing this, but the fact that it’s technically possible is enough to make it an issue. As such, static content that can be self hosted, should be.

The important aspect is not the amount of the fine, but that non-zero damages were assumed for the mere disclosure of an IP address to Google.

I’ve been trying to stop using Google Fonts for a while, and I think I have now removed them from all of my active sites. I did this partly because of privacy but also because nothing can be faster than fonts already on a users device. Now I have to update my sites to self host all third party JavaScript as well.

Back in the early 00’s there was a lot of talk about font stacks, and they have become a lot more complex over the years. I have compiled some of my favourite font stacks on my WP themes site, so if you want to disable them I think you can do so without sacrificing how your website(s) look. – Ben.


Facebook’s Libra is still dead — Diem to be sold off for spare parts

Sold this week

Remember Libra, Facebook’s big push into crypto? Facebook’s idea was to build a conglomerate of interests around a new coin, but this has always looked like a Facebook show and a Facebook show alone. It may surprise you that regulators really didn’t like the idea of Facebook controlling money, and Diem quickly came under massive regulatory scrutiny. The conglomerate fractured, and Diem is now being sold for parts.

The author of this post literally wrote a book on the topic; they comment:

When I dived into Libra, the thing that really struck me was the arrogant incompetence. Facebook had no idea what it was doing, and it didn’t think that mattered.

For all the effort from journalists trying to work out the precise 12-dimensional chess Facebook must surely have been playing … maybe Libra was just very stupid. Because it was a blockchain project started by bitcoiners. Maybe it was always just dumb as hell.

It is reassuring about all of our shortcomings when a project like this fails: even the most expensive projects can just be bad. – Alex.


What do you think of the Wordle guy not monetizing it?

Let’s pretend he hasn’t just sold the game for 7 figures

Have you seen Wordle? If you’re on Twitter it would have been pretty hard to miss it. It’s a super simple word game released for free, with no ads, or other monetisation methods, and many of these commenters on Hacker News can’t understand why.

I know the audience is going to be more money focused, but seeing so many people who simply don’t understand the concept of giving something away for no benefit was fascinating to me.

I love a side project and have given all sorts of things away for free over the years, Including WordPress themes and plugins (and even video games), so giving stuff away for free comes naturally to me. I’ve mentioned it a few times but one of my bigger side projects is Brush Ninja. It’s a free animation app that is mostly used by schools, and it gets ~300k page views a month. I could easily slap some ads on the site and earn a couple thousand a month, but hosting costs are minimal so I decided not to. Getting wonderful emails from happy teachers and students is payment enough.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4 earlier this year Josh Wardle, Wordles creator, said:

Asked whether he planned to make money from it, he said: “I don’t understand why something can’t just be fun. I don’t have to charge people money for this and ideally would like to keep it that way.”

Of course, the day after I wrote this, Wordle was purchased by the New York Times, for an “undisclosed 7 figure sum”. There’s not many hobby projects I’ve made that I wouldn’t be tempted to sell for a 7 figure sum; but that doesn’t change my argument. Sometimes people like to make things for fun and then give them away, not everything is about money, but it helps. – Ben.


The unreasonable effectiveness of one-on-ones

High Output Management

I read High Output Management a couple of years ago and by the sounds of it, it’s been as influential on me as it has on everyone else who has read it. I didn’t realise that High Output Management was the source of the popularity of 1-on-1s as we now know them. This post is about 1-on-1s, and how unreasonably effective they are as a management tool. The post has some good notes on doing and leading better 1-on-1s – essential reading if you don’t have them (and should have them) or do have them (on either side). – Alex.

777066_MasterWP - block based websites_072020

Making the Web Better with Blocks


Joel Spolsky (co-founder of Fog Creek Software who make Trello and lots of other things) has written a nice post about blocks and how he feels their creation should be standardised so that all block software can use all blocks.

Matt Mullenweg, WordPress co-founder, tweeted that Gutenberg is trying to solve this problem and so maybe the two parties can collaborate.

There will obviously be limits, some things will be platform specific (eg a WordPress latest posts block won’t work on Medium), but any attempts to improve standardisation will be beneficial to all users over the long term. – Ben.

MasterWP is a free weekly newsletter for WordPress professionals, written by Ben Gillbanks and Alex Denning. Thank you to our newsletter provider, MailPoet, for sending the email, and also to Peta Armstrong who formats the newsletter.

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Rob is the CEO of HDC and the Publisher of MasterWP.

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