Nov 192011

Ethics in Software … Even When It’s OpenSource

Self-Hosted Blog Owners:
Let me make this perfectly clear: JetPack Stats Plugin from Hijacks Your Commenting System Without Permission. This post IS NOT about FREE blogs. If you are using JetPack Stats, which replaced the older WordPress Stats plugin, the information below affects your self-hosted blog. The plugin just happens to come from the Automattic Team at Those using the Lite version of the plugin (by a different developer) apparently are not affected. (Thanks to Freelance Writer extraordinnaire, Sharon Hurley-Hall for that tip.)

The Problem

Anyone who formerly used stats on the blog most likely upgraded to JetPack Stats when discontinued that stats plugin.

  • The WordPress Stats system was widely used on both free blogs AND self-hosted blogs. On the free blogs, it was built into the system, no plugin needed.
  • For self-hosted blogs, it was made available as a plugin and you had to obtain an API key — from — in order to use it.

For some, the logical choice was to install JetPack Stats because it was the successor of WordPress stats. I remember the hold-out: many self-hosted blog owners did not want to use it because it seemed like overkill and appeared to be foisted upon us. While WordPress Stats was hardly perfect, there didn’t seem to be any reasonable reason to stop using it in favor of JetPack Stats.

Choice was not really a part of the equation.

A little time passed … people installed JetPack Stats and hoped for the best.

Last night, I experienced the “no choice syndrome” that seems to be a way of distribution life for the folk behind JetPack Stats. The screenshots (with just a wee bit of narrative) tell the story. In the final analysis, I removed JetPack Stats.

I hope you have not been adversely affected. Maybe you saw this article, my tweets, or some of the retweets done by people who seem to care more about what happens to your self-hosted blog than some of those developing software for blogs. And managed to avert disaster.

Or maybe you had the foresight that Sharon Hurley-Hall had and never installed the JetPack Stats plugin. At any rate, make up your mind about what you will stand for, and stand for it. Let your voice be heard because according to the latest Technorati Report on the Blogosphere, bloggers are gaining influence and lots of movers and shakers now want bloggers to wield that influence on their behalf.

The First Clue

Second Clue – WordPress.COM ???

Email Exchange

Podcaster and blogging tips expert, Ileane Smith surmises that the issue is likely with the latest update of JetPack. She was right.

JetPack Update Adds Features, Activate Them Without Permission

JetPack Stats Modifies Existing Commenting Form

There are two knavish results of this activity by JetPack Stats.

It usurps authority over your existing comment subscription management.

It ultimately sends your visitors to an external site to subscribe to your comments.

If those results are knavish … the evil is in how you, as the blog owner, are kept in the dark about what is now happening to the site you own!

Confusing Subscription Requests From

Opening email, you’re greeting with this graphical request. Nice graphic, but from A caring message … a thumbnail graphic of my site … All very legitimate looking but only one problem: No permission requested, no permission granted.

Here’s My Unequivocal Response


Once JetPack Stats plugin for WordPress was deleted, the original commenting subscription system was restored to normal operations.

It Is Not Enough To Just Delete JetPack Stats Plugin

It has been said often enough …

Power concedes NOTHING without a demand! — Frederick Douglass

I urge you to voice your displeasure with heavy-handed, strong-arm tactics. (Don’t think they’re heavy-handed? Did anyone ask you if they could create extra work for you without first gaining permission or offering compensation? Do you not mind having your precious visitors, colleagues, and clients getting confused and jumping through hoops you did not design?)

Further Response … Twitter Notifications

Let the screenshots be a warning.

Just because WordPress is free and open source software does not mean the creators can freely step in and muck around in it, on your site, without your permission. Ethics in software development and distribution are highly desirable.


Here are some further thoughts, resources and alternatives to JetPack Stats provided by concerned, caring blog owners . . .

Do you know of other resources, alternatives or related articles? Leave a message in the comments and I’ll update this section with them.

Have Your Say … Comments Are Open

Remember: Permission should be “Opt-in” not Opt-out.

Thanks for reading!

Spread the word … Link to this page

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Vernessa Taylor

Technology Consultant, Business Writer at Local Business Coach Online (LBCO)
Founder and editor of the blog here at LBCO. Thanks for reading, sharing, commenting and visiting. See you next time.

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  90 Responses to “Graphic Proof: JetPack Stats From Hijacks Your Commenting System”

Comments (86) Pingbacks (4)
  1. Wow! I think everyone should self host on their own domain but I digress here. This is unbelievable and we should all be outraged. I had never heard of JetPack Stats before Vernessa. Thanks for enlightening us. I’ll start RTing this every chance I get and I’ll look for opportunities to enlighten people. If we allow this company to get away with this, others are bound to follow.

    • Thank you, Sherryl. I didn’t take the time to fully elaborate in words because I felt so strongly about this behavioral betrayal. I encountered this after commenting on Ileane’s blog last night and was at first confused so sent her that email. She actually discovered the JetPack connection. I tested it on this blog and was incensed to find out how JetPack had disrupted my commenting system.

      Anyone who formerly used stats on the blog most likely upgraded to JetPack when discontinued that stats plugin. If they upgraded last night, they will know soon enough that this is what they are faced with.

      Thank you for sharing this. I hope and/or Automattic will respond. Not here, necessarily, but by fixing their mess.

      • This is TOTALLY unacceptable behavior by Automattic and I WILL be spreading the word. I just want to clarify that this affects self-hosted blogs (those on YOUR OWN domain) and overrides the Subscribe to Comments plugin most advanced bloggers are using.

        • Hi Gail,

          Thanks for asking for clarification. You are absolutely correct in your understanding. (This gives me another opportunity to make this very clear.)

          JetPack Stats plugin is hi-jacking the comments on SELF-HOSTED blogs.

          Furthermore, JetPack Stats plugin (as of version 1.2):

          “overrides the Subscribe to Comments plugin most advanced bloggers are using”.

          As for this blog, I am using Subscribe to Comments Reloaded, and it overrode that, too.

          I really want folk to understand that this plugin, in its current iteration, is diverting their comments from their self-hosted blog over to for some unnamed, odd-ball reason that makes no sense whatsoever.

          As far as I can tell, that means the comments that were once housed on a self-hosted blog will no longer be housed in that blog’s database, but instead will be housed in some unnamed place at

          For what reason? Yes, unacceptable.

  2. Its really naughty that sites like wordpress don’t let their users know about things like this when you sign up! I had a similar experience (although it was many many years ago!) with one of these free sites things, so now I’m always wary (and definatley read the small print) when signing up for something that advertised as being free!

    • Hi Harriet,

      I’m glad you brought this up about free sites (in this case I think you’re referring to

      The point I want to make is that I am not talking about a free site.

      The emphasis here is not as much for you as it is for anyone coming over and reading this post.

      This post is about the JetPack Stats package being used on self-hosted blogs.

      I think I’ll add an update at the very top of this post to make that clearer. Thanks for giving me the idea. :) I’m glad you came back around. Stop by and let me know how your grades turn out.

  3. Thanks for this, Vernessa. Just stopped by to let people know that JetPack Lite is available here: According to the developer that plugin will only be updated if there is a JetPack update that affects Stats or shortlinks, so if you still want stats, this would be a good option.

    • Appreciate you dropping in to share that resource, Sharon. We should always have choices. So glad you followed your instincts.

      When you mentioned JetPack Lite earlier, I (incorrectly) assumed it was a lite offering from the makers of the other plugin. I’m glad it’s not! :)

  4. Thanks for the heads-up, Vernessa! I’m as pissed about this as you are. I just went through my Jetpack configuration and disabled everything I didn’t want – the only reason I had installed it was to replace the Stats. I also took their survey and let them know in no uncertain terms what I thought of their tactics, that I would be deleting it and advising all my clients to avoid it like the plague!

    And I also tweeted your above post. 😉

  5. Also, Vernessa, your edit comment window hangs up and never finishes loading. 😉

    • Hi Doc,

      Welcome to CoachNotes Blog. Good for you! Your clients will surely be grateful for sparing them the headaches and saving them some money. Don’t forget to keep an eye on your comments just in case any of your readers got diverted over to the WordPress site. I don’t know what really happens if some folk did and then the plugin is deleted. Do let me know if you hear anything.

      Thanks, too, sharing this. :)

  6. Yuck is really all I can say. Of course I don’t advocate running JetPack. WP Stats has been prone to bloat anyways, and Google Analytics is superior and essential and creates no unneeded “weight” in loading speeds. This is just one plugin that is excessive and this kinda behavior (Automattic implying they know best) just isn’t cool. Thanks for raising the red flat Vernessa!

    PS: Shared on my FB page :)

    • Hi Kim,

      Nice to see you today. I agree, “yuck” is a fitting description. I suspect many bloggers installed JetPack because of the complexities of Google Analytics. I’m participating in a blogger collaborative in which very few of the bloggers know how to truly use GA … myself included.

      While this was a dastardly deed, it will likely push some of us to drill down into Google Analytics to get what we need. Have you done any tutorials on Google Analytics or any favorite resources for this?

      • For me I find that most novices try to bite off the whole elephant that is GA when they don’t actually WANT the whole elephant. If a person only needs surface stats, only needs daily gains, incoming keywords, etc, all of that stuff can be learned in almost no time at all. But people jump in and want to learn everything that is within GA and that is where they get their head in a swim. Any novice can get the basics out of GA in a matter of minutes (depending of course which stats they want). Even just getting in as far as the main overview page for the url gives a ton of data before you even start drilling into it. Often THAT is all my novices need to get going and see if they are gaining or losing ground. The courses our there often perpetuate this problem, giving novices what they “ask for” rather than what they “need” in understanding it can work for basics too.

        • I see your point, Kim. I check in on my Google Analytics account once in a while, but I use Clicky on a more regular basis.

          One reason Iiked using the old WP Stats was for the super-quick overview. Even though I log into Clicky when I want a bit more info, and on occasion will view the stats offered via the server panel, I’ve never taken the time to drill down the way I hear some bloggers do with Google Analytics.

          I would like to learn more about setting up goals and funnels. The blogger collaborative I mentioned above is working with Conversion Doubler to document a variety of conversion metrics. A better understanding of goals and funnels would be useful to the team in this endeavor.

  7. Creepy. What would happen if we just don’t update JetPack in the hopes they will turn off the “feature” ?

  8. Wow, ok, that really does suck. Jetpack…deleted. This post…tweeted.

  9. Woooooow…. had no clue about this. I never used WP stats so I didn’t use Jetpack either, I use Clicky for real time stats. This is so “low life” on their part. Did they ever respond to you in any way?

    • Hi Brankica,

      Good to see you around here. I use Clicky too, but before I signed up with Clicky I was using WordPress Stats. It wasn’t deep but it worked fine. (I’d even written a post about it.) I was in the reluctant camp that eventually added JetPack because I couldn’t have WPS.

      “Low life” is certainly another way to describe this kind of behavior. I figure, what self-respecting blogger wants their comments managed by WordPress.COM, especially as it is barely arms-length from IntenseDebate, which is also owned by the same group?

      No, they haven’t responded to me. The only response necessary is one to the many blog owners that trust their writings to WordPress — which is remove Opt-Out behaviors from their plugins and give people choice about using features.

  10. Vernessa, this is awful. Being hijacked sucks. I only knew about JetPack from being in the blogging contest. As you know, I went on a plugin diet and deep-sixed quite a few. Even with only 21 plugins, I feel like I have twice as many as I really, need.

    Thanks for letting us know about this JetPack scourge.



    P.S. I like the little dingus at the bottom that drops down and lets you choose between Don’t subscribe, Subscribe to ALL and subscribe to Replies only. What plugin or PHP code is that?

  11. Thanks, Vernessa. I love one-to-one replacements. Keeps me from having to change the title to “22-Plugin Diet.”

    I’ll install it soon.



  12. Since we are discussing comments, do you happen to have a second plugin doing the subscribe to comments? I always get two copies, with two different subject lines:

    Subject: Your comment at [CoachNotes Blog] has a new reply

    Subject: There is a new comment to Graphic Proof: JetPack Stats From Hijacks Your Commenting System

    I know that these plugins let you customize the message’s subject, so maybe you can track this down?

    I have this problem on dozens of blogs, so I’m wondering if it’s something I’m doing wrong. (CCC is one of them – do YOU get double notifications from them or anywhere else?)



    • Glad you brought that to my attention, Mitch.

      At some point I was trying to find a replacement for the original Subscribe to Comments. I’d install then uninstall the one’s I was testing. I liked this one, Comment Reply Notification, and had almost decided to keep it when I came across Subscribe to Comments Reloaded, which I liked much better. I forgot to uninstall it.

      For anyone who wants to move from the original Subscribe to Comments and doesn’t want to use the reloaded version, Comment Reply Notification is lightweight and handy.

      I need to follow your path and take the time to do a complete plugin cleanup/overhaul.

      Hmmm, I’ll have to check to see if I get double notifications from CCC blog. On your blogs, what’s handling your comment reply notification?

  13. Thanks so much for sharing this info, Vernessa. I am beginning the creation of two new sites right now and see that JetPack is there. I haven’t installed it yet because I wanted to know more about it. Glad I waited! I will certainly share this info with people!

  14. Vernessa, I thought it worth mentioning, too, for anyone contemplating new WordPress install, I recall seeing somewhere that Jetpack was being included in the basic platform download from now. I haven’t downloaded it recently, so I can’t verify it, but perhaps one of your readers has, and can tell us if that’s the case.

    • Hi Doc, I hadn’t heard that, so thanks for the alert. I’ve an empty site it can be tested on. Actually, just downloading the WordPress software and taking a look inside the folders might reveal it. I’ll get back to you on it.

    • I downloaded the latest version and unpacked it. I don’t see anything related to JetPack in the zip archive, only the usual Akismet plugin and hello dolly plugin file. Perhaps the powers that be are considering including it in upcoming releases, Hopefully not. :)

      I’ll still check to see what happens when I actually do a new install of WordPress. Have a great Monday, Doc!

  15. This is unbeleivable that wordpress jetpack has hijack! bt thanks for all this great awareness, i have wordpress blog, you will keep update from this all steps which you mention in this article to keep my site safe for this trouble,
    thanks for this great article n this awareness, i really didnt know about that!

  16. Hi Vernessa,

    Thanks for this head up. In fact, I updated JetPack just a few minutes before I saw your post on G+. Having read this post I took a look at my blog and right there were those silly links below the comment form! First I had to de-activate those services and that did it. However, I’m already considering going for JetPack lite.

    • Hi Chadrack,

      You’re quite welcome. I’m so glad you were able to fix that right up. “Silly links” … LOL

      Sharon is quite pleased with JetPack Lite. The great thing about open source software is that it can be “forked,” going back to an earlier time before things got silly. :) Hope you enjoy it. Thanks for coming by today.

  17. Hi V
    Good to have you on the case, most of us either don’t notice the clues or simply go along with things.
    Guess that’s why people get away with taking liberties.

    Another evil dooer smoked out. LOL

    BTW – your case was presented with all the skill of a high flying lawyer and the graphics were bril.

    • Hi Keith,

      Always such a pleasure to have you in this space. So long as one listens and acts when the clues are revealed, it doesn’t matter who discovers them. :)

      I am persuaded that the time of taken liberties, at someone else’s expense no less, grows shorter and shorter.

      Thank you for your kind words, Keith. You should have seen the first iteration of this post. Almost only graphics with hardly a stutter in between! I had to go back and add the words. LOL

  18. This isn’t the first time Automattic has done something untoward with the WP Stats plugin, either. See, e.g., the Quantcast mess:

    Definitely untoward behavior.

  19. I thought I’d just note that Vernessa and I received personal responses to our concerns from Matt Mullenweg. He jokingly entitled it “Jetpack’s Plans for World Domination”.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve had some correspondence with Matt before, and he’s a nice guy. In my opinion, he’s also quite sincere in his desire to provide a safe and secure environment for the WordPress users.

    His email today was an explanation of why Jetpack came about and includes the features it does. I still don’t think that opt-out is the way WP should have gone (or any other provider, either). Matt correctly states that two simple clicks will opt out of each feature not desired. Of course, those same two clicks could have been made to enable opt in, and all the furor could have been avoided.

    I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll be responding on my blog or via email, but I did want to at least let everyone know that our complaints have been noted. In fact, he said that he has been monitoring the numbers closely since our two blog posts came out. So, again, for what it’s worth, we’re not dealing with another Mark “Let-them-eat-cake” Zuckerberg. 😉

    • Hey Doc,

      Thanks for sharing that. In fact, I haven’t seen an email from Matt Mullenweg. I double-checked my inbox just to be sure.

      Two simple clicks is as simple as it gets — after permission has been granted. I appreciate you sharing the gist of the email because a few people have asked if there has been any type of response. I’m still hoping for a software-based response.

      Have a good one, Doc.

      • That you can opt out of something that hijacks your blog does NOT make it ok. New bloggers won’t know what happened and probably won’t notice until they’ve gone a long way down that road. Explaining why you behave unethically does not dismiss the fact that you did.

  20. I was surprised to see the additional two checkboxes, was wondering why! Glad I found your article, now, I am in the midst of deleting the Jetpack plugin!

  21. well **** ! thats why my personal blog has in the upper right hand corner.

    Once you uninstalled it, did you install the lite version, or did you find something more suitable to your tastes.

    What would you recommend as an alternative?

    • Hi Pete,

      I hadn’t noticed the logo in the corner. Probably because I got rid of JetPack so fast, the logo didn’t have time to materialize! LOL

      No I didn’t install the Lite version or any replacement. I might eventually, but for now I’m using Clicky Stats. They have a free version and also some premium offerings. (I caught a sweet special at the beginning of the year so I’m using a paid version.) Anyway, give the free version a go if you’re not inclined to us JP lite.

  22. Well sometimes we have to do some decisions that we have to deal with. But I think this one you did will benefit you in the future.

  23. Wow, Vernessa! Excellent detective work.

    I never used Jetpack Stats at all but I do have a couple of clients who are using it. I’ll need to get at them pronto and clue them in on this!

    I hope you’ll let us know what response you get from Matt if you ever get one.

  24. Hi Doc, I am so glad I found this post as I am a newbie to all this and have just started to work on my website to advertise my business, in going into my dashboard I find this link for JetPack, I have no idea what it is or what it’s supposed to do, but because it says I didn’t touch it, tried to figure out how to delete it but there didn’t seem to be a way, so went searching on Google and found you guy’s, I’m so glad I have read all these posts as now I want touch it with a ten foot pole.
    thanks again

  25. Vernessa, I took a page from your book and installed Clicky instead of Jetpack Lite. The difference is like night and day! SO much more data! I owe ya one! 😉

    • Hey Doc,

      Still having fun? :) Clicky Stats are really cool … I’m using their real time visitors widget in my sidebar. Keep a look out for their specials. I picked up the Pro version last year when they had 50% off a yearly subscription. (Check your dashboard because they still run it from time to time.) But the free version works just fine, too!

  26. Yep, I too, found Jet Pack to be lame.

    I gave it the boot and moved onto Clicky stats and now have moved onto StatCounter which I’m really happy with.

    • Hi Lewis – StatCounter is another very useful stats system. Previously I used it on my static websites but ran into some type of issue when I tried to use it on WordPress. Even though I haven’t gone back to it, I hear nothing but good things about it.


  27. Thank you very much for enlightening me. The images give here give a clear idea. I had seen two select boxes of notify me via email on many of my friend’s blog and I think now I need to share your article with them so that they can clear the bug.

    • Hi John T – Happy to be of service. :) I guess technically it wouldn’t be called a bug, but deactivating the plug subscription feature or deleting the plugin will definitely get rid of those extra subscribe to comments checkboxes.

  28. Thanks, Vernessa. I wasn’t aware of this. My version of JetPack says it’s 1.2.2 and I haven’t activated several of the new “features.” I’m wondering if the highjacking has even occurred (yet)?? Knavish indeed.

    • Astro Gremlin, looks like there has been another update since this article. The version I spoke about was 1.2.1. Maybe your comments were hijacked then restored? :) Not sure about the behavior since 1.2.1 but if you find out, do let us know. Happy Holidays!

  29. I never heard about JetPack Stats before. Now we are aware of the hi-jacking of comments in blogs. Thank you for the heads up, this information is really important.

  30. Thanks so much for this post, Vernessa, and to Sherryl for pointing me to via her terrific blog.

    At Sherryl’s advice, I had moved my blog from to and a self-hosted platform – primarily for the ability to add CommentLuv to my blog.

    I had inadvertently added the JetPack plug-in to the blog as I couldn’t find another option/widget with my theme to enable comments.

    Well, the Jetpack definitely DOES seem to be causing problems, as when people try to comment, sometimes they end up being redirected back to the old URL! And when people have tried to subscribe to the blog, they see a notice saying they will be sent an e-mail to conform the subscription, and that e-mail never comes!!!

    It’s been very frustrating for me, as I am not tech savvy and don’t really know how to go about choosing plugins. I understand you are recommending Clicky for stats, but is there a plug-in I should be installing that will enable people to comment and subscribe happily and in conjunction with CommentLuv?

    Thanks so much for your great blog. I have RT’d the link and am now following you on Twitter.

    • Hi Doreen,

      Welcome to CoachNotes Blog . . . Sherryl is one of my favorite people, too! Thanks for sharing the link and following @CoachNotesBlog.

      From looking at your blog code, you still have Jetpack installed. The first thing would be to go into Plugins and uninstall that.

      I use Subscribe To Comments Reloaded, a free plugin which allows commenters to easily choose how they want to be notified of new replies on an article.

      Let me know if you need help uninstalling or installing plugins. Staying tuned …

  31. Thanks for the heads up Vernessa. I noticed this plugin a few days ago when I installed a brand new wp on a new site. I usually delete plugins that already come with wp whenever I install a new version or upgrade. I just think most of them are useless for what I do. Either way, thank you for the heads up, I didn’t know about it.

  32. I hate it when platforms update things without letting people know, just because something is free, does not mean you have this right.

    If you offered it for free, then I am as much of an owner as you?

  33. After reading your post I checked my wordpress blog about this JetPack stat. I noticed this before but haven’t think about this first. I thought that it just can help me with my blog now that you mention it here I really have to remove it. Thanks Vanessa and looking forward for more tips from you.

  34. Hi, Vernessa;
    I’m very happy when I see your post about plugin.I’m going into my dashboard I find this link for JetPack your plugin helping me to manage my wordpress and that is too good.and it is deeply helps online bussiness system for local small business owners.

  35. I am actually shocked about this. I always just assumed that WordPress was as reputable as you can get. It looks like they are just following suit and becoming just another company who tries to take advantage of people. Thankfully, I never used the jetpack, even though they try to shove it down our throats. I guess I now know why.

  36. I am glad there are people who are willing to explore and wordpress and share about this plug-in. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for sharing.

  37. OI! I just checked my forms, and sure enough there they were. The plugin has been removed. That you for the resource list you provided as it will help me find a better way to follow what’s going on traffic wise on my blog.
    There is NO REASON for a company to do this kind of sneaky upgrade.

  38. Though jetpack stats updates are useful, it is still wrong that it automatically approves features without our permission. I haven’t used it yet, but I think it is a bit scary not knowing some of of things happening in my site. Thank you for the info. I hope they get this fix.

  39. Yes, I believe that is correct, I used JetPack when It was launched and even wrote about it on one of my blog, but later realized that I should not have it and now have deleted it from my self hosted blog. Thanks.

  40. Hi, Vernessa;
    Thanks for detailed discussion about the plugin I have deleted JetPack from my blog. It takes to much control of my site for my liking.


  41. It Really Bothers me that I had to learn about this when I was trying to find out information about why I am only seeing the top ten posts, keywords and stuff in the jetpack stats. I guess I will be removing this ASAP and going with something else! Thanks for this informative article about what they do to my readers comments!

  42. I guess I got lucky – I knew I didn’t need all that extra “stuff”. I just wanted stats. So I installed the “lite” version and it’s been working swimmingly ever since.

  43. I had no idea about this plugin until Andy Bailey mentioned it to me, Vernessa – why would anyone want to use it anyway?

    Thanks for the scoop!

    • Forgot to ask: how do you add that pre-formatted Link to this post box after your post? Plugin?

    • Well, you know how people love stats (especially bloggers!). :) As Jetpack Stats has so many bells and whistles, at first glance it would seem you could let it do some of the heavy lifting and get rid of some of the other plugins being used. In that respect, it mimics but falls short of CommentLuv (which really does allow us to get rid of extra plugins).

      Most blog owners wouldn’t normally tolerate such behavior. There are less bloated and more direct ways to get the stats we need. And the latest version actually disrupts CommentLuv Premium.

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