Is WordPress losing the plot?

Anybody who has a WP blog will note a major change going on at the moment where WP is trying to force its users down the road of The Block. Some will also have noticed that millions of people are desperately unhappy about that. Unfortunately when you are talking about an organisation that now ‘powers a third of the internet’ millions doesn’t amount to diddley squat.

I’m engaging in a discussion in their forums about this at the moment. This is the last comment I made and I’m curious to know what others think about the situation.

Hi supernovia. Thanks for engaging. I won’t be the first to have written in these forums along these lines.

In a piece of bad timing I wrote an academic paper not long ago, suggesting that WordPress does a reasonable job of sticking to its core original policies. And indeed it keeps to some of them rigorously.

But in other ways not and some would say how could it? We all know it now ‘powers a third of the Internet’ and you can’t do that based on the requirements of your original core users which were that it should be all about a beautiful place to make beautiful print. You will recall the days before The Image became almost everything and then Monetisation became the God of All Who Use the Internet.

If you are just a person who wants to have blogs and put print on them, it is extremely hard to find any resource online that isn’t either image or marketing obsessed. There are some very small sites that recognise the need for the minimalism. Just you, your screen, keyboard and cursor. But of course, we are all scared about ongoing continuity. A little business that promises we all will be for you for ever. Very easy to say.

This puts people like me, who have zero interest in monetisation, nothing on my blogs is about making money, in an invidious position. Didn’t they all die in the great plague of 2010? Those people who wrote blog posts and weren’t trying to sell socks or sex from it?

Maybe this is the bottom line for me. If you are able to power a third of the Internet and counting, then you have a pretty lousy model if you can’t afford to support the Classic editor. Especially since you have received literally millions of complaints about it and there is at least one serious fork as a consequence. Unfortunately the fork isn’t for me either, as it is for business users.

I would be perfectly happy to use a model of WordPress that charged a small amount to keep Classic going. A few bucks a month times millions of users isn’t nothing. But if you tell me that lil’ ol’ WordPress can’t afford to keep the Classic editor going, something is seriously wrong.

As for specific issues with ‘Block’, it is really hard to talk about this with people who aren’t writers. If you are a writer the idea of having your screen the very opposite of a beautifully blank space is very difficult. For example, right now, I’m not writing in the tiny square I get to write comments in. I’m writing elsewhere on a large plain screen and I will cut and paste it here. If you look at your last paragraph, you will see how the relationship between you and me is a total disconnect. What I want is very simple. An aesthetically pleasing screen, not too much rubbish on it, and a large blank space to write as I want to write. Not as WP wants me to write. Not as The Block wants me to write. But whenever anybody says this to WP, somebody like you replies that this isn’t helpful. Tell me if your images aren’t loading properly. Well, you know. You can define as ‘helpful’ things that let you do what you want instead of what we want. But I’m struggling to see, from my point of view, how that is ‘helpful’. As for the idea that we should stick with something that is so immediately and permanently enraging and we’ll get over it. Not happening. For me, anyway.

Part of the issue is what defines a ‘writer’. Most of the people who call themselves ‘writers’ on WP and the internet generally aren’t. Mostly they are like this as a typical model, a ‘stay at home mom who loves cooking and writing about it and getting you to click on something that will make me money’. They monetise their blog in some way. And if you want their recipe for spag bol, you have to wade through incredibly tedious text about why stay at home mom prefers blah blah blah to bleh bleh bleh when they cook something mind-boggingly boring, a bunch of photos ‘this is me about to stir’, ‘this is me stirring’ ‘this is when I’ve just finished stirring’ and finally you have your bingo. You have got to the bit that is just ‘ingredients’ and ‘method’. At which point you discover that the reason it’s buried at the bottom of a very long and slow screen is that it isn’t any good. But hey, the photos were…ummm. Sigh.

It is not that I mind that many million such marketeers exist and probably call themselves ‘writers’. But there is a major difference between a ‘writer’ for whom that means creating words and a ‘writer’ for whom that means if you click on my pictures it’ll take you to Amazon and I’ll make a cent. WordPress is all over the latter. But I do wonder if WordPress thinks it would be so much better if that other type didn’t exist. That type like me.

From what I can gather from my research, there are lots of reasons why people hate ‘Block’. But you can’t do anything to make it work for me since the very idea of being trapped in a ‘block’ gives me….Writer’s Block.



13 thoughts on “Is WordPress losing the plot?

  1. So here’s what I don’t understand. WordPress is fully open source, and there are millions of users who want to stick with the Classic editor. Why can’t they get their act together and create an open source fork based on Classic? You say there’s already a business-oriented fork along those lines.

    Something here doesn’t add up.

    • It is here ClassicPress. I had a good look around and didn’t trust it – for me, anyway. But I think that is partly because despite the way it looks, I don’t think they really know what they are yet. And that might mean they won’t be anything for long. I don’t want to move everything somewhere that isn’t stable and permanent.

    • There are ways around it at the moment. There are a couple of themes where you can switch to the Classic Editor: Dara or Edin

      But the basic fact is, MarinaSofia, that we are no longer relevant users, you and I. So, although I’m hanging on right now, it’s only while I figure out what to do next. It’s sad because I’ve really enjoyed this space as a small community of friends and occasional visitors such as yourself. And I think when I leave, I will lose all that.

      • šŸ˜¦ I had just found you
        I am scared to lose their reader and comment ability, but it’s tempting to find other platforms, but which one?(I don’t like blogger, I came to WP from it)

  2. Bravo. I too hate it but in my ignorance I never thought we could at least raise a complain with them in the forums. I have tried the forum before when I could not add my Goodreads widget and they helped. I love photos, I also add some Amazon links to books on occasion, and yet I aspire to informally write, so the block is also in my way. I miss the classic editor, sigh.

    The only good thing is that I got this terrific post by you which informed me and delighted me.

    • I have been spending a lot of time looking and so far I haven’t found anything that is close to it as a substitute. I had assumed that since lots of people come to WP from Blogger that going there wouldn’t make much sense.

      I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet, but I can write a report on what I’ve been looking at and what the issues are – maybe that will give anybody interested some ideas and maybe we’ll come up with something!

    • Regarding complaining – I consider it the thing I’m best at šŸ™‚ The forum wants doesn’t really want complaints of this type as it has no way of dealing with them. They want more rivet sort of things ‘this bolt needs fixing’ and they will fix it.

      But it must be better if we still keep complaining that if we don’t.

      • Absolutely. It’s constructive criticism, my dear, hahaha. I’m serious. I complain because I care. I came from blogger and I brought friends with me and we all loved the quality of WP. I may visit the forums to leave my two cents, hahaha.

    • What I’m confused about is that I understood that if you were using one of the old themes, it wouldn’t make you use the Block, it would just leave you chirpy reminders all the time about how much happier you’d be if you did.

      In point of fact, I have various blogs on WP. As far as I can see, they are all okay except for a new one I had to set up recently, which because it was new, could only be set up with the evil Block. If my old ones all go bad on me I shall cry and cry and cry. And then move anywhere that moment.

      The trouble is, that the way in which sites like this addict people isn’t with functionality, it’s with the ‘community’. The sense they are in a family that they are going to lose if they move. It’s really interesting, I’ve been studying it for years. Goodreads and what happened after Amazon took over is another case.

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