For obvious reasons, I have been thinking a lot about WordPress today.
When I started blogging, this platform stood out as being the most user-friendly, to a novice blogger. The set-up was relatively simple, and I was soon up and running with my own new blog. WordPress also enjoyed a huge following all over the world, so this gave me lots to explore, and also attracted followers to my blog. Over time, I managed to get help from many others in the community, and I was able to learn how to add images, change themes, and much more.
Fast forward five years, and my WordPress blogs have become my main hobby. The first thing I do after I get up, and the last thing I do before going to bed. In between, I read other blogs, comment on posts, and reply to comments on mine. Blogging makes me content, and it also inspires me to write. It has given me a large group of blogging friends, and enabled me to communicate with people from many countries. And of course, it has all been completely free of charge to me, courtesy of some small advertising features that WordPress adds to my blog posts.
But then they have to go and mess around with it. They forgot the first rule of successful continuity. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
They changed the editor.
They changed the notification bar.
They cancelled the Annual Report.
They changed the reader.
They altered the space bar, as you can see here.
Then they kept trying to ‘improve’ the visual impact of the platform, determined to make it more suitable for those using mobile devices. This caused no end of ongoing glitches, and showed that WordPress had forgotten that the majority of serious bloggers still used desktop computers and laptops when blogging. Most of us need a proper keyboard. Try typing a 1500 word story on a mobile phone, adding links and images too. Not much fun, I assure you.
So, the people running ‘our’ platform are telling us that is it going to be their way, or the highway. These random annoyances may not appear to be a big deal to those of you who do not blog. But If I cannot comment on a blog I follow, or add replies to comments made by others, then the whole point of blogging –communication– is in serious jeopardy. If WordPress is to be reduced to just another ‘phone app’, then it will no longer be what we signed up for, that’s for sure. Just a pale version of Facebook, for people to aimlessly scroll on, not bothering to write anything of consequence in the process.
Perhaps we should all be prepared to upgrade, and pay for the privilege of our blogging? It is only $99 a year, so not too much to pay for such an all-consuming hobby. But ask anyone who currently pays for the Premium Service, and they will tell you that they suffer those same glitches, still get little feedback from WordPress, as well as no notice of any impending changes that might affect their blog, or blogs.
This weekend, the ‘Press This’ button was removed. This had previously allowed people to reblog the posts of others without having to transport all their images, and also going through the process of adding comments of their own, or links to the other post. No notice was given, it was just removed.
At the same time, many of us are also finding that we are unable to leave comments on many blogs, and we have no idea why.
In the grand scheme of things, is all this stuff important? Well to bloggers, it is. People who have spent many years sticking faithfully to a platform, a platform they helped build into one of the biggest in the world, are entitled to expect better treatment. Even if the service is free to most bloggers, their involvement is what made WordPress such a successful company in the first place, and it is unacceptable to treat them in this offhand fashion. Ultimately, the community we all cherish being a part of will just disintegrate.
So that’s what I have been thinking about today, as I struggle to email people to advise them that I am not ignoring their blog posts, and watch my ‘Thank you’ comments to new followers fail to appear.