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WordPress, please stop ‘fixing’ things

"Fixing" WordPress

WordPress has “fixed” things again. And this time I’m really upset. This will affect almost everything I publish.

You may or may not subscribe to the WP newsletter and may or may not have noticed the recent announcement about changes to the image editor. I use the image editor a lot and I noticed the changes before WP announced them.

As we all know by now, WP does not take kindly to complaints and criticism. Complaints, criticism, and questions about the changes they make are likely to be ignored. If you post in the forums, you may get no response. If you post in comments somewhere, as I did in comments on the above-mentioned newsletter, you may find your remarks either edited or stuck forever in moderation limbo. So, for the record, my first comment about the image editor changes was (complete with the misplaced parenthetical):

PiedType Mar 25th at 10:01 pm

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

The new image editor is nice, but usually when I use (which is often) it it’s because I want to add/remove/change a border or adjust white space around the image. Please, please put those functions back in!

It’s still “awaiting moderation,” although comments after it have been published. I just added another comment about another change I’ve noticed and it will probably stay in moderation also:

PiedType Mar 27th at 12:40 am

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

Add me to the list of those complaining about the loss of the hex code setting for text colors. I used it a lot, and also had a particular shade of red from the more extensive palette that I like to use. I understand I can track down and insert the code in my html, but it won’t be as convenient. A lot of novice WP users will not know how to work around the changes you’ve made.

All of which means I’m not happy about the changes. The link editor no longer has a check box indicating the link should open in a new window. The image editor no longer offers a % scale for sizing the image on the fly. It no longer offers the Advanced Settings that I used frequently: blanks for specifying border color and size, and additional amounts of white space around the image.

My second comment was prompted when I tried to set a text color on a new post I’m working on. We now get only one simplified palette to choose from. We used to get a much more extensive palette and a place to add hex codes for specific colors — like the specific shade of dark red I’ve been trying to standardize across Pied Type.

All of these things can, I think, still be done by doing the necessary work in a post’s html coding, but some of it gets pretty tricky for me. I’ll have to look up every bit of it every time I want to use it. Maybe WP developers can remember all those codes off the tops of their heads, but I can’t. Even after looking up the necessary code, I struggle to get it just right for my purposes.

It seems like every time I revisit the newsletter comments, I notice something else. Just noticed that someone mentioned the blank for the image Title, the text that shows when someone mouses over an image, has been removed. That’s another thing that can be added if you’re familiar with html, but it will be time-consuming for me to figure it out every time I want to do it. The image title is a good thing to include with every image; it’s something search engines look for and recognize. It’s a good way to show more information about an image, including a source credit. But it’s gone now.

There are more complaints in the forums. I missed the chance to sound off in one of them; it’s already been closed. I guess WP thought two pages of complaints was enough. Another thread is still open and I may say something there if I can compose something cogent and relatively brief.

Why WP would remove all the easy-to-use options they previously offered, that we have used for years, I do not understand. Maybe they thought they needed to simplify things for WP newcomers who were confused by all the options and settings, but what used to be a simple post for me has now been made much more complicated. Maybe they should just figure out how to offer a simplified menu for beginners and retain the more advanced options for those of us who understood and used them on a regular basis.

And whatever they do, common courtesy dictates they at least explain their rationale for the changes they’ve made. They must have thought they had a good reason or they wouldn’t have done it. Right? Or am I giving them too much credit? Who knows, if they explained it to reasonable people, we might even understand.

Why, WP? Why?


Update: March 27, 12:15 am MDT: In fairness to WP, I must note that I just checked and both of my comments mentioned above have now been published.


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For old time’s sake, here’s what the image editor used to look like. Ironically, this evening, these images still appear on WP’s page explaining image settings:

image_settings advanced_settings

52 thoughts on “WordPress, please stop ‘fixing’ things

  1. Well written, and you even mentioned some missing things that I did not know were missing; and thank you for typing this post Piedtype, and for sharing your opinions at the WordPress.com Forums. 🙂

    -John Jr

          1. I have no idea, other than that occasionally when I switch from visual editor to text editor and then back, the paragraph breaks will disappear. Usually refreshing the page fixes everything. This time it didn’t. Still thinking it was just a matter of refreshing the page or something, I went ahead and hit “Update.” Bad idea.

          2. Thank you for sharing that Piedtype, I think that your hypothesis(?)/deduction(?) makes sense, sometimes strange things like that can happen. 😉

            -John Jr

  2. I second everything you say. The loss of the image editor, to be replaced by something only for users who know zilch about the possibilities and couldn’t care less, is something the Automattic should be bloody ashamed of. As to why they do these things without consulting their users – words are insufficient …
    I’m absolutely infuriated about having to keep writing html whenever I want to do stuff – and WHY ??? What is the point ? Automatticians, you know perfectly well that you’re going to raise ire. Why do it, in the name of all the gods ????

    1. Didn’t you know, M-R? We are their lab rats, their beta testers. We get our blogs for free (although I pay good money for several upgrades), so we have no right to complain. Yada, yada.

      1. Me too. I paid $139 for a theme I don’t use any more, and $30 for customization and $30 to have no ad.s.
        I reckon I’m fully paid up and have the right to be bloody CONSULTED.
        I madly love a truly nice man who works in Support (Rich Spees), but am finding it more and more difficult to feel that there’s anything genuine coming from the main branch …

        1. Yep, custom theme, URL, customization, no ads. Maybe your friend can explain why these crazy changes were made (some people on the forums say it’s to accommodate mobile users). At the very least you might suggest to him that he suggest to management that an explanation would be the polite thing to do. And it won’t cost them a dime.

          1. Because the last thing in the blogosphere I want is to get him into any shit, I’ll begin by asking him if I may ask him … something to do with the current phase of activity.
            I shall, OF COURSE !, letcha know if I do get anything.

          2. I’m sure you’d be very polite, and he’s likely to be equally polite in telling you he signed a nondisclosure agreement or something. In any case it’s not worth endangering a friendship.

  3. You know we’re on the same page when it comes to WP’s “improvements” PT. I’ve disliked WP’s image editing features from day one PT, and I hate when circumstances force me to use the visual editor. I’m sure their visual interface derived from some existing “standard” but, having no familiarity with that standard and because WP’s implementation of it was too limited anyway, I found it easier to just learn enough HTML to get by. I’m not sure how these changes will affect me down the road, but they had no effect on the post I did today.

    1. I’ve worked behind the scenes forever with HTML and CSS. I’m no expert though; everything is trial and error. These changes have made things infinitely more complicated for me — unless I abandon my standards and settle for their defaults. Which isn’t likely, since appearances here are almost as important to me as content.

  4. I haven’t written here for real in nearly a month. Yes, writing elsewhere about other things, but also, I’m getting kind of tired of the constant changes to everything.

          1. I meant that the constant changes/updates are probably helping increase the number of bugs across WordPress 😉 , but yeah, they did make a major change suddenly that made some unnecessary changes/removals (though(?) some/maybe most of the additions are helpful/useful for some people probably); and this major change added a lot of new bugs as well, of course some bugs can be expected when making such a major change, but I would say that there are more bugs than expected/than there should be. 😀

            Anyway, I understand what you are saying Piedtype, even though my response above is so poorly written that it may/might not seem that way. (My writing skills are not so great, and my writing style is probably a bit strange/unusual as you can see) 😉

            -John Jr

    1. I’m sure they have the numbers to support that, and I’d like to see them. Responsive themes cater to the reading of blogs on a tablet. I understand that. But I would bet that the majority of those WP blogs are written and assembled on a computer with a full keyboard and several, if not many supporting programs and apps. I cannot imagine trying to do what I do on anything smaller than a laptop (and I still keep wishing for a larger screen).

      In any case, it wouldn’t kill them to tell us why they’re doing this!

      1. That is so true and it irritates me that they have just gone completely silent on the matter.

        I have found a way around my own issues using the text editor but that is hardly progress. I am sad but I think we will have to live with it!

        I like your site by-the-way!

        1. Thank you. Yes, I can work around what they took away by doing some very tedious and time-consuming HTML editing in the text editor. But it’s a huge, frustrating stumbling block for me, with my very rusty HTML skills. What I fear now is that they’ll find some mysterious reason to override any changes we make in the text editor, leaving us with no workaround at all.

  5. Thanks, PT. I appreciate your posts because I don’t read their updates, and I’m not an “advanced” user of WP. So, I can get a pretty good understanding from you of new or changed features.

    I will mention one thing that needs to be changed. We should be able to delete followers from our email lists. I had a woman ask me once to reduce the number of emails she received. I told her I couldn’t do that myself; she had to change that in her settings. She then asked me to remove her completely from my email list. I searched forever and finally asked WP. Only WP can do that!

    1. I remember reading about that problem in the forums somewhere. As I recall, Followers can Unsubscribe using a simple link at the bottom of the emails they receive. That’s pretty standard practice.

  6. Other than using WP to upload my graphics of course, I do all my prelim work in a separate graphics program. Believe you me, it completely eliminates the stress and aggravation that WP can cause me. I use that ‘Image Editor’ for one thing only, clicking a check box in ‘Advanced Link Settings’ so my graphic will open in a new window when clicked. That’s it!

    If necessary, I do all my graphic and video re-sizing using the ‘Text Editor”. It’s much simpler and I can get the exact size I want.

    WP has done a number of things over the years that have made no sense whatsoever. 😕

    1. I do a lot of image work in separate image programs when necessary, but functions like adjusting borders and white space are essential and were easy to do in the now defunct image editor. Actually, since adopting this theme, I’ve had a more complex problem to deal with — the default design adds a border to every image. Sometimes, like with the WP image above, I’d rather not have a border. I had just figured out how to do that in the image editor, and now it’s gone. I’ll be forced to do it with HTML again, and I was really having a problem with that.

  7. I noticed it yesterday early, too. Drove me nuts trying to do what used to be really really easy. I came to WP because of the simple mechanics – let you focus on writing. So if they are trying to encourage brand new bloggers…….
    If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
    Better is the enemy of good.
    (What? Is it a matter of making “improvements” to justify your job?)
    Please. There’s enough chaos in the world. More not needed.

    1. It’s taken me years to learn how to make my blog look exactly like I want it to look. And now they’ve taken away some of the tools that helped me do that. The issues have already started — with this post. This theme’s default is to put a border on everything. I don’t want a border on the image in this post. To get rid of it on this and other images, I’ve had to add some CSS code and then tinker with the HTML on the image. Just two days ago I finally figured out how to do it using the old image editor. So much easier! Now that tool is gone and I’m back to having to figure out how to change the HTML to eliminate the border.

      To say I’m angry and frustrated would be a HUGE understatement. I used the old image editor in one way or another on almost every image I’ve posted.

  8. Oh my God, why would they do this? Give us less function? I’m no big techie but I liked having a few little things I could do with pics. Thanks for bringing this up as I didn’t even notice it. I don’t get the compulsive need to change in the tech world – FB also changed its format (once again) recently. Yahoo, Gmail…and a host of others. It seems they just change things for the sake of change and nothing else. Although this change from WP isn’t an improvement in anyone’s book I don’t think. Perhaps they are following the Bill Gates’ school of condescendance – reducing everything down to the irreducible minimum so that any idiot can do it – I think they call it intuitive software. Personally, I don’t find it intuitive at all.
    Annie

    1. One theory in the forums is that it was done to accommodate fat-fingered mobile users by making the GUI elements bigger and, of necessity, simpler. Which is all well and good except who writes, designs, and assembles a serious blog post on a tablet or phone!? It’s tools like the old image editor that keep me on WP.com. If I’m going to have to go back to struggling with HTML for everything, I might as well go to self-hosting. It’s a cinch I wouldn’t stay with WP if they’re going to keep yanking the rug out from under me.

  9. My first thought was that WP had decided to cater to the tablet and “mobile” users, thus the simplified UI and a reduction of features uses by “serious” bloggers. As you noted, “who writes, designs, and assembles a serious blog post on a tablet or phone?” But there seems to be a contradiction — maybe a paradox is the better word — here. WP frequently features blogs that are literate and others that are photo-driven, i.e., devoted to serious writing and/or image reproduction. How does this square with the demolition of features that support these types of users?

    There may be considerable conflict within WP management itself — how could there not be? And we could be the ones caught in the crossfire. Or am I giving them too much credit? Maybe they’re simply bad managers who don’t really give a sh*t what their customers think, and they instead believe that their real competition is Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.

    1. I don’t doubt that many of their changes in the last few years have been an effort to compete and become more like a social network — changes I resent because if I wanted a social network, I’d go to one. (I hate social networks.) But they don’t ask my opinion, or yours, or anyone else’s, because we are their guinea pigs, their beta testers. Most bloggers on WP.com don’t pay a dime for the services they receive and hence really have no right to complain. That’s probably why our opinions rarely count.

      WP is huge; it powers almost one-fifth of the websites in the world. So I have to conclude their management and business model is excellent. We just happen to be the bottom feeders in the WP food chain, the users who don’t pay. We are, in fact, the used. I’ve been willing to be used for what I get in return — a very nice free blogging platform (almost free; I pay for some upgrades). But it is getting less nice with every change they make, and I don’t appreciate being disrespected and ignored just because I can’t pay them as much as Time or CNN. After all, WordPress was originally founded for bloggers like us (I came on board just a year or two after they started). They need to remember that.

      There was a time when they responded more often and more promptly to questions and concerns posed in the forums.That has changed, I’ve been led to believe, because although their number of users keeps growing, their number of staff was reduced during the recession. I still recall when one of their changes provoked such an outcry that they changed it back (regarding the default setting on notification of comment replies). Maybe those days will return, but I’m not hopeful.

      1. Very good points. But Beta testers — even “de facto” beta testers — deserve better information regarding what is being tested, why and what to look for in a beta “release” of a new function or group of functions. Give us the option — as do many subscription websites — of trying out the new process or platform alongside the old one. After all, the general user provides the best possible feedback as to the value of the proposed changes. And they instead simply tell us this is it, deal with it. Even assuming good intentions on the part of WP, the feedback they’re going to get — and ARE getting in this case — is angry, and less apt to be constructive for everyone involved. Bad way to run a business.

  10. I don’t use WP, but run into the same “it ain’t broke, but we fixed it anyway” sort of silliness in many other places throughout computerland. This malady seems to have started its spread years back when the techies rather than the communicators began to be put in charge of information operations.

    It is ridiculous that managers who have the ability to communicate with their clients whenever they want seem hell bent on ignoring the users. Why don’t they survey, and perhaps resurvey, clients BEFORE making changes. Among other things, they might find out they need a whole lot fewer technies hanging around the office dreaming up change just because it can be done.

    1. I’m sure there’s a method to their madness. They just choose not to tell us. I wouldn’t expect a huge corporation to explain its every move to non-paying clients, but a little smoothing of ruffled feathers is usually good PR.

  11. Just checked the WP forum thread on this topic and it’s up to 7 pages of comments/complaints. The few interjections and suggestions by Happiness Engineers have been off base, useless, not on point, etc. However, the thread is still open if anyone wants to add their two cents.

  12. I had to try again. I added this to the thread:

    WP, would it be possible to offer both your “new and improved” GUI and an alternate “advanced” GUI (the one you removed) for those of us who want to use it? Put the advanced options on a separate tab, like they were before, or perhaps provide a way to toggle one or the other. Or maybe Visual Editor, Text Editor, and Advanced Editor pages.

    Two GUIs. One for beginners, one for advanced users.

    Or one for the “social network types,” if that’s your goal, and one for the serious bloggers.

    WP was founded for bloggers and built from a blogger base. Please don’t abandon us.

  13. Thanks much for capturing the old image settings pages! I want to write a feature-for-feature comparison/review to show what was taken away, what was altered in a dopey way, and what, if anything may be an “improvement” (what they called all of it in the News announcement).

    1. They haven’t fixed it until they put the border and margin settings back the way they were. And the color options. If I wanted to muck around with HTML, I wouldn’t need WordPress.

... and that's my two cents