WordPress no longer paving cow paths

Screenshot from Matt Mullenweg's presentation, "State of the Word 2011"

Screenshot from Matt Mullenweg’s presentation “State of the Word 2011”

A desire path (also known as a desire line, social trail, goat track, pig trail or bootleg trail) can be a path created as a consequence of foot or bicycle traffic. The path usually represents the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination. Width and erosion severity can be indicators of how much traffic a path receives. Desire paths emerge as shortcuts where constructed ways take a circuitous route, have gaps, or are non-existent. — Wikipedia

Currently there’s another “discussion” raging on the WordPress forums (9 pages and counting). It involves our being forced, almost, into using the New Editor (Beep Beep Boop) instead of the Classic Editor. If you haven’t encountered the changes yet, you will as soon as your current cookies expire. If you previously opted to default to the Classic Editor, you’ll find that default no long works. Try to start a new post, or edit an existing one, and you’ll find yourself facing Beep Beep Baloney again. And this time there won’t be any links to take you on to the Classic Editor. WP Happiness Engineers keep insisting the Classic Editor will still be available; there just won’t be any links to it. (And yet there’s still a link from the old editor to the new …) It’s pretty obvious what they’re trying to do, isn’t it?

One commenter, tpenguinltg, has created a user script that you can install in your browser (using Tampermonkey, GreaseMonkey, or something similar) that will forward you automatically from the New Editor to the Classic Editor, without relying on a cookie, but if you aren’t already into that sort of thing, it might not be easy to implement (I happen to have Tampermonkey installed because I once needed it for something else, but I don’t recall now what was involved).

Oh, and a comment today brought something else to my attention. Apparently WP intends to do away with the revisions feature that the editor has always had. Want to revert to a previous version, or check back on how you phrased something in an earlier draft? Too bad.

We’re being railroaded. Again.

The whole exhausting, infuriating mess reminds me of my post back in 2011, “WordPress: Paving cow paths.” The relevant portion explained something Matt Mullenweg said:

A few days ago WordPress users got a letter from Matt — Matt Mullenweg, WP’s founding developer — reporting on the growth of his baby. In the course of his presentation (“State of the Word 2011″), he spoke of WP’s reliance on “Desire Paths” to determine the company’s direction. He likened it to paving cow paths, something anyone who has ever been on a college campus recognizes immediately. Campus designers can build all the pretty sidewalks they want, but students will create their own paths along the routes they want to use, regardless of where the sidewalks go. Wise planners pave the paths created by the students.

I bought into that — hook, line, and sinker.

But clearly now, WordPress is no longer paving cow paths. The “Desire Paths” of WP’s users are no longer relevant.



Categories: blogging, WordPress

22 replies

  1. My trouble with Beep Beep Boop is it occasionally strips text codes. That, for poetry post can be traumatic. And the handling of widgets is less than optimum. I understand why Automattic ( WordPress.com parent) wants a “more” mobile friendly interface, but the changes to the backend for browser based users have me posting here with the most down and dirty and simple templates, and moving the main sites to managed WP hosting, with Squarespace as a back up.

    • All those machinations should be unnecessary. As they once were. I just can’t understand why, after all these months of aggravation, they still haven’t managed to produce a fully functional New Editor that doesn’t strip text codes and does everything the Classic Editor does.

      • Because if it did everything the Classic Editor did, it’d be the Classic Editor. And the Powers That Be have decided they don’t want to support the red-headed step-child.

        • And it’s obvious that the powers-that-be who make the decisions about the editing screen have never produced a blog post in their lives.

          • Ditto. Something that happens in many industries as they try to get technology that is useful to their employees and works right easily. Developers do not understand what is needed and why – or care to learn

            • In fairness, my son, a developer, pointed out that devs only develop and implement what their higher ups tell them to develop. The decision to change the editor and put something different in place was made by middle or upper level management. But whoever is responsible, I’m confident that everyone at WP is working on a full-sized computer, a large screen, and nimble, high-performance, full-featured, editing and production software. They aren’t trying to do it on “mobile devices.”

  2. Is this with wordpress.org or .com? I haven’t noticed any changes in the free platform. And I have no idea what Beep Beep Boop is. Are you talking about that weird thing you end up in when you click on the dropdown and then click add post? Not when you’re in the dashboard but at your homepage? If so, then that sucks.

    Get tired of the compulsive change. Sigh…

    Annie

    • It’s with WP.com, the free platform. Surely you’ve seen Beep Beep Boop by now. It was introduced last fall. Whenever you want to start a new post or edit an existing one, you’ll see a baby blue screen that says Beep beep boop with some moving bubbles before the editing screen opens. It used to hang on the bubble screen for an infuriatingly long time but now it’s down to just a brief flash. After the bubbles you get the New Editor, which has a baby blue background (and no option change it).

  3. maybe its just me and my dislike of change but it seems a little less feature rich to me. unless I cant find it the classic editor had an option to view “all time” traffic to my site. for instance I could see how many visitors I had in a day, week, month, year or the total time my blog has been active. not it seems I’m limited to individual years to view statistics and I cant get a “big picture” anymore. its a small gripe but its the one thing that comes to mind amongst other small things i dislike with it.

    • No, it’s not just you. It is less feature rich, clumsier, slower, and harder on the eyes. I’m all for genuine improvement, but this is definitely NOT an improvement. It’s a terrible step backwards.

      Your viewer stats are on the stats page, not the editor page, and the stats page was “improved” a while back. I’ve continued to use the old stats page by bookmarking it in my browser (wordpress.com/my-stats). (There’s also a link to the old page if you scroll to the very bottom of the new page.) As a result I hadn’t noticed the loss of the viewer numbers you mention (top posts for the week, month, quarter, year, and all time), which I value highly as you can see in my footer. You can still get those numbers on the old stats page. I just took a peek at the new page, and it does have some weeks, months, and years stats at the very top, if those are the ones you mean. Looks like I’m going to have to complain to WP yet again.

      • ah, never noticed the button on the very bottom, nice. yeah its the viewer numbers thing. The new page is seemingly missing the “all time” option which I always liked.

        its funny it was mentioned so many sites are converting over to be more mobile device friendly. 9 out of 10 times on my mobile device I actually click on the “desktop view” option if its available since I usually find the “mobile view” option to display less and often times is kinda buggy for me.

        • I do the same thing. I like to see the pages as they were originally designed and laid out, not all broken up into incoherent “mobile views.” I can’t even understand the mobile view for this blog! Don’t know how anyone else makes any sense of it.

        • Oops. In fairness to WP, I just found the all time option on the new stats page. Under Top Posts & Pages, click Summaries in the top right corner. All the breakdowns are available there. But I’m still going to use the old stats. I like being able to mouse over the columns in the bar graph and see what I posted, if anything, on a given day.

  4. I refer to the new editor as the “Blue Death Editor” – seems a more accurate description to me – the arrogance of blowing my editor cookies away

    One of the staff said the button to switch editors was not being used all that much – well – with a cookie set, you use the button once to set the cookie for the editor preference and that is that – they don’t even know how to properly do stats and usage.

    Using that great logic – email config settings are not needed – you use them once and forget about them unless you change email accounts – so with WordPress.COM logic the email systems should get rid of the config options since they are only used once every few years

    • The link from the new editor to the Classic — one line of text, one hyperlink — is obviously not enough to “break” their precious new editor. And they know as well as we do that a lot of people weren’t using it because we had ways around it via the cookie they once offered, or a bookmark. I see three reasons for its removal — they thought no one used it anymore, they want to pressure more of us into using the new editor (not as long as I can get to the old one), and they don’t want new users to know they have the option of a different editor. I’m reasonably certain that eventually they will dump the old editor entirely; otherwise they wouldn’t be making it more and more difficult to access. If they cared at all about us they’d be making access easier; they’d be giving us the option.

      What I haven’t understood since the new editor was first introduced is why they’re trying so hard to produce a “one size fits all” editing platform. It’s so obviously that they should go with a full-sized, full-featured editor for computer users with larger screens and something more compact and nimble (“WordPress Lite”) for mobile users. That’s the way the world works today. I don’t know why they insist on swimming against the current, except that stats show more people now use mobile devices than computers and the gulf continues to widen. Mobile increasing, computer declining. Even so, I imagine most of the Internet pages that those mobile users visit were created by designers and developers using full sized screens and some really hefty publishing software. (Of course, it’s probably cheaper to maintain a single platform.)

      Perhaps WP recognizes that the line between computers and “mobile” devices is becoming blurred. My son brought over his Surface Pro to make the point. It had either a 13″ or 15″ screen and a keyboard, but it’s thinner, lighter, and smaller overall than my 15″ laptop. It doesn’t have a computer OS; it just runs a browser. It straddles the line between computer and “mobile device,” whatever that means anymore.

      But yes, we will be ignored. There probably aren’t more than 100 different people complaining on that forum. And WordPress has hundreds of thousand of bloggers, if not millions. Do the math. They’re just letting us blow off steam while they go ahead and do exactly what they’ve always intended to do.

  5. I did 3 new posts just today PT, and had no trouble getting to the classic editor. My Firefox is supposed to clear all my cookies when I close it and I’ve certainly done that a few times since I did my last post on Sunday. Of course, since Mozilla has been known break things in their mad rush to update their browser, I’m going to bookmark tpenguinltg’s post about the user script – just in case. 😉

    • Glad to hear you’ve had no problems.

      Between the script and bookmarks, I have several ways to get to the classic editor. Also the “classic” stats page. But frankly I expect both to disappear completely at some point. And then I’ll be forced to used the new junk (which might even work by then).

  6. I recently lost all the paragraph formatting on a post that I had written in the old editor but was making a simple correction on in the new editor. The Happiness Engineer I contacted said, “The editor has always been pretty tricky with collapsing extra spaces. Sometimes it retains them, and sometimes when you edit a post that has them, it strips them out.”

    WordPress.com – sometimes this, sometimes that, no big deal to the Happiness Engineers!

    • That’s the problem with all the constant changes. They should develop a rock solid editor that doesn’t collapse spaces or ignore formatting or do any other undesirable things and leave it alone.

"Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance." ~ Plato

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