WordPress Hates Your Furniture (UPDATED 2/10/12)


UPDATE 2/10/12: Based on Matt’s reply in the WordPress forums, we are now licking their collective boot as it seems they intend to continue rolling out this horrible “feature” to “the rest of the themes that work with it” so even though you might not currently use the themes first affected, you may end up feeling our pain in the end — figuratively, of course. The forum thread has been closed and it appears we lost. In the meantime, anybody considering doing some blog housekeeping might want to put it off because it’s obvious that Big Brother is not done messing with you.

Me? I’m looking for a new host as this whole situation and the result of it was poorly thought-out and implemented. WordPress cheated on me, thus possibly bringing a sad ending to a relationship that once flourished. It smacks of selfishness and won’t soon be forgiven, if at all.

And thanks to everyone who chimed in on the forum and here. Interaction is part of the reason why I blog.

 – Dave

P.S. I’m over at Blog.com and they appear to have some nice themes, nice options and an interface is very similar to WP. Here’s my current theme. Might be moving in tonight…

My blog is my home on the Web. It’s where I can kick up my heels at the end of the day and blather about whatever topic I choose and then interact with those who may have an opinion on it. It’s my place and all are welcome.

As my home, I take great care in keeping it neat and tidy as I see fit and being in the midst of my self-mandated Facebook break has given me time to do so. This is exactly what I did on Tuesday night when I spent a good couple of hours searching for the right theme, getting specs for the banner so that I could create one in Photoshop, rearranging widgets, etc. By the end of the night I had everything exactly where I wanted it. My home makeover was complete and I was happy.

But something terribly wrong happened overnight: my home was robbed. My footers, for which I specifically chose my theme, were gone and curiously, my Home page was no longer limiting the number of posts (currently set to two).

I thought for a moment that WordPress.com, my blog host since parting ways with Blogger in 2007, was just having a big hiccup and my home’s furniture would soon be back in place.

No such luck. To put it metaphorically, WordPress replaced my couch with a gigantic conveyor belt and pulled the rug – it really tied the room together – out from underneath me.

I later learned that The Powers That Be at WordPress decided to “upgrade” a few themes while users who relied on said themes were snuggled up in their beds. While I love what WordPress has done over the years to make blogging better than ever, this move leaves a lot to be desired.

The bad thing about this bone-headed decision is that it was done without user consent, input or warning. Instead of an e-mail giving us warning that our homes would be ransacked, users had to seek out this post on WordPress’ forums (click to enlarge):

this sucks

Gee, thanks a lot, matiasventura.

We all woke up to things not being the way we left them and judging by the replies in the forum thread, nobody is happy with it. And you know, it’s a good thing I had the wherewithal to think of going to the forum for an answer. I can only imagine what Johnny Blogger, the grade-school kid and aspiring writer who just opened his WordPress account, might be thinking and how frustrated he may be.

It seems that WordPress, for whatever reason, decided to make this move on the sly. I am subscribed to their RSS News feed where they joyfully shout about all the latest and greatest features they have rolled out or plan to roll out and strangely enough, this “enhancement” was mysteriously absent.

I’m one of those who is extremely disappointed that WordPress would decide what users want rather than let the users suggest what they need. While I do realize that WordPress does offer a free service and can do as it sees fit, what they did (or failed to do in this case) was absolutely one of the most unprofessional decisions they’ve made.

But not all they offer is free. WordPress charges for a number of services (click to enlarge):

wpfees

In addition to that, a selection of themes can be purchased with prices ranging from $45 to $99. It’s disappointing enough that I’ve spent $12 since 2007 for my site redirect and had no say in the matter of this change, so I can only imagine how those who have purchased more than one service feel about it.

Aside from the lack of notification and fees users may have paid over the years, why are they so up in arms about things?

“Infinite scrolling” is a bad idea despite what WordPress tells us: Here’s where the whole conveyor belt thing kicks in. Before the change, users could limit the number of posts to whatever they wanted which in my case was two. Sometimes my posts are long and sometimes they are not so that number seemed like a logical choice. With infinite scrolling, readers will continue to scroll the Home page and should they hang around long enough (they may not depending on their Internet connection’s speed), they could end up seeing one of my over 920 posts since 2004. So much for keeping things simple.

Footers served a purpose on Home pages: Since my visible posts were limited to two, I used the footer widgets to add relevant, handy links such as the Calendar, Recent Posts, Archives, etc. They were a great way to put a bow on the package and judging from some of the clicks in my stats, they were effective – even if in place for only one day. The two themes affected by this change no longer have Home page footers which puts a damper on things. Footers are still on the bottom of individual posts.

Floating banner ad: In addition to taking away two features, the Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven themes now have a floating banner at the bottom of the page which blatantly tells visitors which theme I am using. Many of my users are not bloggers and could care less about who is hosting or the theme I am using, so how exactly is this more useful than killing the footers and not limiting scrolling? Put both theme and host name back in the corner or at the bottom where they’ve been.

Fine, it’s their choice but at least let me opt-out: Seriously, this is a stupid move and not giving us the choice to opt-out makes it even worse.

So for all of the affected users, all those hours spent to get things just right ended up for naught. As the community waits to see what WordPress will do to rectify the situation, if they choose to do anything at all, we are once again left with the burden of scrolling through pages and pages of themes and customizing widgets in the hopes of finding the perfect fit for our home.

Then, once again, everything will be perfect.

That is until someone else decides to make another unwanted overnight visit and thinks our furniture sucks.

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