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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21 thoughts on “WordPress Hates Your Furniture (UPDATED 2/10/12)

  1. Nicely put. I made a longish comment two posts above yours on the WP discussion thread. I won’t repeat it here. Suffice it to say that we agree. Let’s hope that WP acknowledges the error and fixes it. That is what a great company would do.

    Cheers!

    John

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    • Thanks, John. I truly hope WP listens and responds with the right thing. This move did nothing but mess up a lot of places and create even more work for users.

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  2. Agreed, and well put. Blogs do start to feel like a tangible space after you’ve spent enough time tending them. To log in and find that someone rearranged your things without asking is surprisingly upsetting, even if the change is relatively minor.

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    • Thanks. Yes, blogs are our homes and a lot of effort goes into making them feel that way. I’m not cool with how this change went down or that it happened at all. Our blogs have been shot down in the name of “progress.”

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  3. Well put! You’ve encapsulated all my frustrations with this ‘neat new feature’. Urgh! I’m absolutely LIVID about it. And appalled that they aren’t scrambling to apologise and offer us an opt-out or disable option! (http://namibsands.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/dear-wordpress-com-stop-messing-with-our-themes/). I am most upset at now having to find another theme, and customise all my settings all over again, when it took ages the last time!

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    • Thank you! I opted for this theme (Duster) as it is similar to the affected ones. It’s not exactly what I wanted but it’s close, but that’s not the point. It was very intrusive of WordPress to say, “Hey, let’s go and piss on all of the hard work our users have put into their blogs!” It’s wrong and hopefully will be reversed.

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  4. Hey Dave,
    It sounds like they are making netflix bonehead moves. We know how that turned out. Anyways, I do hope they fix it and take care of everyone.
    Cheers!

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    • You know, I’ve been happy with them since the beginning but one simple move like this really sets me off. What is this? Facebook? No, I have a choice of themes, widgets, etc. that sets me apart from Facebook. This was a dumb move that should have never been done.

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    • Really? It was for me although when I chose it, there was a warning at the top telling me it had been upgraded to Twenty Ten (or Eleven, I forget).

      Strange that it’s not showing up for you. Good luck in finding it or a replacement that suits your needs, even though we shouldn’t have to be going through all this hassle.

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  5. I agree with you, though this is definitely not the first time that WP has done something that has caused widespread outrage. I’ve been blogging here since 2009 and some while back (after the last time I got really annoyed with them) I had a look at the archives of their own blog and starting from the beginning, had a look at how many changes they’d made and over what period of time – and there are far, far too many.

    I wrote a ten-page guide for new bloggers a few months back which I have on another wordpress account (and shall probably close as also don’t know how much longer I can stay around here) and it took me months to write as, everytime I demonstrated how to do things, they changed it. They’ve changed almost everything I can think of – including commenting buttons, admin bar, dashboard, dashboard menus, sharing buttons, like buttons, notifications… all sorts. And they’ve before now pulled a theme that was very popular – which make people lose all their customisations because they got a different theme they didn’t want in its place very suddenly. So this doesn’t really surprise me, but it does annoy me.

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    • Thanks for your comment, Val. It is a real shame what they are pulling with us. Like everyone else, all of your hard work was thrown out the window in the name of what WP considers “progress.”

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    • Wow, now isn’t that interesting? Pretty lame if you ask me.

      FYI, I’m testing out blog.com and they have both Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven themes without infinite scrolling and with footers intact. Might be worth checking out if you are interested. As of now, it looks pretty nice.

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  6. Further to my earlier comment here, I was searching today again for “infinite scrolling” on the forums because this scrolling is terribly annoying. And we’ve won!!! They’ve given us an option to disable it! Just go to settings – reading – and unclick the “infinite scroll” button.

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