If it ain’t broke

I have tried blogging platforms apart from WordPress and have found them too restrictive or unpleasant to use. I had a few stabs at helping a friend develop a “network of networks” on another platform (N**g) I was reduced to helpless gibbering, as its counter-intuitive interface actually sucked out my previously adequate knoweldge of html and css and replaced them with complete incomprehension. So, I am a diehard fan of WordPress. It doesn’t leave you stupider than before you start using it.

But, the new WordPress upgrade is annoying. For silly things, granted, but it’s still infuriating.

The old admin interface discreetly offered you lots of choices that you could ignore except once every few months. This one puts lots of items (that you don’t care about) in your face, as soon as you login.

Usually, I open this interface to post. For instance, I don’t much care who has linked to the blog, if those links are just spam pingbacks or from sites with a working Atheist Blogroll (which you will no longer find here, for reasons we can’t fathom.) If it’s a real link, I’ll find it anyway. WordPress news doesn’t really interest me much. If I want to read it, I’ll look at the WordPress site. And so on.

When I started using the new interface, there was a confusing Quick Draft window in the top right corner. Confusing because I didn’t know if this was the new Post window. In which case, it feels so cramped that I really don’t want to use it.

It made me wonder – will my drafts be “quick” enough to match some conceptual terms of use? My long drawn out blogging process : finger-pecking characters, writing drafts, rereading, typo-searching, changing my mind, rewriting whole paragraphs only to make them worse – and so on. It ain’t “quick.”

Maybe the interface will give you five minutes and post things, when you don’t expect it. (That happens often enough anyway, by accident.) That would be “quick.” Because, otherwise, it looks as if writing in the Quick Post window might turn out to be slower than using the old-fashioned and more generously-proportioned Post Window.

Faffing about nervously with that little rectangle, I spot Posts – Add New. This mercifully brings me to a window much more like the old one. But it still puts disconcerting things all over the screen.

For instance, “Excerpt”, which tells me that Excerpts are “optional hand-crafted summaries of your content.” So, something like an Abstract, then? It’s hard enough to write an Abstract for an academic piece. Why would anyone want to write an abstract of their blog post? To my recollection, academic Abstracts exist mainly so that hard-pressed post-graduate research students can use them for “I’ve read that”- bluffing purposes. Is anyone going to bluff reading a blog post?

Phew, at least writing an Abstract Excerpt is still “optional.” You won’t lose marks if you don’t bother. But you can “use them in your template.” (Why?) With a “template” link that I choose not to follow, to avoid getting sucked further into a WordPress shadow world, in which a blog exists to make use of WordPress capacities, instead of the other way round.

I love WordPress. It’s brilliant. I am a bit sad that it seems to be about to fall into the canal that separates “useful new features” from “bloatware.”

Function creep means that any software revision has to have lots of extra features, way beyond the point at which they serve any purpose except to distinguish the new version from the one before.

I understand why this has to be so for commercial programs. If Adobe doesn’t convince buyers that the new Photoshop has many more desirable functions than the last version, unemployed software writers will be streaming out of their factory saying “The dream is over,” (like the workforce of the Baby-Get-Well-Cards factory, in the Simpsons episode in which Homer swathed all the Springfield babies in PPE.)

WordPress though? Surely, WordPress is partly a labour of love and partly an opportunity fro shit-hot coders to show their brilliance. In which case, hiding the upgraded stuff in the background and leaving the old-fashioned interface intact would suit me better.

4 thoughts on “If it ain’t broke

  1. I always consider the “excerpt” field to be a précis of the post. Saying that, it’s never been one of those features that I’ve used with any frequency.

    One thing I do like about the new interface is the fact that most options have widgets to close them if they’re not being used, even on the dashboard. You can also reorder and customise some of the panels too; I’ve removed as much of the “latest WordPress” crap, I don’t need to see it. I could change these feeds to something else, but I’ve not bothered yet.

    It’s growing on me, and the install-a-plugin-without-faffing-about-with-download/extract/upload/activate feature is a definite boon. Yeah, I’m lazy as hell. 😉

  2. Kudos to you for exploring the new WordPress features. I just keep stumbling around until I find what I want and keep writing in the same old way. I agree with your caution against bloatware. I don’t know why people keep fixing stuff that ain’t broken.

  3. I felt the same way about it when I saw what got changed. I like to take my time composing my stuff. I don’t know why the quick entry screen would be necessary. It all looks so cluttered. I don’t get the compulsion to change for the sake of changing. I saw it at Walmart all the time when I worked in Ladies’ wear. It was all about keeping the look of the place fresh, but every store is “freshening up” their displays to exactly the same specs as every other store. Move this brand there, move those shirts here.. confuse the person who only works two days a week when she points to a rack of fancy tops that haven’t been there since Tuesday and thus make her look stupid in front of customers who already think she must be at the low end of the IQ scale just because she’s got the vest on…

    Anyway, I’m getting used to the look of it now but I’m still only using the bits I used before. I think I like the Readomattic though. I’ve used that more than I ever used tag surfer.

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