Where did WordPress go wrong?

About a year ago, I was introduced to WordPress as an alternative to Blogger, and it was an attractive alternative – simple to use, and if you needed help, it was straightforward to figure out.

Another thing that was beautiful about WordPress was that it was small – just about 1 meg to download and install on your server.

Something else that I thought they were good at, at least at one point in time, was backwards compatibility – i.e. a new version would come out and the immediately previous one would continue to be maintained (like what just about every other software company – even Microsoft – does).

However, that all changed when it came to version 2.5. Among the little notes they included was that 2.3 would no longer be supported. It’s something I hadn’t mentioned when I blogged about it in the past, but it’s something that is important when you have a large userbase.

What happened to supporting old versions?

Admittedly, 2.6 isn’t very different to 2.5 (well, unless you include the database bloat that is post revisions {Side note – I wonder how long it will be before people are getting warned by their hosts about databases filling up due to all the revisions?}, tons of bugs that didn’t happen until upgrading and the fact that the widgets page is still messed up), but there are people who are satisfied with 2.5 and don’t need to upgrade yet, especially when you have a build that has a ton of unnecessary features and just plain old junk included.

Well, except for the Theme Previews – I like that idea, but that’s really for someone who likes to change themes very frequently, which I don’t recommend doing, unless you’re running a test blog and checking if a certain theme works with a specific version of WP.

Oh, by the way, you can’t turn off any of these new “features” directly through the admin panel. If you want to turn them off, you have to edit the wp-config.php file, which is almost akin to editing the registry in Windows – if you mess something up, you could completely bork your blog. I guess that’s something they must have forgotten about – flexibility in the system.

Anyway, one thing I didn’t notice until now when re-reading the announcement post (which I notice doesn’t have any trackbacks on it…I wonder why that is…) was this line, and I guess you have to pardon the poor English of the writer :| -

The 2.5 branch will no longer be maintain so everyone is encouraged to upgrade.

Yep, much like when 2.5 was released, the immediately previous version will be dropped like a hot potato. In fact, in looking through the bug tracking site, I notice that as of right now, two milestones – 2.3.4 and 2.5.2 – have disappeared completely off of the roadmap.

wptraccache While looking at the current Google Cache of the site from July 14th at 1:18AM Central Time (US) (image at right, click for a larger version, because you know that it will change soon), you can see the 2.5.2 and 2.3.4 milestones still there, and still with bugs open. Also, the 2.6 release, which was claimed to have been released a month early, had a due date of the 14th. How does that equate to a month early? Anyone? Bueller? By the way, I find it very disconcerting that, within the space of a single day or so, i.e. 24 hours, 759 active tickets (80% of the total) were dealt with – most of them look like they were shuffled off to another version, as only 204 closed tickets show up on the 2.6 milestone page. Thankfully this major bug was fixed, however. I know that I’ll sleep that much more comfortably now…

That brings me to my question – where did WordPress go so wrong? The first step was paying for something that was unnecessary (the new interface in 2.5), then adding a 200+kb unzipping program, and now adding something that will undoubtedly get people in trouble with their hosts for filling their database up quicker than they ever thought. If you need help, however, you can count on the folks on the WordPress forums to assist you, that is when they’re not demanding information in a way they insist it be (which is really nice when you’re trying to finish an upgrade and the blog is telling you over and over and over and over again that you need to login again, on three separate browsers and after clearing the cookies).

Even when a workaround is suggested, it’s not allowed to be marked as a fix, but a workaround, because it might, on some distant planet, open a security hole.

I gotta say that after one experience of upgrading to 2.6 and finding this bug, I’m not ready to recommend that anyone move to it yet. If you have and it does work without any problems, that’s good news to hear, but if you’re on a blog that’s not on the root directory, you might want to wait, because it seems that these problems occur when in this situation.

Further Reading

If you want some more to read on the situation, check out these posts -

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17 Comments »

  1. Snoskred said,

    July 20, 2008 @ 1.11 am

    Hey,

    I also find it extremely disconcerting that 759 bugs were dealt with in that space of time – but if I remember correctly the same thing happened with 2.5?

    Great post by the way – much better than mine! ;) You cover a lot of areas I didn’t.

    Cheers,
    Snoskred

  2. bloggingzoom.com said,

    July 20, 2008 @ 1.23 am

    Where did WordPress go wrong? | Sephy’s Platzish…

    It is time we users of WordPress start to ask some important questions. In this post, Sephy raises some of those important questions – like where did 759 bugs disappear to in 24 hours or so, whatever happened to supporting old versions of WordPress, wi…

  3. And Now For Something Completely Different | Snoskred - Life in the Country said,

    July 20, 2008 @ 2.13 am

    [...] On a recent blog topic, Sephy has posted Where Did WordPress Go Wrong? [...]

  4. Defeating Bad Scrapers the Free and Easy Way said,

    July 20, 2008 @ 8.10 am

    [...] with long links. Thankfully, most link anchors are only a few words, like when Sephy wrote "Where did WordPress go wrong?" and linked to one of my articles with just two [...]

  5. Some annoying things about WordPress said,

    July 20, 2008 @ 10.54 am

    [...] 2) The WordPress updates are too frequent – Although necessary, it still annoys me to no end. The only way it wouldn’t annoy is if there was a one button push to update the entire blog, just like the plugins. As long as that feature is not a reality, upgrading WordPress will always be annoying. Especially for those that have dozens or more blogs. Quite disturbing is the fact that older WordPress versions will NOT be supported at all, including WordPress 2.5. [...]

  6. GaMerZ said,

    July 20, 2008 @ 3.23 pm

    WP is getting way too bloated. I think they should have a branch called WordPress lite similarly on how they branch out WPMU.

  7. Rajaie AlKorani said,

    July 21, 2008 @ 4.49 pm

    Thanks for the link love! :)

    I agree with you that the WordPress developers are just releasing new versions for the sake of it, and way to fast as a matter of fact. As for the support forums, they are definitely not the best place to get yourself some help, I’ve tried and failed many times :(

  8. Rhys said,

    July 21, 2008 @ 6.15 pm

    Thanks for the heads up on this one Snoskred!

    “More is Better” is a fallacy that afflicts all software makers it seems. Can’t resist adding another bell and another whistle to make it ‘more attractive’. ‘More attractive’ is often counterproductive, and the new features, especially anything that contributes to data bloat, should be optional extras that can be turned on or off in the control panel.

    Most of us just want to get on with it with the least number of distractions, and I find all this logging into every blog every time quite irritating!

    However, got to give the up-graders a 10 for trying!

  9. Alex said,

    July 22, 2008 @ 3.20 pm

    Nice to see am not alone in my sentiment on WP. Love the platform but damn it! It is getting too much like freaking Microsoft. Bloated and too often insecure coding.

    Cheers

  10. Thaya Kareeson said,

    July 22, 2008 @ 4.31 pm

    Though my blog is always on the bleeding edge of upgrades, I have to agree with you on this. I feel obligated to upgrade every time since support for older versions is dropped so quickly. Usually this doesn’t break anything, but there is always a chance that the upgrade will bring down your site. That’s why having a good staging, production, and backup system in place is probably one of the most important thing in webmastering a website. Once in place, you can test out the upgrade on your staging site before making it live. And if you find bugs after going live, you can restore from your (hopefully automated) backups.

  11. Stephen Cronin said,

    July 22, 2008 @ 8.50 pm

    Hi Sephy,

    Seems like some serious problems. I’m glad that I have a policy of hanging of upgrades until I see the fallout!

    I find it interesting that in the past they seemed to have an idealogy of keeping the WordPress core lean, then people could add the functionality they wanted by adding plugins. Now they seem to be adding a lot of extra stuff to the core and bloating as Lester says…

  12. John Leavitt said,

    July 23, 2008 @ 12.13 am

    If you want to stop the revision bloat, I wrote a tiny little plugin called No Revisions that turns them off. Otherwise, I haven’t (yet) had any real problems with 2.6. Time will tell, I suppose.

  13. bloglancer.net said,

    July 23, 2008 @ 2.09 am

    Where did WordPress go wrong?…

    A brief review of the latest WordPress version, 2.6 and its bug fixes and new features. Is fixing the bugs an opening hole in the security of a WordPress driven site? This reminds me to never publish the version of WordPress I’m using on my sites….

  14. Jonathan said,

    July 23, 2008 @ 5.43 am

    I’ve actually toyed with the idea of a fork of WordPress, based on 2.3. Anyone else interested in such a project?

  15. Forest said,

    July 28, 2008 @ 9.00 pm

    I think WordPress is mostly better but do sometimes miss the functionality of blogger… just open and blog, simple.

    Great post, cheers.

  16. Adva said,

    August 1, 2008 @ 6.22 pm

    Well I never liked WordPress so I’m pleased to find some slight support for my dislike of what I consider to be a highly overrated piece of dootware. It’s way too complicated to use without a 500 page manual and way too tiresome to bother with – even though I have forced myself to put a blog together. Blogger is much easier to use, it is just a bit uglier – but for filling cyberspace up with assorted bits of trivia and nonsense it is more than adequate.

  17. Firma de contabilitate said,

    January 17, 2011 @ 12.09 pm

    Well wordpress is always rocking because you have control over everything, i mean that. in case of blogger your enemies or competitors can flag up your blog and get it blocked/closed but in this case all of the content is hosted by you on your own web host, this makes a hell lot of different and this is just the beginning

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