Will Gutenberg kill WordPress as a writer’s platform?

gutenbergdonotwant

Almost every WordPress.com blogger has no doubt seen that irritating little blue blurb that keeps appearing at the bottom of the editing screen:  “A new editor is coming to level up your layout,” followed by a “learn more” offer that you can click on if you really want to learn more.   Over in the editor sidebar (where you find your status, post settings, categories and tags, sharing info, etc.) at the bottom is another distracting box offering you to try out the “new editor.”

Not many people like change, especially older folks like me.   Those of us who write for a living or just for fun who just want a nice big easy space to write in (like we have with the Classic Editor) don’t want to have to worry about “blocks” and dragging and dropping them around to “build a page.”  We just want to write, dammit.

Because essentially, what Gutenberg is, is not an editing platform intended for writers, but a page builder geared more for web designers or people more into building a page than writing text.   I know this because, even though I haven’t tried Gutenberg yet myself (and hope I never will have to),  I have watched many tutorials on Youtube about how it works, and have done  a lot of reading and research on it, including the user reviews over at WordPress.org., where users have already been forced to adopt it — unless they install a “Classic Editor” or “Disable Gutenberg” plugin so they can continue to write their posts the old way.   And, not surprisingly, the “classic editor” plugin is, at the moment, the most popular WordPress.org plugin ever, with over a million downloads already.   That’s a pretty clear message for the WP staff, but they appear to not care.  Like Trump, they’re just going to plow ahead and do things the way they want, and to hell with the people forced to adapt to this unwanted change.

People hate Gutenberg, at least people who want to just write, and that’s most WordPress users.    Since most WordPress users, both at WP.com and WP.org, are writers and bloggers first, and were attracted to WordPress in the first place due to its user friendliness and intuitive writing platform (meaning you can easily figure it out on your own without a user manual or tutorials) that worked almost exactly like the popular Microsoft Word, which almost everyone already knew.  People happily chose WordPress when they were promised, “if you know how to use Word, you will be able to use WordPress.”  And it was true.   The classic WordPress editor is almost ridiculously easy to use and that’s one of the reasons WordPress is still the most popular content management system (CMS) around.

Gutenberg does not give you a nice clean WYSIWYG screen that can be easily toggled to an HTML screen (if you prefer entering your own code or have custom design), with all your editing choices neatly and clearly contained in an easy to read toolbar at the top and your other options in a sidebar well away from your text.     Instead, Gutenberg uses a system of “blocks,” in which every feature of your post must have its own block, even down to individual paragraphs and titles.   That means you cannot see your entire page all at once, and the blocks are too small to see much of your writing at a time.   Few writers can write well if they cannot see their entire post at once, because much of writing involves being able to see the whole thing in its entirety and then cut and paste and move things around, including pictures and captions.  The classic editor allows us to do that easily with one or two clicks, by highlighting text or graphics and then moving it or deleting it or whatever.    The classic editor is intuitive, meaning that you can learn it on your own without any special instructions.

In contrast, Gutenberg wastes your time by forcing you to work within a “block” and while these can also be moved around the page and edited, it takes more clicks and is much more complicated to do so, and involves things like hidden menus, cryptic symbols, and odd toolbars at the top of each block, and hidden icons that only appear if you hover over them within the block.   Some of these icons and toolbars actually block the block itself, so you can’t even see what you have written in the block.  If you are a writer who needs to be able to see the entire post to know how you want to edit it, forget it.   There’s no way to see your entire post in editing format.  To do that, you have to create a draft or preview (and then go back in the editor and edit the blocks, somehow remembering what you saw in the draft or preview, or keeping it in a separate tab).   Also, each time you hit < enter > it creates a new block which you then must delete.  There have been many other complaints about this system that I’m not even including in this post.   You can read the complaints for yourself in the link I have provided below.

Most of the comments I read said Gutenberg is much slower and clunkier than Classic editor, and has turned something that’s a joy (writing a post) into a dreaded and time consuming chore.   It’s complicated and nonintuitive, so it’s difficult to figure it out on your own.

samplegutenberg

Huh?

 

WordPress is trying (again) to fix something that isn’t broken.    I understand the system is still in its “beta” version and therefore has bugs which will probably get fixed later.  I also understand the company wants to remain tech savvy and up to date, and evidently, “block” editors like Gutenberg are the wave of the future.   In its desperation to be “relevant,” WordPress wants to throw away something that works so they can be more like Weebly or Wix (platforms which use block editors like Gutenberg).  But since most WP clients are writers, bloggers, or just regular folks trying to share their art, photography, or conduct business through their website, not web designers and page builders,  WordPress is really jumping the shark by forcing its users to adapt to such a drastic change that will require them to climb a very steep learning curve and take time away from actually writing or conducting their business.   I feel ultimately, WordPress users are going to go elsewhere that fits their needs better.

It feels like they are force feeding this change on us.  In fact, it feels almost like a form of internet fascism, with the staff at the WordPress.org review page showing little to no empathy for its users’ complaints and concerns, even blaming them for “resisting” having to learn something new, or belittling them for not liking change.    They are told to suck it up because that’s how it’s going to be, whether they like it or not.   Then they are “reassured” with a formulaic sentence telling them to install the classic plugin (when it’s actually Gutenberg, which is still full of bugs because it’s still in beta format, that should be the optional plugin) if they hate Gutenberg so much.   In the comments that don’t specify exactly what the person hates about Gutenberg, the staffer asks the user what the issue is.  Okay, fair enough.   But in the many other comments that DO specify, often in great detail, what the issues are, the staffers NEVER address the issues, only the user’s attitude and the only “help” given is to tell them to install the classic plugin.

Even if you don’t mind being condescended to and gaslighted by the WP.org staff, the plugin solution is only a temporary one.

Because the ultimate plan is to completely do away with the Classic Editor by 2022.   In three years, like it or not, we will all be forced to use Gutenberg.   There won’t be another option — except using a platform besides WordPress.  (Already, there is something called Classic Press in the works, created by WP defectors, for people who can’t or won’t use Gutenberg — I may be looking into that myself.)   I’ve seen enough of how Gutenberg works and read enough about it to know I will never have a good relationship with it.   If it doesn’t work for most users at WP.org (who tend to be a bit more technically savvy than WP.com users, since their websites and blogs are self hosted), then it’s going to be an absolute nightmare for us WP.com users.   Frankly, the whole idea of it terrifies me.

Here is a screenshot of the rankings of Gutenberg by WP.org users (and keep in mind that many of the five star reviews are actually bad reviews that were accidentally given five stars. I know because I’ve read many of these reviews):

gutenbergreview

In spite of the obvious bad reviews of this product,  one WP staff member (I will have to paraphrase since I can no longer find the post), in their usual condescending way, scolded one user who pointed out how many one star reviews there were.  The staff member actually said the review system was invalid and shouldn’t be believed.  Even more unbelievably, the staff member said that most people who loved Gutenberg (obviously, almost everyone) just weren’t writing reviews or ranking the product because happy people don’t write reviews or give stars.  WHAT?

WordPress.org appears to be gaslighting and shifting blame to its own users, and straight up making shit up to make themselves look superior and their own review system look invalid!    That’s crazy!  It makes me wonder if the people running WordPress.org are on the narcissism/Cluster B spectrum (someone else actually mentioned this to me).   I can’t say if they are or not, but blaming the users of a product for disliking a change because it doesn’t work for them and is making their writing experience unpleasant seems profoundly undemocratic and callous.   It seems that WordPress somehow knows it will benefit from forcing this change on people, even if most of those people wind up taking their websites somewhere else.   You gotta wonder who is paying them off.

So far, these changes haven’t been forced on WordPress.com users.  Yet.   But it’s coming.  We are reminded of it every time we open our editing screen.  When it finally is,  I intend to switch to the Classic Editor and keep using it as long as it’s still an option.  As for 2022, I’m not going to worry about that yet.   A lot can happen in three years.

Gutenberg has been compared by many to New Coke, another example of “fixing something that isn’t broken.”  Hopefully WordPress realizes their mistake decides to keep Gutenberg as an optional plugin (for people who actually like playing around with confusing blocks, like page builders and web developers), and Classic Editor as its default, rather than the other way around.    Gutenberg is NOT FOR WRITERS.

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55 thoughts on “Will Gutenberg kill WordPress as a writer’s platform?

  1. Reblogged this on silverapplequeen and commented:
    Between this new Gutenberg Editor & the way feminist pages on WordPress are being removed, I may be leaving WordPress for another blogging platform sometime in 2019. I have a lot of followers on WordPress but I don’t need another fight on my hands. I just want to write & publish.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “The staff member actually said the review system was invalid and shouldn’t be believed. ” In other words, “The ratings are Fake News.”

    I haven’t seriously examined Gutenberg, but can say I didn’t like the look of the sample page. I do my writing (other than comments) off-line in my word processor (similar to Word) and then copy-paste into the page. If Gutenberg is forced on me and interferes with that method, I will probably have to go elsewhere, pain in the ass that may be, but my words will be safe on my own hard drive.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yes! Exactly. They were being told what they saw with their own eyes was Fake News! On their own website! Incredible.

      I will go elsewhere too, if Gutenberg becomes the only option. I hate that they are doing this. It’s not the first time WP has forced unwanted changes, but this is the worst and people WILL leave.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Lauren Bennett and Bob Cabkings,

      I agree with both of you! Why can’t both systems co-exist? Diversity and choice should be fostered, not technocratic monoculture!

      I would really like to know what the rationality for having just only one system, when both have their own strengths and weaknesses, and each has its useful place in WordPress.

      I also wonder how portable a post composed using Gutenberg will be. A plain text or html document can be easily ported to any platform or word processor worth their salt. A Gutenberg-rendered post may have issues of compatibility with other platforms due to some insurmountable or fiddly issues that may affect its portability and code-compliance.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I’ve heard developers like it better because Google prefers it, whatever that means. They think it’s the “wave of the future” and want to be just like sites that use block editors, like Wix and Weebly.

        Personally? I suspect there’s money involved and someone is being paid off. People who have to use the thing are being thrown under the bus because we’re expendable.

        Liked by 2 people

            • Thank you for your reply, Lauren. 🙂 Furthermore, can you tell whether my post is fit for your consumption and to your liking?

              I do very much enjoy some feedback from you now and then at my blog. Thank you in anticipation. The said post is both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary.

              Given its length and structure, a navigational menu (situated at both the start and the end of the post) containing internal links has been implemented to allow readers to jump instantly to different sections within the post. Each of the sections also comes with its own stylized heading containing links.

              Hovering (with a mouse cursor or by other means) over a hyperlinked text or image may bring up a tooltip showing you additional information. So, it pays to hover on any item of interest to obtain extra information.

              Please be informed that you might need to use a desktop or laptop computer with a large screen to view the rich multimedia contents available for heightening your multisensory enjoyment at my websites, some of which could be too powerful and feature-rich for iPad, iPhone, tablet or other portable devices to handle properly or adequately. A fast broadband connection is also helpful. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            • Honestly, I don’t comment on other blogs much. I probably should, I used to a lot more, but lately have found I seem to have little time to even focus on my own blog, so I don’t have much time to comment on other blogs. I read selected articles but don’t always comment. I will try to Like even if I don’t comment, but please don’t be offended if I don’t. Like I said, it’s hard to find the time to focus on any blogs but this one. I’m still following you though, so your posts show up in my Reader, and if something looks really interesting, I will read it. That’s just how I roll right now. I wish I had more time.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Hi Lauren,

              I understand your lack of time. I would like to inform you that I too have been so occupied that I have not had time to publish even a single post for more than a year, even though I do make time to read and comment on others’ posts as much as I can.

              I invite you to read this particular post as I perceive you to be particularly intelligent, well-rounded and fair-minded, and that the “Quotation Fallacy” is a new term that I coined in order to describe and encapsulate many of the most entrenched and far-reaching issues concerning humanity as well as our day-to-day living. Should you ever decide to visit and read the post, you can be completely certain that it is no ordinary post at all in so many ways.

              Happy New Year’s eve to you!

              Liked by 1 person

    • I have done the almost the same thing … write in Word, scan my writing & then paste it into WP, because that was the only way I could get the justification correct. I already was having problems with WP on that score … the thing I liked best about WP is the community, I had gotten quite a few followers over the years & now I’ll have to rebuild all that. But I’m not interested in building a web page. I just want to publish poems & short essays.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I have heard of people doing that too (creating a Word document first) and pasting it into the WordPress template, EVEN ON GUTENBERG! Apparently, it’s one way around the problem of multiple blocks. You copy and paste your word document into a SINGLE BLOCK in Gutenberg. I feel like it most likely wouldn’t be that simple though. There’s still the issues with the heading and tags, categories, etc. that people are having problems with. And I’d think it would probably detect a link or any kind of graphic in a cut and pasted document. It probably only works for straight text.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I feel the same way. I have no idea where I’ll go if I ever have to leave WP. I won’t be forced into having to use Gutenberg. But I’ll sure miss the community here.

          As for other platforms, that will be hard too. No way do I want to go somewhere that also uses block editors (even if they’re easier than Gutenberg). There’s always Blogger but I hate Blogger for other reasons: no sharing options to social media, amateur looking (and far fewer) themes, and worst of all, it’s connected to Google, so I’d be forced to use (or change) my Google ID (which is my actual name, I think). Even commenting on Blogger is a pain. Due to not wanting to identify myself (because it defaults to your Google ID) I always have to choose the option “Anonymous” when commenting there. It’s very offputting. Tumblr? No, thanks. “Adult content” is no longer allowed and what exactly does that mean? How much would I be censored? I like to use the occasional profanity, even though otherwise my content is pretty clean and I have no interest in porn.

          Nyssa was talking about the the “fork” ClassicPress that’s been created as a spinoff from WP (and is actually part of it), but I think it’s most likely self hosted, and I’m definitely not interested in having a self hosted blog. Much too complicated for me.

          But for the next 3 years, we still have the classic editor, and maybe WP will finally decide to listen to its users and continue to keep classic editor, so maybe we will never have to worry about any of this. I hope.

          Liked by 3 people

          • Tumblr? No, thanks. “Adult content” is no longer allowed and what exactly does that mean? How much would I be censored?

            Since there are quite a few Tumblr blogs I regularly read, I’ve been following this story pretty closely. The popular name “Tumblrgeddon” is not unjustified. Right now they’re using an automated system which is flagging pictures of deserts, mineral samples, dinosaur bones, and suchlike as disallowed “sexually oriented” content. Tumblr management’s own “suicide note” post announcing the NSFW ban has itself been flagged by the automated system. Two blogs I regularly read have been deleted entirely (one of them did sometimes post sexually-oriented art; the other never did, but it was strongly pro-net-neutrality). As always in these situations, LGBT material is being judged most harshly. Tumblr is now owned by Verizon, which is pushing the change. Tumblr bloggers have an average age of 26 and are 72% female, not a demographic that the grey corporate world understands very well.

            There’s a lot of discussion among Tumblr bloggers about leaving for other platforms. There are some like AO3 and Pillowfort which are owned and run by fans and support themselves via member contributions; since they’ll never accept ads or corporate ownership, they can guarantee no content-based censorship or changes which the user base opposes. I think that model is the wave of the future. If something like WordPress existed, but owned and run by bloggers and funded by user contributions, it wouldn’t be pushing a new editing system on users who are clearly rejecting it. The same with the removal of feminist blogs cited by SAQ, assuming again that a guarantee of no content-based censorship was enshrined in the TOS.

            In the long run the user-owned platform model needs to prevail. Corporate ownership is the touch of death for creative communities like bloggers and artists.

            Liked by 2 people

            • That’s a damn shame what’s happening at Tumblr and how much nonsexual or peripherally sexual /LGBT material is being censored or banned. I definitely will not be using it then. Why would they do that? That’s practically suicide! Here in the WP.com support forum, I’d say at least 2/3 of the posts right now are from defectors from Tumblr interested in migrating their blogs to WordPress. I hope WP remains open to LGBT, feminist, and mildly sexual material, as it would seem many of the Tumblr defectors have those kinds of blogs.

              I feel like the religious right is infiltrating everything, including what kind of content can be viewed online now.
              Hardcore porn is one thing, and should definitely be limited to those of age, and not that easy to access. It’s also usually full of spam and malware, and even viruses. As I have no interest in hardcore porn (or any porn really unless it’s softcore and is considered “art”), I never visit those sites anyway. But it’s deeply disturbing that I’m hearing more and more accounts of feminist/LGBT and art blogs containing mild nudity being censored or banned. I’m so tired of this neverending shifting to the far right, it seems to never end, and it’s scary where this country is going. I feel like more and more is being censored and our freedom of speech is being curtailed.

              Since big corporate interests and the religious right are closely intertwined in this country, and it seems that the corporations have more and more ownership of the web in general (with fewer independent blogs and websites than there used to be), it would make sense that there’s an effort to “purge” the web of elements the religious right finds objectionable. Please make it stop!

              Liked by 3 people

            • Not sure about some of the other platforms, but AO3 has a very good tagging system so that those who don’t like the weirder or more hard-core stuff can avoid being exposed to it. It’s a good system for staying uncensored while enabling users to avoid being confronted with content that repulses them.

              The religious influence on corporate decisions may well be an issue, but I know in Tumblr’s case a big part of the problem is that Verizon wants to make money off it by selling ads. Advertisers tend not to like having their ads next to sexually-oriented or “controversial” material. So the site is purging anything Verizon doesn’t consider ad-friendly, although oddly enough, Nazi blogs (of which there are plenty on Tumblr) are being left unscathed.

              Glad to hear a lot of Tumblr people are looking into WordPress — so long as they can avoid the Gutenberg (Schlechtenberg?) problem.

              Liked by 3 people

            • I hope they can avoid that problem too. I doubt former Tumblr users will want to be messing around with a complicated block editing system. I’m not sure what kind of editing system Tumblr used since I never had a Tumblr blog (although I do have an account for sharing posts) but my understanding is it was pretty simple to use.

              Liked by 1 person

  3. I played around with Gutenberg a bit on a locally hosted version of my website. I didn’t like the changes, especially ones that interfered with functions I do on my site all the time. But I thought about maybe giving Gutenberg some time to percolate and get the bugs worked out, then trying it again….Then I saw how the admins and mods were responding to people in the support forums. That was one of the biggest reasons why I jumped to ClassicPress.

    Gutenberg-lovers keep saying, “Yeah, there was also pushback to the Customizer, but people like it now.” Um…Actually, no, I *hate* the Customizer, too. It keeps hanging up, not actually showing me the changes, so I have to publish them to see what they look like. And I don’t like how it handles widgets. But oh, I guess everybody loves Customizer now, just like they’ll love Gutenberg.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Will Gutenberg kill WordPress as a writer’s platform? — Lucky Otters Haven – Tao Talk

  5. Found this from a reblog. Thanks for putting it together — I’d just been ignoring the prompt, primarily because I have a lot going on right now and didn’t have the time to explore another publisher. I already use the classic because I find the formatting easier. Doesn’t sound like Gutenberg will be my cup of tea…

    Liked by 2 people

    • You can try it, and see if you like it. A few (very few) people do, but the general consensus seems to be quite negative. What irritates me the most is the lack of concern for our writing and editing needs on the part of the WordPress staff.
      They seem more interested in having the next big cool thing, rather than keeping WordPress users happy.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I tried using Gutenberg for a month+ (until I finally figured out how to disable the beta, which was hidden and there is not a topic in the online Help to help), and it was completely unusuable.

    Slow is one thing, but I could not even get to categories to tag my posts; it wasn’t anywhere in the interface. I would end up pulling down on the My Sites menu to find the WP Admin item and then slide back into the classic editor to finish up. Finally, it occured to me that I could put any title in Gutenberg (“gorf” is my default placeholder word, old UNIX guy that I am, and one day I published that as my post title. Oops!), save the draft, go to WP Admin, open the draft in Classic Editor (Posts > All Posts > use classic editor, and even then it popped up annoying “Are you sure” confirmation messages) and get back to writing. So that’s what I did for the remainder of the time I was stuck in Gutenberg. I was not happy.

    One day in frustration I pulled down every item in the bar across the window until I finally found the item under the right most “hamburger menu, which btw was not a hamburger but an ellipsis (which was not at all intuitive) to turn off Gutenberg. Last item, in case anyone is wondering.

    Because this was a Beta, I did send my issues to WP, who never replied.

    I liked the Drop Cap you could add to any paragraph in Gutenberg, but that was about it. Everything else was annoying.

    Regards,

    Tengrain

    Liked by 1 person

    • They haven’t made it usable at all. I finally set up a fake blog (another blog set to private, which exists only for the purpose of practicing Gutenberg should I decide to stay with WP) It’s he only way I can actually practice using it without screwing up this blog since they don’t seem to have tutorials. I learn best by actually doing a thing, not just reading about it. I may well decide to go elsewhere though, since I still hate it and find it very difficult to use.

      Liked by 1 person

      • If you are designing WordPress template, Gutenberg would be a very useful tool to see your changes and toy with the layout. So I think that they are doing it more for their developer community than for their users. I don’t know why they are pushing it so hard; there cannot be that many developers! — TG

        Liked by 1 person

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