I have a random post generator now!

randompost

Yes, that is a random post.

Good news!

I’ve been blogging for over five years (as of September).   During the first few years, I wrote several posts almost every day (now I’m down to about one or two a week, and sometimes not even that).   So, by now there are literally thousands of posts on this blog.  The Search bar (at the very top of the page) and monthly Archive dropdown probably aren’t enough for a blog this large.

There are posts on this blog no one (including myself) will likely ever see again, so I thought it would be fun to install a Random Post Generator and surprise myself (and my readers).  I’ve seen these on other blogs and wanted one here too.  So this morning I figured out how to install one (it’s not a standard WordPress.com widget).  It wasn’t hard.

It’s in the right hand sidebar (it’s just under the first ad in the sidebar).   Click it on and who knows what post you’ll land on!   I don’t remember every post I ever wrote, and I sure hope there isn’t anything too embarrassing.   Oh, well!  Go ahead and have fun with it anyway.

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.

The new Gutenberg editor?

Got a question for my fellow bloggers.

Has anyone with a WordPress.com blog tried the new Gutenberg editor yet?  I haven’t, but I haven’t heard good things about it.    I really don’t want to try it either.   But I know in time, it will become the new “standard” editor.

I really dislike the way WordPress rolls new things out without asking us users what we think first.   I feel like they don’t care about what we want — kind of like the GOP.

If you have used it, please tell me in the comments what you think of it.   I’m just curious about its advantages/disadvantages, whether it’s easier or harder, or if it’s a dumbed down editor that makes things “easier” while giving you fewer choices  (a complaint I heard from one blogger).

Reblog button: still no answers.

question-mark

After I asked my question last night about why the reblog button disappeared, I checked the WordPress Forums, and found a thread near the top about it:

https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/reblog-button-has-disappeared-from-blogs/page/2?replies=42#post-3076211

Apparently the disappearing reblog button is a systemwide issue that is affecting most or all WordPress.com blogs.

None of the “happiness engineers” seem to have any information or seem to know much about the problem other than that it exists.    Rather than apologize for the inconvenience (which they should be doing), we are being snarkily accused of “complaining” and treated in a condescending way — the insinuation being that we “don’t know how” to do a manual reblog or use the Press This or Share feature.

I’m pretty sure we all know how to do a manual reblog.   I’ve done it myself, when I want to “reblog” a post that isn’t on WordPress.com.

But the reblog button provides a measure of security.   If someone reblogs your post using the “reblog” button, they cannot edit your content.  All they can do is add a comment of their own if they wish to do so.   Manually reblogging a post means it is possible to edit it.     The reblog button is/was a very convenient and popular feature.

It was also suggested by the happiness engineers to use the “Press This” button or share the post from the Reader, but I dislike both of those methods.

One of the replies in the forum thread explained the difference this way:

Reblog button procedure:
Click the reblog button twice and the story ends here

Press this button procedure:
1) You click the reblog button [I think they meant click “press this” button]
2) You wait for a/the window to appear.
3) You copy some content from the desired article
4) You paste the content from the desired article in the window that just appeared
5) You copy the title of the aforementioned article
6) You paste the title in the title form in the new window
7) You press “publish” TWICE
8) You press the “X” button for the window to disappear

As you can see, “Press This” is a lot more complicated, and the content may not be safe from someone else having the ability to edit it.

Another obvious advantage of the reblog button is it’s so simple to use that people are encouraged to reblog your posts, which helps more people see your blog/increases your hits.   I don’t think people will be doing much reblogging if they have to go through all the complicated steps of the Press This feature or do a manual reblog.   I think most bloggers enjoy the extra visibility that having their posts reblogged gives them, but without the reblog button,  people just won’t bother.

I’m wondering if there’s some kind of coverup going on.   It’s been almost a week now since the reblog button disappeared, which seems way too long for something that simple.  I really hope WordPress isn’t planning to make this a “paid feature” or do away with it altogether as another one of their “improvements” that are anything but.

I hope I’m wrong about this, but after a week, you’d think someone on the WordPress staff would know something more than just telling us to use some other method.

I am back WordPress…

Jason a/k/a Opinionated Man, has moved back to WordPress.com! I’m curious about the reason for the change, since he was so excited when he decided to self-host, but I guess the HarsH ReaLiTies (sorry, could not resist) of self-hosting must have gotten to him after awhile. I know I wouldn’t want to try it.

I’m secretly glad he’s moving back, because somehow, when he was self hosted, he seemed somehow farther away and less accessible to all of us newbies, scaredy-cats, and technophobes still on WP.com.

Welcome back, Jason!

peanuts-gang

4 reasons why I won’t be switching to self-hosted anytime soon.

Digitally generated My brain has too many tabs open

Not very long ago, Opinionated Man migrated his popular blog, HarsH ReaLiTy, from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. I remember reading his stream-of-consciousness posts while he climbed WP.org’s very steep learning curve, and I got headaches and felt twitchy just reading them. Although OM was often frustrated and sometimes seemed ready to give up, he didn’t, and he now claims that becoming self-hosted was the best blogging decision he ever made. I don’t doubt he’s telling the truth, as being self-hosted allows you all sorts of options and freedoms you do not have as a WordPress.com blogger.

But you can count me out, at least for the foreseeable future. I’m a serious blogger, yes, but WordPress.com suits my needs just fine. Here are four reasons why I have no intention of ever becoming self hosted.

1. The community.
When you become a WordPress.com member, it’s easy to find a community of like-minded WordPress bloggers via the Reader, which makes suggestions based on your interests, and posts all new articles by blogs you’re already following. For new bloggers, this feature is a godsend. ALl you do is “follow” blogs that are suggested to you based on your interests and voila! Instant community! When you follow blogs you like, they’re likely to follow you back too, and before you know it, you are commenting on each other’s blogs.

When you self-host, you lose all that. You have to be more concerned about things like your Google page ranking and be a lot more careful tagging posts, otherwise your blog may not get seen by the people you want to see it. Or not at all. And if you’re self hosted, you don’t have access to the Reader; you have to find related blogs on your own. Your posts also won’t be automatically seen by other WP bloggers, since WP.org hosted sites do not show up in the Reader. If you prefer to spend time writing new content than recruiting an audience for your blog, then being on WP.com saves you a whole lot of time.

2. The steep learning curve.
Wordpress.com is simple to use, compared to WordPress.org. While it does have a learning curve, it isn’t very steep. After 3 – 4 days I was comfortable using the features. I felt like a pro in a couple of weeks. There are plenty of options for customization even if you use a free theme and don’t upgrade. For this blog, I wasn’t satisfied with the font used for the free Twenty-Ten theme (one of WP’s most popular free themes), so I upgraded to Custom Design, so I had the option of changing the font to one I liked better. Custom Design is cheap and gave me a few other options too, but CSS (which is available with Custom Design) still eludes me. I know nothing about coding and fortunately, really don’t have to worry about that anyway, since everything I want to do is available to me without knowing any coding at all.  For a small price, you can also have a custom domain (which is necessary if you want to run ads)–all that means is you get a URL without the “wordpress.com” in it.

If you self-host, be prepared to have to learn not only coding, but also you need to know all about about plug-in installation, Jet Packs (whatever those are), software upgrades, bandwidth, backups and troubleshooting, analytics, and SEO, among many other things.   Features we take for granted like Likes and Comments aren’t automatically there; you have to install them yourself.  Have a problem? You’re on your own. There are no support forums to turn to as there are for WP.com users. You either have to try to figure things out on your own and fix any problems yourself, or you have to hire an outside party to do it for you. For someone who isn’t especially tech-savvy, the idea of running into a problem and having no idea what to do about it is very scary indeed. And I really don’t have much desire to have to learn all these things.  I’d rather be writing.

overwhelmed

3. The expense.
Being self-hosted isn’t cheap. If you advertise, while you can make more money from advertising (WordPress.com only allows Wordads) and can choose the ads you run, to me that isn’t worth it, because of the payout required from you just to be self hosted. You have to buy your domain name, then pay for someone (like GoDaddy.com) to host your blog (in leiu of WordPress, which hosts all WP.com sites). Expect to pay about $250 and $450 just for the first year.

WP.com is free and so are many of its themes. Even if you decide to upgrade, the expense is very small. I paid $18 for Custom Design, and it’s good for a whole year. Even without knowing how to use the included CSS feature, I still think it was worth it. The themes available on WordPress.com are all attractive and there are so many free ones available that no blogger should have any problems finding one they love and that suits their blog. If you want to make some money from your blog, and you qualify, Wordads will post the ads for you and keep track of your earnings. All you need to do is set up a Paypal account. While you certainly have the potential to make more from a self-hosted site, the amount of work involved in gaining enough traffic to earn anything more than pocket change is daunting for the average blogger, who just wants to write.

4. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
I have no problems with WordPress.com, so why would I want to take the risk of losing everything I’ve worked so hard on for almost two years, or messing everything up beyond repair, by “importing” it to WP.org? Unless I start getting massive amounts of traffic (unlikely) or run out of space and can’t post anything new (and even then I understand it’s possible to buy additional storage on WP.com), I have absolutely no reason to be self-hosted.

Why you might prefer self-hosting.

roman_fountain

With all that said, if you’re the sort of person who is challenged and excited by learning complicated new things, or if you want the sense of achievement and pride that someone like Opinionated Man experienced once he mastered the process of being self-hosted (at least the basics anyway, as he says you never stop learning and are forever having to tweak and make adjustments), then being self-hosted may be the right choice for you.   It may also be the right choice if you prefer to own your domain name (and hence, your blog) rather than just rent it from WordPress.   When you own your own home, you have the freedom to tear down walls (and run the risk of the whole house falling down and crushing you to death), paint the exterior shocking pink, build a sarcophagus in the bathroom, or install a Roman fountain in the living room.  If you rent, you are probably limited to neutral colored walls and you can’t install freaky things or tear anything down.

I’ll stick with my plain white walls, thank you.   I can still hang pretty pictures and decorate my abode the way I want, and I know my landlord will come fix anything that breaks.    I prefer my WordPress dumbed down so I can just write and leave the complicated tech stuff to others.

Further reading:
7 Reasons Why Novices Should Not Self-Host WordPress