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You Are Allowed To Criticise WordPress

Posted on by in Blog

Digital consultant Kevin John Gallagher has created a bit of an uproar with his recent post about his company’s decision not to use WordPress anymore.

He raised some points about many areas he feels WordPress is still lacking in such as document management, user management and language support. I love the fact that WordPress gets updated often and is constantly getting improved though Kevin raised a good point about the admin area being redesigned a few times the year making it a pain for companies who want consistently for their clients.

What has concerned me has been the manner of which a few parts of the WordPress community has responded to his post. As usual, a few WordPress fanboys have suggested he has no right to criticise WordPress because he hasn’t contributed to the WordPress core or helped with testing. I received similar criticism when I spoke of my disappointment regarding the slow development of bbPress.

A long discussion has been going on over the last week on WordPress Tavern about the issue (the post could be found here but seems to have been taken down). I was sad to read that Kevin had received threats because of the points he raised in his post:

Sadly in the last 7 days I’ve had 3 ddos attacks, 14 threats (4 “credible”) against myself or my family, multiple requests to have me removed from speaking at WordPress events to which I’m already signed up and personally sponsor, and 31 people roll-back their purchase for Open Source Scotland because I’m involved.

I am strongly against this ‘WordPress fanboy’ mentality that many WordPress users have. Everyone knows how much I love WordPress. I am always recommending it to people who are just starting on the web, helping out other WordPress users whenever I can and I use WordPress on every website I own now. Though I am disappointed with the way that some people react when someone criticises WordPress. Whether you agree with the points that Kevin John Gallagher raised is irrelevant, he has the right to his opinion and needs to do what is right for him and his company.

Surely WordPress users should embrace criticism rather jump on the back foot in a defensive manner any time someone says that WordPress isn’t perfect? I am the first to defend WordPress when someone says something about the platform that is wrong or that I disagree with, however personal insults are not necessary or justified. As adults we should be able to disagree on issues without resorting to a mud slinging match.

I also disagree with the argument that you can’t criticise WordPress if you haven’t released a plugin or theme to the community or contributed to the WordPress core or helped with testing. If a point is valid, it is valid whether it was made by a WordPress developer with several years experience or by someone who has only been using WordPress a few months.

For me, WordPress is the best all round solution available for building websites online. There really is very little you can’t do using the WordPress platform. Don’t get caught get up in the illusion that the script is perfect for though. It’s not. However I believe it is the best platform for 99% of website projects.

If WordPress doesn’t do something you need by default, you should check for a suitable hard coded solution or WordPress plugin. If you still can’t find a solution, do what is right for you and your company and look for an alternative solution to WordPress that suits your project better. Also, don’t be afraid to be vocal on why you left the WordPress platform.

As WordPress users, we shouldn’t be concerned about a backlash if we want to criticise some aspect of the platform. We shouldn’t be chastised for saying that WordPress needs to be improved in some areas or that it could benefit from features used in other scripts like Joomla, Drupal or Tumblr or a commercial script. Bottom line, don’t be afraid to say what is on your mind, regardless of what others perceive as your contribution to WordPress.


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Comments (14)

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

Jamie – I recommend trying User Role Editor. I use it on all my WordPress websites. You can change the permissions of user groups or individual users. One of the permissions you can change is moderate comments.

Comment by Jamie says:

What I found most interesting about this whole episode was the people attacking Kevinjohn as “who is he anyways”. If he was such a nobody as so many made him out to be, then why spend so much energy going after his decision?

I fall into a fanboy mentality myself. I’m a fan of having the right tool for the job. I’m a fanboy when it comes to delivering something to my clients that exceeds their expectations. Sometimes I can do that with WordPress. Other times (more than not) I do it with Drupal.

One thing he did bring up that was a sore spot with my clients on WordPress was the permissions for moderating comments. Honestly that is a security issue that has been around in WordPress for years. A lot of sites do use a number of moderators for their comments (sometimes paid, sometimes volunteer). You were (or still are – not sure) required to give these people full edit access to the site just to delete a comment. A few WordPress sites I managed years ago that experienced this problem it turned into a simple core hack of changing permissions in a few places. Of course the issue then became that every update the patches would break and I would have to redo it. Talk about a pain. Now when clients want something that can involve a large community, I generally go Drupal or if they are on WordPress, suggest using Disqus for the comments.

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

@Vanessa/Dave – Great comments guys. It’s good to hear that other users agree are all for open speech when it comes to the WordPress platform.

Comment by Vernessa Taylor says:

Hi Kevin,

Thank you for standing on principle. I’ve been using open source software for over a decade (almost two). What was consistently appealing, other than the various disputed notions of “free,” was the ideal of transparency and “open-ness.”

Supposedly, what those ideals mean is that end users are free to share their desires, their needs, their input, and their help in whichever manner suits them. Constructive feedback, even criticism, helps products become better, that is, when the community responsible for development listens, learns, and acts upon the best of the batch.

WordPress is one of many tools I use for building out sites because it is a decent blogging platform but it is not the right tool for *every* website. Like anyone doing anything worthwhile, they make mistakes. I wrote a strong criticism of the process by which WordPress devs updated the Jetpack Stats plugin back in November. I didn’t experience the wrath of rabid fans, and in fact got a thoughtful response from M.M. Still, using free software does not obligate us to give up our right to expect it to behave in an acceptable manner, nor are we obligated to just “go along” in order to get along with a misbehaving subset of the fanbase.

I hate Kevinjohn experienced such hateful behavior. I’m glad he spoke up about what his company and co-workers need. And whenever it’s necessary, so should the rest of us.

Comment by Dave Clements says:

I couldn’t agree more. These days, arrogance is perpetuating every avenue of our lives, where people who believe in something stand by it so vehemently that they refuse to see any other point of view. It used to be a stance restricted to arenas such as politics (particularly so in USA), but now people live and die by their opinions. People need to be far more open minded about things, realising that they (or the causes/projects/people they support) might not have everything 100% right. WordPress isn’t perfect and it isn’t for every situation, but it’s a damn good tool and can be used for good in a lot of applications. However, just because Kevin didn’t find that it suited him for the bulk of his projects, does not mean that people should lambast him for his point of view. People should be looking at what he’s saying, see how it differs from their situation, acknowledge his perceptions of WordPress and its shortfalls and make a decision whether he has a valid point, or whether it doesn’t apply to them because they are working with completely different sites that don’t have the same needs as the sites that he works on. Clear thinking and an open-mind are getting harder to come by, which is a damn shame in a world where great ideas are so easily shared (and similarly, as in this case, so easily burned to the ground).

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

Yeah the web is like a kids playground sometimes. Unfortunately, a lot of people hide behind their keyboards to say things to people they’d never dare to say in real life (and other things that are just down right rude/offensive etc).

Comment by Serafina says:

This was a good post and indicative of the classicism that the web is heir to. Sometimes I feel as though, with some web developers, they are talking over your head, that there is a hierarchy of developers at the top and we lowly people who are just trying to keep some decent content on the lower rung. I originally gravitated to WP coming from the Blogger platform. WP was much more versatile and “user” friendly for semi novices like me and I still think it is great and continues to get better “for free” for brave souls. It has been a fantastic platform to learn on.
Thank you Kevin for this post and for continuing to be a very approachable and sober developer who still cares about those of us who continue to believe in freedom of expression.

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

Great comment Josh. You make a good point about WordPress being a tool and not a âہ“cause to get behindâ€Â. It’s the same with Apple fans, Playstation vs Xbox fans etc.

Comment by Josh Kohlbach says:

It’s a touchy subject with anyone involved in open source projects of any kind. The lack of a few loud users being able to take criticism casts a really bad shadow on Open Source communities of all kinds.

People have to realise that WordPress is still growing up. In the past 3 years we went from having 1 release a year (if we were lucky) to multiple major releases per year, it’s fantastic. And this is one of the things that Matt himself has noted to be a big turning point for WordPress.

Any platform (especially Open Source) needs time to settle into a space that works for the majority of users. WP just happens to be doing this under a massive spotlight and they are never going to be able to please everyone.

As far as the threats go, this is just people trolling for a reaction. I wouldn’t pay much attention to it. But at the same time, they shouldn’t have to put up with it either. Maybe he just should have kept his thoughts to himself. But then, negative publicity is still publicity, right?

Also, one final point is a reminder to people that WordPress is a tool not a “cause to get behind”. Much the same way MS Word is a tool. You don’t see people evangelising that.

It’s the end product that counts and what we do as a community to respond (not react) to criticism of the tool we love. That’s the beauty of Open Source.

And yes, this is coming from someone who has contributed to the WP community by way of themes and plugins and forum participation quite a bit. I also happily use other tools every day, WordPress just happens to be a big part of what I do.

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

I disagreed with a lot of the things he said however I am a small time website owner. He’s referring to issues that affects companies with thousands of comments per day (One company even ha 3 or 4 staff solely dealing with comments). As such, I don’t feel I’m in a position to agree or disagree on his points as I on’t have a website with millions of page impressions per day. Perhaps I would notice problems with WordPress if I did have a website…who knows. That wasn’t my main issue though.

I disagree that he shouldn’t be raising what he sees as ‘problems with WordPress’.I don’t think manners has anything to do with it. There may be other large website owners or consultants who found what he said very useful (and others who disagree). I think we need to move away from the mindset that you can’t criticise WordPress unless you’ve helped out in some way.

Comment by DirTek says:

Yeah, I agree. But there are also a lot of people who are just waiting for an opportunity to cause flame wars, no matter if they are a part of a community or not. I think that it’s the same way with threats. They found a good occasion to do it and they went for it.

Comment by CynicalOne says:

I wouldn’t go as far as threatening anyone, but obviously, if you aren’t willing to help make something better after you’ve been invited to, then you really shouldn’t go around writing articles criticizing it. It’s just good manners.

Especially when your criticisms are almost completely untrue.

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

Agreed. I don’t think that the people who made the threads are any way of representative of the WordPress community, though it still surprises me that at the petty way that some people respond when WordPress is criticised.

Comment by DirTek says:

This was a really interesting and great read and I can’t help but agree with you.
But as you said: ” As adults we should be able to disagree on issues without resorting to a mud slinging match.”
I think that we both agree that the guys that made those threats and other stuff were just kids who live in their own world.
Anyway, I also love WordPress a lot, but I’m 100% open to the idea that everyone should have a personal choice.

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