Is It Time To Refocus The Dashboard For News?

Elliot Back recently published a post describing how most of the items appearing in the WordPress Dashboard had nothing to do with WordPress. Elliot published the following image within his blog post which highlights the posts which have nothing to do with WordPress.

Irrelevant Dashboard Items?
Irrelevant Dashboard Items?

Notice how all of those posts point back to Matt’s personal blog. I’m a fan of Matt’s blog. I think he publishes great links as well as great photos but when it comes to WordPress, those things are irrelevant. I agree with Elliot in that perhaps it is time that Matt takes his personal blog out of the Planet WordPress Feed and thus, out of the dashboard. There simply is no reason for photos of Paris or any other place (except a wordcamp event) to be published in the dashboard which is supposed to be used to keep tabs on all things WordPress along with related projects. Also, I don’t consider Matt’s dashboard posts as spam. I consider them irrelevant to the project.

In WordPress 2.7, we have two ways to get news. A WordPress News widget which is tied strictly to the WordPress Development blog and then Other WordPress News which is a condensed version of what you see in Elliot’s image. But the fact remains that irrelevant posts are showing up in the Other WordPress News widget.  While I’m on the topic of the dashboard, I would really like to see the BuddyPress development blog added to the planet feed as I have no idea on what is going on over there unless I visit the site or check my feed reader.

You might be wondering, why not have those sites aggregate a WordPress category on their blog instead of the entire site? Well, after looking at the feed links on the Planet WordPress website, that is indeed what they have done with the exception of a few sites, Matt’s being one of them. I’d love for Matt’s blog to stay in the Planet WordPress feed but only when he publishes something to a WordPress category on his blog. It just makes more sense. If he doesn’t like categories, he could always use the RSS feed from the WordPress Tag.

Just to get a feeling on how other people feel about getting news from the WordPress dashboard, I asked those in the forum as well as those who follow the WPTavern account on Twitter if they used or considered the dashboard useful when keeping up to date with the happenings regarding the project. Here is what I have so far. (Keep in mind that the majority of users on the WPTavern Forum are advanced users of WordPress so this is probably not a good way to judge their effectiveness. I think the WordPress.org forum would be a better measure.)

From The Forum:

Len – I’ve pretty well stripped everything from my dashboard including feeds. I use a couple of feed readers (Feed Demon and RSS Bandit) to follow feeds.

Andrew – I just remove them.

hallsofmontezuma – Personally, I love the feeds in the WordPress dashboard. I don’t subscribe to many blog feeds, but I want to keep up with the “WordPress News,” WP core developer blogs and official WordPress blog, weblogtoolscollection, and Lorelle. I have a couple others in my Google Reader, but I’m in and out of various wp-admins all day so it’s a convenient place.

Kit – I kept one of the WP feeds but changed one to show a client’s feed since it helps me to get a head’s up on anything that may be coming my way as far as customer service.

andrea_r – I mostly leave them and ignore them. I’ve bookmarked the New Post page for both of my blogs so I go directly there. That being said, I do occasionally scan the headlines, and a couple of the blogs in there I’ve subscribed to any, like WTC. On WPMU systems, I try and replace that feed with the sitewide feed of the system, and another area with the main blog feed.

BlaKKJaKK – I view them daily and more often than not check them out. The only ones I never click on are Matt’s because he never posts actualy articel just links, so I view them as spam.

Stefanvervoort – I usually don’t pay attention, I have my feed readers for feeds.

From Twitter:

Frumph @wptavern irrelevant.

jeremyclarke @wptavern the main feed WordPress Planet is pretty vital, though I read it in RSS.

sparun @wptavern I just need a “Delete all spam” button on the dashboard.

katemag @wptavern the WP dashboard is helpful.

Conclusion:

It’s quirks like these in the WordPress project that make me laugh. We can generate a whole discussion around what seems like a problem and the solution is so simple, it’s just a matter of waiting to see if Matt agrees. If you really feel like this is a problem, send Matt an email as he is the man in charge of the sites aggregated on the Planet.WordPress.org domain.

Now I leave it up to you for discussion. How do you use the WordPress Dashboard for keeping up to date with what is happening with the WordPress project? Are those writing about this making a big stink over nothing, or do we have a valid argument?

5 Comments


  1. I can certainly understand your position that Ma.tt doesn’t have mostly content relevant to WordPress news these days, and wanting it to be removed from Planet WordPress. However, the argument could be made that, unlike many other highly used utilities, WordPress has a creator who is close, reachable, and more personable. Anyone who uses WordPress is immediately exposed to its creator’s personal life, something which is rare in far-reaching companies.
    Aside from that, it’s his software, why wouldn’t he want to use it as free advertisement for his blog? NextGEN Gallery’s main page has the feed for Alex Rabe’s personal blog as well. Of course, you can always easily change the feed shown in the Dashboard.

    Michael Torbert’s last blog post..You know you’re a WordPress addict if…

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  2. @Michael Torbert – Yes, that argument could be made. And you’re right, if it bothers people that much they can remove that news or change the FEED url to something they like. But, I think an even better solution is Matt aggregating a WordPress category or tag from his blog.

    However, I wonder if it is beneficial to the community as a whole to look at their dashboard in the backend of WordPress and realize Matt just went on a trip to Paris and he has cool photos. With all due respect, the widget is called Other WordPress News and I think pictures from a trip Matt took to Paris falls out of that category.

    Now, we all know WordPress is Matt’s baby and he going to do what he damn well pleases, he has that right. But, is he really doing the right thing by having that non-WordPress related information showing up in areas where people want WordPress information?

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  3. I suppose I should point out that most people probably aren’t aware they can easily change the feed.

    It may not be immediately beneficial to a person’s WordPress to see Matt’s personal blog posts, and just feeding a WordPress News category would certainly correct that. However, I maintain that WordPress is unique. With a million WordPress site owners, every one of them can feel involved. You use MySQL, PHP, and Apache on more projects than WordPress, but can the average user name any of their developers, much less their creators?

    Aside from the fact that Matt can do whatever he wants, one thing that initially drew me into WordPress was the community. Drupal, CentOS, Joomla, MySQL, etc could only dream of having a community like WordPress has. At the head of that community is a creator that is very reachable and involved. He isn’t some distant executive whom nobody has ever heard of. As soon as a new WordPress user logs in for the first time, they are able to see this significant distinction that WordPress has from any other large scale application they’ve ever used.

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  4. Let me ask a more wide reaching question: Why do users (not that I said users, not developers, not fans, not designers, but actual end users) need WordPress news at all?

    If you develope a site for a plumber does he need it? no. Do my parents need it? no. Do they care who created it? no.

    It should be off by default, and I don’t mean hidden, I mean the dashboard should be setup without any feeds so that it does nothing by default.

    Discuss.

    Andrew’s last blog post..What a body!

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  5. So, is WordPress a community project, or is it Matt’s baby?

    We can’t have it both ways.

    The primary reason that I changed the “Other WordPress News” feed url from planet.wordpress to Ozh’s Planet WordPress is that Ozh’s feed generally has more useful posts/information. So, I agree wholeheartedly that the Planet feed would benefit from having non-WP specific posts culled.

    Posts about Matt’s trips to Paris (or any other non-WP posts from anyone else on the planet) do constitute spam in the context of the WP admin dashboard.

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