Taking Out The WordPress Trash

One of the new features already implemented in the bleeding version of WordPress aimed at WP 2.9 is the Trash Status. This new status serves two purposes. One functional and the other UI related. First I’ll start with the UI. In the backend of WordPress, the Trash status link will show up in the edit posts page, edit pages, edit comments, and edit attachments. Here is what it’s looking like so far.


In the screenshot above, that link just shows you how many items are in the trash. The next screenshot shows Trash as a quick edit link.


Currently in WordPress, the Trash link is called Delete. When you click on the delete link, a dialog box pops up asking you if you’re sure you want to delete the item. While it’s nice to have a reminder before something ends up deleted, I’ve discovered that I enjoy just hitting the trash link with no reminder box popping up. There is no need for that box since the item is moved to the trash which you can easily recover.

Here is what the actual Trash bin looks like for the comments.


One thing I’ve noticed is that it appears as though each area has it’s own trash bin. That means there are three different trash cans. One for comments, one for pages, and one for posts. I’m not sure if that is the correct way to go about it as I’d like one trash can to rule them all with a drop down box to select different items. Since this is part of the developmental version of WordPress, chances are things will change with it’s implementation before it hits the public. I know at one of the next dev meetings I attend, I’ll be talking about this trash status and adding my input.

Right now, I have no idea on how to configure how the trash bins work in as far as configuring a number of days for items to stay in the trash or for auto emptying. I’m not even sure UI will be added to the backend to configure the behaviour of the feature or if it will need to be configured through the WP-Config file like Post Revisions. I’ve added the topic to the meeting agenda for this week so I’ll update you when I find out what is going on.


20 responses to “Taking Out The WordPress Trash”

  1. @Chip Bennett – That sounds like an option to bring up at the meeting or in the trac ticket. I’ll be sure to keep it in mind if I get to the meeting this week. Right now however, there are no settings or optional behaviour.

  2. Why rename it from the exact verb for the action I want to do, into a figurative lingo? The functionality sounds ok (giving you the ability to undo a delete) but the terminology on the button just obfuscates it. You’re looking for Delete, the button should probably just continue to say “Delete”. From a usability perspective, strive for consistency, it is disadvantageous to change words in the interface that users are already familiar with, and which novice users have already been instructed.

  3. I’ve been wanting the trash can feature ever since I found a thread discussing it on wordpress.org a year ago (http://wordpress.org/extend/ideas/topic.php?id=1503). I even commissioned a wordpress plugin designer to create it.

    My idea was to create a trash can for anything you deleted in wordpress (post, page, plugins, themes, links, categories). I was thinking it would be great to have a plugin that adds an icon of a trash bin at the end of the wordpress graphic navigation. Once you deleted something it goes into the trash can. If you clicked on the trash can it would have everything you deleted laid out like the way the plugin page is currently laid out (links at the top for each section that has deletions (ie, deleted pages, post, plugins, and etc.) but every deletion shows up on one page) You can empty the bin but if you don’t after 30 days (or how ever long the user sets the deletion period) it deletes the files automatically.

    However, the plugin designer sent me the following email concerning my trash can idea:

    Out of 5 things (post, page, plugins, themes, links, categories) plugins and themes are physical items and trash can feature would require system level integration. The rest of things (post, page, links and categories) are stored in database and we can build this feature where deleting any of these items will make a copy of it in a separate table (which will behave as trash can) and then user can restore those entries back. However, as of now there are no such core level hooks available for WordPress which gives manipulating option before deleting these items. If WP adds such hooks in future then it might be possible to add trash can for these items.

    So, I gave up on the idea. I am glad to see that they are considering the trash can. I truly hope they implement it.

    Now if they could create “Saved Revisions” for all the files in the Theme Editor! If they did this I would be eager to go through another wordpress update release.

  4. Noted. I’m more of a Tavern denizen than a Trac’er, though. I don’t find Trac to be inviting or soliciting my input as a non-developer. Nor even readable.

    When I read things like, “I know at one of the next dev meetings I attend, I’ll be talking about this trash status and adding my input. … I’ve added the topic to the meeting agenda for this week so I’ll update you when I find out what is going on….”, I say cheers to the Tavern proprietor, for some representation.

  5. Your suggestion of “One trash can to rule them all” fits in with the way most of us are used to dealing with deleting documents on our computers – or I guess the Recycle Bin on a PC (although I hate the term Recycle Bin).

    However, I think the way WordPress is currently doing it at an object level is slightly tidier and fits in with the All | Published | Drafts | Deleted way of navigating the admin. If I delete a comment by accident, I can stay within the comments section to restore it.

    Notice, I used the word ‘Deleted’ as I prefer this to Trash. When you delete something it is usually because you DO want to delete it forever. The ‘Trash’ functionality is a safety net in case you realise you have made a wrong decision. Ideally you should very rarely need to go in there to restore anything.

    Then if you do need to go into the ‘Deleted’ view the options are to ‘Restore’ or ‘Delete Permanently’.

    If you were to have an overall Trash bin section where everything goes, it would probably have to live as a new main menu on the left and I would prefer not to clutter this navigation any further. I’m sure it would be easy enough to create a plugin to collect all deleted items into a delete section if you prefer?

    Oh, and I guess someone would have to design a nice Trash Bin icon if it was a new section?


  6. Perhaps more exciting — the prospect that the “de-link” functionality (to remove the author link when spamminess is suspected) might be making it to the core!

  7. @Peter – I should have added to the post that the de-link stuff you see in the image is not part of core. That is from the Ajax Edit Comments plugin that I use. Unless you know of this functionality coming to core which I’m not aware of.

  8. Linux uses the term “Move to Trash”. Just the word “Trash” is going to be a little confusing for some people, because it’s not an action, but rather a location. As developers and advanced users, we need to take into account the people that don’t know the in’s and out’s of WordPress and its functionality.

    Delete sounds more permanent and it’d be nice to have the delete functionality at the end of the list or a hook to attach it on. It might be better to have the wording as “Move to Trash”, “Trash It”, “Recycle”, or even “Remove”.

  9. @Dgold – Trac does have it’s advantages. There are less agree users and less people in general, so your comments have more value. If you actually patch something you think is a problem, then it’s more likely to get added to core. It’s hard to say no to a good idea that has a fix, rather than a rush of odd comments and ideas from who knows who. I hear the WordPress.org site is going to get a make over, so that should help organize and boost ideas outside of Trac.

    Using the Tavern to get your ideas into core is a good way to go, IMO. Having someone speak directly to the developers is a lot more efficient than adding something into the “Ideas” section of WordPress.org.

  10. One for comments, one for pages, and one for posts. I’m not sure if that is the correct way to go about it as I’d like one trash can to rule them all with a drop down box to select different items.

    Yeah one global Trash Bin would be best imo. I’ve been hanging for a feature like this for a long time, I just hope Akismet spam comments don’t end up in the bin when deleted, the Trash Bin will get full very quickly.

  11. @Dgold – Usability is the reason for using “Trash” instead of “Delete” as a label. Delete implies that it will be deleted from the system, and irretrievable. Trash (or Recycle Bin) implies throwing it away but not taking can to the curb yet, so to speak. It’s a standard differentiation in use by operating systems, Gmail and other web apps. Consistency here requires us to use a label other than Delete so that it’s clear it’s a different initial function than what is called Delete pre-2.9, to differentiate between the initial Trash function and the Delete Permanently function, and to be in line with existing metaphors around this functionality so that new users won’t be confused by what it means.

  12. @Jane I appreciate the reply. My opinion of usability is that it shouldn’t be a metaphor at all (“Recycle Bin,” anyone?), but rather, a simple verb (Delete). Also that it shouldn’t change from version to version, but should remain consistent with the word that has been used (by WP, not Google). I don’t see a need to honor the new functionality by changing the word on the button. Old word, added functionality, would be fine. However good luck with whatever you decide to do. People will adjust to it.

  13. I did a WordPress CMS proposal some times before for a big static site to turn that into a dynamic site with a CMS and off course I chose WordPress. The client sent me a looooong list of features that he wanted in the CMS of choice to have and going through them, it looked like he was just looking for WordPress, but only one thing was missing, the Trash features. I’m very happy it is being implemented for version 2.9.

  14. You All are very lucky because You Guys actually have The Trash Bin… I accidentally deleted A Comment and I can’t get The Comment back!

  15. I also be leave that there should be one trash can to rule them all. After a bit more thinking, I do understand the need to have a separate trash for each of the types of items you may wish to delete. But there should also be a central place to see all item in the trash and just delete everything or only one or two, or just the comments (via a drop down). Also you should be able to sort or view by who deleted it, or maybe by role.


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