What Is The Weakest Link Of WordPress?

After putting this question out on Twitter today and receiving a bunch of answers, I decided to take it out of the 140 character limit and provide a comment form. Here are the rules. First, you’re only allowed one answer. If you have multiple answers, figure out which one you think needs the most work or attention. I know some of the developer types have an endless list of weaknesses for WordPress but I only want the one that you feel is the most important. Second, explain what you have done to try and fix the weakest link or suggest what you plan on doing.

The more I engage with the WordPress community and consistently browse WordPress.org, the more I feel that WordPress.org itself is the projects weakest link. I’ve harped on this before and I’ll continue to do so until the situation changes. The site is the bread and butter of WordPress. It’s where all of the information is housed, links to resources are presented, clear and concise directions are given, etc. If it were 2005 all over again, perhaps the information presented on WordPress.org would be relevant but in 2009, it’s frustrating to realize how much information is missing from the site. I realize that the site will eventually get an overhaul to turn more into a community hub which I can’t wait for, but as it stands, I think the entire site needs to be reformatted with fresh, relevant content related to the project instead of static HTML pages from yesteryear. With a dynamic project such as WordPress, I don’t understand the notion of set and forget with regards to the website for the project. I expect things to readily change along with WordPress to give a sense of progress. Instead, the site makes me think I’m stuck in history.

Since I consider this to be the weakest point, I’m considering rewriting the pages myself using the Codex to create a rough draft first, as Demetris has done with the WordPress Features page.

23 responses to “What Is The Weakest Link Of WordPress?”

  1. Agree, the website is the weak link of the WP Project. But I think they are very aware of that fact. Even Donnocha saw the importance of having a good documentation and started that for his WP Super Cache Plugin.

    Of course this takes a lot of time and probably volunteer work of knowledgeable people but it should be done rather sooner than later. On the other hand, we have today so many excellent website with great WP content, WP Tavern or Dig WP, are just two of them where you can get almost everything you need to know (and the content being up to date).

  2. In terms of adaptation of WordPress and getting more people to use it, I feel that its lack of custom post types and write panels, a la ExpressionEngine, is preventing WordPress from powering larger sites. Sure, WP just won the open source CMS award, but the core of WordPress is still built as a blogging platform – posts and pages.

    If we could start customizing different types of posts and creating additional write panels, WordPress could do SO much more. Almost every theme I code requires the use of custom fields for posts, and often the client gets confused or puts content in the wrong location. Native support for custom write panels would open up a whole new realm of content creation through the WordPress platform.

  3. I have to agree with you on WordPress.org being the weakest link I don’t know how many times I have run into a dead end when looking for a solution on there site. More often than not I have been able to resolve a particular problem by spending hours on end performing Google searches using every imaginable key word or phrase that I could think of, 9 times out of 10 WordPress.org doesn’t show up in any of the results and when it does it’s burred deep in the results.

  4. As I said on twitter, documentation. :) That includes wp.org & the codex, and yes I have been working on it here and there already.

    You know, a LOT of people are unaware that as long as they have a user login, they too can update the codex. Someone will look it over. there’s no need to worry too much about “doing it wrong”. :)

    If you see something that needs fixing, log in and fix it. Add new info. Join the wp-docs list. Get your hands dirty. :D

  5. You know, a LOT of people are unaware that as long as they have a user login, they too can update the codex. Someone will look it over. there’s no need to worry too much about “doing it wrong”. :)

    This will actually be the focus of my upcoming guide on using the Codex.

  6. A fast way to change the website from looking like an antique to being fresh and relevant would be to delete the old junk and make the home page a directory of hot WP sites like this one. An “excuse” for this could be provided by saying that WP is a fast-growing system with input from many users, some of whom have very helpful websites.

  7. Not following the rules here but I think the weakness of WordPress.org—as described above—is one of the stronger links in the WordPress community. If almost everything were centralized on WordPress.org our community would be about as exciting and vibrant as the Drupal community. (Sorry, Drupal community, Drupal’s awesome but the instructional community-vibe doesn’t compare)

    In Drupal-land almost everything is centralized on 1 central site and it’s terrible finding trying to find tips, tricks, hacks, and recipes. I’m not talking about documentation for tags and code. I’m talking about the stuff you really need to build your site: instruction on cool things you can do with that code. Over here in WordPress-land there’s an ‘economic’ incentive for providing solutions to WordPress problems on your site (you know, blogging about WordPress): you get traffic. Traffic leads to a whole host of other things that I won’t get into here but you won’t get the same thing out of building up a profile on WordPress.org. Which isn’t to say one shouldn’t build up a profile there by contributing. That’s great. But if that’s it, if that’s all there is to the WordPress community we’ll all lose far more than we gain. Centralize and official-ize everything and fewer people will contribute to the wider and wilder community of WordPress instruction.

    Anyway, back to the game: A simpler API for things like installation profiles and theme options and the like. It’s beyond my ability to contribute code towards this but I’ll continue to talk, blog and tweet about it. I think this could give some much-needed confidence to designers who could in turn turnaround with some really neat, rock-solid, WordPress stuff.

  8. I’d say the weakest part of WordPress right now is the inability to have relationships of content past your basic tree of categories.

    Something like PODS is doing is amazing yet it requires quite the learning curve. I’d love to see something built into wordpress that has the functionality of PODS and the ease of use of Flutter/Magic Fields.

  9. Yes, there are definitely a lot of things in the codex that need some updating. I agree with Andrea that better documentation is needed on the fact anyone can edit the codex and join the developer list. It is not hard to edit a wiki.

    I find this as a problem for any place that allows people to edit, even in the wiki communities. I watch the WMF list (Wikimedia Foundation) and there are always threads about getting ideas to get people motivated to participate, but those die faster than flies. There are only so many people willing to regularly update (I know this as a staffer at the wiki FanHistory.com .)

  10. @Jeffro -YAY! :D A feature on codex usage woudl be really awesome. Tip: many people don’t realize how much of the regular WP articles are exactly the same in MU.

  11. The lack of design supervision for the back-end.

    We have plenty of coders, plenty of theme designers, but aside from the awesome Happy Cog-designed dashboard a while back we don’t see much of WP’s backend UI aspect being discussed. I feel that there are plenty of areas that can be improved there, down to the smallest things (ever tried Quick Editing a post? You click the save button and whoa, the loading icon shows up to the far left where 1) it could easily be missed and 2) it forces your eyes to move unnaturally from right to left).

    Probably not the weakest link, but still.

  12. @Ian Stewart – Excellent point. I would hate looking through the codex if all the snippets and cool tutorials that come through my RSS reader every day were all listed there. The codex should provide documentation for every function, hook, API, filter, and so on, but unique examples should be kept to a minimum. That’s what makes the WP community so great.

  13. In my opinion, the weakest link in the WordPress project is its past. It could grow so much more if only people knew that WordPress was NOT just a blog platform, but a CMS like the others.

    I am sad to see that people still choose Drupal or even Joomla’ over WordPress, because “WordPress is for blogs”. I know we have all tried to communicate about it, to let people know about the evolution of WordPress towards more and more CMS features, but still the reputation remains. And I think that’s really something that stops WordPress from growing really big.

    In that point, I completely agree with you, a a reorganization of WordPress.org would be useful. After all, what’s the title of WordPress.org homepage: “Blog tool and publishing platform”. Don’t you agree that WordPress is now much more?

  14. My personal feeling is that it is the maturity of the project that is its biggest weakness. With that comes many things (These are sub-points so I am still within the rules Jeff :-)) including legacy code, feature bloat, weight of opposing views amongst the users, and so on, which don’t plague much newer projects.

    Imaturity does, of course, bring its own weaknesses.

  15. For me, the biggest downside to WordPress is the updates and potential calamity that may ensue if the site depends on a certain plugin that have not been updated to work with the latest version of WordPress.

    Obviously, the whole benefit of WordPress is that it is an open-source project that anyone can write plugins for, and that’s awesome. But I’d love to see WordPress create a few basic plugins that are guaranteed to work with *all* of the latest upgrades.

    For example, I recently upgraded a client’s site as well as the NextGen Gallery plugin. Little did I know that NextGen’s implementation had to be set up differently to work with WP 2.8.6, and so the gallery on the client’s homepage went down while I frantically scoured the web for a solution. I ended up coming up with my own solution since there was no useful info online. (From here moving forward I’ll be setting up a testing server for clients that I can use before upgrading their sites…)

    It’s very dicey for me to quote the cost of a WordPress update because that all depends on which plugins may need to be replaced. If it’s a somewhat obscure plugin (which I try to avoid at all costs), the client runs the risk of losing that functionality altogether or having to pay to have that rebuilt to work with the latest version of WP.

    If WordPress put out some basic, official, update-proof plugins, that would be ideal. Some good ones would be a NextGen Gallery-or-better level image gallery and drag & drop ordering for pages, posts, categories, and links.

    Otherwise, I am madly in love with WordPress, but these are the issues that keep a lot of people away from WordPress for client work.

  16. In some ways it is a minor niggle, but to me at the moment the weakest link is that the WYSIWYG editor for posts is quirky. If I go into HTML mode it doesn’t show existing HTML that I may have pasted into to the visual mode, and if I add in HTML that works OK but when I switch to visual and back to HTML it has nicely formatted paragraphs but not the HTML codes for them. Irritating and time consuming getting things right.

  17. Looking at WordPress from a photographers perspective, I’d have to say that the biggest drawback for me is it’s photo gallery support.

    I do realize that they did an overhaul of this in the not to distant past, but it’s still sorely lacking. My biggest gripe is that you have to attach media to a specific post. Writing a new post, the media doesn’t show up for you to link to — they actually seem to want you to re-upload the item.

    I do realize that some third-party plugins fix this issue. But frankly, if I’m designing an entire site around photography, I don’t want to be using a plugin that may or may not continue to be developed or may not be compatible with future WP versions. For me, that would be the equivalent of a blogger using a third-party plugin for their text.

    I love WordPress, don’t get me wrong. But to move from the Blogging platform of choice to the CMS of choice, I feel the support of non-text items needs some more flexibility.


    Our consulting business supports a number of platforms. WordPress is our favorite CMS platform to date, but when people make the decision to use WordPress they seem to be making the choice to use a low cost solution. Clients thinking about adopting Drupal (or some of the closed source CMS solutions) seem to start with a notion of service costs being about 3-4x higher than WordPress.

    I think there are two underlying factors:

    (1) WordPress is still perceived as a blogging tool first, and a CMS second. Blogging sites are often perceived as the “simpler” and low cost option.

    (2) WordPress’ greatest asset – its incredible admin ease of use, the ability for novices to do an incredible amount of basic customization, quality of many free plug-ins and themes – creates the sense that costs for even advanced customization are very low.

    The more we can do to promote (in the showcase and elsewhere) advanced CMS implementations that aren’t blogging centric and that beginners can’t create with a few clicks the more we can change that perception.

  19. My vote is to make it less blog centric. Obviously this will not likely happen because Automattic’s biggest venture is WordPress.com which is a blog community, but I can dream.

  20. I agree that the weakest link in WordPress is the blog centric notion that it has. Perhaps WordPress should revamp the site like Jeff said and/or have a separate section called WordPress as CMS or something.

    I think we can get the White House in the future if we do that.

  21. The WordPress.org site in general get my pick for weakest link. Most documentation in the codex is incomplete. Can’t find the information that you are searching for or if you do find it it will be in the wrong language….

    The support forums are uninviting and have lots of threads go un-answered, I think the forums might have taken off a bit better if they used better forum software, something like vBulletin.


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