What Is WordPress Bloat?

bloatedwordpressKeeping an eye on the WordPress Hackers mailing list of late, I noticed a discussion where the word bloat was used numerous times. Out of my own curiosity, I decided to ask those on the list what the definition of bloat was. The answers were not surprising. Everything from items that are added to core but are barely used to, anything could be considered bloat.

Andrew Rickmann published a response which is more in line with my thoughts on bloat.

In the case of the former, as long as it doesn’t add a significant amount to the download or slow down WordPress almost no feature will be bloat, in the case of the latter almost any feature could be bloat.

Finally, of course, it is so individual that it is impossible to reach agreement. I think the links / blogroll / whatever it is called now, functionality is pointless bloat, but loads of people use it, like it, and would fight me to the death to keep it. We would both be right, and wrong.

I thought this was a great response by Andrew and it’s true. Bloat in WordPress is defined on an individual level meaning hundreds of interpretations around a single feature could take place if an argument was brought up about it bloating WordPress. Therefore, does something in WordPress become labeled as bloat only if the majority of people believe or think it to be or is there some other process or set of circumstances that have to be met for something to fall into the bloat category? Keeping in mind Andrew’s response, can anything in WordPress actually be labeled as bloat if it’s useful to at least a few people?

I believe we could argue all day about what is and is not bloated material in WordPress but I guess the final say always comes down to those with commit access to the core as well as Matt’s guidance.

4 Comments


  1. I agree. You could ask a hundred people to define “bloat” and you’d get a hundred different definitions. In my mind core should be left as lean and mean as possible with added functionality left to plugins.

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  2. @Brad – Don’t get me started. I took my fight to the WordPress Dev IRC channel and it looks like I’m fighting a fight I won’t win. I’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    @Len – Yeah. When do you think features should stop being added to core if they can be added by way of plugins?

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  3. @Jeffro – Man that is a tough question and truth be told I’m kind of torn on the issue. On the one hand I want to see the core remain lean with extra functionality left up to plugins while on the other hand I’m not so sure that is a good idea from a security perspective. Plug “wordpress” in to the search engine at milw0rm some time and you’ll see what I mean.

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