Widgets, Modules, Or Metaboxes?

A few weeks ago, there was a poll published on PollDaddy.com that asked the question, What do you call these draggable, expandable boxes in WP? For example, “The Publish _________.”. The choices were postbox, metabox, module, widget, area, container, box, or other. I think the poll question was not specific enough with regards to the question or at least, I was pretty confused.

Attached to the poll is a screenshot of the publishing box within the WordPress back-end. This publishing box is called a metabox as are the other boxes in the sidebar on the publishing page. So naturally, I voted for Metabox. However, in WordPress, there are terms used to describe these boxes depending upon where you are. On the front-end of the site, they are called widgets, in the back-end, they are called metaboxes. I think what the poll question should have asked was If you could change the name of widgets or metaboxes, what would it be? Then, I would have voted for Container, Module as I feel those two best represent common sense of their functions. You have a container that holds stuff. That stuff would be modules. Modules imply they can me moved around and are versatile. This can be understood without pointing someone to a Codex page.

On the flip side, it was interesting to see that 26% of the voters just call it Box while there was a 1% difference between Metabox, Module and Widget. I highly recommend reading the comments on that poll to get a feel for why people voted the way they did.

What did you vote and why?

5 Comments


  1. While I personally prefer metabox, it’s really more of a developer/internal term and not as descriptive to end-users.

    But then, it ultimately it doesn’t depend on what you call it, as long as there’s consistency and you educate your users well. Systems develop and adopt their own terminologies (e.g. we call them “plugins”, Joomla calls them “components”) and you use what works for your community :)

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  2. Definitely agree with Chip on that one. As for the boxen that appear in /wp-admin/post.php, I would refer to a single box as the “Publish Box” or the “Excerpt Box”. They all have labels and that’s the most logical way that I have to describe these nameless entities to others. I know a lot of developers will use “metabox” for referring to these things. I think they do so because the function that WordPress uses to create them is called add_meta_box() and sometimes they are used as an interface for information stored in the “postmeta” database table… I just don’t like to use 3 syllables where one would suffice.

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