WP Tavern summarizes the conversation around WordPress losing CMS marketshare for the first time in ages, and what various people have cited as likely causes.

Personally, I’m finding its increasing complexity to be a major frustration.

  • Writing on WordPress has gotten somewhat more complicated.
  • Maintaining a WordPress site has gotten more complicated.
  • Developing for WordPress has gotten more complicated.
  • The resulting page code (including CSS and Javascript) has gotten a lot more complicated. As I’ve noted before, there’s no good reason to require 450K of data to display a 500-word post. Or a single link with a one-sentence comment.

The move towards Gutenberg blocks and full-site editing complicates things on several levels, and feels like an attempt at lock-in as well.

Ironically, I’ve been moving toward Eleventy, which has also been very frustrating…but only in building the layout I want.

On one hand…

  • I have to develop a lot of the components I want from scratch. More than would have thought. Though I suspect there are enough pre-built layouts out there for most people’s use cases.
  • The documentation is sorely lacking. (Eventually I’ll get around to helping with that.)
  • Dynamic features like comments need to be handled by another program.

But on the other…

  • I can fine tune things a lot more easily than fine tuning a WordPress theme.
  • Once I’m done building the layout, adding a new post is almost as easy as it is on WordPress.
  • My actual post content is portable.
  • There’s essentially no attack surface, so if I have a site that’s “done” I can just build it one last time and leave it as-is — and not worry about spam, maintenance or security (beyond general webserver security).
  • I don’t have to send extra JavaScript libraries along with every page, so it can use a tenth of the bandwidth and load faster on slow connections.

With Eleventy, setting up the layout and features has been super complicated…but once it’s set up, it’s smooth, easy to deal with, and does the job well. It’s kind of like running Linux back in the 1990s.

But with WordPress, there’s complexity in every layer.

Sometimes it’s worth it.

Sometimes it’s not.

I’m not ready to give up on the flexibility of WordPress for my main blog yet, but holy crap are these pages heavy. Even with compression. There’s no reason it should take 450K (before compression) and 20 requests to display a 500-word post.

And I don’t even do ads, popups, social sharing buttons or anything else like that.

By contrast, my Les Mis blog, where I post about once a year, is currently generated by Eleventy using a custom minimal theme that only takes around 10K of HTML, 3K CSS, and a third request for the icon. And another 40K for the header font, which I recently set up locally so it no longer has to call out to Google Fonts.

One domain, just four requests, and only 50K for the first hit and 10K for each subsequent page.

Never mind the Gemini version of the blog which is around 2-5K per page and a single request per page!

Compression cuts down on those 500Kb WordPress pages — all the text and code compresses really well so only around 200K bandwidth is needed. But it’s still got multiple JavaScript and CSS requests going on.

I was able to cut it down significantly by switching to a lighter theme and turning on the minimize/combine feature in WP-Optimize so it’s making fewer script calls. But it’s still way bigger than the minimalist setup I have with 11ty.

Some of it is images, though. I still have my latest Flickr posts in the sidebar, and I’m using Jetpack’s related posts feature which includes thumbnails. I could cut out a big chunk by removing those, but I kind of still like the idea of having them in there.

I think I need to take a look at how much extra stuff I really want on this site and rip some of it out. Eventually I’d like to replace all the JetPack features because they just seem to keep adding more scripts. Plus I want an entirely local stats package instead of one that’s offloaded to a third party even if they’re less awful than, say, Google or Facebook.

On the other hand, I want to keep Gravatar on the comments sections (on the older posts where people actually commented) because that’s actually useful to readers as an aid for following a conversation better. But that’s all on top of the base page size.

Originally posted at Wandering.shop

Sometimes you choose which social app to open based on

  • who you want to talk to
  • who you want to hear
  • what you want to talk about

Sometimes you’re just shouting into the void. At those times, I figure I’ll choose the void that feels less exploitative.

That’s part of why I still have a blog. And why I post more on Mastodon, while Twitter is mostly auto-shares from my other networks, retweets, and occasional cross-posts.

(And politics, because I’d rather keep that on Twitter, where it’s sort of the main topic anyway, than on the network that’s still fun. Not that Mastodon is apolitical. Far from it! But it’s a lot more varied than the overwhelming focus on US partisan politics I see on Twitter. And the culture and structure make the discussions at least somewhat less train-wrecky. Most of the time.)

Update: If you’re interested in checking out Mastodon and the Fediverse, good places to start are JoinMastodon.org and JoinFediverse.wiki.

In advance of Google shuttering their third(?) attempt at a social network, Google+, I’ve retrieved a full archive, and I’ve trawled through it looking for anything that I want to keep online after the shutdown. Most of them were cross-posts of one sort or another, or (early on, especially) the kind of random social media status that maybe has value in the moment, but not down the line. I found around 30-40 posts worth keeping. Some had their own merits, some fit in with other posts here on the blog.

Rather than just import them verbatim, I’ve decided to do some minimal cleanup. No major rewriting or anything, just the kind of things that I’d be willing to silently change on an old blog post that was already here:

  • Fix up the formatting
  • Fix typos
  • Link to related posts
  • Add a quote to linkblogging posts if they need more context

Yeah, it’s slower than copy-paste or direct import (I never did get around to writing the converter I wanted to), but there’s no rush for old news, and I’ve got copies to work from even if I’m not done by April 2.

Last month, Tumblr and Flickr both announced policy changes that will impact a lot of users, and upset even more. Flickr announced that they’d be shrinking the storage offered to free accounts while adding features to paid accounts. Tumblr announced that all adult content was going to be banned, and immediately set about flagging posts and accounts. In the clumsiest way possible. With a lot of errors.

I feel like Tumblr has been knocked out of orbit, and it’s only a matter of time before it goes the way of GeoCities (or at least LiveJournal). But I actually feel more confident about Flickr. Why?

  • Flickr was bought by SmugMug, a company that’s all about photos. Tumblr was part of the Yahoo! package bought by Verizon, a giant telecom conglomerate that’s searching for a way to monetize users’s content.
  • Flickr has had a freemium business model as long as I can remember.
  • The new free tier at Flickr may be limited, but it’s still big (1000 photos), and it’s still more than they offered before the move to “Let’s get people to host ALL their pictures here!” a few years back (200 photos, IIRC).
  • And that limit is both clear and non-judgmental, not a fuzzy, badly-implemented line that on other social media sites has frequently turned out to be the first step down a slippery slope (like the “Strikethrough” episode at LiveJournal that ultimately led to a lot of fanfic writers and fan artists leaving LJ in favor of, well, Tumblr.)
  • Flickr’s customers are the paying Flickr Pro users. Tumblr’s customers are the advertisers.

In short: Flickr is focusing on their core. Tumblr just jettisoned a huge segment of their users and gave the rest a big red warning flag.

I’ve been a paying Flickr customer for years now, and I’m happy to renew. I still post galleries there, and and my better one-off photos.

Tumblr…I don’t have anything that violates the new rules, but it seems like they’ve taken a step towards self-destruction. Between this, Google+ closing, and the ongoing train wrecks of Twitter & Facebook, I’ve decided to pull back. I’ve downloaded an archive of my entire blog, and I’m in the process of clearing out all my share-posts, reblogs, mirrored posts, basically anything that’s not either original to that blog or an actual conversation. And I’m starting to import the original content here, where it’s under my own control.

It’s clear that Verizon has even less idea what to do with Tumblr than Yahoo! did. When they finally give up trying to monetize what’s left of the user base, they’ll have no incentive to keep it going. Or to respect all the user data they’ve amassed.