two theories & a constructive idea

You know, I’ve been thinking about the apparent abandonment of the ‘non-essential features are best as plugins’ policy (first, spellcheck, now widgets) and I think it’s to make things nice and smooth for the wordpress.com users as they take off the training wheels and move on to their own server. They would, after all, be bitterly disappointed if they made the leap and then found out some of their features had gone (as disappointed as when they first found out they couldn’t change their header image here, probably) and that the only way of getting them back was to mess with icky stuff like winzip and FTP. Like, eeeew.

My other theory at the moment is that theme designers are being pressured into widgetization so that the admins will have less work to do should they decide, in the near future, to introduce a wider choice of themes for paid users. Theme choice could be to wordpress what icons are to livejournal; the killer feature which’ll persuade people to part with their cash. I bet I get told I’m wrong about this, but then this time last year Matt was saying it was better to take money from spammers than VCs, so, you know, things change.

My constructive idea of the day is that if Automattic want widgetful themes they can sponsor a lucrative prize in the theme competition, and that if cheesy sig .png still wishes to have the Perfect Theme With Support For Deprecated Tags she should bung them a book or something.

6 Comments »

  1. Alan said

    Once all the non-essential things have been shoved in, they’ll start pulling out the essential things and making them plugins instead, like spam control.

  2. wank said

    Ah, but can you imagine the outcry if Akismet had been in the core and every single wordpress user had to go sign up for an unnecessary wordpress.com blog. Uproar!

    (or they could have scrapped the silly API, but then wordpress.com wouldn’t have grown anywhere near as fast and the VCs would look at it askance.)

  3. Alan said

    Or they could’ve made a spam filter system that works without leaving the blog. But that’d be too easy. /sore spot

  4. Matt said

    Alan, no need to horde your genius. If you know how to make a standalone spam blocker that works with 4-5 nines of effectiveness and is constantly adapting and learning, yet not bloating anyone's database or burning CPU, please have mercy on the idiots bumbling around the anti-spam world and share your magical code and insights.

    Miss Wank, theory #1 isn't quite what we're going for. Spell check has been one of the top-requested features since WordPress came out, as was WYSIWYG. We held off on both because it's a huge challenge to do them right, which is what we're working toward now. It's still a tough decision when deciding when to put something core or not, and the dialog with the community is important (which is why Widgets aren't core right now). Sometimes, like with Secure Admin, the benefits are huge but it's not widely applicable enough.

    Regarding theory #2, adding widgets to a theme is a trivial 1-3 minute exercise for all but the most complicated themes. And no need for cheap shots.

    Your constructive idea is good.

  5. wank said

    #1 ‘hoard your genius’ (unless he has multiple geniuses and is planning to gather them together en masse). I mention this a) because I am an evil pedant and b) to illustrate the point that spellcheck is not that great or that essential, since it wouldn’t have helped you avoid it.

    #2 Adding widgets to a theme is a trivial 1-3 minute exercise? Cool. No reason end users can’t do it themselves, then. It’s always been the responsibility of the user to add the code for template plugins themselves, rather than go running to the original designer demanding built-in support. No reason why this should be different.

    #3 Yes. Thank you.

  6. Pissed off Joe said

    Matt, you’ve never heard of Spam Karma?

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