dashboard wank

I am a little late picking up on the latest outbreak of Dashboard wank, but Lorelle’s latest outbreak of smugness compels me to comment.

Owen unwittingly sums up the problem here:

WordPress isn’t in the business of, and is not even very good at, feed aggregation

Precisely. So don’t try. If I am sufficiently geeky to care what the developers and selected friends of Matt are saying, I can subscribe to Planet WordPress in my feed reader of choice. It is infinitely quicker, more intuitive, and more convenient than clicking on multiple links from my blog admin pages. Better yet, I can cherry-pick the members of Planet WordPress I want to hear from and subscribe to them individually, so I don’t have to hear about the latest kewl theme from WTC or which member of Mike Little’s family is celebrating a birthday. Currently my Bloglines subscription to Planet WordPress is repeatedly throwing up Dougal’s Talk Like a Pirate post. Yet another reason for my imminent unsubscription.

I can even go off and find other wordpress-related blogs which for some reason Matt doesn’t think are as worthy of worldwide syndication as details of the last CD he bought. I could, for example, replace the feed for the long-defunct Wordlog with one to WordPress Station. Or subscribe to themes.wordpress.net for news on the latest illusory competition.

In short, being one of the small proportion of wordpress users with an active interest in both development and irrelevant gossip about the developers, the Dashboard is seemingly made for me; but it is, in fact, pretty useless, because the decisions about what I should find interesting are being made on my behalf. It’s like falling into somebody else’s aggregator.

Let’s be honest: the dashboard feeds are a self-promotional tool aimed at boosting traffic and, by extension, pagerank. The inconvenience of either removing it or having it clutter up your admin pages is one of the prices you have to pay for wordpress being free-as-in-beer, and its presence, like the default blogroll links, is one of the ways the devs reward themselves for their hard work. Which is fine. A little tacky, perhaps, if you’re trying to get taken seriously as a startup. But please, don’t pretend it’s anything else.

14 Comments »

  1. Matt said

    I added Lorelle because both in her traffic and comments I’ve seen her writing help out tons of folks with WP. I feel like there isn’t enough “WP tips and tricks” type stuff in the Dashboard, or general content aimed at beginners. I had also made some changes to Planet a few weeks back, but on the wrong server. Now that I have that all straightened out, I’m very open to adding more people to it so if you have suggestions please email them to me.

  2. Oh, I can see why you added Lorelle — her posts are rather too long and pompous for my taste, but then I’m not the target audience for step-by-step instructions on how to blog, and those who do need such guidance seem to appreciate them. They’re also frequent enough for the dashboard to start looking like The Lorelle Show within a week or two, but I’m sure you’ve already taken that into account.🙂

    The majority of people you’re going to get clicking on dashboard links are going to be beginners who haven’t yet figured out what they’re for, so satisfying their curiosity with something they might conceivably find useful is a step in the right direction.

    It will also, of course, annoy the denizens of wp-hackers who want the thing gone entirely. Always fun to watch.

  3. Ja said

    Wow, was I glad to see this pingback at the end of the expected slew of ass-kissing comments.

    I could start trash-talking a blue streak right now but I have bigger fish to fry, so I’ll just simly say that the hipocracy (and rather humorous irony) inherent in this classic post pretty much sums things up.

    Interesting reporting done here btw. I imagine, had I the time and patience I’d sign up to get my secret decoder ring, Worpress Fun Club card, and join in the fray. Then again, usually ignorance truly is bliss.

    ps. I do still have my official Nintendo Fun Club membership card and certificate! That’s probably something I should keep to myself, eh?

  4. Pissed off Joe said

    Dear Matt,

    I want an easy way to turn those annoying feeds from my admin page. Judging from their dominance on the opening page, one would think those are the most important things. I beg to disagree vociferously.

    I recommend you implement this feature by having a link on the page saying “Turn this damn thing off forever”

    Thanks,

    Pissed Off Joe.

  5. Matt said

    Pissed off Joe, you seem to have trouble deleting blogroll links, so I doubt there’s much I could do to make you happy. Take a walk outside.

  6. Alan said

    As an idea RE: dashboard, you couldn’t just implement some basic Javascript to show/hide it and store it as a cookie (kind of like how vBulletin stores the collape-states of forums in a cookie)? It wouldn’t be a terribly hard thing to implement, and it’d be the best of both worlds.

  7. Robert Deaton said

    Please no more javascript cookie-stored states. Its been discussed on the hackers list why its evil a zillion times. Just no.

  8. Better to store your preference in the database, and have a setting under ‘Users’, like the one we have for the rich text editor. That said, I’d much rather see the dashboard and TinyMCE as plugins bundled with core. That way they’d still be easy for newbies to use (though I suspect not many would bother with the feeds), and the rest of us wouldn’t have to waste time figuring out how to disable them, or FTP-ing unnecessary files.

  9. Sean said

    That darn dashboard… just won’t go away. I keep hearing people complaining about it (is there anyone out there heralding it?) yet it still exists.
    If anything, put up feeds from the theme sites, plugin sites, tips & trick sites, etc. Things that WordPress bloggers would actually find useful.

  10. vkaryl said

    Alternatively, wank could post a detailed “how to” for getting rid of the feeds – and actually, it’s really simple: delete everything within the zeitgeist div.

  11. […] Dashboard – I can still check the WordPress blog, Top Blogs and Top Posts independently. […]

  12. Andy said

    “Free-as-in-beer”?

    I’ve never understood why these software making types always say that. It’s £2.10 at my local. Do they have some sort of magical free pub in San Francisco or wherever this WordPress stuff gets made?

    And on that note, I’m off down the pub…

  13. BlueHornet said

    This looks cool so far, what’s up people?
    If it’s not just all bots here, let me know. I’m looking to network
    Oh, and yes I’m a real person LOL.

    Later,

    • KB said

      you’re looking to network from a post that no one has commented on in nearly three years? and you just felt compelled to add the fact that you’re a real person?

      it seems that akismet *has* gone on holiday.

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