WordPressing its Luck

In some ways, all the smooth sailing was too good to be true.

You have this marvelous communications vehicle used for so much good, and used by even the most amateur online explorer familiar with pressing words on a laptop. Log in. Add url. Copy and paste, or just write into WordPress, as Justin Tadlock put it.

Pretty simple.

But then along came this curious, clever-by-half code that would automatically capitalize mistyped p’s in WordPress – magically translating it into the correctly spelled WordPress, doing so in areas where content is visible. Especially because this was brought up in a bug report before the release of WordPress 3.0, it angered a vocal minority who were only too happy to “educate” the silent majority.

Tadlock chronicles the consequences of Matt Mullenweg’s frustrating filter function – capital_P_dangit:

•  The code breaks URLs on some sites.
•  This function changes what people write. (Why should WordPress have control over any content?)
•  WordPress code was committed with no Trac ticket so it was not open to community discussion.

“The real issue is not the bug; it’s the display of content that people didn’t write,” Tadlock said. “The content is yours and you should be able to write anything any way you see fit, including ‘WordPress.’ I can’t think of a single reason why a piece of software should control the output of my words without [my] consent. We’re talking about principles here, and changing what people write goes against everything I believe in. I simply refuse to allow this on my site.”

Tadlock uses WordPress because of its philosophy on community, openness and freedom, which he says “fits along nicely with my own personal philosophy about most things in life.” Although many critics are bothered by software infringing upon those very values, Mullenweg believed in building a plug-in.

“[Y]ou are in complete control,” he said last July. “If you don’t like the filter, vote with your feet [by leaving] or with a plug-in. If the function caused a non-trivial number of people to avoid 3.0, I would seriously reconsider it. [Otherwise] there are 1,001 better places to focus my attention with regards to WordPress.

“I’d love to see hackers return to more, well, hacking.”

Tadlock disagrees, saying those who argue to remove Mullenweg’s capital_P_dangit function are people we need in our community. “Don’t alienate them,” he says. “Don’t let their voices go unheard.”

Given Mullenweg’s continued correspondence with WP hardcores in the blogosphere, those voices have been anything but unheard.

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About Thor Tolo

Thor came to Seattle in 2004 after seven years anchoring sports and hosting an evening talk show once honored as Pennsylvania’s best at the world’s first radio station KDKA. He covered his fourth Super Bowl as host of "Live From Seattle" before anchoring news for Seattle's KOMO Newsradio. Thor enjoyed an Emmy award winning TV career in Cleveland before hosting mornings on Twin Cities sports station KFAN - the flagship station of the Minnesota Vikings Radio Network he anchored in the mid-1990s. Thor lives in Belltown and is pursuing his Master of Communication in Digital Media (exp. 2012) at the University of Washington.

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