Some time ago I had read Milestones: The Story of WordPress book by Siobhan McKeown. It is a charming and detailed tale of WordPress history. But more than historical detail I had enjoyed a theme of cultural fit and its importance.
It is often hard to distinguish what WordPress cultural values are precisely. We are different, we argue, we disagree, but there is some foundation of principles that did shape it as a project.
What does that vague call stands for?
They don’t have to know
It is often stressed in WordPress circles that plugins and themes should be compatible to obsolete 5.2 version of PHP programming language.
Because otherwise you will break people’s sites.
Because people still run their sites on PHP 5.2.
Because they don’t know they should update.
Because we won’t tell them.
Because they don’t have to know.
It took me a long time to grasp that “they don’t have to know” is one of the most important and least obvious WordPress principles.
I don’t agree with that.
Internet of quantity
WordPress goes to great lengths to make it easy for people to create sites. I would say it aimed for:
Democratize publishing by empowering people to create sites quickly and easily.
That is fantastic.
It empowers people not only to publish easily (long possible with hosted services), but to do it on their own terms. In their very own corner of the Internet.
However self–hosted site is far from trivial. You need to know things. Yes, sometimes such nerdy things like what PHP version you are on.
Otherwise… you and your visitors are going to have a bad time.
WordPress threw this under a bus. It became:
Democratize publishing by empowering people to create sites quickly, easily, and without a clue.
They don’t have to care.
WordPress enables millions of sites to be created. And it denies that their owners need technical knowledge and bear technical responsibility for their operation.
Is that a good thing?
Wait, let me rephrase. Is that a right thing?
Wait, let me rephrase. Does that make Internet better or worse?
This is surprisingly hard to answer. It surely resonates with explosive growth of Internet as a whole. It surely seems to validate WordPress success, as typically measured by popularity alone.
It makes more of Internet. And more of the same.
More of the slow, broken, hard to read, poorly accessible, and insecure.
You should be good at this
Is not knowing good for you as a site owner?
Few good things ever happened by accident and ignorance.
Running your own site takes learning and effort. It is admirable of WordPress to make that easier. It is self–serving and insincere of it to pretend you don’t have to know anything.
You have to know. You are responsible.
And if you don’t want to — that is perfectly fine. Go get yourself a Medium account or something.