Some quick thoughts on the Gutenberg controversy being labelled as #WordPress drama

Dear WordPress. I get it. Everybody’s tired of hearing about Gutenberg, and it sucks when you’ve worked so hard on something, only to have a ton of people harshly criticize it. I get it. For Matt and the Gutenberg team, Gutenberg is your baby, and right now it seems like all of us are calling your baby ugly, dismissing all the hard work you’ve put in. Personally, I would love nothing better than to say only positive things about Gutenberg, and to talk about how much better it is than Squarespace’s or Wix’s editor, just to name a few. I would love to not participate in what’s being dismissed as WordPress drama because I, like you, hate drama. Unfortunately I do not have that privilege. I do not have the privilege of simply ignoring Gutenberg’s accessibility problems, because when it becomes the default editor those accessibility problems will directly effect my livelihood. Unless the Classic Editor plugin is per-user and per-post/post type, and unless it seemlessly converts back and forth between Gutenberg blocks and current content, it’s not even close to a workable solution. And that’s not even addressing the fact that, essentially, people with disabilities are being forced to wait on the sidelines again because a break-neck development pace and reliance on volunteers and having a shiny new thing to show off at WordCamp US were more important than whether or not WordPress demonstrated true leadership and did something truly innovative by releasing the first and only block editor that everyone can use no matter their physical ability or technical expertise. OK, so you’ve added some keyboard shortcuts and you do some really awesome things to ensure that what you deliver is an accessibility improvement upon what’s come before in this space. That’s great, but it’s not a first. Wix already does this and has done so for about a year. I mean, I can’t use their editor anymore since they just couldn’t handle attributing WordPress for that awesome update they had for a minute, but hey, they added some keyboard shortcuts and any new site starts with an accessible base and they did it all by themselves so that’s an improvement. I suppose when you go from zero accessibility to partial accessibility you have no choice but to call that an improvement, but that’s not what WordPress is doing. WordPress is improving accessibility on the front end and people with disabilities are picking up the tab. Instead of doing something truly amazing and wonderful and being the first to create a block editor that has complete drag-and-drop capabilities plus the ability for anyone who doesn’t use a mouse or who uses some kind of assistive technology to have complete control over what they create, WordPress is merely copying its competitors when it comes to releasing something that’s inaccessible and then promising to fix it later. Geocities promised to make their page builder accessible. It never happened. Google, same thing. Squarespace, they’re still making us vote on it I think, but I suppose they should maybe get points for at least being honest about the fact they really don’t give a damn. Wix resisted for years and finally started to get around to it, but they made all kinds of promises too and it’s a year later and we’re still waiting for an editor we can use. The list goes on and on and on. Anybody who’s been on the web longer than two seconds knows this song because it’s been played so often. Forgive me if I don’t exactly take promises to fix Gutenberg’s accessibility problems as anything other than promises in the dark. So yeah WordPress, I know WordPress drama sucks. I’d love to return you to your regularly scheduled program. But the WordPress I adopted as my home and as my family is better than Wix or Squarespace or Google or Geocities and I believe that it is still capable of doing great things that will shake the foundations of the web, and passing that up for the sake of speed development and a new shiny is missing an opportunity that you can never take advantage of again.

Comments

  • Your story opened my eyes to the impact of inaccessible software.

    I had no idea these vendors promised accessibility then never got around to it

  • As a blind blogger and podcaster, I am in the process of deciding whether to continue giving WordPress a chance to correct their inaccessible ways, or switch to Drupal, which already has made an accessibility commitment it already follows. Anyone have any good ideas about a hosted Drupal implementation?

Respond

Reposts

  • James Bell
  • Claire Brotherton
  • Louise Towler
  • Stephen Cronin
  • Pgogy WebStuff
  • CoolfieldsConsulting
  • Heather Burns
  • mallory, alice & bob
  • Anthony Hortin ???
  • Jeff
  • ((( Amanda )))
  • Greg Wocher
  • Roberto Perez

Mentions

  • React Hooks ??
  • Lireo Designs
  • Gammon feel the noize
  • Gammon feel the noize

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.