Give me some sugar, WordPress

December 10, 2009

My taste for WordPress.com is starting to sour. It’s this issue of not being able to embed javascript. It is making it so I can’t use WordPress.com for certain increasingly important purposes.

WordPress says they don’t allow javascript because “Javascript can be used for malicious purposes. Your code and intentions may be perfectly harmless, but it does not mean all javascript will be okay. The security of all the blogs is a top priority and until we can guarantee scripting languages will not be harmful they will not be permitted”.

That makes sense. Except, there’s one problem with that. More and more of what makes Web 2.0 and social media great requires javascript. Because of WordPress’s position, I can’t run a liveblog an event using CoveritLive and Twitter, which is by far the most powerful way to liveblog an event that I am aware of. CoveritLive made this liveblogging event and this liveblogging event possible. What I especially like about CoveritLive is that it makes it possible to feed in contact from other users, turning a blog into a much more social tool than it tends to be. Nope. Can’t do that.Then, along comes Google Wave. On the surface, Wave is a collaboration tool for creating, well, documents and the like, providing a much better way for a group to create the document and also communicate in the process.

But I see a rather different use for it, stemming from the ability to embed it in other websites. If you open it to the public, people can comment on it, and contribute to content, like comments on a blog, but more versatile and more real time. For the person maintaining the website, it becomes a way to monitor those conversations remotely, perhaps on a number of websites, without having to open the actual website. Plus, you have the replay option to watch the progression, and you can add all of the other robots, widgets, etc., to greatly enhance the tools people can interact with. We are on the verge of a new frontier with how you can run a website, particularly a blog, and communicate with people through this medium, thanks to Wave.

Problem is, the Wave embed is in javascript. Translation, no WordPress.com. Translation, Blogger’s becoming more and more attractive, since it allows javascript embeds.

Why not just pay the relatively small sum for a WordPress.org site, which would allow javascript, you say? On the surface, that’s a great question. My answer is that I spend most of my time trying to work with tools that are free, whenever I can help it. The reason is that my work in media tends to target developing countries, and the reality is, people in developing countries are much more likely, in my experience, to use Web tools that don’t come at an additional cost. $10 a month might not seem like much in America, but when you are only making $50 a month in, say, Ukraine, as a teacher, you aren’t likely to pay for a site, no matter how small the price. And, as I train these tools, and help people incorporate them into their communications, I couldn’t in good conscience push them toward tools and practices that require money. Not if I am going to focus on those who are underserved that have access to the Internet.

This whole situation has me thinking of making the switch over to Blogger. Especially given that it is the seventh most trafficked URL, and the number one blog platform, in the world (WordPress.com is 20th).

If I do make the switch away from WordPress, it won’t be easy. In so many other ways, I have been very happy with it. We built The Morningside Post on it, and that worked very well to accommodate our CMS and Web 2.0 needs. But that wasn’t a WordPress.com site. And I’ve been enjoying WordPress as the CMS for this blog, which admittedly is mostly a laboratory for me to tell stories and test out tools, and not a full-time operation. There’s not a whole lot keeping me here, except whether or not I’m really feeling motivated to build a whole new blog and start migrating content.

WordPress, I realize you have your reasons for not allowing javascript, and keeping more advanced features beyond paywalls. I won’t call it a bad business practice. But, you ought to consider that you are providing a fairly significant obstacle for people in the developing world by doing this. And, as I train people and organizations in other countries how to blog and make use of Web 2.0 tools, I am less and less inclined to push them in your direction.

Photo 1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/audreyjm529/ / CC BY 2.0



  1. You should consider using self-hosted wordpress. It would allow you to run whatever scripts you chose and is far more flexible than either hosted version (blogger or wp.com).

  2. Thanks, Tim. I’m definitely considering it. The trouble is, you have to pay for it. I can afford it, but most people I train in developing countries can’t. I’m not trying to stunt myself here, but my goal is to help them as much as possible. That’s my real frustration.

  3. […] I said in my blogpost “Give me some sugar, WordPress“, my taste for WordPress.com soured. The biggest thing was that I couldn’t use […]

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