I don’t normally do columns or letter-like responses, but I find myself writing one today. And if this is seen, great. If nothing is done, well, at least my thoughts have been shared on the matter. This is in regards to the automatic upgrade feature in WordPress.
For those really new to WordPress, the older version gave you a notice and allowed you to click the button to upgrade. This was a one-click upgrade, and somewhat of a semi-upgrade feature due to the fact it allowed users to upgrade directly from their WordPress backend, rather than via FTP or another means.
WordPress 3.8.1 came up as a true automatic upgrade for some. We were told this was going to happen.
This true automatic upgrade is against the original core values and intentions of WordPress and I can’t believe this was done. This takes the choice out of the user-end side.
Yes, for some, it might be intimidating or confusing when WordPress updates… but for them to assume that 20% of the Internet wants this feature, is presumptuous.
I’m very angry and as a developer who supports both open source and web accessibility (for more than 12 years now), especially giving the user the choice, it’s really important to me. And it’s really important to other developers and users as well.
Getting a lecture from in a shotgun post via Make.WordPress.org was not enough after I posted to the Alpha/Beta forum back in December 2013… correction… November 2013. It really was a response that wasn’t adequate. This was a plan that should not have been considered at all.
WordPress has been tested a lot, but doesn’t always work the same and has been known to glitch on updates. Many of you who’ve been using WordPress and have been around the community, have seen this happen. And I’ve seen countless times when minor update has gone wrong (even on my own server)… so saying it doesn’t is incorrect. It doesn’t matter if you have hundreds of thousands of successful upgrades, you still have to think about the others too. To not think about the people who had problems updating is to cut off those users. I spend a lot of time helping some of those users via All About WordPress, a group I opened on Facebook for users who need support and Facebook is their venue of choice.
The other thing is backups. Not all WordPress users keep their ear to the wall when a new update is about to be released. So, if they aren’t aware, then they get a message saying that their site is updated and they never got a chance to do a back up. And if the site didn’t get a back up, and it actually failed on the upgrade, they have to troubleshoot the problem.
And yes, you can apply a snippet to the wp-config.php file to turn automatic upgrades off, but the majority of WordPress users are NOT developers and a large percentage of them don’t want to touch code because they are intimidated by it.
On the other hand, there are people who will enjoy this feature as they don’t have to fool with it. They will have to rely on making sure they’ve got scheduled backups and hope that the automatic upgrade didn’t mess up if a backup was schedule 2 days before, making them have to roll back to that and lose comments or even posts… depending on how often the site publishes, and how much engagement is done on the site.
I don’t want an automatic update in the middle of the night, and find out my website’s been down because of this. I have put the code snippet in place to prevent the true auto update. I just believe this is one step too far. Why was this thought of? How many other CMS are using this feature?
I’m not against updating and upgrading WordPress. That is not what this column is about. It is about the user’s choice in upgrading. It is making sure they get to choose when it happens. I think even a placing check box field option in the settings to turn this off might be a better solution, giving the choice to any user, and not having to make people who aren’t code savvy have to deal with the code snippet solution. I think this would be a great compromise that I could find myself calmed down about. The definitive guide is great, but taking the initiative in going a step forward will make even the web accessibility fanatics happy.
Whether this is included or not (it would make more sense to offer this in the WordPress backend settings), the plugin Update Control should help you disable automatic updates. Please make sure that if you do disable them, that you keep on top of your upgrades as it will keep your site secure. In most cases, minor updates usually don’t cause problems, but as mentioned, there are those rare cases that they do. AND, aside from updates, make sure you have a WordPress backup plan.
Note: This isn’t a post to attack specific people. This is to address an issue I’ve been trying to make for months because I see it from both the developer and user sides. It’s great if you read this and disagree, as that is what makes the WordPress community great. However, please make sure to know I’m entitled to my opinion as well.