Sin #4 The (dysfunctional) nanny state

All nanny state ideas sound great until you get down to the ways they are being implemented. The manifestation in WordPress is the “automatic update” of core/themes/plugins. The notification in the admin panel as if tells you “There is a new version just install it, it takes less then a minute, and you will have the latest, greatest, and secutitest (just made up the word).

In reality the nanny state promises things that it can not actually check. Does the new version has breaking changes? how was it actually tested to ensure that there are no bugs or security issue? the nanny state just do not know, but still the message is “trust me, I know”.  No wonder people actually buy into that message, after all most of the wordpress site owners have no knowledge about software development and proper ways to run a test on a “testing” site before upgrading production.

And what happens when an upgrade “killed” a site? The owner goes to the plugin/theme developer and tells him exactly what he knows about the profession of his/hers mother. At this moment plugin authors are mystified, after all in the TOS they did not guaranty that any version of the plugin will ever work as expected, and for sure they didn’t ask any site owner personally to upgrade.

So on the one hand the nanny state pushes people to upgrade but on the other refuses to take responsibility to the results, and worse than that, basically there is no way for the plugin author to communicate any possibility of breaking changes, as nanny state do not believe that such things exists.

Instead of teaching people to run tests before installing new version, or forcing hosting companies to provide such facilities, WordPress just pretends it has no responsibility for any breakage.

The plugin and theme repository are not the only manifestation of the nanny state in WordPress, it is less noticeable for most people, but exist in the planning of WordPress events. It is just unbelievable there are people still willing to jump through all the hoops and organize those events.

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