“Get your WordPress site ready for Gutenberg,” they say. But is Gutenberg ready for me?

In the WordPress + Gutenberg discussion, I feel like a minority. The assumption for my decision to not use it is that my site just isn’t ready. That’s it—the only reason, aside from me just not wanting to change. 🙄

Once your site is ready, Gutenberg will welcome you with open arms!

It’s a nice sentiment, yeah?

But it’s just a platitude. Because it probably won’t.

1. It’s not accessible.

It doesn’t even seem like a priority. If it was a priority, one of two things would happen:

  1. Gutenberg remains a plugin for those who need a site builder and is not added to core.
  2. Gutenberg becomes part of core, but users are not forced to use it.

Accessibility is about inclusiveness, WordPress says. It’s a key value.

I look at their accessibility testing for the Gutenberg editor, and it’s just a list of things to test and check off. It works great for people whose disabilities are obvious, whose accessibility needs can be compacted into a neat list that able-bodied people can understand. It’s good for them, but I’m autistic. Where do I fit in? How do I fit in? Will I even fit in anymore?

Where’s the list for the people who find such a change difficult not because of an aversion to change, but because there are certain sensory aspects of it that drive their inner selves up the wall? Where is the list for the people whose muscle memory is what helps them function in a world that relies less on muscle memory and more on common sense, unbothered by what seems like a trivial change and a better means to an end?

There is none, because you can’t format it into a pretty, compact list that makes sense to people who’ve never had to understand anything like it. Have you ever visited an autistic’s blog or an organization’s site run by autistics? We seldom change our sites. I could get away with changing mine, if only because my autistic audience is a tiny number—and even then, not much changes, and the feedback I receive from those autistics is still favorable because I’m not changing every. single. thing.

And even if there was a list, it’s not enough. It doesn’t explain why those things are on the list. Most of the time, able-bodied people see these lists as items to check off and forget about. They don’t stop to wonder why these things are on the list. The why matters less to people who don’t have a disability that requires those list items.

A better solution would be to test with disabled people instead, without a checklist of actions for them to perform. I considered doing the test, briefly, until I realized that there is nothing about any of the needs I would need, or the needs I’ve seen fellow autistics in need of—the ones non-autistics coin “severely autistic” just because they meet a few stereotypical autistic traits and can’t hide their autism, who are commonly dismissed as unable to function at all in society because of that perception (even though autism is a spectrum, but hey—I digress).

That’s the primary reason I’m boycotting #GutenbergGate.

2. Site builder BS

Touting “blocks” as a better writing experience compartmentalizes writing, which is insulting. When I’m writing, I want it to be seamless. I don’t want every different type of format code to be inside a “block”. I don’t want to have to create new “blocks” for different code.

I customized my visual editor to appear somewhat similar to my posts on the front-end and, as of a few months ago, use only one column. I don’t need some new-and-improved “distraction-free” writing when I’ve already got it. It already exists, for everyone, without a plugin. And my accessibility needs? They’re still here, no noncompliance, because nothing has changed.

If I wanted a site builder, I’d have bought one by now or used a different CMS. The whole reason I fell in love with WordPress in the first place was because it allowed me full customization and was not intrusive. Now, it’s the Windows 10 of the blogosphere.

3. I don’t trust monopolies, including brands seeking to monopolize.

The way I see WordPress bringing Gutenberg to core, it’s aggressively trying to compete with site builders, like Squarespace, without regard to why people use either service in the first place.

Everyone contributing to it obviously wants it to succeed, but is downplaying criticism with platitudes, ignoring valid arguments against it and basically throwing a fit because they can’t take the heat.

“Everyone NEEDS the Gutenberg Editor” is on hundreds of blogs, most of the time using manipulation like, “If you care about the future of your blog, you need Gutenberg.”

I’m not part of the WP community. I use it, self-hosted, but there are bullies (and usually men, go figure) in the support forums that try to dominate by mansplaining anything I say, whatever it is I say. I do, however, partake in the surveys they conduct every year—but as it turns out, those results are redundant; the results that matter to the development of WordPress are those gathered from talking to people at WordPress events, and I’m in a demographic unlikely to be considered for accessibility—so what was the fucking point of those 10-minute surveys?

Never taking another one, so long as that is how it is. 😒

I surmise I shouldn’t be surprised Gutenberg is here, either. I’m not a fan of Matt Mullenweg. I’m glad WordPress exists, but that’s what I respect—WordPress, not Matt. However, I’m bringing him up because he’s the founder, and the behaviors/views of founders matter especially when such big decisions as these—when many self-hosted WordPress users try to speak out against the Gutenberg editor—are important.

During a five-minute scroll, this is what I’ve gathered:

  • The Gutenberg tantrum post is just a blob of text that sounds pretentious AF.
  • It looks like what non-bloggers on my Facebook feed would do if they had blogs, by which I mean they wouldn’t even try to learn about blogging beyond what they can do right out of the box.
  • In the past year, he’s only used two <h2> tags, in a total of one post.
  • Not up to par with a11y for someone who considers WP (for which accessibility’s a “key value”) their baby

It makes me wonder if he even understands blogging himself. So then…why Gutenberg?

I’m not into monopolies. I loathe them. It’s why I seldom shop at Amazon and am willing to pay extra, when I can afford it, by buying directly from the company itself or at least another site that supports businesses better. Even when I shop from Amazon, I do it via Amazon Smile so that a portion of my money to Amazon goes to the charity of my choice. It’s a means to an end.

No one product meets the needs of every single person. Only so much inclusion can exist before you start having exclusion. People are always going to get ignored and talked over, and too often it’s first the people fit that demographic from the start.

This isn’t an autism issue, it’s a too-big-for-your-britches issue. 🙄 (And I’m not scared.)

But perhaps I’m writing this because I’m autistic. 🤔 Maybe it’s the reason I see these issues, especially regarding accessibility. 🤷‍♀️ And that’s not even taking into account my dissociative identity disorder. 🤬

But ah, let’s all be sheep. 🐑👍 Except for me. 🙅‍♀️ And everyone else rebelling against it. ✊

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Comments on this post

Michelle’s gravatar

Having a monopoly on anything is bad for the consumers. Period. The end. Not that I was good at the board game, either XD Anyhow, I’m resisting the urge to say, “IS IT READY FOR YOU!?” but yeah, still, I love to buy from local shops that are on etsy etc; and even in real life. I know that people are excited about the whole Disney and Fox merger and while that they *right* now give the studios their autonomy, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be revoked. People don’t seem to grasp the whole complex issue and see the sides with it.

I got more than an hour of a psych evaluation (grueling) and I was given a Non Verbal Learning Disorder diagnosis plus others then I’m due for a personality inventory test, too.

Still, I’m with you. Monopolies just suck for everyone even if people can’t see the dangers right now. They are still there.

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Jane’s gravatar

I will have to adopt to Gutenberg at least five times before I can start to familiarize myself with it, because of DID. Most other bloggers out there, they just have to adapt once, over time; they don’t have different parts of themselves that need time to adapt to something this intrusive. So it’d be like taking five different WordPress users, combining them into one person, and have that person work to adapt to Gutenberg? I don’t know how to make it make sense—just that it takes a long bloody time. Like, I have to learn how to code multiple times so at least the majority of me knows how to do it when I can’t.

Change isn’t my issue, it’s just the monopoly Gutenberg presents. That’s literally what it is, to appease a small array of self-hosted WordPress users.

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Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight’s gravatar

Wow, how have I never even heard of this yet!? I must live under a rock. But now, I do know. And I don’t love the idea. Especially if it is such a hardship on so many people, my goodness. I mean, I just think it looks a mess, and I don’t see why it needs this useless overhaul (like, I am doing just fine as is, thanks) but you definitely have every right to be pissed here based on the accessibility issues alone! (Also, I wholly agree that it looks like something that is supposed to be… non-blogger friendly. Like in case my grandma needs to draft a blog post or something? 🙄) And I totally feel you with the monopolizing thing.

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Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction’s gravatar

I had not even heard of Gutenberg, so I was super confused by this post at first. Now I went and read about it and I’m pretty nervous. Seems like there’s going to be a HUGE learning curve with this, and I’m guessing a lot of stuff I already have in place won’t work very well. Ugh!

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