WordPress bloggers: remember resisting Block Editor?

Photo of a dusty a computer screen reflecting a person taking a photo of the dusty screen.
This is me trying to photograph something on a screen that just crashed. A very dusty screen.

WordPress bloggers, do you remember resisting the Block Editor? A year ago your groans reverberated around the globe: “Bring back the Classic Editor!” That feels like 1,000 years ago but no: it was only last year.

Last year I was searching WordPress Reader for blog posts about “editing.” All in vain. Instead I found endless pieces by people who were rebelling against a forced change to WordPress’s Block Editor.

Their resistance was only human. Many bloggers had mastered the old Classic Editor and were perfectly satisfied with it. They (OK, we) saw no urgent reason to switch to the less-old-but-not-exactly-new Block Editor. Bloggers shared no end of fascinating workarounds. Some were using far more energy and ingenuity to avoid the new editor than they would need to embrace it.

Ghost of an old internet platform

I too was a bit reluctant to switch, not from hostility but from a false association. When I looked at the WP block editor I was frightened by a ghost. I couldn’t help but see similarities with a certain horrible internet platform commonly used in the 2000s. That old internet platform forced writers to decide irrevocably in advance when to start a new paragraph, for instance. We had to think like a Knowledge Map in a Trap; shuffling sentences around was a nightmare.

Well, that was then, this is now. Bloggers persevered and found to their surprise, “It’s not so bad.”

Why a Verse block?

Interesting feature: a Verse block. What, a change of typeface for a poem? Paragraph breaks between lines? Purists may groan but today I say to myself, suck it up. At least it’s not Comic Sans. At least it’s easy to do. And it’s instantly obvious that—

These lines are poesy
so put on your poetry face
and brace yourself
for lines that go ragged right
and float in space.

And toss a pretty posy
to the noble poet
putting words of graft and grace
into their proper Verse Block place
using the earnest 
Courier typeface.

Fear of losing control

At the time, many people worried that they could no longer place images in their favourite idiosyncratic places.

I understand how annoying it must be to lose the illusion of design control—but it always was an illusion. For the blog that you see (given your personal combination of browser, operating system, screen, preferences, platform and device) has never been the same as what I see. Never was, never will be, for multiple reasons. It’s a miracle that modern themes and styles can make our blogs look as good as they do, whether on a huge high-res screen or a klunky little old smartphone.

I’m happy. Yes, it took a few weeks to get my head around the Block Editor but publishing is now faster and more efficient, too. Thank you, WordPress. I appreciate your help with alt text and SEO and image compression and scheduling and yes, presenting poetry.

Like the WordPress Block Editor, Covid-19 vaccines aren’t that bad either

Drawing of a man getting vaccinated by a person in PPE. The man cannot see a needle, only a pair of gloved hands on his upper arm.
What you really see when you get vaccinated: no needle, just your shoulder and a pair of gloved hands

Humans resist change when it’s out of their control and when there is no obvious, personal, immediate need for change.

Inevitably I start thinking about the Covid-19 vaccine we’re lining up to receive. Yes, like the WordPress Block Editor it was new a year ago. And like the Block Editor, it’s not so bad, folks. It blocks the worst effects of a hideous, super-contagious, potentially fatal disease—maybe you heard that already?

If only the media would stop showing images of Big Needles forcing their way into bare shoulders. When you are the one getting vaccinated, THAT IS NOT WHAT YOU SEE—not unless you have a very long neck and can twist it around like a goose or a swan. What you actually see is your own shoulder and a nurse’s hands.

And what you feel is a little tiny nip, not half as bad as a paper cut, let alone a Botox shot or an electrolysis session or a bikini wax.

I searched for a very long time to find a realistic photo of someone getting vaccinated. Every photo or video except one focused sadistically on a massive needle drilling a hole into someone’s perfectly good arm. Alarming, of course.

By contrast, my Terrible Drawing above of a man getting vaccinated is far more realistic. If he looked at his shoulder, he would see a pair of gloved hands at work, not a needle digging in. I based my Terrible Drawing on a photo used by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, illustrating the following article:

New Zealand transfers vaccine doses to COVAX – 6 Pacific nations first to benefit

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46 thoughts on “WordPress bloggers: remember resisting Block Editor?

  1. Sheree says:

    I’m still using Classic Editor!

  2. Paula Light says:

    The block editor was a nightmare in the app, so I too resisted, but eventually I dumped the app. Now that I use a browser exclusively, I see the problem was the app all along, not the BE 😜

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Oh, that I didn’t know. Thanks Paula! That makes sense. By lucky chance I’ve always used a browser and laptop for writing and publishing, so the switch was easy.

    2. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Paula, I will add your tip to my post as soon as I get a chance. Thank you!

  3. Ally Bean says:

    There are ways to get to the Classic Editor so you don’t have to struggle with the Blockhead Editor. I tried the block editor for about half a year, then switched back to classic after another blogger clued me into how to get it. I don’t get the appeal or need for the block editor– and a few of my favorite bloggers have given up blogging because of it. I may be joining them, too.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Ally, I had no clue that this was still a problem for so many. How painful. I’ve learned from Paula that BE is a problem when using the WP app, but not when using a browser. Does that apply to you?

      1. Ally Bean says:

        No, I only write using my desktop iMac. The block editor fights me all the time, won’t let me type in a block, forces me to rewrite paragraphs willy nilly, doesn’t permit me to add YouTube, and often refuses to size a photo. It takes me literally twice the time to write one blog post using it. That is why I wonder how much longer I’ll be around blog land. 🤨

      2. Rachel McAlpine says:

        That would be a tragic loss. I’m assuming you have had advice from your techie resources and you’ve updated hardware, software and OS? This is obviously not a problem easily solved without help.

      3. Ally Bean says:

        Oh this computer is up-to-date. My guess is that WP doesn’t care about smalltime bloggers like me, so I sense that making me, and all the other dissatisfied block editor users, happy is low on their list of priorities. I get it, just don’t like it. The Classic Editor was perfect. Why mess with it?

      4. Rachel McAlpine says:

        So sorry you have troubles with it. Who can help?

      5. Ally Bean says:

        Probably a 12 year old who understands techie things intuitively! 😁

      6. Rachel McAlpine says:

        I hope there’s one within reach.

      7. Ally Bean says:

        [P.S. I sent you a link about how to get back to the classic editor, but I don’t see that it has shown up in your comments.]

      8. Rachel McAlpine says:

        And the Happiness Engineers can’t help?

      9. Ally Bean says:

        No, they claim it has to do with Apple, not them. I don’t believe that to be entirely true, but there you go. You can’t fight city hall, as they say.

      10. Rachel McAlpine says:

        That’s annoying. Thanks for the link; I’ll delve further.

  4. Rachel McAlpine says:

    I’ll put that in my update.

  5. chattykerry says:

    I am so old and forgetful that I had forgotten I preferred classic editor (or realize that it was still available)…

  6. Lyn says:

    By contrast I loved the Block Editor from the moment I started using it. I use it on my own blog and when I upload posts on other blocks I write for. It works so easily and I can do so many more things on it than the classic editor. It’s easy to add a table of contents, images, galleries and so much more. You can change text colour and background colour on specific blocks. I have only used it on my laptop though, never from an app or a Mac.

  7. Lyn says:

    Oops, blogs I write for.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      We figured that 🙂

  8. realruth says:

    I have learned to live with the Block Editor. Sometimes I have problems if I want a poem to be centred on the page, and have learned it’s best to centre it in Word, then copy it across to the blog.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Sounds like a good hack. I never centre my poems so that’s even easier. I find centered text disconcertingly difficult to read…

  9. Alan Ralph says:

    I’m another person who had very little trouble getting to grips with the block-based WordPress editor. The only hiccups have been when trying to convert old posts written using the classic editor where I’ve used quoted text inside other quoted text, for instance; the new editor can’t wrap it’s head around that and ends up converting it into HTML code instead, not at all what I wanted. So I’ve left those posts be for the time being.

    Alas, I gave up on the various WordPress apps as they proved more labour-intensive compared to just using a browser to work on my site. So that’s what I do these days. My favourite WordPress plugin is the Broken Link Checker, which alerts me to any links that have relocated, are temporarily inaccessible or have gone altogether. In the last case, it can often find an alternative link from the Internet Archive — very handy!

  10. Sue at Nan’s Farm has some very useful tips regarding WP usage and regularly adds new information when someone requests help. It can be accessed here:

    https://weeklyprompts.com/how-to/

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Peter, thank you: these downloadable tips are clear and smart. One problem: Sue warns readers that WP changes constantly and, as PDFs, some may be out of date already.

  11. I knew it was just a matter of time until I’d have to change to the block editor, so I jumped in early on. There are many things I don’t know, but I’m able to put text and photos where I want them. That’s good enough for me.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Good thinking. It suits me just fine, also.

  12. A sound post – especially linking WP and Covid

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thanks Derrick! That was a last minute insight. I like the way the act of writing pushes my thoughts along.

  13. Anonymous says:

    To be fair…I didn’t care about block editor, but my posts are very simple. I didn’t notice a change at all

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You made the change most gracefully, if I remember rightly.

  14. I resisted the Block Editor for a long time, then finally held my dose and dove in. After a few painful attempts, I started to feel OK about it (my posts are pretty simple: text and a few pictures). Lately, though, I’ve been struggling. I don’t know if WP has changed something or if I’m doing something different. Oh well… I’ll keep trying.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Janis, they say embracing change is a big plus for happy aging, and you did it. But we all need an elf or a nerd now and then. (I sure do!)

  15. swabby429 says:

    I resisted for purely practical considerations. It was incompatible with the operating system on my old computer. Although Microsoft had stopped supporting Vista long ago, WordPress’s editor remained compatible with the system. Newer operating systems required too many resources from the old laptop so I had to keep Vista. The last straw was when the last phases of the WordPress Block Editor were instituted. I then was “forced” to shop for a new computer. Once I had the new laptop, my gripes about the Block Editor vanished.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    I use Apple, so I think the excuse given the earlier commenter is wrong. I like the block editor now that I have become used to it. It does make it easier to post poetry and quotes.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Becoming used to something new: that’s a tool, a cure, and a reward for old people like me.

  17. Rachel, I received your book How to Be Old and I found it to be delightful! Funny, serious, pithy, and nuanced. Thank you so much for the great experience of reading it. I will go back to it again and again! –Timi

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      So happy to hear this, Timi. Will you join us tomorrow for our Zoom call? I hope so. Please don’t be shy!

      1. What time is the Zoom call? I am in EST, which I think is -5 hours GMT

      2. And how do I find the call?

      3. Rachel McAlpine says:

        Timi, I hope and pray it’s 4pm for you. I have re-sent the invitation with a URL that will bring you to the Zoom meeting! Fingers crossed.

      4. Rachel McAlpine says:

        Please check your email! You should find the invitation there. One click and you’re on Zoom.

      5. Rachel McAlpine says:

        Timi, it’s at 4 pm YOUR TIME. That’s in 3 hours time. (Link deleted) I’m afraid my emails can’t be reaching you.

      6. Rachel, I have a Dr’s appointment then. Oh well.

      7. Rachel McAlpine says:

        Oh that’s so sad. My emails must not have reached you. One day I will repeat and include you 🙁

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