WordPress releases yet another upgrade (2.8.5) yesterday and people instantaneously groan about having to upgrade their blogs yet again. Given the recent vulnerability in 2.8.3 when plenty of blogs were hacked into including that of Robert Scoble, these upgrades are becoming just as important as they are tedious. Or are they really that tedious (they still are important)? Why are we so afraid of upgrading our blogs or rather anything? Especially after WordPress has a built-in feature that makes upgrading a breeze; (I used the WAUP plugin before that) unlike previously when you had to FTP-in and replace core files with the new ones. Marco Arment, web designer and lead developer of Tumblr pins the blame on the software industry [via]:
Our industry has collectively taught average people over the last few decades that computers should be feared and are always a single misstep from breaking. We’ve trained them to expect the working state to be fragile and temporary, and experience from previous upgrades has convinced them that they shouldn’t mess with anything if it works. They’ve learned to ignore our pressures to always get the latest versions of everything because our upgrades frequently break their software and workflow. They expect unreliable functionality, shoddy software workmanship, unnecessary complexity, broken promises from software marketers, and degrading hostility from their office’s IT staff.
But is it all the industry’s fault? We all are afraid of change especially if we don’t fully understand what we are dealing with. My parents who aren’t exactly computer-savvy are perennially afraid of ‘the machine’, afraid that it might blow up if they do something wrong. But I see this fear of change even among established bloggers; myself included. Why bother upgrading when the current version works just fine and what if the new version breaks my plugins that makes my custom blog look perfect? You always rue upgrading when something breaks and you fervently wish for an undo button that doesn’t exist. But on the flip side, not only are some upgrades essential from a security perspective but also might bring features that you have always wished for. I have used WordPress for quite a while and have been continually impressed with the constant tinkering, both at the frontend and the backend, that has sought to not only simplify using WordPress, but also make it feature-rich. If you take the usual precautions of frequently backing up your database and theme files, upgrades can be a painless affair. I have to upgrade seven blogs each time a new upgrade is released and thanks to the improved process, it takes less than 15 minutes for all seven. Unless of course, something breaks :) Upgrading using Subversion is the next step but it is a tad too geeky for me right now.
If you rather not deal with the hassle and focus on writing, there is always WordPress dot com but then we don’t blog just to write, do we?
Update: To combat fear of upgrading due to plugin incompatibility issues, WordPress has now launched a beta check test. Of course, it relies on user feedback to determine which plugins are compatible to which versions of WordPress.