Blogging in WordPress

I have been writing several blogs in WordPress for about 10 years. In WordPress, you can create a free blog in five minutes. Supply a username and an email address and you are up and running. You don’t even have to pick a theme. The editor, now called the “classic” editor, was very much like a simple wordprocessor, so in many ways, you already knew how to use it.

It was so easy that I used to have students in my “Advanced Expository Writing” course create WordPress blogs. I have placed some screenshots of some excellent blog projects below. Clicking on the image should bring you to the blog.

A Student Blog for “Advanced Expository Writing”
Another Student Site: The Prickliest Pear
A Third Student Blog: Wordpannini

You may have noticed my use of past tense in the paragraphs above. That is because the WordPress community is in a bit of upheaval at the moment. The “classic” editor has been replaced by something called “Gutenberg.” The new editor, which I am writing in now, is “block-oriented.” Above this block are two paragraph blocks and three “image” blocks. The support page lists 39 types of blocks. Hitting enter, as I am about to do now, will end this block and start a new paragraph block.

The classic editor is still available, but I have been told that it will be gone by 2022. My experience has been that there is both subtle and not so subtle pressure to switch now, even though the new editor is unpopular with what appears to be a large majority of users. And there are still bugs. For example, I originally had the screenshots above in a “gallery” block that I wanted to have clickable images, but it put the urls in front of the pictures. When I asked WordPress support about this, they said pictures in gallery blocks can’t have outside links. However, they have a link button in the pop-up menu which asks for a url when clicked. The documentation doesn’t actually fit the reality of the block.

Different Metaphors (This is a heading block.)

However, I don’t want to go into the pros and cons of the new editor or the way WordPress is handling the transition. Because this is “Teaching Text Rhetorically,” I am interested in the rhetorical effects of the two metaphors of writing involved here. The classic editor produces a stream of text with inserted images and links. Gutenberg produces a stack of blocks of different types. Is Gutenberg better, worse, or just different?

The stack of blocks becomes a stream when posted. For the reader, it is a linear flow. Does it make a difference for the writer if it is a stack, perhaps similar to a PowerPoint slide deck?

My writing process for this blog was generally to write in a text editor that had no formatting codes, copy and paste into the WordPress editor, and then format in that environment. Copy and pasting from Word or LibraOffice tended to bring in formatting codes that could be troublesome in WordPress. If I paste unformatted text into Gutenberg, all line breaks trigger new blocks and formatting is unpredictable. It seems better to write in Gutenberg than copy and paste, at this point. That is quite a different writing process, but I could do it, if I could trust Gutenberg not to lose my text.

What About Students?

I don’t think I will assign blog creation to students in WordPress anymore. I think Gutenberg is too daunting. I think I would have to spend a week teaching Gutenberg. But we shall see. Perhaps it will turn out to be more appealing to students than I think.

6 thoughts on “Blogging in WordPress

  1. Chris Grim

    I usually write my posts in google drive, then copy/paste into wordpress. Granted, I use my work’s platform for my blog now, but the idea is the same. The writing process is hard enough without needing to think about tech. Hope you can come to a good enough solution.

  2. guitarsophist

    Writing elsewhere and then pasting into WP is definitely harder to do now. Have you tried Gutenberg yet? I am trying to have an open mind about it. I think that the pros and cons are about equal, which makes it hard to have an opinion. A lot of users are saying it is “horrible,” but I think they haven’t really tried. On the other hand, as I try it, I can’t say that it is good either.

    1. Chris Grim

      Interface acclimation takes a bit of time. I currently use Gutenberg for one blog that I post on occasionally. I use the same steps to teach others about new tech. 1. Spend time playing around with test posts 2. Check out the settings, find the right fit 3. Look up how-to’s to fill in the knowledge gaps.

      1. guitarsophist

        Yes, but sometimes it is not a knowledge gap, but a bad design. The block editor is not a good writing environment. It might end up being a good page design environment. I like writing in something like Notepad because there are no formatting distractions. It’s just words and sentences. Sometimes even LibraOffice Writer is too distracting. But the block editor also makes it hard to paste stuff in.

        I pretty much understand how the block editor works. I wrote some test posts and published one post. I had a productive conversation with the happiness engineers. I decided not to use it.

  3. Pingback: Blogging in WordPress — Teaching Text Rhetorically – الناشر publisher

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