The disturbing truth how WordPress favours hosted over self-hosted blogs

WordPress has made some changes within version 3.9.1. Whereas nobody relishes change, sometimes it’s necessary to make improvements. And in today’s world we all know the importance of security upgrading, keeping up with trends, providing more facilities, maintaining a more valuable presence, etc.

But what is really irritating is when an upgrade results in some facilities being withdrawn. It wasn’t that these features weren’t useful, or even used regularly, the fact their presence ensured professionalism and control. They marked out the better blogger from those that didn’t know they existed, and for some it is important to present your posts up to a particular standard, and infuriating when this is suddenly not possible any more.

I’m talking about the ability to create white space around images. Or to put it another away, to control the width of margins and borders around our pictures we place in our posts or pages. What do I mean by this?

Showing words butting up to imageOn the left shows an example of words butting up against an image. The result is unprofessional and the lack of white space make the text more illegible.

White space around WordPress.com imagesWhereas the example on the right shows how the margins separates the text from the image, making it easier to distinguish the differences between the two. You may think I’m being pernickety about this, but as I write this post I am exasperated by the lack of white space WordPress 3.9 1 has allowed me when I preview what I have written, as the margin width granted to me by default is not enough in my opinion.

But to justify the title of this post, I have found that the facility to adjust how wide your margins are around your pictures has not been omitted from WordPress.com blogs. I am very pleased about this, as these bloggers don’t have the ability to rectify this problem by installing a plugin (Advanced Image Styles v2.0 for WordPress.org users, and thanks to Mari Kane for providing this information). They rely on the goodwill of WordPress to recognise their needs and remember to include everything that has been present before as well as including new exciting features.

So what is available for WordPress.com that isn’t for WordPress.org 3.9.1? Let’s look at the options shown once the image in edit mode is clicked on, via the pencil icon, to reveal the Image Details menu.

First, what WordPress.com provides its users:

WordPress.com Image Detail menu showing margin width features

Everything is now incorporated into one menu, with a clickable advanced option to reveal the extra facilities. In the second half you can see the ability to create a border for your picture, and as well as the width (via pixels) there is now a colour option (brilliant!). Below it there is more increased control than before over how much white space you can add in for your margins, allowing you to insert individual pixel amounts for all sides of your image (also excellent!).

But if you are a lowly WordPress.org user, this is what WordPress 3.9.1 has left you with:

WordPress.org Image Detail menu withdrawn margin width control

You can check that these are from different locations due to the image URLs revealed under the ‘Link To’ option. As you can see, no facility for border or margin width adjustment is available.

I don’t understand this omission, especially since it was available previously before the upgrade. If WordPress.org users had never been able to adjust their margin widths without the need of an additional plugin, then so be it. But to take away this facility, without ceremony or reason, is cruel. Does WordPress think that we won’t notice, and that what they think is a suitable default margin width provided as standard for any inserted images will be accepted or tolerated?

I know that the facilities in WordPress.com need to be top notch and always available, otherwise people who won’t get or can’t afford their own hosting will miss out and this blogging platform will lose its reputation. But don’t undermine WordPress.org users when making upgrades and changes; the people using this, particularly the untechnical ones, don’t deserve such treatment.

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Alice Elliott writes the award winning Fairy Blog Mother blog for beginner and post-beginner bloggers to “explain things really simply” about blogging and WordPress. She provides simple, easy to understand, highly visual courses and tutorials using ordinary, everyday words. Visit her new Beginner Bloggers blog to find her latest learning resources.
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