Placing Blame Where Blame Deserves to Be Placed
Every day I read blog posts by people who blame WordPress for something that has nothing to do with WordPress. I read flaming articles and criticisms about Microsoft, Internet Explorer, Word, Adobe Reader, Firefox, web hosts, and all types of products and services by all kinds, pointing the finger and blaming them for all the world’s ills.
Yesterday, a friend of mine ranted and raged about how many hard drives he’d replaced on his laptop. “They were all Western Digital drives. I will never buy another Western Digital hard drive in my life!” Not twenty minutes later he let it slip that he just throws his laptop into the back of his vehicle all the time. He’s a sports journalist, often moving fast and behind schedule from event to event. He pitches his equipment in the back of the car, drags it through crowds, up and down stairs, and banging around press boxes, spills lunch on it…he doesn’t have time to be careful with his equipment. It looks like he’s been in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Do you think the way he treats his laptop might have something to do with his hard drive failures? Nah, it’s Western Digital’s fault, right?
In the past week I’ve read at least eight posts blaming WordPress for CSS failures on WordPress Themes and Plugins. Andy Skelton works with WordPress.com, and one of his tasks is to “fix” WordPress Themes to work with WordPress.com blogs. After over a year of pulling out his hair over poorly coded WordPress Themes, he offered Defective Themes: Image Width asking WordPress Theme designers to take into account that bloggers aren’t familiar with the most basic physics of the box:
Don’t put anything in a box that exceeds the size of the box.
If you force something too big in the box, the box breaks, right? Those who put pictures or videos in their blogs which exceed the width of the container will break their blog’s design. We’ve all gotten those pictures from friends and relatives eager to show off what their new digital cameras can do and they send us 2 pictures in a 16 MB email. ARGH! If that can break your email inbox, so can an over-sized image break a web design.
There is a solution as Andy described which will prevent such breakage with image widths, but if a Theme designer doesn’t include the preventive stop, are they to blame?
No, the user blames WordPress.
When images don’t work, they blame WordPress. When Themes don’t work, they blame WordPress. When Plugins don’t work, it’s the fault of WordPress. When they leave a tag unclosed and it screws things up, it’s the dumb doing of WordPress.
Come on, folks! If your car has a flat, do you blame GMC? Hyundai? Toyota? Lexus? Mercedes? BMW?
Let’s put blame where blame really lies when we rant in our blogs.
Unfortunately, the blame often lies with us.
Taking Responsibility for Your Mistakes
The new web is based upon the premise that open communication is the future. Building up the social network of blogs from just conversations into solid relationships. However, the first step in building a relationship is for the blogger to have a conversation with him or herself on how to define the relationship between the blogger and their audience.
How honest are you with your readers? How honest are you with yourself? Before you hit that blog ranting and raging about the wrongs that have been done you, do you stop and think about your complicity in the matter?
As a child, I was told that man created God in his image so he’d have something outside of himself to blame. While you may argue with that statement, there is a measure of truth in it. It’s always easier to blame someone or something else than to accept responsibility.
I grew up watching my father blame the screwdriver for his inability to unscrew a screw, pitching it across the room in anger. “Damn screwdriver!” I knew it was his fault, but he always blamed the tool.
There are honest and sincere grievances to be had against WordPress, Microsoft, Western Digital, IBM, Adobe, GMC, Toyota, and all the other makers of stuff in the world. As Bill Cosby said:
Man invents. God creates. Man invented the automobile. Called it AMAZING! God made a tree said it was good. Man invented the refrigerator. Called it INCREDIBLE! God made a rabbit and called it good. The wheels fell off the car. The refrigerator lost its cool. Tree’s still up and rabbit’s still runnin’.
There are a lot of problems with what man invents, and there is a lot blame to be placed upon manufacturers. But do so appropriately.
When you mistarget your blame to the undeserving, your reader knows. Your readers are smart. They know that WordPress didn’t break your post with a half meter wide photograph. You did.
And you know. Most of the posts I read blaming WordPress end up summarizing that the problem was really with the Theme or Plugin, or human error.
Still, what people read first is “WordPress is bad”, and those who thrive on blame games come running to see what the fuss is all about, eager to join the chorus of blame against that which has done no wrong just to be in the band, singing off key together.
Your serious readers know the difference. They know when you are off target, but do they say anything? Is it the responsibility of your readers to keep you on track and smack you when you are off base? Maybe you are one of the few who has developed such an honest relationship with your readers. Most of us haven’t. Instead of saying “it’s not their fault” or “you’re the one who screwed this up”, they will start to drift away. Maybe they don’t really know why, but they do know their interest and trust in you is waning.
Nothing man makes is perfect, and trust me, God, mother nature, and the Cosmic McMuffin did some very screw stuff, but at least it works. Let’s place blame where blame is deserved in our blogs, and work harder to be more honest with our readers.
What do you think your readers will think if you spend more time being really honest with yourself, and them, in your writing, rather than blaming everyone and everything outside of yourself?
Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress.
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.
Yay, I think I recently fell for the easy way of blaming WP (in a ranty sort of post) when if thinking straight it was probably a database issue with my web host. :-)
… but then what if it was a WP issue that screwed with my database, hmmm… Either way, when you loose an hour or so of work (even if after saving every 5 minutes or so) you gotta blame somebody. :-)
I have a greasemonkey script for Firefox that gives you a big stinking warning if you break your box model. I created it for exactly that reason… breaking the box on IE6 but it looks fine on Firefox.