Some of you have noticed the issues with the site. The weird-colored user backdrops (or in Peter’s case, complete transparency.), the sticky post that blocks people from seeing the new content, and even before Dad died; the lack of updates to WordPress.
There are a lot of issues and reasons here, but I don’t feel confident making decisions on how it’s handled entirely on my own, or at least without talking about it first. So, let’s do that…
It should come as a shock to no one that digging around in the backend of the site is what you might imagine trying to find something in the workshop of an old genius inventor might be like; a mess only they understand. It’s a mixture of coding languages, backdoors, and organization systems only he knew how to traverse, and by the time he died, even he didn’t know it very well. I swear this site was like the labyrinth built by Daedalus in Greek mythology. The creator knew how to traverse it, but only using special tricks, and even he could get lost if he stepped wrong.
I keep finding myself wanting to call him, ask him what he was doing, why is this set up in this way? How do I change XYZ? How do I change XYZ, but now without breaking it? It took me a week to figure out how he was adding headers to posts alone, let alone fixing many of the bigger issues that have sprung up. It’s hard, trying to fix things when the mind with all the information was there, and now it…just, isn’t. I can’t call him, I can’t ask, and hell, even he himself couldn’t actually update the site, even if he’d wanted to.
He hated WordPress with a passion, he only used it because other web hosts literally didn’t have enough space to hold up his colossal content hoard. This was the only place he could go and still continue to grow his library, without spending an arm and a leg. His hatred of the medium is clear in how he used it. He was a stubborn guy, and if he was going to use it, by god he was going to bastardize it as best he could and force the stupid program to do what he wanted his way. He hated HTML, so he’s avoided using it in many places, using so much exterior code that the site can’t be updated because all of his old posts would break immediately. Old headers, footnotes, text; he used special code to make this site exactly how he wanted it, and now it has no forward compatibility.
The last time he updated WordPress was a two-week ordeal, with him doing it, the man who actually wrote the code. Plugins don’t work, themes don’t work, I still don’t know why I’m purple, Mom is white, and Peter is entirely transparent. Whatever you’re picturing it looks like over here, make it ten times worse.
This is why we haven’t gotten in touch with any of the lovely people who have offered to help with the site. For one thing, I suspect no one really knows what they are offering, and it feels unethical to go ‘Great! Thanks!’ and hand anyone this mess. But for another, I don’t really know what can be done at this point. It’s not that it isn’t doable, but that it’s such a deeply overwhelming task, I’d much rather talk about video games and avoid it for the foreseeable future. Which is, admittedly what he was doing. I feel ya, man.
I’ve been agonizing over what to do. Maybe one of you with more knowledge than me and years of experience in both coding and archeology will be sitting there going ‘Oh, silly Bay, it’s so simple!’ but for one thing, don’t put it that way, who does that? That’s so condescending. And, for another, it’s probably not as simple as you’re imagining.
Don’t get the wrong idea, I am coming at this from some rudimentary coding experience, and my mom used to design WordPress sites for a living. This is not a group of hapless non-savvy people going ‘uhhhhh code no work’. Even Dad didn’t know how to make the site work going forward, he just continually knew how to bodge it together with little problems that arose, so never felt the need to do a full overhaul.
So we have a big question coming up here.
Does the community care if the site upgrades and looks different? How much?
The easiest solution to this problem is to put a fresh install, locking away his old content with archives. His old posts could remain untouched by the new code, but this place is going to have to change. The old content couldn’t be commented on anymore, which is a pretty disappointing downside, but we might be able to work around it with a forum or other place to talk about those old posts. The other downside is purely visual; the new stuff is going to look different. We could get it close with themes and plugins, but some things are going to change like it or not. And we need to ask ourselves if keeping everything the same is the goal.
Is the goal to try and get the new stuff to look as visually similar as possible? Or are we okay moving on, taking on a more modern look, or the design of the new generation of creators?
It’s the time-old question of ‘keep everything the same, or move with the times’. Whole countries have experienced this growing pain, it’s just replaying here in this little biome. I suspect a little of both will happen. Most of the time the answer to things isn’t in absolutes. But, as one of the new creators, that decision doesn’t feel mine to make either way. It would feel biased to overhaul everything to fit my own ‘vibe'Not that I would do that anyway, there’s a balance here.. But it would feel stuck and claustrophobic to exclusively hold myself to keeping everything exactly the same, especially if that idea is self-inflicted, and not what the community actually wants.
Whatever happens, it’s going to take a while. I’m the only member of my family not working full-time, and my personal coding skill is limited. I have help, but it’s at the mercy of a work schedule, so things are going to take a bit to settle. I appreciate people’s patience while we try to wrestle with all this. I know the site is confusing and a bit of a mess right now. We’re trying, I swear.
 Not that I would do that anyway, there’s a balance here.
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