August 28, 2020
An unconventional look at Plugins from a non techie
Although I am not allowed to use any Word Press Plugins on the Personal or the Premium Word Press Plan, I once used to use a plugin on this blog. The plugin was from Good Reads which is owned by Amazon. When I started reading a new Kindle Book there was a feed on the sidebar that would list that book. I installed the Plugin and I used it for a short time, but I decided I did not like a distracting feed of what seems to relevant information on the side of every post. Sometimes I may not have wanted a certain book to appear in the feed. So, I removed the plugin within a few weeks of starting Macy Makes Magic. The Good Reads Plugin made it look like someone was tending the website as new books would automatically appear. I don’t like “cheating” in terms of using automatic updates to make up for a lack of actually logging into your blog and checking it at least once a week. I always check the date on the most recent blog post to see if the blog has been abandoned when I look at someone’s blog.
I looked around at a number of Word Press Blogs today and I saw many abandoned blogs with the old style feed bar. I don’t know at what point Word Press removed the Good Reads Plugin. The idea was for people who write fiction or literary criticism would bond over the books they read together on Kindle. It was a good idea in theory, but did not really work out. People don’t talk very much on Good Reads.
Using Plugins creates a security risk and the degree of risk depends on the Plugin. I have to say this because I don’t want anyone to install the Classic Plugin and blame me if they get their site hacked. I have no experience with the Classic Plugin.
Updated: the Good Reads Plugin may have been a Widget. Widget vs. Plugin, its hard to define. I decided that sidebar things looks tacky on a blog. I like a neat and clean appearance. I don’t even get the difference between a Widget and a Plugin. Both of them alter your website in some way. One has to keep an eye on that sidebar.
Here is another example of a plugin, widget or other service, Disqus is a commenting service that watches your comment feeds for spam other undesirable comments. The only companies that would need this are large enough to have enough comments to make it worthwhile. If you have a Political Blog you may have a large number of comments that need monitoring. I am not sure if Disqus is hands on or if they just use key words to send alerts to your device.
In terms of other possible plugins besides the Classic Editor most of the plugin for Word Press are things that will annoy people such as boxes appearing and demanding an email address. I put fake emails into those boxes to get them to go away and stop. Word Press Plugins are like apps that are made by developers to sell to website owners. There are a lot of them because it’s like the Wild West anyone can come up with a plugin and try and sell it. Some plugins called insights help you spy on the people who come to your website. Insights are statistics about each person who comes to the site. The best way to protect yourself as a consumer is to delete your cookies as often as as possible.
To sum up as you can see it would have been a total waste of money for me to have upgraded to a Word Press Business Plan just to use a Classic Plugin. I am not interesting in using plugins, and they make your site less secure.
However, to be fair there is a case for Plugins made by other bloggers.
“WordPress allows you to get as creative as you want with your content and publish just about any type of it. But there is a catch. WP, by default, does not come with as many features as you would like. Moreover, what is available normally lacks functionality. That said, you need to install a plugin for the specific task you would like to realize. “
This comes up over and over “a lack of functionality.” I can see there is a reason for keeping the code simply. I have taken a class in Dreamweaver and I found that the more complicated the creation the more likely it was to malfunction. So I believe a lack of functionality may be a positive, and not a negative. It depends on what one wishes to achieve.
Consider an website image that behaves differently based on client behavior. If you come to the site for the first time the image looks one way. If you roll a mouse over it changes. If you click it changes. I think many of these fancy designs cause more errors as the code difficulty increases. Some Plugins also handle images by creating galleries of photos.
I don’t know how Zillow does it but they have a series of photos of the houses that are on market. The photos can be clicked on and the whole listing can be selected as a saved house that you can come back and look at later if you have logged in. If I was a real estate agent with a personal website and wanted to showcase houses that I was selling this would be a great way to promote the houses. Some of the best houses never make to Zillow as they are so hot they sell immediately. If I was working in a neighborhood of a larger city, I could put my houses online on my personal website, such as houses for sale in Crown Heights. I could call my site Crown Heights Real Estate. If I had a pet rescue I would put up photos of adoptable pets online. There are millions of ideas one can come up with.
There is a site called Word Press Beginner that has a box that follows me around. Each time I go to a website I know it part of the same complex of websites from the annoying boxes. Maybe this is also created by a Plugin? The box which I have a vague memory of says something like “do you want tips and tricks”, but does not ask me enter any information. The goal behind it is most people look at a website quickly and then scan away because they can’t find what they want. This is because the website does not have what they want or because its hidden somewhere that will take too long to find.
The boxes want you to commit to something before you scan away. Some times a box will pop up if you try to leave the site that says, “Wait don’t go, first look at something else.” The most common box is “Give us your email now and get up to 30% off a purchase” This box pops up before you have time to look and see that the site does not have what you want. If you don’t buy anything they sell your email, so they still make profit even if they can’t make any sales. There is also a bait and switch in which they promise they have what you just typed into Google. You go there enter your email and collect a discount code, but the item is either not there or out of stock. When it goes out of stock it may never come back, but they keep it online anyway to make you click and hopefully buy something similar. Amazon does this more often then other realtors as they don’t have to limit their website size. Here is an example of the defunct shampoo I wanted to buy on Amazon. It says out of stock, but they want your email just in case. Marketing is very creepy and I don’t want to be accused of doing it.