Arbitrary decisions & why b2evolution is not a democracy
Some like it strong. Some like it light. Some like it with milk. Some like it hot. Some like it chilled… There is no single right way to serve coffee.
It’s pretty much the same when it comes to software, blog software for that matter.
Some want more this. Some want more that. Some want less this. Some what a different kind of that. There is no single right way to design blog software.
Every feature can be debated as long as you want, but at the end of the day there’s always gonna be 4 groups:
- People who are for it;
- People who are against it;
- People who want it, but in a different way;
- People who don’t care…
So, in the end, you either do nothing or you make a decision that’s going to please one group, not please another, irritate a third one and mostly go unnoticed by a fourth one.There’s basically 2 ways to make a decision from there:
- The arbitrary way – someone has the final word;
- The democratic way – you put everything up to a vote.
The demoratic way has one main advantage:
- It feels nice, clean & safe. Nobody’s ever gonna give you a hard time for having followed the democratic path…
Unfortunately, it also has disadvantages, among which:
- Some people will vote without understanding the problem, let alone long term implications;
- Some people will vote out of simple resistance to change;
- Some people will vote for political reasons;
Every one of these aspects has deep ramifications I wouldn’t even know where to begin with, had I to attempt explaining them…
Suffice it to say: democratic decisions are not a guarantee for making the best decisions. They are more a guarantee for no one having to bear responsibility.
For crying out loud, democratic decisions are what lead us to global climate change! (So far, only a minority ever voted against fast industrial & economic growth…)
Now, don’t get me wrong: I am all for free people in a free world, making their own decisions. I am not saying democracy can easily be replaced. What I am saying, though, is that as far as b2evolution is concerned, I tend to make arbitrary decisions and I believe it’s just fine that way. Here’s why:
First off: b2evolution is FREE open source software. Allow me to remind everyone of what this implies:
- You don’t ever have to pay for it;
- You can use if for as much or as little as you want;
- You can change every single little thing you don’t like and make it behave your way, at any time.
So, in a sense, unlike in the physical world, you are free to do what you want before you even need to think about democracy…
Second: I am working my ass off on this software! And I have been doing so since 2003. On average, over the years, b2evolution has been a full time job for me. Yet, I’m not getting paid for doing it.
Of course, I tend to use b2evolution for most of my real work projects, which makes it sustainable, but still: I basically have 2 jobs and still just one life…
So, please, humour me while I pretend I’m entitled to be the one with the final word.
As said above, there is no single right decision. Every decision is biased. Either through a democratic process; or by the personality/agenda/whatever of the person/group making an arbitrary decision.
Now, of course, having me in charge is no guarantee for best decisions either. It’s just a guarantee that I agree with my own decisions and I keep working my ass off in following up on them.
Inevitably, I also make bad decisions… sometimes… not too often I hope. In that case, I can only blame myself for my mistakes and work from there. That’s just how you learn & get better… ;)
As a final note, I wish to say this: I know that with every decision, some people will wholeheartedly disagree and strongly feel it was the worst decision ever. I can try to explain to you as much as I want that other people feel the exact opposite of you and that globally it’s a good thing, it won’t change how you feel.
You are welcome to speak your mind and explain how you feel about it. However, sometimes, some people tend to get rude, exteme and occasionally aggressive. Ask yourself: is this really what you came for? Is it worth the aggression? Is it going to solve anything? Furthermore: is it gonna matter tomorrow? A few months from now? Is there an easy workaround?
(Would you believe some people get truely angry about the default setting of an on/off configuration switch ?)
As far as I am concerned, whenever I’m about to spend time on the computer fixing someone else’s problems for free, I always, always, always give priority to people who expressed their problem in a polite or civilized manner. (Ok I must admit, I also give priority to: clear, concise and 1-step-at-a-time problem reports ;)
Comment from: Ryan Tucker Visitor
I think the title you’re looking for is “Benevolent Dictator For Life” :-)
At the end of the day, this is your project, and someone has to lead it or it will go nowhere (or, worse, somewhere else entirely). That might as well be you. Rock on.
Since I first started using b2e some 3.5 years back, it’s always struck me as having a particularly supportive community around it. I tend to drift in and out as my needs for my blog come and go, so some faces stay and others do much like myself. I’d say that during that time, yours was a name that didn’t seem to be around a great deal and you seemed to stay much more in the background.
Of late though, that seems to have changed. The regular faces now appear to be less so, whilst fplanque is much more to be seen than previously.
At first I was wondering whether perhaps interest in b2e’s development was waning, over-ridden by the presence of Blogger, Wordpress and the like. Reading this post, gives the impression that there is a more philosophical debate being had over the direction the software takes.
I don’t know enough about what underpins b2e’s structure to be able to comment much either way, but it does remain of interest to me.
Regardless of any one feature though, whether core or plugin, your efforts over these past few years are appreciated by me, as are those of the others who have contributed during that time.
You are 100% right.
You are doing a darn good job.
People who are rude in expressing what they don’t like, don’t deserve in being heard.
Thanks for the good work and keep it up (please ;) )
Cheers from sunny Egypt!
i should say, you are the owner of the most objective and helpful comment above
this new blog is totally useful to understand what s going through your mind and reasons to it
“…interest in b2e’s development was waning, over-ridden by the presence of Blogger, Wordpress and the like. Reading this post, gives the impression that there is a more philosophical debate being had over the direction the software takes.”
“Of late though, that seems to have changed. The regular faces now appear to be less so, whilst fplanque is much more to be seen than previously.”
another true observaton.All new features being slapped into the core are considered as “bloat” by some, and should be renounced as letting the core to take the main load is against b2’s philosophy AFAIK.It was at 2.x days at least.
And back then we did not even have a proper plugin repository despite the fact that b2.x offered hardly anything other than the core itself.We were “collecting” plugins from authors websites, ancient forum threads, here and there.IMO, “BOPIT” could serve greatly, and the last time i remember it was in great condition, better than ever to be precise.
Therefore i do not see great benefit in making such a big decision in terms of changing main principles and the behaviour of the software.Only things that can not be achieved via plugin should be attached to the core, if the pros outscore the cons.
i have joined at a very late but critical stage where 2.x was taking over and settling, and spent a considerable amount of time with evo -2 years- ;
at the time, IMO ofc, everything was so great, everyone was so eager to help each other, like a world wide spread family, but nowadays, seems that everyone stepped back and minding their own businessess, and i dont like it, everyone has their reasons-excuses-including me-, but i really dont like it.
Of course this is an OS, and noone gets paid for it, people will come in , go out maybe even FG will quit someday and someone else will take his place just like he did, its a cumulative project, but we should not ignore the unpleasant voices.
Socrates thinks, democracy may be for the worst at unwise hands, though i see no other easy way to compromise with masses than letting them choose.
Anyway, i wish all better for evo, b2, b3, b2evolution whatever suits you :P
Emin, regarding “plugins & bloat", you should really read this:
Actually i have read all of your posts, and they all make sense, but i guess the community is not ready for such a radical change.
I used to defend bundled features, as irc fellas would know, however as i said, it was at the time when bopit was barely working.
I mean i personally know where i can find if what i needed for my evo exists and whereabouts i can find it, but the new/average user may not be able to find it.As you know; not everyone goes to a software’s forum to ask for help (since most likely you wouldnt get a decent answer [not in b2 forums ofc]).The everyman user installs and looks roughly what features it has and uninstalls if it does not fit.
Anyway, i have gone too far OT.
My point is;
a.) We still have users insisting using pre-2.x versions, given that; “resistance to change” seems to be very hard to remove.
b.) As i said previously i was supporting core features, but now that bopit is working great -afaik-, we could use it to “attach” features to the core, instead of “slapping them into” it.
A noticeable button on the admin menu would work greatly even for the most average user.
1 click add on install is way more better than core features, as i personally think those will cause compability issues in the future.
I dont want b2 to turn into sth like wp, which has compability issues with every skin, every plugin at every version change even minor ones due to the badly shaped core.
On a final note, i find your ideas reasonable as i said, however i also think the situation has just to be reconsidered.
On an unrelated note; I have been abroad for a long time and i could not play with 3.x at all, my ideas may not be concluseive and might change, but to put it in a few simple words; i would like (and also users) to be able to install for say; avatar feature, with just one click-which bopit enables-, instead of having that in core.I hope that clarifies the situatiton.
Dont fork and make peope fork the evo (: i all want to see everyone in one place as always
’bout the last part; please do not say “havent you read my comment where i say the avatar plugin should be seperated”
it was just an example which can be replaced by any other newly functionalities.
AND you can merge this comment or delete it, that was just a note which hit me after i posted
Yes, resistance to change is hard to remove. That is precisely my point!
Regarding WP, I believe your arguments support the opposite of what you are saying.
WP users say they need 30 to 40 plugins to make it do what they want / to work correctly / to be secure. And that’s what you seem to want for b2evo. Yet you say “I dont want b2 to turn into sth like wp".
Also WP *is* plagued with security issues and incompatibility problems arise at each new release. All those incompatibilities are precisely due to plugins, because every plugin developer does his own stuff without knowledge of what the others do. Integrated features are precisely the solution to incompatibilities and this has been verified over and over in the history of the whole software industry.
Again, if you “dont want b2 to turn into sth like wp", then you don’t want to have to rely on 30 to 40 plugins to run your blog. For crying out loud, some people are still running version 1.x because they’re relying on plugins whose authors have stopped supporting them.
Finally, we continue to support the whole plugin framework and will continue to do so. You can continue to use plugins as you like and as you’ve always done before.
Plugins are great for advanced users and hackers. For the new users though, they add a lot of complexity in the process of setting up their blog. Just deciding which plugin to trust or to rely on is an artificial stop in the process. I want to get that barrier out of their way…
And I have yet to read one single compelling argument against having more features in the core!
“resistance to change” is not an argument. It’s just what is says: resistance to change.
“Don’t turn into WP” is not an argument against core features, it’s an argument against plugins.
I havent fiddled with wp too much up to day, after it has unfortunately! failed to play nice with my hosting, i switched immedieately to b2.
I did use it a few times though, and AFAI see, and to my knowledge, the reason why your skin crash each time you upgrade is the way “core features” behaviour changes which were slapped in by the skin creator.
a.You can not possibly use the same plugin/skin with the next one or two minor updates,
b.Most likely you dont have any chance at all getting your old plugins work after a major version update.
c. Skins are very breakable, you dont know if it may crash or not with the next update.
a.Its very probable that your plugins will keep working until you perform a major update.
b.There is even a slight chance that you can get even a pre 2x hack/plugin working in post 3x versions.
c.Skins will work with minor updates, even if after a major update (2x to 3x) your skin may continue working perfectly -depending on the custumizations you make-
See, the above, i believe, are caused by the differences in core and the way it associates with extensions.
So i dont believe i am clashing with myself.
Anywhoo, i am not a php coder, i just observe and make tiny modifications, so i do not want to be judgemental, i am just worried.And uh, the whole comments above are not “against” anything even if they might sound so.All are rounded opinions, i don’t + cant have any particular complaints about the new features as i havent experienced them enough.
Though, I will do a whooole comprehensive workaround with 3.x within the start of ‘10, I want to use b2 in my further projects, and i ma guy who loves to stay up to date.So i dont want to get stuck like others.Therefore i would like everyone else back in the game.
Yeah we have have to change, yes we have to move on, but not leaving too many behind.
Apart from all, your dedication is highly appreciated.
Thanks, good luck
Emin, if something has been “slapped in by a skin creator” it is **not** a core feature. It is much more like a plugin feature, except it’s packaged in a skin instead of a plugin. It is still the exact same weakness of third party code not being designed to work well with the core. I believe you are still contradicting yourself.
Skins & plugins break on new versions because they have been tested on a particular version of the core and have not been tested on the new version before it comes out.
Core features don’t break on new versions because they are precisely part of the new version and thus, by definition, they have been “tested on the new version of themselves"!
Then, yes sure, skins & plugins break a lot more on WP than on b2evo. Believe it or not, that may very well be because we have a French General over here! It takes some arbitrary decisions to tell people “no you can’t change this under the pretext it’s cool because it will break that and that".
After having some issues yesterday and not being able to use my blog for some hours I fiddled with WP for a while.
I was a great fan of WP before and I just gotta say that it doesn’t cut it for me any more.
I still wish I knew more how to get certain things to work in b2 (the avatar thing is one), but those are minor issues (for me).
Some people will never change and some people will always bitch.
Yes, it got more quiet on the forum, but there are still great and helpful people.
Hey, i meant good up there.
I did not imply skin features should be considered as core, nor b2 skins are eager to break.
Maybe it is just that i talked too much it got all complicated but i insist that i am not contradicting with myself.
Simply; i was trying to tell; “AFAIC, the reason WP is so vulnerable and breakable is its “core and the core features", AND b2 is not at that stage, its core is far more understandable, straight forward and in good condition.And I suspect, the newly added and upcoming features may screw up the whole thing.Thats all.I hope its all clear now.
at short term, murmuring voices may be annoying, and the departures may not look so important, everyones position may be filled but most of the staff more than a staff member to me, i just want the old sinergy back.
This discussion is going nowhere as we dont seem to understand each other, but i am looking forward to your new posts, good day ciao
Nicole: thanks for your message :)
Emin: I know you mean good :) (so do I ;)
Now, moving on from the incompatibilities issue to core security and stability:
The reason why the WP core is so vulnerable and breakable is because they spent all their efforts on making it look good on the surface, but underneath the facade, their core is still the old original b2/cafelog core, which was badly conceived to begin with.
We, at b2evolution, spent about 2 to 3 years to completely rewrite the core in a modern, clean, object oriented, safe & secure manner.
*That* is the main reason why our core is more stable than theirs.
It has not much to do with how many or how little features are included. As long as we keep applying the same strict coding standards to additional features, we can add as many modules as we want, it’s not going to change the core stability any more than adding plugins.
Furthermore, we typically have much stricter coding rules for the core than most plugin developers have. Therefore, using core features rather than plugins is generally more stable and more secure. That is *not* to say that all plugins are badly written. Several are very good indeed. But you never now what you get when you use a new plugin from a third party. Using core features, on the other hand, is a guarantee that those features are as robust as the rest of the core. (They may have less bells & whistles though…)
I know this is no matter to advanced users like you, who know which plugins they can trust and which plugins they can’t. But for new users it is a problem to first have to hunt down the plugins they need and then have a bad experience because one of the ten plugins they installed actually, and unfortunately, undermines the whole system.
I hear you on the fact that some plugin developers are very loud about the core overlapping with any little inch of what one of their plugin does. Being loud does not make them right though. Yet, again, there is no right decision here. It’s black coffee vs coffee with cream. Different people want different things.
Now if you ask me, there are still, and there will always be infinite areas for plugin developers to express their talent. But my position remains that if a particular feature is needed by a significant percentage of users or blogs, we are considering including it and maintaining it as part of the b2evolution package, either as a bundled plugin or as a core module, depending on what makes most sense from a technical standpoint.
Actually i had written a long comment but i am not going to post it, i dont want to drag the post too OT.
I hear you, you have your own valid points.
Just want to add, that i feel that you are trying to extend the number of users reaching the average user , and if you do, i d advise if i may, simplifying a few things, starting from making the BO less scary.
I hope change will be for better
Emin, making the Back Office less scary sounds like a good thing to do, but where should I start specifically? What are the scariest things in your opinion?
May be hide the advanced settings at the first place and show on demand or make them less visible.
And i believe the tabs should be ordered according to “priority” and usage frequency instead of “importance".
I.e, Instead of current order;
this order might be more useful,
Posts/comments, Blog Settings, General Settings,Users,Files,Dashboard,Stats
I am looking at my 2x install and for example under blog settings there are 10 tabs and every tab has like 10 options to choose from which leaves you with a hundred things that feels you have to deal with.
IMO, basically what an average user needs are the first 5 tabs at the first place.
General - Features - Skin - Widgets -Categories
the next five tabs are not things that the novice user necessarily has to change.So the next half of the tabs may be hid, or less visible, like if white background is used for the first 5, the next five may be light gray or with less transparency giving the feeling that, we have these other cool extra settings if you are done with the basic ones and like to play with.
Same goes for the general set. tab too.novice user wouldnt feel obliged to have post types, file and file extension settings, antispam or regional set. but he ’s gotta know they are there in case he/she needs it.
And a single line random help/tips bar that may be easily toggled (unlike the evo bar) may be useful to give user heads up like … “if you want to do this click a>here
There are a few other usability ideas to ease it for the average user, especially inquiring plugins/skins.I dont know how big place does bopit have in 3.x but such a tool should be very important and should be sticked into users eyes like “hey we have quite much extras here come on take a look, all it takes is a single click to download".Especially for such a software like b2 that has false reputation for not having those extras, skins and plugins.But the last time i checked, my blog was running over 15-20 plugins and there were tens of skins available, which i believe should be way more increased this coming year.
on a second thought, about the BO tabs, it may be even more interesting if we gave the user the freedom to arrange tabs horizontally, like the browsers do, with a light weight drag and drop script
I’ve been following the discussion with interest for a few days now and am wondering about the use of the word “arbitrary” to describe the thought process surrounding the development of b2e. On the one hand, the word can be defined as…
“subject to individual will or judgement without restriction; contingent solely upon one’s discretion”
or as an alternative as
“Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle”
Now the former implies some level of consideration before making a decision, whilst the latter appears anything but considered.
What neither definition does for me though, is make a case for what I believe François is doing here. There are no doubt a great many features that could be included or excluded from a default install of b2e, but I don’t think it’s right to assume that these are not very carefully considered without a view to how these will affect the b2e development path, the user experience, the ability to attract new users, or any other number of factors.
Perhaps François hasn’t made it explicit here, but I find it difficult to believe that he takes any decision on what constitutes the core lightly. much less he does that in splendid isolation of the other developers who contribute to this particular product. It seems quite reasonable to me that many views needs to be considered , but that ultimately, given two contending views, some one person needs to make a decision. Without that decision, things will stagnate. I only have to look at the company I work for and the societal pressures that constrain it to see what rampant collectivism does for progress. In my view, any decision is better than no decision, and that necessarily has to be made on the best information available at that time, regardless of its source.
On a more pragmatic view, I have to say that Emin’s views on the presentation of the BO, echo so closely some of my own thoughts over the past couple of days, it’s kind of scary. There is something in what he says that the layout of the menus and tabs is getting rather cluttered.
I’ve just clicked on the manage button to take me into the BO, at which point I can see four rows of menus & tabs, a sidebar containing multiple additional options (the use of which are not entirely clear to me), on top of which there is then a list of posts, with a variety of selection options. Given that some menus then have drop-down options and some options suffer from duplication, it’s not a great surprise that getting going proves difficult for many.
It does strike me that perhaps an overhaul is due in that area. The default grey bar at the top of the page (visible in public or BO) when logged is, is largely an irrelevance to my way of working - if that could be superseded by the next menu down, it would actually speed up my access to what I really wish to work on. The only thing it seems short of, is a menu item to take straight into writing a new post, and another to take me back to the public view. If necessary, why not make the second menu the one with the drop down options?
For me it perhaps doesn’t make so much difference, as I pretty much know where stuff is now, but I can’t help thinking that currently it looks cluttered and overly complex, even more so for anyone new to b2e. Unfortunately, I think the documentation doesn’t help dispel that view - as unappetising as it is, that’s one area I really feel could do with some work.
thinking that you are doing the right thing for your own good does not make it more probable to be right.
I am not implying he is wrong, i am just sayin that being the maintaner does not make his decisions a better choice.IMO Positive prejudice is as bad as the negative one ;) I dont mean to reduce fg’s nowadays more than ever ethusiasm.
See, i am not labeling anything as bad or good, i am just questioning the situation.
About the menu, i did not suggest a second menu, god no.:)Just an undisturbing single line somewhere that offers confused user a hand while he’s wandering around, not necessarily on top.
Yes a lot of people dont like the evobar but sometime ago, a user at the b2 forums has stated just what i always thought, it was sth like “I could do if it wasnt there, i only use the write button and …(one more thing that i dont remember as i dont use it :)]
Though it’s fairly easy to get rid of the evobar, at least making it toggled may be considered via jquery.
Btw, i was poking around a little here and there, and you might want to update the article on wikipedia with a few facts.
Despite all the above anti-menu talk, one with “features” instead of “links” may be useful i think.
Emin, my apologies if I’ve misinterpreted your meaning above, but I am assuming that your first couple of paragraphs above are in response to some of my own observations. If not, then I’m sure you’ll clarify that for me.
I don’t believe that I am saying that François is infallible in the decision making process, from from it. All I am suggesting is that when one or more options are available, then some decision must be reached as to how to proceed based on the information to hand. For my own part I have a preference for that to be taken by one individual, as I’m not sure it’s possible to come to a consensus position, though I wouldn’t suggest for a minute that this shouldn’t be explored. The very fact that François has created this blog suggests to me that he is open to discussion (why leave comments open otherwise), and that to seed this discussion, he has chosen to write a series of pieces explaining his own position and preferred direction.
As far as menus are concerned, I’m most emphatically NOT suggesting that any more be created. When I suggest using the “2nd menu", I am only proposing that the one below the evobar be improved in such a way that it can fully replace the evobar.
I think that’s me for the moment… >;o))
“The one below the evobar” ? Are you referring to one of the header containers ? or is there a second menu that i havent heard of
I’m referring to the one with “Dashboard | Posts/Comments | Files | Stats | Blog Settings | Global Settings | Users | Tools” on it.
yea but you are referring to a menu that exists only in BO and available to admins (/users with bo access), whereas evobar is supposed to be both for admins and users.they are not the same thing.Allthough i have a few ideas to put together the menu you have mentioned and its submenus.And as i said, if such a menubar like evobar somehow “has to” stay, its functionality may be increased so that it wont look that useless and annoying.or just an X to get rid of it would be fair enough for the average user i guess.No biggie, but could be useful to shape up those top menus sometime.
I guess this is where my knowledge of how b2e behaves in all circumstances falls short. I’ve only ever looked at a copy as Admin, or as a casual member of the browsing public. I’ve never had a need to be a logged in member, so have only ever seen the evobar in my Admin role.
I still like the idea of the menu bars being combined, the visible options would just need to vary based on a users permission settings I think - how easy/difficult that is though, I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess.
B2 is great, Francois. It keeps getting better and so far we have all of the really important plug-ins. I hope for both our sakes, that it continues.
Comment from: Alex Rosmondo Visitor
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary….ugh…nevermind.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
You and the folks who have been helping are making a real difference in the world whether you realize it or not so keep on keeping on!
Comment from: Jorge Visitor
I would like a plugin for b2evo to treat photos like WP 2.9 or Orkut. Also, an improvement in the uploaded files.
Comment from: Jorge Visitor
Also, b2evo is great. Congratulations… Bye
Comment from: household insurance quotes Visitor
Well thought out posting.
Comment from: gardening uk Visitor
Hi there, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any support is very much appreciated.
Bien dit !
Courage, ton travail est remarquable, et il ne se passe pas une seule journée, sans que je me dise que mon blog propulsé par b2evolution est formidable !
Il m’arrive également d’œuvrer au profit des autres sans rémunération. C’est un choix que j’assume bien, à condition que je sois convaincu qu’il ne faut jamais rien attendre d’autre que de l’ingratitude. Et d’espérer parfois quelque âme charitable qui n’omettra pas de me dire combien il est bien (humblement) que je fasse cela. :)