When I received advance notice that my How to Enable Classic Editor in WordPress.com was going to be included in a popular WordPress email newsletter, I was surprised and excited.
I’ve published over 1,900 posts in 12 years of blogging.
It’s not often my posts capture the attention of a news site devoted to covering the WordPress ecosystem for WordPress professionals and enthusiasts.
No information was provided to me about what would be said about my post.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the good experience I expected. And likely has resulted in a loss of my reputation in the WordPress community.
As with most not-so-good experiences, there are lessons learned about standing up for your work.
Here’s my story.
When the newsletter went live, I excitedly read the article about my post.
And discovered misinformation was included.
The intent of the article was to highlight the importance of the Classic Editor for WordPress.com users.
As well as issues blind users had with the new WordPress.com interface; they could no longer access their sites. The new interface was inaccessible for screen reader users.
The focus of the article changed when it highlighted that customers didn’t read an announcement about the interface change.
I was disappointed and frustrated.
But not for my research, work, and post.
The misinformation was due to the newsletter author, editor, and WordPress.com marketing team
- Omitting facts
- Not fully reading my post and understanding the timeline
Lesson learned number one: always ask for advance copy when someone alerts you ahead of time that your post/article will be included in a newsletter or article.
Since I’ve known the newsletter author for over a dozen years, I contacted them privately.
I shared my disappointment with the article, pointed out the facts, and provided the timeline.
Explained their article portrayed me in a bad light. I felt the article implied I didn’t read product announcements.
In this case, the official interface announcement wasn’t published until a day after my blog post.
Almost three weeks to the day the product changed, causing blind users to not have access to their WordPress.com websites.
I told the author that they and their editor owed me an apology.
Which I received privately from the author, with an explanation mistakes happen.
They would correct the misinformation in the next newsletter issue. And said they would send me advance copy of the text for the next newsletter edition.
Sounded like this would be resolved quickly.
Perhaps the newsletter readers would connect the two articles and recognize I was only trying to help WordPress.com users through an extremely frustrating and challenging change in WordPress.com.
I considered publishing a post on this site, providing my side of the story with the facts and timeline.
But thought the follow-up by the newsletter author would redeem my work, my reputation, and my interest in helping other users.
We all make mistakes.
When we do, it’s best to apologize and explain what caused it to happen.
When the newsletter was published the following week, it included the apology I received in advance of publication.
Which I expected.
I was glad to read it.
However, it wasn’t the full text of the article about my post, which included
…for an announcement to go up on a blog a day after the changes it concerns had already been live would explain the confusion.
Once again, the newsletter shared misinformation.
And demonstrated the author and/or editor hadn’t read my blog post. Or my private message that included the timeline.
As I mentioned earlier, the announcement on the WordPress.com blog was published almost three weeks after the interface change was announced in a forum post.
And a day after my blog post was published.
Seemed to me WordPress.com finally understood the importance of publishing a major interface change on their blog, the likely place for WordPress.com users to visit to learn about changes, updates, and news about WordPress.com.
Lesson number two: always ask for the complete advance copy when someone alerts you ahead of time that your post/article will be included in a newsletter or article.
The Rest of the Story
I felt it’s important to set the record straight, in my own words.
And not rely on a third-party to publish the information.
Lesson three: Share your own story on a platform you own and manage.
Here’s the timeline:
- March 10, 2021: Rather than publishing a major interface change announcement on their blog, WordPress.com shared the unified navigation interface changes as a forum support post. The interface change would roll out to WordPress.com customers over the next few weeks.
- March 29, 2021: I was contacted by an accessibility colleague that a blind author could no longer use the dashboard or settings in WordPress.com. All accessibility features were gone in the Calypso interface.
- March 29, 2021: After visiting the WordPress.com official blog and finding nothing about the interface change, I researched their online forums, found the forum post, and read dozens of support requests. I published my post how to enable Classic Editor in WordPress.com and return to the accessible interface.
Received several notes of thanks personally, on Twitter, and blog comments from WordPress.com users who were able to access their sites.
- March 30, 2021: Official announcement of the new navigation on the WordPress.com blog, with no mention of accessibility issues with the update. Almost three weeks to the day when the changes started rolling out to WordPress.com customers.
What I learned from the experience: it can be wonderful and exciting to have your post or article highlighted on a popular blog or in a newsletter.
But not when misinformation is published repeatedly. And potentially affects your credibility and reputation in the WordPress community.
Document your lessons learned.
Stand up for your work: share your story on a platform you own and manage.