WordPress speed sins: Betrayal, Deception, Hypocrisy

WordPress Mobile Speed


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We’re talking violation of trust or confidence – low ethical business and technological shoddiness. Even two-faced, double-standards.

What do we mean? An example is WordPress – or any other WordPress-support vendor – professing standards such as backward compatibility of themes and plugins. For plugins, betrayal may mean abandonment or built-in security vulnerabilities. But for speed optimization, the betrayal is unpublished specifications of negative global plugin loading. We call this liability: site drag. Authors don’t talk about it. Taboo. Most plugins add page weight to all your pages and posts. But good, fast plugins don’t

The most classic example of site drag is a popular plugin called Contact Form 7. But it’s only one of many popular plugins causing global site drag. Contact Form 7 is installed on more than 5 million websites. Contact Form 7 adds 40 milliseconds of load time to every page of your website – even if the plugin shortcode is not installed anywhere.

Is 40 milliseconds really that bad? Well, good plugins load in less than 1 millisecond. To neglect mentioning this 40X speed abomination is atrocious. You could load 40 single-function plugins instead. Many site owners think the weight is limited to their contact page where the form appears. Sorry. It’s on every page and post. Does this speed abuse appear in any plugin documentation such as the plugin read.me file? Nope. Hidden liability. Speed sin of omission.

The 15-year standard of WordPress backwards compatibility is discarded with Core version 5.0 – when Gutenberg editor was introduced. This is a form of betrayal. WordPress claims v5.0 causes dysfunction or obsolesce for 15 percent of existing 55,000+ plugins. A complete reversal of past policy protecting plugin authors and site owners from disaster.

Breaking millions of existing websites seems collateral damage to Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress. Why would he do this lunacy? Greed and power? Why does he want to crush WIX, Weebly, and SquareSpace, their purported competitors, with such ferocity? Are they losing market share to these puny companies? No. It’s extremist fanaticism fueled by an obsession for future world dominion. It’s motivated by secret fear of loss of market position.

It’s wasteful effort.

WordPress often risks offending and alienating millions of loyal users. Will this cause market blowback? Will there be unintended adverse results of a deaf-eared dictatorial decision? Probably.

A similar occurrence happened when the creators of Linux Ubuntu thought they’d bully unwanted user interface changes onto their open-source product. What happened?

Ubuntu forked into Linux Mint. Mint listened and kept the old Graphic User Interface. Mint-feature decisions are based on user requests or needs. Ubuntu tried forcing the new GUI down the throats of users. There was a revolt.

It took almost a decade before Ubuntu admitted they were wrong and returned to the old GUI. Will they ever mend the divided market? Doubtful. WordPress’ Gutenberg change is equally negative, even hostile, and the “New Coke” (version 5+ with Gutenberg editor) will be rejected by many.

A fork splits the community, or users abandon WordPress for competitor CMS (like WIX, Weebly, and SquareSpace). WordPress may inadvertently make the situation worse for themselves.

Isn’t “other CMS” where WordPress doesn’t want people to go? The irony.


This is convenient exclusion or avoidance of unvarnished truth about WordPress core, themes, and plugin. It includes fake speed criteria from unrealistic online tests. Scores DO NOT impact performance. They waste site owner time and resources.

Since there’s no walled-garden regulation of open-source WordPress-related product, offerings are Pollyanna, unrealistic, Utopian, or sugar-coated Disneyland fantasy. This WordPress world is run by idealistic cowboys.

The unspoken objective is motivating WordPress site owners to use or buy a product or service – whether it’s needed or not. Selectively omitting negative specifications – or insinuating false benefits – runs rampant.  Often the disguised propaganda is showy, flamboyant, or dramatic sales hype. Including laughable claims of SEO benefits like Google first-page #1 ranking.

Exaggerating benefits – or extravagant promotion is hype. Over-enthusiastic, rampaging followers or intense rabid fans present hype as truth. This reinforces the disillusion they’re real authorities or *thought leaders.* They forcefully perpetuate web myths using social platforms such as Facebook Groups, blogs and forums.

False advertising is a crime. It’s the publishing, broadcasting, or publicly distributing of advertisement containing untrue, misleading, or deceptive representations. These statements are made knowingly or with recklessly intention to promote the sale of products or services.

For example, many *performance* themes and plugins are represented to improve speed. A beautiful demo is shown. But with testing, you’ll discover it’s a trick. The product demo has unreported behind-the-scenes extra services and speed additives sprinkled on it. The result is buyer remorse – and usually no refund – perhaps a store credit, if you’re lucky.


The Ivory Tower is separation from real-world facts and practicalities. It reeks of privilege. We challenge the credentials of cynical academia, secret affiliates, herd popularity, or scheming speedcraft.

These are men and women preaching and setting themselves up as evangelists or experts to get gain and praise. They don’t seek the welfare of others.

They teach but they can’t “do.”


Steve Teare
performance engineer
May 2024


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