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WordPress notes

Posted on 13 September 2016 by James Cowan in WordPress

I started this site – in its latest incarnation, anyway – in WordPress. The observant (or knowledgeable) among you may have noticed that the look and feel of this site is not standard WordPress. You’re right.

WordPress is a great package, and it allows for all manner of good things to happen with no programming knowledge or skill. I use it still, but not here.

WordPress is "open source" software. That means that though there is a coordinating group who test and deploy updates to the software, a lot of people everywhere are suggesting changes to it. A lot of people know, in intimate detail, how it works. And where the security gaps are. And how to be generally naughty.

The biggest thing wrong with WordPress, as far as I am concerned, is that someone who knows enough (more than me!) about web servers can gain access to the information that WordPress uses to work your database. It’s all written in English. So they can find out what you have done to protect the database where all your content is stored – the pages, the posts, the comments the menu, and so on – and add things to it, delete things from it, and generally be unfriendly.

One thing I did wrong originally was to create the database with the default table name prefix. I have found out since that nearly everyone does, and it can be a nuisance when you get hacked – the hackers can immediately guess what names you have used, and update your posts with BAD STUFF. My website was a shining beacon to several with bad intentions, and a number of them took me up on the offer. Even when I changed the table prefix from "wp_" to something else, it made very little difference to the bandits who were using my site to do nefarious things, because the prefix is stored in English, outside the database, in a file that the knowledgeable can read.

I had a number of things happen to the site. The commonest were the addition of posts. This meant that when someone looked at my posts as managed by WordPress, the extra ones appeared at the bottom of the latest post – or links to them did – and the link did not work. The posts had all been to do with illegal downloads of movies and TV shows. Deleting them from the database (using CPanel – they didn’t appear in the WordPress dashboard) sometimes stopped the categories list from appearing, or from being maintainable, and once or twice destroyed the menu. Restoring from a backup takes ages.

In the end I got so fed up with all the hassles that I built my web site to look like the theme I was using, that I liked, but to do it all by hand instead of using WordPress. It took me about the same amount of time over a week or so as I would have been spending to remove the rubbish I was getting from my friends out there in Nasty People Land. And it has given me the option of storing my blog archives in the way I always wanted to, so that even if I posted things some time apart, they can be alongside eachother when they form a series. In the logical order, not in date order, so I can post them in reading order and archive them the same way. All good.

So, in conclusion, I found WordPress good for learning and for prototyping, but I am very shy of using it for real.

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