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WordPress.com Replaces Cutline with Coraline

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The WordPress.com theme team has quickly phased out Cutline across all blogs, replacing it with the visually similar Coraline. According to the theme team, Coraline is “an improved version of [Cutline]. It has a similar visual design, and adds many new features.”

The forced change has not been taken well by many WordPress.com users, particularly those who purchased the custom CSS upgrade specifically to modify Cutline. Numerous users have cited that although Coraline is functionally superior and visually similar to Cutline, it is simply not Cutline, a theme they deliberately chose for their blogs. Some have even referred to Coraline as visually inferior to Cutline.

    One thing is for sure, Cutline won’t be coming back. According to a recent post by Matt Mullenweg, PressRow will be the next theme on the chopping block.

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    1. Rhett Soveran (9 comments.) says:

      Seems to me like you are making up news where there isn’t any. Compare the positive comments in the announcement to the few complaints in the forums. At most this story is “WordPress.com Should Communicate a Little Better” or something to that affect. I don’t think it’s fair to say that “The forced change has not been taken well by many WordPress.com users…” when you have so many raving about it at the same time.

      Just a thought.

      • Chip Bennett (63 comments.) says:

        Let’s nip that one in the bud straight away, shall we?

        I went through every single comment in that thread. I found 8 people that actually used Cutline. Six posted positive comments about the change, and two posted negative comments. The rest of the comments are largely irrelevant, as they do not represent users of the Cutline theme.

        Further, Matt Mullenweg himself admitted that the borked switch affected “several hundred thousand” erstwhile Cutline users. The comment thread doubtfully represents a normal sample of Cutline users, since the vast majority have disavowed any knowledge of the then-upcoming switch, much less that blog post. The commenters there are a non-representative, self-selecting sample.

        Finally, only a handful of the Cutline-Coraline switch-related wp.com support forum threads are linked in this blog post. Each such post has dozens of users upset with the switch. Twitter has been fairly active with complaints, as many, many upset Cutline users have written related blog posts. (I’ll let you perform your own searches, so as not to clutter up the comments thread with links.)

        As for your assertion that the only issue here is that WordPress (actually, Automattic) needs to communicate better: also wrong.

        Their communication (or lack thereof) is only part of the problem – the biggest part of which is their willingness to let customer service suffer in order to scratch yet another pedantic itch. This move was done as a personal vendetta against Chris Pearson (who long ago sold Cutline and PressRow, and who has had nothing to do with either one since then), to the detriment of users who were perfectly happy using Cutline, didn’t care about the Pearson-Mullenweg feud, and who were (rightfully) pissed off that Automattic completely borked up the switch, and in the process, their web sites.

        It also is the latest in a growing trend of Automattic decisions and actions that fail to keep users’ interests as the priority.

      • James Huff (62 comments.) says:

        Most of the users “raving about” Coraline are simply raving about the theme itself. You’re right, there are several users on WordPress.com who are pleased to have such a functionally rich theme as Coraline, but most of the users praising Coraline were not using Cutline prior to the change, and were therefore not forced to switch to Coraline.

        I think that Coraline is great theme too, but most of the “many WordPress.com users” mentioned in the post are simply taking issue with the overall change, not the theme itself.

      • that girl again (41 comments.) says:

        You don’t spend much time on wordpress.com, do you? If you did you might be aware that comments on the their news blog are HEAVILY moderated. Just as the forums are a biased sample (since you’re only going to post there if you have an issue) so are news blog comments (since negative comments are substantially less likely to be published than positive ones).

        I have no doubt that there are several users who are genuinely delighted with Coraline, but there are also several Cutline users who lost their widgets and other customisations without notice, and trust me, they’re not happy.

    2. Michael K Pate (1 comments.) says:

      I read the announcement for Coraline and even made it my default theme. But I didn’t remember an announcement that Cutline was being removed the next day. I reread the post and found:

      As you might have guessed, this will be a replacement for the Cutline theme, which we’re phasing out. Since Coraline replaces Cutline this means we get to add some exciting new features that I think you’ll love.

      The forum announcement that I hadn’t read before said:

      In four days (next Monday) we’ll be replacing the Cutline theme with a more-customizable theme named Coraline. The Cutline theme will no longer be available.

      The ambiguity of “no longer available” and “phasing out” are a definite problem. They could have introduced Coraline and deprecated Cutline as a theme choice while grandfathering in existing Cutline users for a longer period than 4 days (although that may have taken more coding than they were willing to do). I realize it did say “replacing” but it still might have been better to clearly state that the themes would be automatically switched.

      The main thing is, as always, that the decision to remove Cutline must have been made prior to August 5th. When it was made, it should have been announced rather than after the replacement was ready. People just expect a company devoted to blogging would understand the importance of transparency a wee bit better.

    3. Patrick D. (9 comments.) says:

      This just drives home the point that if you’re a serious blogger, you host your own domain so you’re not at the whim of someone who has a grudge against the theme you’re using.

      • Rick Rottman (10 comments.) says:

        I could not agree more. Considering how easy it is to put your blog on your own domain, I just don’t understand why anyone would go with have their blog on a domain they do not control.

        • that girl again (41 comments.) says:

          WordPress.com users trade control for not having to worry about updating their software, or whether their server is going to fall over if they get dugg (I know this concern is academic for 99.9999% of them, but they like to dream), or whether their blog is going to get hacked because somebody else on their shared setup is still running WP 2.0.

          That’s how Automattic sells it, anyway. To be honest, most of them are just trading control for not having to pay.

    4. Richard says:

      A similar thing happened when WordPress (with a capital “P”) updated Journalist without letting anyone know, and there was a similar uproar – enough so that wordpress.com resurrected the older version in addition to keeping the new. There was one other similar incident in the past, but it escapes me now.

      This was simply botched (again) from the very beginning.

      Patrick and Rick are right, the only way to keep this from happening is to host your own site. That isn’t an option for everyone though for a variety of reasons. For those, they are at the mercy of Automattic and their whims – whatever those whims may be.

    5. Rick Rottman (10 comments.) says:

      Why didn’t they let anyone know about the change before it actually happened? I don’t get that. This isn’t a knock on the WordPress.com team, as they are not alone in not letting people know about a change before it actually happens. They could have sent out an email to everyone using the theme. They could have posted something online. They could have announced the change on Twitter.

      It’s as though communication decreases as the ability to communicate increases.



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