Are You Addicted to WordPress Porn?

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“Am I what?!” I hear you say. Okay, okay, I admit, the headline looks very much like BuzzFeed clickbait, but I’m really serious about this one!

In case you’re not aware of this plague, WordPress porn is a real thing.

Or, let’s call it by its slightly more recognizable name… I’m talking about information overload. And specifically, information overload in the WordPress space.

Now, before you dismiss the whole thing with the classic, “I’m not affected,” be honest here and tell me this: Do you ever catch yourself in situations where you’re reading, like, your 10th blog post about the same thing and saying to yourself, “just this one more piece of advice and I will be able to get started with my work!”

If that’s a yes, then you’re very much addicted to WordPress porn.

Sorry.

And okay, I might be trying to convey the idea somewhat comically, but the threat is still very real.

Too much information, and sooner rather than later you end up spending so much time consuming that you don’t have any time left for anything else.

And the nature of the problem is quite tricky. Sometimes it’s not easy to catch yourself in the act. As you consume more and more of what seems like useful information, your brain plays tricks on you, convincing you that you’re actually doing very important work.

That’s only half true, though. The key to effective information consumption and getting more productive as a result – instead of less productive! – is in the details.

So read on to find out how to get yourself out of the danger zone when dealing with WordPress porn.

The First Step to Curing Your WordPress Addiction…

Setting any entertainment reasons aside, I’m guessing that the main reason why you consume content related to WordPress is because you want to get some specific information that will then allow you to do some specific thing.

Maybe you’re a developer, a designer, provide WordPress support, or whatever else. To an extent, you need new information to improve your skills.

But that’s where information overload comes into play.

The web is basically like one huge Italian restaurant – it’s not that there’s simply a lot of food but there’s a lot of great food. I mean, if the food was crappy, not eating would be easy. But when everything is so darn delicious, how can you not eat?

And that’s the problem with information overload in the WordPress world right now. There’s simply too much awesome content, and it’s the type of content that looks like something you absolutely need to read, or else you’re missing out and you’ll be left behind.

Solutions?

Cure #1: Action Trumps Education

The funny thing is that in the digital era of today, action really trumps education.

I know this is sometimes an unpopular opinion, but in most things related to software/programming/websites, education is something you can obtain along the way, rather than before you even begin the journey.

My martial arts trainer once told me, “hit first, think later.” And the same can be applied to your WordPress projects: “Do first, learn later.”

The great thing about WordPress and websites in general is that whatever you do today you can easily revert or improve upon tomorrow. So you really don’t need to do anything perfectly at the first try (nor can you, usually).

So the first step to getting out of your information addiction:

Do first, learn later. Whatever you’re planning to do today, start doing, and then learn along the way.

Which brings me to…

Cure #2: Learn “Just in Time”

The idea is simple: skip every piece of information that you don’t have the opportunity to use right away.

For example, “it’ll come in handy next week when I’m doing X” is not a good reason to consume information.

Firstly, you can never be sure that you’ll even come around to that specific task next week.

Secondly, even if the time comes in a week, you won’t remember what the resource was about anyway so you will need to go through it again.

So in short, advocate “just in time learning,” rather than “just in case learning.”

Full disclosure: I’m not the one who came up with those two terms and I can’t be bothered looking it up. I don’t need that information right now (see what I did there? 😉

I really can’t emphasize this enough so I’m just going to say it again: consume only the information that you can put to good use right away. Like, sometime in the next 10 minutes or so. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that you can retain information indefinitely, because it’s highly likely you can’t.

Cure #3: Be Okay with Missing out on Stuff

Current estimates are that 5 Exabytes of online content is created every day. Every day! I don’t know how much an exabyte is exactly (Editor: it’s a unit of information equal to one quintillion bytes, or one billion gigabytes), but I assume a lot!

 

For comparison, this whole post saved as a raw text file is only 12 KB. To put that into perspective, 2.2 Exabytes is all the data recorded by our species in 2003.

The volume of our collective content creation efforts is simply incomprehensible. Yet we somehow still trick ourselves into thinking that we can, and should, consume everything that’s new and cool.

And that’s especially valid in the WordPress space where new developments happen (way too) quickly. To make things worse, if you do find out about something a bit late, you feel crappy so you want to avoid that.

Just the other day, for example, I learned about AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages. Like, the other day! An article related to it was pitched by a writer we work with at ThemeIsle. I needed to look that up to even know what he was talking about. And… it turns out AMP has been around since Oct 2015! Well, that sucks, I should have known this… but whatever.

REST API? I still have no clue what that is, despite working with WordPress every day.

But it’s okay. I don’t need to know this right now. As I write this article right now, that knowledge is useless to me.

Cure #4: Look for Vetted Information

Okay, okay, so where should you go if you’re really lacking certain vital pieces of information when working on a WordPress project?

What I like to do is look for only vetted information. I know it sounds basic, but hear me out.

Whatever the challenge may be, there’s always a plethora of sources you can go to and a myriad of articles you can read.

To get through the noise, what I like to do is ask this question: “Hey, Mr. Writer, why should I believe you out of all people?”

Or, in other words, try looking for these indicators:

  • Does the piece look researched?
  • Is it just the writer’s perspective on the topic? If so, do I trust them?
  • Does the information look factual? Does it reference data, studies, or some other form of real-world proof?
  • Are experts involved? Through quotes, references, or whatnot?

The idea here is to consume only information that has been created with care and with actual data to back it up.

For instance, to plug our work at CodeInWP shamelessly (sorry!), just a couple of days ago we finished our WordPress hosting survey and published the findings. It has turned out to be the biggest such survey to date and some of the results are truly gold.

It took us 94 days of work to get that project from start to finish, and (I hope) you’ll see this right away if you choose to check it out.

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Cure #5: Look for Shortlists, Not “Longlists”

Information is like medicine – you should really mind the dose. Just the right amount will do wonders for you. But too much and you’re in deep trouble. For instance, there’s this trend toward publishing massive lists (30+ things) on various topics, both in the WordPress space and throughout the whole web in general. While I totally understand and am guilty of doing this too, we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that those are not particularly useful for the average reader.

Just imagine, if you’re looking for a gallery plugin or something, what good is it going to be reading a post like, “30 of the Best Gallery Plugins for WordPress”?

I mean, does the author expect you to spend 45-60 minutes reading it thoroughly and then invest even more time to decide from those 30 plugins (because I doubt they will conclude the list by naming the winner)? Massive time waste!

So while yes, a list like that is exhaustive and is technically awesome, in practice it’s not awesome at all. A shortlist, however, where the writer did all the research and narrowed it down to just the top 3 plugins is much better in 90% of cases.

Here’s a cool example: a developer’s cheat sheet. When you’re working on a new WordPress theme structure, this is a great example of information that you can take action on right away.

Cure #6: Taking the First Step is What Matters

Finally, to conclude this post, if there’s one thing you’re going to get out of this, it’s the following:

Consume only the information that enables you to take the very first step in whatever project you’re part of.

Don’t think about the second, third, or next steps until you complete the first one. Most of the time you’ll need to pivot anyway so the information you consume in advance won’t turn out to be all that useful.

Information overload really doesn’t show its head as much if you proceed just one step at a time. Remember, just in time rather than just in case.

What’s Your Take?

What’s your story with information overload when working on WordPress projects? Are you prone to getting yourself into four-hour long blog binge reads?

And, as I said earlier, if you’re struggling to find the right host for your next site due to the overabundance of fake affiliate reviews, we have something factual for you – the aforementioned WordPress hosting survey and its findings. Did you know that 27% of people pay $5-$10 / month for their WordPress hosting?

Now that’s worth reading about.

View @ WPMU DEV

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