The Links/Title WordPress 4.2 Problem Won't Be Fixed

The Links/Title WordPress 4.2 Problem Won’t Be Fixed

By The WordPress Helpers 9 Comments

WordPress 4.2 Problem with Title Text Popup

Lest you think this image wishing a Happy Birthday to The WordPress Helpers Editor and Publisher Jeff Yablon gratuitous, take a look at the way it’s displayed. Google still believes in pop-up messages when you hover over things.

And now it’s official: WordPress feels otherwise.

The WordPress 4.2 Problem Continues

Even had we not had a direct hand in getting the WordPress 4.2 Problem with automatic plug-in activation squashed, we’d be seriously concerned about the WordPress 4.2 Problem that’s been made part of WordPress, seemingly forevermore.

You no longer have control over the TITLE tags on links in your WordPress content, nor can you make pop-ups appear when people hover over them.

OK, so that’s dramatic; you can embed title tags manually, but there’s way more effort involved than there used to be. And WordPress, oddly, still thinks title tags are OK on images (go ahead and hover your mouse over the one at the top of this article), so it’s a little unfair to compare their position to Google’s; both Google and WordPress are still OK with hovered tips on images.

The contradiction between how WordPress feels about images links/popups and text links/popups isn’t worth harping on; the real issue is that WordPress is now more difficult to use if this matters to you. Oh yeah, and there’s this:

[clickToTweet tweet=”The WordPress 4.2 TITLE and POPUP Problem Isn’t Going to Get Fixed” quote=”The WordPress 4.2 Problem Isn’t Going to Get Fixed”]

How do we know that? Over the weekend we engaged on the topic with Andrew Nacin, a lead developer on WordPress versions 3.5, 3.7, and 3.9. You can read the entire back-and-forth here, or download our screen-grab of it here.

Andrew Nacin is an impressive guy, and while we disagree with him on the WordPress 4.2 Problem – causing decision, Andrew made one very good point:

Choosing to see inserting quoted text as more useful than TITLE and POPUP left WordPress needing to pick one over the other because adding a third field to the dialog box would have been a bad idea.

This is difficult to argue with; feature bloat is bad, and user interface bloat may be even worse. I’d like to point out that I genuinely appreciate Andrew Nacin’s patience and perspective explaining the one defensible part of a very bad WordPress Business Decision.

But if you look at the very end of our exchange you’ll see a problem.

WordPress 4.2 Problem with field count inconsistency

Andrew Nacin’s best rationale for the WordPress 4.2 Problem with input-field repurposing was that changing the user interface from a two-field input scenario to a three-field one was a bad decision. But if that’s so, it’s an even worse idea for a dialog box to sometimes have two fields to fill in and other times have only one.

We’re glad at least to hear conclusively from as trustworthy a source as Andrew Nacin that the WordPress 4.2 Problem with Title Link is permanent. And as he says, the options if you care about topics like good SEO or disagree with WordPress’ inconsistent interpretation of whether pop-ups make for good user experience or bad are that you can work harder than you previously needed to or go find a plug-in to address the issue.

Thanks, Andrew. We’re going to stick with “there’s a big WordPress 4.2 Problem”.

Need help finding your way though? Contact us here.

Source: A Twitter Discussion with Andrew Nacin 
The Links/Title WordPress 4.2 Problem Won’t Be Fixed
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The Links/Title WordPress 4.2 Problem Won't Be Fixed
Article Title:
The Links/Title WordPress 4.2 Problem Won't Be Fixed
The WordPress 4.2 Problem with Title Text and Pop-ups WON'T BE FIXED. Here's the reason for the WordPress 4.2 Problem, via lead WordPress Dev. Andrew Nacin.


  1. Hey Jeff

    You know you could just edit the html yourself and add the title tag I also heard there was a plugin that allows you to add that functionality back.

    That’s was makes WordPress great. It’s completely extensible.

    1. Author

      David I concur about what makes WordPress great; we wouldn’t be here otherwise!

      And I agree that adding the requisite code back in isn’t all that difficult; we did it on one link right in this piece:

      WordPress 4.2 Problem With Title Links Addressed Manually

      (and by the way; when we inserted this link, WordPress 4.2 happily let us name it as we like).

      As I said in the piece, “The WordPress 4.2 Problem” isn’t that a feature was taken away; it’s that it was hidden and made harder to use than the average user will know how to overcome. And I still haven’t really heard a good rationale for that.

      1. The fact you had to show a screenshot of where you added a link is precisely one of the points about not using them. The can lack discoverability.

        As a visual mouse user, I need to have my pointer within a 34px by 21px space out of the three large monitors-worth of screen estate I have just to have a chance of seeing the tooltip. And for me, it doesn’t work anyway, as I have a browser extension (Hover Zoom) which changes the behaviour of showing the title attribute as a tooltip, and displays a preview of the image that you’ve linked to.

        For keyboard-only users, they have no ability to hover with their mouse, so the title attribute content is not exposed.

        Screen reader users are also not able to access the content, as most screen reader software skip over the title attribute by default.

        Maybe you do it for SEO? Visible words in plain text are always going to have a higher weighting than those in attributes, so spending time improving the main content will be more beneficial to SEO than stuffing potential keywords in anchor attributes.

        “You no longer have control over the TITLE tags on links in your WordPress content, nor can you make pop-ups appear when people hover over them.”

        That’s simply wrong. What’s removed is the user interface. You do have control in many different ways – edit the markup view of the content, add in a plugin that restores the UI, or heck, filter the_content in some funky way and add them in based on the URL.

        The difference between title attributes on links and on images, is that one is already text, and the other is, well, an image. The presence of a title attribute on the image allows control of the tooltip so that authors aren’t forced to make the alt attribute for screen-reader users what they’d like to see in the tooltip.

        If something is important enough to include in the tooltip, consider whether *everyone* should see that information. If so, add it in plain text. If not, don’t bother, as fewer people than what you think will be able to access it anyway.

        1. Author

          Gary, I can’t ARGUE with anything you said, except quoting my [blockquote] out of context; you’re correct, it IS wrong, but I said that. Call it taking poetic license.

          That said, I understand all the arguments you make, and yessir, at the end of the day the most valuable purpose of the TITLE tag is the (admittedly low) SEO value that it delivers. But “low” and “none” aren’t the same thing, and SEO is getting harder and harder. So if it’s of concern to you …

          Regarding the idea about screen readers, mobile, etc., though: this is an agree to disagree thing. There is no real standard for mobile yet, and I presume that if one ever emerges it will includes the ability to see “tooltips”.

          We’ll see. Thank you sincerely for weighing in!

    1. Author

      Thanks, David. I saw that during the whole research and discovery phase of this, and because even Otto isn’t exactly endorsing his own work wholeheartedly decided to leave its out of the conversation for now (but sure are not going to stop you from adding it!).

      We’ve conducted preliminary tests on that plug-in, by the way, and can report it works, doing exactly the thing Andrew Nacin said WordPress wanted to avoid: it adds a third field to the dialog box:

      The WordPress 4.2 Problem is resolved with a simple plugin

      And it adds no cruft of any sort to the WordPress database, so … with the caveat that it may not KEEP working … yessiree, this problem is solved.

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