Twitter oEmbeds broken – A Case for Bug Notifications in WordPress

If you’re using the oEmbed feature in WordPress to display Twitter updates in your posts or pages you may have noticed those nice looking Twitter bubbles have been replaced with a non-functioning link to the Twitter update in the last few days. This is not because your WordPress site is broken but because Twitter changed their API about a week ago thus breaking the feature in every WordPress site worldwide. The core development team has already fixed the problem and the fix was rolled out in the 3.8.1 update which should be hitting your site in an auto update shortly.

What you don’t know can hurt you

Chances are you were not aware of this problem, or if you knew of the problem you did not know the cause. Looking at Twitter and other social media (and my own inbox) it is clear most people automatically attribute Twitter oEmbed not working in their WordPress install to a problem either with WordPress itself or with a theme or plugin. Thus they spend hours trying to sort it out.

This is not the first time a core feature of WordPress has broken due to an external service changing, and it will not be the last. And that’s to be expected. What is not expected from a user perspective is the complete silence from WordPress (core team, people in charge, whatever you want to call it) itself about the issue. And this is one of those unfortunate things that sets open source apart from commercial software:

When something goes wrong there is very little chance you’ll be notified or get an explanation.

This phenomenon is historically valid – Open Source used to be something only a small group of highly motivated people dabbled in – and can be explained by the flat structure free-for-all nature of Open Source in general, but that isn’t an excuse any more. Open Source, and in particular WordPress, is now ubiquitous and most of the users are not highly motivated and prone to dig into the code or search Trac any time something goes wrong.

A Case for Bug Notifications in WordPress

What’s needed is a system through which users are notified when a systemic problem arises. There is already several systems in place that can be used – the update notification bar in admin, and the WordPress News widget on the Dashboard are ideal candidates – but it could also be built as a new feature. This feature should provide up-to-date information about known destructive or feature bugs like Twitter oEmbed not working or the ability to add header images from the Customizer being removed and relevant links with further information and any bug fixes on the books.

For this to work two things have to happen: The system needs to be implemented, and someone needs to be tasked with providing these updates.

A simple update like this would go a long way in reducing frustration and building trust with everyone using WordPress.



Windows 7

Windows 7 RC Fix: LAN Works but Internet Doesn’t!

I finally got around to rebuilding my system with Windows 7 RC at the base. The installation itself went off without a hitch and so did all of my software installs. Or so I thought. Upon rebooting my computer I got an unusual warning that although I was connected to my local network I did not have an internet connection.

Don’t get me wrong: This has happened before – when my modem goes down or Shaw decides to mess with their internet service – but a quick check on a different computer connected to the same router and the same modem showed all the peripherals working properly. The problem was rooted in my newly upgraded computer.

After about an hour of troubleshooting I came to the conclusion that the dropped and/0r blocked internet connection had something to do with one of the other applications I’d installed. After all I used the internet to download a lot of them so it was most definitely working at some point.

A quick uninstall of all the apps showed that this wasn’t enough – the problem was deeper rooted than that. So I turned to the excellent System Restore feature to start moving backwards in my installation process, restoring my system to states previous to each of the installs. And after 5 steps I found the problem:

Office Auto-Update is the culprit!

When I restored my system to the state just previous to my installation of Office 2007 my internet connection was restored. Thinking back on the install I remembered I’d checked off the option to enable automatic updates at the end of the installation process. By a simple process of elimination this is the only feature in Office 2007 that can have an impact on the internet connection itself. So after reverting to the state before Office 2007 was installed I reinstalled it from scratch making sure to uncheck the auto-update feature. And after a reboot my suspicions were confirmed: The internet connection was still working.

But this doesn’t always happen…

What’s bizarre about this story is that when I installed Office 2007 under Windows 7 RC on my laptop, this problem never materialized and both my wireless and wired networks are working fine. So this problem seems to be affecting only some network cards and/or drivers. Werid stuff.


Twitter Sucks!

So I went Twitter to tell my friends that I’m watching Björk live from Iceland via a webcast. And what happens? I fill in my username and password in the login page and click Sign In and I get this message:


Your account is being removed. It may still be viewable on for up to 24 hours.

You will be able to restore your account for up to six months.

Great. So there’s a bug on their front page that took me to the delete page instead of the login page. I can’t even begin to explain how shitty the programming has to be for this to happen. My God.

And no, I didn’t do anything wrong. This all happened straight from the Twitter front page. Username + password + Log In = Deleted account.

WordPress as CMS

WordPress Standard Search Widget Not Working

UPDATE: So it turns out the problem was caused by the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin. Once deactivated, the search box is now working properly. I’ll drop Christine Davis a line about this problem when I have time.

So my friend Anna starts bugging me about not having a search function on my blog. I believe I used to have one but it must have gotten lost in my constant rearranging of the sidebar. Anyway, I put up the standard WordPress Search widget and figure everything is going to be fine, right? Wrong! For some unknown reason it doesn’t actually generate any results! Very strange.

I don’t really have time to look into this and figure out what on earth is going on: All I can say is that the searchform.php and search.php files are correct. So now I’m all confused and I can’t really find the time to fix the problem.

Hopefully someone smarter than me can tip me off about what is going on. Otherwise I’m going to install a different search widget and just leave it at that.