Is WordPress becoming a Google lackey?

WordPress core doesn’t claim to care too much about Google, and most site owners who want to be “search engine friendly” (meaning bowing the knee to Google since there are no other powers that cause site owners to jump) use a variety of plugins to accomplish it.

However, sometimes I wonder.

In WordPress 5.3, the WordPress core team decided to include Google’s latest request that website owners attribute user generated content with a new attribute tag.

The timeline on this is a bit concerning.

Google announced their latest initiative on September 10, 2019 here. (By the way, I love that Google’s blog posts end in .html which is a technically correct suffix. I still find it odd that people think a .html extension on a webpage is not search-engine friendly.)

WordPress wasted no time at all implementing this into Core, announcing on October 3, 2019, that WordPress would add the “ugc” attribute to comments automatically.

Let’s assume that the average blog writer doesn’t know or care about this; it is nice that WordPress will play nice with Google. At least in this case.

But the WordPress codebase for core is littered with Google function calls and assets. Personally, I think it is out of hand.

Google only cares about itself. In an effort to keep itself relevant, it quite nonchalantly asked the entire internet to update their link attributes if user-generated content was involved. Does Google care about the millions of work hours involved to update this (or even create new code to do it somewhat automatically, like WordPress did)?

No, of course it doesn’t.

A performant professional version of WordPress needs to be Google-free, and that includes this very custom attribute that Google foisted upon us to help keep its own power in affect.

It’s technically okay, per the HTML specification, to add custom attributes to links, although this discussion on Hacker News is worth perusing. But that is beside the point: Google continues to ask us to help it with even more bloated code. We need to stand up against Google and other companies that demand we conform to their ideals. If their way of thinking is so great, then other plugins can add that value.

Meanwhile a lean, streamlined version of WordPress (which I like to call PerformatPress) should leave all other customizations to the world of plugins. Including brand-new initiatives.