I recently experienced a WordPress bug which made my Visual editor mode disappear, leaving me only with the Code mode. A visit to the WordPress support forum led me to a topic appropriately titled “sudden disappear of visual editor.” I was fortunate enough that the easiest solution quickly resolved the problem: Go to the Users>Your Profile page and check the checkbox for ‘Use the visual editor when writing.’
A glitch in the software
Surely I had not unchecked the visual editor myself. The event has very likely occurred due to a bug or should I say ‘glitch’ in the software:
A glitch is an unpredictable change in the system’s behaviour, when “something obviously goes wrong”. […] A glitch is a singular dysfunctional event that allows insight beyond the customary, omnipresent and alien computer aesthetics. A glitch is a mess that is a moment, a possibility to glance at software’s inner structure, whether it is a mechanism of data compression or HTML code. Whereas a glitch does not reveal the true functionality of the computer, it shows the ghostly conventionality of the forms by which digital spaces are organized. (( Goriunova, Olga, and Alexei Shulgin. â€œGlitch.â€? Software Studies. Ed. Matthew Fuller. MIT Press (forthcoming). ))
So what does this glitch show us about WordPress? How the visual editor disappeared is unknown and the several solutions posted on the WordPress Support Forums do not work for everyone so the issue remains unresolved. How the unchecking of the checkbox happened is not the issue here but more important is what it reveals. It shows us that the visual editor is an added option. The option of the Visual editor mode is checked by default to serve those who do not wish to code their posts. Interestingly enough it is not possible to disable the code mode, which is always available. When the checkbox is unchecked we are left with only a Code mode which requires us to manually markup our text. It shows the user what is going on on a deeper level when writing a post namely that every link or picture that is added is actually a line of code. This is part of what Goriunova and Shulgin call the “ghostly conventionality” and that when writing a blog post the average user does not wish to be bothered with the code that needs to be produced to display a post. Now the user unexpectedly is faced with the HTML code that needs to be produced for the general layout of a post for example: bold/italic text, an ordered list, an unordered list, text/picture alignment, a blockquote, images and links.
Not only does this glitch show us the layer that is behind the writing of the post, it also shows us the “loss of control” (Goriunova & Shulgin) over the software. Reactions from users vary from concerns towards:
- The writing proces
I wanted to write a blog post but the visual editor has disappeared and I don’t know how to write HTML! (( Fellow Masters of Media blogger at the University ))
- The workings of the software
It’s a little disconcerting, as I’ve never see this sort of random behavior in 18+ months on WP.” (WordPress user on a forum) (( davezatz. â€œWordPress â€º Support Â» sudden disappear of visual editor.â€? 22 March 2007 <http://wordpress.org/support/topic/104960/page/2>. ))
Even though a glitch catches you off guard and implies “a loss of control” (Goriunova & Shulgin) it can also be a means to explore software and it’s workings.