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Screams Heard From Online Bloggers

Okay, who is the freakin’ idiot who thought using the backspace button on the keyboard as a “back to previously visited web page” in your web browser was a good idea. Curse and pox on his head!

After working for over an hour on an article for this site, the cat or “someone” moved the mouse focus from the textarea of my WordPress Write Post panel to the page itself. I was still typing and hit the backspace quickly to correct a spelling mistake and BOOM…SCREAMS….TEARS…POUNDING FISTS….PULLING HAIR. The cat explodes off her bed on my desk, changing instantly from a curled up sleeping position to flying cat position in microseconds. My husband looks up from his laptop, focuses on the screaming wife and calmly says, “You did it again.”

YES, I DID! DAMN. POOP. CRAP. And all the other politically and socially correct words I dare use on this site.

The backspace button reloaded the last web page view in the screen before I could stop it. Everything I’d been working on was gone, gone, gone. No refreshing, checking the cache, or anything would bring it back. This is not a bug in WordPress. This is the agony of writing and editing directly via web page browsers.

Living With the Agony of Web Page Browser Blogs

Let me say right off the top that web page blogging tools like WordPress are great. What is the problem is the fact that access is via the browser, not the most up-to-date and well intentioned creation on the planet. For the most part, Internet browsers aren’t meant to be used to fill out forms and post web page content. They are meant for viewing. Though part of their task is to allow the user to fill out forms and post content on web pages. It’s just not the whole purpose.

When you are working inside of a textarea in a form on a web page, which is what the Write Post Panel and other administration panels on WordPress are – glorified forms, it is just like a typewriter. You can type the letters, hit delete and backspace, and treat it like a typewriter. Unfortunately, the browser developers have added shortcut keys to “make your life easier” and if you move your cursor or mouse outside of the textarea of any form, you are now vulnerable to those keyboard shortcuts.

Hitting the backspace button when viewing a web page on most browsers acts like the “back” button in your browser, taking you back a web page. This results in lost content. Work going down the drain.

Firefox Key Map Config Extension - Add OnOne of the ways to defeat it is to turn this function off. The Firefox extension for keyboard configuration allows you to customize your keyboard shortcuts and configurations when using Firefox. I installed it and changed the backspace button to do nothing. It works perfectly inside of the textarea boxes, but other than that, it doesn’t do anything at all when I’m using Firefox.

If you are using Internet Explorer, try searching for “remapping keys Internet Explorer”. If anyone comes up with a way to do this easily, please post it in the comments below. I spent ages trying to track this down. It used to be easy but now your best bet is to use one of the many free software utilities for remapping the keyboard or try PC Magazine’s TradeKeys for remapping keys in Windows.

The backspace key is not the only agony online bloggers face. I type fast and one of the key combinations that sends me screaming is the CONTROL+A which is the keyboard shortcut for “select all”. I use it all the time. I love it for big copy and pastes. But flying fingers on the keyboard will sometimes connect with that combination when trying to hit the SHIFT and slipping to the CTRL key and all of the text is selected and the next thing I type writes right over the top of it. This is not unique to online stuff. This happens in word processors, too. The difference is in the number of UNDOs you have.

With Internet Explorer, I had one chance to undo a boo boo. CTRL+Z is my undo friend. With Firefox, I can go back a little further, and it remembers collections of text changes, not just one letter at a time. It includes an Undo and Redo in the Edit Menu of the browser. Which is great if I’m paying attention.

While it is rare, on occasion I have reached for the 5 or 6 key and slipped forward and hit the F5 key which is the famous REFRESH. This reloads the screen, which can instantly be as successful as the backspace button at erasing all your hard work. For now, I won’t remap that key since I use it often. I’ll just be careful.

Misery Posting with Microsoft Internet Explorer

I just spent three hours trying to edit and write posts in WordPress using Microsoft Internet Explorer. What a pain. I’m on someone else’s computer, and they don’t have Firefox. Trust me, I’m spoiled with Firefox.

The most painful part is the lack of concentrated “focus” by the mouse. When I click in the Write Post textarea, I want to be able to use the scroll wheel to move up and down within the written post area, not the whole page. Yet, when I use the mouse scroll wheel in MSIE, once the scroll reaches the top or the bottom, even though I’ve clicked and activated (called “focus”) the textarea box where I’m writing, the whole page moves up or down, scrolling right by the edit post box.

I have spent way too much time scrolling around trying to keep the post textarea centered on the screen. While writing, I needed to scroll down to check something and wham, the whole page scrolled down too far and I’m suddenly looking at the Post Preview area instead of the Post edit textarea. The scrolling doesn’t stop within the textarea, but jumps to the whole page. PAINFUL.

MSIE also assumes it knows better than you when it comes to selecting text with the mouse. I like to work in HTML text edit mode and not the WordPress rich text editor (WYSIWYG). I often need to select a bit of text next to a code and MSIE assumes I am trying to select a whole word or sentence or something and it will not allow me to stop the selection point with the mouse at ANY POINT I want or need. ARGHH!

MSIE also has a lot of problems with the new AJAX technology used in the WordPress 1.6 ALPHA administration panels. And the developers and designers need to work on the layout and styles for MSIE as some of their famous browser bugs are showing up. But this is part of beta testing. The rest of my whine is directed directly at Microsoft.

Misery of Blogging Online Not Limited to Internet Explorer

While I have trouble imagining how horrid is it for online bloggers to use Internet Explorer, Firefox is not without it’s own agonies, in addition to those I have mentioned.

I often have 4 to 20 tabs open with web page information as I work on an article and do my research. I almost always have a tab open for my main site, my main site’s administration panel, this site, it’s administration panel, and the WordPress Codex and WordPress Forum, since I spend so much time there. That’s 6 consistent tags open all the time.

One of the major flaws with Firefox is that when you hit the BACK button, Firefox just goes BACK on whatever page is active and being viewed rather than the page viewed at the MOMENT the BACK command was issued. ARGHH. I can have four Firefox windows open instead of tabs, and it will also do the very same thing, moving back a page on whatever page I’m viewing rather than the one I want to move back on.

If I’m in the Write Post screen working on an article, and I’ve written a bunch of things but not saved it yet, then I move to another tab and hit the BACK button for that page to check on information just previously visited. If I return to the WordPress site Write Post tab before the other tab has moved “back” a page, my Write Post page will move BACK to the previously viewed page and I will lose all my writing up to the point of the last save – similar to the screaming fits over the BACK button in general.

Internet Explorer doesn’t do this because it keeps everything in its own window, clogging up your taskbar, and I adore the tab features of Firefox – but this annoying thing sends me screaming!

Save often and frequently. And back everything up.

Avoiding The Data Loss Pain

For WordPress users, the Save and Continue Editing button is there for a reason. Use it. If what I’m working on is critical, I will save and continue editing every 10 minutes or less, or when I step away from my computer.

While it isn’t the best idea, you can write your posts in good text editor or word processor, if you have turned off all the curly character quotes and apostrophes and other tweaks that will mess up the text when you post it. Then copy and paste them into the Write Post panel and add your images and other details. This will free you up from the hassles of writing on a browser.

I’d like to know what some of your suffering has been when using online blogs and editing in a web page. How do you protect yourself from your own screaming, hair pulling moments? Have you found some tricks to recover when things go screwy? Share your stories.

Update: If you are using Firefox, which I can’t recommend enough, the Firefox Extension Session Saver saves your open tabs so you can instantly open up everything you had open in Firefox after a crash. You can even save sessions of open tabs so you can restore them at any time. They have also added a Textsaver feature that will save everything you are typing in any textarea boxes, forms or frames. Awesome. Firefox just keeps getting better!

WordPressMU developers are also looking into a little bug with Firefox Session Saver. If you have the Write Post panel open at the time you either close Firefox or your computer crashes, when Session Saver reloads the tabs, including the blank Write Post panel, the date will be spread across the Password Portect Post, Post Slug, Categories, and Date. Open and check those textarea boxes before you write in that panel and save the post. Otherwise, after the post has been saved, you will see it marked as a Password Protected post. The password is usually 2005, or whatever year this is. Hopefully, this will be figured out soon.

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  1. Posted September 11, 2005 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

    Like, totally.

    I think that with textareas, web application designers should feel bold enough to break a gazillion rules and just own the interface until the browser makers get their lousy house in order. Steal the context menu to put in spell check and undo, save the typing state in memory to override the inbuilt undo, automatically save things, perhaps even put in primitive revision control and store it in the database, so you can close the browser, go back to the post and still have your undo history.

    Human beings should never, ever, have to figure out what saving means, or why their writing in a textarea is more volatile than scribbling on a notepad. That’s for programmers to worry about. Give me unlimited undo until I explicitly clear the history and save my text every minute or so. Death to the ‘save’ button.

  2. Posted September 11, 2005 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Same thing happened to me a bunch of times. Then I installed Twilight-Auto-Save, a WP-plugin that automatically saves your drafts in a cookie that can be retrieved should you accidently navigate away from the textbox.

  3. Posted September 11, 2005 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    Interesting. How does it know “when” to save to the cookie? As you type? Or when something happens on the page it saves before the event? Very cool.

  4. Mike
    Posted September 12, 2005 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle. Thks for educating and entertaining us. Learning lots of wp tips from you and your commenters. Will domain mapping be available on

  5. Posted September 12, 2005 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Domain mapping?

    Depends upon what you mean. I will be writing an article soon on how to manually create a site map with, and another on creating site maps on your full version WordPress. Do you mean domain mapping as in a site map or for SEO mapping?

    And thanks. I think the greatest pleasure in doing this is the ability to hear back from others on what they think and what they want to know. That helps guide what I write about here. You ask the questions and I will do the best to dig up the answers.

  6. Posted September 12, 2005 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    AFAIK, it saves a new cookie with every character.

  7. Mike
    Posted September 13, 2005 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    My bad. Just went back and reread your earlier post on Tags and categories. The light just went on – the answer was there. Tuning into this new concept instead of site maps takes a while for old foggies like me 🙂

  8. Zac
    Posted October 6, 2005 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    I feel your pain.
    My current keyboard use to have two buttons in either side of the up arrow (so that up/down/left/right+extra 2 form a 3×2 button block). No prizes for guessing what they did – back/forward in a browser. Horrible horrible nightmares still plague me of the countless times I’ve pressed back instead of up or left. *shudder*.
    I tried to remapped them in the registry, but it turns out that they don’t even how their own scan-code! They are just directly linked to shift+left and shift+right, so I can’t even change them. Anyway, I now have two holes in my keyboard were those buttons use to be.
    The backspace thing was my new nemesis, but that firefox extension should be the end of that.

  9. semantic
    Posted October 21, 2005 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    In what may be a very bizarre twist, some text from this blog (the section about the save/edit button) just turned up in a comment spam message. (!)

  10. Posted March 26, 2006 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    aarrrgh, I just spent 45 minutes writing an article on the national health service in the uK and the browser crashed, I am checking out the cookie plugin now

  11. Posted March 26, 2006 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I’ve also had great success with Session Saver Firefox Extension. It saves your tabs and everything, for the most part, in your Firefox browser window. If the computer crashes, you can often get back just about everything. Still, remember, when editing in the WordPress Write Post panel, click SAVE AND CONTINUE frequently to make sure it goes into the database. If you lose the current changes, you at least have something to fall back on.

  12. Posted June 9, 2006 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    LOL, you should edit in word first and I so don’t mean to laugh, but I’ve been there. 🙂

  13. Posted June 9, 2006 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Ah, Rose, that is another common mistake people do. Makes me scream. If you write your post in Word, and you include any apostrophes or quote marks, they turn into funky characters when you post via the web. Best thing to use is a text editor with spell check.

    I’ve screamed PLENTY when using a word processor without first going through and cleaning up all the quote marks. I finally dug into WordPerfect and stopped it from making pretty characters out of all my quote marks, but not everyone knows or wants to dig into permanently changing those features. When you’re writing for the web, you have to do that.

    Last night, a friend stopped in to see what I was doing. I was in the middle of an article that I hadn’t saved yet, and screamed murder and violence when he picked up my wireless mouse like he’d never see one before and waved it around in the air. Unfamiliar with thumb buttons, he triggered the back button several times which moved the page back four pages from what I was working on. Since I hadn’t had time to even hit SAVE AND CONTINUE EDITING, I lost 30 minutes of work. DAMN!

    The screams never end for web bloggers.

  14. Posted September 3, 2006 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    Is there a basic, I mean really basic tutorial for blog beginners? And dictionary for what basic terms in blogging mean. I have just started blogging. What does the term ping mean? How do you get your blog marketed? How do you get other people to link to your blog? So many things new to learn…. Can someone help? Thank you! Connie

  15. Posted September 3, 2006 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    There are basics for beginners in abundance, especially on this blog. Search for “wordpress for beginners” and you will find a ton of information on the net.

    One Year Anniversary Review: WordPress For Beginners and Resources for Beginners (and video, too) list tons of resources. For an excellent “glossary” explaining in simple terms what everything is, I recommend WordPress Semantics and Introduction to Blogging followed by New To WordPress – Where to Start.

    As for getting your blog “marketed”, honestly, do nothing. Those “pings” you don’t know about work very well to “market” your blog. So focus on writing and building content. The rest will happen in a few months or a year without any effort from you. No matter how much work you put into the marketing aspect of your blog, you will not get traffic faster than you would concentrating on the writing. Traffic arrives because you have something to tell them. Without anything to tell them, no one will come, or if they do, they won’t come back.

  16. Kai
    Posted January 10, 2009 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    There is an easy and fast way to change the function of the backspace button:

    1 – In the address bar type: about:config.
    2 – Scroll down to the entry called browser.backspace_action.
    3 – Double-click on this row and it will pop up a dialog box asking you to enter a value. The current value will be 0, change it to be 2 then click OK.

    Taken from

    Ciay Kai

  17. Sanne
    Posted September 11, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I know I’m replying to an old post here, but in case the first problem still applies: I highly reccomend getting the Lazarus add-on for FireFox. It keeps track of eveything you type in textboxes, and will ‘resurrect’ it in case something happens before you get a chance to save it. Also a lifesaver when your browser crashes while in the middle of filling out contactforms!

    • Posted September 12, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

      This issue was resolved when WordPress realized I wasn’t the only one with this issue and added an auto-save feature. Thanks for the mention of the Firefox extension – just one more reason I adore that browser.

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  10. […] page and all the hard work she was working on was lost. This is what inspired her to write “Screams Heard From Online Bloggers.” This got some attention from developers and they introduced soon after that a […]

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