DiggingIntoWordPress

by Chris Coyier & Jeff Starr

Goodbye Dolly? (Take the poll!)

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Out of the thousands of plugins available for WordPress, there is one that all WordPress users are familiar with: Hello Dolly. As far as I know, the Hello Dolly plugin was the first WordPress plugin and has been included with every version of WordPress. The plugin is so familiar that many WordPress users don’t even think about it. They either activate the plugin or delete it without giving it a second thought. But if you actually stop to think about it for a moment, the following questions seem inescapable:

  • Why is the Hello Dolly plugin included with WordPress?
  • What purpose does Hello Dolly serve? Why have a sacred cow?
  • How much time is wasted dealing with the Hello Dolly plugin?
  • How many people would install the plugin if it weren’t included?
  • How many people would like to see the Hello Dolly removed from WordPress?
  • Should I be thinking these sorts of things? Why I am feeling this way?

The more I think about it, the more I question whether or not the Hello Dolly plugin should be bundled with WordPress. Don’t get me wrong, I like Louis Armstrong as much as the next guy, but I just wonder if retiring ‘ol Dolly to the Plugin Repository wouldn’t make the WordPress installation and setup process a little easier for everyone.

What do you think? Take the poll!

Should the Hello Dolly plugin be included with WordPress?

  • No, it should be removed. (78%, 1,051 Votes)
  • Yes, leave it there. (22%, 289 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,340

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Note: If you are reading via feed, visit this post at the DiW site to take the poll.

39 Responses

  1. I wish Akismet was nuked as well while at it. Or at least not reinstalled on every single WP upgrade.

    If I delete plugin I want it to stay deleted and not pop back all the time because it is bundled with WP.

  2. I guess Matt has a certain affinity to the plugin. Don’t think he’ll remove it ;-)

  3. I like it… it makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy with every new installation.

    …then again i do delete it each time too!

  4. Although I feel a little more reflecting on traditions would be a good thing especially for the speedy times we live in. But nevertheless I would remove it since it´s so useless.

  5. Since the purpose of Helly Dolly is to show new users what plugins are for the questions go to the wrong direction.
    Maybe you should have asked if there are other plugins who could do this job better – I guess it’s just Hello Dolly’s simplicity that makes it a good example.

  6. I was only recently thinking of posting a topic on the feedback forums to request to have it removed.

    It should go!

  7. First, I don’t think we should spend more time deciding whether it should be there or not than we spend “dealing” with it on a day-to-day basis.

    Second, I don’t spend any time at all “dealing” with it, so I’ve already gone against my own advice ;-)

    I guess it’s slightly annoying if you’re anal and want a “clean” plugin area. If you delete it, it gets put back in with each auto-upgrade.

    Personally, I’ve grown used to it being there, inactive, as an ambient reminder of the personal-scale enthusiasm that’s the foundation of WordPress. If it was dismissed on utilitarian grounds, I might feel that a little of WP’s soul was gone :-)

    It certainly serves as a quick example of how to write a plugin. But I think there should be more complex examples available on the Codex… but that’s another story!

  8. I’m all for sentimentality, but it is a bit annoying, particularly in that it comes back after every single upgrade.

    To be honest, it really only takes 10 seconds to delete it, so I guess it’s not a huge deal. I hadn’t considered it as an introduction to learning how to write plugins, though.

    I’m reconsidering my No vote, but I think that it if was removed, I probably wouldn’t notice the difference.

  9. Jeff W. July 29, 2009

    Every time I upgrade a WordPress site I ask myself “What is the point of this silly plugin?” Yes, it only takes a moment to remove it, by why be bothered with the hassle. Thanks for bringing this up…I can see I’m not alone.

  10. Don’t spend a single thought about it. It’s just there and causes no harm, right?

  11. WP upgrades should at least honor what you’ve uninstalled.

  12. I always delete the Hello Dolly plugin. I think if something were to be included in every install of WordPress, it should be much more useful.

    I don’t even really get the Hello Dolly plugin (I understand what it does, I just don’t get it).

  13. My random thoughts:

    1) It’s good to have at least one plugin bundled with WordPress, to teach users the concept of a plugin (how to turn them on and off, etc). However, Akismet already comes with WP, so that need is accounted for.

    2) It might be good to have a *really* simple plugin bundled so that would-be developers have some code to look at that that shows them the bare-bones essentials to what a plugin looks like.

    3) I certainly DO spend time “dealing with it”. For some reason I’ve gotten into the habit of deleting it from every single WP site I maintain (literally dozens). And all that time certainly does add up, especially when it annoyingly puts itself back in during upgrades.

  14. If you think about it, it doesn’t hurt and also offers a very simple sample plugin that might make people actually check it out and be swayed into writing their own plugin.

  15. I used Hello Dolly as a reference to build a script that pulls random testimonials into a sidebar widget on some client sites.

    That was back when I was first learning WP and PHP. It also helped me understand how the plugin system worked.

    Short answer, I learned a lot from that little plugin. Does no harm if you ask me.

  16. I’m handling many german WordPress blogs. ‘Hello Dolly’ is rather useless in non english websites and demonstrates exactly one point: the anglo-centric mind of the core developers.

    And even therefore it isn’t needed: The massive misuse of guillemets as “arrows” (themes, backend) does this job quite good.

  17. J. D. Bentley July 29, 2009

    Hello Dolly is to WordPress what “I’m Feeling Lucky” is to Google.

    I say leave it.

  18. Jesse Dijkstra July 29, 2009

    The plugin is one of the few reminders in WordPress that it is actually coded by individuals who have personal preferences and passions on my opinion. By leaving the plugin it humanizes WordPress and shows that there are people behind the project. In my opinion: leave it, it’s one of the few projects that still leaves this personal notes, and I love it for that.

  19. Why the big deal about 2.25K worth of data just sitting there minding it’s own business. I never even bother to delete it.

  20. I do find it charming, but I personally don’t want it. I could handle deleting it once, but after every upgrade is annoying.

  21. Remove it, one less thing to delete.

  22. I voted yes. It symbolizes the hope and enthusiasm of an entire generation summed up in two words sung most famously by Louis Armstrong! Who doesn’t like Louis Armstrong?

  23. @nomadone July 29, 2009

    I think it’s hilarious, each time I teach a WordPress 101 class I have to explain this whole blog post you gusy have written on the topic. Yes it is a time waster, of course, its meant to be Matt’s little stamp i think, but I would opt for removing it.

  24. I always delete the hello dolly plugin upone each install or upgrade therefore i see no need for it apart from sentimental value to matt. Voted it shouldn’t be included.

  25. While it does hold some sentimental value as the first official WordPress plugin, I would vote for removing it. If we’re going to have a low functionality plugin bundled with WordPress, it should be a better example of how to do basic plugin actions (IMO Akismet is too complicated and Hello Dolly is too simple).

  26. I put it to use. I changed the single lines from the song to compliments for the client…..

    “Hello, Wendy, you look nice today” or “Hello, Wendy, you’re doing a great job updating this web site.”

    Those messages show up in her dashboard every time she logs in, and she loves it. She thanked me for my irreverence by hiring me again and recommending me to several other businesses.

    Leave it. It’s a 2K file. Just writing these comments cost each of us more energy than it would take to delete it. It’s a friendly wink from the WordPress developers that says join us and maybe let yourself have some fun with code.

  27. AFAIK, hello dolly was a sample plugin for the potential wordpress developers.

    Leave it!

  28. Hassan July 29, 2009

    I think it has been included to show how easy it is to create a plugin. Here’s some sweet things: http://themeplayground.com/2009/editorial/why-haikus-matter/

  29. I can venture an educated guess as why Hello Dolly is included.

    It’s meant to be the typical “hello world” code used to demonstrate how something new works to a programmer (found in virtually every framework and programming language as a primer).

    However being that Matt is into jazz and such and likes to name all the WordPress releases after musicians, it was his funny way of changing “hello world” into “hello dolly”.

    The problem is the plugin is overwhelming to a new plugin author and does not demonstrate anything useful on the main pages. It could be kept if it did something more practical and simple to demonstrate.

    Until the index.php was introduced in recent history in the plugin folder, it also served the purpose of keeping the folder defined and something to demonstrate in the admin panel.

  30. I manage a lot of WordPress websites and I have spent a lot of time getting rid of Dolly, too much. I have given up and just let it add clutter to my plugins.

    Hmmm, is there such a thing as “plugin spam”?

  31. Michael July 30, 2009

    Look, what everybody on here against the plugin is forgetting is that it’s not there for them. It’s for beginners, and for them, it serves a number of useful functions, including (a) directing them to the world of plugins to begin with, and (b) providing a really simple example of how a plugin is coded.

  32. If any of the core developers other than Matt had written that plugin, it would never have got within sniffing distance of core. People would have laughed at the very idea of including it.

    I can see the value in bundling a simple example plugin so people can see how the system works. What I don’t see is why the simple example plugin can’t also do something vaguely useful.

  33. Epic Alex July 31, 2009

    I haven’t had time to read all the comments, so apologies if this has already been said, but there are so many tutorials that give a better idea of how to write a plugin than looking at “Hello Dolly”, that I don’t really think that argument stands.

    A plugin that is bundled to show that should at least create an admin page and save some options.

  34. It should stay :) I like this.. like someone else said – it gives a little warm :) and i never remove it from my plugins :)

  35. Just for giggles, I’m going to try and bring up this topic of removing Hello Dolly as a bundled plugin at one of the developer chats to see what they say.

    • Jeff Starr

      All I can say is think twice before doing so, Jeffro. It seems like a valid and interesting question to some, but not everyone appreciates the idea. If you do bring it up, let us know how it goes. Cheers.

  36. I voted to erase. I have not had many issues with the recurring plugin as mentioned above. I put a very basic shell script in a folder outside the webroot. Using cPanel (or whatever control panel your host provides) configure a CRON job to run the script every X days (I set mine to once per week) and you will never have to worry about it again.

  37. I say leave it. It’s not just a sacred cow. I first learned how the plugin system works by viewing the source of Hello Dolly. It’s simple enough that you can crack it open and clearly see the basic building blocks for building plugins.

    Not only that, but for new users, it’s a win/win situation. Don’t like Hello Dolly? Well, learning how to remove it shows you how to access and use the plug-in manager.

    I’ve installed WordPress a few dozen times. Never had a problem with HD.

  38. I voted to leave it. I think it is there for the new user who’s curious as to what a plug-in is, or is all together not aware of it. It’s also such a simple plug-in that it won’t break anything if the user decides to change the settings on it.
    I actually think it’s a great example of what an initial interaction should be- non-threatening and inviting to dig for those who wish to.

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