Site broken: We didn't touch our CSS, but WP.com changed theirs??!!

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  • #1241879

    mrpeteh
    Member

    This is a high-traffic WP.com blog… and has had unchanged/stable custom CSS for several years.

    Suddenly, twice in the last month or so, the site presentation has gone wonky. You can look at any page and compare with the google cache to see the difference.

    WP.com support says that it’s our fault, because the site doesn’t pass CSS validation… yet all the CSS errors are in WP.com css, not ours!

    How do others deal with this kind of thing?
    Got any idea what is wrong?

    Thanks muchly!
    Pete

    The blog I need help with is climateaudit.org.

    #1242042

    timethief
    Member

    I’ll tag this thread for Staff assistance. Please subscribe to the thread so you are notified when they respond and please be patient while waiting.

    #1242055

    justpi
    Member

    Try this: go to Appearance > Custom Design > CSS, check the option “Don’t use the theme’s original CSS”, Save, and see if this fixes things.

    #1242060

    mrpeteh
    Member

    justpi, that was it!

    How long has that option been there… and what might cause it to get unchecked? We use Sandbox and have fully replaced the default CSS.

    #1242063

    justpi
    Member

    Good!
    “We use Sandbox and have fully replaced the default CSS.” Yes I know, I checked your CSS before replying! You had made your changes in the old CSS editor, and obviously you had selected the option “Replace the theme’s CSS” (or its even older equivalent – don’t remember the exact phrasing of older versions). WP replaced the editor with the new one (the one in the black overlay sidebar) about three weeks ago, and apparently the option you had selected doesn’t work, so you have to tell the editor again by checking the option I suggested.
    “WP.com support says that it’s our fault”
    Are you sure? Who told you that?

    #1242065

    timethief
    Member

    @justpi
    Bookmarked!

    #1242066

    justpi
    Member

    But careful with this, TT: it’s the right thing to do only when a user has pasted the entire stylesheet of the theme in the CSS editor (which isn’t what we normally do).

    #1242067

    mrpeteh
    Member

    Yes, WP support told me that it’s my problem, because the site fails on CSS Validation.

    Which is funny, because the validation errors are in CSS supplied by WP.com not us. :) — they need to clean up their code before using a validator to evaluate customer sites…

    #1242068

    mrpeteh
    Member

    (While we’re at it: our CSS is in some ways a horrible hack to work around challenges present when we did the design a few years ago. Are there any themes today that allow for: a) User selectable nesting vs flat comments… b) rearranging where things like article author etc show up (top vs end of article)? ) (The next is OT for CSS I know: I’m dreaming that WP.com will someday support moving comments to a different thread. There’s a plugin for that but no plugins on WP.com…)

    #1242072

    justpi
    Member

    If they really told you that, then it must have been a staff member who doesn’t know much about CSS and/or isn’t up-to-date on the changes that are talking place and/or didn’t bother to compare a cached version of your page (as you suggested and as I did – because yes, at first I saw some weird things in your CSS) and/or was half asleep…

    Nested comments are now a standard option in Settings > Discussion.
    Re-positioning post meta (without the upgrade)? I don’t recall having seen such an option on any theme, but I can’t guarantee there’s not a single theme that allows it.

    #1242079

    mrpeteh
    Member

    I know nested comments are a standard option. Problem is, some users want it, some do not. I want to give them a choice… without supplying everyone w/ a login. ;)

    #1242248

    timethief
    Member

    There is no such choice. It’s only one or the other threaded or not threaded.

    #1242285

    How long has that option been there… and what might cause it to get unchecked?

    That setting has been around for quite a while. I don’t think any of our recent updates would have changed the setting (the defaults for some of those options may have changed recently, but not the options already setup by someone), but I will look into it.

    #1242290

    mrpeteh
    Member

    Thanks for the feedback, designsimply!

    (the defaults for some of those options may have changed recently, but not the options already setup by someone)

    That might explain it!

    AFAIK (and I’m the one responsible) such an option did not exist when we set up the site, so we have been running on whatever is the default.

    Thus, a possible explanation for this bug would be (without access to your code of course :) ):

    1) Site setup with our CSS, no option for anything else.
    2) Option for Base+Mods vs Mods-only added, default is Mods-only.
    3) Any sites that touch the setting are no longer shown as using the default.
    4) Default changed to Base+Mods

    #4 would be a bug if applied to any existing site that’s still using the default. A better #4 would be:

    4) Selection is “forced” to the current value for existing sites (ie marked as chosen, not default.) Then default is changed to Base+Mods.

    #1242292

    templenh
    Member

    THANK YOU!!
    I was mortified that my site fell apart while I hadn’t touched it… thought it would take hours to trouble shoot.

    Clicking off “use original CSS” solved it!!

    YAY!! *huge relief*

    #1242294

    @mrpeteh, great feedback!

    1) Site setup with our CSS, no option for anything else.

    I think this one might be a prereq for triggering the bug because I think we would have heard far more feedback about it otherwise, and it seems like not every blog with custom CSS was affected.

    2) Option for Base+Mods vs Mods-only added, default is Mods-only.

    I don’t think this is it because I know for sure both options have been around for at least a year and this change is recent.

    3) Any sites that touch the setting are no longer shown as using the default.

    I tried checking this by looking at CSS revisions, but I found that we dont’ save a revision if only the Add-on mode setting has changed, so there’s no way for me to rule this one out for sure.

    4) Default changed to Base+Mods

    This sounds plausible.

    I’ll do a little more digging.

    #1242300

    Just wanted to leave a quick note today to say I’m getting some additional help to research this issue, and that I appreciate mrpeteh’s feedback and detailed outline of the problem very much!

    #1242301

    It was a combination of bugs that caused the “Replace theme’s CSS” setting to seem to change on 4/23. It only affected a subset of users: anyone who had opened their CSS editor between September 2009 and October 2012 (but not after October 2012) and who also set their “Replace theme’s CSS” setting to “yes” between October 2012 and April 2013. This issue has now been fixed.

    Anyone still seeing problems should re-save their Custom CSS to fix everything.

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