Goodbye Dolly

Previously on the CogitActive Saga:
There are two plugins – Hello Dolly and Akismet – bundled with any installation of WordPress. For the same reasons put forward for themes, you want to delete plugins that you are not using. The question, however, is which of these . . . plugins will I use?

Some plugins hold a very special place in WordPress, in that they ship with the Content Management Software. The Hello Dolly plugin is one of these core plugins; it comes pre-installed, yet not activated, in every installation.

Overall, plugins are add-on programs that provide additional functionality to WordPress. They offer some extensibility; yet, they are not part of the core software. According to Lisa Sabin-Wilson, the idea of core plugins is to offer a base set of plugins to introduce you to the concept of plugins while also providing a benefit1.

Now, there are thousands of plugins, but only two included by default with WordPress. So, what is so valuable about Hello Dolly? What did make the developers of WordPress think this plugin is useful to most WordPress users?

What feature?

Somehow, WordPress endorses Hello Dolly by making it a core plugin. There must be a reason for that. However, whatever the motive is, it is not evident from the description provided in the WordPress Plugin Directory:

This is not just a plugin, it symbolizes the hope and enthusiasm of an entire generation summed up in two words sung most famously by Louis Armstrong: Hello, Dolly. When activated you will randomly see a lyric from Hello, Dolly in the upper right of your admin screen on every page.

Yep, that is it! The plugin will just display lyrics from the song in your Dashboard. Do the developers really consider this feature indispensable?

Some people claim that this plugin is completely useless for all practical purposes2. Other acknowledge that it isn’t necessary to make your site run smoothly, but it adds some fun1.

Is it fun? Sure! When you’ve activated it, your WordPress blog greets you with a different lyric from the song “Hello, Dolly!” each time.Lisa Sabin-Wilson

Anything else?

Interestingly, Hello Dolly was first released with WordPress version 1.2 and is considered to be the oldest WordPress plugin1. Does nostalgia have to do with its very existence as a core plugin? Some people believe so:

We believe the reason for it’s inclusion as a default plugin is mainly tradition. For many early adopters of WordPress, Hello Dolly is a reminder of the good old days and how far WordPress has come.Syed Balkhi

Or, does Hello Dolly hold a special place, just because its author happens to be a certain Matt Mullenwegthe Co-founder of WordPress?


Apparently, the real purpose of the plugin is to provide WordPress plugin developers a simple example of how to write a plugin1. This excuse explanation is definitively the most considerate; Hello Dolly would be fundamentally a teaching tool.

To learn the basics about how WordPress Plugins are written, view the source code for a well-written Plugin like Hello Dolly, which is distributed with WordPress.The WordPress team

Is it safe to delete it?

Whatever the rationale behind this plugin, it is genuinely not necessary and brings no value or functionality to my sites. Besides, when it comes to plugin, less is more!

As stated in WordPress housekeeping, it is strongly recommended to delete – not just inactivate – all plugins that are not used. This is especially true for Hello Dolly, which has become a popular place for hackers to hide malicious codes. Now, I was a little leery about simply deleting it. Would removing a core plugin affect my WordPress installation?

The part of something that is central to its existence or character.

Hello Dolly is probably central to the character4 of WordPress, but definitively not to its existence. Thus, like any other plugin, it is safe to delete Hello Dolly without any impact on your site2.

Although WordPress automatically includes these plugins, your site doesn’t have to run them . . . Core plugins can be deleted, just as any other plugins can, and they won’t be replaced when you upgrade WordPress.Lisa Sabin-Wilson

Coming next: Do I need Akismet?

1 Lisa Sabin-Wilson (2017) WordPress All-in-One For Dummies – Third Edition. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ^
2 Editorial Staff (2015) What is the Hello Dolly WordPress Plugin? Should You Delete it? wpbeginner. ^
3 Core (2010) Oxford Dictionary of English – Third Edition. Oxford University Press. ^
4 Being a huge jazz fan is one thing, but claiming that this plugin symbolizes the hope and enthusiasm of an entire generation is another story. Anyway, you might like the idea of the plugin, but not the Hello, Dolly! song per se. If that is the case, you can change the lyrics by adding your own text; yet, your modifications will be wiped out with the next (rare) update. A better alternative would be to use another plugin, like “Hello Simpsons Chalkboard Gag” for instance. However, this plugin like others may no longer be maintained or supported and better avoided. ^

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