The WordPress Planet is a collection of WordPress centric websites that aggregate their content into one stream of information. In 2009, I proposed the idea of refocusing the dashboard so that it presented more WordPress Centric content. While some sites have been added and removed from the official Planet WordPress feed over the years, the core issue remains. It’s not as great of a source of WordPress information as it could be. I always thought that instead of having all the content from an individuals site published to the planet feed, it would have made much more sense to only subscribe to their WordPress category.
Disappointed in the official planet feed, I searched for other resources of information and one day, came across a site called PlanetOzh. PlanetOzh is just like Planet WordPress except it has more sites to aggregate content from and is maintained by Ozh. Sites are added and removed on a somewhat routine basis. However, I remember sending an email to Ozh one day after I went through each site he was aggregating content from and told him which ones I thought needed to be removed due to their lack of WordPress specific content or that the site appeared dead. It was a substantial list. From my observation, it looks like he has cleaned up the site so it’s much more relevant than it was a few years ago.
Recently, the topic of the WordPress Planet was brought up again by James Farmer of WPMU where he does bring up some valid points. I’m of the opinion that the more people who see great WordPress centric information, the better off everyone in the WordPress ecosystem will be. So I’m all for making the WordPress Planet a better place. However, the official Planet WordPress feed is maintained by one person, Matt Mullenweg. Considering just how busy he is, I can understand how maintaining the list of sites on the planet feed would be one of the last priorities on his list. I think some would agree that there are far more important things to be spending time and energy on with WordPress.org versus the planet feed.
If you’re looking for more variety of content from different WordPress centric websites in your dashboard, you should try the brand new plugin called A Better Planet by WPLIft. In a nutshell, this plugin is a more up-to-date and relevant version of the official planet WordPress feed. While the master list is controlled by one person, it looks like it’s a lot easier to have a WordPress site added to their list than the official feed.
While I wouldn’t mind seeing other WordPress centric sites in the dashboard supplying great information to users all across the world, I also wouldn’t want to see those same sites treating the dashboard as an enormous, untapped customer base. Being in the WordPress dashboard comes with great responsibility. For example, you have to be on-board with the 100% GPL philosophy. Sites can not link to other sites that promote non-GPL products. Sites can not advertise non-GPL products through display ads or otherwise. It really boils down to being an excellent steward in the community. There are WordPress centric sites that meet that criteria but I don’t make the decision on who is added to the feed and who is not.
So considering we’ve been having this conversation for a few years now, has anything really changed? Do you even use the news widgets in the dashboard or do you hide them as soon as you can?