16 Comments


  1. That was a lot of bullcrap responses from Matt and Brad was way to chicken to actually question those responses.
    Matt basically want the work the plugin authors put into the plugins to remain free of charge so he can stuff their code into the core more easily? So again the only commercial plugins he really support are those that have a similar structure as Akismet. That is: wrapper plugins.
    So he dislikes Shopp, Gravity Forms etc and considers them to be against the nature of WP even though they are GPL because they charge money for their work and support etc.
    I think plugins like Shopp, Gravity Forms is way more important to the future growth of WordPress than yet another “original” blocky wordpress theme for $39-$70.

    Making a complex plugin takes more time than making an “advanced” theme but since they cant put themes in core they have no problem promoting commercial themes.


  2. I think themes are a little bit different from plug-ins in terms that… a theme is more like the basis for designing your web site and it’s kind of the building block, where a plug-in is often just one smaller part of it. So honestly I feel like there’s a better commercial case for themes than there is for plug-ins.

    Also, if you look at the direction of the commercial theme page, they’re not really charging for the downloads, less and less; they’re more charging for the support and the customization and work around it. I think plug-ins totally can go that direction as well.

    So plugin developers should follow model that is clearly less viable for them… Why exactly?


  3. I have to agree with Andreas; Brad was very quick to back down to several of Matt’s responses. I must say, it seems counter intuitive to focus on a commercial plugin business model that charges only for support and not the actual download of the product. Ideally, plugins should be coded and documented in such a way as to minimize the need for support. So why would you base your business on a factor you should be actively seeking to reduce?

    It is also worth noting that any plugin functionality that is added to the WP core obviously makes WP a more valuable product and therefore makes Automattic more profitable. Is it fair to expect commercial plugin developers to contribute to Automattic’s wealth, without reaching for a piece of the pie themselves?


  4. @donnacha | WordSkill – Read the extract. Thats where I got it from I only gave it an edge. This is how I interpret him and I don’t think I’m the only one.
    He openly states in the extract how he feels about people charging money for plugins.
    WP.org crew and Matt has taken a firm stance against commercial plugins by their refusal to setup a similar part of WP.org as there is for themes. Its not like its a secret or anything.


  5. @Andreas Nurbo – There’s a world of difference between “a firm stance against commercial plugins” and simply choosing not to list them, something that only a handful of people, who cannot see further than their own narrow self-interest, are noisily demanding they do.

    The people behind WordPress, hundreds of them, have spent years working on this project, building it up to the stage at which it is now a platform upon which thousands of people make a good living, and this is something that both the WordPress project and Matt’s company, Automattic, actively encourage.

    I guess it was predictable that this would not be enough for some people and that, at some point, they would become angry that they cannot simply swoop in and hijack the WordPress.org website for their own promotional purposes.

    Well, you can’t do that, it is not your project, it is not your website. There is, however, nothing to stop you and all the other commercial plugin authors, who are already benefitting from the platform that WordPress provides, setting up your own site listing commercial plugins.

    May I suggest that you name your site Show-Me-The-Money-Press.com and, for your logo, you should have a wizened old hooker shaking her head and saying “No, honey, you gots to pay me first”.


  6. @donnacha | WordSkill -
    Hehe take it easy man but you didn’t ones touch on the subject of commercial themes. I find that odd.
    Some paragraphs I see no reason to comment on. Didn’t have anything to do with the current debate.

    There’s a world of difference between “a firm stance against commercial plugins” and simply choosing not to list them, something that only a handful of people, who cannot see further than their own narrow self-interest, are noisily demanding they do.

    They have taken a stand based on this interview and other public statements.
    Also what about Matts et als self interest in wanting to take the code from plugins and integrate them into core? That was one of the reasons he didn’t like commercial plugins. And you don’t think Matt/Automattic has any self-interest here? The only reason commercial themes are listed is then because they dont think they will take themecode and put it in core. That if anything is a display of narrow self interest as you put it.

    May I suggest that you name your site Show-Me-The-Money-Press.com and, for your logo, you should have a wizened old hooker shaking her head and saying “No, honey, you gots to pay me first”.

    And now you totally lost the debate =). Thx for the win.


  7. I’m not going to wade into the commercial plugin debate, I have my own thoughts and opinions on the matter but i’ve chosen not to discuss them in public.

    However, I will comment on the commercial theme page and why I think it was created. It was a carrot dangled in front of the theme developers to adopt the GPL. Prior to the commercial theme page the vast majority of commercial theme developers were not releasing their themes under the GPL.

    This tactic was a big success for Matt and the WordPress.org team, it resulted in a large number of commercial theme developers adopting the GPL with only a few notable exceptions, Thesis being one of them.

    I don’t think it is a coincidence, no matter what theme developers may say, that so many theme developers adopted the GPL licensing at the same time almost immediately after this page was added to the repository.

    What has happened since the commercial theme page was added? The quality of the themes and developers on that page has plummeted. Many of them I had never heard of before they were added to the page. Take a look at many of the theme developers that have been added to that page and you will find plenty of subpar themes being touted as commercial quality when in fact they wouldn’t even be good as a free theme.


  8. @Carl Hancock – I think you are right that the commercial theme page was used as a carrot to encourage the adoption of the GPL, a meeting certainly took place between Brian Gardner and Automattic before he made the jump, but there wasn’t anything insidious about that – I don’t think there was any direct gain for WordPress in having them move to GPL, it was more about stoking the pace of theme development by establishing a licensing environment that would allow themers to share innovations i.e. saving everyone the trouble of having to re-invent the wheel. This is good for everyone in the long-run but I don’t think Automattic had any direct self-interest in mind, it was more about helping the nascent theme industry to get into line with the philosophy that has underpinned the success of WordPress.

    You are also right that the quality of some of the 29 sellers listed in the commercial directory is not impressive. You can see how this might happen – I am not sure what the criteria for acceptance are but anyone can apply and, if you appear on that page, you are getting a high Page-Rank link to your website and, also, a certain percentage of people coming to WordPress.org to search for themes are going to make the very common mistake of thinking that themes you pay for must be better than free themes. Just by sheer weight of numbers, even lousy themers, touting low-quality knock-offs of free themes, will get a few sales. It would probably be possible to make a living simply repackaging free themes to sell to people who value the fact that they had to pay.

    The scary thing is that a commercial plugins page would have the same problem, but magnified – at least with themes, you can visit a demo and see what you are buying, plugins are much harder to assess before you actually install them on your own blog.

    The main problem is that it wouldn’t just be companies such as yours, who have put a lot of work into their product, it is inevitable that every popular plugin in the free repository will be hastily copied and sold by someone looking to make a quick buck, once again harvesting dumb customers who presume that things you pay for are always better.

    Some of these knock-off plugins will come complete with bugs and errors that the shady vendors will not be skilled enough to fix. Customers, having paid good money, will kick up a far bigger fuss than the users of free plugins. The WordPress project will receive a ton of flak, regardless of how clearly they explain that they are merely listing and linking to outside companies for whom they bear no responsibility.

    The original plugin authors, who have spent years developing and supporting their creations for free, will obviously be upset to see a privileged spotlight given to people who have contributed far less to the community than they have, and this will obviously act as a disincentive to contributing further free work.

    This is all entirely predictable, so, you can hardly blame WordPress for wanting to steer clear of that quagmire (Giggity-giggity).


  9. @donnacha | WordSkill – The reasons you outlined in your comment are precisely why I am no longer in support of a commercial plugin area on the repository, at least not if it followed the same model that was used with the commercial theme area.

    Although I will say that just because you have a free plugin in the repository does not necessarily mean you have contributed far more to the WordPess community than someone that releases a commercial plugin. Thats a broad generalization and it’s certainly not the case in every situation.


  10. On a similar note.
    Mark Jaquith said in his Press This interview that they are looking into canonical plugins.
    That is, staff evaluation of popular plugins and displaying them on a prominent position in the plugin directory.


  11. Imho the developers of commercial plugins know what they are doing. They know particular that promotion comes seldomly for free. A free platform should be proud of these kind of developments, of course, but on the other hand it needs to make sure it stays free by being a strong advocate of free developments. One of the best means for this is an exclusive free listing of free plugins…

  12. Derek

    I’ve followed this discussion on a few different forums and blogs and keep seeing this Donncha | Wordskill guy pop up and complain. It seems like he’s just trolling for the opportunity to bash the whole paid plugin idea. I really don’t get it.

    What’s the deal? Did somebody steal his lucky charms? I mean, why all the complaining and readiness to sling mud? Did he have a plugin in the works and get beat to the punch or just pwned by Shopp or Gravity Forms?

    I’ve seen him mention on other comments that it “waits to be seen” how these plugins do. From what I’ve read, he was even a beta tester for a couple of months on one plugin. You would think he would have had time to “see” something by now. If he hasn’t, they why so quick to condemn?

    The rest of us would really like to have a dialog about this without someone with a groundless series of complaints and hostile posturing. If you have a legitimate complaint, then spill it. If not, the solution is simple. If you don’t like the idea, don’t buy the plugins.. use the free ones and move on.

    Personally, I like the idea of the paid plugins. I know that you get what you pay for, and the support and continuing development is worth the small price. It’s a no-brainer.. one client job and the price is covered. From there, it’s smooth sailing.


  13. @“Derek” – Thanks for posting anonymously and thanks, too, for the racist “Lucky Charms” comment. Yes, I am Irish, and I am proud of it.

    When you say that I have popped up on “a few different forums and blogs” discussing this subject, you mean here on WPTavern and once on Yoast.com.

    Given that, like most online discussions, the current commercial plugins discussion is not occurring in only one place, I feel it was okay for me to comment in two places. In fact, it would be quite okay for me to comment in a hundred places if I wanted, that is the nature of online discussion. It is worth noting that, unlike you, I never post anonymously, so, yes, I may well “pop up” elsewhere – I guess it sucks for you that you have a problem with free speech.

    On Yoast.com, someone asked why all the blogs were suddenly pushing Gravity Forms, I pointed out the affiliate commission bloggers receive, which was the correct answer. It prompted a discussion and I commented further to clarify that affiliate commissions do not necessarily mean that a blogger is writing about something for the money, but consumers should certainly be aware of these things and make a balanced judgement.

    In this thread and the previous post’s thread, I have countered the completely unfounded and just plain wrong insinuation that the WordPress project has an anti-commercial agenda. This gets repeated a lot, either by people who don’t understand how WordPress has come into existence or by people who feel that it isn’t enough that WordPress has given them a free, open platform to build their products upon and a huge potential market, they also want free links from WordPress.org, and are willing to say or do anything to get their way.

    Some commercial developers, such as the Gravity Forms developer Carl Hancock, who commented above, understand that the disadvantages of changing the underpinnings of the WordPress project would outweigh the benefits of a commercial directory. Again, the people spreading this FUD either don’t understand how the WordPress eco-system works or are too narrowly-focused on their own selfish self-interests to care that what they are demanding would kill the golden goose.

    Personally, I like the idea of the paid plugins. I know that you get what you pay for, and the support and continuing development is worth the small price. It’s a no-brainer.. one client job and the price is covered. From there, it’s smooth sailing.

    Commercial software can be great, last month alone I spent over £400 on it, but you are living in Cloud Cuckoo Land if you think that paying for any piece of software guarantees that it will work as advertised or continue to be developed and supported in the future. The only developers you can place any trust in are the ones who have established a reputation through years of hard work and a track record of actually delivering. That is the same whether we are talking about free or paid software. And, even with the best developers, “smooth sailing” is not a phrase I would associate with ANY software.

    You know, “Derek”, I value what WordPress represents and what it enables me to do every day, so, I will continue to call bullshit on deluded creeps in as many forums or comment threads as I want, it is just a pity that you didn’t have the balls to comment under your real name, link to your website or in any other way identify yourself.


  14. @donnacha | WordSkill – Just for future reference…. while i’m the primary marketing voice and face of Gravity Forms, it is a team effort. It is a product of our company, rocketgenius. The team consists of myself, designer Kevin Flahaut and developer Alex Cancado. A lot of people single me out as the developer of Gravity Forms and I just want to make sure that the rest of the team is recognized also.


  15. @Carl Hancock – Oh, okay, foolish mistake on my part, I’m usually careful about referring to teams or projects rather than individuals, thanks for the reminder.

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