14 Comments


  1. In one of my more popular plugin’s settings page, I have a box called “Like this plugin?” as the title. Beneath it is a list with three links:

    * Give the plugin a good rating.
    * Donate a few dollars.
    * Get me something from my wish list.

    This was sort of an experiment I started a couple of years back to see what would happen with this type of thing. Guess what? This plugin has the most ratings and given me the most donations.

    I think you just have to make it really obvious/easy to users. Many users are never going to come back to a plugin’s page after initially installing the plugin. Basically, they have no reason to do so. But, if you give them a quick and easy way to do these things, that all changes.

    Obviously, this is just from personal experience with a single plugin, but I think it’s been an interesting trial-run thus far. I really need to write a blog post on this at some point.

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  2. @Justin Tadlock – Interesting. I’d still like to be able to report whether a plugin is Broken or Works from the installed plugins screen. To me, that seems to be the most logical place to put that information. That way, I don’t have to browse back to the individual plugin page. Also, I understand most plugins have a settings page but to have one for the sake of getting me to give the plugin a good rating is not something I’d be happy with.

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  3. I never look at the plugin compatibility section when downloading or updating plugins.

    When I get a plugin for the first time I always go by regular updates and popularity. Normally a high number of those two will mean the plugin still works well.

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  4. @Martin – lol that’s another good point. In fact, I have rarely looked at that section as well although when I download/install the plugin for the first time, I do use the compatibility section as just another option in determining whether it would be a good fit or not. But if I install the plugin and it works fine, I don’t pay attention to the compatibility information after that

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  5. I think it might help if someone deactivates a plugin that a box shows up asking why with ‘testing’ being one of them but if someone selects that the plugin doesn’t work it could then take the person to the plugin page so they have the opportunity to explain why they think it doesn’t work

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  6. What about increasing the data density by eliminating the unnecessary minor WordPress version selections? There is almost never any reason that a Plugin would stop working from one minor version to the next, so why split up compatibility data between, e.g. 3.6 and 3.6.1?

    This would not only provide better data, but would also encourage more participation.

    Likewise: the “Tested Up To” tag should align with major versions. (In the rare case that a minor version causes a Plugin incompatibility, the “Tested Up To” (and “Requires”) tag could list the minor version.)

    I also think opt-in integration with the WP-Admin (even if via oAuth) is critical to widespread adoption. So much of the Theme/Plugin/core experience is built into the Admin, that I would imagine that most people never actually go to wordpress.org/themes or wordpress.org/plugins anymore. If true, I doubt that most people would do so just to hunt down all of their active Plugins, to rate or provide compatibility data.

    With oAuth connectivity to wordpress.org, any active Plugin could be reported as “compatible” (with Plugin version and WP version, since they’re already included in the update API), and it would probably be fairly trivial to hook into the Plugin deactivation, and add a “Report compatibility issue” checkbox that would log the Plugin as incompatible, with Plugin and WP version. And with oAuth, I would think that someone could write a support forum topic during the same process.

    (Ratings could use the same approach, as an added benefit.)

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  7. Andreas Nurbo

    I think many uses say broken when it does not work as they thought it should, they didnt follow instructions and what not. If everyone says its broken hten its probably broken though.

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  8. Ted Clayton

    This drifts a bit OT … but I have noticed across ‘recent times’, that my extensive plugin installation is very stable. I rarely have or see reports of any plugin-related issues. (It’s also true that I’m fairly savvy about what *not* to try to do, because it is obvious (to me) that it will invite trouble.)

    I am not as active now, adding & removing plugins as previously, but I remember well how dicey it was, to run a large collection of plugins, a few years back. That_is_history.

    And right there, you could be looking at an important factor in how people (don’t) participate in compatibility reporting. Nutin’ to report. No exasperation, to motivate them. Also, the ‘rating game’ really only rewards nice cheerleading; negatives are negative, and cool peeps don’t do that.

    Point #2. I am not interested in and don’t mess with certain important categories of plugins. These categories tend to be the ‘elite’, the ‘glamorous’, and the darlings of developers & small-business folk orbiting around WP these days.

    I’m not into a lot of the bikini-clad female across the hood of the showroom model action. And you know what? There is actually “evidence”, which bubbles up in public talk rather regularly, that that is where a lot of the issues arise.

    Not in the large category of un-classy and orphan plugins in the repository (liberally spicing my collection) which we see trotted out routinely as a fav whipping-boy. I’m a virtual ‘animal shelter’ for this stuff, yet problems have been vanishingly rare, for quite awhile now.

    It may be, that it’s the cool plugins & fancier developer-wares, that cause most problems … and the usership of this category of plugins will be especially & notably loath to say so.

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  9. Flick

    I still visit the repository when viewing plugins… can’t seem to view/sort by the same degree when browsing only via the ‘add new’ interface on the wp-admin (maybe I am doing something wrong?)

    Like others, I also go by ‘latest update’ and ‘frequency of update’ to determine whether or not a plugin is suitable for my purpose. I know that Tobias (of TablePress fame) does encourage people to give a rating/review in his correspondence, like Justin Tadlock said, and it seems to work quite well.

    Some niche plugins have not been updated in awhile yet they still work. I like the idea of ‘major update’ compatibility (as suggested by Chip) – it would certainly be nice to have a ‘It works!’ button after installing (or It doesn’t work! with a quick popup for users to explain why) for convenience.

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  10. I have to agree whole-heartedly if there was an easy way to mark the plugin as working or broken right in the installed plugins screen I would do it without a second thought.

    The problem that I think most of us have, as you mentioned above is if it’s working as expected we tend to never go back and rate the plugin (or at least mark is a working/broken).

    A simple link in the Installed Plugins list right after or around “Visit Plugin Site” saying something like “Does it work? Yes | No” that would automatically integrate with the Plugin repo stats could work. I know this probably is a lot easier said then done, but I think this would be a good fix to help support the plugin developers (and even theme developers if there was similar integration) and make it easier for plugin users to know if it works.

    All that said though, I never consider the working/broken stats when finding a plugin just because half of the ones I look at don’t have enough data, and those that do have a 50/50 split. But, I am experienced with WordPress – what about the new users or non-tech savvy users who won’t try a plugin because they are afraid something will break that they can’t fix?

    I mean, looking this morning Jetpack and even bbPress don’t have enough data to say if it’s compatible with 3.61 and they are hugely popular and widely used. No one has come back to rate it since the update. At this moment this data is extraneous because of the lack of participation (users fault) and accuracy (lack of data). If we could get the community involved in an easier, simply integrated way then the value of that data would be what we are looking for now.

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  11. I agree with Chip Bennett, most people are installing plugins from their WordPress admin area, so they are less likely to go to wp.org and report if a plugin is broken.

    How about the core includes an option for plugin authors to decide whether or not they would like users to give feedback upon uninstallation of the plugin. Plugins that participate in the program will display a feedback screen when a user deactivates their plugin.

    This screen can show rating stars, broken or worked form. If a user clicks on a star a popup window opens asking them to leave their review.

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  12. Nitin Jain

    I think, best way to address is, adding a new column for number of downloads for current version of plugin (obviously including updates). If that number is good enough, it will give some comfort to any user, if this version of plugin is in use or not. It gonna give a better idea of popularity of current state of plugin as well.

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  13. As a plugin author, the most important thing is the incompatibility issue. I am more interested to why a user believes a plugin doesn’t work and a user who says a plugin is not compatible should be asked to raise a support query. I believe this should also be the case from 1 ratings since they are of no value to a plugin author.

    Also, having version numbers isn’t really needed. As a plugin author, I want the user to be using the latest version of the plugin and am not likely to support an old version. As a WordPress user, you should always be running the latest version of WordPress.

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  14. I believe Justin’s comment opener is the closest thing to getting the best possible response: you have to invite response to reasonably be in a position to expect some. So, I’d think about a logical, visible spot to include a little sentence reminding the new plugin user to provide some qualitative response (i.e. posted, textual feedback) and (especially) imploring the user to also responsibly give feedback on compatibility, with a link to the spot where to select the WP and plugin versions plus the “works” selector.

    All this does is essentially drive up the number of compatibility votes. And I believe in the power of statistics; the greater the sample, the bigger the representative value. Put with a sideways smile, it’s much harder for a large number of trolls/ignorants/malcontents to be deliberately wrong, amid a much larger body of users generally painting the big picture of user experience.

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