Recently we explored the question of whether or not a clear path for WordPress.org plugin adoption could help to lower the rate of abandonment. Some have suggested that having a standard (unofficial) adoption tag might help to bring more exposure to plugins that need a new owner.
“Adopt-Me” was suggested as one possible tag for developers to use to identify plugins that they would prefer to adopt out rather than abandon. WordPress developer Christian Foellmann is the first to make use of the tag. If you visit the “adopt-me” plugin tag page, you’ll find his Google Analytics MU plugin available for adoption.
Foellmann put his plugin up for adoption because he was no longer able to provide adequate support for it. “[pullquote]I really believe that you have to ‘choose your battles’ when it comes to open source contribution[/pullquote],” he said. “You need to make sure that you do not stretch yourself too thin. So I finally realized that I can only support a plugin (project) properly if I deploy it myself.”
“Free to a Good Home”
Foellmann has a rather unique reason for wanting to find the plugin a new home. “I run all my sites in multisite installations so the tracking of a complete network is something really appealing at first,” he said. “Until you realize the implications of EU and especially German privacy law. When it comes to user tracking the functionality of the plugin can get you into hot water – fast.” It’s for this reason that he’s decided to remove the plugin from his toolbox.
Already on the lookout for a best practice for plugin adoption, Foellmann saw our recent article and decided to be the first to use the “adopt-me” tag in hopes of keeping his plugin alive. He said that the ideal new owner would be a current user who is wiling to keep development open on Github. Foellmann will happily transfer over the Github repo.
Will the “Adopt-Me” tag take off?
The “adopt-me” tag will never catch on if nobody knows about it. Though the tag is technically unofficial, it will require developers to use it and recommend it, if there’s any possibility of it becoming a useful designation on WordPress.org.
When I discussed the matter of an unofficial tag with Samuel “Otto” Wood in a previous conversation, he had little hope of it gaining any traction. His thoughts:
I don’t think it will take off because it’s edge-casey and relies on authors giving away their plugins intentionally instead of simply letting them die from neglect.
His assessment would indicate that most developers who abandon their plugins are likely not motivated enough to put their extensions on the path to adoption, even if there is a known tag.
Foellmann has more hope for his Google Analytics MU plugin, which is actually a fork of a plugin that he originally tried to adopt. Since there was no process at the time and the plugin’s author was unreachable, he was forced to fork the original plugin.
This type of situation may be a contributing factor to the repository having so many plugins which seem to perform the same function. No path for adoption makes it easier to fork an existing work to make small changes or updates.
When I asked Foellmann if he thinks the “adopt-me” tag will take off, he said, “I really hope so. It might reduce the number of corpses rotting away in the repo.”
Is anyone else planning on making use of the tag?