Commercial and Community Categorization Is Live on Theme and Plugin Directories

One of Matt Mullenweg’s announcements at the 2022 State of the Word was the addition of new taxonomies for the theme and plugin directories that will help users more quickly ascertain the purpose of the extensions they are considering.

With nearly 60,000 free plugins available and more than 10,000 free themes, it’s not always immediately evident which extensions are officially supported by the community and which have commercial upgrades and support available.

The new “Community” and “Commercial” designations were created to demystify the selection process and empower users to find plugins and themes that suit their needs. They were live on last week and plugin and theme authors were invited to opt into the categorization. The categories are visible in the sidebar of the listings.

In the example below, Akismet, Automattic’s commercial spam plugin that is bundled with WordPress, has the new Commercial category applied, indicating it is free but offers additional paid commercial upgrades or support.

The categories do not yet seem to be as widely applied to themes, but one example is all the default themes fall under the “Community Theme” designation, indicating that they are developed and supported by a community as opposed to being a part of a commercial endeavor.

There are currently just two categories, but meta contributor Samuel (Otto) Wood said this effort is “the start of a broader categorization of plugins and themes.” He outlined how plugin and theme authors can opt into the new categorization feature:

To opt in a plugin or theme, email, or, and simply ask to opt into it. This is a manual process for now. In the future, we will be adding a method for plugins and themes to do it themselves.

Once your plugin or theme is added, you will get a new feature (on the advanced tab for plugins, or at the bottom of the listing page for themes). For both cases, it’s a simple URL entry.

For Commercial extensions the URL is a support link. Community extension URLs will be labeled as a contribute link.

Several participants in the comments of the announcement suggested that commercial-tagged plugins and themes should also have the option to include a “contribute” link since they are open source software. Wood’s response seems to indicate the URL is more about where to direct support.

“This is a matter of categorization,” he said. “Community plugins are those that are mainly supported by a community of users. Commercial plugins are those primarily supported by a commercial profit-seeking entity.”

Once these categorizations are more widely adopted, it will be interesting to see if the theme and plugin directories will add the ability to filter search results using these tags. This would allow users to narrow down the results to be in line with their expectations for support.


11 responses to “Commercial and Community Categorization Is Live on Theme and Plugin Directories”

  1. I think this is a very useful feature. It’s helpful to know more background info about what kind of support is offered and whether there’s a commercial component.

    The one slightly confusing part of this is having two different “support” links within a few pixels of each other (see Jetpack as an example). One is for the .org support forum, the other directs to the author’s website. Not sure how that can be improved, though.

      • Personally I think that would result in a lot of free users going to the plug-in’s website for support.

        While we provide support for free users through our website as well, I don’t think that would be the intended result.

        I think an active support forum is valuable to the community because it is an important source of information:you can check if someone had your issue already, and read solutions.

        The main difference between the links is not forum vs support, it’s free vs premium.

        In my opinion it’s better to keep ‘support’, and maybe use ‘premium support’ for the plugin website. Or locate the new support button visually in a way that it’s visually linked to the commercial tag, and completely separate from the current support link.

        You could also move back the support link to the tabs, where it was until a few weeks ago. Then it is already separated.

      • I recall a discussion on meta about renaming “support” to “support forums”, but thought that was for the main menus. I agree though, the double support links are confusing and should be tweaked.

        I also find the taxonomy itself a little confusing. What has always been know as “commercial plugins” are still not allowed in the directory obviously. Simply tagging them “commercial” is therefore confusing.

        Seems to me it might be better to follow the pattern of app stores and label them more descriptively, like “has in app purchases” or “freemium”. The other phrase that comes to. Ind is “Commercially Supported”, which I know has always been a point of frustration for support teams that would rather not use the forums in favor of their support desk software.

  2. Interesting concept; I missed this somehow, but I believe this will help benefit the end-user to know they have additional options.

    I sent the request for RoughPixels to opt-in for all the free themes I have at .org. It will be interesting to see how this works out for everyone.

  3. Can someone walk through how an end user would actually find this helpful? Won’t most folks just look at the free/”community” options first and only try commercial if no options in free? Thus making conversions harder for freemium plugins that opt-in to the commercial label?

    • Just one use case that comes to mind: Imagine someone building a website for their business. They need an WooCommerce extension – it will play a crucial role on their site. They’re looking for stability, security, and prompt support.

      These labels could help that person determine whether an extension is going to do what they need both now and in the future.

      A label alone doesn’t guarantee anything. But it can be useful when choosing between similar plugins. You’ll be able to better understand whether it’s a commercial product or more of a hobby for its developer.

  4. Just as a more philosophical comment, community seems like a word that is taking over the world, just as Globalisation did with economics, community is definitely what we need to keep things together facing the challenges we are facing.


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