Is It Ethical For Companies To Influence Plugin Ratings and Reviews?

Plugin RatingsA week ago, I was contacted by a WordPress user who asked an interesting question, Is it ethical for a company to use its own staff to bump plugin ratings on

At first, I didn’t give much thought to the question until I investigated the links they provided me. I researched the plugins they linked to and reviewed the user profile history of accounts leaving those reviews and I have mixed feelings on what I discovered:

  • At least two of the user accounts I researched had a forum title that made them officially attached to the company they represented.
  • All of their plugin reviews I saw were 5 star rated, short reviews for the plugins their company developed or sold through their site. The plugins in question could certainly be that awesome and those reviews are actual representations of their experience but putting 2 and 2 together, it doesn’t seem that way on paper.
  • I also discovered an account that provided the same short, 5 star rated reviews for plugins maintained by the same company but without the official forum title. Their reviews for all of the company’s plugins occurred on the same day.

I reached out to the company in question, but received a hostile response via email that was not suitable for print.

On the one hand, company employees would know their own plugins best and would be able to give great reviews. At the same time, why would any plugin author or company need to do that? In order to not contaminate the data, wouldn’t it be best to view legitimate ratings and reviews from users that are unsolicited? What is there to be gained? The plugins page does have a Highest Rated plugin section as well as Most Popular, two lists that if a high-ranking could be acquired, would generate more downloads. If the company business model is to offer a pro version of those plugins and each free plugin in the WordPress plugin repository is used as an advertisement to push users to go that direction, then things start to make a little more sense when it comes to financial gain.

I don’t know if the company in question or any others with plugins in the repository are paying for 5 star ratings, reviews, telling their employees to give good reviews with 5 star ratings, or trying to do their best to game the systems in place but if you piece together the evidence, it would be easy to build a case that represents that perspective. Not all of the plugin ratings/reviews that I read were suspect. With established plugins, it would take quite a few employees or unique paid reviews to swing the data in a positive direction which has me wondering if it would be worth it?

While I’ve focused on 5 star ratings with positive reviews consider that just as easily, 1 star ratings with poor reviews can be dished out by a competitor. Another interesting point to consider is that all of the reviews and ratings are attached to user accounts and thus, everything is publicly viewable. It’s just a matter of piecing together reviews with accounts, and potential companies those people are working for. However, it’s dangerous to just assume that someone’s reviews or ratings are based on an agenda and not their personal experience.

When participating in this discussion, I ask that you please refrain from throwing names, companies, and others under the bus if you suspect they are participating in this behavior. Keep the discussion focused on the behavior and not the individuals or companies doing it.


47 responses to “Is It Ethical For Companies To Influence Plugin Ratings and Reviews?”

  1. Personally I am against this practice. It’s on thing if users that have worked on a plugin (perhaps contributed to it in some way), and completely another for users that are on the payroll of the company to leave a review.

    As a plugin developer, I prefer for all of my plugins’ reviews to be legitimate, as they are the ones that are the most valuable to me.

  2. It shouldn’t happen. I don’t think it is right. However as I read something similar is happening on a major site that begins with Y and rhymes with help this week. It doesn’t surprise me one bit. Maybe a reflection of our times than of any one platform?

  3. I would personally vote for “unethical” here, but in the real world there are tons of 1-star ratings from fake or stupid users or even competitors. Until we reach the moment when there is some moderation or disputes for available ratings are introduced, I’d say this is all gray area.

  4. I’m against this as well. I think if you leave a review, it’s clear you need to state if you were involved in it at all. There’s a difference between leaving a disclaimer and going out of your way to be scummy and clearly try to “trick” others.

    Didn’t Matt at San Fran say there were going to be changes to the rating system (or maybe that was just the 1-star ratings)?

  5. Yeah I don’t think its right, but unfortunately this happens a lot where ratings are listed. And it’s not only here, and not only companies. Like you said it can be competitors doing just the opposite or just plain mean people. On the other hand there have been instances where someone I knew asked me to please go in and give them a high rating, which put me in an uncomfortable situation,

    I love it when rating systems work, but there will probably always be abuse one way or another, sadly.

  6. I don’t think that this can make any major impact on ratings and reviews. Unless you have companies like Facebook and their stuff start posting around.

  7. @Bob Dunn – frankly I’d rather get the rating system out of the loop for now given it’s current state. It’s deceitful and lacks any moderation tools, the “works/not” for the plugin version for a given WP version makes more sense to me, but even I get affected by looking at the star ratings and possibly take a wrong decision based on that.

  8. I don’t see a particular problem with plugin developers leaving a 5 star rating as long as they add a disclaimer to the review that discloses their involvement.

    However, in my opinion, it’s unethical to leave a review without the disclaimer or to get multiple staff to leave reviews in a coordinated fashion (ie everyone in the company to leave reviews on one day).

  9. My plugin and theme development is presently client-based, but I feel this is just plain bad form. An employee leaving a review like that, to some degree, just says “We don’t think our product can stand on its’ own; we also have decided that our best marketing efforts right now are to offer disingenuous reviews from our own employees”.

    Sure, you may really feel your product is great, but it doesn’t take much thought to realize that you run the risk of seeming dishonest when leaving self-promotional reviews.

    Why not ask a WordPress news site, or developer, or even a user to review the product? That’ll carry significantly more clout than a dubiously praise-filled review written by your company.

    There are certainly exceptions – for example – John Saddington left a review on the iTunes App Store hailing Pressgram as “Simple, Elegant, Intuitive”. And know what? He’s damn right.

    Regarding your email response when reaching out to that company, I think it’s pretty telling. A person without enough foresight or professionalism to heed the golden rule of Don’t Be A Dick™ also decided it was a good idea to have their employees write fake reviews.

  10. In the commercial world, this can get you fined:

    Agreements have been reached with 19 companies to cease their misleading practices and pay a total of $350,000 in penalties.

    I’ve seen tongue-in-cheek fully-disclaimered emails from devs that I don’t particularly mind (especially become only one review isn’t going to tip the scales one way or the other), but really anything beyond that is unethical.

  11. I think employees can write reviews of the plugin. These reviews can be made very useful and honest by adding a disclaimer. As an employee they probably know more about how to use a plugin and what are the common problems a typical user may come across. They can also add their unique selling points such as why they think that a plugin is better than other plugins.

    However, if their intent is to genuinely manipulate the ratings, then its just sad.

  12. Is it ethical for a company to use its own staff to bump plugin ratings on

    No. Or more accurately I don’t think it is. Ethics can be a fun topic.

    The WordPress forum review sub-forum is meant to provide helpful feedback and possibly to show appreciation to the author. When someone leaves a review with just a single short sentence then they’re not really serving that purpose even though those reviews generally stand and do not get deleted.

    But when the author(s) leave a 5 star review for their own work then that’s not helpful at all and is just self-serving. Everyone expects the author to have a positive regard for their own hard work.

    What I would love to see is a author leaving a 3 star review and explain what should be improved or added to the work. That sort of critical self-review would be great and encouraging.

    I don’t expect to see that anytime soon but I do hope. :)

    I reached out to the company in question, but received a hostile response via email that was not suitable for print.

    And I think that more than anything illustrates the point. People don’t react that way when they’ve got “pure” intentions. ;)

    There are “bad” reviews and there are users who troll all of the sub-forums including the review section. But filling the reviews with your own staff’s 5 stars? That’s fake and should be discouraged.

  13. If there’s money involved, as for the possibility of selling a premium version of your plugin, I think that giving it a five star rating is quite a disloyal and a pretty crappy commercial practice to do, at least if you’re not being sincere about your product and its limitations, and specially if you’re not clear about your involvement in the development process. I think that it shouldn’t be done even if you’re not selling anything, but instead you’re accepting donations for your free plugin. I wouldn’t deal with ethics here, because every person in the world has his/her own moral conceptions, and we’re never gonna fully agree about that issue, so I couldn’t say if this is wrong or right. I do think this practice shouldn’t be banned or condemned, but discouraged instead, since there are a lot of developers that can provide a great, sincere and really helpful work to the WP community and that are not really that into promotion techniques. They surely can do better than rating their own plugin, but for me it seems unfair to go berserk about this topic against them.

  14. I think this is commonplace in just about every service that offers a review system. We as users need to consider the number of reviews with equal weight as the average review

    The developers of the review system should also weigh in the number of reviews when it comes to sorting by rating

    Beyond that, I’m not sure what else you can really do to prevent abuse.

  15. Jeffro

    I think basic plugins (offering no commercial extras) should be peer reviewed, by fellow plugin developers – on being reviewed. As this would eliminate the temptation for people to improve their own ratings whilst protecting the plugin’s authors from ill-informed or novice users.

    For me, plugins and (themes) that offer extras via a commercial extension should reviewed publicly. Although, the notion of public reviews can be populist and at times defective. With the exception of being reviewed by yourself, Marcus or other related sites, the ratings system still offers the best means for deciding which plugin to use.

    Imperfect as it is, if a plugin is well coded and plays well with WP and other plugins, it should hopefully rate well. I agree with Emil, that unless there are a significant number of people involved in a ratings scam, I really can’t see how self or vested rating could impact the overall ratings in the long term.

  16. I would say it is unethical at any rate.

    Even if a disclaimer is used, a 5 star review will add up to the plugin final rating, which is what most users see. People don´t go reading each and every review for a plugin, so they might never see that disclaimer.

  17. I do not read 5 star reviews on any site. I like to see the bad reviews and why there was an issue. Many times it is a user that does not know how to use it. Or does to understand what it is supposed to do. There there are the haters. And then there are the real reviews of why it does not work or how it is broken.

    I also like reading the support forums for the plugin before I install it as it is usually a better sign of plugins with issues.

  18. In my personal view, bumping rating by forging it is plain bad. It does not give the actual picture.

    If we look on wp repo reviews, there are not so many reviews(I guess, only 1-2% people provide feedback) and even giving 5-10 five star reviews for normal plugin makes a lot of difference.

    We do run a business based on WordPress plugins and themes but we do not allow our own people to even rate it on as it will be unethical business practice.

    I personally believe, only the users of the plugin/theme should be able to provide feedback not the authors as reviews are meant for other users.

  19. While I think it is unfortunate that anyone would this, I don’t think it changes much. It doesn’t get them more revenues, since users who install the plugins will quickly learn the truth, and it doesn’t affect me much since I never settle on a plugin based on reviews but on trying it out. It does, however, affect the search results, making the search engine flawed and thus slowing down the trial-and-error process.

    It reminds me of a stripe from xkcd…

    That illustrates the rating problem rather well, I fear.

  20. I usually rate my own plugins and plugins I’ve created for my employers, but I always make sure I mention that it’s my own plugin I’m reviewing.

    I don’t rate all my employers plugins though. I do rate some, but only from my personal point of view. It seems a bit slimey to do otherwise.

  21. You can already buy Twitter followers and Facebook likes, why not plugin reviews if it is possible? There should be a way to report suspicious entries.

    <rant>…And also the not really helpful ones, e.g. “Although everything works fine, there is no step-by-step manual, so I just created this account – that I won’t use in the future – to give you two stars. Great plugin though.” — These reviews are even more annoying IMHO.</rant>

  22. You can already buy Twitter followers and Facebook likes, why not plugin reviews if it is possible? There should be a way to report suspicious entries.

    If you see anything that deserves moderator attention then you can tag that topic with modlook. That includes reviews as well.

    That said (and this is important!) there is no forum rule against anyone leaving a 5 star review for their own plugin or theme or their co-worker’s plugin or theme. Don’t go crazy with that tag, you’ll get yourself into trouble that way. ;)

    The review section is often looked at by the moderators like myself (oh boy, is that an understatement) and fraudulent reviews are caught and dealt with appropriately. If you see one that’s abusive then report it. If you are not sure then please assume good intentions and consider leaving your own meaningful and informative review instead.

  23. I think Ethics is something thats hard to debate, because everyone has a different viewpoint based on their personal experiences in life. It’s also difficult some times to realise internally when we become hypocritical to our own ethics.

    “Doing X is bad (as long as it’s done by other people).”
    (Tony Robbins refers to this as “Lying with Integrity” because you’re not intentionally being dishonest, its just your viewpoint)

    So far the consensus here has been that it’s bad for someone to promote or discuss the services of their employer without being transparent about it… Cool, I agree.

    Can I ask how many people thought that when WPtavern had been owned by Matt for a year (+?) without telling anyone? Or when, completely unrelated of course, the non-WPtavern news sites were taken off the News feed in your WP Dashboard at the same time? Didn’t see too many “ethical” posts rocking around WPtavern then…

    I genuinely don’t think anything intentionally underhanded or nefarious has gone on. I just really worry when people start questioning ethics about certain things, but not others, especially when we’re dealing with something as global as WordPress (or any other of the OSS CMS’s).

    Maybe we should discuss “best practices” and “guidelines”. Ethics is too much of an argument about moral philosophy :)

  24. @Kevinjohn Gallagher – It’s really a good point, and I agree to most of it. But I just really don’t think that, because something hasn’t been done in the past (i.e. discuss about ethics), then it shouldn’t be done now. I’m not really interested in the particular discussion about WPTavern being owned by Matt; I’m just pointing out that the fact of an non-existent discussion about some topic doesn’t invalidate another discussion in the same area. On the other hand, while I agree that WP is something very global, the present topic is about an action performed by some people in a restricted environment: developers rating their own plugins in the official plugin repository.

    But as I said before, I agree with most of your point. I’m sure we’ve all done something that others can consider unethical while we don’t, something that we consider unethical today but not in the past, or unethical in the past but ethical today. Ethics is such a problematic issue to discuss here, and I think that it would be more productive to face this topic as a dicotomy between encouraged and discouraged practices and their respective justifications.

  25. It’s not just unethical it is could be illegal. The NY Attorney General settled cases this week with 19 companies and $350k in fines for online phony reviews.

    I’d argue in these “review” or “comment” cases that not disclosing a financial interest or relationship with a product or service you review, or having third parties post info for you, is an unfair or deceptive trade practice prohibited by law.

  26. This practice really is not much different than restaurant and store owners, managers and employees using Yelp to rate their own businesses higher, and give all of their competition bad ratings. You can spot the trends, such as when a Yelp user gives ratings to a lot of similar businesses in the same day, or the complaints against competitors seem vague or generic. I would not be surprised if some of these same plugin and theme developers who leave themselves five star ratings, visit competing plugins to vote them down.

  27. wow, wonder where my two -long- posts went.

    YEA NY AG ::: That is so good to hear I could send him flowers.
    I gotta go read that article, about time they started nailing some of these folks, and I hate to say it, but hosting agencies are the WORST for doing it also, There’s even scripts a person can buy or rent specifically to get your company “phony reviews” and yes, there are places online, supposedly legal places where you can buy reviews for your company.

    both practices should be abolished. imho.

  28. As an average WordPress user, I refuse to install anything that doesnt have a minimum of 4/5 stars and they have to be averaged over a minimum of 500 ratings. Anything less is almost guaranteed to be either dodgy, useless, or both.

    I won’t even click the info link unless I see it’s 4/5, and simply click ‘back’ the moment I get to a plugin page if there are < 200 ratings.

    Installing junk plugins just to immediatedy uninstall them, grows old fast, so if it isn't a top rated plug-in, it doesn't matter if a dozen or so staffers try to rig the votes, if it's crap, it'll show that in the number of low votes it has, and I – personally – will simply not bother if I detect any kind of dodgyness.

    Live's too short to waste time installing shitty software – of any type.

  29. I don’t usually pay much attention to reviews/ratings – I look at the support section to see the sort of issues that are being reported, and how responsive the author is. Of course if ‘works’ votes 20x less than ‘broken’ I mght not bother to look at the support section.

  30. @David Bisset – What I recall from WCSF was Matt saying that you can’t give a rating without leaving some sort of comment.

    @Kevinjohn Gallagher – No need to discuss Ethics or acceptable conduct, other than right here. Nefarious may be a bit strong, but almost certainly something untoward.

  31. BS. You all but come out and accuse some company of unethical behavior, even claim they sent a “hostile” letter. Which is not suitable for print? Says who?
    Then you won’t name names, and tell us not to bother. I don’t give a shit about this discussion (“I don’t think this is right blah blah blah”, very original), I want to know who it was.

  32. @ox – I’m not going to say who it was because of their threats, plain and simple. If you put your thinking cap on and analyze this quote,

    If the company business model is to offer a pro version of those plugins and each free plugin in the WordPress plugin repository is used as an advertisement to push users to go that direction, then things start to make a little more sense when it comes to financial gain.

    it’s not to hard to figure out. But that’s as far as I’m going. Why are you so hostile to this topic? You’re the only one showing such hostility. By the way, if you’re going to litter your comment with f-bombs, your comments won’t be published.

  33. I’m not sure how anyone could begin to see such a practice as anything but unethical. The practice was so widespread at Amazon that they started checking comments against purchases in an attempt to vet the ratings as best they can. Certainly, they consider it unethical and felt strongly that it tainted their brand. And I would hope WordPress feels equally strong about their brand.

  34. Thank you all for your feedback. It looks like the majority of folks have no problem with company employees or plugin developers giving their work 5 star reviews just as long as a disclaimer accompanied the review. I find no problem with that as well.

    A few of you brought up the issue of this possibly being against the law. I’m curious as to how that would come into play considering there is no exchange of money when downloading plugins on the repository? Probably not the best place to ask for legal advice but we can discuss that aspect a little bit more.

    Also, as I mentioned in the post, I’m in agreement with others that unless a company employs a large number of people and tells them to provide 5 star reviews or pays for those reviews, that there are enough legitimate reviews coming from end users that the overall data would not be tainted.

    Regarding the State Of The Word Reference, I looked it up and Matt mentioned that all ratings were attached to reviews meaning you can’t give a rating without giving a comment. And those reviews can be changed later. “In the future, the current way in which the plugin review/rating system works will be retired. The reviews will be 100% driven by plugins. The plugin review/ratings system will undergo a reset.” 11:10 in the State Of The Word Video I don’t know what that means that ratings and reviews will be driven by plugins.

    It’s not like you can hide in the shadows while giving plugins ratings and reviews. They are tied to your user profile which I would have thought would prevent this sort of thing from happening. I guess if no one is paying attention, it’s easy to do.

    As others have noted, ethics is relative to ones’ moral beliefs and we could debate ethics all we want but at the same time, we were able discuss acceptable forms of selfy ratings and reviews while concluding that the overall practice should be discouraged.

    @Kevinjohn Gallagher – I’m not sure I understand your question concerning WPTavern and ethics. I don’t know of any particular sites that were removed from the dashboard feed around the same time WPTavern was purchased. At one point, WPCandy was added and then at some point, removed from the feed but it had nothing to do with WPTavern. I could care less if WPTavern is in the Dashboard or not anymore. I’d rather not be in it. On the flip side, I’d like to see the dashboard feed remove inactive, off topic sites and add a bunch of relevant WP dedicated sites. I shared these thoughts with Matt but he responded that the dashboard feed was not very high on any priority list. It’s in his control, not mine.

    Maybe we should discuss “best practices” and “guidelines”. Ethics is too much of an argument about moral philosophy :)

    I touched on this up above but you’re right. At the same time, the comments laid out some good guidelines and best practices so we were able to kill two birds with one stone :)

    I’m thinking of writing a follow up post that suggests best practices as stated by a number of commenters on this article.

  35. My view is that this is a discredited practice best known as astroturfing. I have no issue with being asked to give a review. But planting your own is just bad practice unless it is disclosed that the reviewer has a stake in the matter.

  36. @Jeffro -I love the idea of a reset. There were some plugin developers who (quite sensibly – I wish I did this too) aggressively promoted the concept of clicking their five star button. This resulted in their stats ballooning through the roof and now there is no way a bunch of 1 star reviews can affect them, since they managed to get hundreds of five star reviews before the changeover to the new “review with comment” approach.

    @ox -You are not being helpful.

  37. I think have given it a shot. Not sure if their metrics are in fact accurate, but it seems at least a better tack than the current ranking system.

  38. @Jason

    As an average WordPress user, I refuse to install anything that doesnt have a minimum of 4/5 stars and they have to be averaged over a minimum of 500 ratings. Anything less is almost guaranteed to be either dodgy, useless, or both.

    I won’t even click the info link unless I see it’s 4/5, and simply click ‘back’ the moment I get to a plugin page if there are < 200 ratings.

    You’re certainly within your rights to do so, but you’re going to miss 90% of the best/most useful Plugins and Themes in the directory. This is WordPress, not Amazon; ratings/reviews just haven’t reached the saturation point to make such high standards (4/5 stars, minimum 200 ratings) practical.

  39. I agree with Chip. But it´s not only a question of the saturation point: If every WordPress user was to act like Jason, no new plugin would ever even get reviewed, let along getting a large number of 4-5 stars, no matter how good the new plugin was.

  40. @Luis Alejandre – That is another thing that bothers me. I think that users generally aren’t motivated enough to rate and review plugins. They have to register a new account in order to do that, which kinda sucks. (I admire all the altruists that don’t have a problem with that though.)

    Too bad that there doesn’t seem to be a good compromise.

  41. I will call that effective self marketing…they are just pitching their tent againts the big fishes in the occean. Personally, i may choose a pluggin with average rating, so the question is if they dont do the ratings and reviews themself who would look at them. No matter what we hear about a pluggin, we would not install it if we didnt see a rating on it unless the developer has pass records.

    Effective self-marketers know where they are going and have specific goals targeted to advance their career. They create opportunities to increase their visibility and take calculated
    risks to enhance their potential for success.

    Effective self-marketing requires a delicate balance of tact and a willingness to blow your own horn.

    Start developing your self-marketing plan by taking some quiet time to get in touch with your strengths. Get in touch with who you are and generate ideas about what you want for your future. Be aware of your fine points before you expect others to recognize them. Then consider how the things you are doing, at work and on your own time, are allowing your strengths to
    shine for the world to see.

    Your attitude about yourself is critical to
    effective self-marketing. You must have a
    strong belief in your ideas and be able to
    express those ideas confidently through
    your words, speech patterns and body
    language. Make and maintain eye contact
    when you are talking about your ideas and
    achievements. Just be sure that you don’t
    cross the line and appear arrogant. Subtle
    confidence generates better results than a
    “know-it-all” attitude.

    Remember that you project yourself
    through your clothes, voice and work.
    Consider how well each one of these areas is working t o position you as competent and effective. If one of these areas needs work, take a class or ask someone you trust for help in making any needed improvements.

  42. First, I want to say that in the past, I got many “anonymous” 1-star reviews by users who didn’t like that I wouldn’t customize something for them for free. I was even told as much by some of them. So, I’d naturally add a 5-star review myself to counteract that kind of crap. My most popular plugin has 19 1-star reviews. Every one of those reviews came before the new system where you must leave an actual review. Requiring that you write something has been a huge plus in cutting back on cheating the system.

    I don’t see anything unethical about leaving a review of my own plugins. Most of the plugins I build are actually built for myself. I created a solution that works the way I want it to work. Even though I’m the plugin dev, I’m also a user of the plugin.

    Doesn’t the review/forum system already display “plugin author” next to the plugin author’s name anyway?

    Regardless of whether you’re the plugin author, when leaving a review, you should point out any biases. Not doing so is shady.

    It’d also be really cool if could do a “verified install” badge like Amazon’s “verified purchase”, but I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.

  43. @Justin Tadlock -I don’t think the verified badge thing would work. I assume that would mean checking that the user had actually installed it in a live environment, but if I’m rating something at 1 star, then there’s no way it would have made it to a live install anyway.

  44. @Ryan Hellyer – Oh, yeah, I know. I don’t think an actual verified install badge would work. I just wish there was something on par with that concept — some way to give more “credibility” to the reviewer.

  45. In my mind there is a difference between asking people to review your product and influencing the review or rating directly. I believe you can ask people to review your product but that you shouldn’t tell them what to say or what rating to give.

    I wish we could rate a review and the reviewer so and see their review history and trend to determine if they’re just spamming the ratings and review system (high ratings or low ratings) of if they’re more legit.

  46. I’m very late to this, but to make a review system for plugins valid you have to have a regression to mean.

    i.e. the older your review, the closer its value gets to mean. So if you made a 1 star review of a plugin five years ago it’s value today would be 2.5 stars (assuming an equivalent 5 star review from the same period).

    So a good and frequently updated plugin would get a continuous stream of good reviews, keeping higher stars than a good plugin that suddenly stops getting updates.

  47. Gosh, there are some wonderful comments here, and I would actually like to propose two items which having read all of the above statements, and the mixed messages being sent regarding reviews,

    I would like to, if possible, interject a little reality and to also provide some ideas as possible solutions.

    First as @Justin Tadlock Stated,

    First, I want to say that in the past, I got many “anonymous” 1-star reviews by users who didn’t like that I wouldn’t customize something for them for free. I was even told as much by some of them. So, I’d naturally add a 5-star review myself to counteract that kind of crap.

    Why are plugins created? 1/2 of the time, they are created in hopes people will like them, the developers became more visible and are able to sell other associated services and plugins. The other 1/3 or so they are created specifically for a singular purpose of the authors and they put them out in the plugin repository so if others want to use them they are able to, but the author in no way expects to nor willing to do anything in the way of tech support and maybe or not updates, But the dev shouldn’t be punished because he/she works full time and put something out there to share with other devs.
    At the same time they should not get a bad rating based on the above issues, that’s just punishing a person for their generosity.

    1. I absolutely agree with @DavidCoveney, his assessment is right on. AND it goes directly to the heart of the matter. The Developer that is keeping his plugins up-to-date, the most dedicated will surely get the higher ratings this way, and well deserved ratings too.

    2. Peer Reviews are essential, as stated above, but there is a huge discrepancy in both a users ability to use the plugin itself (although truth be told, they are supposed to be dummy proof right?) and the users ability to accurate rate the item, whether or not they are an employee, affiliate (don’t forget affiliate marketing, sales on other items the author could be selling)

    So in thinking about this, and the continued sucess of wordpress, and the almost obscene amount of users, developers, promoters, advertisers it has These days in relation to say, oh 2004, it would seem maybe a step in evolution is the solution for the issues.

    By that, I mean two types of plugin-repositories:
    1.) for those dev’s who just put it out there to be nice maybe giving a link to their git-hub repo if they wanted, but no review system as such a simple thumbs up and “Thank you” or not.
    This would have clearly distinct, visible statements of “no support unless I get a few extra minutes, it’s not about pay, It’s simply about ‘sharing with t my community items which were developed for myself, if you can get any use out of it, go for it.
    ( maybe we could develop a specific logo to put on this type of module) Sharing is Caring :)

    2.) Have a Repository as it it now, only clearly state to folks, these are free modules which might have additional paid for functionality included in promotion and/or support of their WordPress focused business. (basically a business directory) and support is provided for either free or paid at the times specified by the developing company.
    Basic Business info is setup when by uploading a new plug-in, A company profile, just basic, hours of operation and maybe a ‘badge’ for yearly participation.

    Two sets of Guidelines Used
    Novice, Intermediate, Expert <–Ability required for non-help install/setup/updating of the module rating system 1-5 of the business AND the employees, affiliates of those associated with the company.

    Another Set Equal to that above, only given buy those who download and install it.
    Not only would this facilitate development in the future but it helps to bridge that gap between a computer literate and computer non-literate user which is what WordPress is pretty much all about.

    A legend which clearly states what each number equates to in the scheme of things, or better yet, a slider next to the radio button that puts something on the low side or the high side, then you could define actual question:
    1. Did this install easily and without help or modification?
    2. does the plug-in function as stated it would?
    3. Would you recommend this plugin to your friend?
    I would personally find this infinitely more helpful than a star.
    This would give much more information to the developers for future plug-ins,

    That's my two-bits or maybe 6bytes of #justsayin
    except that:

    Evolution is a good thing, so is change sometimes. WordPress has evolved in every single area, well, exploded would be more like it, except the plug-in repository. So maybe it's just it's turn.

    You could even randomly select 5 members to evaluate the module as contrast to the companies evaluation of itself. There's enough members who would participate I'm sure.
    But ratings should be "blind" i.e. they don't see the developers information they are rating and those giving them should always be rotated. Module is upload and auto emails get sent to 5 random folks who volunteered for it.


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