New Dobby Plugin Captures and Hides Unwanted WordPress Admin Notices

With the right combination of plugins and events, the WordPress admin area can quickly become a confusing mess of notices. WordPress’ notification system is often abused and overused by plugin authors who want to inject upsells and announcements into the admin. These can stack up like a pile of junk mail vying for users’ attention when they are trying to manage their sites. Ultimately, notice overload decreases users’ enjoyment of the software and may contribute to making it a chore to log into WordPress.

The new Dobby plugin from Thorsten Frommen attempts to solve this problem by capturing and hiding unwanted admin notices. Frommen, a WordPress engineer at Inpsyde, was inspired to create the plugin after he saw a recent tweet from Torsten Landsiedel showing “Everyday life in the WordPress dashboard.”

Dobby rolls up WordPress admin notices and keeps them hidden behind a “Reveal” button that toggles a color-coded list of notices into view. It captures all the notices that are printed via the admin notice hooks, such as network_admin_notices, user_admin_notices, admin_notices and all_admin_notices. Dobby will post an admin notice if any notices have been captured.

Frommen said the target audience for his plugin is “all the people sick and tired of too many admin notifications, which are oftentimes of no real value at all.” Dobby has a filter available for users to define what “too many” means for themselves. The plugin’s GitHub repository has examples of how to use the Dobby filter threshold, which lets users customize the minimum number of admin notices required to trigger Dobby to start hiding them.

“It certainly is possible that people may miss (critical) messages with Dobby being active,” Frommen said. “However, Dobby is smart enough to style his admin notice according to the most critical one captured. This means that Dobby’s notice will have error styling if there was an error notice captured. If the most critical one was a warning, that’s what Dobby’s notice will be as well. Otherwise, it’s an info notice.”

Within the first 10 minutes of requesting translations after announcing that Dobby was on WordPress.org, Frommen received German and Dutch translations for the plugin. The plugin UI has only two strings, which makes it a simple, 5-minute translation job.

Frommen is considering adding a filter for people to define what kind of notices they would like Dobby to capture. He welcomes suggestions, contributions on GitHub, and more translations from the WordPress community.

14 Comments


  1. Very handy, though the real solution to this is to shame plugin developers that use persistent notifications for things other than notifications.

    When your plugin nags me to leave a review, or nags me to renew my subscription, or anything else up there that isn’t a notification that my site is on fire, I start thinking of replacing you.

    The other annoying thing that plugins do is create a root level menu item…because you’re the only plugin that I’ve installed on this site, right? And your three-tab settings page is far too big to be placed in the Settings menu where it belongs, right?

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    1. The plugin is very handy for sure, but I totally agree with Ryan that we should fix the root cause of the problem. Like treating disease, we cannot just treat the symptom, but find the root cause of the disease and treat it accordingly.

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  2. Wow. This is a great idea and I can’t believe something like this doesn’t already exist. Definitely going to start using this on some older sites with an unconscionable amount of free plugins.

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    1. It does exist; several plugins do this. They’re just not actively developed; some may be abandoned.

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  3. What a cool featured image ;) This picture should pop-up on every screen of plugin authors who build that junk into their plugins.

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  4. Why do people continue to use plugins that add these?

    Vote with your wallet, and uninstall the offending plugin. Find an alternative.

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    1. Well said. I don’t get the point, that somebody use a junky plugin, then use another plugin to get rid off that junk ;) There are many alternatives and many quality plugins.

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    2. Almost every plugin I use has some type of notice, even quality premium plugins like Yoast and Gravity Forms.

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  5. Hi there,

    I strongly agree with all of you that something like Dobby should not be necessary.
    Real life, however, proves us wrong.

    If you’re lucky enough to be able to freely choose what plugins to use for every single site that you maintain, and if you also have the time to look for alternatives every other week when a generally well-functioning plugin decides to render the admin notice that was one too many, then Dobby is not for you.
    This is not true for everyone, though.

    Also, as I tweetet the other day, Dobby was meant to be a quickly written joke. But people liked it, so … what should I do? I polished and enhanced it a little, and here we are.

    Thanks for commenting!
    Thorsten

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  6. I think the main problem here is that these dismissable notices are NOT dismissable actually. If you click dismiss and refresh the page, they will appear again. If you want it to really disappear, you need to write an own custom solution to store the state of your notice. Why?

    This thing should be easy, for example adding a data attribute to the notice div like this: data-dismiss=”forever”

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    1. If the dismiss doesn’t actually work, then you should report the plugin as being broken. Notices must be dismissable. That’s a guideline for the plugin directory.

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      1. No… I’m talking about the method we add notices in WP.

        Let’s say you add a notice to the Manage Themes admin page: http://codepad.org/BQZ4UpO0

        If you close the notice, but revisit the Manage Themes page, the notice will appear again. There should be an easy way for developers to make it dismissable forever. E.g.: div class=”notice notice-success is-dismissible” data-dismiss-duration=”forever”

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  7. Does this stop the welcome email when a new user has registered?

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  8. How about big plugins that do not include the admin notice css classes?

    WordPress should fix the real issue of admin notices in core. I don’t know how though.

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