New Feature Plugin for WordPress Adds Emoji Reactions to Posts

photo credit: Emoji - (license)
photo credit: Emoji(license)

Gary Pendergast is looking to bring WordPress users a new way of giving feedback on posts that goes beyond simple text-based comments. A core committer and emoji aficionado, Pendergast spearheaded the effort to add emoji support to WordPress and is now working on an emoji reactions feature plugin.

The plugin is being developed to offer reactions that are similar to those available in Slack and Facebook.

“It works much the same way as a Like button, but provides a wider range of reactions so readers can give more nuanced feedback without needing to go to the effort of leaving a comment,” Pendergast said. “This also allows readers to provide the same level of interaction in situations where a ‘Like’ is an inappropriate message to send, as Eric Meyer describes in his post about Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty.”

The Reactions plugin is available on as a proof-of-concept with basic features:

  • Allows for reactions to posts
  • REST API endpoints for storing and retrieving reactions
  • An exceedingly ugly emoji selector

The plugin is under active development but those who want to get involved testing it early can log bugs on the project’s GitHub issues queue. Reactions requires the WP REST API plugin. Once both are installed, you’ll see an emoji reactions button beneath the post content.


Clicking on the button will expand a panel of emoji reactions. The emoji picker UI is very basic but Pendergast is still investigating different options for display.


The post on the make/core blog immediately drew heated criticism and opposition. One of the more restrained reactions from @chatmandesign praises the idea for personal blogs but discourages its development beyond a plugin:

I have to agree with what rapidly seems to be becoming the general consensus: Great idea for a plugin – if I ever setup my own personal blog, I might even use it – but I can’t imagine why this would be considered for Core. I would end up having to disable it on nearly every website I build, which are primarily business websites where this sort of goofy element would simply be inappropriate.

Others commented that while it may not be a good candidate for core, having a canonical plugin for handling emoji reactions could be beneficial for the community.

Pendergast responded to critics by reiterating the casual exploratory nature of the project.

“Right now, it isn’t being considered for Core – it’s being explored as a possible feature in the future,” he said. “The idea still has to prove itself in terms of usefulness, usability, and general appeal. In terms of how close this is to landing in Core, it’s about the same as a new ticket being opened on Trac.”

Thanks in large part to mobile devices, emoji are now inescapable staples of modern communication for digitally connected people. Even so, the question of bringing emoji reactions into WordPress core may prove to be a deeply polarizing issue.

In one camp you have emoji fanatics who would go so far as to create a 25,000+ character emoji translation of Alice in Wonderland. On the other side are equally impassioned emoji haters who think the characters are unimaginative and that using emoji perpetuates “linguistic incompetence”.

If the Reactions feature plugin makes it to the core proposal stage, the WordPress community will be in for some interesting debates. If you want to get in on the fun of emoji reactions and lend a hand to the project, you can join the #feature-reactions channel in Slack. Development of the plugin will continue on GitHub and will be periodically pushed to


43 responses to “New Feature Plugin for WordPress Adds Emoji Reactions to Posts”

  1. Awesome work! When Slack first put out reactions, I wondered how that data could be stored for posts in WP. I too thought a custom comment type would be the way to do it. So, I’m happy to see someone actually implement the idea.

    Maybe this project can get someone to finally flesh out custom comment types so that they’re on par with custom post types and taxonomies.

  2. Will these emojis require moderation? Possibly. Will people end up using site registration, CAPTCHAs and other automatic moderation rather than taking time to manually moderate them? Very likely. How long will emojis last? About that long.

    As much as I like ASCII art emoticons, I don’t think I will be using this plugin. A real comment from someone who has read your post means something. There are far less of those these days. A quickie thing like this doesn’t mean they read anything. It might be your template/ image/ header they like (or use the poop emoji on), or maybe your content.

    I’d rather go easy on my bandwidth and skip it.

  3. The idea is so stupid, it is not worth to spend the time discussing it. If wordpress core think that what wordpress users want is an facebook experience, then the result will be a plugin with 1M users in the repository to disable this stupidity.

    What is more interesting is the way the community works. If you remember some time ago helen complained that there was no community feedback to one of the features which resulted in a design which the community was not very happy with, and just few posts ago a jetpack team member said that “wordpress is a community effort”.

    Forward to the “reactions” post in the make blog, and gary simply deletes all comments which were negative to the idea. Now, I understand that I am a no-one, but deleting Otto’s comment? If Otto is not someone which his opinion matters in the eyes of core developers, then is there anyone the will agree to get input from? What kind a community is that? (and yes @mac2net I am still banned).

    It actually matches a feeling I had before, enforced by the jpeg quality reduction discussion on “make” or actually the lack of it. Seems like posting on “make” is just a bureaucratic step, no input is actually desired and all input given by non core contributors is just ignored.

    Seems like the “reactions” plugin fits “make” in its current state. Install it and remove the comment form, save people the illusion as if their naunced opinion matters. +1, and -1 should be good enough there, actually no point in -1 as well.

    • Hmmm, interesting point of view. As Helen restored your deleted comment we can actually see the reason why Gary did originally remove it – it was rude, offensive and down-right childish. But it was good of Helen to restore it so we can see exactly the kind of thing that you like to write.

      Meantime, constructive negative comments are still on there and, yes, there is a lot of negativity about it – not so much that the plugin exists but rather the suggestion that it *might* be added to Core.

      • Is it kind of american mentality that everything needs to be sugar coated?
        I know that there are some words that americans just do not use and wish they were never invented, but I assure you they are being used in other parts of the world.

        But way to go, ignoring the issues for the non important gossypy details of who said what to whom and when.

        The issue, if you didn’t get it, is not that mark got upset by someone deleting his comment, I assure you my ego is not that fragile, but what is the point of community input if after majority of objections this is still a featured plugin. At least this indicates that the feature as proposed do not follow the 80/20 rule that supposed to be a criteria for inclusion in core. The issue is that this is not the first feature in which community input is just being ignored.

        • I think however your input is valuable, if you try to use less offensive/aggressive expression, it will help to better communication.
          As you mentioned a mentality, it’s even more important to stay polite as in many different cultures around the world any “strong” word or tone can sound even worse. People are different; some are more sensitive than others. Also, there are still social, cultural and language barriers.

          • @Peter, This is understandable, but very anglo saxon POV. When you have a diverse group of people from different cultural backgrounds and different levels of control of english, the default should be to not be offended unless someone specifically names you. (side note, there is one guy in the US called trump that many people seem to take no offense with the way he expresses himself, so even the US is too culturally diverse to have 100% rules on how people are expected to express themselves.)

            If you want to encourage participation in a discussion it is upon you to be more tolerant to things being said in a way you don’t like.

            Side note, in an age where tech companies do a diversity report, I wonder what would such report say about wordpress core – christian white males from the US. Some more christian white males with native english and then some more christian white european males.

            For a comparison look here –, still very not representative to the amount of woman actually coding and doing stuff with wordpress but much more diverse geographically with people from indonesia, india, bangladesh, egypt, barbados, brazil.

            It is nice for @matt to speak about the global reach of wordpress, but core feels like an inner circle. You basically need to be in the UK or US time zones to participate in discussions, and you just can’t do slack at all if your english is not perfect. Add to that the facts that the automaticians meet in the flesh, and the rest meet in the wordcamps that are always far away from where a lot of wordpress users are (the wordcamps in which you can actually have the social interaction to develop human intimacy with core developers).

            So yes it would have been nice if everybody spoke like the kindergarden teacher teaches in “small town midwest US” but most people in the world probably never saw the relevant movies/tv shows and don’t know how it should be done (or in other words, how to insult by using only positive terms ;) ). Raising additional cultural barriers to the ones already imposed by language is contra productive if you want to encourage participation, which at this point in time, I am not sure wordpress core actually wants, so core is actually in its happy place, both seem to be open to contribution from anyone, while in practice ignoring everyone which is not in the inner circle.

            It is not like this happens only on “make” and slack. trac tickets opened by people outside of the inner circle, are likely to just get ignored which is actually worse than being closed. One year after you open a ticket, a core contributor will ask you if you want to submit a patch. By then you most likely forgot what it was about, lost interest or just don’t have the time to learn SVN just for that.

            (sorry that the rant that came out is unpropotional to the length of your suggestion) (here I paid lip service to what anglo saxons expect, obviously if I did actually care about it not being proportional I would not have written that much. If you wrote such a sentence in something mailed to me I would actually be offended by you wasting my time and bandwidth on something you didn’t actually mean :) )

            • @mark k – I think you’re making a lot of wild assumptions here that don’t do anything to support your case. Let’s keep the discussion on track or I may have to delete some of your long ramblings. If you feel the need to rant in multiple paragraphs, it’s probably better that you write a response on your blog and link back to it. [referring to the comment where you reference religion – sorry the threading on these comments is jacked for some reason]

              • lol, Sarah go ahead, no one actually cares what is being posted on the tavern comments (in the sense that most people don’t even read them), and people that think that they will change something by posting here are somewhat delusional. I am not delusional and I write the comments as an entertainment, nothing more.. As with 99.9% of entertainment related content, no true value will be lost if it would disappear. For content that I do think has value, I do have my own blog…..

        • @Sarah,

          sorry the threading on these comments is jacked for some reason

          At least you’re experiencing what the rest of us have to put up with. I know some people here (Danny Brown) like it, but my experience of Epoch (both here and elsewhere) is that it’s far worse than pure, native comments.

          Just waiting for comments to load is a pain in itself … although it does encourage me to make some tea while I’m waiting.

    • Given that I reinstated and responded to your non-personal comment, as well as your comments on the image compression post, I think it stands to follow that I am in fact paying attention to your feedback and not ignoring it in the least. What I think of the quality and contents and whether we agree are separate matters entirely.

      • @Helen. grr, obviously people focusing on the wrong question. The right one is, beside reading (and I assume whoever deleted my comment read it first ;) ) does commenting on make serves any purpose?

        The last time I can remember a design decision articulated in a “make” post was canned it was about the new shortcode structure, and the negative comments that canned it AFAICT came from @nacin. Part of the problem is that make posts are being published almost only once the coding is complete, and it is no surprise that the coders are not inclined into rethinking a feature, part is that the posts do not even try to be written in a language people might be able to understand it implications ( probably good example, anyone wandering the main change discussed there will reduce bandwidth on core update in the expanse of wasting CPU cycles on the sites being updated).

        In addition, people that commented a day after the post was posted, seems to be ignored no matter how constructive their comment is,.in the case of reactions someone explained why emoji’s are bad because they are ambiguous and suffer from cultural based interpretation, in the case of quality reduction, a user complained that it is bad to images with fine high contrast artifacts like text.Late commenters are rarely being engaged by the authors of the post.

        So what is the point of having a comment section on make at all? Is there any reason that I go there and waste my time explaining that not only breaks backward compatibility, but also has what might be adverse SEO implications diluting the value of other crafted links on pages with comments? With all due respect to @rachelbaker she is not important enough in my life for me to write prose just in order to know she had read it.

  4. Really like the idea of the plugin for personal blogs or BuddyPress sites, but not really applicable for general/business/corporate sites.

    Feels like it should stay as a canonical plugin to me.

    If it were steamrollered into core then there should definitely be an option to enable/disable in settings alongside comment settings. I think the views on it’s use will be so polarised that the “decisions not options” mantra will not really apply here.


Subscribe Via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: