Before the September 3rd WordPress development meeting took place, Mark Jaquith added some interesting items to the meeting agenda that specifically addressed commercial plugin authors and the guidelines of the repository. Mark had conversed with Matt Mullenweg and the decision was that there was not much to talk about.
Matt and I had a chat and there’s not really anything to discuss. Plugins that merely exist as placeholders for a plugin hosted elsewhere (like a “requirements check” plugin) are out, but “lite” versions, etc are in. The goal is to have the directory be free-to-download plugins. A placeholder for a premium plugin is against that spirit.
Makes perfect sense to me. When I pressed on for more clarification, this is what Mark had to say:
WordPress is not anti-business. We’ve just decided to keep the wp.org Plugin Directory a hosting site for zero-cost plugins. There is already a rule (#3) that says it is a hosting site, not a listing site. It’s for actual plugins, not plugins whose primary purpose is to send people somewhere else to download a plugin. This is not a change in policy as much as being consistent about the existing policies. One “requirements check” plugin was allowed in, and another was not. I was concerned about the dual standard.
If your plugin is actually a plugin, not just an advertisement or a placeholder for a plugin hosted elsewhere, you’re fine, as far as this rule is concerned.
I don’t see very many commercial GPL plugin authors having a product in the repository anyways. However, it definitely looks like you can have a free “lite” version hosted in the repository with links or mentions to a commercial version of that plugin. However, where does one draw the limits between a lite plugin that is reduced to the point where the commercial option is the only one that makes sense thus making it seem like a plugin who’s primary purpose is to push the commercial option?
Obviously, common sense here goes a long way to avoiding issues. If you have questions about adding your plugin to the repository, you should get in touch with markr who usually can be found in the WordPress.com IRC channel.
By the way, Matt himself said he was not aware of writing a blog post that would clarify these issues. So that rumor is debunked.
I don’t have any issue with the policy and didn’t agree with the people who thought wp.org was anti-business.
However, IMHO, the issue will remain a contention as long as akismet is in the repository. You can’t use it without the akismet server or signing up at wordpress.com to get an API key. Also, for commercial MU installs, there is a monthly fee for access to the akismet server (which I’m not opposed to).