PSA: Don’t Give Your Money To The WPUA

WPUA LogoThe WordPress Users Association was launched in December of 2010 with the goal of providing a central place for WordPress users to swap war stories, learn how to get the most out of WordPress, and take part in getting special discounts on themes and plugins. Fast forward three years later and the idea appears to have been a bust, despite the look and feel of their website. *Note: This organization has no association to WordPress.org, the WordPress Foundation, or any official aspect of the WordPress project.

Curious about what happened as well as whether they were still accepting payments or not, I reached out to a couple of their corporate sponsors as well as a few of their earlier members to get their accounts of what it was like to be a part of the WPUA. I also signed up for a monthly membership to see if the website was still processing payments and indeed they are. Thankfully Clickbank, their payment processor has a 60 day money back guarantee which I’ll be utilizing very soon.

Two of the four platinum level sponsors I contacted, responded. I wanted to know what their experience was like and if they were still currently sponsoring the website. I did reach out to founder John Pozadzides through his personal site OneMansBlog and Twitter a few days ago but at the time of being published, have yet to receive a response.

Vsellis: I don’t think the site has been active for quite a while. I ended my sponsorship a long time ago and see my logo is still up there but I don’t think there is any activity.

Synthesis Managed WordPress Hosting By Copyblogger Media: JohnP gave me an account and we simply participated in the forums. We are no longer active though will support anything John is doing.

Then I got in touch with Matthew McGarity, one of the first members to join the WPUA where he shared his experience with the site:

Even after launching, the site wasn’t terribly active. I suspect that it’s dead now, considering the front page has remained virtually unchanged since I first registered in September 2010. Also, its Twitter feed appears to be on auto-pilot like the French radio station on “Lost.”

The site forum’s design made it difficult to participate in conversations, and it ended up being more work than I cared for. The forums had no RSS feeds, and their email digests were limited to the day’s top-10 conversations. Something that notified me of new subjects and/or replies to conversations I was a part of would have helped me participate. But remembering to log into the site on a regular basis wasn’t worth it. I made suggestions on improving this experience; the site owner Wesley Williams took them under serious consideration, but I don’t think they were ever enabled.

John P. and Cali promoted the site at its launch, and friends of mine advertised there. But I don’t know if they’re involved now.

At one time, I think they were considering the design of some WordPress certifications (developer, etc.) and the related curriculum/criteria for each, but that didn’t go anywhere, probably due to lack of value and potential acceptance (e.g. anyone can get certified for anything by anyone).

I had a free membership, which limited my access on the site to value propositions that might change my desire to use the site. I’m savvy and keyed into the open source community enough that I am able to extract the benefits/help I need without having to pay for membership on a site like this. But that is just me.

Free Themes:

While browsing through the four pages of themes offered to paying members only, I noticed most of them didn’t impress me very much. But more importantly, they are all 2-3 years out of date. Instead of linking themes directly to a repository, the themes were manually uploaded to WPUA. Using outdated themes is a big no no as some of the ones on this site could still contain the TimThumb vulnerability.

Outdated Themes

Plugins:

Their plugins leave a lot to be desired. The plugins that are offered are tailored for internet marketers and are certainly not worth the price of admission. Just seeing one named PopupDomination gives me a bad feeling.

WPUA Plugins

Video Training:

Although there are a bunch of training videos on WPUA.org, none of them work. Instead, when you try to view them, the following error message pops up. Head to WordPress.TV instead.

Stream Not Available

Conclusion:

Despite their front-page, numerous claims and somewhat active forums (free accounts mostly), this is not a website you want to be giving your money to. The purpose of this post is to inform anyone who may have come across the WordPress Users Association either by way of a Google search or a link and is interested in becoming a paid member. Don’t. Despite the money back guarantee, there is nothing on this website worth paying for.

*Update 6/04/2013*
I have successfully completed the refund process. While it was not easy or as straightforward as it could be, I did get my money back.

8 Comments


  1. Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/wpuaorg/public_html/wp-content/plugins/buddypress/bp-loader.php on line 71

    The problem with these so called WordPress centric sites, So many wanted to do one that they all eventually died out.

    Jeff, you found out about the long-term commitment you had to go through with WPTavern.

    Maybe the WPUA “staff” moved on to other things too. It is hard to start a community site since you have to worry about costs and pay for it until you get enough registered users to warrant advertising.

    By the way the block quote above is of what I saw on the site, I find it worrysome that they let that error stay there.

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  2. @Miroslav Glavic – As I was composing this post today, the entire site turned into Internal Server 500 errors for awhile. Once the site came back online, I noticed a bp-loader errors all over the place. Looks like the errors are still around. Is that error the only thing you saw? No content?

    As for the costs and such of starting out. WPUA was a different breed as they came out of the gate with 4 Platinum level sponsors and a number of other corporate sponsors. Money was not an object at least not from the outside looking in.

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  3. I concluded as much when the site launched. It appeared to be a money making site not a community site.

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  4. WPUA appear to actually be a small/specialized web hosting operation, offering site-hosting at a substantially higher cost than normal, justified by seeming to provided a WordPress-centric resource & support environment. ***

    Both their “Become A Member Now” button beneath the introductory come-on at the top of the homepage, and the “Join Now” button at the bottom of the Basic Membership box near the end of the page, lead to the Join Now page. This page is a big table displaying the features of the product-offer, and upon scanning down the table it jumps out like a sore thumb (about the middle), that all the glitz and song & dance really boils down to simply a web-hosting contract-offer.

    This is why we have WordPress-dot-COM! Because remote hosting is still too scary for many folks. When the website product (WP) aims for those who are less technically adept, the seeming-rigors of typical remote shared hosting become a barrier that too many cannot surmount.

    Sooo … WordPress themselves will give you a remote-hosted WordPress website, fully-installed & working, remotely hosted on their servers, with free themes and plugins you can add, so you don’t have to engage with remote hosting, mano-a-mano.

    That is your basic clue, how much it really costs to offer & provide remote shared hosting. It is so cheap, WP can afford to give it away.

    … Or, alternatively, you can give these folks at WPUA in the vicinity of twice what a normal remote hosting contract should cost, for the privilege of having your website tied to their confusing & opaque hosting-service.

    *** There are various legit people & businesses who cater to those who want someone to ‘take care of all the stuff’ associated with having a website, for them … and they often do something technically similar to WPUA, without all the hucksterism. Small businesses without web-skills, for example, and charities, and political action groups, and missionarys are known to gravitate to these kinds of services. They are as a group scrupulously ethical, and provide a valued service.

    99.99% of everyone else who can’t face remote hosting, simply go to WordPress and take one of their free sites.

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  5. I ran across this site a couple of years ago too. I signed up for some regular email, I guess it was the top discussions, but haven’t received one in a while. So long I had forgotten about it.

    I also noticed everything seemed to have a price, and as was mentioned in your interview, I went to the open-source community for all my questions, so I never had any need to pay for anything they had.

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  6. @Kurt – The idea at the time was actually gaining a little bit of traction. I didn’t think it would last as long as it did because of everything they were offering already being available for the most part, for free.

    @Ted Clayton – Well then, it’s gotta suck to be one of the paying customers, considering how things have turned out.

    @Bob Wilson – I’m having a hard time processing my refund. Instead of getting refunded, I keep getting emails asking me to complete my WordPress Users Association registration, even though I’ve already done that. I’ll update this post and the comments thread on my experience of getting a refund, if I indeed get it.

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  7. I have successfully completed the refund process. While it was not easy or as straightforward as it could be, I did get my money back.

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