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 We are no longer active though will support anything John is doing.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.

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