WP Greetbox which is a popular plugin created by Thaya Kareeson recently went through an update that added a new panel to the WordPress dashboard which provides updates from the developers blog. This is an opt-out option but it’s also not difficult to turn it off if you don’t want to see it. There are a few people who have chimed in on Thaya’s blog telling him that it should be opt-in rather than opt-out. Thaya’s argument against this line of thought is that if it turns into something being opt-in, very few people will ever recognize the feature exists. I’m with the line of thought that something should always be opt in rather than opt out as having it any other way is wrong.
Andrew Rickmann chimed in today asking what plugin authors can do to benefit from creating plugins. I remember a similar conversation taking place on the WP Hackers Mailing list where Joost De Valk asked what people thought of him selling display ads which would be shown in the plugins options page. Most people didn’t like the idea.
It’s easy to see why a plugin author would want to do something like this because after all, links, traffic, etc. doesn’t put food on the table, money does. Donations are few and far between for just about all plugin authors so they are left with few other choices. Thaya says he needs a reason to justify him spending 30 hours a week on development and support for the plugin. I encourage you to check out the following forum thread on the tavern forum where I asked, how to make money making plugins. I think what Thaya did is reasonable and thankfully, he has provided an easy way to change the way that feature works but as an end user, what are you willing to put up with in terms of plugin authors adding these sorts of things to their plugns?
I would be inclined to put the greetbox on the plugins admin page and if needed, have an opt-in system to allow it to be placed on the dashboard instead. That way the information is always being fed through but does not clutter up parts of the admin panel unrelated to the plugin.