The First “Rate and Review a Plugin Day” is a Success

Thanks to everyone who participated in the first “Rate and Review a plugin day”. After reviewing the #wppluginreviewday hashtag on Twitter, it’s clear that a lot of people submitted reviews to their favorite plugins. Based on an estimate by Richard Tape, 455 reviews were published on October 17th. When compared to 254 reviews on October 16th, that’s an increase of 180%. Here are a few noteworthy mentions of the hashtag in action.

https://twitter.com/_mandava/status/523321112222900225

Observations I Made While Submitting Reviews

It took 90 minutes to rate and review the plugins I’ve depended on for years. I noticed some of the plugins haven’t been updated since 2010. In some cases, the last review a plugin received was from 2012 or earlier.

When I announced the holiday, I asked users to browse to the bottom of the plugin’s description page and click on the broken or works box. As I submitted my reviews, I forgot about the compatibility box. When submitting a review, there is a drop down menu to select which version of WordPress I’m using. I used this in combination with my review to tell people if the plugin works or not.

WordPress Plugin Review Submission Form
WordPress Plugin Review Submission Form

Clicking the works or doesn’t work button is an easy task but it’s a separate action from submitting a review. It’s also the last widget on the description page and depending on the length of the description, may be hidden from view. I suggest merging the compatibility box into the process of submitting a review so it’s one action. Even though submitting compatibility information can be as simple as pressing a mouse button, not many do it.

The Disconnect Between WordPress.org and The Backend of WordPress

Your ratings, reviews, and compatibility checks are contributions to WordPress. It’s actionable data that millions of people use to determine whether or not to use a plugin. The backend of WordPress is an area millions of users interact with yet, the option to rate and review plugins as well as submit compatibility information doesn’t exist. The plugin details modal doesn’t show the compatibility box on the plugin’s description page and although you can read reviews, you can’t rate or review plugins.

Current Plugin Details Modal
Plugin Details Modal

The plugin management page in WordPress hasn’t seen a visual upgrade in a long time. Here’s what it looks like in WordPress 4.0.

WordPress 4.0 Plugin Management Page
WordPress 4.0 Plugin Management Page

WordPress 3.9 revamped the theme browsing experience while 4.0 introduced a refreshed plugin install and search experience. Perhaps it’s time to refresh the plugin management page. One suggestion is to create two different list views. The management page in 4.0 could be the slim, detailed view. The enhanced view could use the card concept as seen on the Add Plugins page. Instead of displaying the crowd sourced information, you’d be able to rate and review the plugin and submit compatibility info from within the card.

WordPress 4.0 Plugin Cards
WordPress 4.0 Plugin Cards

The problem with two different views is that a sub-set of users wouldn’t see the card view and stick with the default. In order to maximize the potential of obtaining crowd sourced data, the submission points have to be accessible by as many people as possible.

Tighter Integration Between The Backend and WordPress.org

In order to submit ratings and reviews, you need to be logged into a WordPress.org user account. I’m unsure on how to properly address this issue. One idea is for WordPress to provide a connection similar to Jetpack where I connect a WordPress powered site to my WordPress.org account. This could also act as an opt-in mechanism. Ultimately, I’d like to see better integration between the WordPress backend and the WordPress.org website.

I’m not advocating that I be able to browse the WordPress.org website from the backend of WordPress, that’s what browsers are for. I see plenty of opportunities to connect certain actions on WordPress.org to the backend of WordPress, such as the ability to create a forum post to receive support.

A New Annual Tradition

While you don’t need a special day to review plugins, it’s a unique feeling to do something so many others across the world are doing at the same time. I’m encouraged to see so many people who have rated and reviewed their favorite plugins. Based on the feedback we’ve received, this will likely become an annual tradition.

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7 responses to “The First “Rate and Review a Plugin Day” is a Success”

  1. I wonder if anybody would get peeved if plugin authors added a “Rate me” and “Support” button in the plugin area next to the Deactivate and Edit links.

    I’d be willing to try it out :D

    • I wonder if anybody would get peeved if plugin authors added a “Rate me” and “Support” button in the plugin area next to the Deactivate and Edit links.

      I’ve done it in some of my plugins. I’m not sure if it’s helped. The problem is that those links don’t show up until after the plugin is activated. At that point, I’m guessing most users never notice them.

      • @Justin, good point.

        I mostly get my ratings from helping people in the support forums anyways. If I’ve helped them out, I ask them to leave a rating. It’s worked maybe 40% of the time I suppose.

  2. I got one review on the 16th. I don’t think I got any on the 17th. :(

    I often wonder if the required review is keeping people from leaving a rating. In the past, I got more ratings when you didn’t have to leave a review. There’s a definite benefit of having the review though because it can bring up issues that you didn’t know about and provide a way to communicate.

    What I’ve found is that people who are unhappy with a plugin are sometimes more likely to leave a review than people who are happy. I believe this can change if we have some sort of mechanism for doing reviews from the WP admin.

    • I’ve seen a few examples of people prompting users for reviews after a pre-set amount of time using the plugin. The one that I remember the most is What The File by Barry Kooij. It seems like a pretty effective method for getting more reviews, but it could be annoying if a ton of plugins implemented it.

      Here’s a link to how Barry does it in his plugins:

      https://github.com/barrykooij/what-the-file/blob/master/what-the-file.php#L85-L93

    • I notice the same thing Justin on my plugins. I think what would be useful is if someone rates 4 or higher they don’t have to leave a review. If they rate 3 or less then they are prompted with a box for leaving a review. Why? If someone is rating something low, then they should be required to explain why they rated low so others can see that review to decide whether they think the rating is fair OR the plugin author can see and address as necessary.

      • I can’t decide whether I think that’s a good idea… On the one hand, I sometimes wish I could just rate a plugin and not bother with the review. But then again, being forced to write the review makes me stop and think about the reason for my rating, and most of the time, I find that I do in fact have something to say, regardless of whether my rating is positive, negative, or neutral. Overall, I think the reason for the rating is more important than the rating itself, if ratings are to be truly useful. People who look at ratings and reviews to determine which plugins to use aren’t going to find ratings helpful if they don’t have a context. For example, if you’re looking for a plugin and are comparing two or three, you might look at the ratings first, but if they’re pretty similar, then you’d move on to the reviews for more details. Making reviews optional could be useful in getting more ratings, but would those be quality ratings?

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