What Plugin Authors Shouldn’t Do

Mark Jaquith has published his tongue in cheek version of guidelines that plugin authors should NOT DO or else the plugin would end up being removed. The list is not comprehensive and does not include all situations in which a plugin would be removed but the advice Mark gives at the end of the post should be heeded.

Be cool, think of how your plugin benefits its users, and write awesome plugins.

Also read through the comments, especially for Mark’s take on #5.


11 responses to “What Plugin Authors Shouldn’t Do”

  1. Much of this list is complete BS for the following reasons:

    1. If this list were accurate then Matt would have to get rid of his plugins from the repository. Think about it don’t Akismet and WordPress stats violate numbers 2 and 7 — two of the most egregious cases you’ve listed above.

    2. Where do you fall on freemium plugins then (plugins that provide value in the repository but have a pro upgrade). Should these be removed from the repository just because they charge money for an upgrade. Does this violate requirement #8?

    3. What’s wrong with getting credit for your plugin? How are plugin authors supposed to monetize anything if they can’t even insert a couple of links to promote their stuff? If that’s the case then why would anyone ever write a plugin in the first place? They wouldn’t unless they are a 25 year old geek who still lives in his parent’s basement.

    So I agree with most of your points — I think that obviously developers should provide value and write awesome plugins. What I don’t agree with is the attitude shared by you and much of the WordPress community — that plugin developers can’t be rewarded for it.

    I’ll tell you what — if Matt and the folks at Automattic would spend less time coming up with ridiculous/socialist ideas like “core” plugins and more time figuring out how to make it worth developers’ time and effort to write *and maintain* wordpress plugins then maybe you’d find fewer crappy plugins on the repository.

  2. @Anonymous Coward – I didn’t write the post. I linked to who did though. I see you’ve already copied and pasted your comment to the original post.

    We’ll have to see what comes out of that discussion regarding Akistmet and the guideline about requiring registration to use the plugin.

    From what I’ve been told, it’s perfectly ok to upsell to an upgrade or paid support but a lot of it has to do with how it’s worded. This is done on a case-by-case basis.

    #3 was addressed by Mark in the comments, hope you can give his answer a read.

    I’m not sure what his list of guidelines highlighting what not to do has anything to do with crappy plugins on the repository.

    Nice name by the way :)

  3. Hehe — there’s no angst here eh? I’ll have to go over and read more the comment thread before I drop another anonymous comment on him :) …

    But I think you’re right — I mean they’d have to pull all of yoast’s plugins (because of his advertising) and All-In-One SEO guy (the #1 plugin) for having a paid upgrade (which I see you advertising here) if that were true… And it must have something to do with the wording and hopefully intent (to provide value).

  4. . . . and the debate rages on. Thank God for 25-year olds. They make stuff for fun and then wind up billionaires by accident. There is nothing wrong with that either. If someone wants to make a living with plugins for open source software, make something no one else would duplicate and enough people need bad enough to pay for.

    As WP evolves more as a CMS, blogging plugins will give way to fully featured apps like NextGen or others for which payment might be warranted. I bought Gravity Forms and love it. But, I want to eventually make money with my site.

    I like the pay for support model or clubs for dev who make a living writing code. For the hobbyist, being nickeled and dimed to death makes me rather by an Adobe/Microsoft product and take a course. That doesn’t sound open-sourcy enough for these parts.

  5. (Cross posted from the Mark Jaquith post)
    If the plug-in is so great and terrific – and many are – then the dev should have the confidence in their product that the user would choose to list the credit by checking “Yes-Display” in the admin section. Otherwise, it is a forced tax.

    Forcing a blog to display an advertisement (credit) is a means of extracting payment from the helpless blog owner. Thus, the plug-in is not actually free because the advertisement/credit is required as the payment (and is sometimes left there even when the plug-in is removed).

    The dev who does this seeks to tax the blog owner by forcing the advertisement. Some blogs (not mine) can charge serious money for an advertisement. Uncontrolled credits/advertisements create a revenue leak from the blog.

    Should the blog owner invoice the dev for the SEO value of the link and current advertising rates?

    If a plug-in developer forces the user to display a credit/advertisement, because the user does not know how to remove it, then that credit is a form of payment and the plug-in is not free.

    It could all be handled nicely if the dev had the confidence and integrity to start with a default “no” for display with an easy way to make it “yes” if the blog owner so chose.

    Btw: nothing wrong with Socialism if you think sick people, children, elderly, unemployed, should receive healthcare based on their illness and not on their ability to pay. Life has value, even someone else’s.
    Semper Pax, Dr. Z

  6. It could all be handled nicely if the dev had the confidence and integrity to start with a default “no” for display with an easy way to make it “yes” if the blog owner so chose.

    That is the main reason behind the following plugin repository guideline.

    #4 – The plugin must not embed external links on the public site (like a “powered by” link) without explicitly asking the user’s permission.

  7. Personally I don’t like the double standards with wp.org.
    Themes get to have a “non” removable credit link. Those that do commercial themes can be listed.
    Plugins have to have a optional credit link which must be off by default. We will probably never see a commercial plugin section.

    Personally I think its all bullcrap. Neither themes or plugins should have credit links on by default.
    There is that moronic statement that users can remove the credit link from the themes themselves.
    I don’t think most can do that or know that they are allowed to. Heck even if they do it, the link will be reinstated with the next theme update.

  8. @Andreas Nurbo – So ONE theme having a credit link is not different than 50 plugins installed on a site with credit links in all of them, on by default? There is a difference between the two and why one is allowed and the other is not.

  9. @Jeffro – If you read what I wrote I said neither should have it on by default, so themes and plugins are treated the same. Themes don’t break by having an optional credit link, its only there for marketing purposes.
    And what argument do you have for not having a commercial plugin section on wp.org?

  10. @Andreas Nurbo – There are ways in which both freely available and commercial plugins can be handled in the repository but how, I don’t know. It’s been pretty clear though that Matt doesn’t want to mix the two together in the same repository. Which begs the question, why not create a separate page for them? I’m pretty sure Matt answered this in my interview with him at WordCamp New York but I can’t remember the answer right now.

    I think you’ve given me an idea for a new post regarding credit links and such.

  11. @Jeffro – I don’t think anyone expects them to host commercial plugins in the repository and there never was any intention of doing it with themes.

    I’m pretty sure Matt answered this in my interview with him at WordCamp New York but I can’t remember the answer right now.

    Your not thinking of this?

    Leland: Like Matt said in this interview, commercial plugins are already in the plugin repository. Akismet is the only one I can think of, although I’m sure there would be others as long as they’re 100% GPL compatible.

    Listener Poll: Should there be a page on the plugin repository for Commercial GPL plugins?


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