WordPress Plugin Review Team Addresses Backlog of 900+ Plugins, Implements Strategies to Improve Approval Process

WordPress’ Plugin Review team is wading through a backlog that was over 900 plugins awaiting approval earlier this week. The current count has 870 plugins sitting in the review queue, with an average wait time of 61 days before initial review.

WordPress developer Marcus Burnette drew attention to the matter on Twitter after submitting a plugin he created to display a gallery of your own WordPress Photo Directory photos on your website. Other developers commented on his post, reporting that their recently-approved plugins took two months.

WordPress Executive Director Josepha Haden Chomphosy responded with an invitation to contributors who want to learn how to review plugins and apply to join the team.

The volunteer team responsible for reviewing plugins has undergone significant restructuring after the departure of long-time contributor Mika Epstein. In June, the team added six new sponsored volunteers and opened applications for more team members. They have selected new team reps and have more than 20 applicants who have expressed interest in volunteering.

“The first challenge we found during our onboarding was the fact that a lot of processes were not clearly documented,” newly selected team rep Francisco Torres said in a recent update. “We asked A LOT of questions during this process and ensured that all the answers Mika shared with us were added to the team’s internal docs. This effort should make it a lot easier for new contributors to join the team down the road.

“We have also improved our internal tools to catch the most common coding mistakes and have built our predefined responses into the output provided by this tool. We still review this content manually before sending out replies, but by merging the two tasks into one (reviewing the code and drafting the message) we have been able to cut down review time considerably.”

In strategizing ways to cut through the formidable plugin backlog, the team has begun speeding up the process by performing a cursory initial review, followed by a more thorough one once the plugin author has fixed the most obvious issues.

“In order to tackle the backlog faster, we’re now spending less time on initial reviews,” Torres said. “We begin checking issues that take us less time, and then as soon as we spot one or two issues with the plugin that would prevent it from being approved, we email the plugin author to ask them to fix the initial issues. If the author gets back to us with those first fixes, then we proceed with an in-depth review.”

A two-month wait can be demoralizing for developers who are excited to share their open source plugins with the world. Now that the whole process is getting documented and refined to be more efficient, the Plugin Review Team will be better able to onboard new reviewers and put them in place to tackle the backlog.


12 responses to “WordPress Plugin Review Team Addresses Backlog of 900+ Plugins, Implements Strategies to Improve Approval Process”

  1. I don’t know if there are any automation in place already, if not then it might bring some benefit and can be a first screener. I think some guideline rules and e2e scenarios would be a good fit, maybe it can perform functions like:

    copyright plugin name checker
    check if the plugin activates
    check if there are any php errors across the admin pages

  2. The elephant in the room here is that previously there was one person who was somehow doing all the reviews. How did one part-time volunteer do so much more than a larger team can do? From everything we have seen, it looks like they were not really doing all the reviews they were claiming to do, and there was no oversight mechanism to proactively catch that or an ability to report that situation.

    If that is the case, the new team is being put in a hard spot, since there is a lot more work to be done than was really being done in the past, but most people would not be aware of that.

    Also, if that is the case, then it would be a good example of why better governance of WordPress is needed.

  3. It’s only gotten worse. The current backlog as I write this is 915. I’ve seen it grow from 850 in just a week. Approval in 65 days.

    I don’t have the skills to help out. But there is no indication of any improvements in backlog.

    Perhaps if a submitted plugin could show a ‘you are the 600th’ in line value – that would be helpful. Right now, all I know is that a plugin I submitted on 7 Aug 2023 is still one of 915 awaiting review (up from 850 when I initially submitted)

    This is the equivalent of ‘please stay on the line – your call is important to us’ – but you get to be on hold for hours.

  4. And the ‘pending review’ count for plugins goes over 1000 yesterday. Currently at 1024.

    No indication that there is any progress in whittling down that backlog. It would be nice to see a graph like the ‘download’ graph shown on a plugins stats page. Two data points for each day: number of plugins awaiting approval, and number of plugins approved.

    The plugin review groups’ blog indicates there are more people, and more efficient processes. But that was from an entry last month (July 2023).

    I’m still on the ‘Please hold; your call is important to us’ queue. There’s no indication from anyone that the backlog is going to improve in my lifetime.

  5. Submitted a plugin a few days ago based on an idea that I’ve been sitting on for more than two and a half years, as was waiting until I thought the core editor had the right combination of stability and flexibility.
    WP 6.3 seemed just right, so submitted the plugin without any prior knowledge of the backlog. So anyway based on the “at least 68 days” until initial review, it looks like that won’t happen until WP 6.4, and then approval could well be not before the WP 6.5 release.
    Seems I waited too long and was guilty of assuming what was, will generally continue to be so.

    • …except that the count this morning is 1117, with an estimated wait of 71 days.

      So, the numbers are getting worse, not better.

      Used to be under 10 days, and under 20 in the ‘queue’. And nothing from the plugin team on their blog as to why the count is not getting better. Last post from the plugin team was Aug 8, where they say they have more people now and ‘better processes’.

      • The numbers may appear to be getting worse, but as of today the wait time is 73 days and when this article was originally published 26 days ago the wait was 61 days, so you could look at this as a net reduction of 14 days. If the situation was getting worse (or even staying the same) every day then we would expect the wait now to be 87+ days.
        This doesn’t offer much help to those already in the queue but I would say after this backlog hump has been flattened, then going forwards things are looking quite healthy.

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