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.