Two months ago, revised guidelines for the WordPress Plugin Directory were opened up on GitHub for public feedback. This transparent and open process of updating the guidelines resulted in more than a dozen contributors submitting pull requests with improvements to the language and content. The revamped guidelines have now replaced the previous ones with language and expectations that are clearer and easier to understand.
“In addition to rewriting the guidelines, we took the time to codify the expectations of developers and cost of not abiding by the guidelines, as well as a reminder that we do remove plugins for security issues,” plugin team member Mika Epstein said in the announcement. “We are doing our best to be transparent of what we expect from you and, in return, what you can expect from us.”
After several incidents this year where unclear guidelines contributed to confusion on issues like incentivized reviews and developers submitting frameworks, the plugin team made the jump to update the five-year-old document. Although there are not major changes, some of the guidelines were considerably expanded for clarity. This includes #9: “The plugin and its developers must not do anything illegal, dishonest, or morally offensive.” The list was updated with several more examples of infractions that would land under this category.
“It’s a massive undertaking to re-write guidelines in the public eye in a way that won’t pull the rug out from anyone,” Epstein said. “Our goal was to clarify, not totally change, but also to address the needs of an ever changing technology.”
Because the plugin directory was created to serve the WordPress project and its users, it doesn’t function like many other popular directories and marketplaces. Clear language and expectations are important, especially with WordPress’ growing international user base. The newly updated guidelines should cut down on incidents where the plugin team has to enforce guidelines that were not explicitly documented.