WordPress Plugin Team Publishes Revamped Guidelines for Plugin Directory

photo credit: Green Chameleon
photo credit: Green Chameleon

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.

7 Comments


    1. It will be very difficult to enforce this, but you could perhaps “penalize” plugins that do not follow the guidelines by ranking them lower in search results. That alone should get plugin authors to update their tags rather quickly (well me in any case)

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  1. After finally reading those guidelines I got several questions:

    1) Will they actually insist and contact all plugins with 13+ tags? It’s very easy to get those plugins. And it’s a HUGE list of them, thousands I would say.
    2) Why do they still have SVN for submitting plugins, as they are clearly saying – do not use it for development. Why not just upload a zip of a new version? Or even why not submitting them a link to a zip file?
    3) They are referring to “gaming Recently Updated lists” – but there is no such page with this list. No links, no ability to find and open it. So why worry about it?

    I totally understand and accept that I likely won’t be answered. So those are basically thoughts aloud.

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    1. If you search for plugins within the WordPress Admin, plugins are listed in a certain order. You can check this if you give a very broad term to search for.

      It’s based on title of the plugin, the amount of downloads, the amount of reviews ( and the rating ) and when it was last updated.

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  2. “Dancing Sloths for Facebook” – sounds like a great idea for a plugin

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  3. “Morally offensive”? By whose standards? What if most people find it morally offensive, but the reviewer does not, does a committee get to decide right and wrong now?

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    1. They’d probably handle that just like the theme review team does. If one of the key reviewers thinks something shouldn’t be allowed on those grounds, they just talk to the other key reviewers. Then, it’s just a matter of discussing it and thinking about the image that WordPress.org should portray.

      For example, a while ago, we had a porn theme submitted. We are not necessarily against a theme made for porn sites (hey, they use WP too). However, having graphic porn images is something we all agreed shouldn’t be packaged with the theme or in the screenshot.

      While I can’t speak for the plugin review team, most “morally offensive” things that theme reviewers have come across have been pretty clear cases of things to not allow. If something isn’t as clear-cut, we talk it over. If we can’t agree, we just ask higher up the chain of command.

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