In-depth article by Siobahn McKeown that breaks down how commercial plugin developers are monetizing their efforts through the WordPress.org plugin respository. The article covers the guidelines that plugin authors should follow, examples of successful plugins as well as plugins that didn’t meet the guidelines, and various ideas plugin authors can try. One of the things I learned through that article is the existence of a detailed plugin guidelines page which didn’t exist before. It’s about time something like this was created as it answers questions up-front instead of leaving a ton of uncertainty up to the plugin author. ∞
By Jeffro on September 13, 2011
The hot topic in the community over the weekend was a post published by WPCandy.com that talks about the DevPress deal for WordCamp Organizers going down in flames thanks to the WordCamp Guidelines, specifically dealing with giveaways. Unfortunately, the way in which the WordCamp Central team went about correcting the issue blew up in a sea of heated controversy and discussion. This sort of thing has happened on different occasions over the past four years, where a specific guideline is created or changed or some other major change is noticed without a succinct explanation given as to WHY leading the community to discuss, argue, debate and rip things to shreds as we tried to figure out what exactly was going on. I’ve been thinking about all of this over the weekend and wanted to write a long post detailing my thoughts but I think the comment by Norcross sums up how I feel beautifully:
Norcross – Like most of the drama that has arisen lately in the WP scene, the reactions have far exceeded the issue. Amanda makes good points (and knowing what she’s done to plan camps, I respect her point of view). But it’s always the cover up, isn’t it? Instead of the foundation coming out, in the open, and saying “hey, we didn’t think about [insert issue here] because it never came up before. So going forward, we have to handle it this way, and here is why”, they attempt to influence back channels and conveniently change policy without mention. If a rule needs to be changed / enacted, so be it. But doing so without transparency and open lines of communication will only cause more problems.
It’s that simple. The way in which this should have been handled is the WordCamp Central folks or the foundation should have published a post which succinctly explained why the guidelines were violated with regards to the offer by DevPress to WordCamp Organizers. The guideline could have been highlighted, explained, and changed if necessary while leaving a note stating that since things were already under way with WordCamp Philly and the DevPress offer, it would be allowed but not allowed for future WordCamps. Then we as a community could have had a mildly moderated discussion on that post discussing our disagreements or follow up questions concerning the guideline. At least we would know where the Foundation or WordCamp Central is coming from with their line of reasoning without having to guess or debate out in the open. This would have also provided their side of the story since for the most part, we read and reacted to what was published on WPCandy. I think the WordPress Foundation or WordCamp Central owes it to all WordCamp organizers present and future to publish that information on the WordCamp Planner’s blog.
I don’t understand why some things are not brought out into the open such as guideline additions or changes. It’s as if they (whoever they are) are afraid of communicating with the community or don’t feel the need to do so. History as I remember it has shown the same communication problem occurring time and time again. We as a community notice a change that we don’t agree with that is not communicated very well leaving us to discuss, debate, make things up, assume and get so upset until we run out of energy to the point where we just don’t care about it anymore. Pretty unhealthy if you ask me.
Here is another comment that makes the same points.
Amanda – I think a major issue (though lord knows there’d always continue to be issues, just not these issues) is that the foundation/camp thing needs to work more like core does. Transparency, meritocracy, traceable explanation of the WHY. Frankly, the why is often so simple that if explained succinctly there’d be far less of THIS going on. Its not present because of a conspiracy, its not present because of a lack of manpower and hours in the day. That’ll be remedied in the near future from what I understand.
Transparency, meritocracy, traceable explanation of the WHY. Is this too much to ask? Can we at least have that as a starting point before we dive into head splitting next time?
By Jeffro on February 12, 2010
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.
By Jeffro on February 10, 2010
Chip Bennett has an interesting post on his site that shows results of an audit he performed on some of the most popular plugin authors to see if they declared what license the plugin is under within the plugin in the form of a license.txt file or from within the plugin header. As we’ve found out recently, due to an event that occurred with a plugin author, plugins that are in the repository MUST include the license declaration or face removal. Let’s take a look at the guidelines as they are written on the repository.
- Your plugin must be GPL Compatible.
- The plugin must not do anything illegal, or be morally offensive (that’s subjective, we know).
- You have to actually use the subversion repository we give you in order for your plugin to show up on this site. The WordPress Plugins Directory is a hosting site, not a listing site.
- The plugin must not embed external links on the public site (like a “powered by” link) without explicitly asking the user’s permission.
None of them explicitly state that license declaration has to be included within the plugin. Out of all the stats that Chip published regarding his audit, the most surprising thing of all is that out of 19 plugins written and maintained by Matt Mullenweg, none of them had proper license declaration. The bottom line here is that if you’re going to enforce guidelines, preferably written, you will have to lead by example and follow those guidelines yourself. Not doing so is unacceptable. As it stands, this looks pretty darn bad.
The good news is that the solution to this is simple. The readme.txt text that plugin authors use as a template for the repository is currently silent when it comes to license declaration. All it would take is for someone to add the necessary text to the readme.txt generator. Peter Westood weighed in with a comment that is an even better idea. Using a slug type approach for the License field so that it could easily become part of the automated checks that take place upon submission to the repository.
This specific topic has been added to the WordPress Developer meeting for February 11th, 2010. If you are interested in attending to voice your thoughts, visit the WordPress development prologue site for meeting details and the overall agenda.
By Jeffro on September 3, 2009
Before the September 3rd WordPress development meeting took place, Mark Jaquith added some interesting items to the meeting agenda that specifically addressed commercial plugin authors and the guidelines of the repository. Mark had conversed with Matt Mullenweg and the decision was that there was not much to talk about.
Matt and I had a chat and there’s not really anything to discuss. Plugins that merely exist as placeholders for a plugin hosted elsewhere (like a “requirements check” plugin) are out, but “lite” versions, etc are in. The goal is to have the directory be free-to-download plugins. A placeholder for a premium plugin is against that spirit.
Makes perfect sense to me. When I pressed on for more clarification, this is what Mark had to say:
WordPress is not anti-business. We’ve just decided to keep the wp.org Plugin Directory a hosting site for zero-cost plugins. There is already a rule (#3) that says it is a hosting site, not a listing site. It’s for actual plugins, not plugins whose primary purpose is to send people somewhere else to download a plugin. This is not a change in policy as much as being consistent about the existing policies. One “requirements check” plugin was allowed in, and another was not. I was concerned about the dual standard.
If your plugin is actually a plugin, not just an advertisement or a placeholder for a plugin hosted elsewhere, you’re fine, as far as this rule is concerned.
I don’t see very many commercial GPL plugin authors having a product in the repository anyways. However, it definitely looks like you can have a free “lite” version hosted in the repository with links or mentions to a commercial version of that plugin. However, where does one draw the limits between a lite plugin that is reduced to the point where the commercial option is the only one that makes sense thus making it seem like a plugin who’s primary purpose is to push the commercial option?
Obviously, common sense here goes a long way to avoiding issues. If you have questions about adding your plugin to the repository, you should get in touch with markr who usually can be found in the WordPress.com IRC channel.
By the way, Matt himself said he was not aware of writing a blog post that would clarify these issues. So that rumor is debunked.
By Jeffro on June 28, 2009
You probably knew that WordPress could be used as a CMS for a simple content website, but did you know that it could also be used as a fully powered CMS for a complex real estate website? What about as a directory of iPhone applications? The short version of it is that WordPress is an excellent platform to do just about any sort of publishing on the web and most people aren’t aware of that. To help address that, the WordPress Showcase was created.
The Showcase aims to show the world what can be done with WordPress and help demonstrate that WordPress has tremendous capabilities as a publishing platform. For people new to WordPress or unfamiliar with the extent of its capabilities, the Showcase shows them some of the most notable, successful, and coolest uses of WordPress around the Internet. Approximately 400 sites are featured in the Showcase and the idea (and hopefully the reality) is that the sites in the Showcase are the best of the best.
For website owners, developers, designers, or business people, the Showcase can help give you instant credibility, some great link juice, a nice traffic boost, or even a personal ego boost. Regardless of your reasons for submitting your site to the Showcase, doing so isn’t difficult or time consuming.
Sites that want to be added to the Showcase need to meet one or more of the four submission criteria, which are as follows:
- Using WordPress in a unique or innovative way.
- Attracting tens of thousands of regular readers.
- Being written by someone famous or especially notable in his or her particular field.
- Representing a notable organization, government entity, or corporation as an official blog or web site.
If your site fits just one of the criterion, then it’s fine and definitely “Showcase-worthy”. Meeting all four is great (and entirely possible), but not required by any means.
Once you’ve read the criteria and have an idea on how to articulate why your site meets one of more of the items, then just head over to the WordPress Showcase Submission Page, fill out the form, and click submit site. The form asks a few simple questions and takes about two minutes to fill out. Sites that are added will be notified via email within a week or so of the original submission.
If you have any questions about the Showcase, what is and isn’t “Showcase-worthy”, or anything else, head over to this forum topic at the WordPress Tavern Forum and ask. I’ll be monitoring the topic and answering questions as they come up.