Free WordPress Plugins are out there by the tens of thousands (as of this revision 54,855 46,773 at WordPress.org alone) and each one is made up of thousands to hundreds of thousands of lines of code. All those lines of code didn’t just come into being from thin air. Plugin authors pour a lot of themselves into the writing and testing of all that code before you ever had a chance to read about it.
My sense of fairness and balance demands that I get vocal with the users of plugins to compensate plugin authors for their efforts. Hold on, I know you’re thinking, “I’m not paying good money for something that’s free!” or “Why compensate anyone for all those useless plugins?”
Well, I’m not talking about money yet. After all they are Free WordPress Plugins. And again, to be fair, what about the useless plugins? Did you give the author ANY USEFUL feedback? Or did you just rank it a one and say “Doesn’t do what it advertises” or worse “Doesn’t work”. Take a look a a list of the Rank One Reviews and you’ll see this a lot. It speaks volumes about lazy people. Worse than that I think it’s like spitting on the author because they did not anticipate your particular server configuration or test their plugin against your theme or all of your plugins.
No, I’ve not published a plugin, yet. But, I empathize with their side of the story and it took me a while to come to see it that way. If you look at the reviews I’ve posted, I have to confess that I’ve not been a shining example of the right way to do it either.
In fact, I don’t know when this little blurb first began appearing at the bottom of all the plugin review pages at WordPress.org and maybe it’s been there all along. I now know it’s there and recently stepped back and seriously noticed it.
That little guideline has some pretty powerful things to say to you and I. Please understand me, I’m writing this to myself as much as I am writing it to those that use the free plugins at WordPress.org. So read-on, if you dare.
- First, sometime ago, someone began noticing how few reviews there were and how useless most were. To the point that someone felt compelled to say something to EVERYONE in a public guideline.
- The next perception to correct was the level of miss-use. They’re telling us, rightfully so, that it is not a support system or a gripe forum. That little link in the phrase “please post here instead” points to the support area for the given plugin. Where such ‘issues’ belong.
- Then, revelation, it’s not just a rating system! It is a rating AND review system. So, in order to rate a plugin, you must also submit a review. Quit being so lazy. Don’t ask for more than you’re willing to give! Do you really want plugins that are written by lazy programmers?
- As the little guideline says “Please provide as much detail as you can to justify your rating and to help others.” I strongly support the later phrase ‘help others.’
So, At a Minimum, Give a Useful Review.
For each plugin, whether it fails or works for you, become a reviewer and offer a useful review. This helps the plugin developers and the end-users. Especially the free plugins. Give to get!
- Please provide as much detail as you can to justify your rating and to help others.
- Things to include in your positive review. Your version of WordPress at the time. Mention some of the features that impressed you or that were absent in other similar plugins. Was it easy to install and/or easy to use?
- Never complain about an error, missing capability or include a question. Don’t rant that people should not use this plugin or that they should use some other specific plugin. It’s a review, not a support forum.
- Things to include in your negative review. Version of the plugin version you tried, version of WordPress you were running at the time. Try to be precise in your description of each failure or shortcoming that you observed.
In The End
While I am enthusiastic in my support of such a turn-about of the masses, I am not very optimistic. Since change happens one small action at a time, I’m volunteering to make every effort to hold myself to the guidelines I’ve set out above. Can I entice you to join me?
Postscript: A very well known WordPress Evangelist, Chris Lema has an article that also addresses this topic. Please read his post at ChrisLema.com