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Blogging Pro WordPress Themes and Plugins Contest

Blogging Pro started a WordPress Themes and Plugins Contest on June 23 with a deadline of June 30th. The goal of the contest was to 1) revitalize the WordPress creative community, and 2) feature the best new Themes and Plugins on Blogging Pro to help promote them.

Unfortunately, it was a flop. I found that blogHelper had an interesting perspective on the “WordPress Community Slowdown” and the contest, which brought up some good points, too, but let me sum this up in my own words first.

I adore Blogging Pro and love the great work David does for the WordPress Community. But timing is everything. Giving people 7 days to spread the word, then come up with creative stuff is a lot to ask. Especially when it comes at a time when schools are ending, vacations are starting, and getting any action out of any group is tough. In Europe, some towns become ghost towns during July and August as everyone heads out somewhere, and much of June is spent packing. In the United States, while gas prices are high, people are getting out and about and not staying inside next to their computers. I’ve been in too many airports recently, and they were packed to the gills and it wasn’t a holiday. WordPress relies heavily upon the young, high school and college age computer whizbangs who do a lot of the amazing creative work. Do you think that they are hanging around their computers right now? Maybe. Maybe not.

Seven days isn’t enough time, either way. Even in the fast moving Blogosphere.

blogHelper says this:

One: Some of the best WordPress plugins are the result of long term incremental development. It doesn’t always start “revolutionary”.

Two: A “really revolutionary” plugin isn’t necessary when you can combine multiple so-called “so-so” plugins together to achieve the same effect.

Three: How “revolutionary” individual plugins are depends on how you use it. You’d be surprised at how creativity can bring out the power of underrated plugins.

Four: Tiny “so-so” plugins ensure that we have something for every problem we face. We don’t always need “great” plugins – but we always need solutions to our problems.

Fifth: There is only need for so many “revolutionary” plugins. As history has proven itself, when there is a need, a solution will be developed to satiate it. Last but not least, the realm of “revolutionary” more often than not belongs to WordPress core developers. Expecting plugin developers to introduce new great features in WordPress is not only heavy handed, but it also deprives core coders of anything to think of (besides debugging, of course).

I tend to agree, though I believe the flop was more due to timing and another factor worthy of consideration. Poor presentation.

Titling any contest “slowdown” doesn’t help it. The entire first part of the announcement of the contest was a negative slant on the loss of energy, enthusiasm, and motivation within the WordPress Community. When I saw the title of the post come across my feed, starting with the following, what do you think I thought?

After what I consider to be a relatively unsuccessful series of theme contests, and the lackluster response to other people trying to strike up creativity in the WordPress community, I am a bit worried about the future of the WordPress theme and plugin communities.

Do you think I thought this was a contest announcement? Nope. I admit that I didn’t have time to read the whole thing as I saw it just before getting on a plane in Wisconsin, and it went on as a rant. I didn’t scroll down far enough to see the contest announcement.

Is the rant deserving. In a way, yes. In a way, no.

Yes, there has been a dramatic slowdown in production of WordPress Themes and Plugins. The reasons are very clear.

  1. The thrill of the newness is gone. Therefore, enthusiasm naturally wanes.
  2. A lot of the really “good stuff” has been done, and we need to encourage the authors to maintain and update their Themes and Plugins and not shame them into creating new when the old is good enough and just needs fixing.
  3. A lot of the early developers of the coolest Themes and Plugins are now working on the core programming code, having proved themselves as brilliant. They don’t have time to put into little stuff, until they really see a need.
  4. Is the lack of new WordPress Themes and Plugins a sign that WordPress is dying off? Nope. It’s building up faster than ever, just accumulating users rather than programmers (an expanding market versus a tapped market).
  5. There were several huge contests last year which overwhelmed the hosts. It’s a lot of work, and such large contests not only burn out the hosts, but the submitters and fans. We may all be still recovering from those.
  6. Free is good but it don’t pay the rent. Many do use WordPress Themes and Plugins to help promote their own talents and abilities, but after a while, they still have to pay the rent.

Still, without adequate presentation, marketing, and promotion, any contest will fail.

So if you are still reading this post, I challenge you to meet David’s challenge and come up with a WordPress Theme or Plugin and submit it to him. The WordPress Community always welcomes new ideas, concepts, and tools, contest or not. Take your time, use your brain, and see what you can come up with. Be sure and test it thoroughly, and follow all the rules for all WordPress Themes and Plugins for quality control and coding standards (check out the WordPress Codex for specifics). Also submit your WordPress Plugin to the WordPress Codex Plugins List, wp-plugins.net, and wp-plugins.org so everyone can find them. Submit your WordPress Themes to the Codex WordPress Theme List and WordPress Theme Viewer, along with other WordPress Theme submission sites listed on the WordPress Codex – Using Themes resources. This process takes time and 7 days isn’t enough to do it right.

David, while I adore you, this wasn’t a fair test of how the WordPress Community is doing. Amazing things are happening around the WordPress Community – I can barely keep up. Still, this is the slowdown time in the Northern Hemisphere. What you can’t obviously see is that WordPress is taking off like wildfire in non-English speaking countries and I expect that a lot of creative stuff will be coming out of there very soon, if it can break through the language barrier. And so many people are loving WordPress.com, they are starting to break away into their own independent sites so they can tweak and twist WordPress, developing their own Themes and Plugins in order to make things work. It just takes time as part of the natural cycle of things.

Also, we need to thank David and Blogging Pro for taking on such a contest. It takes a LOT of work to host a contest and write up a review of the results and winners. Thank you, David.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

6 Comments

  1. Posted July 17, 2006 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Honestly, you go through many great points, and what I really wanted to see was that the community was out there, and while I did get some response, I think for the readership size of BloggingPro the response was tinier than it should have been. Even reading the WordPress.org/support pages, I see less and less releases and more questions on how to impliment things.

    I think it shows a maturity in the WordPress audience with the technology, but also shows the shift away from new developments. I am hoping that the major release to WordPress 2.1 will help spur the community into really pulling WordPress apart again and adding all the features they need/want. I just worry that if the community runs out of steam, we could see some other software come and surplant WordPress, much like WordPress did to Movable Type in my opinion.

  2. Posted July 17, 2006 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    David, I think you will continue to see great things happening in the WordPress Community. It just takes “time”. And I’m glad you are still on “our” side. ;-)

    I’m so very excited about the massive response to WordPress within the international community of bloggers. I expect to see a huge rise in blogging with the war in the Middle East. Not just for those with an opinion but also for Hebrew and Arabic bloggers. With the ease of WordPress use for Hebrew and Arabic writers and speakers dealing with the right-to-left languages, I expect to see a lot of action for WordPress. Too bad it takes a war to get people blogging.

  3. Posted July 17, 2006 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I just hope WordPress.com gets right-to-left support going with their new Translation application. But yes, ti is sad that it takes something horrible to get people expressing themselves, but you can see that throughout history.

    And of course I am on “our” side. I want to see WordPress do well. I love it to much to see it die off and be replaced. :)

    Thanks again for the great writeup though. I love your blog.

  4. Posted July 17, 2006 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Beautifully put as always.

    Too short time is part of the answer as is maturity of WordPress, the latter meaning more and more users and fewer developers – a good thing per se. However, everyone who care about theme and plugins development expects a new version of WP to come out soon. Many of us expect to see significant changes to the inner workings of WP.

    Yet to come, may be more Ajaxian behaviors. How will that effect the themes and the way plugins work?

    Timing is everything and promotion something. It is indeed summer, and at my site this means hot and outdoor work. But being on the verge of another WP release may matter too.

    The community is certainly alive and kicking. Among other things the support forum is complemented with a tentative free install service. Let’s see if that has a bad timing!

  5. Posted July 18, 2006 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to visit wp-plugins.org, but it seems they forgot to register their domain name. I hope they can get it back soon. It’s a shame when such a little thing is overlooked and has a big effect.

  6. Posted July 18, 2006 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    For WordPress Plugins, try http://www.wp-plugins.net and we’ll check on what is going on with the org domain registration. Thanks.


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