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Responding to Insult Against WordPress Plugin Authors

WordPress PluginsAfter all these years on the web, you would think I wouldn’t get fired up over pure stupidity and selfish meanness. You’d think I’d have thicker callouses. When it comes to trashing the WordPress Community – ooooh, my shackles rise.

Darnell Clayton wrote “Why WordPress Bloggers Need To Choose Premium Plugins Over Free” on BloggingPro and has created a fire storm against his perspective, with few on his side.

There are so many directions I could attack this issue from, however, since I’m taking this personally, I feel I can only respond accordingly.

Here are a few of Clayton’s assumptions:

  • Paid things are better than free.
  • Things you pay for have better support.
  • Plugin authors are starving and poor. Without money they will quit or give up.
  • Selling Plugins automatically guarantees incentive for future development and support.
  • A Premium Plugin author’s reputation is better one who gives their Plugins away.
  • If you are paid for what you make, you will achieve greatness and make more money.
  • If you aren’t using a paid WordPress Plugin, you better stop and switch to a paid, much better one.

WordPress Plugins are written only for one reason: to solve a problem. If the problem didn’t exist, there would be no need to commit energy and time to create the code to resolve it. That’s a fact.

There are currently 12,298 WordPress Plugins with 134,873,584 downloads in the WordPress Plugin Directory. A search for the word “premium” in the Plugin Directory returned 101 Plugins, less than 1% (0.82%). Does this mean that less than 1% of the Plugins in the directory have any value?

There have been thousands of people writing WordPress Plugins in the past seven years, the majority never seeing the light of day within the WordPress Community. If they aren’t in the WordPress Plugin Directory, nor promoted on the creator’s site or elsewhere, does this mean they also have no value? No worth?

Does every problem resolved with a WordPress Plugin mean fame and fortune for its author? Of course not.

Does paying for a WordPress Plugin guarantee you a lifetime of success and support? Of course not.

Are there people out there thinking WordPress Plugins will pay their mortgage? Of course there are.

Does paying for a WordPress Plugin mean it is really better than than free one? Of course not.

Plugin authors work for other people doing coding and programming. They are web developers solving problems and sharing the results. They are students taking on challenges, building up their resumes. They are full-time employees in unrelated fields playing with WordPress as a hobby. And they are full-time WordPress experts doing nothing but making a living off WordPress development, though these are often in the minority. To make such a sweeping assumption about Plugin developers is wrong.

And an insult. The whole premise set up by Clayton is an insult, to both parties involved.

I remember in 2004 and 2005 when the coders and hackers starting coming out of the woodwork to rip and tear up the potential of . They were inspired by the many “I wonder if I can make it do X” possibilities, we were surrounded by creative coding energy. Among the early hackers who pushed WordPress beyond its borders were Mark Jaquith and Andy Skelton, Ozh, Michael Adams, John Godley, Andrew Ozz, Mark Riley, and so many others.

Mark Jaquith created Subscribe to Comments WordPress Plugin which changed the way people can be notified by email that someone’s made a comment on a blog post, creating a continuity. Andy created a lot of what goes into , hosting millions of bloggers for free with one of the most powerful publishing platforms, as well as the Stats WordPress Plugin, bringing some basic stats about our blogs into the WordPress Administration Panels, and , protecting us for years against comment spam through an innovative “crowd sourcing” piece of coding.

There is hardly a piece of WordPress that hasn’t been touched or influenced by Michael Adams and Andrew Ozz. While there aren’t a lot of monuments standing visible to showcase, their legacy will be honored as impacting the WordPress interface, ,, and enough code in the core to circle our galaxy and back.

Mark Riley hasn’t done much to contribute to WordPress code. Yet, he’s one of the most powerful forces in the WordPress Community, one of the first, most powerful leaders in the . He’s moved into managing other WordPress support services, including the Forums and helping to train and manage all the Happiness Engineers for Automattic and WordPress. I personally worked with him extensively to develop the , the online manual for WordPress Users, to support the needs of the forum and I saw the determination to help others without compensation and little sleep as he crossed time zone limitations to provide much needed support to the growing hordes of WordPress users.

When it comes to developing WordPress Plugins, helping to change the WordPress interface, having a powerful impact on WordPress core development and documentation, and influencing WordPress Plugin and Theme authors, few have left a larger footprint in the WordPress community than Ozh. Working in a non-computer industry job in France, WordPress is more than a hobby, it’s his passion. His popular Planet WordPress from PlanetOzh continues to bring the latest and best news from around the WordPress Community into its aggregator, beyond the official WordPress Planet found in your Dashboard panel.

I could go on and on citing examples, but my point must be made. These people gave willingly and freely to WordPress. They did so when it was an insult to expect compensation. What did their determination, loyalty, and passion for WordPress get them? Work with Automattic and the WordPress Foundation, as well as with other companies and projects, and certainly more than the few hundred dollars selling their Plugin might bring in.

To my knowledge, not one offered their WordPress Plugins for sale.

Would they have been better off if they did? I doubt it. Their contributions with WordPress Plugins, improvements to WordPress Themes, and contributions to the core were their action resumes.

Their work was proof that they knew that of which they coded. It proved they could take on a task and follow through to completion. It proved they were people who knew how to solve problems, troubleshoot them, and fix new problems along the way. It established them as experts. They knew how to contribute. They knew how to give. They understood the true intent of giving back. They saw the big picture and saw it was worth being a small part of the whole.

has become an icon in the Open Source industry for giving things away and making not just a living, but an entire company (or three) on this policy, changing the whole monetization paradigm on its head. Others have learned from his example but there will always be those who think old fashioned and expect payment per item not vision.

To quote from a comment Eric Mann of Mind Share Strategy on the article:

I use both free and paid solutions on all of my sites because I know, respect, and trust the developers who put them together. I also give my new systems away for free because I believe in contributing back to the community that helped teach me to write code in the first place.

That’s the real key. WordPress is free. Most WordPress Plugins and Themes are free. Distribution of them is also free and easy-to-use through the WordPress Plugin Directory, WordPress Theme Directory, and auto finding and updating of both Themes and Plugins from within the WordPress interface.

Those who use these free services and tools often want to give back.

Should WordPress Plugin and Theme authors be compensated for their work. Sure. I’m totally for it! I’m first in line to tell people to give back to those who give. If you use these tools and they help you make money with your site, then it should be a requirement that you thank them for their time and effort by contributing to their creator(s).

If you can’t give back to the WordPress Community through code, you can give money or you can give more. I do. I work with WordPress Plugin and Theme function developers to test drive their tools to give them the feedback they need to improve it. I write about them, brag about them, and feature them everywhere I can to show off the talent without the WordPress Community. I take them out to dinner when I’m in their town, or have them stay with me when they are traveling through the Pacific Northwestern United States or wherever I am. I hire some for special projects and recommend many for other projects.

Is it time for you to start giving back, too?

Proving the Assumptions Wrong

Help me prove these stereotypical myths are wrong.

If you are a WordPress Plugin author, have your say. Tell the world why you think giving back to the WordPress Community is a good thing and no reflection upon the quality of your Plugin. Tell us how you manage to maintain the Plugin and its support without putting you in the poor house and how its impacted your life, resume, and work by contributing. If you considered charging, tell us why you choose to charge or not, so we all understand what it takes to be a WordPress Plugin author.

If you have a WordPress Plugin, make sure you get it into the WordPress Plugin Directory so it can be among some of the best and most exciting fellow Plugins and authors in the world. If you have some WordPress Plugins not in the WordPress Plugin Directory for any reason, show them off proudly on your site with the WordPress Plugin Showcase Plugin or I Make Plugins WordPress Plugin, created by WordPress Plugin authors to help other Plugin authors offer their Plugins with less effort.

If you are a fan of WordPress Plugins, have your say in defense of WordPress Plugin authors. Tell people how much their work means to you and how you would not be able to do what you do without their work, but also why it is important to everyone not to judge a Plugin by its price tag.

Support your favorite WordPress Plugin author.

Here’s how:

  • Donate to the Plugin author. You can do so through the WordPress Plugin Directory for those with the feature enabled, or go to their site and look for a donation option. Or email them and ask how you can give back to them.
  • Hire a Plugin author. We all have big and little things we’d love to have or be tweaked on our sites. Hire a Plugin author to do it for you now.
  • Start your next web project with one or more WordPress Plugin authors. They are creative and able to see things you will miss, so start your next web development project with them to get it right from the beginning.
  • Blog about them and their WordPress Plugin.
  • Interview them on your podcast or blog to find out how they work and come up with these great ideas.
  • Tweet out about the Plugin and its value to you.
  • Make a list of your favorite, can’t live without WordPress Plugins and put that on your Facebook page and/or blog.
  • Write a tutorial on how to use or incorporate a favorite WordPress Plugin into a WordPress blog.
  • If you are very familiar with a WordPress Plugin, set up a feed to track posts and questions on the Plugin, set up a Twitter search, or Facebook search for mentions of the Plugin and offer your help and guidance, taking some of the load off the author.
  • Show off your WordPress Plugins, the ones you use and rely upon on your site. Create a Page listing them with My-Plugins or WP List WordPress Plugins.
  • Hug a WordPress Plugin author when you see them.
  • Check to see if they have a “Wish List” on Amazon or otherwise and buy them a goody.
  • Send them a prepaid card for dinner at Olive Garden or some national chain, or a popular department store so they can buy themselves something they want and need.
  • Send them a blessing, mental hug, or other intangible but powerful energy thought in their direction.

While I could go on and on about how mad Clayton’s article has made me, and many within the WordPress Community, this tweet from Jeroen Smeets sums up my feelings perfectly.

@lorelleonwp if quality has a price, I can’t afford WordPress.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.


  1. Posted December 8, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for taking the time for reading my post Lorelle (even if it was not exactly flattering).

    I won’t go and defend myself here (as I’ve received plenty of rebukes in my inbox) but I do want to state that while I appreciate the fact that many plugins are free, I’m becoming disheartened that many plugins are being abandoned due to lack of time/financial resources or from angry voices in the forums demanding premium support without offering a dime.

    While I’m in the minority here, the post was a reflection of my experience with plugins, as I’ve found premium plugins which I’ve found often get over looked due to their price tag despite boasting many features.

    Although quality in the end trumps all (as many commentors and emails have reflected), compensating developers beyond compliments is something I would like to see happen more in the WP community.

    Thanks again for taking the time reading the article and sharing your thoughts regarding my post (even if it was more of a spanking than a gentle rebuke).


    • Alysyn Curd
      Posted April 26, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Permalink


      You are not alone.

      As an entrepreneur, blog publisher, and Internet marketing consultant, I am one of those people who uses plugins. I couldn’t live without them for WordPress.

      I couldn’t write code to save my life…at least not quickly or right away (don’t know how, lol).

      You are right. Your critics need to understand this: it is not in our nature to “donate” to that which is given free. I’ve used countless free plugins and though I hate to admit it, have yet to “donate.” And if anyone does donate,” how much? Most of the time customers need to KNOW the value (via a price) in order to perceive value.

      As a businessperson, I respect and don’t have any trouble with paying for features I need -and I have, often paid- when there are prices put to them.

      The whole “free” thing is nice and it certainly does benefit bloggers, but I think it is unfair to always expect creative people (plugin authors) to simply give, give and give some more.

      No matter what amount of time that is put into solving a WP problem or enhancing WP functionality, whether 2 hours or 200…the solution provided brings value.

      The work provided by plugin authors/developers is valuable. Everyone has to eat. And everyone should feel free to earn money for the work they contribute, without being made to feel guilty about it.

      This -development for “community”- is actually the perfect scenario where everyone can benefit. Because plugins can be downloaded over and over from users in the WP community, developers CAN charge less than they might if they created exclusively for a single client. In other words, it CAN be affordable. Increasing download volume then results in residual compensation (always a good thing).

      For developers, the idea of users promoting (via endorsement and/or “sharing”) what is essentially free work, to “help” the developer-creators, is actually harmful. I know this from experience (I’m a writer/designer). The reality is, the more popular your “free” work becomes, the more it costs you. It costs in everything: time, energy and in your relationships as your family, friends and significant others don’t understand why you’re working all the time for no compensation. And you really can’t explain it can you? It doesn’t make sense. Ultimately, it costs in your creative spirit and willingness to continue. The sad result is abandonment of the (plugin) work.

      If people REALLY, REALLY look at the whole picture, they’ll see that you, Darnell, have a valid point -that actually does represent vision- vision for the motivation, inspiration and future sustainability of plugin/software development.

  2. John James Jacoby
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Big 1 🙂

  3. Posted December 8, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Bought plugins are often abandoned just like the free ones. Then you end up spending even more time and energy trying to fix it when it breaks. Being paid does not guarantee the plugin author will keep working.

  4. chris
    Posted December 8, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    i use both free and paid, you cant really say paid plugins are better just because you pay for them, some pretty good free ones out on the web

  5. Posted December 8, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Although I don’t use WP plug ins, I could see why Lorelle was offended. There are just many techies that abase freewares and many freewares are better, if not equal, than paid ones. I admire the way Clayton responded though.

  6. Posted December 9, 2010 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    Wow. I love this!Wordpress has empowered me to find my voice..and blogging is my passion. I found work because of this. Love your suggestions…will be my new years resolutions to implement.

  7. Posted December 9, 2010 at 7:34 am | Permalink

    Interesting. Some people are takers and some are givers.

  8. Posted December 9, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    I just wrote a post on my personal dot-com site related to this where I start with:

    I write plugins for many reasons. Sometimes there is a need; sometimes it’s a Mallory-Everest exercise but every time it is with the full intention of releasing the plugin to the WordPress Extend repository.

    … and conclude with:

    I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the people that have made donations, both to myself and to all the other designers and developers that keep the lifeblood of WordPress flowing.

    I have at least a dozen more ideas for plugins and every intent to release them to the WordPress Extend repository for the same reasons above … and obviously they will be free, too.

  9. Posted December 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    In an open-source GPL environment like WordPress isn’t it up to the community to carry on work? If the plug-in is worth while someone should pick up the functionality and carry on the work.

    I think that the free plug-ins have great value, Yoast in particular makes excellent free plug-ins for WordPress. A lot of people selling their WP Plug-ins are douchey SEOs using them as link-bait and they aren’t meant to do anything other than that.

    There are great plug-ins available for free.

    • Posted April 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Not really, in many cases it will bloat to a point where a re-write is substantially easier to add the new features or designs required. Scripting is like poetry.

  10. Jeroen Smeets
    Posted December 10, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Lorelle, for contributing to this discussion. Some of the arguments are very subjective: about being part of a community, consisting of people who know that they receive more than they give, no matter how much they give. I like this church 😉

    Best part of developing plugins is seeing other people pick up my code, and do something truly amazing with it (yes, I’m looking at you, Chris Spooner).

    The best things in life are free!

  11. Posted December 10, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Being GPL’d, aren’t WordPress plugins technically supposed to GPL’d as well? I recall reading an article that stated that unless a theme or plugin added a dramatic enhancement then it’s supposed to be GPL’d. If this is true, then the only argument here is that people who want dramatic enhancements to WordPress should buy commercial products. But then this is short of true as well since works like Buddypress, Fluency Admin and WP-Tables Reloaded are all GPL’d dramatic enhancements.

    To add to that, one of the very nice things about having such an abundance of free plugins out there, even if they are abandoned, is that anyone can pick up where those free plugins are left. They tend to provide a basic framework from which to build more sophisticated plugins.

    WP Sliding Login/Dashboard Panel by Fayçal Tirich is an awesome plugin and a variant has been ported to Buddypress by Sarah Gooding, though the Buddypress version currently lacks the admin features of Tirich’s plugin. Any budding developer could take it up and advance it and someone usually does.

    The only serious downside I see is that the free plugin marketplace will eventually get bloated with defunct plugins that have been superseded. But then, could integrate the ability to detect to some degree where this occurs.

  12. Posted December 12, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    I think this argument is pointless. Some people want to believe that if they pay, they get more. I have been around WordPress for years, blogging about it for years. If I were to pay for every single free plugin I have used, I’d be broke living in streets or public parks. Are there bad apples in free plugins? Yes. I have seen worse in paid products for WP.

    Now I have to take Darnell’s side here a bit too. Yes. Free plugins are great. But if you are a blogger who is not willing to invest a penny in your business, you probably should not expect to get much out of your business. I have used many paid plugins mainly due to the features they offer. I’d love to get them for free but not everything can be free when running a business.

    Good discussion. But we have heard these claims before 🙂

  13. potro
    Posted December 13, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Awesome post Lorelle! Absolutely agreed! The mere idea of premium plugins being better is naive. Also, Darnell provided 3 example of premium plugins that are supposedly better –

    Replacements for PadPress – Wp TOUCH, Mobile Device Theme Selector, Wipad, etc.
    Replacements for Ultimate Blog Security – Tripwire, Exploit Scanner, FileMonitor, Bulletproof Security, Malware, Firewall 2, Firewall, Exploit Scanner, TPC Memory Usage (does a lot more), Blackhole, TAC, Antivirus, Security Scanner and many others etc.
    Replacements for Vaultpress – EzBackup, DB Backup, Automatic DB Backup, Remote DB Backup etc.

    Other important ways to protect your blog free –

    CSF, Tripwire, IP Tables, Mod Security, Mod Ddos, SuPHP, Suhosin, HTACESSS, Clam AV, CHK, Rk Scanner, Tweaking etc.

    Ways to DB Backup –

    Crons through cpanel/DA/Webmin/ backup, phpmyadmin backup, sql db backup scripts, greensql

    Ipad transform – way too many sites and stand alone ways to mention here.

  14. Dave
    Posted December 13, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    What an excellently crafted article. I agree that paid plugins are not the way to go. Instead, I too would encourage donations to your plugin authors as a thank you for their hard work

  15. Posted December 14, 2010 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle,

    Long time reader, first time commenter here. As someone deeply involved with the planning, coding and supporting of the Automatic WordPress Backup plugin, I’d like to offer my perspective.

    Providing a free WordPress plugin is a costly investment and it involves so much more than just doing the coding to get the plugin working, especially if your plugin does anything substantial.

    For the AWB, I have continuously paid Dan, the programmer who had created the initial version, to add a ton of different features and improve over the last year. This part wasn’t cheap and it cost real cash, but it was worth every penny as Dan did an awesome job at every stage.

    Beyond coding, the biggest cost to the plugin author/maintainer is supporting the people who are using the plugin. Part of this is due to the various types of systems that WordPress is able to run on. It’s one of the best features of WordPress but for certain types of plugins (like AWB) it is the worst curse. I deal with 20+ support emails per day try to help people get the plugin working for them and I try to deal with them as promptly as possible because if I don’t, they pill up and boy does it hurt to go through them after a week.

    Now top this off with a number of emails from people who have come expect everything relating to WordPress to be free and consider it their right to get a reply within 5-minutes, even if they won’t be paying anything. In addition, donations don’t put food on the table. They just create people who donate $5 and expect features that would take 10-20 hours to develop (yes, speaking from experience) because they donated.

    That type of ungrateful attitude (though not representative of the majority) can take a serious toll on your energy to give back for free.

    As a plugin provider, you have to protect yourself. You have to not let the people with the entitlement attitude kill your drive and you have to make sure you don’t let providing free support take away from what puts the bread on the table. In addition, it’s really great if you’re able to make your plugin self-sustaining… meaning it pays for itself. This means you provide a way for users to pay you. Offering priority support the way that Shopp offers is a nice idea. The way that we ask for payment is by asking users to write a review about the plugin. Each review normally has links to the website, which increases our overall authority in the eyes of Google and helps us attract more organic search traffic.

    By making a plugin self-sustaining, we’re able to continue to make more investments into it, including the daily support that I provide users. Now if I was to be honest with myself, if I looked at just the financial aspect of things, providing the level of support that I do wouldn’t be worth it. However, I want people to have a good experience with my brand Volcanic, so I put in the 2ish hours per day responding to people, most of whom will never write a review, buy anything from me or contribute any way. Still, if I am able to help 100 people and only 5 rave about us, that’s 5 more than the competitors… and those 5 will likely lead to another 100 users… and the cycle continues.

    My bottomline is this: just as with anything in life, you have to take responsibility for your own outcomes. Figure out how to make offering free plugins sustainable or switch to something that does work for you. We’re asking people to link to us and that is our way of making it sustainable. WP eCommerce by Instinct offers premium upgrades to make their thing sustainable.

    I’ll end with one thing: repo treats plugin authors as lesser contributors than theme designers. I find this both unfair, disrepectful and just hurtful to the overall community (due to abandoned plugins.) Theme providers should be held to exactly the same rules as a plugin provider.

    • Alysyn Curd
      Posted April 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm | Permalink


      Very well said! You covered the ‘hidden’ issues well.

      Those who don’t understand the need for developers to earn money must realize, “contributing” and “giving away” aren’t the same things.

      Creative developers who bring their talents to the table (even if it is the concept and they are outsourcing) “contribute” value through the outcomes of their work. Getting paid does not lessen the fact that what has been created is beneficial and a “contribution.”

      Those who seek it, should be paid for their contributions. “Users” can give back by joyously compensating developers who work to make things better for them (users).


  16. Posted December 17, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    I sort of understand this perspective. Whether or not a plug-in is paid for or not, is most likely an expression from someone either starving trying to make a living selling wordpress development, someone who feels that “certified” or “paid” (of course they two different things) are better in quality and reputation, or at the very least, have an opportunity to invest back into the plugin (wishful thinking).

    I do watch wordpress to see where it is at, and I have to say I seem to be noticing a trend in malware.

    Whether a plug-in is paid for or not, efforts typically should be made by the community, knowledgeable not opinionated, (wishful thinking) to recognized positive intent authors versus malware intent authors.

    I was shocked to see a few tutorials with automatic upgrade paths for software plug-ins, in combination with countless recommendations for many, many no-brand plug-ins. It is a bait and switch channel.

    So whether paid is better than free is highly debatable as it doesn’t really address the problem which the orignal comment was meant to address and that is good search engine rankings, well performing blogs, ect, through the practice of backing and supporting which plug-ins are of positive intent.

    • Posted December 17, 2010 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Just to be clear to everyone as this is something that annoys many, a WordPress Plugin is a Plugin not plug-in, which is something you stick into a wall socket. 😀

      There is no trend in malware. Just like a lot of so called “news” influencing our actions, malware, worms, and evil gets more publicity than good. If you look at the reality in the numbers, WordPress continues to grow phenomenally, it is more secure now than ever before, and continues to be updated constantly, Plugin and Theme development is at an all time high with quality and sophistication, and…well, just like everything else, don’t believe everything you read and a lot of reading is not indicative of a trend.

      I don’t know what you mean by no-brand Plugins or bait and switch. If you are using the official WordPress services, it now features automatic upgrades.

      You are right that the issue of paid versus free has nothing to do with quality, and yes, the WordPress Community and Foundation needs to do more to inspect and protect, which is and always has been done.

  17. Posted December 18, 2010 at 1:21 am | Permalink 1,650,000 results

    That is a high volume of discussion for something that isn’t a trend.

    I am suggesting that automatic upgrades on plug-ins which are not backed by a legitimate business are risky. Bait and Switch is a well practiced tactic. Url Shorteners, MySpace Widgets, and WordPress has a backdoor. I don’t think it’s wise to promote automatic upgrades on anything except the core software itself.

    • Posted December 18, 2010 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Again, just because everyone is talking about Jessica Simpson doesn’t mean she is important to the world. 😀 Yes, there is a trend in hacks, and yes, articles like mine are tweeted, retweeted, copied, bookmarked, and linked to doesn’t mean that WordPress is on the rise. It means that viruses and malware are on the rise and impacting every publishing platform. The issue I have is focusing solely on WordPress when most of the issues are with MySQL, PHP, and other applications WordPress and others are dependent upon.

      I do hope action is taken within the official WordPress sites to add more security and protection. On that we can agree.

  18. Posted December 18, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I’m fairly new to developing WordPress Plugins, but I have one in the plugin directory and one currently in testing. I put a donation link in the first one and so far it’s been downloaded almost 800 times ( nothing compared to the popular plugins ) would you care to guess how many donations I’ve received? If you guess Zero you’s be correct. Maybe everyone hated my plugin, maybe no one found any value in it or maybe the culture of donation just isn’t there. Granted I didn’t really expect anyone to donate, but if we are pretending this viable solution for developers I think we might be kidding ourselves. Other platforms have a culture of paid plugins and the plugin developers I know lean towards them because they know as independent developers they can be compensated for their time.

    I think it’s funny people have no issues with paying for Themes ( Every WP “professional” I know has paid for Thesis ), but here we are having a discussion about the fairness of a developer to charge for his/her time to create a plugin. So far my plugins have been very simple maybe 5-6 hours each to develop. I have some ideas for very complex plugins that would take 50-100 hours to develop. If bloggers can earn money using Word Press as their blogging platform why are developers expected to give away their time extending that platform?

    Anyway that’s my $0.02 and for the record I am all for giving back to the community.

    • Alysyn Curd
      Posted April 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink


      Your perspective is worth a lot more than “$0.02,” as it strengthens the argument for paying developers.

  19. Posted December 19, 2010 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    @Jeremy, I find myself in the same situation with zero donations, but I only added the donate button after reading this article 😉 I think the original discussion was more about paid plugins being better (better supported, better written, better for WordPress in general) than free ones.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      It’s really wishful thinking that someone is going to come along, take what you are giving freely and give you money in the process.

      People are pretty hard up (supposedly) and they just don’t have money, they would rather spend the time.

      That being said. Nobody getting paid to write plug-ins, means nobody is supporting them. Anyone else who truly believes that is sustainable, hasn’t considered past failed attempts like phpBB vs vBulletin, Joomla, phpNuke, ect…

      Free economies prey on the naivety of the silver spooners. Plain and simple.

  20. Posted December 19, 2010 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    @Jeroen After reading both articles I can say that I disagree with both authors. The basis of Mr. Clayton’s argument is that Premium is almost always better than Free, which of course is ridiculous. However Ms. VanFossen’s counter argument that plugin’s should be developed as a hobby, a resume builder or for donations is also a bit off base in my opinion.
    I think most non-programmers don’t understand what it takes to support a piece of software especially one that becomes popular. There are support requests, bugs to track, feature requests and product roadmaps to manage above beyond the programming and testing. I’m guessing a small percentage of WP plugins fall in to the category where this work becomes a full time job, but it still seems wrong to presume someone should do this all for free even on a part time basis.

    I honestly think a heathy premium theme market for WP would benefit the community by attracting more programmers. I also think more people are making money by blogging and they are making that money using “free” software. Why shouldn’t developers be fairly compensated for their work?

    • Posted December 19, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      I did not say that a WordPress Plugin author should be restricted to any limitations. These are examples of why people write WordPress Plugins. The main reason, I said, was to resolve a problem. Most people do understand how much effort it takes to create software, and few WordPress Plugins are the equivalent of “software.” Having written a few Plugins myself, they can be done in minutes, if the solution is that easy to create. Others take months and teams of contributors. There are no easy ways to judge all Plugins as equal, not do all Plugins require massive care and feeding.

      Again, not all Plugins authors want compensation. Some do. There are also people whose name goes on WordPress Plugins without any effort put into the Plugin. They hired folks to create them, using the Plugin to promote their own agenda. There are all kinds of reasons, but either way, I agree that compensation should be available to those who wish to get some, and that Plugins stay free and open for those who wish to do so.

      WordPress rocks the world because so many gave freely of their time, money, and energy to help develop it, adding to the core, testing, developing WordPress Plugins and Themes that push the boundaries of what WordPress can do. As stated in the article, because so many feel like giving back to the service they use for free, they do so through Plugins and Themes. Why should anyone tell them that this behavior is bad? And money is good? Or that their Plugins or Themes are worthless.

  21. Posted December 23, 2010 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

    I think an unwarranted preference for paid vs unpaid products really misunderstands how services are marketed online. You do a nice job pointing out how application development is a good resume builder, and I think it helps build credibility for a developer to have a popular product. But, I can see ways that it opens the door for paid services. Take ContactMe, a popular contact form plugin. It’s free to install and use, but when you install it you get a free trial of the company’s premium contact management software. They’re hoping you’ll be impressed enough with the free stuff to recognize that they work twice as hard on the enterprise plugins.

  22. Jim
    Posted May 3, 2011 at 1:27 am | Permalink

    I think the issue is not with the number of plugins being developed, but the QUALITY. And frankly 90% of plugins are half finished, broken and buggy. For average wordpress users, diagnosing plugin issues overtakes fromactually blogging and info creation.

    The lack of support on wordpresses own forums mean blogs like your can survive. If there really is a wordpress community, how come forums threads are cut off or closed prematurely.
    As a developer I would pick a paid plugin in a heartbeat over some of the buggy codes created by amateurs. If you have a commercial blog that needs reliable functionality, I recommend you go paid.

  23. Posted December 14, 2011 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    I’m new to WordPress this month, but it does sound like a conundrum. WordPress is so popular with users due to the development, community and volunteer contributions. But will development incentives make a better platform?

    Is it possible for WordPress to initiate a mechanism to fairly or impartially distribute donated funds back to developers? Essentially a Red Cross for the plugin-developing community? For example, have a pot to collect ‘donations’. At the time of donation, the recipient of funds is unknown. Then at the end of the month or end of the year, funds are split up according to pre-determined rules. For fair dispensing, split funds between eligible developers according to weighted number of downloads of free plug-ins. Or ‘Jackpot style’ for an easier to administer but still impartial dispense, give all donated funds to Top 5 or Top 10 developers in the period. Top 10 developers could be selected according to popular vote (ie. number of free downloads) or selection by WordPress Developing Board according to merits of the code (ie. some plugins might be very valuable to WP but not applicable for a general audience and thereby not likely to garner high download frequency).

    Some bloggers will always take more than they give, and by attracting users, that exploitation is a feature that has helped makes WordPress so powerful. But if there was a more structured way to contribute to development, people would be more willing to give back or give back more. I’m not sure that WordPress development is in any danger of stagnating (I sure hope not), but if a simple mechanism can be put in place to compensate developers while preserving the environment that so many people benefit from today, it should surely be worth it.

    • Posted December 15, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Interesting ideas. Why not get involved and bring them up to the groups involved?

      This issue was resolved a long time ago but it comes up every once in a while, so get involved and have your voice heard.

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