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Disappearing Plugin Listings (15 posts)

  1. Cyber Sprocket Labs
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Why do our plugins randomly disappear from the WordPress directory?

    We have had a plugin listed since January with 3,000+ installs. Last night we did an update. It showed up in the directory and was on the "recently updated" list.

    This morning it was gone.

    The page is still live:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/store-locator-plus/

    But the listing is gone. It is no longer showing up in the main directory or on our account:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/profile/cybersprocket

    Can anyone shed some light on why this keeps happening. The other plugins listed on our account had a similar issue last September. 4 of the plugins were listed for months. All-of-the-sudden, one the same day, all 4 of those plugins went away.

    It almost seems as though someone on the WordPress plugins team deems our plugins inappropriate for some reason & de-lists them, though nobody will communicate with us directly from the WordPress team to tell us if that is true or not.

    Is there an official communication channel for WordPress plugin developers to get in touch the the people taking care of the svn repositories and directory listings? It is just a big black hole from what we can tell, which is sad considering the 1,000+ customers that are using are plugins these days.

    Anyone have some input or advice they'd like to share?

  2. Mark (podz)
    Support Maven
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Hi,
    You wrote your own licensing terms.

    All plugins must be GPL or compatible.

  3. Cyber Sprocket Labs
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Mark -

    Please explain how our plugins are not GPL compatible. They are all explicitly GPLv2.

    Asking for a fee to activate a product is 100% within the terms of GPL. GPL does allow for the sale of products. It does allow for a fee for registration or use of services.

    http://markjaquith.wordpress.com/

    What about making money?

    The GPL does not prohibit developers from charging for their code! The overwhelming majority of premium theme developers sell their themes under the GPL (and are making quite a lot of money doing it).

    What about plugins?

    Everything in here applies to plugins as well as themes. The only difference between the two is that you generally have one theme active, but might have multiple plugins active. As far as interactions with WordPress go, they work the same way.

    We have listed our plugins on a 100% purely donation based system before. Our earnings. ZERO. The very same plugins with a $10 fee to easily activate it for all users (versus commenting a single line of code to do the same)... $500. Same plugin, but with a license fee made it viable to continue to provide updates and support.

    Without the license fee it is impossible to continue to provide updates or support for any of the WordPress plugins. It is EXACTLY why so many plugins fail to be updated by the original authors. It is why several authors we spoke to when we needed an update to their plugin gave us the code & said "go ahead and do what you want with it... I'm done... not worth it".

    There are premium themes. Why not premium plugins.

    If there is no method other than a "please send us some money" links on the main site, the model fails. It is simply not viable to continue to provide any form of support or upgrades for the plugins. As it is we already lose money on the endeavor but at least we are covering SOME of the costs involved with continually improving the products and helping the user base.

    If you've got some suggestions on how to actually get people to "donate" so we can continue development of our plugins I'd love to hear it.

    I'm also very interested to learn what your interpretation of GPLv2 is and how we are violating it.

    Best Regards,
    Lance Cleveland, Founder
    Cyber Sprocket Labs

  4. Cyber Sprocket Labs
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Mark -

    I just discovered you are the same guy that help up one of our plugin request for more than 3 weeks without approving it. It also appears that you may have been the person that removed one of our listings last year with no notice. After talking to someone else at WordPress about the situation they said "we have no idea what happened... your plugin looks fine... we'll set you up again". Then we were online and happy for nearly a year. Until you got ahold of our listings again.

    What exactly are you referring to that is in violation of the listing policies for the WordPress Extensions directory? There is nothing on the WordPress page about any of the items you mentioned in your email. And there is CERTAINLY nothing in GPL that states you cannot charge a fee for software. Read the commercial themes page for the WordPress statement about GPL and free access to source not free as in no need to pay for something. It clearly states you CAN charge a fee for software and be within GPL.

    Your statement here makes us look bad, as if we are doing something to violate GPL. We are absolutely NOT in violation of GPL and you are clearly misguided in that regard.

    Maybe we are in violation of some unposted (or at least hard-to-find) WordPress listing policy. We are certainly not in violation of the listing police clearly posted on the WordPress extension developers page:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/about/

    Our full response to your assertion that we are in violation of the GPL is posted in our blog at the Cyber Sprocket Website:
    http://www.cybersprocket.com/2011/blog/wordpress-plugins-charging-a-fee-is-not-gpl-compliant/

    If you are going to kick us off the system, at least give us the courtesy of a viable answer and not a personal opinion based on non-factual arguments.

    Regards,
    Lance Cleveland, Founder
    Cyber Sprocket Labs
    http://www.cybersprocket.com

  5. trojandevelopment
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    I was so outraged when I found out that I would not be able to get the latest version of Store Locator Plus off the WordPress site that I decided to make a forum account and contribute to this thread. I've read all the posts and the blog entry made by Cyber Sprocket on this subject.

    Cyber Sprocket is a great development company. The quality of their products is top notch and they have many plugins that contribute to the progression of Word Press as a platform for business web applications. They have done nothing wrong that I can see besides violate some rules that apparently only you know about, Mark, seeing as how they are not posted anywhere on the WordPress Plugins site.

    Further more, their products have been approved in the past and been available for quite some time so clearly not everyone on the WordPress Team shares this hippy ideology that all WordPress plugins must be pure and free of any capitalist corruption.

    So now that you have decided that no one should be able to profit from a WordPress plugin, thousands of customers will no longer be able to get support or updates directly from the WordPress site. That's assuming they continue doing support for the plugins. I can't blame a development company for not continueing to support a product they are not getting paid for. This creates a huge problem for me since I have used Store Locator Plus in several websites as well as other Cyber Sprocket WordPress plugins.

    I simply can't believe that a plugin that has been approved in the past and that many, many people have paid good money for is suddenly dropped out of the blue for these ridicoulous reasons.

    How do you expect the WordPress community to continue to grow and develop if you snuff out any possibility for developers to make a profit off their work? Don't get me wrong. I am a strong advocate of open source, but I don't kid myself into believing that the majority of open source, free applications can stand toe to toe to their commercial counterparts. Compare GIMP to Photoshop, Open Office to Microsoft Office. Ever try to play a PC game on Ubuntu? You can't, because Ubuntu users don't pay for their software and there is no reason in the world for Blizzard to port Starcraft 2 for Linux.

    I would gladly pay for a Cyber Sprocket plugin than have to deal with any of the large number of badly written and free plugins cluttering up the WordPress directory.

  6. Cyber Sprocket Labs
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Thanks TD.

    Wonder where Mark went. We'd at least like to know how to appease the WordPress gods. Maybe we need to push a virgin into a volcano somewhere.

  7. Mark (podz)
    Support Maven
    Posted 3 years ago #

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/store-locator-plus/faq/
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/moneypress-amazon-edition/faq

    Why a license fee?
    It helps us support the product and provide regular updates.

    Anyone can charge for plugins, or themes, or other code. There are lots of people doing this very successfully for people who use WordPress. But no theme or plugin that wants to charge can be listed in the directory.

    If you want to offer the plugins free and without conditions that would be great and they will be re-included after you have made the changes to the readme.txt
    If you would prefer to ask for the fee then they cannot be re-included.

    It's that simple.

  8. Mark (podz)
    Support Maven
    Posted 3 years ago #

    A new store-locator plugin has been approved and will be listed as soon as it has been uploaded.

  9. Cyber Sprocket Labs
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Thanks for the update Mark & for approving the namespace for us to publish the free version. I appreciate the response & at least now that we know the rules we can abide by them, published or not.

    I just wish someone would have posted that fact on the requirements to be listed in the Plugin Directory page:
    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/about/

    There is no mention of not being able to charge a fee. This "hidden requirement" means ripping out all of that code that we spent weeks developing, refining, and testing. So now we not only wasted weeks of time putting it together, now we need to spend weeks ripping it out and re-testing everything. We can just comment a single line of code, but the clean & proper way to do it is to rip out that code completely; else someone may claim we are using the latent code to somehow subvert the software.

    BTW, hemes that charge a fee ARE listed in an official WordPress directory. That is the whole idea behind the commercial themes page, is it not?
    http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/commercial/

    Why is there no commercial plugins directory? Any particular reason, or just a "haven't gotten to it yet" issue?

    BTW, how does this enforcement of "must be free" work? My team has personally come across hundreds of plugins listed in the directory that charge a fee. Some only work free for 30 days while others cripple functionality before you donate. How is this "not free, not listed" rule enforced? Is it completely random and arbitrary? Doesn't seem very even-handed when extremely popular plugins get away with blatantly crippling their plugins but are allowed to remain in the directory. It is one thing to play by the rules, but shouldn't the rules be the same for everyone?

  10. Cyber Sprocket Labs
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    @Mark -

    Akismet. Not free for commerical users.

    Does this mean we can setup something similar in our plugins. Free for personal use only?

    Granted, Akismet is an Automattic product and thus gets some latitude with Matt's involvment, but shouldn't we be able to use it as a guideline of what is acceptable?

    Just trying to get a feel for what the boundaries are so we can actually monetize our work without violating listing rules.

    - Lance

  11. Cyber Sprocket Labs
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    The new LE version is posted in the new namespace.

    Please let us know if there are any issues. No license fee, no key required (other than Google Maps keys to make it work).

  12. Samuel Wood (Otto)
    Tech Ninja
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Slight difference with Akismet:
    - Akismet the plugin is 100% free.
    - Akismet the service has some costs associated with it, and various terms.

    We're mainly concerned with the freeness of the code hosted here on WordPress.org. A free plugin that provides an interface to a third-party service, even if the service has some costs associated with it, is fine. As long as the plugin itself is free. People understand paying for third party services from time to time, when necessary. I'm sure you can find several examples of plugins that connect to third party services to do their jobs.

    However, when the plugin itself is trial-ware, cripple-ware, or any other kind of non-free functionality, then that's a problem.

    A "light" version is probably fine, depending on specific cases.

  13. noxad
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Anyone can charge for plugins, or themes, or other code. There are lots of people doing this very successfully for people who use WordPress. But no theme or plugin that wants to charge can be listed in the directory.

    If you want to offer the plugins free and without conditions that would be great and they will be re-included after you have made the changes to the readme.txt
    If you would prefer to ask for the fee then they cannot be re-included.

    It's that simple.

    Mark - why is that exactly? This policy is very user unfriendly (not to mention developer unfriendly).

    As a user, I would have no problem with paid plugins being listed in the directory. If fact I demand it. Having a single repository for plugins makes finding what you're looking for so much easier.

    Please ask the WordPress gods to reconsider.

  14. Cyber Sprocket Labs
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    There is one negative side effect for the users that is bad for everyone involved. The few-hundred users that have already purchased the plugin now must go through a manual process to:

    a) determine there is a new release of their premium plugin available

    b) install & activate the upgraded version

    Being able to have premium plugins hook directly into the available upgrades system built into WordPress makes life a lot easier for everyone. A seemingly simple solution would be to allow premium plugins in the directory and come up with an obvious, yet simplistic way of denoting premium (commercial) v. free plugins... could be as simple as a text demarcation for "FREE" or "Paid" and possibly even a graphic denoting each on the listing details.

    While we may find a way to "hack into" the built-in WordPress upgrades system it is going to be a good amount of extra work on our end in order to make the lives of our premium users a bit easier when it comes time to upgrade. Sadly, there does not appear to be a readily documented and accessible way to do this. That means it will be a hack and may break in future WP releases.

  15. Cyber Sprocket Labs
    Member
    Posted 3 years ago #

    Mark -

    We have requested another namespace for a plugin that was pulled from the listings & has been re-engineered in a free version.

    MoneyPress : Amazon LE
    (moneypress-amazon-le)

    I'm not quite sure how this process works, but someone asked for a zip file of the plugin before we published. Doesn't the WordPress svn repo interface do that for us? This is unusual. Nobody has ever asked for a zip file before and it seems like extra overhead and completely unnecessary. Is this standard operating procedure or are we on some sort of probation now?

    Please advise so we can rectify this situation & get on the WordPress "good guys" list.

    TIA,
    Lance

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