Support » Requests and Feedback » Formal complaint about moderator and plugin section

  • Dear WordPress community and wordpress.org team,

    I had an issue which I feel is wrongly handled by a moderator and wordpress.org in general.

    1. Through the plugin directory I found a plugin. It also has a commercial version, like more plugins these days. When I went to buy it I got nothing in return. I did some more research (which I should have done more in the first place, but I thought I had done for this plugin), and it turns out more people are having problems with this company.

    2. I placed a review detailing. The author responded, which I question, and I wrote a reply to next thing I know the moderator closed the review, and removed my last reply.

    I’m outraged, to be blunt, and steam is coming out of my ears as a manner of speaking.

    The reasons given for closing is that it is not a wordpress.org issue, yet this company is using wordpress.org for free advertising and the possible suckering in of customers.

    Also by not acting against complaints like these WordPress is going down in quality and getting a bad name.

    The plugin cost me around $50, which remains to be seen if I ever get that back.

    For the record I have been a (contributing) member for years, as well as a paying customer of wordpress.com, and paying plugin authors.

    I’m very concerned about this new road that has been gone into. If a paid version of a plugin that is advertised on wordpress.org is getting multiple complaints then WordPress should look into that. Not just close down the topic and let other people be victimized. Also by shutting down a legitimate communication, a plugin review, it is censoring the community to choose best of breed.

    I have serious doubts about this company, and taking legal steps. When wordpress.org hosts this plugin, they are legally responsible, if warned by visitors that this plugin may not be completely o.k.

    So, I request that wordpress.org please take steps to investigate this plugin, but also the plugin policy in general. As it seems the current policy this could be subject to abuse. Members of the community must be able to warn other members, without pointing to some third party website, whose owner can decide what to publish or not. This could open a door to large scale fraud. Something I hope we can avoid or repair when needed as community.

    I’m very pissed off right now, and it is one of the biggest dissapointments I have had in all the years I’ve worked with the WordPress community. “The Brute Squad” nice friendly term there, should perhaps sit around the table with some members of the community about their behavior and approach to certain issues.

    The page I need help with: [log in to see the link]

Viewing 13 replies - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
  • I’ve filed a complaint with Matt, as well as sent the issue to WordPress Tavern for further discussion.

    I will not be silenced and censored by some moderator, who is possibly recklessly abusing his power when we as community are discussing a legitimate issue.

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    Hi. I’m Otto. I manage these forums and handle issues with moderation.

    Here’s the deal: Your complaint saying that the author didn’t sell you something after you tried their free code from here is a valid review.

    Your later posts about the details of their refund policy and your attempts to work with them and so forth are not valid posts for this forum or for the reviews.

    The moderator in question left the review and removed the later posts. As is proper and fitting.

    Because here’s the thing: We didn’t sell you anything. You went to some other site and decided to spend money. That transaction is between you and that other site. They don’t use us for “free advertising” because the plugin directory is not a marketplace. You cannot buy anything whatsoever through there. You took some kind of affirmative action to go to their site and buy their product, outside of simply seeing it in the plugin directory.

    So while your experience with them as far as buying something goes is valid for inclusion in a review, it is not valid for you to use our forums to make your complaint posts or to otherwise try to make your voice heard. This is not your blog, and posts like yours are often used to attempt to “blackmail” plugin authors into providing services. Not saying that’s what you’re doing, but it has been attempted many times, and that’s why we don’t allow that sort of thing.

    Ultimately, this is a support forum. If you want support for a free plugin that we are hosting here, then you can leave a support post.

    If you don’t like a free plugin that we are hosting here, then you can leave a review talking about your experiences with that plugin.

    But if you want to write long and detailed complaints about the financial details of a problem you had with some other company that just happens to have a free plugin here, well, you have your own blog and you can use that.

    I will not be silenced and censored by some moderator

    You’re welcome to speak your piece, but not necessarily welcome to speak it in our support forums.

    First I would like to post a possible solution, and then I will reply to your comment.

    Proposed solution:
    Have a rating for (commercial) plugin authors, similar to merchants on Amazon.com for example.

    You could even have this only for plugin authors that provide a commercial solution for the plugin they have on wordpress.org. To leave volunteer open source developers out of this discussion, as this is ‘scratch your own itch’.

    1. Some plugin authors do advertise, see the following quote from the plugin page:

    Also included exclusively in the SNAP Pro Plugin

    Unlimited accounts. Add/configure unlimited number of accounts for each social network.
    Ability to make Scheduled and Delayed posts
    Advanced Filters. Filter by Custom Fields, Custom Taxonomies, and Searches
    Auto-repost existing posts randomly
    Limit auto-reposting to specific days and times

    And

    Free and Pro Plugin Features Please see more detailed features list

    Message Formatting Tags
    Filters. Filters allow you to post only specified categories, tags, post types, etc… to each Social Network account.
    Re-Poster. Automatically psot your already existing posts to your social media accounts.
    Tags/Categories could be posted as Hashtags
    Auto-import comments from Facebook as WordPress Comments
    Auto-import replies and mentions from and Twitter as WordPress Comments
    URL Shorteners: bit.ly, goo.gl, YOURLS and built in WordPress URL Shortener
    Additional URL Parameters
    Custom URLs for AutoPosts
    Export/Import Plugin settings
    See direct links to the published posts from the “Edit” page
    “Image” posts for Facebook, Google+, Vkontakte and Twitter
    Ability to “Spin” message post templates

    As such wordpress.org has become an advertising platform. It has a responsibility for which ads it shows.

    2. Unable to post normally at the moment

    I will not be silenced and censored by some moderator

    There is a difference between closing a thread because a moderator deems it off topic, whether I agree with it or not, or temporary putting my account on a 72 hour delay for any post I make anywhere on wordpress.org. That just adds fuel to the fire if that is the case, and in my opinion unjust, and I have questions about that. This is the right forum to discuss these issues as far as I’m aware.

    3. About comments a plugin author says on wordpress.org

    The plugin author made statements that I wanted to dispute, had questions about, and legally distance myself from, for my own legal protection.

    Also the author has a habit of posting edited personal information of users of his plugin, where there is no need for this in my opinion, and I do not feel comfortable with.

    As for this is not my blog, I write code and answer issues within the WordPress ecosphere for example, so in a sense I am part of this blog LOL Seriously though, this can’t continue like this.

    It is thread after thread of people suffering similar or the same issue, and a moderator coming along and closing them down. All an author has to do is say “nope” or “contact me at my site”, and wait for the topic to be closed, with little or no responsibility towards the wordpress.org community. So, I do see a need for improvement there in this process, and I hope the wordpress.org team will (continue to) look at issues like this, not from an individual perspective but from a community perspective.

    Thank you for allowing me to post about this, I appreciate it.

    Edit:

    This post has been held for moderation by our automated system. It will be reviewed within 72 hours.

    I’ve been a member and contributor for many years, and I find this ridiculous. Why is it doing this? Why was this added to my account all of a sudden? Because I was critical? I don’t think that is fair or correct in this case.

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    Proposed solution

    Your solution is to have some separation of people who publish commercial plugins vs those who publish totally free plugins. The problem is that we don’t need a separation or a different rating system. We have reviews.

    Reviews exist for the plugins we host, and you can talk about your experiences with that plugin in such a review. If the plugin has advertising or attempts to “upsell” in any way, then your experience with that upsell is perfectly valid for review fodder. If they don’t try to sell you anything, then it’s not.

    So any commercial author that doesn’t want to have their commercial business discussed in reviews for their plugin can simply remove the advertising from their plugin. We feel this is fair and balances itself out.

    As such wordpress.org has become an advertising platform. It has a responsibility for which ads it shows.

    I feel that your definition of “ads” differs from ours. A plugin that has a free version saying “buy our super duper version” is the plugin advertising itself, more or less. We do take responsibility for content shown on WordPress.org, and if somebody crosses the line into clearly spammy crap on their plugin’s page, then we tend to deal with that rather harshly.

    But having “Plugin X by SuperPlugins” try to sell you “Plugin X Pro by SuperPlugins” isn’t really crossing some kind of threshold. Our bar is pretty low, but not that low.

    There is a difference between closing a thread because a moderator deems it off topic, whether I agree with it or not, or temporary putting my account on a 72 hour delay for any post I make anywhere on wordpress.org. That just adds fuel to the fire if that is the case, and in my opinion unjust, and I have questions about that. This is the right forum to discuss these issues as far as I’m aware.

    Generally, this is not the right forum to discuss this, actually. I’m allowing it this time, but usually it’s better to email me directly about such things. My email is otto at wordpress dot org and you can email me about whatever you want.

    However, in this case, you showed a pattern of behavior that necessitated the “flag”. The flag doesn’t mean that it actually has a 72 hour delay. It means that your posts and replies are held until a moderator approves them.

    The pattern of behavior was that you started posting rapidly, and editing those posts repeatedly. This indicates that you’re, well, “posting angry”. That’s pretty normal, but it also creates problems for us. Posting here sends out lots of different types of emails to subscribers, and rapid fire posting and editing causes a lot of excess traffic, and people don’t like getting lots of emails from us. You happened to be confined to a single thread, but it’s a short step from posting angry in one place to rapid fire posting multiple reviews, or on multiple plugins, in multiple support forum threads, etc. People who are angry do things like that.

    So yeah, they flagged your account for a cool off period. You can still post, and they’ll read the posts before approving them. This is normal. When they get tired of reading your posts, when the rant cools down, then they’ll unflag it. That’s how flagging works, and it’s one of the many tools we use to prevent the forums from becoming a nightmare of spam and useless complaining.

    It is thread after thread of people suffering similar or the same issue, and a moderator coming along and closing them down. All an author has to do is say “nope” or “contact me at my site”, and wait for the topic to be closed, with little or no responsibility towards the wordpress.org community. So, I do see a need for improvement there in this process, and I hope the wordpress.org team will (continue to) look at issues like this, not from an individual perspective but from a community perspective.

    And you saw all these threads and still decided to try to buy something from him? Gotta say, not seeing why. I mean, you’re right, the reviews for that plugin are pretty stark, and make it very clear.

    All the information is there. If somebody doesn’t do business well, then don’t do business with them. Loads of reviews say basically the same thing as yours does, so there doesn’t need to be much more done, as far as I can tell.

    The problem was not your initial review, it was the subsequent reply posts. Those were off topic. Keep the review about the plugin, not your business dealings.

    But as for inclusion in the plugin directory, the free plugin still exists. Presumably you tried it and it worked before you made a purchase decision? Because if the free version doesn’t even work, then I can think of no reason for anybody to buy the product, ever.

    Well, I’m sorry my OCD triggered your Spam alert. Have you ever seen me park a car? It takes me a few tries LOL But o.k. I can understand from a general point of view that I may trip up the system… LOL oops, sorry… ROTFL

    And you saw all these threads and still decided to try to buy something from him?

    Please see the opening post where I state:

    I did some more research (which I should have done more in the first place, but I thought I had done for this plugin), and it turns out more people are having problems with this company.

    I mean, you’re right, the reviews for that plugin are pretty stark, and make it very clear.

    I’m glad you agree, and I think this builds the case for a plugin author review, instead of just a plugin review. Envato Market uses a similar system.

    Also, as you may well know, the EU can have different consumer laws than the U.S. for example. It just sounds like WordPress is opening itself up to a host of legal issues, to be fair, other communities such as Joomla have gone through similar with their paid modules and it being open source. It is a bit of a double edged sword.

    As for wordpress.org not taking money, visitors cause this site to rise (or fall) in the rankings, which could be said could lead to some monetary gain or loss. Overall it would be a shame if for a somewhat new feature, commercial plugins, years of hard work on WordPress would go down the drain.

    This forum is called:

    Requests and Feedback Forum.
    Feature requests; criticism.

    I would feel that this topic is valid under that, and doesn’t need some special permission to be posted here.

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    Also, as you may well know, the EU can have different consumer laws than the U.S. for example. It just sounds like WordPress is opening itself up to a host of legal issues, to be fair, other communities such as Joomla have gone through similar with their paid modules and it being open source. It is a bit of a double edged sword.

    You can rest assured that we have no such issues. WordPress is not a company, nor an organization of any kind. The WordPress Foundation is a registered non-profit which holds the trademarks, but they have no employees, and all donations to it are spent back towards the community. They have no profits.

    As for “paid modules”, we don’t have those. You cannot buy a plugin from this site, all plugins on this site are free in cost as well as free as in speech, as we require them to be 100% GPL compatible.

    As for wordpress.org not taking money, visitors cause this site to rise (or fall) in the rankings, which could be said could lead to some monetary gain or loss. Overall it would be a shame if for a somewhat new feature, commercial plugins, years of hard work on WordPress would go down the drain.

    Everything on this website is 100% free. We not only don’t take any money, we don’t make any money. Again, not a company. There’s no way to pay “WordPress” for anything.

    Thank you for your reply.

    However, there is WordPress.com which has a financial aspect, and some plugin authors are making money from it, so at this point it is not entirely uninvolved. There is a case to be made for .com, historically, and because the division is better defined. Whereas with the plugin section that is less so.

    Some other possible solutions:

    1. Have plugin authors sell from a few select places such as Envato Market (CodeCanyon). They do have a guarantee, and are geared towards selling a commercial product. However then you are dependent on how such a supplier acts in the future.

    2. Host free open source plugins at .org and commercial open source plugins at .com. This would allow for Automattic for example, to work together with Envato for example, or hold better oversight, and stuff like a money back guarantee. It could also charge a percentage from plugin authors, which could be used as income for the company, while hosting them for example, which mean there is a better bead on them instead of them being all over the internet. This could fit in line with .com plans where plugins are allowed to be installed in .com blogs. Money made from that could also be possibly donated to .org to benefit the community, altough I’m not sure how donations like that would work legally.

    Win Win as far as I can see, but please feel free to poke holes in it.

    I just hope that on .org it can remain the non profit open source code without getting entangled with cross pollination of commercial plugins, e.g. screaming banners in free plugins to upgrade, limited use and functionality, which I have mixed emotions about, yes I’m fully for supporting plugin authors, on the other hand it should not stifle the open source creativity and freedom. Judging by the amount of reviews on plugins talking about the commercial part, there seems to be some confusion there, at least with a certain percentage of the user base.

    I don’t know if there has been discussion on this, or if progress is monitored on this part, and I hope I’m not repeating some general discussion.

    That is all that I can think off for the moment. Hope it helps 🙂

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    However, there is WordPress.com which has a financial aspect, and some plugin authors are making money from it, so at this point it is not entirely uninvolved. There is a case to be made for .com, historically, and because the division is better defined. Whereas with the plugin section that is less so.

    WordPress.com is a separate entity, owned by Automattic. Though they provide us with support and assistance and indeed hosting of the site, they’re not our “parent” company or anything. The people that work on this site are volunteers. Some of them work for Automattic, but the majority do not.

    Host free open source plugins at .org and commercial open source plugins at .com.

    That’s an interesting suggestion, however I don’t think Automattic is interested in hosting plugins to be used on WordPress.org sites specifically. They don’t have “plugins” on .com so much as they do a large amount of custom code for their systems.

    If they decide to do something like that, then that’s up to them. Paid code will never be hosted on WordPress.org.

    Right, so this is turning possibly into a legit fraud case.

    I’m having trouble getting the payment back from the credit card company because they lack certain information from the company. One that I can’t find anywhere. I have tracked down the owner of the site, through one of his parent companies, and I’m filing a complaint of possible fraud with the registrar. Including screenshots for example. I can send those to you too Otto.

    Otto, we have known each other for some time around here, nothing personal but, you say wordpress.org is not responsible, but I say they are if they are allowing this company to hawk their products here.

    I’m having this investigated (by the F.B.I. for example as it is crossing state lines) and, unless there is some innocent explanation or the issue resolved, pressing charges against this company.

    Before we get too much in details which is not the point of this forum, and for which my apologies.

    My conclusion is:
    My feedback is that cases on wordpress.org like this need to be able to be dealt with better and more centralized.

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    Here’s my point: We’re not involved. His hosting a free plugin here and his transactions between you and his own site are completely unconnected. We’re simply not involved.

    If he abides by our rules and guidelines, then he’s allowed to have his free plugins hosted here. How he behaves on other sites, in totally separate instances, is realistically not something we can police, nor something that we want to police. Our only concern is that his code here a) works and b) is within our rules. What his code that he sells elsewhere does or does not do, as well as his behavior for his financial dealings, is really none of our business.

    There’s ~25,000 odd plugin authors hosting code here. We’re not going to police them individually, because that would be crazy.

    If you don’t want to buy plugins, then don’t buy plugins. We don’t buy plugins. We don’t use non-free plugins. It’s quite feasible to do, you know.

    You can file whatever complaints you like with whomever is appropriate and take any law enforcement actions you feel necessary to take. But unless you can show that his plugin, hosted on this site, violates our rules, then there’s no real reason to talk about it on these forums.

    We’re not going to ban the author because his business sucks. You left a review saying that it sucked. So did a bunch of other people. Since he advertises his paid plugin in the free plugin, then that review is allowed. But that’s the only thing that’s allowed, this forum is not a place to badmouth other people, or to complain about various businesses. Just as we don’t allow hosting discussion because it leads to opinions and ranting and so on, then we don’t allow this type of discussion either, for much the same reasons. Discussion of some third party’s business model, or their hosting, is off topic for these forums. Sorry if you don’t like that, but you can always bad mouth the guy on your own blog, or on social media, or what have you. Just not here.

    We’re not going to ban the author because his business sucks. You left a review saying that it sucked. So did a bunch of other people. Since he advertises his paid plugin in the free plugin, then that review is allowed. But that’s the only thing that’s allowed, this forum is not a place to badmouth other people, or to complain about various businesses. Just as we don’t allow hosting discussion because it leads to opinions and ranting and so on, then we don’t allow this type of discussion either, for much the same reasons.

    Well, I can understand that to a certain extent. As a possible solution to that I would propose to use several market places/companies that WordPress.org recommends similar to how it does hosting and themes.

    It’s not about bad mouthing the guy, and I’ve said possible, I am giving them a change to respond. Innocent until proven guilty. However I, and here is where we differ from opinion, see it as a form of spam or hacking on wordpress.org if true.
    Also this schizophrenic and confusing policy could be causing serious harm to WordPress visitors and reputation.

    It is not a totally separate incidence because it is the same plugin, just with some extra features.

    The credit card company has upscaled the issue, and they are investigating the issue.

    I have stated my case, and given alternative solutions. I want to thank you for allowing me to speak on this subject and for the feedback. At this time I have nothing to add, and yield the discussion to others in the community should they wish to discuss, here or elsewhere. I have stated my concerns, as I felt it was obligation too, at the time in the best way (and only way) I saw fit and in the ability to reach the team at wordpress.org. I hope you will take this feedback with you in further discussion on policy regarding wordpress.org

    It is not a totally separate incidence because it is the same plugin, just with some extra features.

    In which case, it is a different plugin. This is software, rather than a physical object, so a difference in code means that it is a different plugin.

    Lots of companies give away free samples of their work to entice you to buy their other stuff. This is no different. If I buy a car, and they throw in some free floor mats from SuperFloorMats.com, and those floor mats have a link to their website, and I buy custom floor mats, and they ruin my car, can I blame the car dealership because they provided me with the free mats? No. The car dealership had nothing to do with my purchasing the custom floor mats. Buying commercical plugins that have a free version on wordpress.org is analagous to this situation.

    You bought plugin on December 24, 2017. Your payment from your Netherlands bank was put on hold by our bank. That was Christmas time and literally nobody was working.

    This is typical bank behavior both with regard to international transactions and holiday transactions. This is often done for your (and especially the bank’s) protection.

    We don’t buy plugins. We don’t use non-free plugins. It’s quite feasible to do, you know.

    Agreed. In my 8+ years of using WordPress, I have purchased a commercial plugin exactly once, and that was more because I was pressed for time by the client and didn’t have time to research the plugin repo thoroughly.

    who is possibly recklessly abusing his power when we as community are discussing a legitimate issue

    A legitimate issue? Yes, but not for this forum, as none of the transaction with the paid version of the plugin took place through wordpress.org. Abusing his power? I disagree. I see a lot of off-topic stuff get shut down here fairly quickly, which is only right because this forum is about getting support for software you can download from here. I would be happy to create an off-site forum for discussing issues such as these, but I would still moderate (or retromod) angry comments, as I would not be willing to open myself up to accusations of libel.

    I love WordPress and want others to love it, too. But I genuinely don’t see this as an issue that these forums are meant for.

    Just my two cents. Pretty sure they aren’t needed, though.

Viewing 13 replies - 1 through 13 (of 13 total)
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