It’s certainly a pity that the developer of this plugin decided to take the route of withdrawing functionality of this once excellent plugin. A better option would have been to cease development of the plugin and increase development of the premium version, without taking away functionality.
Having just started up a new website, I had done a lot a research on some of the best anti-spam solutions. I chose Spam Free WordPress as it was a free plugin that I could use in order to test the viability of the new site. If it was a viable option, then I would have happily paid for a solution. Now, after updating my plugin as part of the site maintenance, I have found that I have an ugly password field (or two) on my comments form and need to now purchase a solution in order to return the previous functionality back on. This has left me with more work to do and an unsavoury user-experience for site visitors.
The developer has certainly shot themselves in the foot, as I will definitely not be purchasing anything from somebody so unreliable and easily willing to make such drastic changes without concern for their customer base. I would worry what other actions this type of mindset would bring in the future, if they were willing to put so many people in a position where their websites lost functionality.
Thank you for making my ultimate decision for me of whether to use your product on a more permanent basis.
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