Support » Plugin: Internet Defense League Cat Signal » I thought the defense of the internet was important?

  • Tyler Regas


    Maybe I’m confused, but isn’t the IDL supposed to be defending the internet? If it is, why hasn’t this plugin been updated in TWO YEARS??!! If this Chris guy can’t do it, can someone else step in? Hell, I can’t code myself out of a paper bag, but if need be, I will! Sheesh!!!

Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Plugin Author Chris Reynolds


    Hi Tyler. I’m “that Chris guy.”

    There are a couple reasons why this plugin has not received any updates in a long time.

    1. The most obvious: I am only one person. I have a job, and a family, and I also have 12 other plugins in the WordPress repository, at least half a dozen more on GitHub, one theme in the WordPress repository and I’m also the lead organizer of WordCamp Salt Lake City. I have a lot going on and superficial updates to a plugin in the repository aren’t high on my list.
    2. No updates have been required in years. This plugin is a very simple implementation of the javascript code provided by the Internet Defense League to add their campaigns to your site when they go out. It does one thing — load the javascript — and nothing else. The actual code required to load said javascript from the IDL hasn’t changed, so there has been no need to update this plugin — as long as their code remains the same, this plugin will still work. The Cat Signal plugin is what could be considered “complete software”. There’s nothing else that needs to be done. There are no new features it needs, it does only one thing and nothing else, it’s just done. The only thing that I would be doing with each update is editing the readme file to change the version of WordPress it’s been tested up to and, as stated above, that’s not particularly high on my list of priorities, unfortunately.
    3. The Internet Defense League needs developers of their own. As mentioned above, all this plugin does is spit out the code that comes from the IDL in the appropriate place in your WordPress site so you don’t need to hack your theme’s code yourself. That’s it. The IDL code hasn’t changed and, what’s more, the IDL has always been short on developers. It turns out that volunteering for social good doesn’t pay so well. Who would’ve thunk? There is a developers Google Group for the IDL that’s been stagnant for at least a year, if not two. (Seriously, go look. There were 2 posts in 2016, neither of them related to development, despite the fact that it’s listed as the Developers Google Group on the IDL homepage. The IDL has always had a very minimal team/staff and I think their numbers have gotten smaller, not larger.
    4. The IDL and the Cat Signal has largely been sidelined in favor of other campaigns. Since the Internet Defense League and the Cat Signal launched, the group of people who put it together have since launched other campaigns, namely Fight for the Future (which is linked from the IDL page). Fight for the Future is active in sending out regular email blasts and petitions. Without knowing the inner workings of those organizations, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which a) their development staff dwindled to the point of nothing leading to b) the team regrouping with what they could manage themselves and therefore c) using email and social media campaigns in favor of the Cat Signal and/or other technology-based initiatives.

    I have never claimed to be a member of the Internet Defense League, at least, not as one of the actual members who run the thing. I am just a guy who knows WordPress who decided to make it easier to put the Cat Signal on a WordPress website because there was no other way to do it and, largely, they appreciated (and linked to) my volunteer effort. But since there has been no real movement from the IDL for a very long time, and since nothing has actually needed to be changed within the plugin itself, this plugin hasn’t been updated. It has nothing to do with whether or not these things are important. I am an active, card-holding member of the ACLU and there are ways to be active in protest against infractions to our internet freedom in addition to simply adding a plugin to your site and turning it on.

    Tyler Regas


    Wow. Chris. I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. Look, I don’t generally get snippy online. I post with my real name. Feel free to look me up. I’m not a troll. Hell, it even feels weird typing that.

    The fact of the matter is, however, that if you take on a public coding project, regardless of how simple it is, people have an expectation that you will maintain it, even if that maintenance is perfunctory. If the IDL isn’t much of a thing now, take a minute or two to update the plugin description indicating that. You did, after all, take on the responsibility of creating the plugin in the first place and post it to the public plugin repository.

    I’m not here to tell you how to volunteer or work or anything. I will note that, in the time you took to write this rather sizable reply, done as you yourself described: “The only thing that I would be doing with each update is editing the readme file to change the version of WordPress it’s been tested up to…”

    Also, thanks for all of your efforts in the various communities you contribute to.


    Plugin Author Chris Reynolds


    The fact of the matter is, however, that if you take on a public coding project, regardless of how simple it is, people have an expectation that you will maintain it, even if that maintenance is perfunctory.

    I get that. But here’s the thing: I’ve stopped putting plugins on for this reason. The stuff I’m actively developing (mostly for myself, which is what all or most of these plugins were initially created for) goes on GitHub and stays there, because if I start a project on GitHub and then don’t have time to pursue it, it doesn’t matter. If, later, after a year or two, I decide to come back to it and make an update because I want a new feature in that plugin for one of my sites, I do that.

    I honestly feel like this is the wrong way to contribute to the WordPress community because the number of people seeing and/or benefitting from what could be amazing, awesome code and plugins are limited. As a user, you aren’t going to shop on GitHub for new plugins, if for no other reason than that there’s no built-in update system, so why would you? And I’m not alone. I know plenty of amazing developers who can’t be bothered enough by the banner that displays above old plugins to make a superficial change to what could amount to dozens of individual plugins to make it so that banner does not appear, to give it the semblance that this is an actively-maintained plugin even if, in reality, it’s not, we’re just bumping the version to make it look like it is.

    Which is more beneficial to the community? If something is actively a problem with any of my plugins, I respond quickly and if it’s a bug in the code, I’ll push out a new version.

    But all of that is beside the point. You came here and made a snarky comment about defending internet freedom and my point is that whether or not this plugin has been updated has nothing to do with internet freedom.

    You’re right, I could (and should) go through all my plugins and bump the versions. I am aware of this. But that doesn’t effectively change anything if the code it exactly the same and it’s a barrier to many developers to more broadly contribute to the WordPress community.

    I’ll also swing around to a comment you made in your original post:

    Hell, I can’t code myself out of a paper bag, but if need be, I will!

    If you’re serious about this, feel free to find me on WordPress Slack or Twitter (I’m jazzs3quence pretty much everywhere) and I can make this happen. The source code is here: I’m more than happy to let you contribute even if it’s just a matter of updating this line right here:

    Tyler Regas


    Well, I’m sure you thought I’d ditched. Sorry about that. I’ll be contacting you soon. Thanks. -TC

    Tyler Regas


    Also, you state that it makes no difference if the compatibility gets updated if the code never needs to change, but I do not agree. Not everyone who uses WordPress is a programmer. They don’t know Javascript from Perl and could care less. Those who can, do for those who cannot, and give them a little sense of security that they’ve made the right choice, even if it’s some stupid string on line 6 of some tiny little widget.

    This is, as I’ve understood it for years now, an integral piece of FOSS. There are people, like you Chris, who give of their time and talent to share with the world. It may be small, but every little bit of silly little code adds to the impression that people give a damn. Your project isn’t much, but with thousands of projects together, all getting updated, sends the signal that someone, somewhere has their back.

    I’m just a hippie born in the late 60’s who has far too much time on his hands and is way too idealistic for this reality we live in, but taking two minutes out of every month could make a difference, but maybe it doesn’t. Who knows. Why do you do what you do? To get rich? To buy a yacht or an island and order people around? To control people? This is a guess, but I’m going to say unlikely.

    So, we could go back and forth like this forever, something that doesn’t interest me. Contributing, even in the small, inept way I can, it far more important. See you on Slack 🙂

Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
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