Is it ethical for a company to continue to distribute a product known to harmful to some of its users?
According to the stats currently NGG2 is downloaded over 10,000 times a day. A significant number of these users will suffer in some way. In many cases it will be just the inconvenience of having to do a rollback after wasting some time trying to understand what is going wrong. But, in some cases due to user ignorance the damage will be the complete and total loss of the image database. (Of course this is the user’s fault for being ignorant but you know this is happening.) It may very well be that a majority of your users have a successful upgrade but it is also clear that a very significant number do not. By significant I mean far more than is normal for a usual major upgrade. Since, upgrade in recent times has become an almost painless process most of these innocent users have no idea of the possible damage they may suffer. If you were a user would you not wish that a company did its best to protect you from this kind of damage? Would not such a company once it found that its product was harmful to a significant number of users withdraw that product from distribution?
If you read some of my previous post you will know that I an not your enemy. I actually like and respect the work you have done. I hope that NGG 2 will eventually become a successful product. However, I believe to continue to distribute a product known to harm a significant number of its users is not the right thing to do.
I’ve just suggested that the latest stabil version of NGG (1.9 something) should be available via wordpress so that newbies and others can install it without risk.
And that NGG 2.0 should be the version downloaded via websites and uploaded via FTP for those who are interested in testing it.
Disclaimer: I’m not a NGG plugin user and all opinions are my own and do not reflect that of anyone else or any group. So there. 😉
Is it ethical for a company to continue to distribute a product known to harmful to some of its users?
Guys? That’s really uncalled for and come on, give photocrati a break.
This is a free plugin that the plugin author is supporting on his own time and frankly is making a heroic effort to attempt to resolve these issues.
Unless you are a paying customer* of photocrati’s then this plugin you installed on your self-hosted is your responsibility. You can always install the older version and with a little editing prevent it from being updated.
Search for “Mark Jaquith” and “exclude wordpress plugin from updates” and you’ll find the code to add. Or you can just use the old version and choose not to upgrade, that’s a valid option too.
Yes, these problem with 2.x does make your life difficult if you have a problem but you have choices and disparaging the plugin author is not called for.
*If you are a paying customer then these forums are not for you. Visit Photocrati’s contact page on his own site for that level of support.
This is my reply to Jan Dembowski.
I an not trying to disparage Photocrati. In an earlier post I tried to do this in a gentler way but Photocrati didn’t get it. If you read my earlier posts you will understand that I actually am on Photocrati’s side. I do not think these are bad people but they are currently overwhelmed by the situation and not using good judgement.
Photocrati is actually a for profit company but this is really totally irrelevant. A developer whether for profit or not should have the responsibility to do the right thing for his users. Being a freeware developer should not give you the right to be irresponsible. Just because it is free should not make it right to distribute something harmful.
I understand your point on user responsibility but the reality is just different. WordPress because of is ease of use attracts “irresponsible” users. The kind of users that never do a backup. The kind of user that is going to delete the plugin without realizing that he is also deleting the image database of thousands of photos that he may have spent years building. (If you read the posts this has happened many times.) You may say that these people got what they deserve for being irresponsible. I disagree. I think protecting this user from himself as much as practically possible is the right thing to do.
An Aside: I think the world is moving towards removing responsibilities from users. The Google Chromebook is a very good example. I think developers should also be moving in this direction and assume your user is irresponsible because this is the reality.
The problem with your other suggestions is that they are not one-click easy solutions. Even installing an earlier version is going to be challenging to some users. (WordPress should consider making it one-click easy to do a roll-back.) I feel very strongly that developers have a responsibility to novice users but I sense that you disagree. I think you are wrong because I think the novice user may be the majority user. (I don’t know this for a fact it is my estimate only.)
A developer whether for profit or not should have the responsibility to do the right thing for his users. Being a freeware developer should not give you the right to be irresponsible.
Well, you fully missunderstand the WordPress plugin directory, people who contribute here are not responsible for anything. Automattic is not responsible for WordPress , and if a WordPress upgrade failed on whatever reason, they cannot be made responsible, it’s free, it’s GPL and nothing else…
You said the the plugin is harmful , why ? From the statistic it’s it today approx 10000 times loaded, 100 of them click on the “not working for me” button, what’s with the other 9900 user ?
Photocrati did real major update, just 1000 give it a try in the beta time, what do you expect ? Buy the Pro version, you may get faster support, pay a web developer if it doesn’t work for you and you don’t know where to look.I see that they trying they best to fix all reported problems in a certain time, so they feel “responsible”, but it’s impossible to check a plugin against all themes and other plugins.
I know that novice user always expect a hasselfree upgrade without investing time and effort in knowing HTML, PHP and CSS… Well , you can get it , Automattic called it WordPress.com or <a http://vip.wordpress.com/our-services/
Think about it….
Hi Alex Rabe,
First thanks for a great plugin.
Second some after thoughts: If Photocrati is going to continue to distribute 2.0.7 then I think they should:
(1) Display a prominent warning that a user may have much more than the usual probability of major problems, referring them to the forum and allowing them to opt out of the installation.
(2) A prominent warning about the consequences of deleting the plugin – i.e. loss of the image database.
(3) A one-click auto rollback facility.
Third I want to say some words in my defense:
I honestly have nothing against the people at Photocrati. I do believe it is wrong to continue to distribute 2.0.7 but not because the people at Photocrati are deliberately irresponsible but because they are overwhelmed with the current situation and are not thinking straight. If you read my earlier posts you will see that I have admired the engineering that went into 2.0 – I especially liked the Pope implementation. I an not their enemy.
I said “should have the responsibility” not “has the responsibility” since I am referring to “moral” responsibility not “legal” responsibility. Moral responsibility means you do the right thing even if you are not legally required to do so.
As to the statistics you are quoting when as of August 12 101 people out of 115 – 87% – says something is broken I think it is time to conclude something is seriously wrong and consider withdrawing the product. (Of course I understand that people are more likely to vote negatively and this statistic is skewed negatively but even so these numbers are so one-sided that they are significant.) Consider this: the bulk of your users probably have not yet upgraded but everyday you are exposing an additional 10,000 to a deficient product. Would it not be wiser to withdraw the product, fix it and then release again.
Lastly, I strongly sense a lack of empathy for the novice user. I am actually from the time when freeware was distributed in source code and you were expected to compile your own binary. Needless to say freeware was only used by a small elite. Freeware has steadily become more and more user friendly and consequently more and more widespread. I think the market now is the novice user and developers should keep him in mind. I think to disregard the novice user is going against flow of time. That’s my opinion and time will tell which of us is right.
If you as a plugin developer choose to believe that the number of users that this product failed for was low and that’s not important to you, bear in mind that this decision can affect your reputation as a developer.
I belong to many technical groups who are well aware of the serious flaws in this upgrade, and they have chosen to either wait, or they have rolled back because maybe their entire business depends on it.
I think that Photocrati should at least make a formal announcement that this upgrade is seriously flawed, and should take it off the market for now, and roll back the version upgrade on the WordPress.org dashboard.
I don’t think that this is a lot to ask.
I don’t agree that buying the pro version will get faster support, as a matter of fact, I think it will do the opposite. I have never used NextGEN before, and I got a bad first impression from downloading 2.0.
I would never buy it, especially when there are other free plugins that can do as good a job and the developers treat their users better.
I have been monitoring the support section for a couple of days and I am floored at the amount of reports of bugs and problems coming in by the hour. I’ve never seen anything like this. Version 2.0 should be taken down immediately.
I’m only sorry that I am learning to use NextGEN under these circumstances. Version 1.9.13 was a wonderful product.
Some write the source code quality is very good. but if you look here:
the programming is rather sloppy and confused. They make new versions without testing it properly. This can be seen in the time column.
Also suggests that photocrati is overwhelmed:
“124 of 997 threads in the support load two months have been resolved.”
Version 2 was too much. So many changes makes one better in small increments. But they wanted their PRO version just sell quickly. Think about: They want $ 39 per year – that’s $ 390 in ten years!
Alex, I wasn’t expecting this kind of gibberish talk from you, mate.
Your ubuesque inclination towards the pro version and your naive understanding of statistics are almost as depressing as Photocrati’s so-called work.
Nextgen 2.0 is a complete and utter failure. Bear in mind that if this debacle of comical proportions continues, your plugin is going down the drain.
First of all, I don’t believe that this was tested as thoroughly as they said it was, sorry. Why was it changed so drastically? They could’ve just maintained it as it was and gradually built it up. It was not necessary to change it so much at one time.
I think this is just another case of corporate greed (or developer greed), nothing more. They thought they could crank out a sophisticated upgrade and get everyone to buy it, but it looks like it backfired, and they can’t handle all the bugs.
It is unprofessional to say that they consider that the upgrade worked for most users, and the rest are a minority, so who cares about them?
Why would anyone buy this for $39 if this is how they are treating users?
You can not say only 100 of 10,000 updates do not work. The errors since version 2.0.0 are so many that EVERYONE is affected. Some just do not notice it immediately or have not yet been updated. While others might have been updated and tested ten times unsuccessfully and downgrading. So 10,000 downloads could possibly be carried out by 2,000 users.
In my opinion it is ok that a free plugin does not work right for some users after a big update.
But it is not ok if your entire site therefore no longer works even without any plugin conflicts. And it’s not OK, that at a photo plugin that you delete all photos are deleted. It is surely clear that one wants to keep his uploaded photos!
“…it is not ok if your entire site no longer works even without any plugin conflicts.”
I agree. These are not minor conflicts and has rendered some websites totally unusable, leaving businesses at stake.
I upgraded to version 2.0 and i could not add single pictures into posts. I reported it as a bug. And here is the reply i got..
The interface to add a singlepic hasn’t been incorporated into the new Attach to Post interface, yet. But you can still do it. You just need to click the normal WordPress Media button. You’ll see a NextGEN Gallery option there. Just navigate to the image you want and click “Insert as Singlepic”. Thanks!
Yeah right…. Bet those who pay for it got that option. But crap like that doesn’t work with me. Whats happening now is the equivalent of selling a car and forcing people to pay more for brakes.
I don’t know who is more behind the corporate arrogance here, but I don’t like being told that my website’s issues are in the minority, so it doesn’t matter what happens to me, and that if I buy it, I’ll get better support. Are they kidding? It seems that it’s more than a few websites going down. I can’t count the number of different issues on the support forum here. How are they going to sort it all out, and who wants a plugin that can’t really be used with other plugins without issues?
I do not believe that Alex Rabe and Photocrati are really bad people. I believe the problem is that they are so heavily involved in the situation that they cannot form a proper perspective. When I read what Alex has written I absolutely can tell that these are the thoughts and feelings of a developer – a developer’s perspective. If Alex and Photocrati would completely stop thinking like a developer and start thinking totally (and I really mean totally) like a non-technical user and consider the thoughts and feelings of that user I think they would have a different perspective. Proper balance is not automatic it takes work.
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