Support » Plugins » Moderators, are trialware plugins allowed on the directory?

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  • Thread Starter brampt22

    (@brampt22)

    The other thing that moderators need to look in is whether all the positive reviews on this plugin are real (or not) …

    Thread Starter brampt22

    (@brampt22)

    Any update on this?

    Here is my review that hasn’t resulted in much:

    https://wordpress.org/support/topic/not-a-free-plugin-9/

    I’m pretty sure a lot of these reviews are fake. Is anyone going to look at this?

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    As the plugin uses a service to do the actual work, then we don’t consider that to be trialware as per our guidelines.

    Services don’t have to have a free tier. They could be pay-only, and a plugin could be in the directory that talked to that service. This is allowed and acceptable, as long as it is clear up-front in the description of the plugin that an external service is used.

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    And no, those reviews are not “fake”. See, they did a very simple thing: They asked their users to leave them reviews. Shockingly, people will do such things when you ask them to do so.

    Thread Starter brampt22

    (@brampt22)

    The reviews look and feel fake.

    Thread Starter brampt22

    (@brampt22)

    As the plugin uses a service to do the actual work, then we don’t consider that to be trialware as per our guidelines.

    The plugin provides absolutely no function after the 7 day period. Do you understand that part? How is that even allowed? It’s just a piece of code that does nothing after 7 days.

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    The reviews look and feel fake.

    That’s as may be, but we can see things like account creation dates and times, IP addresses, and so forth. Not fake. Sorry to disappoint you.

    The plugin provides absolutely no function after the 7 day period. Do you understand that part? How is that even allowed? It’s just a piece of code that does nothing after 7 days.

    The *plugin* continues to work just fine. The *service* is what has a trial period.

    Let’s consider a hypothetical plugin. This plugin connects to “magicvideohosting.com”, which is a service that hosts videos for you. Hosting videos isn’t free, BTW, it requires space for them to store the video, and a ton a bandwidth to show the video to your viewers in real-time.

    So, this video hosting service has *no* free tier. It’s strictly a paid service. If you don’t pay for the service, then the plugin which lets you connect your site to it does absolutely nothing for you. It doesn’t work without the service, obviously, because that’s just what it does.

    Such a plugin is of course allowed in the directory. Nobody would argue that it should not be. We have several plugins that have non-free services attached to them. ManageWP Worker, VaultPress, even Akismet is only free for non-commercial use. So yeah, a plugin that just connects a site to a service is allowed even when the service is not free.

    So, if this service then added a 7 day free trial, effectively allowing people to test the service out for a week, do you now believe that this violates our guidelines? Even though it was perfectly fine before without *any* free level whatsoever?

    Plugins that connect to services are judged based on their merits and whether the *plugin* violates our guidelines. The guidelines do not apply to the services that these plugins actually connect to.

    This is not a violation. Period.

    Thread Starter brampt22

    (@brampt22)

    Thanks for the explanation. I understand how it works now but I feel this loophole should be closed. It’s deceptive. I’ve been deceived several times with such plugins. They are nothing but trialware. You know it.

    Close the loophole. How can I escalate this?

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    It’s not a loophole. We allow services to have plugins that connect to them even when the services are not free at all. There is no “loophole” in offering a trial for services.

    If you don’t want to use a service, then don’t use the service. There is no rule that says services have to be free in some way.

    As for escalation, I’m not sure what you mean. I know exactly what the guideline means, as I’m the guy who wrote the first version of that guideline 7 years ago. So, yeah, you can take my word for it that we’re okay with plugins for connecting to services being in the directory as well as services having free-trials for demonstrating themselves.

    Thread Starter brampt22

    (@brampt22)

    I had a chance to think about this Samuel, and thanks for taking the time to get back to me. You said this is like a video hosting service. I understand if it was a video hosting service. For example, I pay hundreds of dollars to Vimeo to host my videos and if Vimeo made a plugin to embed videos into my wordpress site which is free but which won’t work unless i had a premium account with them, all of this would make sense and this would not be a trialware by any means even if they gave a 7 day trial for their premium account.

    But this spam blocking plugin is not like this. The plugin they are selling is not an outside service. It blocks spam on the wordpress site. It works directly on the wordpress install through the code. They might have created some workaround and created a service to dupe you guys (and that’s the loophole I’m referring to). After 7 days, their spam blocking plugin stops working. This is what trialware is. What am I getting wrong here?

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    We’re not being “duped” by anything, we actually read the code of the plugins in our directory when issues are pointed out to us.

    A spam blocking service can indeed be a service. Akismet, for example, blocks comment spam by sending the comment back to their servers for evaluation. Without the server to do the work, the Akismet plugin cannot work by itself.

    Their plugin clearly talks back to their service to get updated information. It talks to api.cleantalk.org to get spam blocking information from their systems. They have API requests that check for spam and other such things: https://cleantalk.org/help/api-main

    So yes, it is clearly a service. That’s not even in question. And yes, spam blocking can be a paid service. The Akismet service is only free for personal use, for commercial use they have no free tier, it’s a paid service as well.

    The service has a trial period. The plugin does not. The fact that the plugin is useless without the service is irrelevant. Akismet is useless without the Akismet service too. That’s acceptable.

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