Support » Requests and Feedback » Plugins maintenance and development, when author seem not anymore take care ?

  • Resolved Trebly



    I have installed and tested near one hundred of plugins.

    With a few ones : what they describe what they do , but with other important ones (as TOC+), I found bugs or limitations without any solution else than development.

    I could not get answers from the authors, and the post list of their plugins post box show that they seem not to follow their product anymore or with not the requested attention.

    For several ones I either debug or enhanced the plugin, and for one a lot (spent two weeks of work).

    What are the rules of WordPress team in such case ?

    I found one user who had the same problems as me (there are probably many others who have worked around), how to communicate the update or patches descriptions ? (most of time there are not simple patches, there is a lot of changes and added pieces of code).

    Sometimes, it could be possible to create a new plugin, but it is not a priority for me because it cost a lot of time to package and maintain it. I was first a user which had developed a project of publication with WordPress and designed to use WordPress without any development, but able to develop nevertheless.

    Thanks for the solution or reference of a document (which I have not found) about this subject.

    Must I just respect GPL2 license (it seems that most of author uses this license) ?

    Best regards


Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Moderator James Huff


    Volunteer Moderator

    First, try reaching out via every contact method the original author has. That includes the plugin’s support forum and any form of contact they may have on their website.

    If you can’t make contact there, under the Development tab of plugins listed here, you’ll find a link to the plugin in Trac where you can submit a ticket with a patch attached. (Do a quick scan through the listing’s other tabs too, as development for a plugin is sometimes handled elsewhere, like GitHub.)

    If a plugin generally seems abandoned, you have a patch for a reproducible bug, and the original author won’t respond to your patch or request to take over development, you might as well fork the plugin. In a sense, modify the old code, and release “Better Example Plugin” yourself as a way of updating “Example Plugin.”

    Just make sure that you credit the original author, and of course that the plugin is under a forkable license (which every plugin in the official directory here is).

    After that, I’d recommend reaching out to the original author again to ask if they’d consider promoting your new fork instead of their abandoned version. If they still don’t respond, it’s generally ok to promote yours as an answer to support threads under the abandoned plugin, just do your best to not sound like a spammer or you’ll upset a few folks. 🙂

    And yes, you must respect whatever license the plugin is released under.


    Thanks for this very clear answer.

    I have just spent two hours to get more documentation about GPL2 and GPL3 licensing.

    How are managed the users financial help, contribution to development ?
    This is common with Mozilla, I have not seen any information about this on WordPress site (Searched on site)

    Some detail questions more (may be I am not correctly aware about GPL2 application).
    About forking or patching process, in my mind there are two main cases : A and B and sub cases :

    A- Bugs or not well ended functions declared functions of the product)
    (note : in development I generally separate bugs which concerns main functions that cannot be changed in their consistency from options which not functions well, In second case if the function is not activated or simply suppressed from admin area and docs there is no more “bug”). Can be trivial patches and documentation adjustments (to suppress bug concept and support questions.

    1- There are bugs and you can propose patches, then there is no fork, the authors goes on maintaining his product (note : on some plugins when I had to seek inside the product and treat bugs or not well ended features, I answer on support once or more to give advices to the users while most of time the conversations on “support” of the plugin are naturally between the user and the author)

    2- The author refuses to apply changes or don’t answers : the risk is that a new version (forked) will appear with incompatibilities. In my mind the better solution is to fork first, then a new development will restart probably from the forked versions if you don’t want or can (time needed) support the product. You have (GPL2 case) by forking assured the continuity of the product

    3- There are bugs, but there are too important for a simple patch, then you can propose a new version, if the plugin is really abandoned this will generate potentially a fork in which you become (quite identical to second case finally but not same conditions nor aims)

    B- Important Enhancements

    1- The original author accepts to hold his code patched and share rights with the new author for enhancements (support and package new versions) the new code has two authors or more. Then what are the right of the second author and the way to evaluate and share ?

    2- The first author doesn’t follow and there is a full fork : how soft revenues and licensing management are shared ? which rule ? Can be or must be this discussed with the authors mentioned into copyright under GPL2 (or/and GPL3)

    Note : In the particular case the Author have updated his plugin two month ago (minor), not answered to 13 questions of users for last months and had never answered to my questions and into exchanges threads since five month (beginning of use). A good cumulative download near 50,000.

    I think that this discussion is important but not urgent.
    I plan to fork if necessary during june or july.
    Some person ask for new features as those I need but it is just a few users. I have made announcement of the development contents into the plugin support but not elsewhere. I have no time to package the plugin now and it is much more complex than the original.
    There are really new features for WordPress to manage long documents, become quite a “book reader” when the functions are added.

    Best regards


    Moderator James Huff


    Volunteer Moderator

    Under GPL 2/3, you can actually fork a plugin at any time, even minutes after it’s been released. That’s the spirit of open source software.

    With that said though, what you’ve provided above is a great list of when the open source community would generally consider it acceptable to fork a plugin with intent to replace it. 🙂


    It remains the question of the common rules for sharing users financial participation to development between authors.

    There are three main cases, in my opinion :

    • After “conflict fork” (generally development process or level of functions or services) : often two versions remains active. Each author gives is account references (often via Paypal) and wishes.
    • Large enhancements : if the two versions remains active we are in the same situation as 1. for financial participations,
    • When there are new commercial versions after the fork case there is a licence change, this cannot be done (to confirm : this is my current knowledge), a contract must be negotiated with the original author, wa are out of GPL2 the general Copyright rules will be applied for the whole code.
    • Shared development : the new author and the ancient decide to begin to be a team. Then there is a private agreement or contract to negotiate, with the open source case and future extensions out of the GPL2 (commercial) or how to extend the team.
    • undetermined case : the first author don’t gives any news. The problem is that what can be discussed in the above first case about license type change (leave GPL2 to develop commercial version using the original GPL2 code). In my opinion many precautions must be formulated to avoid future requests (when there is a success) of the first author. It must exist a jurisprudence to use to not risk any any action on copyright. I don’t know if it exist in any manner a : “draw up law observation of copyright withdrawal for the interest of new exploitant before action of the copyright owner”. In my opinion there are many difficulties for such “withdrawal” which exist for patents. It seems that the good rule is to have good proofs of researches done which leaves no hope to the original copyright owner to obtain anything from the law (depends of countries).

    I developed this thoughts to collect confirmations of my views of this subject and problems.

    Best regards


    Moderator James Huff


    Volunteer Moderator

    Those are some great guidelines, not at all required by the GPL, but some great guidelines to stay on the community’s good side. 🙂

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