Support » Plugin: Link Checker Professional » Bait and Switch – Pretty much forced to buy if you want to use.

  • EDITED REVIEW: 2021.03.10
    The free plugin works, but stops before it can finish being useful. 500 links is simply not enough for a free version. It doesn’t provide a free tier that’s functional for most medium-sized websites. You end up having to buy it to actually use it. That makes this more of an advertisement than an actual plugin. I’m using a different plugin.

    EDITED 2021.03.11
    See my reply dated today.

    • EDIT: The free plugin only checks 500 links. This is entirely useless, even for medium-sized sites.
    • EDIT: Plugin registration consists of link allotments, with the minimum being 25K links checked in one go for ~50 Euros. It goes up drastically from there because Marco’s server is the one doing the crawling.
    • Most target websites are small, hosted on huge commercial properties optimized for WordPress. Additionally, crawling the local site may not be as optimal as scraping each post’s content field for links and storing results locally.
    • My server should be the one doing the work. If my server is doing the work, you can’t expect me to pay by the link for a service my server is doing. Period.
    • An example of a per unit subscription model that works is Mailchimp. Their servers are doing the work in a trusted secure environment so that my web host box doesn’t become a shadow spambot. Offloading that service to mailchimp is not sketchy, and their terms are more than generous for small to mid-sized website admins, with a free tier that is actually commodious. That’s not what’s happening with this plugin.
    • It checks every link on every page, even footer links that repeat across the entire site, so if you have a link like “theme created by…”, that link counts on every page against your priced link count. Absurd.
    • Worse, it counts a number of known valid links as broken.
    • WordPress plugins in the .org library should offer a reasonable modicum of usefulness out of the gate. It should not seem hampered to the site admin. The pro version should offer additional capabilities that make the free plugin seem more complete. This plugin offers only a glimpse of what the paid plugin might do if you are willing to pay 45 euros minimum to check 25K links. You want to check more links? Buy more tokens.
    • EDIT: Given the Author’s (Marco Beierer) balanced response, I’ll say this would better serve the WP community and Marco himself by:
    • scraping post content directly for links rather than crawling,
    • removing the tier caps — including for the free version — and then
    • Price the pro version between $50 and $100 for a single-tier paid version that also includes image and youtube link checking.
    • Also for the pro version, add the ability to check all site menu links, sidebar/footer/widget links, post content for custom post-type links, custom field links, etc.
    • This would give the expected additional capability along with unrestricted link checking found in the free version.
    • A great plugin makes the free-plugin adopter feel like they’re getting such a bargain they feel guilty for not supporting the plugin with either a donation or an upgrade to the pro version.

Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Plugin Author Marco Beierer

    (@mbsec)

    I’m sorry that my plugin made you so angry?! 🙂

    The free quota is enough for more than 95 percent of the users. The cheapest plan for websites with up to 25’000 URLs is enough for about 99 percent of the websites.

    Every time you use the plugin, the limit count starts from 0 again. So if your website has less than 25’000 URLs you can use it as often as you like within one year.

    For the rest, please read the description of the plugin, everything is explained there. If you have question and you ask with a nicer tone, I’m happy to help you out.

    Thread Starter Laughter On Water

    (@laughter-on-water)

    Marco, thanks for your balanced reply. I’ve edited my review accordingly. However, I’m using a different plugin. We disagree about what a free plugin on wordpress.org should actually accomplish. For me, a plugin hosted on wordpress.org should actually accomplish something other than being little more than an ad for the paid version.

    The base capability for this plugin is checking dead/broken links, both internal and external. That’s what this plugin should do. Restricting the number to 500 links is questionable. You may as well restrict it to 100 links. We’re not supposed to use this platform this merely to advertise for the paid version. The free version should give a robust and useful capability out of the box. It’s supposed to be an enticement to unlock more capabilities — not more capacity on the base capability — especially when that capability is being powered by my server. This is not mailchimp. You’re not providing a per-link service from your own hosted system. Frankly, it irks me that you would even restrict the base to just 10K links. A better approach would be to have a function that checks if the person has 10K links checked and puts an admin notice that says, “Hey, it looks like you’re a professional, which means you’re likely making a profit from this site. Why not support a fellow professional by paying for a subscription to the pro version? It includes additional capabilites… (etc.) Thanks for using my plugin!”

    There are a lot of free plugins that provide amazing base capabilities. Their paid versions offer even more. I’m willing to put up with a lot from the free versions, including admin notices in settings areas asking me, “Wouldn’t you like to upgrade to the pro version?” and, “Why not rate my plugin today on wordpress.org?”

    This plugin could rock. Currently, it does not. This hampered free plugin is just an ad for similarly restricted versions of the pro version. And that disappoints me. I am among a fairly large number of people who have rated this plugin similarly, though they may not have taken the time to express why.

    Plugin Author Marco Beierer

    (@mbsec)

    Let me say it this way: about 99 percent of the regular users (not one time users) use the free version and are happy with it. Just about one percent of the regular users purchased the pro version.

    So In my opinion it’s not just an ad for a paid plugin!

    Also I have to pay for the servers that do all the link checking and that cost is not that low. Your server just have to handle the requests from my server, which is the same load as of a normal visitor.

    Link checking is not a light work load. It for example requires lots of memory to temporary store all the data during the check of the website and also CPU power to parse the HTML pages.

    Some hosters not even allow local link checkers because of how many resources they need.

    If you do the checking with a local plugin, you also have the risk to get your server blacklisted and because many hosters have the mail server on the same server as the websites, it could be that your emails get blocked by other providers.

    There are lots of considerations to decide between a local checker and a remote one like provided by me. But because a remote one is expensive to operate, it cannot provided for free.

    I also understand if people get mad if the description is not clear and just notice that the free use is limited after installing a plugin. But I make the limitations of the free version very clear in the description.

    However, nearly all of the negative reviews come from people that prefer to write bad reviews to just read the description before installing a plugin. Which should be in your own interest if you operate a website responsibly.

    I simply cannot understand why people just try to destroy small businesses with such reviews. Everything is explained in the description and every user can decide by himself/herself if he/she likes to use a plugin.

    Thread Starter Laughter On Water

    (@laughter-on-water)

    Marco, most of us here are small web devs. I’m not picking on you. I’m pointing out that your plugin does not engender the spirit of what a free plugin on this venue should be. Others may not have been as long-winded as I have been, but I gave constructive criticism for how it disappoints and how it could be fixed.

    It’s possible your business model is flawed.

    Your model client has a website that is between medium and large sized, hosted by someone who squawks at a website that uses precious resources to crawl itself for broken links. This model client can’t exist. Yes there are people who have small servers in their basement and are hosting sites to the internet, but they represent too small a client base to be considered a reasonable model client.

    True, most people have small websites. But even most small websites today are hosted by huge companies with servers optimized for WordPress. Even the mom-&-pop webhosts usually lease and rebrand hosting capability from the main hosting companies for their clients.

    You’re currently allowing maybe ten thousand free plugin adopters to use your resources to do something that could easily be done locally. This is a choice you made. Checking links remotely seems like a suboptimal use of your resources and the plugin’s local resources. If you’re concerned that the plugin would bog down the local system, use a time-delay system to crawl responsibly with local resources.

    This “free” version offers only 500 links to a model client who doesn’t exist. Your true model client has 25K links. They have a budget for maybe a few pro plugins, but they’ll choose those carefully. Nearly one-hundred percent of sites never reach 25K links. But trying to crawl that many links remotely for free would probably cost you too much. That’s why crawling needs to be local. Keeping it local also means the data are more secure.

    And if you’re going to crawl local, putting a limit on the number of links becomes superfluous because almost nobody has a site with 25K links. You have no logical reason to limit this if the local resources are doing the work. So do it local and remove the link tier caps. The enticement for the pro version comes from offering add-ons like the ability to check broken image links and youtube/vimeo/soundcloud link validation, which can be an addon, and again, managed locally.

    There probably isn’t a model client at the 100K link range. It’s more effective for someone whose website has a hundred thousand links to be responsible enough to hire someone to develop an in-house plugin that will do it, you guessed it, locally.

    The only information that needs to be on your servers is occasional validation of your pro plugins and addons. That’s a lot less traffic, and frankly part of the cost of doing business.

    Lastly, I am curious about how this plugin complies with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation for sites that require it. Crawling locally would also stop that concern.

    Please keep in mind that I’ve taken a lot of time out of my day to reply and that I’ve been respectful.

    Thread Starter Laughter On Water

    (@laughter-on-water)

    Marco, I’d also like to apologize for not understanding that your servers are crawling the site where the plugin is hosted. We’re so used to large companies offering services for free, it’s tough sometimes to remember that the small companies can’t do it for free. Automattic offers a free screenshot generator that uses their servers to create an image of whatever web page you request on the fly. Google similarly provides nocaptcha recaptcha. I’m pretty sure my shared hosting provider would shut me down if I generated that much traffic serving something similar unless I moved to a VPS, PS or something larger, and then I’d be at the mercy of my traffic, unless I could find a way to monetize it.

    Nobody else has been quite as loud as I, and while that can seem like a bad thing, I hope you’ll consider my criticism as constructive because I can see from your code that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into this plugin. It is my firm hope that you’ll adapt the free version and monetize the pro version of this plugin in ways that better serve both you and your plugin users.

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