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Abandoned Plugin Adoption Program: WPrecycle

Update Feb 2013: The program is now closed.

WordPress is by far the most popular CMS and one of the biggest reasons why is the extensive network of over 21,808 plugins in the WordPress repository alone.  But having so many free plugins on the market and the rapid evolution of updated WordPress versions, leads to abandoned plugins that are outdated and have zero support.  Thousands, sometimes millions of plugin users get left hanging when the author doesn’t have time to update it or respond to support.  This abandonment is typically due to the author having no time for the plugin when it does not produce income.  Plugin authors should be thanked for their contribution to the WP community, but plugin abandonment still depreciates WordPress. When using a free plugin, it is a constant fear to have to find replacements or spend time fixing the errors. This fear deters people from using WordPress at all.

There is no easy solution for plugin abandonment, especially because the WordPress repository is free, resulting in a lack of time authors are able to keep the plugin up with no way to let other people adopt a plugin that is abandoned.  WPrecycle seems to be a common sense solution.  At WPrecycle, abandoned plugins have a chance to be adopted.  When a plugin is submitted at WPrecycle, it is reviewed, then possibly updated, supported, and rebirthed on the repository and PluginChief.com  The goal of the recycle program is to restore as many unique, exclusive plugins as possible to better the WP community.

PluginChief’s developers are going to do whatever they can to resurrect as many plugins as possible, but keep in mind, there will be a flood of recommendations, opening several opportunities for developers to jump on board and help PluginChief in this venture. PluginChief is also working on a profit sharing option for authors of paid premium plugins, which is one of the many ways we plan to get the entire WP community involved.  With the thousands of plugins gone abandoned, there are sure to be mass, unpredictable submissions through WPrecycle.com

Although WPrecycle sounds like a awesome idea, it does come with some controversy.  Some people in the community have voiced their concern of charging for plugins at PluginChief that were once free in the WordPress Repository. Others also questioned rebranding and adopting plugins without consent of the original author.  PluginChief responded to the communities concerns,

“With WordPress being open source, we could do what’s called “forking” a plugin, meaning we would take an abandoned plugin, update it, add on to it, and make it better. The most popular example of this method in action is WooCommerce, being originally jigoshop.”  Matt from PluginChief said.  “But we want the authors consent, thats adopting rather than forking.  The plugin will be much more successful if we have author access in the repository.”

When addressing charging for a plugin, that was once free, “The plugin’s functionality and size will determine whether or not the plugin will be free, or have a small fee, because some plugins will take a lot of resources to refresh and support.  I will remind you, one of the most important things we’re doing here is preventing these plugins from being abandoned again and let everyone down. If it can’t keep the lights on, it won’t exist.”

Thats all swell and dandy, and makes sense, but how can you beat free?  There is of course the very high risk of bugs, no support, and abandonment, so does “free” outweigh the risk of your websites breaking?  Benefits of premium plugins are:

  • Works with the current version of WordPress core, some even incorporate backwards-compatibility

  • Staying current with WP core optimizes speed and security

  • Turns ideas, and advice from users into reality

  • Hands on support

  • In compliance with WordPress GPL licensing

  • More pressure to improve the community, to increase sales

  • No branding or advertisements

  • Packages to have access to all plugins and addons, making it relatively inexpensive, for what you get.

It’s now an old argument in the WP community: free plugins VS premium plugins.  Ultimately there is room for both, and taking abandoned free plugins, adopting them and maintaining it for a small donation so that thousands in the WP community can sleep easy, sounds like the most realistic solution for the abandoned plugin problem.

You can now submit abandoned plugins at http://WPrecycle.com

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Jean Galea
Jean Galea
Jean Galea is an investor, entrepreneur, and blogger. He is the founder of WP Mayor, the plugins WP RSS Aggregator and Spotlight, as well as the Mastermind.fm podcast. His personal blog can be found at jeangalea.com.

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