Time for WordPress Quality Control
Quality Control Needed For WordPress Plugins
It is time WordPress.org introduced a quality control system to vet plugins available from the repository. There are so many faulty plugins that just simply do not work, or are not compatible with the later WordPress versions.
A system needs to be introduced whereby WordPress users can see immediately if a plugin will work the way the developer claims, if it is fully compatible with the version of WordPress in use. The user voting system does not work well enough – how many users actually bother to vote for a plugin – a very small percentage if we look at votes cast, and downloads of any plugin…
GPL and Free, Not OPEN FAULT
The WordPress plugins from the repository are free (mostly – although there are many that need paid subscriptions to enable full functions, but that is fine). But then so are Drupal Modules (plugins), and when we install a Drupal module we have a very good idea about the state of the developement of the plugin, whether it is considered stable, or is in some stage of development…
With WordPress being one of the most used systems for blogging, and catching up fast for website CMS use, the user friendly system has reached a level of maturity where GPL and free should no longer go hand in hand with open fault, unresolved but closed. Possibly more so for WordPress; the ease of set-up and content creation makes the system very attractive to non-technical users, many of whom have neither the time or inclination to delve into debugging plugins to get their sites to work properly.
Plugin Status Required
I repeat, users need to know the status of a plugin BEFORE they install it. A system whereby plugins that have not been vetted and found to have achieved a minimum required level of compatibility are indicated as such – Alpha stage, beta stage, unstable beta, not for production websites etc will benefit the WordPress user community as well as the developers.
Many of us with technical skills are quite wiling to install in-development plugins, and provide feedback to the developers, even work on fixing the faults we find (which are often specific to some hosting solutions, combinations of other plugins or themes) provided we know to expect problems. I for one get annoyed when expecting a trouble-free function, then find the plugin is faulty. When this happens, and it does all too often, I am more likely to trash the plugin and use something else.
Several WordPress Plugins with major problems:
Over the past few weeks I have come across a rash of WordPress Plugins with problemsbroken plugins including caching and performance plugins, and RSS plugins.
WP Super Cache Plugin:
WP Super Cache is one that really should not have the faults I experienced. It has been downloaded nearly 1 million times, and is highly rated and recommended. But the latest version is broken – at least with some WordPress set-ups, and some similar problems seem to affect versions after 0.8.
Today I found this plugin works on only 33% of the sites I used it on… On one live site the pre-load function only caches taxonomy pages… On another live site it just doesn’t work. The only site it looked like it was working correctly was a basic testing set-up (with no other plugins to cause conflict, and a very basic theme – not good at all). and this site and the second site mentioned are hosted on the SAME SERVER – with identical server settings, so is not a server configuration problem.
RSS in Page Plugins:
Looking for a plugin to load RSS feed into pages last week I came across three of these that do not work at all… The fourth one did – HungryFEED…
Other Performance Plugins with Faults
WP Minify – to combine multiple CSS and Java files broke one site completely (Thesis theme) and caused style problems with another site (OK, the guilty CSS file can be excluded from the minify function)
Use Google Libraries also failed to work on the same two sites – in one case it only hooked into one Googleapi java script file – and that one could not have been the same as the result was broken functionality… And with no method to exclude the files causing problems.
The modules I use for both these functions with Drupal 7 work perfectly, even though when I first installed them, both were in alpha or beta development stages… and clearly indicated as such.
IDXpro plugin for WPrdPress only works for some regions – or more specifically the multi listing search is only VISIBLE to viewers in some parts of the world… For all the rest it causes the page downlaod to never complete… The plugin is available from the wordPress repository – it shouldn’t be as it is completely useless without signing up for the service…
Users cannot vote if it works or not, and cannot post reports if the IDXpro plugin is broken – they just get re-directed to the WordPress forum tag-cloud page – WordPress should consider this plugin in contravention of the GPL requirement – and force the developers to clearly explain it’s limitations – i.e. it only works for about 1 percent of the world’s internet users (site visitors). The company behind it makes no mention of the limitation of the service on their audience restricted website -see IDXPro MLS Not Working.