WP-Members 2.7.1 beta release

I have finished a release candidate for WP-Members 2.7.1 that is ready for public testing.  As previously announced, this update has a number of fixes and improvements.

The WP-Members 2.7.1 beta rc4 can be downloaded here.

Here is a list of what is included in this version:  [Read more...]

The WordPress.org plugin repository, support forums, and an old & tired curmudgeon

As a plugin developer, I made the decision long ago to participate in the wordpress.org plugin responsitory.  That has turned out to be a good decision for me as it has benefited the visibility of my plugins and also has assisted with managing them.

However, there is a flaw that has become somewhat of an annoyance to me.

For every plugin, there is a selection to indicate compatibility.  Logged in users can indicate their version of WordPress and the version of the plugin and select whether that combination “Works” or is “Broken.”

The problem with this are:

  • No additional information is required
  • No possibility of edit/rejection is allowed
  • The original user that marked it “broken” has to remember to go mark it as “working” if their problem turns out to be their own fault

This makes the feature not only useless, but quite inaccurate as well.

First, let me say that the vast majority of the support issues I deal with on a daily basis result from one of two possibilities (or a combination of both):

  1. The user simply did not follow directions
  2. My support documentation could have been more clear

The code for my plugin is relatively mature (it’s been around for six years) and has been regularly updated as versions/features of WordPress have been released.  I will take some of the blame myself and say that sometimes, I tend to over document, so the answer may not necessarily be simple to find (but it’s there).  And sometimes, I have been known to make a mistake in documenting (but that’s a documentation issue, which may result in a user thinking it’s broken when in fact the instructions were incorrect – but then they have to go back and change their answer.)

Now that I’ve ranted a little bit, let me just say that 99% of the users of my plugin are either low maintenance (in that they follow the instructions, everything works, and they are happy), or very polite – as in, MOST of you contact me for support with something like this:

Your SUPER AWESOME plugin is so great!!  I love it!  Thanks so much for writing and supporting it!

By the way, I can’t get it to work.  Could you help me?

Maybe I exaggerate a little – but seriously – JUST a little.  Read the comments on the plugin page once in a while and you’ll see what I mean.  And I appreciate the appreciation! It takes an appreciative user base to make a plugin this successful – it’s rare to get that level of recognition and I’m humbled by it.

But every once in a while, someone comes along that just gets under my skin.  I shouldn’t let it get to me, because honestly, it is so rare, and the WP user community at large is so polite and supportive.  But, part of this gig is reputation.  And it only takes one doofus to put a stain on that.

And I say doofus because the example I’m going to give you is clearly someone who could absolutely NOT have read ANY of the plugin’s instructions.

This is what they posted in the WordPress Support Forums:

Plugin doesn’t work

Good grief what a waste of my time.

I installed the plug-in and it warns me to turn off “Anyone can register” – I turn it off and no one can register. There is no way to turn on registration in the plug-in so the plugin has no function. If I leave it on then reCaptura never shows up and you get the standard WP registration page.

Am I in the twilight zone or what????

Honestly, my first reaction was hurt feelings.  I put six years into developing this plugin into what it is today and all that time it has been available free of charge.  Many of you have donated financially to keep it alive and I appreciate that immensely.  Others have contributed in other ways.  Then along comes Mr. Complainer and puts the kibosh on my emotional high.

My next reaction is to read what went wrong, as this is clearly a support request.

Well, let me rephrase that.  It’s actually NOT a request.  It’s just an opportunity to bash someone’s work – something that is provided for free.  But, OK, something’s not working – my MO, as anyone who knows me will attest to, is to leave that aside and try to get to the bottom of the issue.  Many of you who support this plugin and this site, and who know me from the support forums know how I try to offer support as much as I can.  Although the more popular the plugin becomes, the more difficult that becomes.  But that’s another story.

So what’s the issue?  He is trying to use the WP backend (wp-login) registration.  OK, I can see that maybe I have not been clear enough in the product labeling to specifically say DON’T use the backend registration, but seriously – there are some extreme noobie users of WordPress out there that have figured this plugin out using the documentation provided so I can’t put this one on me.  And again, those of you who have received support from me know that if you ask, I will do what I can.  But I’ve never had anyone ask for help like that before.

It really comes down to the issue of the attitude.  I was seriously put off.  As I mentioned, I started at “hurt” but that went to “angry” pretty quickly.  (I’m over it now – it was all in the moment.) So I looked at some of the other threads this person had started.  In the past year, the only contributions to the forum that this user has made have been to complain and bash other people’s work.  This is clearly the work of a tired and old curmudgeon.  (Seriously, he gives curmudgeons a bad name.)

The biggest frustration?

He makes claims to running a number of commercial websites on which he makes money.  (Hey that’s great – we all want to do that, right?)  So, wouldn’t you think that as a professional, you would know enough to run plugin updates in a testing environment?  Nope!  Not this guy.  He loads an update on all of his sites prior to checking to see if there are any compatibility issues.

Then if there are (even if it’s his fault for not reading directions), LOOK OUT!  He will call your plugin worthless, junk, a waste of time… And perish the thought that you might have a commercial upgrade for your plugin.  He is (GASP!) offended that you would stoop to trying to earn a living from your work.  Don’t you know that everything is supposed to be free!?!?  That kind of thing will get you a “Buyer Beware!” post from him.  Regardless, it’s a hit-and-run job, too.  And that just makes it that much more frustrating.  He’s not really asking for support (the few developers that have bothered to respond to him are generally ignored when asking for more detail).  He’s really just interested in talking trash.

So I was very happy to see Darren Ethier, developer of the Organize Series plugin take this guy to the woodshed.  Unfortunately, that was a year ago, and perrymyk doesn’t seem to have learned anything from that exchange – he’s still a whiner and complainer.

And I guess the worst part of all of this is that I’ve stooped to his level – he’s got me complaining.

I know, I know… I shouldn’t let it get to me.  As I said, 99.99% of the WP community and users of this plugin are incredibly awesome.  As I write this, WP-Members is hovering at #149 on the wordpress.org popularity list, which puts in in the top 1% of plugins by popularity.  That’s an incredible thing that, as I said before, wouldn’t be accomplished without supportive users.  That puts it up there (and in some cases, in front of) some really awesome plugins by some amazing developers who I really respect.