I’m no developer. The closest thing I’ve got to plugin development is designing a laughably simply little tool that allows you to embed links to pre-populated tweets within your blog posts (if you want to see how simple it really is, click here).
So I know very little about the hardships of being a plugin developer. But I know enough to have a rudimentary understanding of how difficult it is to produce even the simplest of plugins. And I also happen to know quite a few developers.
The State of Play
There seems to be a bit of a problem within the WordPress community. I think it is inevitable when products of such quality are offered up free of charge. Many people seem to have an attitude of entitlement. The simple art of being grateful is dying. Someone downloads a free plugin, it doesn’t work as they would like, and they feel angry towards the developer. The same developer who has asked for nothing in return.
Sure – one could argue that if someone is going to develop a plugin, they should do so to a certain standard, or not at all. But it isn’t that simple. There are so many different potential WordPress permutations that it is nigh on impossible to develop a plugin that will work under all circumstances. That is why the very first piece of advice you give to someone when a plugin doesn’t work is “switch to the Twenty Eleven Theme, deactivate all plugins, and see if that fixes the problem”.
Some people seem to think that plugin developers should spend all day dealing with support enquiries, rather than, you know, earning a living doing whatever it is that they do to put bread on the table.
It’s Time To Give Something Back
We can all work harder to be more appreciative of free plugin developers. If you actually sit back for a minute, consider all of the functionality your site has, and the plugins that enable it, you might surprise yourself.
So please, next time you download a great plugin, take the time to rate it on the WordPress Plugins Directory. Mark it as compatible with your version of WordPress. If you really like the plugin, offer a donation to the developer – it doesn’t have to be a lot – the gesture alone can be meaningful. Speaking of gestures, why not email the developer and let them know how grateful you are? Words cost nothing.
Be one of the good guys – the world will be a better place for it.
Creative Commons photo courtesy of See-ming Lee