Free Plugin Support – How to Know Who is There to Help

Free Plugin Support - How to Know Who is There to HelpOne of the issues with free plugins is that they are sometimes not well-supported.

This isn’t a complaint against developers. Far from it in fact – regular readers of my posts will know that I champion free plugin developers. It is just a statement of fact.

If you are planning on using a particularly complicated plugin, knowing whether or not it is supported can make a big difference.  And that is where WordPress.org’s newly redesigned plugins repository comes in:

Support

Where there once was a compact list of the most recent support forum posts, there is now a simple message which informs you of how many support threads have been resolved in the previous three weeks. This gives you an instant idea of how well supported a plugin is – by the actual developer and/or the WordPress community.

Furthermore, if you click on the “View support forum” button, you are taken through to a clean and simple forum screen, where you can view all of the most recent threads. Even if a plugin seems to not be well-supported, it could always be a bunch of people asking stupid or irrelevant questions (it happens).

How Do the Big Boys Perform?

As a little experiment, I thought I’d take a look at the top 5 WordPress plugins from our top 100 list and see how many support threads had been resolved in the previous three weeks.

  1. Google XML Sitemaps: 0 of 10
  2. W3 Total Cache: 6 of 40
  3. NextGEN Gallery: 4 of 93
  4. Contact Form 7: 20 of 78
  5. WordPress SEO by Yoast: 105 of 108

Unfortunately, four of the top five plugins seem to be poorly supported, which isn’t terribly encouraging. It rather underlines the argument that if you want a functional and well-supported plugin, you need to go premium.

You should however take the numbers with a pinch of salt – there is every chance that (a) a query has been resolved but not marked as such, or (b) you’re dealing with a complete moron:

Support Thread
He didn't get a response within 4 hours...how dare we neglect him!

The support thread resolution ratio shouldn’t necessarily determine whether or not you use a particular plugin, but it certainly should come into consideration.

Creative commons image courtesy of loop_oh

Tags

Participate