Should wordpress.org introduce a ‘reputation’ system?

Update: Massive kudos to Otto who spotted that there were over 60 fake accounts created over a year ago and used for the purpose of knocking this plugin, now sorted, what a legend!

Earlier today I was browsing our ever increasing number of free plugin releases at WordPress.org and made a pretty unpleasant discovery.

Gone, from our free membership plugin, was the satisfaction-inducing 4.8 [estimated] average star rating from 40 or so users – and in place was a much less than gratifying 2.7 or so score – from 80 users feedback – as well as 9 new ‘Doesn’t Work’ tags.So, naturally my first thought was to check out whether in fact we’d just released an absolute dud, breaking peoples sites and leaving them rightly annoyed.

Fortunately though, that wasn’t the case – in fact what had happened was clearly the result of an individual, or group, of users suddenly descending on the plugin (in the space of a few days) to rate it 1 star and say that it doesn’t work – without even opening a single support ticket.

Essentially spamming it down.

Ouch!

Now, whether this was a competitor, or someone with a  grudge, I don’t know – but in a critical commercial context I do know that it’ll harm our business (needless to say, a lot of people like that plugin so much they upgrade to the paid version)… and in doing so threaten the livelihood of 16 dedicated WordPress developers, support folk, writers and alike.

Which really isn’t on.

But is also easily fixed!

I’d like to suggest that wordpress.org introduces a simple reputation system – much like StackOverflow operates – whereby registered users need to, essentially:

  • be a registered user for a period of time
  • post x times in the forums (even once would be good)
  • be credited with x ‘thumbs ups’ or similar from other users
  • pass other associated simple tests to determine they are legit

Before they can rate or mark a plugin as working or not.

As an additional bonus this could also leave to a resurgence of use at the forums – everyone loves reputation points (heck, we give free lifetime membership to folks at WPMU DEV that rack up 1000) and a higher quality of review would doubtless benefit everyone.

And save us, and countless other premium plugin providers, from issues like the above.

Of course, if this was some sort of coordinated effort by a group of established wordpress.org members to give us a kicking, then the above wouldn’t work at all, but you’d like to think that that was unlikely to be the case (or at least hope that much!).

Whaddya reckon?