Affiliate Plugin + MLM

@wpmudev Pros (you know who you are)

First I’d like to thank you guys for all the work you have done on all of the plugins and themes you provide here, with particular focus on how to help Pro Bloggers make money on their MU-sites…

I just have a couple of questions.

1) Why have you stopped?

I guess it was some time back in the spring of 2010 when it seems Admins stopped really answering questions users put up about the Affiliate plugin. It was about then that someone decided that Copy/Paste-ing the default answer was the correct response for every question:

“Of course we designed the Affiliate plugin as a framework that you can hook into via custom plugins, so you can always hire a capable developer to do this for you.

What most of us, who have read that trite, and oft repeated answer, want to know:

2) When Is There Going To Be A Part MORE?

You see… most of us are Blogging pros… some of us have a little common sense… and almost all of us have dealt with an affiliate program or two.. most of us on Both sides of the Affiliate process.

The referenced post is more of an introduction to Affiliate programs than an introduction to creating new interfaces for things like S2Member or BuddyPress, or any of the other community building plugins listed here. We know what the program does… What we want to know is:

3) How do we make it do something DIFFERENT?

And by different we mean coding in Multiple affiliate payments in Multiple Levels so our Affiliates can make money by using their individual Marketing skills. Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM), and yes, I really did feel the need to spell it out for the copy/paste replier admins.

There are a whole threads in these forums on MLM systems, and even some code splashed around with questions and comments on what needs to be done to push Affiliate to the next MLM level, but no solid answers on HOW to do it…

Which brings me to my last question of this post:

4) Could whoever has had Success in adding MLM to the affiliate plugin, please sit down and take the time to explain what needs to be done, where, so that other WebMasters don’t have to, oh… I don’t know… go with a completely different plugin and drop the WPMUDEV site subscription entirely?

By my count that’s at least one dozen people who have asked these particular sets of questions, without a single satisfactory answer having been offered since last spring. You really don’t want us to start considering asking for repayment of a year’s subscriptions, do you?


  • DavidM
    • DEV MAN’s Mascot

    Hi there drpaul,

    I’ve followed the multi-level Affiliate threads myself and I can see why you would be so passionate about it. WPMU DEV provides a slew of tools that really are perfect for MLM business, like the New Blog Template plugin that paves way for a sort of self-replicating website. It follows that one would want a multi-level Affiliate tool to accompany that.

    I’ll take this up with the team and see what everyone has to say but in the meantime, maybe we could gather the tidbits of what has already been said and see if we can assemble a good groundwork for a plugin.

    I see you’ve jumped in at the end of the following post but it is definitely a good start:

    The page Mason linked to provides lots of code to that effect. I’ll check and see what else he might have gathered to start with.



  • Barry
    • DEV MAN’s Mascot

    , but no solid answers on HOW to do it

    To be totally honest, having read through a few of the threads regarding MLM – I still don’t understand how you would want it to work? Some threads are on about increased amounts for numbers of referrals, some are on about second and third level referrers – these are obviously all different systems and thus need to be developed separately.

    The tutorial we keep referring to highlights the bits to check to see if a person was referred and the hooks to fire to create signups and complete actions and pass through the amounts to go to the affiliate. Everything else around those parts is custom development – i.e. the interface, forms to setup values, etc… and need to be properly specced.

    If you were a coder and wanted to take a shot at something then the best place to start is still that tutorial and look at the existing addons that come with the plugin (supporter and membership – marketpress soon) and see how they use the hooks to function.

  • drpaul
    • WPMU DEV Initiate

    @Barry – once upon a time… (probably before you were born) I was a Hacker (back when it was a Good Thing) but school, Military Service, family, work, etc all took priority over keeping up with the latest techno hype, and alas, I can’t seem to even update the time on the radio in the car without my nephew’s help.

    as for different specs for custom amounts/affiliates… your supporter and member plugins have the key features

    In Supporter a list of different available purchases, with multiple amount drop-down for payouts… it would be the same in all cases of an MLM setup with the exception of tracking not only who referred User, but also an array of referrers back to the Admin as the initial referrer…. the amounts paid out from the user’s purchase would simply be entered in the same style, with the referrer of the last referrer paid, having an amount of $0 or 0%

    If I pay out 20% of each purchase to affiliates 3 levels down then I would simply set 3 different ‘Kick’ amounts (from the term ‘Kick-Back’:wink: and leave the 4th amount blank (or all of the rest blank if multiple inputs are shown) this would leave the remainder %40 of of the sale for maintenance of the site/admin.

    In the Members plugin… the same recording requirements are there, only instead of having a single kick amount when setting up subscriptions, multiple drop-downs would again appear.

    I seriously doubt any legitimate MLM system would go beyond 10 levels deep… however dollar amounts will varry… I personally wouldn’t want less than 10% recurring commission unless the membership was an exorbitant amount, such as say a country club membership site where you could pay your monthly greens fees, or some other high end membership such as Box seats for your favorite pro sports team.

    Since Travel, entertainment and leisure would so benefit from these sorts of affiliate promotions, I could definitely see this being useful for B&B bookings, Charter Boating Registrations, Group Travel sites, Photography bookings, Band and Concert Venue ticket sales, not to mention, businesses that are ‘promotion centric’ such as Music Promoter’s Street Teams, etc. which are all perfect markets for small wordpress websites with active content and easy online purchases/subscriptions/affiliates.

  • drpaul
    • WPMU DEV Initiate

    … continued…

    Each of these systems, in their core are exactly the same…

    They record an array of referrers for each user, I would recommend that the array be copied from the referrer above them, and be kept at 10 referrers, and upon a sale being completed, the system records the referral in the existing sales/credit/debit system you have now, as it exists for the Supporters/Members plugins.

  • Mason
    • DEV MAN’s Sidekick

    Hiya drpaul,

    thanks for taking the time to outline the process and how it could work with supporter and membership. I’m going to move this thread into the ‘feature request’ territory. Let’s see if we get a lot of feedback from other interested members. If not, you can always use the Job Boards or contact us directly for this kind of custom development.

    Thanks again!

    How bout it folks, any +1s out there?

  • twicealive
    • The Incredible Code Injector


    I can recommend taking a look at iDev or JROX JAM software and you can see how a complete affiliate system works. Developers could chose the best best parts of the core functionality and hook in to to the WPMU Dev Family of Plugins (Supporter, Marketplace, Upgrades, etc.).

    The external Affiliate Software that I mentioned do a great job, but integration has always been their biggest issue.

    In all sincerity, this project could easily become one of the most significant plugins you could ever offer.


  • georgef
    • The Incredible Code Injector

    Just to add my 2 cents here…

    A few years ago I got halfway with development on this with Amember and someone pointed out to me that running a Multi Level structure is against Paypals TOS.

    Paypal also recently took me through a string of questions while setting up MarketPress (being in the MLM niche) to confirm that I was not creating a Multi Level structure.

    So just a side note for anyone wanting to do this, you’ll need a different merchant account to Paypal.

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