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Why Do Authors Abandon WordPress Plugins?

As I continue work on my own plugins, I constantly find myself exploring plugins from other authors that will help me improve my product, my services, or my customer experiences with my plugins.    Today, for example, I was going to do a video on how to create a language translation for the Store Locator Plus plugin.   The multilingual support has been very lacking for quite some time now and it is time to fix that.   No reason to be “America/English-Centric” in this world.

Last night I found a decent plugin that will help with this project, both on my side but also the the user’s side of the equation.   The Codestyling Localization plugin gives me some easy tools to scan for language strings, create the .po files to send out, and generate the .mo files on return.  Even better it gives users the ability to edit the .po files using a simple web interface right from their WordPress admin panel.  Very cool.

CodeStyling Localization for Store Locator Plus
CodeStyling Localization for Store Locator Plus

However today I realized that to get the LATEST translation files to the user they are going to need to upload a .po file that I generate from the latest codebase and send to them via email.   The normal process for getting this on the server so you can use the Codestyling Localization plugin?   Use FTP and get the file from email through FTP and into your languages folder under the Store Locator Plus install.

That got me thinking, there must be an equally cool plugin for loading files via the admin panel directly into the plugin directory of your choice.

The search began.

Sadly, as with so many other plugin searches I found many, too many, dead ends.    Plugins that have not been updated in years.   Others that have been updated recently but are broken.  Or poorly written.  Or full of warnings and errors that fill up my log files.

Unfortunately this is not an uncommon story.  It is not just “in the advanced world of FTP replacements or file managers that only a few hard core admins would use”.   This happens ALL OF THE TIME.    Searching for any number of basic site-building add-ons I constantly find broken or unkempt plugins.

But why?

Donation Apathy

My suspicion is that too many plugin authors get ZERO donations from their users.  Put all the work in, refine, the product, continue to refine, ask for donations.  Refine some more, do some support, ask for donations.   The sad truth is that NOBODY will donate freely when they install a free plugin that just works.

I think many have good intentions.   They plan on donating.  Some day.  After they get this project, with a deadline less than 24 hours away but 28 hours of work remaining, online.

But then life happens.  They get busy. They forget.

Suspicion versus Facts

However that is just my suspicion based on a few casual emails, in-person conversations, and random comments left on various posts around the Internet.   Today I embark on a journey to find out why.   Instead of just moving on to the next plugin in the list, I am going to reach out to the authors of those dead plugins and find out WHY they abandon their work.   There is some good stuff out there that has been abandoned.  I want to uncover the real reasons why and possibly show people the way to profitable plugin development.

Over the coming days, weeks, months, I will be reaching out to the authors of these abandoned plugins and asking why.  In their words.  In their view.   What caused them to throw away a lot of hard work and pursue something else.   What I learn will be posted here in follow up posts.

Profitable Plugins = Supported Plugins

I have finally crossed the threshold where plugins can now support my family and more.  Much more.  It is a real job with real income.

I like that.

It ensures the plugins I write remain updated and supported, security holes are patched, they are tested and updated to be compatible with the latest WordPress releases.   They are maintained.

My customers like that.

And if I can do it… so can they.