Please Be Respectful Of WordPress Plugin Developers

Today I saw something in the WordPress support forum that quite literally shocked me. A user posted that they where going to contact a lawyer and sue the developer of the WP Super Cache Plugin because according to them the plugin messed up their website.

I’ve learned over the years that you have two options when you experience a problem with a plugin:

  1. You can complain about it, and get upset or
  2. You can reach out to the plugin developer.

Any worth while developer will support their plugin.

WordPress Plugin Developers Owe You Nothing

Okey, that may sound a bit harsh, but it’s true and I don’t know how else to say it. WordPress is available for free, and it’s supported by a large community of volunteers that keep the project going. WordPress is open source.

The success of WordPress is, in my opinion, entirely based on the fact that its given away, and supported by helpful designers and developers around the world. At the end of the day, if you accept the risk of using WordPress to run your website, including the use of plugins. If you have a WordPress issue you simply reach out in the forums or contact the developer.

There Are No Guarantees Online

The fact that the Internet works as well as it does seriously impresses me. Have you ever stopped and realized just how amazing the Internet is, and how many people keep it running? I would argue that most people just use the Internet without any thought as to what’s involved to keep it going. Often times the technology industry is a thankless industry.

People on the street don’t walk up to us designers and developers and say “Wow! Thanks so much for contributing to the Internet, we appreciate you”. People simply consume content, watch videos, send tweets and poke people on Facebook and when they have a tech issue they freak out and have a temper tantrum like a 2 year old. Sigh…

The Internet is only as good as the people who make it, the people who build networks, administer servers and the folks who create websites and web applications. Most of it is provided to us at no cost outside of having to pay our Internet Service Provider.

I get tired of people who expect this technology to run perfectly, and in this case a person who uses a free CMS, and a Free Plugin, then threatens to sue because they experience an issue. Threatening a lawsuit when you don’t have a binding contract between you and the developer of a free plugin is ridiculous.

Sometimes the wi-fi goes down, your computer crashes, you loose data, it happens.

Otherwise get over it. There is a constant inherit risk in using the Internet, and there are precautions and preventative measures you can put in place to minimize the heart ache when something goes wrong.

Ya know like backing up your website, and Database for example.

What About Premium Paid Plugins?

In this case you still can’t sue the developer. The best case scenario is to go after a refund. What you are paying for when you purchase a premium plugin is not the plugin itself, but access to documentation, an update period and support.

You would have to be virtually ignored by the support staff to warrant a refund. Majority of the time issues are solved, and plugins are updated.

But, then again there are always a few bad apples.

Respect Goes A Long Way

You should understand that most of the plugins available for WordPress are free. These free plugins depend on donations and constructive feedback to make them better. There are no guarantees that all plugins work with all themes and versions of WordPress.

The word “impossible” comes to mind regarding the possibility of a WordPress Core, Theme and Plugin utopia, it’s just not possible.

Plugin developers devote many hours building and supporting their plugins and probably don’t make nearly what they should for their efforts. Many of these developers are spending their free time contributing plugins.

So, I ask everyone to be mindful and respectful of the plugin developers that work so hard providing great plugins for a great CMS.

In closing I say “Thanks!” to all of the developers out there that are making free plugins and providing support. I appreciate your hard work, and my website benefits because of what you do.

What are your thoughts?

  • Nico Amarilla

    Hey Josh, randomdude here. I am sorry for the very late response. I forgot about this article…. until today. Funny thing is, I’ve encountered another “entitled person” asking for support today. So I remember this post of yours from months ago but forgot the link (source amnesia I guess). Thankfully google found it. Regarding your question here is the link to my wp profile http://profiles.wordpress.org/kosinix/ I currently have 4 plugins hosted at wordpress.org.

    Thank you again. Your post is as relevant as ever! :-)

    Best regards,
    Nico

    • helpfulnerd

      Hey Nico

      Thanks for adding to the conversation. I took a look at your plugins – the one that jumps out at me the most is WP Metaboxer Lite. That is a very cool plugin!

      I’m excited to say that I am about a couple weeks out from releasing my first WP plugin. I’ll post an update here or you are welcome to follow me on twitter @joshuatcraig and I’ll follow back and be posting updates there about my plugin.

      How do you deal with “entitled support” people? Curious to know because I’ll be dealing with the support issues soon. Thanks.

      • Nico Amarilla

        Hello Josh,

        Thanks for the kind words. Just followed you on twitter. Goodluck with your plugin! As for support, I try to ignore the emotional aspect of it, though its very hard especially since I worked hard for my plugins. If that person is ranting something illogical, I ignore them. I’m not as good with words as Darren Ethier, up there in the comments, so I just don’t bother. The internet is prone to misinterpretation anyways. But I do listen to user feedback and watch out for bug reports. Most of the time the problem is user error and conflict with other plugins for which I don’t have control.

  • http://organizeseries.com Darren Ethier

    Thanks for posting this Josh, it’s tough as a plugin developer keeping “happy” when you get abrasive “entitled” people looking for support. One of my all time favorite forum threads on wordpress.org is this one here -> http://wordpress.org/support/topic/plugin-organize-series-upgraded-217-to-228-now-no-widgets?replies=11

    I took some time there to vent a bit…

    • Josh Craig

      Hey Darren

      First of all thanks for the comment, and second sorry for the horribly long delay replying back to you. The last couple weeks have been very busy on my end.

      I really enjoyed reading your venting.

      And, the word entitled is a great way to describe many people who bitch and moan about free stuff. And like I said above, even if you paid for a plugin be nice (and patient) and the devs are more than happy to help you.

      • Josh Craig

        Darren,

        I forgot to mention that the word “Epic” comes to mind with your replies in that WordPress support forum. I’ve had the displeasure of working with a couple clients that had that same attitude. Specifically the “I have a commercial website, and I’m loosing money” attitude. I had a hard time explaining why they needed to pay me for my time to fix an issue with their website, or needed to contact the plugin developer and compensate them for their help. WOW, is usually what I say in my head when someone acts like that.

        Good on you Darren for setting that user straight.

        I’m going to check out your plugin now, because I’m curious about what it does. And a big THANKS for contributing to WordPress. I’m in the process of working on my first plugin for WP, and I’m not looking forwarding to those kinds of people. LOL, rest assured I’ll be responding the same way if I get any lip, haha.

        • http://organizeseries.com Darren

          Thanks Josh. One of the reasons why I wrote the lengthy replies in the forum thread I wrote is so I could link to it when I get stuff from similarly minded people (which includes an INCREDIBLE amount of email).

          Now with your post I have another linky. Thanks for taking the time to write it!

    • http://www.codefleet.net kosinix

      Hello Darren,

      I’ve read your thread and its still relevant 2 years after. I am also a plugin author and have encountered my own share of ‘entitled’ people looking for support. I just would like to thank you for putting up those comments. It echoes exactly the same sentiment that I have right now. I just wished I am as fluent with words as you are. :-)

      Best regards,
      Nico

  • http://ronandandrea.com Andrea_R

    And WordPress itself, including 99% of all plugins out there come with the GPL license, which states “without warranty or liability”.

    So. Yeah. Good luck lawyer dude. ;)

    And for all the support I;ve ever done by far the worst people to deal with are ones who expect everything from spending nothing – not even time to help me figure out what their issue is.

    They need a hug, I think. :P

    • Josh Craig

      Hi Andrea

      I agree!

      When a client starts talking about “I need a web designer to help, blah blah” the word help when looking to hire someone is a red flag for me, because it’s usually used by someone who wants to invest little to nothing for their project. Nope. Sorry. Good luck. Talk to you later. lol.

      Perhaps I can interest you in a GoDaddy web builder? lol

      Crazy, that people won’t even engage in a dialog with support people to get something fixed. Oh, and we can’t read minds. Sorry. And for the love of all things nerdy and geeky PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR URL, so I can take a look.

      And, Andrea, YES let us not forget the GPL.

      Thanks for commenting and reading.

      • http://ronandandrea.com Andrea_R

        But the URL is a state secret! ;D

        • Josh Craig

          Hi Andrea,

          HA! it’s a secret. And no we won’t sign a NDA to provide support. LOL

          Sorry for the delayed reply. hope you are well.

  • http://Www.howlmedia.co.za Siegfried

    Hi,

    Firstly great post. People can be both genuinely disrespectful. I can imagine that on a support forum it’s horrible.

    I use to offer help on the WordPress, Drupal and Joomla forums until the same thing that happened to AJ happened to me, people started making demands, constantly badgering me did not give it a rest. I once made the mistake of emailing someone a snippet of code, it was a nightmare, I almost pretty much finish his Drupal site for him…

    So now I am very selective and downright refuse to help anyone with an abrasive attitude…

    Good work, keep it up!

    • Josh Craig

      Your comments about not working with people with an abrasive attitude has reminded me about an article I have saved in draft about picking quality clients, and avoiding bad projects by learning to spot red flags. And abrasive, rude, and disrespectful people is something I talk about in that article.

      I need to finish that article and get it posted.

      I too, used to post something helpful on the WordPress and Joomla forums. I also encountered people that started making demands. I would often go through rounds of replies, private messages, and at some point I would offer my professional services. All but one person would scoff at the idea of paying for help. So, I slowed way down with trying to help people. And it’s not like I was spamming anyone for work. I simply broached that subject when I felt it was appropriate to draw that line.

      I just focus on my awesome clients, and my own creative side projects and do my best to stay happy and positive.

      Thanks a lot for reading.

  • Jacquesdancona

    Hi Josh, great post.

    I guess some (probably even most) users don’t realize how much time it takes to write a plugin and give support for it. They are the same users that won’t ever read your post because they’re not interested in the why, how or finetuning of a plugin, it just has to work for them.

    It´s really discouraging to see what kind of reactions authors get in their support forums (even for premium plugins/themes) if you’re planning on making some of your own stuff public. I’d really want to give more back to the community than helping some guys or checking code of existing plugins but it really seems giving support for something you made for free could turn into a dayjob.

    tldr; great post, wish users who just got into wordpress would read it.

    • Josh Craig

      The fact that someone is creating stuff for free to support one of the best Blogging / CMS platforms is really impressive to me.

      I give my clients support for their websites, and outside of major feature request I don’t mind spending time providing that support. My client’s appreciate the extra support, and come back to me for more work. So my effort is not wasted, or ignored.

      But, some days I feel like I have a second job providing support, and help. It’s all worth it though because that’s how you build quality relationships.

      Unfortunately threatening to sue someone, like I mentioned above is not the way to create said relationship. Quality devs support their work, and if it takes a couple days to fix an issue so be it, or god forbid the dev asks you some questions to help diagnose the problem.

      Onward and upward. Thanks for reading.

  • http://mephistos.com/ Ray Cornish

    Funny how it works. I work for a newspaper and where do we get most of our complaints from? The folks that have up until recently been reading all of our content for free online via the web. It seems like the less cost someone has on something the more demanding the folks are of what they are getting and the higher there expetations are from that form of the product.

    • Josh Craig

      Hey Ray,

      Well said sir. It’s sad. As a web professional it bums me out that so many don’t truley understand what goes into design, development, and support.

      I stay positive though. If my blog can shed a small sliver of light, and that light reaches a couple people and helps them understand how to be more respectful to the devs that are creating things (especially for free) than that’s a win for our industry.

      Thanks for reading.

  • http://Wellsaid Amba Junior

    Thanks for this post. Our websites are made better by people who contribute their time, energy and even money to make sure we get the best experience online. We surely need to appreciate, even when things go bad. Well spoken.

    • Josh Craig

      I couldn’t agree more. The Internet is powered by people that want to share their knowledge with others in an effort to make things better. Sadly, there are some self-centered people who expect, and even demand support without any reciprocation.

  • http://www.codefleet.net/ randomdude

    Great post. As a plugin developer, I couldn’t agree more. I guess some people are just rude and naive. I hope your message gets across.

    PS. Aha I can see you are using AJ’s theme. ;-)

    • Josh Craig

      Thanks!

      What kind of plugins have you developed? Please share a link to your website so I can take a look at what you’ve done. I’m always interested in checking out WordPress plugins.

      I hope my message gets across too, lol.

      I love AJ’s work, some of the best themes around!

  • http://www.wpexplorer.com AJ Clarke

    Nice post!

    I remember last year I setup a free support forum for those using my free WP themes and ran it for almost 6 months before I gave up. People were really disrespectful and most were not asking but “demanding” that I’d help them setup and customize not only their sites but their client’s sites! It was crazy how many people wanted free help making edits for their client sites which they were getting paid for…it was chaos. That’s why now I only provide support for paid customers, which, I do occasionally get the over-demanding and/or disrespectful customer, but in general people are much easier to deal with.

    Enough of me babbling…

    Anyway, nice theme you’ve got here ;) haha.

    • Josh Craig

      Hey AJ,

      Thanks for enjoying the post. I completley understand where you are coming from regarding running a free Forum. Sadly, most people feel entitled to support, and feel that it should be free, not understanding how much time and effort goes into creating themes, and supporting them. I think that sticking to paid support is the way togo. Especially if you want to keep your sanitity.

      I love this theme, and I am very appreciative that it is free. I enjoy your entire theme collection too.