Where Have All The WordPress Plugin Lists Gone?

When I recently finished the LocalCurrency plugin, I tried adding it to the various WordPress plugin lists that exist and found that several are gone!

I’m not talking about individual lists on people’s blogs listing which WordPress plugins they use.  There are many of these! I’m talking about complete lists or repositories of all WordPress plugins in existence (or as close as possible).

In this post I look at a several WordPress plugin lists which have been removed, are down, or don’t seem to have any people running them.

The WordPress Codex Plugin List

The WordPress Codex Plugin List has been removed. The message on the page states:

The WordPress Plugins once listed herein have been removed and are no longer updated. Please see the Official WordPress Plugin Directory and WordPress Plugin Database for current listings of WordPress Plugins.

This list was great for plugin authors. You could easily add your plugin to an authoritative list of plugins, viewed by many people. Not only did it give you traffic, the list passed on high PageRank. A great backlink to have!

I was surprised to find the list gone. I hadn’t heard anything to indicate that this would or had occurred. Looking at page history, it appears that the list was removed on 17 January 2008 with the following description:

(Thought this was done already. Removing the Plugin lists per July 2006 decision and activation of new repository)

So in fact, it was an old decision to remove it! Reading the discussion page (for the Plugin page) is a little confusing, but it would seem that it was removed because: a) people were concerned about maintenance of the list; and b) the Official WordPress Plugin Directory replaces it to an extent.

Some people are questioning whether removing the plugin list was a wise move. Personally, I liked the list, but I have no problem if it was removed because of redundancy with the Official Directory. There were benefits to the Codex Plugin List that the Official Directory doesn’t have (such as better sorting of plugins) – but hopefully that will improve.

The one issue I do have, is that the removal occurred in relative silence, unless you were watching the Codex very closely. I’m not sure if it was announced in the forums or not (a search didn’t turn anything up). Of course, it may be that I’m missing something and I’m not looking in the right place. I’m happy for anyone to correct me on this.

It would have been nice for a site like WeblogTools Collection to pick up the story and announce the removal. It’s not their responsibility, but they are taking a role in plugin development with posts on plugin standards, uninstalling plugins and how to use SVN with the Official Directory, so it would fit in with their content and get the message to a wider audience.

Anyway, the Codex Plugin List is gone. The message references on the page mentions two sites for current listings of plugins. One is the Official WordPress Plugin repository, the other is the WordPress Plugin Database.

WordPress Plugin Database (wp-plugins.net)

A visit to the WordPress Plugin Database shows the site is currently down. The following message is displayed:

Due to excessive load on the database, my hosting company (Dreamhost) pulled the plug on this website. I will be looking into ways to bring it back online as soon as possible…
Sorry…

This is a very useful site and, as mentioned above, now the Codex Plugin List has been removed, this is one of the two recommended alternatives listed by the Codex.

Anyway, another plugin list gone. Hopefully this is just a short term problem and the database will be back in the near future.

WordPress Plugins Database (www.wp-plugins-db.org)

While I’m at it, I’ll mention the WordPress Plugins Database. This one’s still there and works, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone running it!

One of my plugins was entered into the database by someone else. I need to update the details (version number, download link) but I can’t because the database doesn’t consider it to be mine. There is a claim facility, but I tried this many months ago and nothing happened. I tried again a month or so ago, but this time I couldn’t find the plugin in the list, so I couldn’t claim it. I sent an email to the site. Nothing. No action.

It appears to me that there’s no one actively looking after the site. If it works for you, great. If you need something sorted out, don’t hold your breath…

There’s also an issue with the formatting: When you enter the information, you can’t use the Enter key or you’ll get \r\n showing on the page. I get around this by entering HTML with no Enters between paragraph tags etc.

This site’s still useful, but it could be so much better with a little maintenance. The real problem is that people can’t trust the information to be up to date. That’s always going to be an issue with plugin lists, but if plugin authors aren’t able to claim and update their own plugins, it’s a losing battle.

This Is Not A Rant

It’s important to point out that this is not a rant. I’m merely examining the current situation.

I appreciate the efforts of the two database sites. They are providing a valuable service and I know such sites are not easy to set up and maintain.

I’m also very appreciative of everyone involved at the WordPress Codex. I would have preferred the Codex Plugin List to remain, but I understand it’s not possible to keep everyone happy with a volunteer community based resource like the Codex.

The Way Forward

Of the main WordPress plugin lists, one is gone, one is down (hopefully only temporarily) and one seems to have no one looking after it. The way forward? The Official WordPress Plugin Directory.

I’ve been meaning to get my plugins added to the official directory for some time now, but have put it off because of time issues. I’m sure it’s not hard to get plugins added, but it does entail some additional setup that the other lists don’t require. Now I’ll have to make time to do this.

In fact, it could be argued that the state of the other WordPress plugin lists is actually a good thing. Although many plugins are already listed in the official directory, it’s far from complete. If this pushes more plugin authors to add their plugins the official directory, it can only be a good thing.

The Official WordPress Plugin Directory brings several benefits not found in the other lists. There are tighter controls over which plugins can be listed. There are documentation standards to be followed. WordPress 2.3 and above integrate with the database, so users know when plugins need to be updated (via the Admin -> Plugin page). All of this benefits plugin users.

Final Thoughts

The current problems with the other lists, although frustrating to me personally, should help drive the Official WordPress Plugin Directory forward, benefiting both plugin users and plugin authors. I’ve been putting off adding my plugins to it, but now I’m going to have to do it!

Plugin authors: Have you added your plugins  to the official directory yet?

WordPress users: Where do you go to find out about WordPress plugins?

18 responses on “Where Have All The WordPress Plugin Lists Gone?

  1. Heather

    I went to look for Codex a few weeks ago and it was gone at that point in time. I was told it went dead about September 1st and looking at the archives it never got updated after Aug 27, 2007 so that sounds right. It’s unfortunate as I think that was widely regarded as the best of the plugin repositories.

    The “Official” directory has it’s benefits I just hate to see it all collapsing back to one or two main distribution points.

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Heather,

      The dates don’t really matter, but I can tell you it was still there on the 5th December (when I added my FeedEntryHeader plugin), but it was gone by the 30th January (when I tried to add my IFrameWidgets plugin).

      I totally agree with you that the Codex list was one of the best WordPress plugin lists around. It was always my first port of call when looking for a plugin…

  2. Tom Roompot

    I was in the same situation recently and while my favorite plugin lists disappearing was very frustrating then, I think this indeed is a step forward. After all, why use several when you can have a single, comprehensible list that meets all your demands ? Thumbs up for WordPress!

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Tom,

      I see your point and I agree – IF we aren’t losing anything by having a single list. At the moment, there are several things that we’ve lost with the Codex Plugin list.

  3. Jeff Starr

    Great post, Stephen. Interestingly enough, I happened to notice the removed plugin pages the night before you posted this article. I was quite upset at the time, especially since many people had spent plenty of time and effort building those pages and keeping them updated. The old plugin pages were well-organized and quite comprehensive. Updating and adding to them was as easy as it gets, and everyone was benefiting from the link juice. It sure wasn’t hurting anything keeping them around. Submitting plugins to the current system is most laborious and convoluted, requiring special software and lots of time. Unfortunately, more time for WordPress is a luxury that many of us unpaid plugin developers simply cannot afford. For this reason alone, the new system will never be as comprehensive and well-maintained as the previous one. Sadly, the biggest losers are the WordPress users themselves, who no longer enjoy access to all that WordPress has to offer. One more reason to switch blogging platforms, in my humble opinion.

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Hi Jeff,

      Great to have a response from fellow plugin author!

      I agree totally: the Codex Plugin List was well organised, comprehensive (listing many plugins that aren’t in the official repository), easy (only took a minute to update) and gave great link juice. Actually one of my plugin pages slipped from PR5 to PR4 because the Codex List link was lost.

      As you say the biggest issue is time. I have a family, a full time job and many other commitments and develop WordPress plugins in my spare time. I’m sure it can’t be that hard to add them to the official repository, but I can’t even keep up with my comments at the moment!

      But although this is frustrating, I won’t be switching platforms just yet and I hope you don’t either – keep up the great work at Perishable Press.

  4. Heather

    Jeff what do you suspect was the ultimate reason for the pages being taken down? Bandwidth/dollar issues or just pressure from WordPress? You are the second or third person I have read that has stated the new system is tedious at best, frustratingly impossible at worst. You mention a switch, what format do you prefer at this stage?

    1. Stephen Cronin Post author

      Heather,

      I can’t answer for Jeff, but it seems to me from reading through the Codex history, that they decided (long ago) to build the official repository to replace the Codex list.

      It’s not written why, but I’d have to guess that it’s a) to have greater control over the quality of plugins and b) to integrate with the plugins page in the Admin area, so users can see which plugins need upgrading.

      Both of these goals are admirable (if that’s what they were trying for), but the way they implemented the repository means it doesn’t have all the features of the Codex list. As it turns out there may have been room for both.

      When they actually removed the Codex Plugin List, they were just implementing a 2 year old decision. There does not appear to have been any sort of examination of the original goals, whether the decision was still a good idea, whether anything would be lost, etc.

      I can’t be too upset, because I think their intentions were good and the Codex is all volunteer based, but it’s just a pity they didn’t think twice before pulling the trigger. I would have liked to see more publicity about it and possibly a vote about it.

  5. Stephen Cronin Post author

    Hi All,

    Sorry I’m so slow in answering comments – I’ve been really busy lately.

    Some good news is that the WordPress Plugin Database (wp-plugins.net) seems to be back and functioning. I still miss the Codex Plugin List, but at least there’s one more quality list out there.

  6. new zealand tourism

    Since these lists have been removed there is a real opportunity for someone to get some serious links by creating one on their blog.

  7. jen@nike hyperdunk

    Some people think that WordPress Plugin lists are useless, but I find them very helpful. Thanks for the helpful finds. I love WP plugins and I wish that I could program my own. However, I don’t have the time to learn programming right now, and I prefer to leave this area to the experts such as yourself.

  8. Jose

    Why couldn’t they just archive them? When I need WP plugins, I usually find them on the plugin authors’s sites, via Google of course. And there are plenty of blogs nowadays that feature reviews of the WP plugins that they love and use, so there’s really no shortage of plugin lists. Maybe this is WordPress’s way of offloading some its workload (to WP users) so they could focus on “more important” things?

  9. Lasik

    I too found the Codex list was removed, does not make sense to me. I checked out the WordPress Plugin Directory, it is great but need a lot of updates. I will keep posted for more update, thank for the post !

    LINK REMOVED: because of failure to use KeywordLuv syntax (name@keywords)

  10. Josh@Toronto Real Estate

    Since I have dozens of wordpress blog, I like to keep a folder of basic plugins that I will use on each blog. Why have all the plugin lists gone?

  11. jeff@Hsbc online banking.

    It is nice to have one list of plugins instead of mutiple sites. If the wordpress site has the latest ones listed thier is no need for the rest of the sites. I think most people trust the word press site that is why the other ones do not update anymore or stoped adding to thier sites.

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