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The WordPress Plugins once listed herein have been removed and are no longer updated.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…
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.
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?