WordPress.org Plugin Developers Demand Transparency About Deleting Active Install Growth Data – WP Tavern

Frustrations mount, as WordPress.org plugin developers implore WordPress executives to restore access to active install growth data for plugins after they were removed last weekend without any public discussion. A ticket Calling to bring back the graphics is sparking a heated discussion on the issue, but so far the developer community has been unable to get clear answers on why data access was cut off.

In his first response on the ticket, Matt Mullenweg asked the devs to explain their reasoning for bringing back the stats, without communicating why they were removed in the first place, asking them to present “that side of the argument”. No decision maker has confirmed that this is a security issue.

Mullenweg second answer on the ticket evades questions from plugin developers and instead states that the availability of an API for this data was never promised:

As pointed out, there was never an API designed for public use or with a promise of availability, people just reverse engineered and data exfiltrated to create the graph.

I really think we can show more stats to plugin authors about their own plugins, and I hear that for new plugins every new install can be a motivation. Feedback loops are important. It will take some work but it is doable.

While he seems open to finding a way to show more stats, Mullenweg hasn’t promised the return of active install growth data, the most important metric for plugin authors tracking the trajectory of their bases. of users. Many companies rely on this data to make decisions about their products.

“I think one of the main things (from my perspective) is that this change has made us feel vulnerable and helpless,” said Ross Morsali, author of the WordPress plugin. said.

“I’m about to change a repo based on three years of work, and I won’t even know how it goes until I lose or gain at least 10,000 users. I feel a little crazy, it is not a good basis for my business.

Morsali commented on the ticket to explain the importance of the data:

This is literally the only way to know how your plugin is doing – which in itself is pretty bad – deleting it just blindfolds everyone – so we have to wait for the next install growth tick (up or down) to get an idea – that’s not reasonable – it can take 6 months or more in some cases, and literally forever if your plugin doesn’t go up or down in active installs.

Participants in the trac thread were so fired up that one suggested that plugin developers should strike back by not offering any more support, updates or new plugins to the directory unless WordPress brings back growth curves. This is simply not possible for the many people who live off their plugins.

“As someone in the early days of trying to develop a freemium plugin, I’m incredibly frustrated,” Amber Hinds, CEO of Equalize Digital. said. “We were using this as a way to gauge the effectiveness of our marketing efforts and now it’s just gone. Also, in conversations with investors, being able to show growth is essential.

George Stephanis, an Automattic employee who was not involved in the decision, complaints that, “This graphic has been removed due to a security or privacy concern”, and assumes that it has not yet been disclosed as it cannot be shared without putting users at risk.

“It was never explicitly stated that it was removed for security or privacy reasons,” Earle Davies said in response to this complaint. “It was removed due to ‘insufficient data obfuscation’, which to me does not mean security or privacy. Privacy is PII that this table does not include. The obfuscation is because “we” (whoever we are) didn’t want people to be able to see “accurate” statistics.

“To consume a summary of this as a privacy or security update is not accurate. What may be most helpful is if Matt stops flying with 1-2 sentence non-responses and explains finally in detail and in plain language WHY this was removed, otherwise it should be reinstated as soon as possible and work on better graphics in the future.

WordPress plugin developers may never know the details of this chart’s removal. If this is indeed a security issue, it could have been transparently confirmed by those involved. Instead, plugin developers have been pissed off with the demand that they present their side of the argument to bring back the stats.

Mark Zahra, the author of the ticket to bring back the stats, tweeted to draw attention to the number of people following the ticket and investing in its outcome.

“Even if 10,000 people commented and seemed to agree, that would still only represent a small fraction of the wider WP community,” Mullenweg said. replied. “It’s one of the hardest things to navigate in open source, and product and community development in general.”

This reaction sparked the ire and frustration of those who were hoping for real answers. It also makes it very clear who has the power in this situation, whether it’s withholding information or disabling data access. Despite an overwhelming consensus on the ticket of those most affected by this decision, 10,000 would not be enough to exert any influence on the outcome.

At this point, the prolonged lack of transparency in this matter has further damaged trust in WordPress.org as the best distribution channel for free plugins.

“The way this was handled made me seriously wonder if WordPress is the right platform for me, for the first time in years – it left me and my business vulnerable,” Morsali said. .

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