Some thoughts on plugins, Jetpack, advertisements, and things

A series of loose thoughts I’ve been trying to work through over the last couple days in response to Jetpack adding feature suggestions to plugin search results in the WordPress dashboard.

I think injecting promotions into the current plugin search interface is not a great idea. I understand why it’s appealing, and I imagine that it will be helpful for many WordPress site owners. However, it opens an ambiguously regulated door to something that should really be part of a designed system.

I don’t think it would be horrible to have some sort of interface in the plugin search, via a WordPress core API, that allows plugins you have installed to promote their other work based on predefined keywords.

Discoverability of safe and performant plugins by WordPress site owners has always been a hard task to solve.

Which I think is why a large plugin of plugins like Jetpack exists. If it doesn’t—in the world we’ve had—the site owner goes somewhere else (Wix, Squarespace, etc…) or installs a series of plugins that do not have the same resources as the team behind Jetpack.

This series of plugins—one plugin, one feature, all safe and performant—is a vision of WordPress that I’ve always preferred. And I’d love if plugin developers I trust could highlight their other plugins when I search for something new.

Overall, this is something that has gotten much better over the years thanks to the plugin review team and tools that make it easier to apply WordPress coding standards.

But! In the past, installing this series of plugins has led to hacked sites. Hacked sites lead to a lack of trust in the WordPress core project and other plugins. A lack of trust leads to a lack of growth.

Which is where my thoughts often end up and are in some ways still muddled.

If the primary goal for WordPress.org is to increase market share, then it’s probably good to have something like Jetpack around until that ideal discoverability catches up.

If the primary goal for WordPress.org is individual ownership, then plugins of plugins should be broken apart into individual features and we should figure out how to better guarantee security across the ecosystem.

In reality, these aren’t exclusive of each other and they aren’t the only possible goals. That’s the part I’m still trying to work through. Why is it important that WordPress powers more than a third of the web? What are the consequences of slowing down growth? Are there ways to refocus our efforts to help better balance the two? Are there better models for plugins?

Still thinking!

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