Just a quick post to confirm that the WordPress Mobile Pack plugin is back online at wordpress.org.
Most WordPress plugins, if ‘GPL-compatible’, are hosted on wordpress.org – it provides an easy way for people to view and upgrade them. The increasingly popular Mobile Pack is no exception, and we’ve been happily listed there for over 6 months.
But what do you do when it suddenly disappears?
About 3 days ago, that’s exactly what happened. I’m the administrator of the plugin and could see it when I logged in. But suddenly none of my collaborators – nor the general public! – could see or download the plugin.
Our sole channel for software distribution had mysteriously dropped into a black hole – without a word of notification from WordPress themselves.
- Assuming it could only therefore be a bug with the wordpress.org web site, I filed a number of support tickets. No response.
- Assuming it could only therefore be a permissions or licence issue, I raised a number of forum threads on the site (as, kindly, did Dennis Bournique, over at WAP Review). No response.
- Assuming I was somehow falling between the cracks, I even emailed Matt Mullenweg. Less surprisingly, no response. UPDATE: I received an apology shortly after this post.
Hmm. All rather unsatisfactory.
Well, this morning, a breakthrough. My WPMP partner in crime, Andrea Trasatti thought of joining the WordPress IRC channel. (Obviously he’s a bit more old school than me). But finally found someone who would be prepared to answer the puzzle.
At this point, I need to point out there there are (true!) other mobile plugins out there. One particularly popular one has been Andy Moore‘s. He hadn’t hosted his on wordpress.org due, I guess, to his choice of license, and his – disclosed – use of automatic ads in the resulting pages, which WordPress does not permit.
For whatever reason, Andy recently closed down his plugin’s page, and had kindly redirected it to ours. This probably accounts for our nice increase in traffic in mid-November. Thanks Andy!
However, one of Andy’s previous plugin downloaders apparently complained about an error message they had received. The WordPress administrators investigated by visiting Andy’s site, and of course got redirected to our Mobile Pack page. Thinking our plugin was at fault, they then disabled our plugin for violating the no-ads rule.
Oh, and no-one thought to drop me an email to tell me.
But Andrea’s investigations and protestations prompted us to get re-approved, and we’re back!
(In the process of investigating this, it also turns out that when WordPress says ‘GPL-compatible’ and points you to a list of licenses, that doesn’t mean much at all. You also have to work out that they actually mean ‘GPL2-compatible’, and not ‘GPL3-compatible’, as our more permissive Apache license is. So I guess we’ll have to change our license too – which is a shame.)
I don’t think WordPress covered themselves with glory here. In the interests of constructive criticism, I would suggest the company should:
- Inform a plugin owner whenever there is a complaint raised against it. I would have been able to point out the complaint was aimed at a different piece of software.
- Inform a plugin owner when – or better, before – disabling a plugin from the listing. I could have had a grace period to have investigated any issues, rather than hear it first as complaints from users.
- Respond to ‘site bug’ tickets raised on the site.
- Make the licensing requirements for plugins more clear. The phrase ‘GPL-compatible’ here, (and its link), is certainly not precise enough.
- Remember that plugin authors work hard to support your business of running the most popular blog platform in the world. Those individuals’ reputations, to a fair extent, rest on your responsible syndication of that code, and they get the grief when you pull the plug.
Anyway, thanks guys (and Mark in particular) for putting it back. And special thanks to Andrea, who now overtakes me in the chocolate-for-favours race.
Now… back to the roadmap of Mobile Pack coolness. Stay tuned.