The Vocal Minority

July 1, 2011

Topics: WordPress.

As an accessibility consultant and passionate standards advocate, I’m generally in the position of appreciating the concerns of the minority. As a WordPress plug-in developer, I have a much harder time with it. In fact, as a WordPress plug-in developer, I find the vocal minority very, very frustrating.

So I’m just going to whinge a little bit. You can stop reading now if you’re going to be a dick about it.

I recently released a new version (version 2.3.x) of my plug-in WP to Twitter, which does exactly what it says — posts status updates from WordPress to Twitter. This release included a couple of heavily demanded features, including support for custom post types and for tweeting updates on comments.

I’ll admit that there were a couple minor bugs in that release — as a result, I’ve released two updates since then, cleaning up those errors.

Some people, in reading this post, will quibble with the statement that they were minor bugs — and I’m sure that those who were affected by them don’t think so. That’s perfectly fair.

What really bugs me, however, is that if I look at the only real metrics I have for estimating the success of a new feature release, then I’d have to judge that this was a complete and utter failure. Since that release, I’ve had dozens of support requests because of bugs, a handful of small donations adding up to at most $45 (if I include all contributions which weren’t attributable to a specific project), and on the WP to Twitter page at, the “works” gauge has been hovering between split towards broken. And the only working vote was mine.

However, I know that this isn’t really accurate. The reason that I know this is because about a year and a half ago, give or take a few months, I did release a version of the same plug-in that was *really* broken. That was a definite screw-up. At the time, WP to Twitter was a much less popular plug-in, so the impact was dampened, but in the first few hours after release I had several dozen e-mails and support requests informing me of the problem.

In this case, there’ve been 20,000 plus downloads of the updated version with a handful of people (about 10-12) complaining of problems. In my estimation, this is a very small number of issues given the apparent numbers of users.

But I don’t really know that, because I don’t hear very much from those who have a good experience.

This is actually pretty intentional. WP to Twitter is supposed to work quietly in the background — it’s not supposed to be an “in-your-face” plug-in. So when it works, people don’t notice it. However, from my seat today, it seems somewhat demoralizing. It makes me very seriously wonder why I continue to work on WP to Twitter. (For the record, I get a lot more positive feedback on My Calendar, which does help.)

Nonetheless, I have no intention to discontinue support for WP to Twitter. Maybe it’s just an ego trip, but it’s certainly helped me build a thick skin…

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3 Comments on “The Vocal Minority”

  1. I use your WP to Twitter plugin and I love it. People need to realize that most free plugins are made by people who have full time jobs and create plugins in their spare time. If you wanna complain about something, at least make a donation.

  2. That’s somewhat true, but I think you underestimate the value of small donations – just one or two dollars. With the number of downloads and approximate number of users I’d estimate I have, two dollars per person — with no extra donations for new releases or upgrades — would ultimately add up to somewhere upwards of $20,000 dollars. Although that’s hardly something that would make me wealthy, it would absolutely do a lot towards supporting continuing development. A payment really, truly doesn’t need to be very much to be good for a developer.

    Premium plug-ins do frequently run in the $50-$100 range, but that doesn’t mean that a donation for a free plug-in needs to be anywhere in that same range.

    Thanks for commenting, though — I appreciate what you had to say!

  3. “Nonetheless, I have no intention to discontinue support for WP to Twitter. Maybe it’s just an ego trip, but it’s certainly helped me build a thick skin…”

    I applaud your “sticking with it”. I would just like to say that you are obviously doing something that you love doing, and you are not in for the money or you would be working for MS or some anti-virus company. Something to take not of though, when most people go to the WordPress platform, it is because of the ease of use and freely available plugins and help available. Many of the people that download plugins, (I am one), are newbies, and not even sure of what they need, or want from a plugin. Of the many plugins I have downloaded, I now only have 23 that I continue to use, one of which was a premium plugin. If I paid the same amount for all of the plugins that I have tried and deleted, and the ones that I still have, it would run into the thousands of dollars. Just saying…