X-post: Community Booth at WordCamp Asia 2023

X-post from +make.wordpress.org/community: Community Booth at WordCamp Asia 2023

Twitter API Changes

tl;dr: Twitter will begin charging for APIAPI An API or Application Programming Interface is a software intermediary that allows programs to interact with each other and share data in limited, clearly defined ways. access, possibly as early as the 9th of February. If your pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party integrates with the API (be it v1.1 or v2), PLEASE make sure you look into the changes and how they might impact you!

Yesterday Twitter announced it will be charging for access to the API.

Estimated cost is ~$100/month, with a requirement of a valid ID, however there is no information yet as to how much traffic that entails. Since information is not going to be provided until next week (giving everyone a whopping max 3 days to figure this out), I wanted to make sure everyone was as notified as can be.

This will likely impact:

  • Auto-posting
  • Login with Twitter
  • Analytics
  • Management Tools
  • Scripted Interactions (auto-blocking etc)

Access to search is already a pay-only service.

If your plugin (or the related service) does any of those, you will have to investigate if this change impacts you. If you are impacted, you will need to update (or close) your plugin accordingly. I know a lot of free plugins will have some hard choices to make here.

For plugin users, if a plugin suddenly breaks on/around the 9th, please be generous and kind to the developers. They really got blindsided by this, and it’s a lot to sort out in a short amount of time.

#api, #twitter

Looking for your (intentionally) wrong plugins

tl;dr: Do you have demo plugins that are dangerous on purpose? We want to see them!

One of the behind-the-scenes steps going on right now is figuring out HOW to onboard and make sure people are good at looking through plugins, finding the security/guideline issues, and can explain what they are and why they’re bad. While most of the explanation we have covered in pre-defined replies, you should know why something is wrong 🙂

In order to do this, we need some intentionally busted plugins so people can get experience in looking for ‘wrong’ in a safe situation.

By ‘wrong’ I mean…

  • Plugins that don’t sanitize/escape
  • Shortcodes not checking for validity/security
  • SQL prepare() issues
  • Using script tags instead of wp_enqueue()
  • Using curl/file_remote_get instead of the HTTPHTTP HTTP is an acronym for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. HTTP is the underlying protocol used by the World Wide Web and this protocol defines how messages are formatted and transmitted, and what actions Web servers and browsers should take in response to various commands. APIAPI An API or Application Programming Interface is a software intermediary that allows programs to interact with each other and share data in limited, clearly defined ways.
  • Trademarks (Starting your pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party name with “Microsoft” for example)

This is an incomplete list. I doubt anyone can make a plugin with 100% of all the things we look for since that changes nearly every day as people come up with new and inventive ways to be dangerous. Of course if you can, I’d love to see that too!

While we certainly can use some submitted/closed plugins for this, it would be nice to have a set of “These are some busted plugins to practice on”

I know some of you are clever folks and have things like that for fun, and right now, we want to see them! Email them (either zip or link to your repo) to plugins@wordpress.org with the subject “Demo Plugin for Reviewers” (we make heavy use of email filtering, so that subject is important!).

#community-support

Plugin Guideline Update: Community Code of Conduct

tl;dr: All representatives of a pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party are required to comply with the Community Code of Conduct.

One of the longstanding open tickets for the Plugin Guidelines has been adding in the Community Code of Conduct.

With the announcement of the Incident Team, we have updated the guidelines to indicate that all representatives of a plugin must comply with the Community Code of Conduct.

The updates can be found in the “Developer Expectations” (where we list out the guidelines/CoCs you must comply with) and in Guideline #9 (Developers and their plugins must not do anything illegal, dishonest, or morally offensive.)

Effectively? Yes, you actually do have to follow the Community Code of Conduct if you want to be part of the community.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

#code-of-conduct, #guidelines

Plugins/themes categorization

After State of the WordState of the Word This is the annual report given by Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress at WordCamp US. It looks at what we’ve done, what we’re doing, and the future of WordPress. https://wordpress.tv/tag/state-of-the-word/., you may have noticed a couple new things for plugins and themes.

Community plugin display example
Commercial plugin display example

This is the start of a broader categorization of plugins and themes. The eventual goal of which is to help users to better find plugins or themes that fit their needs.

Categories

So we started looking at basic categories for plugins and themes, and how we would integrate that into wordpress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/.

One thing we noticed immediately was that there are a lot of commercial plugins and themes. They’re not the majority, but there are a lot of them that have a lot of users.

The other thing we noticed was there were a lot of community based plugins and themes, which are open sourceOpen Source Open Source denotes software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. Open Source **must be** delivered via a licensing model, see GPL. on GithubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. https://github.com/ or some other repository system.

In both cases, it became very clear that we didn’t have any easy way to link back to those systems. We have support forums for all of the plugins, but we often get questions about the commercial version of a pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party. Similarly, we don’t have any obvious way to link back to a github, for example, to provide users a way to contribute to that community.

So we introduced a new taxonomyTaxonomy A taxonomy is a way to group things together. In WordPress, some common taxonomies are category, link, tag, or post format. https://codex.wordpress.org/Taxonomies#Default_Taxonomies. to our systems, and now plugins and theme authors can opt into it, if they want.

How to opt-in

To opt in a plugin or theme, email plugins@wordpress.org, or themes@wordpress.org, and simply ask to opt into it. This is a manual process for now. In the future, we will be adding a method for plugins and themes to do it themselves.

Once your plugin or theme is added, you will get a new feature (on the advanced tab for plugins, or at the bottom of the listing page for themes). For both cases, it’s a simple URLURL A specific web address of a website or web page on the Internet, such as a website’s URL www.wordpress.org entry.

Example of the commercial URL setting on plugin pages.

For commercial, this will show up as a support link. For community, this will show up as a contribute link.

More to come…

And, of course, this is in no way final. We plan to use this and other categories in the future to improve the overall directory system as a whole. In what ways, we don’t exactly know just yet. We value your input, and look forward to seeing what ideas the community has. 🙂

#plugins, #themes

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Reminder about Final Notices

tl;dr? If you get a final notice from the pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party team, please take it seriously. That really is you reaching your final chance with us.

There has been some confusion about what a ‘final notice’ means with regards to plugins or what it means to be banned.

The Plugin Team does not capriciously ban anyone. Actually we hate banning people. It’s a lot of work, it’s frustrating, it comes with anger no matter how we do it, and people always get hurt, especially users. That’s why we’ve established a warning system and do our best to ensure all developers are aware of infractions and allowed to course-correct.

What is a final warning?

A final warning, like it sounds, is an email with a rather stern content telling you that you’re on your very last chance.

The plugin directory emails out final warnings to developers/companies/groups who have either demonstrated a repeatable, constant, habit of violating guidelines, or who have committed an incredibly egregious violation. Those emails contain a reminder (usually in the form of a list of all existing problems) and a notice that if the plugins team has to contact them for any reason other than security related, the developer/company will be banned and all plugins closed.

If you keep making the same mistakes, and you keep violating forum, plugin, theme, WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more., or any other official guideline of WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/, we will cease to host your plugins here anymore. You would have repeatedly proven that you aren’t able (or willing) to follow the guidelines, and we feel it’s unfair to put the burden of monitoring you on the volunteers, as well as subject your users to that kind of behavior.

What happens after a final warning?

In general, people are quite responsive to those emails. They recognize the issue, modify their behavior, and it doesn’t come up ever again.

The warnings are a wake-up call as to the risks involved, as well as our expectations, and while they can scare people, it’s somewhat of a needed scare. By the time someone gets to that point, we have usually sent multiple warnings about various issues (be they fake reviews, asking for admin access, spamming users, or sharing developer accounts) prior to the final-notice, in the hopes that people will change their behavior before we have to get to the final notice.

Sadly, there are always people who don’t take those emails seriously, or think that if enough time has passed, the finality has faded and it’s okay to make the same mistakes and we will forget about it and forgive everything.

Why do people get banned after a final warning?

Given the size and scale of WordPress, it’s impractical to have to keep reminding people over and over that they actually do have to comply with the guidelines they agreed to, and it takes away time from frankly more important matters, like security.

Do people get warned first?

Most of the time, yes. The rare exception is if something is so terrible, we have to pull the plug right away. Usually that means someone snuck back in after being banned, or made a death threat.

But the majority of users get an email with the subject [WordPress.org Plugin Directory] Notice: (your plugin name) and that contains a warning of a specific behavior.

I got a warning about something. Is that a final warning?

Unless the email said “This is your final warning” then no.

We regularly warn people about issues, from trademark abuse to fake reviews. Those are just warnings. As long as they don’t repeat, we don’t have any issues. People make mistakes and it’s okay, as long as you learn from them and stop making them.

I’ve been mod-watched in the forums. Is that a warning?

No, not a plugin one. That just means the forum moderation are concerned about your actions and want to keep tabs on you. That could be anything from asking to admin access to swearing or jumping on other people’s topics all the times.

That said, if the forum team flags you like that, and you keep making the same mistakes, they may come to the plugin team for backup.

What kind of events cause a final warning?

Usually it’s not a single event, but a demonstrable pattern of violations. By that we mean the person(s) involved have broken many guidelines, over and over, for a sustained period of time.

Just for an example, let’s think about asking someone for admin access. That is prohibited in the forum guidelines for safety. Asking once is a mistake, and we know mistakes happens, so the person will get a warning from the forum mods. If they happen to ignore (or miss) the warning and do it again, their account gets put into a ‘moderated’ status, and all posts have to be approved by a moderator. That moderation flag is not a punishment. It’s there to make sure the mistakes stop, and to help protect the developer from harming themselves. After that, though, if it keeps happening, the plugin team is asked to step in and issue a warning.

But even so, our first warning is not a final notice! It’s a first warning.

From them on, if the person keeps violating the guideline, that is when that they will get that dreaded ‘final warning’ from plugins.

Why did I get a final warning without previous notifications?

That means you did something really bad, but not quite ban-worthy yet.

Sometimes it happens when someone gets a warning (like ‘don’t ask for admin access’) and replies “I cannot be held responsible for what my staff does.” That gets a final warning right away and a reminder that you absolutely will be held responsible for the people who represent you and your product. If you cannot trust your people, don’t let them represent you.

Other times, it’s a mistake so large, and so fraught with danger or concern, we feel that the only proper recourse is to jump directly to the final notice. Those are incredibly rare, and I’ll explain a little more about that later in this post.

How do I avoid a final warning?

Besides ‘never violate the guidelines,’ the easiest way would be to acknowledge and rectify any issue that a moderator or plugin rep brings up. If someone tells you not to ask for admin access? Stop asking for admin access. If they tell you not to call users vulgar names? Stop calling people names.

Basically listen to the warnings, take them all seriously, learn from them, and change your behavior as needed.

We know that everyone makes mistakes, and we will forgive a lot. But at the same time, that kind of forgiveness requires you to make changes. If you apologize and just do it again, we’re not going to be able to trust you, and that’s how you end up with a final warning.

I keep getting warnings because of my support staff, what do I do?

If that happens, it means you’ve somehow failed to impart on your support staff the reality that they have to follow the guidelines too. They are your responsibility, and if you cannot ensure they follow the guidelines, we simply won’t allow them to use the forums at all anymore, and you will be told why.

As for how to fix it? You need to address the issue on your end. Why are you staff not aware they have to follow the guidelines? Why are they not listening to the warnings issued? Why are they continuing to have this kind of problem?

Make sure everyone who represents you (in the forums, on social media, wherever) knows that their actions reflect on your whole company, and they have to follow the guidelines too. After all, if your intern violates Twitter’s guidelines using the company account, it’s your company account that gets suspended.

Other people are making the same mistake I am! Why aren’t they getting banned/warned?

They probably are, actually.

We respect everyone’s privacy and we don’t blast anyone on socials, so all conversations are in confidence as much as can be. After all, if you make mistakes and change your ways, you wouldn’t want the whole world knowing how much you messed up, right? It would be terrible embarrassing! Instead, we treat you like an adult, take you to the side, and talk to you privately.

Most people actually listen to the first warnings. If a forum mod tells them to please stop doing a thing, they apologize and stop. The plugins team never gets involved, and honestly that’s the best way.

I made similar mistakes. Why did I never get warned?

Luck? Or maybe we saw you made it once, and never again.

Mistakes happen. Most mistakes, as long as they aren’t repeated, are recoverable. Don’t panic if you made one mistake. As long as you keep learning, adjust as needed, and don’t do it again, you’re going to be fine.

Why did I get a second final notice?

Most of the time, that means we changed the guidelines since the first one, and felt it would be inhumane to not warn you about them. We will do this even if your violations are unrelated to the changes to the guidelines.

The other time would be if we think you really did change enough since the last notice, but you’re running down another wrong path. Basically? We think you are capable of change based on your historical behavior, and we want to give you another chance.

Why did I get banned without a final warning?

Normally we warn but yes, in some specific cases, we won’t. They include, but are not limited to:

  • physical altercatoions at official WordPress events
  • banned users attempting to circumvent their ban
  • intentional security violations (ex. making a backdoor in your plugin on purpose)
  • cyberstalking/harassing anyone from wordpress.org
  • doxxing anyone
  • all plugins/themes are non-credited forks or wholesale copies
  • outright vulgarity/hostility/threats towards any member of the community

In those cases, we will always email and tell you exactly why you were banned.

The people who get those insta-bans are often ones who got a plugin review and replied with vulgarities or suggestions of sexual activities involving a cactus. Not a joke. It was in response to being told to not include their own jQuery, to boot. We do get that people have bad days, and we try to help them get back from it, but that kind of abuse is untenable. If you’re willing to talk to us like that, we shudder to think how you’d behave to users!

What can I do after I got banned after a final warning?

Honestly? Not a whole lot. It’s incredibly hard to make anyone trust you after you reached that point.

If you got the final warning and kept violating guidelines, then you just squandered your last chance. The whole reason you got that warning, and not an instant ban, was that we were trying really hard to get you to correct your behavior. When you don’t listen to those warnings, we believe you are who you act like, and we ban you.

Now of course there are always exceptions. They are incredibly rare, and come with a lot of provisions and caveats. If you really think you should be given a second final-chance, reply to the email and explain why. Just be aware that the odds are against you, since you have already demonstrated you cannot (or will not) follow guidelines.

Why don’t you publicly declare why someone was banned?

Historically because we don’t want to keep hurting them.

Angry people lash out see, and while we’re ‘fine’ with taking it on the chin when people lash at us because we don’t explain the details about a ban (except in very rare cases), if we made things public that mob would go after the banned dev.

See, if everyone knew that a person or even a company was banned after we argued with them every few months for three years about not asking people for admin access on the forums, or not tracking users in their plugins, they would have a very different view of the developers.

If everyone knew a company was banned for telling the plugin team they could perform sexual acts on their parents (wish I was joking), then what? Making that public in a place where they cannot refute means they have no ability to make amends. And yes, sometimes people do come back and apologize sincerely for that behavior.

We don’t disclose because of a kindness, and a desire not to destroy someone’s reputation (or livelihood). Perhaps we’re now at the point where that policy needs to change, in order to minimize the false narratives running around, but I’m really divided about that one, personally.

Someone says they were banned. Should I stop using their plugins?

I can’t answer that for you.

Personally, I would take their explanations with a grain of salt. Everyone (and this includes the Plugin Team) tends to tell a story to paint themselves in a better light. If someone is arguing they did no wrong and were banned, they’re probably leaving some information out. Then again, there are developers who tell people they messed up and got banned and deserved it.

Questions?

I know this is a lot to think about, and some of it sounds incredibly petty.

No one on the plugin team wants to close plugins, especially the well-known ones. It’s harmful to the community as well as the developers. At the same time, there is a practical limit as to how much the volunteers on WordPress.org are willing to put up with someone’s misbehavior. That’s why we have taken to formally warning people that they are on their last chance.

It’s our fervent hope that with the information in the final warning, people will correct their behavior and stop violating guidelines.

#final-notice, #reminder

Reminder: We will check your website

tl;dr: If you put a website as the official developer or pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party URLURL A specific web address of a website or web page on the Internet, such as a website’s URL www.wordpress.org and it does not exist (or is under construction), your review will be pended.

We know that sounds really weird, but yes, we’re saying if you tell us that your domain is XYZ and that domain doesn’t exist, or isn’t public, your review is going to be paused until you finish the site.

The primary reason for that is because those URLs will be seen by all your users, and if a user sees a great looking plugin with an incomplete website, they will not trust you. That’s actually something that scammers do on the regular, and you’ve made yourself look like that.

So to protect you from an undeserved bad-rep, we check your domains.

The secondary reason is, if you’re a service, we really do need that live so we can review the website and ensure it and the plugin are compatible with our guidelines.

Can I just remove the URL from the code?

Most of the time, yes.

However if you’re a service and the service runs through that website, then not only will you be required to make the site public, but you will also need to include a terms of use and/or privacy page on your site.

I made a typo! What do I do?

Reply to the email with “Ooops, I typoed, the real URL is …” We’ll ask you to update the code and your account, so your users don’t get confused, and all will be well.

What if the site isn’t mine, it’s the service owner’s?

Then you used the wrong account to submit the plugin. Remember ALL official plugins have to be owned by the official company. If you were hired to make a plugin for BoogieDownBlues (a fake company) and the domain is boogiedownblues.com then the account that submits the plugin has to use that domain for their email.

That protects you and them from any legal action later on.

My site is nearly done, can I have a pass?

No. Again, we’re trying to protect you from being seen as an untrustworthy developer. Also we want to make sure your site isn’t violating rules.

What if I need to have the plugin before I can have the site?

This generally happens with service plugins, and if that’s the case, we will tell you no. The site has to exist so we can validate the service.

Do I need an about page and all that?

You do not, but we do recommend it. People prefer to know there are real humans behind things.

Can I make a simple, placeholder?

Maybe. It depends on what you put on the placeholder page and (again) if you’re a service. If the placeholder says ‘Coming soon!’ then no.

What about Lorem Ipsum pages?

If your domain is filled with placeholder, we consider it to be incomplete and will point out the problem. Same goes for clearly fake addresses and those about pages that all have the same face.

Why does it matter if my personal site exists?

Because you told us (and by extension all your users) “this is who I am!” If your personal site is ‘coming soon’ or has a placeholder, no one can make a judgement on you save to say you’re a dev who can’t make a website. And yes, that is patently unfair, we know, but that’s what people will think. Heck, they complain to us every time we miss it. We would rather you not start in a bad place.

Why was I told not to use trademarks in my URL?

Because using a trademark in the domain name violates trademark law.

Using a company’s trademark in a URL as a domain name in whole (or in part like wordpress-example.com) may constitute a violation of the company’s trademark rights.  See Brookfield Communications, Inc. v. West Coast Entertainment Corp., 174 F.3d 1036 (9th Cir. 1999). 

What you can do instead is have example.com/trademark/ — that is generally allowed.

Keep in mind, some organizations (like WordPress) will allow the ‘short’ versions so wpexample.com would be fine. Others (like WooCommerce) have more restrictions, and actually prohibit wooexample.com

Always check the trademark guidelines first!

#reminder

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