Journal Entry: Removal of the Zamir Plugin

Around 17:30 UTC on March 23, 2022, I was notified 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 Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party in the WordPress ecosystem that contributors flagged as potentially violating the plugin directory guidelines. The initial conversation can be found in Slack. Following my review as the Executive Director, the plugin was removed from the directory about an hour later. This post is to provide information about what happened and anticipated next steps.

tl;dr: The Zamir plugin used a loophole in the plugin guidelines created to protect members of the WordPress community. There are no present guidelines that bar the “support” of political leaning or cause, which is what this plugin’s description claimed it was doing. Since Z is emerging as a new symbol of hate and violence, it was considered a grey area in initial checks and on further review was removed.

Does this plugin violate WordPress guidelines?

Yes! Many community members shared how the Z symbol has come to stand as a symbol in support of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. As a reminder, WordPress guidelines call upon all community members–including extenders like plugin authors– to “be kind, helpful, and respectful.” A symbol that is connected to an ongoing war and humanitarian crisis is none of those things.  

What actions were taken?

With the help of WordPress contributors and community members, the plugin has since been removed from the plugin directory. While decisions to remove plugins are normally adjudicated in a slower, more collaborative investigation process—quick and decisive action was appropriate to prevent further harm to the community.

Thank you to @santanainniss for pulling together the timeline of the morning and to @ipstenu for working to resolve the issue. Additional thanks to @cbringmann @helen @angelasjin and @eidolonnight for their review. And thank you to our community of contributors for voicing their concerns.