tl;dr? If you get a final notice from the plugin 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, WordCamp 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.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.
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.