How should we shape the future of the Plugin Review team?

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Since we began restructuring 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 Plugin Directory or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party Review team with our advisors and new team members, we’ve had to make some tough collective decisions. These decisions, while based on strong intuition from our contributions, could have more alignment with the whole community.

This post aims to discuss and explore some important goals to improve our effectiveness and efficiency. This is a proposal, not a final set of goals.

We hope to receive community feedback, which will help us reach a general understanding. If possible, when commenting and adding suggestions around specific goals, please also provide the reasons behind your suggestions.

Comments will be open for feedback until July 2, 2024. Thank you for your contribution to the Plugin Review team!

1. Review timeframes

The plugin review process consists of two main queues (not including the security queues). First, we have an initial review queue, during which we check the issues and assign a specific reviewer to the plugin review. Then, if everything is good, we will approve the plugin, or it will go to a subsequent review queue assigned to the initial reviewer to continue the conversation until it reaches a satisfactory level.

We need to have different timeline goals for each of these steps.

  • For the initial reply to plugin submissions, it would likely make sense to happen within seven days. This timeframe can be considered at three levels: the regular level would be up to 7 days, the warning level would be between 7 and 14 days, and the critical level for more than 14 days. The idea behind the regular level being up to one week is that some team members contribute more during weekends, and we need to allow enough time for this to compensate for the increase in submissions during the week.
  • If the plugin is not initially approved, we propose that the assigned team member have a follow-up reply within 10 days as a goal on the subsequent review queue. We need to consider that some team members are distributing their pledged time over one day per week, so it might not be viable to lower this number as we try to keep the same reviewer handling the entire review process for a specific plugin.

If we can’t meet the expected timeframes, we must implement contingency plans. When we reach the warning level, we will ask team members who are involved in other team projects to reprioritize and focus on reviews as much as possible. If the situation worsens and we reach a critical level, we propose to create urgent calls to add new team members and explore even deeper actions to reverse this as soon as possible. We would love suggestions on other contingency plans.

Suggested monthly goal: 95% of initial reviews completed within 7 days and 90% of subsequent reviews completed within 10 days.

2. Improving initial submission quality

The team’s work is primarily focused on providing a safe and reliable experience while following some basic standards and guidelines. 

One of the team goals is to make Plugin Check (also known as PCP) a big part of the submission process, and we expect this to improve the quality (and speed) of the whole process. Having more AI-based tools also has some potential, even if we don’t yet know exactly how, but we’re open to suggestions.

Apart from that, we would like to improve our interactions with plugin authors by consolidating information and providing practical tips through small videos (like Instagram/TikTok) on common issues such as sanitizing and escaping.

This means that part of our goal is to invest in this direction and ask some of our contributors to dedicate time to it.

Right now, it takes an average of about three interactions per review when looking at the last six months, so it would be ideal to change that closer to two interactions per review.

Suggested monthly goal: Improve the quality of applications so that there are only two interactions (one initial review and one subsequent follow-up review) as average per application.

3. Keeping track of popular plugins

The team has historically only reviewed the initial version of plugins by default, then only checked based on specific reports or specific cases.

This means some plugins with many active installations haven’t had a full review from our team in a really long time. 

The team would like to start dedicating resources to scheduled reviews whenever a plugin achieves 20k active installations. Of course, this is more challenging while there is still a backlog, but it is one of the plans we consider throughout a plugin’s journey on the directory.

Suggested monthly goal: Complete scheduled additional reviews for all of the plugins with over 20k active installations at least once every two years.

4. Distribution of contribution

Ideally, no single person should be responsible for the majority of active reviews. We need to avoid overloading a few individuals and relying on only a few people to keep the work going. 

A health number might be not more than 25% of reviews, as this distribution ensures consistency and protects us if someone steps out temporarily or permanently.

This means we will explore internally (and even add new team members if needed) until we accomplish this goal.

Suggested monthly goal: Ensure no team member handles more than 25% of active reviews at any time.