Where are the WordPress.org free plugins?
I’m getting too many emails about this to answer them all, sorry. Hopefully I can answer you here.
I write and maintain WordPress plugins for a living. For ~8 years I have also provided and supported free plugins on the side. I provide two plugins in the free (open-source) WordPress.org plugin repository, both of which are well-loved and rated. As you may have noticed, they were abruptly removed by WordPress on January 24th. It was a surprise to me, too!
Frankly I have been feeling burned out on supporting free software, so maybe this is a chance for me to at least say my piece. One has to think abstractly for it to feel rewarding, as in “I know people aren’t saying anything, but I imagine these plugins make the world better and peoples’ days easier.”
I also feel like “giving it away” free (my code, my support) reinforces pervasive mistaken thinking that developers should work for free or cheaply, all the time. Furthermore, giving away free code also seems to reinforce pervasive mistaken thinking that anyone can be a “developer.” This is similar to how an iPhone and Instagram led millions of people to believe they are professional photographers, without even knowing what a darkroom is, what makes a good camera, or how filters work. Inside appropriation we tend to forget to acknowledge the work of others. If you surf the web reading developers’ seemingly inevitable burnout reactions to unpaying customers support and feature requests, well, yeah, that’s me. Never so much as today.
WordPress bought WooCommerce in 2015. I stumbled upon an internal chat surrounding trademark and plugin naming a few months ago, so I was pretty aware of what was coming. And so I have been working on things best possible to get ready. Very slow progress!
Under the premise that my WordPress.org email has an autoresponder (it only runs on weekends) and they haven’t been able to get through, WordPress has brought both my plugins under intense scrutiny. WordPress admitted to me that they had word from WooCommerce to take down my plugins for trademark violation, though. Meanwhile, in order for the plugins to be reinstated at wordpress.org, quite a bit of code needs to be reviewed, and even more painfully, the plugins must be re-named.
Why Re-Name Plugins?
Well, because in the case of WaterWoo, the title includes “Woo,” and that is trademarked by WooCommerce. Can you believe that? Wow. In the case of Gift Wrapper, well, what needs to happen is it needs to be called something like Gift Wrapper for WooCommerce instead of what I’ve been calling it. OH HAHA, nevermind, can’t do that: WooCommerce took that name for a new plugin last year. Were I to re-name as WordPress recommends without knowing that, it’d have been Gift Wrapper for WooCommerce. But were that even possible, it’d mean people would likely accidentally upgrade from my free version to WooCommerce’s paid version. Tricky. WooCommerce could have come to me at any time for discussion about naming (or perhaps licensing my plugins), but I heard nothing.
Unlike “WooCommerce,” “Woo” is a dictionary word… and probably a weak trademark. Heck, doesn’t the word WOO mean to “seek the favor, support, or custom of“? Funny enough, the company has always appropriated a ninja as a mascot, meaning I guess they took Woo more from Wu, as in like, WU-TANG, as in “shaman” or a “wu enlightenment…” This is a whole other discussion.
I have asked WooCommerce to consider at least extending grace on WaterWoo™. As of mid-February I still haven’t heard back from them.
WOO HOO I AM FREE
To be honest I have been focusing on the plugins that pay my bills, and so it could take a while before the free plugins are back online. If you are a developer and would like to assist with these open-source projects and get them going again for their thousands of users, speak up! Another option is to buy the premium version right here on this site — support a small business and its lady owner (me) operating at the poverty line. (Maybe I spent too much time on free.)
Thank you for understanding.