WordPress updates Plugin Guidelines

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After five years, the WordPress plugin team has updated the Plugin Guidelines. These are the guidelines that WordPress plugin authors must comply with to be included in the WordPress Plugin Directory.

The guidelines were soft-launched last month so that they could be vetted by the larger plugin developer community community. On November 1st, 2017, they were officially announced “Revised Guidelines Are Live” by Mika Epstein.

Overall, these guidelines are good. They are solid, well communicated and clear to anyone who reads them. They also clarify some areas that were ambiguous, or at least being exploited by some plugin developers. Things like “incentivized reviews” which were not specifically mentioned in the guidelines are now clarified.

The two guidelines worthy of note – at least in my opinion – are #4 and #9.
4. Keep your code (mostly) human readable.. Personally, this is my favorite. It does away with plugin authors – and I assume theme authors? – that obfuscate things, base64 ended things, and generally make it difficult to review the code of the plugin before deploying it. (You DO review plugins, right?)

The other one of note is #9,The plugin and its developers must not do anything illegal, dishonest, or morally offensive. The sentiment is good, however, the wording, specifically, “morally offensive” is so vague as to open it up for abuse. It is my opinion that the guidelines should be specific and not ambiguous. This one guideline stands out because all of the others ares so well thought out and clear.

Regardless of anyone’s opinion of the guidelines, though, they are the law of the land. For a group that sometimes punishes first and clarifies later, it is good to see clarification of what is expected. Hopefully these guidelines will be applied consistently to everyone.

About Cal Evans

Many moons ago, at the tender age of 14, Cal touched his first computer. (We're using the term "computer" loosely here, it was a TRS-80 Model 1) Since then his life has never been the same. He graduated from TRS-80s to Commodores and eventually to IBM PCs.   For the past 10 years, Cal has worked with PHP and MySQL on Linux OSX, and when necessary, Windows. He has built on a variety of projects ranging in size from simple web pages to multi-million dollar web applications. When not banging his head on his monitor, attempting a blood sacrifice to get a particular piece of code working, he enjoys building and managing development teams using his widely imitated but never patented management style of "management by wandering around". Cal is happily married to wife 1.33, the lovely and talented Kathy. Together they have 2 kids who were both bright enough not to pursue a career in IT. Cal blogs at http://blog.calevans.com and is the founder and host of Nomad PHP