The Morality of Forking

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it." -- Thomas Paine

Having already established that Forking is Legal, I felt it best to take the other end of the argument.(This was intended to be all one post, but at about 3000 words, it needed to be split up.)

Clarification here. Jigoshop is a product of Jigowatt. I call them Jigoshop in both my posts because it’s easier for my brain.

Gil Rutkowski remarked (without knowing I was already writing this):

Funny how people pick and choose between the “SPIRIT” of the GPL and its literal legal application to fit their argument. (@flashingcursor on Twitter)

Two ForksWe often sum up GPL as “Do what you want with this software. Just let other people do what they want with the software you make from it.” If you’re not familiar with it, I think I can sum up the spirit of GPL as “Don’t be a dick.” (Wil Wheaton in Exile) People get in a lot of arguments about the ‘spirit’ of things. You’ve probably heard someone complain “He’s following the letter of the law, but not the spirit.” Basically what that means is someone is obeying the law, but not what it means.

How can that even be? If the law is the law, then the law is the law and there should be no wibbly wobbly involved! It happens because of intent. The intent of the law in general is really something we shouldn’t have needed to be told in the first place, when you think about it. Primum non nocere: First, do no harm. Doctors are taught this, and you’d really think that’s self-evident! And yet, even the US Declaration of Independence starts out “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” If they were self-evident, why are we saying thing?

People are selfish. We care about ourselves first, then the people closest to us, and so on and so forth. To say the ‘spirit’ of the law means we’re no longer actually talking about the law as a legislative statute, but about the idiomatic application there of. We’re now talking about how we feel the law should be, which is pretty iffy territory. Talking about the spirit of the law brings up things like the moral ambiguity of the law, and the ethics we try to impose on others. What’s ethical for me may not be so for you, and so on.

So what does the moral aspect of GPL have to do with the recent forking of Jigoshop’s eCommerce plugin? Interestingly we can see how both parties ended up at the fork because they were selfish. Jigoshop didn’t want to give up control and neither did WooThemes. Neither was willing to concede, and in a way, they both ‘lost’ because of it.

Melted ForkWas Woo being a dick to fork the plugin? Yes. And no. You have to keep this in perspective.

You see, no one has made a ‘Killer’ eCommerce plugin for WordPress. Not even Jigoshop. From what I’ve been told, Woo has struggled to make their own killer plugin for eCommerce, and failed at it. I will leave it to others who actually use eCommerce on their sites to determine which plugin is queen, but I feel comfortable saying that taking someone else’s work, even when you credit them, can be a dick move.

At the exact same time that WooThemes is being a dick for forking, they’re doing a right thing. No that’s not a typo, they are doing A thing that is right. We all know that ‘hacking core’ for WordPress (or any app) is a terrible thing. Merging changesets is a nightmare, no matter what tool you use, and a fork makes it just as hard to incorporate changes. So would not a better solution be to make a WooTheme add-on plugin that just changed the parts of Jigoshop they didn’t like? A Woo/Jigo integration plugin?

That would be a wonderful, perfect world. Let me know when we get there. Sometimes the direction of a plugin is such that you have to fork it to do what you want. The developers don’t want to follow your dream of unicorns and puppies. Until we reach the perfect world, we fork. Now, it took a bit of reading to verify that WooThemes was unable to make their desired changes without editing core plugin code. That left them with only a few viable options. They could submit the changes to Jigoshop and hope for the best, or they could hack the Gibson. Basically, this was the best choice for WooThemes and really, nothing’s wrong with that.

The problem is that WooThemes is going to be making money off this acquisition. Their WooCommerce plugin will be free, just like Jigoshop, but just like Jigoshop, they aim to make a living off the plugin. Off someone else’s work. To be fair, that’s what I do. I support other people’s ‘stuff’ all the time. I’ve not written a lick of code for Windows in years (except DOS and PowerShell scripts) but their products pay my bills. Does that make me a thief?

No, it makes me an opportunist. WooThemes is being opportunistic as well. Remember how I said we are, all of us, selfish? Well so is Woo. They see a chance to make money and use a plugin that works, and not their own with a weird history. (Did you know Nacin was once going to head up WooCommerce before he was snatched by Matt? That’s fun to look at in retrospect.) Woo had a series of unfortunate issues with their own plugin, and it never worked right. They weren’t a dick because they talked to Jigoshop first (they didn’t have to), and I rather hope they said ‘Okay, we’re going to agree to disagree on the direction of the plugin and fork it.’ If Jigoshop first learned of the fork via Woo’s blog post, then they were entirely dicks.

Was Woo being a dick to ‘head hunt’ the developers? Yes. And again, No. Yet again, perspective is important.

I said before that the developers they ‘stole’ wouldn’t have left if they had a reason to stay. People leave companies all the time for myriad reasons. They also stay with companies for others. In the ‘traditional’ corporate world, people get a job and stay with it for a million years. In the freelance world, though, people switch jobs around a lot more. Even so, people only leave companies for three reasons:

  1. They hate it here
  2. They found something better
  3. They were let go

That’s really it. So if someone chooses to leave a company, options one and two are there on the table, and you have to be honest to ask if they would have left if Woo hadn’t made the offer? And there’s where the dick move possibly lives. Was it Woo’s promise of skittles and beer that made them leave, or was there something wrong at Jigoshop? It’s far too early to point fingers at anyone, especially the developers who may discover they made a poor choice. You have to take risks, after all, or you never succeed.

WooThemes was dickish if they bribed away the developers. But they weren’t if this was just one of those serendipity moments. What if the developers said ‘Wow! Woo shares our vision!’ We don’t know, so we have to speculate, but either way, the decision was the developers and not WooThemes or Jigoshop, so any dickery actually belongs to the devs and them alone.

Twisted ForksSince I was asked, my personal opinion is this: WooThemes pulled a dick move which in no way violated the letter or the spirit of GPL.

See the spirit would have been violated if, as another shop did recently, they lifted the plugin wholesale, made a couple tweaks, rebrand it, and released it without telling anyone. You know who I’m talking about here. That was violation of the spirit of GPL. But WooThemes was upfront about this. They talked to Jigoshop first, and everyone seems to have known what was going on before the news broke.

While I dislike that WooThemes did this, I will defend their right to do so (and Jigoshop’s right to be upset) until the day we all stop using GPL.

The whole reason I wrote the first post, however, was the high number of people I talked to who said that the spirit of the law was violated. It really wasn’t. Yes, these were dick moves, but the spirit of the law is the meaning, and the meaning of GPL is that you can’t impose more restrictions on a GPL product than it started with. No one did that. What Woo did was pretty shitty to their neighbor, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t kill GPL. It hurt feelings and left a bad taste in the mouth, but that’s not the spirit of GPL either.

The Spirit of GPL is freedom. It’s sharing your work, working together, and when you take someone’s work, being open about them and crediting them. And while you don’t have to like what Woo did, they did not harm the spirit of GPL, because we’re all here, talking about it and still abiding by it.

I can but hope that the fallout from this is that we’ll finally have an eCommerce plugin that stands up as the best because of worth and not because that’s all we’ve got, but we’ll have to wait a couple of years for that to settle.


  1. Interesting conclusion, this:

    We don’t know, so we have to speculate, but either way, the decision was the developers and not WooThemes or Jigoshop, so any dickery actually belongs to the devs and them alone.

    If true, then the developer-hiring situation involved no [insert invective here] whatsoever. Why? Because who the [bleep] are we to tell the developers for whom they can and cannot work? They are free adults, and have every right to choose to leave a company, and to go work for another company. They were not slaves or property of JigoWatt, and owed absolutely nothing to JigoWatt, except for an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay (and vice versa, for JigoWatt).

    I’ve seen animosity expressed toward these developers. How [bleep] dare we presume to dictate to them? Quite frankly, it is none of our business the companies for whom they choose to work, and not to work, and why. The truly [invective] move comes from those people who impugn their character for making decisions that they have every legal, moral, and ethical right to make.

    Both of these posts are incredibly well-written, by the way. I would say that we agree 99%, but I’m working on my own post, so I’ll articulate any difference of opinion there. In fundamental principle, I agree with you in both posts.

    • Chip, I know what you mean. I was trying to carefully couch what I said about the developers. I really hope they made a choice that will make THEM happy down the road. Screw the rest. They’re the only ones who know what’s in their head, and they made a choice. That’s balls out better than people who never make a decision*.

      I don’t think anyone here made an unethical, immoral or illegal choice. I think everyone made interesting choices that shows the infinit diversity of the WP universe, and THAT is just cool to me. 🙂 Part of why I dig WP is that it’s limitless in this way.

      *With the exception of Richard Feynman. He was allowed not to make decisions, though, on account of being fucking smart.

    • I throughly enjoy these type of discussions (well written, well argued, open-minded).

      Chip is right the devs are and should be free to do whatever they want, however “we” do also have the right to form educated opinions (aka make judgements) about what they did.

      I won’t claim to know nearly enough to make definitive personal judgement on the situation, nor do I think my personal judgement matters much in the scheme of things, but for now I do think Woo is guilty of making a dick move and I think the devs were complicit in enabling Woo making said dick move.

      All legal? Probably (it’s not like I’ve heard details of anyone’s employment contracts).

      All ethical, not in my judgement and at least in my book ethics are actually more important than law. In terms of ethical violations it’s pretty minor and being handled about as well as I could imagine though, I suppose in Woo’s defense one could say “If you’re going to be a dick try to be a little one.”

    • I said elsewhere that my ‘Yeah it’s a dick move…’ remark is purely my personal feeling, and I’m more than fine with folks disagreeing. I don’t like it. Other people whom I consider friends have no issue with it. Diversity is fine by me. We’d be so boring if we all agreed.

    • That was all perfectly clear, and if I understand your position accurately I mostly agree with it.

      Woo forking the code rather than starting from scratch still doesn’t feel quite right to me though. It’s not “Woo kills puppies for fun” kind of unethical, it’s more “Dear best friend, your g/f and I fell and love and she’s leaving you… sorry about that” kind of thing…

    • Boyfriends tend to have more restrictive licenses than WordPress, but even so, everyone has a right to choose to make themselves happy. Would you want them to have stayed at a company whose vision they didn’t share if there was a better match for them elsewhere?

    • Yeah, leaving for a vision change isn’t dickish. Leaving for only more money would be, IMO.

      And either way, it’s okay to sit with the ex-BF and complain about how his best friend and his ex-girlfriend are both total dicks, and let’s have a beer.

      Separating the legal, the moral, the ethical and the … Well the butthurts from all this is so complicated. There isn’t an easy answer that satisfies everyone.

    • Yeah, leaving for a vision change isn’t dickish. Leaving for only more money would be, IMO.

      According to that, moving from an unpaid (ex. trainee) position to a payed one would be dickish?

      Oh, that bloody money. Always so much ambivalence about it… 😉

      But seriously, it is never really spoken out, but I begin to suspect at its (possibly subconscious) core, all the GPL debate is actually motivated by (inner and outer) conflicts about making money vs. not making money.

    • It’s a ‘yes it’s dickish, but no, it’s not.’ moment 😉 Complicated.

      If you’re an unpaid intern and you like where you are, but instead of asking for money, you just jump at the first paid gig around, there is a degree of dickishness going on. It’s not inexcusable, but it’s not nice to your boss. It’s all levels of degree and ‘it depends on the full situation.’ Which is why Woo got all those ‘Yeah, it’s a dick move, but also no it’s not.’

    • Threaded comments are starting to struggle…

      …but I have nothing against people changing jobs for more money, that’s not dickish at all in my book, but changing jobs for more money without considering the intangibles (who you work with, vision, future, etc) is stupid… Similarly if one dislikes there current situation they might leave for less money. Any person needs to weigh money and all those intangibles themselves, there is no universal metric for that.

      I know plenty of _happy_ people making lots of money at jobs they hate, and _happy_ people making little money at jobs they love… it’s the unhappy people I feel sorry for.

    • This is discussion is really starting to “narrow down” 😉

      but instead of asking for money, you just jump at the first paid gig around, there is a degree of dickishness going on.

      Not communicating it would be dickish even if you switched jobs for the sake of vision. As I said, money seems to cause a lot of ambivalence, for apparently no logical reason. ❗

    • No, I wouldn’t have wanted them to stay, but that was my point… getting kinda Machiavellian… but sometimes shit happens and sometimes there is no “everyone wins” solution and the only choice is to make some people unhappy in order to keep yourself and others happy.

    • The foolish part is not having non-disclosure, non-compete agreements on paid employees. If I’m going to pay them then I get that agreement in writing. Otherwise, obviously, I have nothing (skill set, intellectual property, knowledge base, customer base, code, etc) of value that I’m worried about being stolen away. Standard Operating Procedure. Woo is a dick and Jigo goofed. Sad situation.

    • The foolish part is not having non-disclosure, non-compete agreements on paid employees.

      That’s a very ‘traditional business’ POV (and one I somewhat agree with). But in the spirit of GPL, it’s quite the antithesis, isn’t it? GPL says we don’t restrict rights of the users, and I would argue that a developer counts as a user.

      Working for The Bank of Ipstenu is one thing. Half of my stuff is so proprietary it wouldn’t work at Bank of Walter anyway, and the other half wouldn’t make sense to port (or you already have it). There are surprisingly very few variations of software for banks and you either write your own, specific to your environments or you buy from the same vendor everyone uses. Go figure.

      But if I was going to work for, say, Woo (I don’t, and nerts to the person who accused me of doing so!), I wouldn’t sign a NDA or a NCA. I like owning my code. After all, I’m the one who wrote it, not my boss!

    • And it was a good read (I didn’t know about Trip-J as well, I only knew about Nacin b/c I went back to read about the saga of WooCommerce and they mentioned him by name – also Pete Mall who I gather did work on it). 😀

      It makes me wonder if I should clarify what I mean by something being a dick move… I think Woo’s been dickish in that a lot of butthurt occurred, and there may have been better ways to fork the code and hire the devs without making people knee-jerk into “ZOMG! Thief! You killed the spirit of GPL!” I don’t like that they did it, but me liking it really has no bearing on how it affect GPL. Possibly, if this had been better communicated and explained all around, we’d all have seen from day one that this was a good fork.

      Of course, I don’t use any eCommerce plugins because they’re all convoluted, complicated and confusing to figure out. Which tells me that no one’s got that killer app yet, darn it!

  2. Great post(s)! I’m in nearly total agreement with you, except I disagree about it being a dick move on the part of Woo. I mean, I’m sure that Jigowatt sees it as a dick move — and in fairness, from their perspective it absolutely is, but I don’t see how it’s a dick move from a so-called community standpoint.

    I think Jane nailed it in her post — good employees, especially developers, are a good find. Woo already had a working relationship with these gays for some of the app themes that they have released, making the employment offer made sense to them — Mike and Jay accepted. End of story. Rather than celebrating that a market exists for people to not only get paid for their work on WordPress, but poached — we criticize anyone who would dare make an offer to someone they find talented. For the love of fucking God.

    What riles me up, and you touched on this a bit in both posts, is the reaction from the so-called community. It reminded me, once again, why I end up getting so frustrated with WordPress so often and why I would much rather volunteer my time/expertise to different open source projects (or to non open source projects with robust communities anyway). There are a lot of entitled assholes in WordPress who only want things to apply in their own situations. You know, the whole “I offer my themes under the GPL because I feel forced to do so but I’m going to throw a hissy fit anytime anyone uses my theme or plugin in a way I don’t like.” Dude, I’m not a fan of the GPL, Richard Stallman or the FSF, but if I choose to work on something that has that license, I accept those terms. Likewise, I’m not personally convinced that the GPL legally applies to WordPress plugins and themes — but you know what, I accept that the conventional wisdom says that it does. That means that if I were to release a plugin or theme, I’d recognize that conventional wisdom and equally recognize that if I want to try to make money off that product, I have to deal with the limitations of that system. I’m not going to bitch about how unfair it is that people can do shit I don’t like after the fact, I’m going to be an adult and recognize those consequences before deciding on a project or a license.

    I try to stay apolitical in threads like this, but it’s the whole libertarianism notion of “no interference except when I say and on rules that I set.” Like an Ayn Rand novel, it’s really appealing at 16 but once you grow up, you realize, oh wait, this isn’t how the world works or can work.

    As I said on WPCandy, I think that Woo did the right thing by forking. They clearly have their own intentions for their own solution. I’m not convinced that writing some sort of plugin-bridge would be the best solution, especially if how they envision things developing ends up significantly changing from the track Jigoshop is on now. They forked. Github DOES make it super easy to merge branches or aspects of branches. But Woo has a commitment to its community and its customers, just as Jigoshop has a commitment to its community and its customers. Jigowatt can be sad that they lost two employees and they can be pissed that a project they worked on is getting competition developed by people that used to work for them. That’s understandable, but hey, this is business/life/reality. It is what it is.

    • There are a lot of entitled assholes in WordPress who only want things to apply in their own situations.

      Replace “WordPress” with “every community” and you’re 100% right 😉 You can’t love all aspects about a thing, and no one should expect you to.

      Likewise, I’m not personally convinced that the GPL legally applies to WordPress plugins and themes

      I’m not either, but currently accepted legal theory (I don’t believe a ruling has been made one way or the other yet, but I don’t have Lexis-Nexis access anymore) is that code which is dependent on another product must adhere to any licensing restrictions on the parent. And that makes sense logically to me. If your code is an add on to another product that cannot stand on it’s own, then it’s a derivative. But then, look at something like Bad Behavior’s code. His code does not. It can run on anything. I’d argue that if he wanted to release his code under a more restrictive license, he could and still be okay.

      I think that was a pretty well reasoned and insightful comment 🙂 Thank you, Christina 😎

      (Psst. I’m a Green Party Libertarian, and I think that ‘No exceptions except for me’ thing is BS too 😉 Ideologies applied strangely to a child of a socialist.)

    • The argument that code is “dependant” on another product is a fabrication that is trumped up to support the whole concept of the gpl.

      Especially in the case of wordpress. If I write a loop that echos and array in php and does any sort of magic and then the function spits out results. The only thing that code is dependent on is php. I can put that code anywhere and run that function with what inputs I like. I can put any license I like on that code. The fact that the code can live in an environment with other php code, and maybe accepts callbacks from that code, doesn’t make the code “Based” upon the other code. The code is base upon the language and run on the server platform, not the other code that happens to be running on the same server.

      The ultimate solution may appear to have more code from one set of than another and someone could make a claim that the large set of code was the “Platform”. But where does that end? If I use 75% more code that wordpres core and also run core does that mean that wordpress is not based upon my platform.

      Php lives side by side. Just because I might make a database call before I format output doesn’t make the only value in my code the database call.

      So tell me. What is the definition of “parent” code. Because it seems entirely arbitrary to me.

    • It’s WordPress. Capital W and capital P, and yes, people care.

      If I write a loop that echos and array in php and does any sort of magic and then the function spits out results.

      Yes, and no one says otherwise. The problem is when you incorporate WordPress, even with a simple global $wpdb; in your code, you are using WordPress’s functions, and now you’re dependent on them.

      That’s why it’s child code.

    • OMG Christina!; an open dismissal of Ayn Rand’s philosophy published on the web, with attribution no less! Here’s hoping you don’t get a shit-storm of Rand acolytes for whom “Atlas Shrugged” is the “new-new testament” hunting down your professionally-written posts to piss on them in the comments. 😉

  3. Did you try to reach woo, jigoshop and the 2 devs? This is an entirely speculative post. Blame my journalism background if you want, but there’s only content if there are quotes with stand taking.

    • I’m not a journalist (nor do I claim to be one). And that’s why I said, clearly I hope, what was speculation.

      But if you want to read Jigoshop’s post “Our forking views” and WooTheme’s post “The Good Stuff: New Team Members, WooLabs, WooCommerce & Plugins”, that’s where I got the majority of the info for this and the previous post. I did a lot of trolling through Woo’s archives and probably should have cited things.

    • Oh wait, here’s a quote from Mike (one of the devs)

      Money was by no way my motivation for leaving. Doing it with woothemes gives the plugin the focus, resources and direction it needs in order to succeed.

      Source: comment on “the Good Stuff..”

  4. To Hackaldelic and Jon (we hit a practical limit on Thread Readability! Woo! 😆 )

    Dickishness is a variable measurement, based on intent, actions, and how it makes me (yes, me) feel. Trying to narrow down exactly what it is, in each situation, that makes something ‘feel’ bad is difficult and complicated. It’s never just money, though money often plays a cause in it. It’s also in ignoring what’s ‘right’ (and knowing that right is so very subjective), in treating people poorly, and doing things without concern for others. And of course, you can still do any of those things and still be a perfectly fine individual that I wouldn’t call a dick.

    Perspective on the whole situation and its layers. No easy answers, but at least we’re all thinking!

    • I think this situation is a good example of the lack of legal protection for intangible shared value. The (mostly) free market captialist societies like the USA have codified individual properties right into law but they don’t have equivalent straightforward laws to protect shared value from harm, value which is typically intangible. The WordPress ecosystem is an intangible shared “entity” which has value and provides each of us who are involved in it with value in a different manner.

      And in many people’s eyes the forking of JigoShop has harmed that shared value, but harmed in different ways depending upon who is looking (it actually may have been a good thing for a minority of people, but I digress.) This creates anger in some of us and a feeling that they were “wronged”, but it doesn’t gives any method of redress for those wrongs other than attempting to affect public opinion. But in most cases public opinion is too weak a redress to have any real effect, and attempting to affect it can even backfire. So the people who feel wronged are understandably frustrated.

      About the only method for redress for “wrongs” in this ecosystem is denail of access to the repositories, but that is controlled by a small group and not the ecosystem at large, and many companies have been sucessfully able to work around that anyway (can you say “WishList Member,” for example?) What would be nice if there was a way to establish codified norms that protect shared value within a community like this and then have some enforcement method for those norms. But that said I can’t see how a non-law could really make a difference because people have so many different opinions about what is right and what is wrong. So I don’t have high hopes that it will get any better than if currently is; maybe it is already as good as it can get? FWIW.

      P.S. To be clear, I’m not arguing against free market captialism in any way; I’m just exploring the idea to improve my own understanding of the issue.

    • About the only method for redress for “wrongs” in this ecosystem is denail of access to the repositories

      Actually if you’re a known GPL violator, a lot of weird shit starts to happen. Like you can’t sponsor an official WordCamp. From what I’ve seen, the community has an amazing ability to shun, too. I know a lot of sites that won’t accept ads from non-GPL sites. I won’t 😉

    • “Actually if you’re a known GPL violator, a lot of weird shit starts to happen.”

      True that (I was just being convenient vs. comprehensive. 🙂

    • Mike,
      The open source model by design or happenstance seems to devalue code. So where without it we could pick a platform and sell it with markup to a client, competing against other for sale platforms. WordPress as a free software becomes the first consideration because we don’t have to split the money with those that created the platform. And subsequently, we can tell our clients that the platform doesn’t cost anything. Adding insult to injury wordpress encourages further devaluation of coders by not providing a mechanism for coders to sell enhancements. And this conversation highlights that it also doesn’t provide any real mechanism for even enforcing non-monetary credit.

      By giving it away and encouraging hard working coders to dump their efforts into wordpress, wordpress has become some 14% of the web, and will likely only increase. This makes it really difficult for people to protect the value of coders and code, because any platform has to be almost free in order to compete, and almost free doesn’t pay coders unless you can get to scale like

      Which is not likely for most of us. Especially since we contribute to wordpress and promote it and when our customers go to someone else is selling them a product, they aren’t finding

      That is why I occasionally argue that if we are all going to do opensource happy handholding that the whole brand needs to be opensource, along with the code. So that we don’t have to compete with a .com overlord on the platform that we are freely participating in and promoting.

      Sorry Matt, just an opinion, you seem like a nice fellow, thanks for the beers.

  5. Very interesting post, thanks for writing. I pretty much agree with you on all counts; I found myself going YES!!! when I read “If the law is the law, then the law is the law and there should be no wibbly wobbly involved!” and more so when I read “We’re now talking about how we feel the law should be.” So many people have a feeling about what they want GPL to mean (or anything to mean for that matter) but none of it is codified into law. It’s just a “values” debate over which there can be no right or wrong answer as people’s values differ.

    However, I am surprised by some of the comments where the developers are given a free pass for wanting to optimize their own situation (their income, their happiness about their work, etc.) and companies are held to a higher standard, especially when we are talking about something that affects a much larger group of people than just themselves as a fork like this can negatively affect many people. Why is it okay for developers by coming to work for Woo for more money (“more money” is just an assumption for the basis of this argument) and it’s not okay for Woo to fork it if they think they can use their market might to fulfill a vision of creating a better and more widely used e-Commerce plugin than by JigoShop alone (again, I’m assuming those reasons for the basis of this argument?)

    Now I’m not saying that I am upset with the developers and not with Woo (or even vice-versa) I’m just saying that it seems that we don’t allow ourselves to question individuals for making a dick move if they are employees and I’m calling the question; shouldn’t we? I don’t think we necessarily should give individuals “sacred cow” status just because they are employees. It is quite possible that employee’s decisions are the ones that empower a company like Woo to be able to do something like fork JigoShop and yet the people that get upset about the forking blame company but never the employees?

    Also, we are not talking about Microsoft here, we are talking about what is still a pretty small company. Maybe this move is because Adii has a strong vision for what he wants to see for eCommerce and he thinks he can make it happen by forking JigoShop but cannot make it happen if he doesn’t fork it. If that is the case and it wasn’t purely profit motivated, shouldn’t he be allowed to pursue his vision? Why, simply because he runs a company is he being excoriated for his actions?

    Frankly looking in from the outside I dislike that fact that there are now five (5) main e-Commerce plugins for WordPress (wp-eCommerce, Shopp, Cart66, JigoShop and now WooCommerce) instead of four (4) and I’d prefer to see fewer great ones instead of more good ones. I also feel bad for JigoShop that a company like Woo would “recognize” their expensive efforts by co-opting their work instead of building on it (full disclosure: I have some fears for the same in the future for some of my work.)

    So the taste in my mouth is bad for this whole situation, especially because I expect most of Woo’s customers will just happily buy WooCommerce because of their momentum instead of standing on principle (or more likely because most won’t even know of the issue.) But for those with ire, should it all be directed at Woo or shouldn’t some of the ire not be directed at the developers themselves (this assumes no more knowledge of the actual situation; with more knowledge of who did what and why this question could change?)

    So all’s fair in love and war: If you are going to be upset about something at least view the situation with clarity. That is all I’m saying.

    • So all’s fair in love and war: If you are going to be upset about something at least view the situation with clarity. That is all I’m saying.

      That was a lot of the impetus of why I wrote this all up in the first place 😉 It’s okay to be upset (and I would never suggest otherwise) or dislike Woo or Jigo or the devs. But you should know what it is you dislike. Or at least know enough to know that it’s feeling and not ‘law’.

      I don’t think we’re giving a free pass to the devs, they just weren’t really the target of the argument. And I did posit that they are culpable of dickery too, depending on the manner in which they left Jigoshop. Personal motives for jumping ship are hellishly more complicated than the law, and is just an entire grey area.

      Having read what one of the devs said:

      Money was by no way my motivation for leaving. Doing it with woothemes gives the plugin the focus, resources and direction it needs in order to succeed.

      Source: comment on “the Good Stuff..”

      I think in Mike’s case there was no dickery. He wanted to do what woo wanted, and hopefully he didn’t just flip Jigo the bird and walk out the door, stealing a fax machine on his way.

      I said somewhere in this thread that leaving ONLY for more money is one of the signs of ‘This might be dickery’ (internships notwithstanding). As Hackaldelic wisely pointed out, there’s so much grey area, so much ‘it depends on this, that, and the other thing’ in personal motives, that it’s far harder to call ‘DICK!’ on a person than a company.

      Dickishness is like porn. You know it when you see it, and it’s a little different for everyone.

    • My comments were more in the abstract vs. this specific situation, and directed at some of the other comments, not at your comments or your post. IOW, I think people were too quick to say that “developers should be allowed to do whatever makes them happy” and I was just calling that into question since what they do affects the ecosystem just like what a forking company does. I was just being much like the little kid was when the emperor had no clothes.

  6. I’m writing plugins and I’m leery of releasing them on the repo. I have one up, but I’m just not seeing the ultimate upside. And I think that the whole idea of receiving credit from others in the community is great when they use your code, but without enforcement its seems like a lot of moralizing noise.

    I’m trying to start participating to see where it goes, but the first idea I posted to irc was immediately implemented and turned into a blog post by someone in core with no mention of me. I don’t say that to call someone out. I’m just leary that if the core team can’t be relied on to call out contributions to the discussion, how can they be expected to credit coders.

    Does that seem unimportant. I don’t know, but a lot of us could at least use a link back to our website out of our participation, so that we can start building our own businesses. It would be great to not have to beg people for that but instead just have it be the edict to credit others. Or maybe build some of that into wordpress so we can build blogs that better enforce the idea of crediting coders, bloggers and comments as a matter course.

    I’m willing to not turn off a dashboard widget for my clients that credits all the coders, provides links to their sites, donation buttons and even a mass donation button that allows the client to contribute to all plugin authors at once.

    Maybe what is needed is better version control, so that with every plugin download you have a commiter history pushed to the front with coder and company names of everyone involve and links back to all of them. It really is a pain to try and do that.

    In the long run, to make open source sustainable for the labor, these questions need to be answered in a monetary fashion. Not just with kudos buried somewhere in code comments. We need to respect each other and provide deeper linking in the community so that more people have a reason to join in and do things in a standard way, and don’t have to come up with their own crazy schemes to monetize there work.

    I’m considering creating my open updater by forking the one from wpmu, just so I can monetize plugin delivery instead of dumping my hard work onto the repo for what I’m told is a weak donation market.

    • I know a number of people who make their living off open source code, and never get so much as a kudo to their name in the code comments.

      There are two different things going on here, though. More than two, but two I’m going to point out.

      1) We don’t contribute to open source because we get kudos or swag.

      WordPress has ‘given’ me a bag, a water bottle, two t-shirts and a bunch of buttons. No… wait, I bought ’em via my ticket to WordCamps.

      2) Your contributions to any open source project have no bearing on your ability to make money from said project.

      How many of us use linux, apache, or other free unix based tools? How many of us learned coding theory and practice by kicking around open source? On the flip side, Woo and Jigo and many other people are making money. So what are they selling? Is it product or people or support or… what?

      None of that’s really topical to the ethics or legality of what went on, mind you, it’s more of a ‘Why do we code for free?’ post in and of itself 😉

      (Though I am personally interested to know which core dev blogged about your idea instead of crediting you, and if you left a comment ‘glad I sparked an idea from you!’)

    • 1) We don’t contribute to open source because we get kudos or swag.

      I’m personally not conerned about kudus or swag.

      I’m concerned about what lots of people using wordpress are, a living wage. Kudos or swag are not the only options. I have kids to feed. Something which seems to be left out of alot of discussions about open source. I don’t take issue with “coding for free”, because I don’t code for free, I do it for a living. And I don’t take issue with giving away code. Trying to stay on topic, what is a “dick move”? I think that needs to be really well defined. There is nothing wrong with people wanting to go into a venture with some idea of the rules of the road. And I’m newly into trying to contribute to wordpress.

      That being said, my minimum expectation is that I might be able to build some traffic to my website and meet some new client prospects. I don’t think that is alot to ask and if a contributor can’t even expect that its really not much of a community.

      2) I have to take issue with that, as I said above, contributions to open source, should at a minimum make you more well know and spread your information around the web, which has a bearing on the credibility and search position of your website, which has a bearing on your ability to make money.

      As for which dev I was reffering to, I’d rather not say, I really do want to make a go at being an effective member of the community and calling people out who don’t know me for not linking me doesn’t seem constructive and may not even have been called for in the situation. I’d rather not shill at all and just trade on the quality of my work, but I’m not in my 20’s any more and have children that rely on me. So every minute counts and in this economy, if I have to decide between self-respect and asking people for links. I might have to say something when I think that I’m not getting props for contributing, but I won’t go around claiming idea theft because someone uses something I say. I’ll just file them away under people that may or may not credit others and if it happened too many times, move on to communication with other people that were more interested in me.

      Some of this is germain to the post, which wouldn’t exist if there was some better mechanisms to prevent or mitigate situtations where heavily invested code changes hands.

      The repo could simple scan for forks and force list previous version or other vendors on the listing so that people going there could at least have the information about the orginal commiter to go to them if they want.

      That wouldn’t prevent forks, but would help give credit in a more passive way.

    • “Giving credit” is basically a public kudo (and damn it, now I want to find those kudo bars again!). Which is why I worded it that way.

      I’d rather not shill at all and just trade on the quality of my work, but I’m not in my 20′s any more and have children that rely on me.

      I’m in my 30s and have a family too. But the thing is … I don’t make my living today on WordPress. I make it supporting (and fixing, and automating, and customizing etc etc) other people’s code. I could do it on WP, as a freelancer, doing that for software I care about, though. If my job at the bank vanished today, I would do that (well, I’d probably call my friends in Canada and ask them for pointers first!) because I’m not making a livign writing software today.

      I make a living fixing it.

      My father writes software. And by that I mean he wrote a program, ground up, that uses complex mathematics and high level probability to help people manage risk. And he did another one just to more accurately measure the damage from a tsunami. DAD writes software.

      I look at what I do, and I know it’s not that, so I don’t tell people I write programs. I fix them. And yes, there’s a fantastic living in that.

    • the first idea I posted to irc was immediately implemented and turned into a blog post by someone in core with no mention of me.

      I, too, would be interested to know who it was/link to the post. Many newer or casual contributors don’t read the logs, and it’s possible a discussion happened earlier that you were not part of. Everyone on the core team is pretty good about calling out the originator of ideas, but often people suggest things we have talked about before and just haven’t done yet.

      if the core team can’t be relied on to call out contributions to the discussion, how can they be expected to credit coders.

      With props in the commit message, which also shows up in your public profile.

      a lot of us could at least use a link back to our website out of our participation, so that we can start building our own businesses.

      That’s part of the intention behind .org profiles, so you can show off your community cred. Is this you: ? Compare that to … I know who I’d hire.

      Or maybe build some of that into wordpress

      The most significant core contributors per release are included in every WP install at /wp-admin/credits.php (which links to those people’s .org profiles).

    • My mention of someone not crediting me was just in relation to the discussion and trying to put my finger on what expection people can have of contributing.

      I really believe there are no truly orginal ideas and I wouldn’t try and claim any. It’s all just iteration. And I think there is the major issue of how people building solutions can effectively market them to feed thier families and provide for thier security. I’m not a big fan of companies like apple that crush everyone and then try and sue thier competitors our of business. I like some of the open source ideas very much.

      But they clearly don’t address every issue of fair play and respect for others.

      Those things don’t have to be a change to the license. They can just be a change to how the community ( forms the delivery of code and when and where payment is asked for or credit given.

      If there is a blog post questioning the Morality of forking there is clearly not a concensus on how these things shoudl be handled.

      Thanks for the tips on profiles. I’ll look into that more.

      “I know who I’d hire”

      Ouch :)… I’m new here, I’d hope for a little more leeway before being judged, but such is life. I may come in last at the marathon but I’m going to try and be all heart and stick it out. You never know, maybe I’ll be the lovable underdog and you’ll hire me after all.

    • Stick it out!

      And as someone who built a business from nothing (my job previous to this? housewife.), here’s a few tips:

      – Get as many projects under your belt as you can.

      – this leads to custom code for clients. Custom code leads to ideas. That leads to “Hey client, this plugin you want me to build is super cool. Part of my agreement to build it for you is I release it on the repo for everyone else to enjoy. Isn’t that awesome?”

      – being in the community enough for people to notice means putting in a LOT of hours. Being *everywhere*. Just following the forums, IRC, stackexchange, stackoverflow, various blogs, twitter and G+ is a full time job. Tip: being in all those places is how I got noticed.

      – part of being in the community means at some point people are repeating your advice/techniques/code with no credit because it’s become ubiquitous. Congrats! You made it. ;D

      – party to the last point: sometimes you won’t get “proper” credit for ideas or offhand comments. Sometimes your full blown patches / plugins / life’s work 😉 will be submitted to core and pretty much ripped apart. You cannot be married to your code. Everything changes.

      Most of us are here for the passion – yes, I still need the money (4 kids, 1 in college, grandbaby, falling down house), but there will come times when you cannot and will not take a project for the money alone. There *has* to be the passion and interest.

      And that’s what has to keep you going. Passion for the project, passion for the users – something that compels you to take your ideas, turn them into code and then just release it into the wild, come what may.

      Kinda like raising kids. 😉 At some point they just go off on their own, to be shaped by others.

    • The words of Andrea_R are wise 🙂 It’s true, it takes time and effort to get noticed and be remembered. Even then, sometimes your words or ideas will sort of trickle through rather than be heard/read directly from you. In my experience though, most are very good about giving credit. Her advice to not be married to your code is also one of the best things you can keep in mind (if you don’t already). Everybody is always learning, and that’s how it should be, but some have been around and done enough to know when you’re doing_it_wrong and are willing to help you fix it. Yeah, it’s annoying when a patch I thought was awesome still gets spaces added by Nacin, but that’s how it goes.

      Many of us do have jobs where we make our living doing something WP-related, but I think a lot of the public-facing things we do are purely as volunteers because we love it so much. And that’s on top of what we’re already doing, which could be any number of things. Heck, I’m a musician when I’m not doing WP stuff (which includes BOTH of my day jobs), and I’d probably call myself a musician by personality first even still (like, a serious concert-hall-performing classical musician, not a coffee house crooner). Some things are bound to slip through the cracks because there is SO much happening, but I seriously doubt it is ever intentional and it is most certainly not personal. As far as making money goes, well, the way I see it is you always have to make your own way, whether as a freelancer or with a company. Hoping to change a whole community of mostly-altruistic types or the site functionality to suit you might end up not going the way you want it to, because you can’t possibly be in control of so many things. Better to break your own path and make what exists work for you, even if it’s difficult.

      Some advice from me: Go to a WordCamp! Everybody I’ve ever met has been super nice and helpful, even when I’m doing something dumb. Get involved on a more personal level, and maybe start small with contributions so you can get used to seeing how things tend to go. It’s awesome to see people who are excited to get going, but I think it’s a little off-putting to see so many lengthy and slightly-negative missives coming from a new source at once. We’re all still human, and will understandably get defensive when feeling under attack.

      And one last thing that might sound kind of weird, but helps me when I’m feeling a little taken aback: not everybody in the community is North American or speaks English as a first language. Some people come across as rude or gruff, but it’s often just some combination of language, culture, and a love of the code. After all, that’s why we’re here, right?

    • None of these responses address the issue at hand, the subject of the post. Which is if forking is dick move. To me that speaks to the larger issue of credit for contribution.

      That is a subject with lots of specifics that can be discussed. How are forks made, how is code delivered, where are people asking for money, how are people sharing donations.

      I have been to a Wordcamp, and some significant people like Alex King who are trying to make a living, which has to always be more important than passion because I can’t afford power for my computer if I don’t get paid, are very negative about donations and are negative about supporting free code as a mechnism for making money.

      So my comments are not out of left field from someone who hasn’t been paying attention to how things are done and what they consensus is about to viability of offing/supporting wordpress as a business model.

      All of the wordpress coding centric business that I have seen have to build their own mechanism outside of the repo in order to make the very reasonable request that people pay for devliery and support of thier code. Which is not against the GPL or non open source.

      Do I think that should change? Yes. I think that wordpress and its community would benifit from helping people gain credit for thier participation. Do I think that I can change things? Not really. That is all up to Matt.
      I’m sure I’m not the first to call for app store model for plugins and I won’t be the last.

      While that may seem to be a disagreement with some fundamental tenants of open source and wordpress. I believe it is not. I purchase paid plugins because I want to know that I’m offering my clients stable solutions from coders that are incentivized to maintain their code. I’m a customer of ithemes, gravity forms, and wpmu among others.

      Those people are all outside of Why not bring them in?! Give them the ability to deliver updates through the repo. This is how apple has created a marketplace that has been successful for themselves and for their developers. At crazy low prices! I would love to pay $1 for download of a wordpress plugin. Sure, its opensource so I could go download it elsewhere if I really wanted to, but at $1 I wouldn’t.

      My first repo plugin has around 170 downloads now, but I can’t afford to update it (mind the cash flow). If I had made a dollar a hit I could have paid my cable bill.

      I’m not sure why anyone would be against this if you could still put up stuff for free? Does the team really not want all of the people that love what they do to make money? Or do they want all of those people to have to build their own delivery mechanism?

      Can you imagine the boom in development and use of wordpress if there was an official way for people to sell through the default install?

      Can you imagine the boom in collaboration if you could make a code base and committers got a split on their projects automatically when sales happened. So you could fork and the original committers got paid, so nobody would be encouraged to do a dick move.

      The main thing that this would do would be to allow to set the tone for the community. If I could buy paid plugins and themes through the repo, I would never have a reason to go to the third party websites.

      I’m resolved to the fact that I’m probably going to have to worry about monetization without the help of, but the discussion is far from closed. I its inevitable that a platform that is spreading like the contagion that killed Gweneth Paltrow will have some of these features. Though for now you have to go to third parties to get those features and its way less effective.

      There was a nod to this with the premium theme listings.

      And there is repeated calls for a plugin review team. Which I think is great but way less effective than just allowing devs to ask for money before a download happens. A case which I really don’t need to argue because Apple has proved the model and proved that there will still be free code even if there is also paid code.

      Alright, I love participating in discussions because I do have a passion for them. But I have to go mind the cash flow now.

    • It has been stated multiple times in multiple public locations that will not become an app store. So yes, you need to worry about monetization on your own. Our project is building and distributing free software, not selling other people’s. It’s great that people can make a living selling WP-based stuff, but it falls outside the mission of

      In the words of Lloyd Dobler:

      I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.

    • Um, I sell plugins too. See link on my name. My partner Ron (profile here: ) and I do it via wpebooks. it’s precisely *because* of our contribs that people find us. They see what kind of code we write, what kind of docs and support we provide – for the free stuff – and correctly deduce that the stuff they pay for is more goodness all around.

      So I do know *exactly* what you’re getting at, I do.

      But I can’t agree with an app store.

    • is not a commercial endeavor, it’s just the website for some free software. I think you may be mixing things up with (e.g. premium themes). They are different – is paid hosting and paid solutions, is not. is clear that paid plugins and themes are not to be found in the repo.

      What is it that you want? To be able to have a free marketplace to sell your wares? There are other places to do that, or you can roll it yourself. Plenty of people have automatic upgrades working without going through the .org repo. I think holding on to the idea of selling just code and spreading that money around to contributors and whatnot is a vain endeavor. Most successful folks are selling support these days, seems like. You can’t prevent pirating, but you can offer something that can’t be pirated, right?

      I mentioned that many of do this because it’s what we love precisely to gently let you know that you are probably positing these comments to the wrong people. We do this because it’s our passion, and we find ways to make our passion work for us, rather than railing at the system because it’s not feeding our children.

    • Jane,

      That makes me die a little inside, but I hear you.

      I’ll just have to go build it myself. Though it would be way better if it was a community effort.

      Also “never say never”.. I don’t think Lyold Dobler said that but I’m sure it was in a movie at some point.

    • There are multiple pay-app stores out there (none of which I’m really keen to link to for personal reasons). There are also small shops like and

      No one’s saying that the only way to make money at this is to give things away. But it does help. And it’s your advertising. You have to get your name out there, and being social is dollar cheaper than paying for ads.

    • Well, I’m certainly trying to be social.

      And don’t get me wrong. Just because I’m sounding like a dissenter doesn’t mean I don’t want to play by the rules.

      I’m not suggesting that you don’t give things away. I think that is very important. I just think that its equally as important to protect the community that is growing around wordpress. doesn’t disagree with this as it acknowledges the need for money to change hands with the donation links. Its just not yet acknowledging that they aren’t working. Or accepting that the might need to change.

      That could be simple and not even require an app store. If the default wordpress code had a unified way to show all plugins in red that you hadn’t yet donated to. And maybe allowed the plugin devs to state the amount that qualifies the user for access to their support forums. wouldn’t have to be the transaction mechanism, even though that would be nice. It would just help devs communicate their message. That might even encourage companies like gravity forms to release part of their plugin for free if they new that every dashboard login would be selling their forums for them by default.

      As you know, the deeper you bury the call to action, or the less standard you make it, the less it is taken.

      As for third parties. That is absolutely a buried call to action. X millions of people see the default install screen and some lesser amount the repo and some miniscule fraction of those end up at independant vendors.

      So I think there is a lot of middle ground for positive change between the official position of wordpress and the needs of the community that supports wordpress for a living.

    • Don’t you think its fair to expect the message to be delivered that, these plugins are free but they aren’t supported.
      Delivered in the right context that message would encourage users way more to pay for support.

      Alex King made the statement that some devs were better at asking for donations than others.

      So if there are best practices, why don’t we template those out as a community and any of them that should be in core or on At least consider them.

      If I can find some time, mabye I’ll do some mockups of what that might look like.

      Frankly, I think the message that wordpress is free is bait and switch. Because even free platforms have costs. Sometimes more if you don’t do things properly.

      There is some average number that all people using wordpress should expect to pay for functionality and support. Even if they are just paying themselves.

    • WordPress is free as in speech AND as in beer. Derivative works must be free as in speech, but can charge hand-crafted cask ale prices for all we care. is free, period. Anything else is free-standing business territory — what a great opportunity for people who disagree with .org to do it their own way! The more you keep telling us that we’re wrong because we should be prioritizing making people money with our free software project (which a lot of people are already making a lot of money from, and by the way, you’re welcome for the free platform) instead of performing our stated mission of producing, promoting, and supporting free software, the more it really seems like you’re just trying to press our buttons, and makes any other discourse from you less likely to get positive attention because it’s being used up on this.

    • Jane,

      I don’t think I’m telling you that you are wrong.

      I took the messages of participation and the encouragement literally. It seems the only way to participate is through participate in evolution and change of the state of the project. That is fertile ground for disagreement. And people who choose to try and participate are going to have different ideas. I don’t really have any expectation that mine are going to be on the commit list.

      I’m really not trying to press your buttons. I would like to know your opinion on the original topic here. Which is about the morality of forking. Which is what is prompting me to think about the welfare of plugin developers.

      Clearly that is not the priority. That being said, I like to look at all of the stakeholders in a situation and see what improves life for everyone. While might have free software at the top of their list. I’m more interested in a healthy industry and job creation.

      Alex King speaks very well to this. So if I’m pressing your buttons its by parsing and repeating arguements made by people that are much closer to the project than I am.

      What I’m really interested in is the roadmap for the industry because I choose to make my living providing websites, marketing and code and I want to both be participatory and profitable.

      A post discussing the morality of forking seem like great place to air all sides of the arguement in order to learn more about what people think.

  7. Breaking it back out.

    Don’t you think its fair to expect the message to be delivered that, these plugins are free but they aren’t supported.

    Yes, but only if you state that in your readme.txt. I have a post about supporting your plugins, and that’s in it. It’s also in a presentation I’ve written, should I get to use it at a WordCamp. If you don’t say otherwise, the community has a reasonable expectation for free support.

    Delivered in the right context that message would encourage users way more to pay for support.

    Experience tells me otherwise, based on the number of posts where people demand free support from theme and plugin devs who offer paid (and yes, I do tell them to be a mench and pay).

    Alex King made the statement that some devs were better at asking for donations than others.

    Alex is right. Some people are better at being consultants, and selling themselves, than others. I consider myself terrible at it 🙂

    So if there are best practices, why don’t we template those out as a community and any of them that should be in core or on At least consider them.

    Of note, I don’t work for WordPress. I work for a big fancy pants bank referred to as ‘Bank of Ipstenu’ or ‘Global National Bank’ depending on when I last watched “How I Met Your Mother.” But from what I’ve read about’s ideology, this is outside their current scope. Jane, who does work for ’em said it here in this post:

    So yes, you need to worry about monetization on your own. Our project is building and distributing free software, not selling other people’s. It’s great that people can make a living selling WP-based stuff, but it falls outside the mission of

    At most, if you edit you can check the ‘add me to the consultant list’ box in your ‘Extras’ and get listed (I believe?) on If not, I know you can apply on Code Poet 🙂

    • You make it sound like the needle with never move in any direction. There is evidence to the contrary in the premium theme listings.

      Certainly I’m not going to hold my breath.

      As for being good and selling and being a good consultant. I think they are separate things.

      I hate it when some tiny plugin I have ends up with a donation message smack in the middle of my dashboard.

      If being a nuisance is what constitutes being good at asking for donations I don’t want to do it.

      I see a huge benefit in having an api that allows me to register_for_a_donation(‘myplugin’, ‘30.00’, ‘phonesupport, yearly, forums, updates’);

      And having a single location in the dashboard where I can review those offers and click out to the vendor.

      That is not an appstore. It is just better software that gives you information relevant to your goals in a controlled fashion.

    • Again: is not the same as Premium themes are NOT on also does not let you use whatever plugins you want. See I’ve just started doing things on VIP and it is almost an entirely different planet.

      Seriously, if you think a significant number of people are going to go into their WordPress dashboards to check out a place where they can see what they can pay you, you’re kidding yourself. The best you can hope for with a .org-hosted plugin is to have a note about paid support in your readme.txt, as Ipstenu noted. It is far more likely that people will see the description of your plugin, not some post-installation page you have to hunt for. You’re thinking entirely like a developer, and not like your average user. The average user is going on the forums (otherwise known as volunteer support for free software) and complaining when we tell them to go pay the vendor for help. Spend some time helping out in the forums; you’ll see.

    • Premium themes are NOT on

      They’re not sold or distributed on .org, but there is a commercial themes page. However, that page is not to sell those themes, but to let our users know which commercial theme companies distribute their themes 100% under the GPL.

    • I’m a developer, so yes, I’m thinking like a developer.

      I can’t argue that most people are going to go to the forums.

      I’m going to reference Alex King again where he says that some people are better at asking for donations than others.

      I take that to simply meant that they have added better calls to action in more visible places that prompt users to support their efforts.

      What I was suggesting was that rather than have wordpress installs clutter with donation spam in random locations designed to bug users. That the dashboard should have a default section that does nothing more than repeat the donation button that is on for all of the plugins that are installed and accept donations.

      That would not be a material change in any of the policies of It would just help people not forget that hard working people added to their functionality and would appreciate thier support. Right now you see that link at install and then its gone.

      Of course I would prefer if there were also suggested donation values. The links to the support forum for a given plugin. Things like that.

      Jane, is that reasonable, it doesn’t go outside the donation only policy or subvert the idea of free. And it would reduce goofy behaviour in plugins by keeping all donation requests in a confined space.

    • Jane, is that reasonable, it doesn’t go outside the donation only policy or subvert the idea of free.

      You missed Jane’s point. is free as in speech and free as in beer.

      Andrea’s plugins are free as in speech, but not free as in you owe me for that pint.

      And that’s perfectly okay.

      It doesn’t matter that you’re asking just for donations, it matters that has expressed zero interest in entering a app-store marketplace, or even organizing the donations. It’s not that you’re subverting the idea of free, it’s that they don’t do the money thing on .org. At all.

    • I’ll have to take your word for it that they don’t do the money thing at all, but having a donation button seems clearly in the realm of “doing the money thing”. It’s really passive but its there.

      All I’m suggesting is that that piece of meta move closer to the dashboard but its clear that any ideas involving how solution providers might be in a better position are going to be met with significant resistance.

      So I’ll check that off of my list of ideas I think are good for everyone and move on to trying to contribute in a way that is perceived as constructive and will allow me to make enough money to subsidize any contributions I make.

      I kind of feel like I was invited to the party but I came wearing the wrong shirt :).

      I just found a video about contribution and courtesy on I’m going to go watch that and see if I’m up to speed.

      In order to play nice I have to learn the playground rules.

      I’m reminded of John F. Kennedy “Ask not what can do for you, but what you can do for”.

      I’m also reminded of the Final Episode of Rescue Me where Dennis Leary just about gets in a fight with the other parents when they insist that his son has to share the sand toys he brought to the public park.

    • You putting a donation link on your plugin isn’t WordPress. They don’t stop you, but they don’t help you.

      WordPress putting your donation link on the plugin repo page would be WordPress getting into the money thing. Which they don’t do (yes, they did once, they decided it didn’t fit with the rest of their credos). You can add it, but they don’t do it for you. Semantics.

    • Yes, semantics. You can add certain meta to the repo with the readme and such.

      And they one of those things is the donation link.

      Another item in the repo that would be nice to have in a column on the plugins page in dashboard is the ratings. So that I can rate plugins without leaving my dashboard, or just quickly to see the new forum posts for my plugins on

      I think there are some good changes that can be made to the repo integration. Maybe I can make a plugin for some of that. I’ll have to check it out.

  8. Hi,
    Just a quick comment to say that the latest version of Jigoshop (0.9.9) is now available, including the addition of Configurable Products, and work is already starting on version 1.0, just to reinforce the fact that Jigoshop will continue to evolve and improve for a long, long time!

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