Plugins: Sex and Gutenberg

Look, I get that a mess of people hate Gutenberg. I like it, but that’s my opinion and that’s okay. I’m fine if you hate something I like, it doesn’t hurt me at all. What I don’t like are people being jerks to Gutenberg devs. In fact, I truly dislike people who are just mean to anyone, Dev or not. One of my weirder jobs as the Plugin Rep was balancing protecting users and protecting developers.

It gets really weird when the developer is the user.

I Hate Gutenberg

That’s how we’ll start this one. Alan (not his real name) hated Gutenberg and posted a ‘review’ that was basically offering to bribe Automattic to stop making it. The forum mods very nicely said “hey man, this isn’t a real review, could you do that instead?”


I was under the impression that ultimately Automattic is in control of the WordPress Core. If not them, then someone is, the buck stops somewhere. The drive to make this core is most likely coming from, an Automattic asset that uses themes that do not include a page builder.

Alan on the Forums (post redacted)

He went on to try and argue about usability etc. Now, to his credit, this was in the early days when it absolutely had some accessibility issues. It was also at the era that it was en vogue to bash Gutenberg … I’m not sure that era has ended yet. But basically Alan, no. is not going to stop developing Gutenberg. And no, Automattic doesn’t rule the world.

The thing that was a little interesting is that Alan had left a few other turds of reviews (the eloquent “Don’t waste your time.” and using reviews for support). Five months prior, he’d got shirty about a review being moderated and not approved in a ‘timely’ (i.e. 5 minutes) fashion. Seriously. Five goddamn minutes.


The weekend rolls around. Most people are off enjoying the world and not WordPressing. That’s when Alan uses his second account to leave another review. His second account was, interestingly, the one he used to own his plugins. You can see how this landed in my lap.

His other account was the one I was familiar with since he’d had a weird complaint that WooCommerce wasn’t accepting new plugins on their site a couple years ago, and he tried to buy someone’s plugin so he could be there. Alan also left a bunch of crappy reviews as that account, including a rant that someone charged people for their service (admittedly that plugin did do an asshat move by switching from free to pay, but still, the review was “They charge!” and not “The plugin sucks because …!” which is different).

So on the weekend, Alan runs into another post by someone who mentions a plugin they’re using is conflicting with something. This was not Alan’s plugin. But Alan decided he’d fix it. He replied three times within 30 minutes that he was going to fix it, had ideas about fixing it, and had a fix. The robots (aka Akismet) flagged him as spam for the rapid posting and content since it had links.

This happens, but it rarely requires anyone to ask this:

Can a moderator please approve my posts above? I have posted a fix.

Yes, I know this plugin is bad for your askimet kickbacks, but we want this, not askimet.

Alan in the Forums on a Sunday

Kickbacks? Akismet? I guess he realized he was caught as spam.

And what does Alan do? He gets his other account, the non-plugin-dev one, and repeats his posts with this added on:

Wow, speak your mind around here, and get the silent treatment. Core needs a fork soon. Ever since Gutenberg actually. Clearly (sexual?) favors are being exchanged, why else would automattic include changes that almost nobody wants, and actively hates? 

Alan in the forums on a Sunday via his alt account

… What?

You Read That Right

Yes, Alan said sexual favours were exchanged for … Gutenberg? Which had nothing to do with this plugin nor its conflict. And he wasn’t being given the silent treatment, it was a goddamn weekend, and I’ve spent over a decade telling the volunteers of WordPress to take a fucking weekend off!

Forums reported him to Plugins and I read it on Monday. In the intervening hours, there were more complaints, from both accounts, and more rants that had nothing to do with the plugin that Alan was fixing. Given that he had already been warned the year before about making everything about his Gutenhate …

A gif of Jan Brady saying "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"

Alan clearly was incapable of (or unwilling to) restrain himself from ad hominem attacks and making everything about Gutenberg. In fact, if we go to tape, the year prior he claimed someone in Switzerland controlled all emails. The thing was, he just … posted that on .Org.

Not as a reply, not as a comment about a plugin or theme.

Not as related to a WordCamp.

The post was really just “This website [] controls all email and are using their power to destroy my business.”

It was clear to me what had to happen.

Besides the fact that you were posting on a weekend and we are a 100% volunteer run service, accusing people of sexual favors in this manner is an egregiously unwelcome way in which to behave in public. It is aggressively offensive, rude, and in violation of multiple forum and plugin guidelines.

Using a second account with which to make those comments shows you did this absolutely with malicious intent. You didn’t even wait an hour between asking your post to be approved and leaving such a comment. This behavior is an escalation to your aggressive, and incorrect, attack on Automattic regarding Gutenberg last year.

We feel your actions demonstrate you simply are not willing to be a productive member of this community and as such we are invoking our right to remove hosting of your plugins at any time.

Me via email to Alan

There’s a lot more boilerplate, but more or less it tells you “Don’t make another account, and stop wasting everyone’s time here.” If you can’t play well with others, then open source isn’t going to be the place for you.

In My Defence…

Alan began his reply by saying he never intended that part of his reply to be public. So he … made it on a public forum, in the hopes his alternate account wasn’t blocked? Even though he knew about Slack and regularly used it to complain about being moderated.

He went on to complain that the forum mods had a vendetta and clearly knew him from work. I have to admit, I blinked a lot there. His excuse was people clearly hated him from work and it spilled over? Why would they hate you at work, Alan? Why would someone from your job hate you so much as to make up shit about you here? He blamed the PC ‘woke’ world, and demanded to know who said such things because he had never seen any complaints. The same complaints that carried over from his work.

Then he went on to say it was clearly a vendetta of the plugins team against non-Automattic owned ‘security’ apps. His was used by, I think, 500 or so people. Not what I consider a ‘well used’ plugin, more of a niche thing. This isn’t a judgement call! I have plugins used by fewer than that. It’s just like saying Lindys sells more cheesecake than strudel.

That was a Guys & Dolls joke.

But on topic, let’s see. The takeaways from Alan’s email are:

  1. Intent to be abusive? Check.
  2. Not understanding that multiple people are admins and can read posts? Check.
  3. Demanding explanation for non-related topics? Check.
  4. Claims he was never warned even though he replied to those warnings? Check.
  5. Claims we’re sensitive after accusing people of sexual impropriety? Check.
  6. Hiding behind claims of ‘woke’ abuse? Check
  7. Incorrectly assuming it’s about plugin in question? Check.

Conclusion? Angry person who thinks he can mistreat anyone. And just for a bonus:

Further, based on this overreaction, I can only conclude that I am correct. Gutenburg’s authors are providing sex, money and drugs to high ranking decision makers at Automattic.

Alan via email to Plugins

I still don’t (never have) work for Automattic. I’ve been to a lot of WordCamps and I’ve never been offered money or drugs or sex for favours doing plugin reviews. Was I always talking to the wrong people? Was there a secret orgy I was excluded from!? Now I want to know!

Not really. None of that has any place in my WordPress life. Sorry folks, my sex life is not related to plugins or WordPress, and very much not your business.

And for Alan, I just shrugged and moved on.