Every now and then I see an interesting new WordPress plugin on WordPress.org. Naturally, as I do with many products, I check the reviews. I want to know how its users like it before deciding to try it. More than once (many times, actually), I see a review from the plugin author themselves. Seeing this always makes me cringe and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
So why do I call this an epidemic? Well, I just pulled up 25 plugins at random in the official plugin directory and found that 8 of them (32%) had been reviewed by their maker. And how do I know they rated their own work? Because it says “Plugin Author” on their review. The featured image for this post shows you what I found. Not surprisingly, they’re all 5-star reviews.
Why people rate their own plugins
I am only guessing here but I’m pretty sure these are two of the main reasons plugin authors post perfect ratings of their own work.
- They think it will get them more downloads
- Other authors do it
I have additional thoughts on of these.
Trading trust for downloads
I know that on CodeCanyon and ThemeForest there have been accusations of authors buying copies of their own plugin or theme in order to woo customers with a 5 star average early on. Customers buy based on average rating. It’s reality. Think about how you buy things on Amazon and other sites. Unlike WordPress.org, Envato takes measures to prevent this, so it only happens behind a curtain.
But in the official plugin directory, it is technically possible to rate your own plugin. The thing is, your name shows alongside a badge that says “Plugin Author”, as you have seen. Reviews are forum posts on WordPress.org. That badge is a badge of trust when answering a forum support request but it’s a badge of distrust when scoring your own work. It makes one ask himself, “did that guy really just rate his own plugin?”
Jumping off a bridge with friends
One thing that I see a lot of in the world of WordPress products is people copying each other. It’s good to learn from others in order to give a shot at making something useful yourself but it’s not good to do it without thinking for yourself first. If they end up in trouble, you might end up right there with them.
I see it with plugin and theme pricing models and now I am seeing it with plugin authors reviewing their own plugins on WordPress.org. Didn’t this sort of thing used to be a shameful practice done in secret? I can only assume that a whopping one-third of plugin authors are doing this because they see others doing it and therefore think it’s okay.
As many point out, a legal activity is not necessarily beneficial. This applies to reviewing your own plugin as much as it does to jumping off a bridge, even if your friends are doing it.
Build trust, not suspicion
Do you know who King Solomon was? He was the wisest (and richest) man in the world. And he said this.
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips. – Proverbs 27:2
You can’t grade your own homework. You’re biased and people might accuse you of cheating, even if your answers are right. It’s the same with plugins. Instead, let others speak for the quality of your work. Make a great plugin and work at marketing it. Be patient for good reviews to come in. You can ask users to review it if you want feedback sooner than later.
It’s not worth risking your own reputation to get a few extra downloads at the onset of your product launch. When I see somebody rate their own plugin, even if others do end up liking it, I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth. And I can’t be the only one who leaves with that feeling. Build trust, not suspicion.
Should WordPress.org stop plugin authors from scoring their own work? Post your thoughts in the comments below.