Money isn't everything

In response to why I am no longer supporting my Wordpress plugins, I was recently asked why I don't just switch to a for-pay model to support the work of maintaining them.

There are many reasons why I don't do that, and why I think it's a bad choice for anyone who does.

First of all, it seems to be built on the incorrect assumption that money is the best motivation for doing something. The money one can get from a for-pay Wordpress plugin is almost worthless to me. I earn a respectable salary at my day job, and I have several lucrative hobbies. Charging for Wordpress plugins is a weak value proposition for me.

But lets assume that I earned a little less, or that I had some reason to believe people would pay me large amounts of money for the couple of useful plugins I've written. Even if the money was tempting, the infrastructure for Wordpress plugins is preventative of a for-pay model.

Free plugins can be searched out from within the admin app. The get listed on the official Wordpress site, and have user feedback and ratings. They can be one-click installed without ever knowing what an FTP program is, and without having any concept of the directory structure of Wordpress or ever knowing what PHP looks like.

For-pay plugins enjoy none of these benefits. They must be sought out separately on Google, then purchased and downloaded, unzipped, and installed manually to the Wordpress site via FTP. These limitations alone greatly reduce the potential audience, and imposes a terrible experience on the few who remain.

Also, as Wordpress plugins are nothing more than raw PHP files, there is absolutely nothing that prevents a person with only hobbyist-level programming skills from editing my name out and their name in, and then effectively trying to sell my plugin as their own. Or, arguably worse, inserting virus code into it and distributing that.

But let's be open-minded for a moment and suppose that the money was tempting, and suppose that the market for paid plugins is fairly big, and suppose that most people are generally honest and none of those bad things will happen to me. Even then, continuing to support Wordpress plugins would be a silent vote of consent, as if to say I agree with the use of the platform. I do not, and I don't want my actions to encourage people to use that awful platform when there are so many better options available.

And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, money is not everything, and decisions that favor short-term gains often have huge opportunity costs. Continuing to support my plugins would mean that I would be spending my time creating and maintaining even more of the PHP code that I hate, when I could be spending that time creating awesome new tools in other, better languages, and on platforms that reward developers for their hard work.
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