How I got banned from WordPress.org
Swedish readers know all the troubles I’ve experienced after upgrading from 1.9.18 to 2.0 of a gallery plugin called NextGEN gallery (ironically only weeks after I recommened it in a larger forum).
During the last couple of weeks I’ve followed how the company handled the situation. In the beginning I tried helping by submitting bug reports and answering peoples questions in the support forum. As days became weeks and then many weeks I gave up. I noticed how the names of the people representing the company in the support forum changed, from the helpful to the not so helpful. I read all the one-star reviews and the testamonials from people that was angry after spending hours on dealing with issues with the new NextGEN.
Anyhow, today I finally found a solution. Some bright people had made a fork of the last stable version. A legacy version.
School book example of crappy crises management
One of my areas of expertise are in brand and brand management. A month ago I suggested that the company (Photocrati) should provide a legacy version. I argued that their brand would benefit from it.
As you know, Photocrati choose another path and users continued to complain. I was suprised that WordPress didn’t take action and removed NextGEN from their directory – the situation could potentially harm the reputation of WordPress.
Anyway. Since I today found a solution very close to the one I suggested a month ago I dug out my old post and wrote an polite update telling the world there is a solution (called NextCellent Gallery). I even wished Photocrati the best of luck with their plugin.
Some time later I started getting messages that people had left responses in my thread. I expected ”thanks” or ”Hope that you will come back to NextGEN soon”. But no. I got messages saying things like.
”Way to go, deleting a post isn’t going to solve the problem. The Fork is done.”
”How strange that photocrati would appear to have deleted surocharg’s post – she was perfectly polite, and simply offering an alternate solution to anyone that wanted it.
Seeing references to other plugins in a support thread is very common here on WP, and should only be encouraged – censoring helpful comments is really not in the spirit of the community.”
Open any testbook on crisis management and lesson one would be never ever to try to bury negative feedback. It will always back-lash. For example in this instance I was in bed on my way to fall asleep happy to have solved something that had troubled me for some time and also shared the solution with others. But after finding my posts deleaded I left my bed in order to write this blog post strongly recommending everyone I know to stay well away from any product made by Photocrati.
I’ve been taught that sharing is caring and I thought that WordPress.org was built on this. Today I feel I was wrong. Share this post if you agree. Or disagree.
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2 svar på ”How I got banned from WordPress.org”
Hi Kristina – Erick from Photocrati here. One our team members noticed your post. Just wanted to offer a couple responses.
ACKNOWLEDGING DIFFICULTIES. I’ll start, as I have in any other public venue, by acknowledging the difficulties surrounding the NextGEN 2.0 launch. I know it hit some user hard, yourself included. As you probably know, I posted an open letter explaining what was happening and how we were addressing it:
In that letter, and in all the communications I and the NextGEN team have put out there since the launch of NextGEN 2.0, we’ve been *extremely* accommodating and open to criticism and feedback. We’ve been that way because we think the feedback is warranted and helpful.
That said, there are a few points in your post above which I think warrant addressing.
RAPID AND SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS. First, we’ve actually made substantial progress toward stabilizing NextGEN 2.0. All indicators, including those publicly available like voting and forum volume, as well as our own internal tracking and the feedback we receive from NextGEN users, underscore this point.
There are still issues to resolve, of course, especially conflicts with third party plugins and themes. And you or others may not like the design decisions we’ve made with 2.0. But I don’t think there’s any way to skip over the rather dramatic progress toward stability made in the last two months. Doing so also rather easily dismisses the amount of work involved in pushing out (formally or as beta) 30 software releases in two months.
WE DON’T CONTROL THE FORUMS. Perhaps most pertinent to your post, we don’t have the capacity to delete forum threads, nor do we have the capacity to affect user status.
Those things are handled by WP.org forum moderators. The moderators are almost universally good people who dedicate huge amounts of thankless time on a volunteer basis to keep the WP.og forums helpful and nice. Almost by definition, those people – like us – believe in WordPress and the open culture that defines the WordPress community.
So the idea that anyone would try to bury negative feedback just doesn’t really have any basis. We couldn’t even if we wanted to (which we don’t). And WP.org forum moderators would be fundamentally opposed to doing so by nature and philosophy as well as unable to do so given the amount of transparency and accountability that surrounds the forums.
So generally, if moderators delete posts or change user status, they do so with good reason. In this case, I did see your posts before they were deleted, and for the record, I did think you went overboard. There is a difference between offering a helpful tip, and going through old threads and copying/pasting the same plug for an alternative plugin over and over and over. I suspect (hope) you were just feeling enthusiastic about finding the alternative, but even so, I suspect the repetition is what moderators were responding to if they deleted some of your posts (though I don’t know for sure).
Finally, one last thought. Just because you suggested that we fork or rollback NextGEN and we chose not to doesn’t mean we don’t listen to customer feedback. We considered a LOT of options and we decided the best approach was to focus on solving issues quickly. We felt we could stabilize in reasonable time, which is happening. Suggestions to roll back or fork, I think, also dramatically underestimate the amount of time and focus involved in releasing and supporting an alternative version of NextGEN Gallery, and underestimate the degree to which doing so would have detracted from our ability to resolve 2.0 issues quickly.
So we made a judgement call, and I think it was the right one.
It’s likely you’ll still disagree on a number of things here. That’s understandable. Regardless, I am sorry that you had difficulties with the plugin update, and that you may likely walk away with a not-great feeling about NextGEN Gallery and the support you received. But I do wish you the best.
God morning Erick and welcome to my
travel blog that once more feature slideshows and pictures from Sweden and
As you might noticed I approved your
polite comment despite not agreeing with everything you write.
I understand that you and your colleagues have been through (in the middle of) a very hectic time and that the release of 2.0 didn’t turn out as you had expected. When people are stressed, they tend to miss the bigger picture and not always make the most rational decisions. My impression is that you did just that. You focused all your resources on quick fixes without taking a step back and considering all the options. I know you say differently now but I would like to hear what you say in five years time when you have had time to reflect.
Never mind. My perspective is that for several weeks
I’ve had ”no images found”, broken slideshows and not been able to add any new pictures the way I used to at my travel blog. I also had all the ”security release, please update immediately” that I couldn’t attend
to because I was being afraid that updating WordPress would cause more conflicts with NGG 2.0 and problem I didn’t have time nor competence to handle.
I’ll give you another example to illustrate the issue of the legacy version. This weekend the largest book fair
in Sweden took place. I am an author and it was this years most important event. One evening I was going to publish a few pictures from it (on another website).
Being stressed and tired, I accidently hit the update all plug-in bottom. One second and NextGEN were gone (or the version of NGG I could use). It took me four hours to get the pictures up on the site by WP default galleries. It was four hours I would have preferred spending talking to my readers. Obviously, it is not your fault that the WP default galleries are crap. However, it is you who are responsible for the fact that the new NGG-versions was among the update-list so that I updated by accident. That is one reason for the need of a legacy version.
If you had provided the NGG legacy version from the WordPress directory yourself you had been in charge of it and every user of it would still be potential customers of yours. Instead, it is now in the hands of others.
I became very enthusiastic when I found out (in the support forum) that someone else had done what I suggested to you.
It means my pictures are back, I can continue using my travel blog, I don’t have to be afraid to update WordPress and I will not by accident destroy any of
my other websites. Hurray!
I believe many others would benefit from
this solution. I can see why you thought I got carried away but isn’t it better to have happy users of NGG legacy version rather than people looking for
something completely different?
I am glad for your sake to hear you are
not paying the moderators (which I have on more than one occasion wondered) because if so I think you should sack them for being contra-productive. Being now banned from the support forum I will obviously not waste my time helping confused or calming angry users anymore. Instead, I can spend it on marketing
NextCellent Gallery just because I am so happy it exists and sharing is caring.