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Plugin Feature Updates Gone Wrong

Plugin Feature Updates Gone Wrong

Two major, well-known WordPress plugins have recently implemented certain changes which have not gone down well with the WordPress community.

Jetpack in version 7.1, made a change with Jetpack active when you go to /wp-admin/ Plugins > Add New

If a Jetpack module has similar features to the plugin keyword you are searching for, the first result will be the Jetpack module. The Jetpack PR shows the original proof of concept of the plugin suggestion feature. If you already have Jetpack active, then you would use a module which is already available in Jetpack, instead of installing another plugin.

The issue comes from where Automattic, the company behind Jetpack as well as WordPress.com and WordPress.org, seems like it is flaunting the plugin guidelines. If you have Jetpack active, then the plugin search results will be skewed in favor of Jetpack.

You can test two basic plugin keyword searches on optimize and backup. Optimize will show the Asset CDN module in Jetpack as the top result, whilst the plugin keyword search for backup will show VaultPress as the top-suggested plugin result in the plugin keyword search.

One slightly suspect feature is that Jetpack now tracks keyword plugin search terms longer than three characters. This gives Automattic a huge edge other many other companies which are behind WordPress plugins on WordPress.org.

This leaves the door open for what else might be changed in Jetpack to skew or advertise certain services and plugins when the Jetpack plugin is active on a site. Again, the plugin suggestion feature will only show if Jetpack is installed and active on a site. Jetpack put out a maintenance release in version 7.2.1 on the 4th April that made those clearer.

Disable Promotions

You can use a code snippet on your child site to disable the plugin search suggestions from showing when Jetpack is active.

add_filter( 'jetpack_show_promotions', '__return_false', 20 )

Yoast SEO Call Home

Even if no add-ons from Yoast are installed and active on the site, the current version of Yoast SEO 10.1.1 will keep on calling home. The call to Yoast will slow the site down where it is active, doing so without permission. The issue in Yoast SEO 10.1.1 was not correctly fixed in 10.1.2, but the issue should be fixed in version 10.1.3.

Plugins, especially ones as highly-installed as Jetpack, which has 5+ million active installs and Yoast SEO which also has 5+ million active installs, need to be clearer on adding features that customers really need, and not ones which end up serving those companies.

WordPress plugins need to clearly communicate any major feature changes as to what calls the plugin makes to an external URL, and for what reason.

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Sebastian Moran on Github
Sebastian Moran
Sebastian Moran is a WordPress performance expert and technical liaison for MainWP.

3 thoughts on “Plugin Feature Updates Gone Wrong

  1. In the line:
    “The Jetpack PR shows the original proof of concept of the plugin suggestion feature. If you already have Jetpack active, then you would use a module which is already available in Jetpack, then install another plugin.”,

    instead of “… then install another plugin”, should it be ” than install another plugin” or “rather than install another plugin.” ?

    It sounds like you install a Jetpack module plus install a plugin,
    which doesn’t coincide with the nature of this post.

    Just checking.

    1. Thank you for catching that, the post have been updated. As well as including the Jetpack release fix to clarify the plugin suggestion.
      Feature Hints: display suggestions only for features available under the site’s current plan.

      Feature Hints: improve visual display to make more distinct from search results.

      Feature Hints: disable hints once administrators have dismissed three hints.
      https://github.com/Automattic/jetpack/releases/tag/7.2.1

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