On occasion I see comments, usually in plugin reviews, that go something like this: “I tried using the plugin but it was riddled with bugs so I had to use something else”. It occurred to me the other day just why I dislike this kind of statement so much. First, and most obviously, hearing someone say this about one of your own plugins, especially one you believe to work very well, is a hard blow. No matter how thick your skin has grown due to harsh user feedback, negative statements always dig deep. Second, “riddled with bugs” is usually about as inaccurate of a statement as possible.
For a quick reference, this is what a swarm of red bugs looks like on a palm tree:
While obviously a completely different kind of bug, this puts the semantics of the “riddled with bugs” statement in perspective.
From my own experience, when a user says a plugin is riddled with bugs, what they really mean is that one or two particular aspects of the plugin that they were using at that time had a bug or two. Perhaps it was a really bad bug, such as a fatal error, or something more minor like an undefined index notice. Regardless of the bug, the experience the user had was most likely due to just one or two bugs, and most likely they were bugs caused by the user’s specific environment (hosting, other plugins, their theme, etc), instead of bugs that every user of the plugin experienced. They seem more drastic to the user because that is the part of the plugin they are trying to use, and if it happens to be a vital component of the plugin, such as a checkout page, then the most minor of bugs is going to seem 100x more important.
If a plugin is truly riddled with bugs, and bugs that everyone sees, no one will use the plugin. When you see plugins that are used by hundreds or thousands of users, you can essentially guarantee that they are not riddled with bugs.
As users, I encourage all of you (this goes for myself as well) to completely avoid phrases like “riddled with bugs” when leaving feedback about a plugin. If you experience a bug with every single aspect of the plugin, such a phrase might be appropriate, otherwise explaining how you experienced a bug in a particular section of the plugin will always be better received and better help the developer improve the plugin by fixing that particular bug.
In the same way that it is always better to explain why you do not like something, it is always better to be specific when claiming that plugins are riddled with bugs. Very, very rarely are they truly riddled with bugs.