During the WordPress Community Summit, Otto announced a new Amazon-like review system for themes and plugins hosted on the WordPress.org repositories. This new system now requires users to leave a review of the plugin or theme before they are allowed to give the plugin or theme a star rating. I’ve recorded a quick demonstration video that walks you through how the review system works and why it is tremendous improvement.

Excuse the sniffling and coughs please, I’m getting over a lengthy cold.

What do you think of the new review system? Love it? Hate it? Don’t care? Let me know!

  1. Chuck Reynolds

    That’s cool and all but my question is what do reviews do for repo search rank? If anything… (Yet? Soon?)

    • Pippin

      I don’t know if they make any direct impact on the plugin or not.

  2. dj

    Pippin — SO WHAT? If someone hasn’t left a reason for their rating – so what? If there’s no information to fix any issue, there’s nothing for you to do – move on. Don’t let your OCD make you loose sleep. If you’re that worried about a low review do your OWN troubleshooting and if you don’t find anything, again – move on. If they don’t leave info on how to fix it, it means that they aren’t interested in helping you fix it. As my kids say: “get over it” – move on.

    What you are saying is essentially: “if it doesn’t work for you don’t even tell me about it unless you’re willing to spend your time to help me fix it.” That, my friend, is very short-sighted and a huge mistake. All this new requirement does is create still one more barrier to getting feedback. Twenty clicks instead of one. People should be grateful for the feedback they get instead of coercing and manipulating for more. I would doubt that there were “a lot” of users, except plugin developers, who actually requested the new system as you claimed. For one, I’m pretty much “socially engineered” out! All it’s made me do is decide to completely ignore giving feedback at all. If It doesn’t load, doesn’t work, isn’t compatible with something – I’ll just move on. [I just downloaded your Google maps plugin – you’ll have to guess what kind of experience I had with it.]

    • Pippin

      The problem with a regular star rating system is that it allows people to leave poor (or great) ratings without any feedback. A star rating by itself means very, very little. For example, my opinion of what a 4 star item is might vastly different from someone else’s. What I believe to be a 5 star item might be a 2 or 3 star in some one else’s eyes.

      This means that a 3 star rating means absolutely nothing, not unless there is additional feedback that goes with it. Some people consider 3 stars a really, really good rating, while others consider 3 stars a very poor rating.

      What you are saying is essentially: “if it doesn’t work for you don’t even tell me about it unless you’re willing to spend your time to help me fix it.”

      No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m actually saying is that if something doesn’t work (it’s very common for plugins and themes to conflict, even when both are well written) it’s great that users now need to at least say something about what the problem was, rather than just leaving a 1 star rating. Does requiring they say something (literally anything at all) in anyway say that they are then required to help fix it? No it doesn’t.

      I would doubt that there were “a lot” of users, except plugin developers, who actually requested the new system as you claimed

      You’re probably completely right, however, it is the plugin developers (such as myself) that really, really needed it. As described above, a star rating really doesn’t say much about whether someone liked or hated a plugin, especially when it’s in the middle. Not the mention the review system is also a really, really great way for users looking at a plugin to get accurate ideas of what other users think.

      I would love to hear what you thought of my Google Maps plugin. Sounds like you hated it. If so, could you tell me why? (This is a case in point: without you telling me why, I have no idea what the problem was).

    • Otto

      @dj: I not only understand your viewpoint, I agree with it. If somebody can’t be bothered to tell me what the problem is, then I’m more than happy to ignore their problems. But, I’m a jerk who mostly doesn’t care. :)

      However, a half-arsed feedback, such as a 1-star without any contextualization, isn’t particularly useful to other people. We made the reviews system such that ratings now require at least some semblance of a review for that exact reason. It’s the same across the board, 1-to-5 star reviews all require you to type something in. And while this may make the feedback take a bit more effort, I think that even less feedback, but more meaningful and useful feedback, will be helpful on the whole. I’d much rather have a drastically lower set of ratings if it means that all the ratings come with posts telling me what the problems are.

      In this respect, it’s much the same as Amazon or any app-store on mobile devices. To leave a rating, you have to type something. No different here, and we’re not even screening the reviews to ensure that they are valuable (yet). In the long run, things may change, but the stars rating system as a whole was rather meaning-free before, and that didn’t help authors to improve anything for their users. Soliciting meaningful user feedback can only be a good thing, in that respect.

    • Pippin

      You bring up a good point: users that won’t say what the problem is are the same users that will simply leave a 1 star and leave. As a developer, those users have no value (whether you care or not) because they in no way assist the dev with solving the issue, whatever it may be.

  3. bryceadams

    It’s definitely an improvement and I like the fact that it makes the people who:

    Download a plugin
    Then It:

    Doesn’t work as expected
    Doesn’t work
    Isn’t very good

    Go onto Plugin page.
    Give 1 Star Review without opening a support thread/giving reason

    Actually take a step back and ask themselves what’s really wrong with it, and in turn contribute to the development and improvement of the plugin by telling the author.

    HOWEVER, whilst it’s definitely good for bad reviews, I feel that users shouldn’t have to justify their positive ratings. Some people just want to come along and give a plugin a 4/5 star rating as a way of acknowledging the plugin’s value and letting others know it does what it says it will do.

    • bryceadams

      Ah the formatting didn’t work on that, would you mind taking it out of the blockquote so it works?

    • Pippin

      Thanks for the feedback! I completely agree. (Fixed your formatting as well).

  4. Scott Hack

    Hey DJ — I really feel like you are missing the point. The feedback is primarily for the END USER. For those of us who need to decide which twitter plugin to use. Feedback for the developer is secondary.

  5. Richard

    On the basis that 99% plugins are COMPLETELY FREE to the end user, I think a hoop or two for them to jump through would be to the ultimate benefit of all involved.

    Look at it this way… Dev’s spend hours, weeks, months, years developing these tools… Giving these tools away in exchange for less than 1mins worth of feedback seems more than reasonable does it not?

    “Just because something is free does not mean it has no value”

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