WordPress is great platform for a small business website or blog. Or, it’s a great platform until the flaky authors of WordPress themes and plugins stop supporting them or just disappear. WordPress.org doesn’t seem to police these flakes. They let WordPress website owners download these themes and plugins, and when they fail, WordPress doesn’t seem to care. They just let these websites sink because it is not their problem.
WordPress Themes and Plugin Pitfalls
WordPress is a very solid foundation on which to build a website. It is similar to a smart phone. You can make and receive phones and browse the internet, but if you want something specialized like a function to monitor exercising, you have to download a specific app. It is the same with WordPress. If you want to add a particular feature for your visitors or you want special information, you have to download a special theme or plugin to your WordPress website.
Just like the smart phone manufacturer doesn’t make most of the specialized apps for the phone, WordPress doesn’t write the code for the other themes and plugins that can be used. Sometimes it’s just one person or a little company that writes the themes or plugins. Many of the themes and plugins are free, just like WordPress. If the website owner wants more functionality with a plugin or customer support, they have to pay for the premium version.
New themes and plugins pop-up all the time, but when they don’t make the authors any money, they are abandoned, and so are the users. The big WordPress organization lets their vast number of users be sort of an animal testing ground. And if the themes or plugins kill a website because of bad code or lack of updates, no one seems to care.
Years ago I had found a great theme for my WordPress website. It was developed by a gentleman for people like me who wanted greater control over how the website was displayed without learning all the CSS and HTML code. It was fairly simple, but I had greater control of border, widths, colors, and menus. The author’s life got busier and he was gracious enough to alert those who downloaded his free theme that he could not continue to update it. Without updates to the core code of the theme, there was an increasing probability that as WordPress updated their platform, the theme would break.
Early in the development of my website I would download free plugins to add functionality to either display more information or allow visitors to download files. Some of these free plugins were not updated and the users were not notified of their obsolescence. My website started experiencing errors and crashing. I also believe that one plugin provided vulnerability for my website to get hacked with malware.
I eventually had to spend a lot of time and money fixing my website from the hack and other issues created by stale plugins. (https://insuremekevin.com/wordpress-plugins-can-cause-503-illnesses/ ) I also took a vow to only install themes and plugins that I paid for. No more free plugins as I got what I paid for. I wanted more security and customer support. I wanted to know that the themes and plugins would be routinely updated as WordPress make updates to their code.
An integral feature of my website is the ability of users to download the hundreds of documents I have posted to my website. After experiencing lackluster results from a free download attachment plugin, I upgraded and purchased WP Filebase Pro. I purchased a license to use the plugin on two different websites. The plugin and support were working very well until the fall of 2016. That’s when the author Fabian Schlieper disappeared.
Verantwortlich für die Inhalte dieser Website
Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer/VAT Number: DE292778563
What Happened To Fabian Schlieper?
I started running into problems uploading files and plugin causing WordPress to essentially crash on me. Previously, I would submit a trouble ticket and the author would respond with instruction to fix the issue or actually correct the error in the plugin. But in October 2016, Fabian, and support for WP Filebase Pro evaporated. He doesn’t respond to any requests even though the WP Filebase website is still active. People can still download the plugin and pay for it, not knowing that the owner is absent. I don’t know who, if anyone is running his website.
A few comments left on the WP Filebase Pro website.
Fortunately, the WP Filebase Pro is still working. But it is just a matter of time before WordPress makes changes to their platform and the plugin decides to crash because of compatibility issues. I paid for a WordPress approved plugin and I am left with no support. I am searching for a suitable replacement to the download file plugin, but haven’t found one yet. The biggest issue is finding a way to transfer the thousands of file to the new plugin. If I can’t migrate those files, and WP Filebase Pro fails to work properly in a new WordPress environment, my website will take a significant hit.
This is the very real and dangerous side of WordPress. They tout this open source platform as a way to foster innovation but the downside are the WordPress website owners who must bear the burden of broken themes and plugins. WordPress doesn’t seem to be accountable for the hours of misery they put the WordPress owners through to fix these issues. WordPress is free. I now know the risks of using and developing a moderately successful WordPress website. I’ve learned never to trust anyone or expect any assistance, even if I have paid for the privilege of using a theme or plugin.
WordPress is a great low cost platform for creating quality websites. You just have to realize that if a theme or plugin goes sideways, fails to work, crashes your site, or just dies from neglect on the part of the author, there is no one who will help you. Perhaps it is too much to ask of WordPress that they continue to vet the hundreds of producers of these themes and plugins for compatibility. In the absence of any meaningful oversight, WordPress should at least tell their users they have no responsibility for the proper functioning of any theme or plugin that is downloaded and activated on their platform. We are all just guinea pigs in their eyes.
July 2017 Update
In late Spring, as it looked as if the WP Filebase file management system was going to be forever abandon by the author, I went hunting for a new plug-in. After days of research I had narrowed it down to either WP Download Manager Pro or WP File Download by JoomUnited. I took a chance on the WP Download Manager because I had used it years ago.
Unfortunately, the WP Download Manager Pro had a fatal flaw for my use. Every time I wanted to add a file, it created a WordPress post that was sent out to all my subscribers. There are days when I might add 20 or 30 files. I couldn’t have my subscribers being inundated with emails about new posts for files that might be completely irrelevant to them.
Within days of buying the WP Download Manager and determining it would not work for me, I removed it from my WordPress install and requested a refund. They refused to refund my $164. WP Download Manager Pro support said there was nothing wrong with the plug-in and therefore I wasn’t entitled to a refund. This is just outstandingly crappy customer service.
We have all made a purchases and found out later it just wasn’t going to work for our particular situation. It’s not that the product is bad or flawed, it just isn’t what we thought it would be. I’ve received refunds from several other authors of WordPress plug-ins and themes with no hassles or resistance. I don’t believe in free plug-ins. I pay for all the plug-ins I use. First, because the support and updates are better with a plug-in you pay for versus a free version. Second, I think people should be compensated for their work.
But the folks as WP Download Manager Pro give plug-in authors a bad name. They have no concept of customer service or an honest refund policy. WP Download Manager makes all kinds of little plug-ins, some of which may be valuable to my website. But I will never purchase from them again. They probably create very nice plug-ins, but I have no faith that they will stand behind their products.
WP Download Manager is just another example of how WordPress users get taken advantage of and WordPress.Org does nothing about it.