A common complaint from WordPress users is that a particular WordPress plugin is no longer updated. This can be a big problem for website owners as it means that the developer is no longer providing support and no longer fixing bugs. It also increases the likelihood that the plugin will conflict with themes, plugins, and WordPress itself.
The odds of a plugin clashing with your website increases the longer a plugin has not been updated. This is why WordPress does not list plugins that are older than two years in their search results. The plugins can still be downloaded if you know the existing URL, however WordPress warns users that the plugin “may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues”.
It can be a big problem if a plugin is no longer updated. Some plugins help you maintain your website, while some provide you with interesting reports. Other plugins are so important to the success of your website that you can not operate your website without them. The lack of a suitable alternative for an important plugin might lead you to remove vital functionality from your website altogether.
So why do plugin developers stop updating their plugins?
The Plugin is Not Profitable
A large number of plugins are developed primarily for profit. If a plugin does not prove to be profitable, there is a good chance the developer will stop spending time developing the plugin.
This is something that I see happen frequently on CodeCanyon. If a plugin sells well, it is usually updated every month to address bigs and add new features. If it does not sell well, the plugin is rarely updated after its public release. This can be very frustrating for customers who have bought it.
It is not just premium plugins that are developed for profit. The primary goal for many plugin developers is to promote their website to WordPress users through the settings area. It can be a good way for a developer to push lots of targeted traffic to their products and services.
However, if a plugin does not generate many downloads, the developer will only see a trickle of traffic to their website. It soon becomes counter productive for them to fix bugs and support users, as so few people actually use the plugin.
They Do Not Have the Time
There are many great developers who release fantastic plugins to the WordPress community with no goal other than to share their work with the world and help others.
Unfortunately, even those who are active in the WordPress community may struggle to maintain all of their projects. Developing a plugin is time consuming, and updating and supporting it takes up even more time. As time goes by, everyone’s situation changes. People get jobs, people move country, people fall in love, people have kids.
Or to put it more simply, circumstances may dictate that something else in the developer’s life takes priority over updating their plugin. Be it a job, their business, or their family.
I read a blog post on Themergency recently in which the developer decided to retire his old plugins. He had been emailed by WordPress to advise him that many of his plugins were out of date. Noting that he had released fifteen WordPress plugins in the past, he said that he could not maintain the plugins moving forward as he did not have time. He therefore took the decision to retire them.
The fact is that while a developer’s plugin may be very important to your website, it may not be their top priority. This is why so many WordPress plugins are out of date. People move on to different things.
Thankfully, an out of date plugin is not the end of the story. The General Public License was created to allow others to take on a project when the original developer no longer has time. Therefore, one developer may pick up the baton from another developer who stopped.
Remember, people who release plugins free of charge have given up a lot of their time to help the WordPress community; therefore you should always be polite and respectful when you do ask for support. And if a plugin is not longer being updated, start looking for a good alternative.
Another blog which may interest you: WordPress plugins that boost conversion rates of your Website.