Last week WPMU.org published an article entitled “What Lurks in the WordPress Plugin Repository” which waves a rather sensationalist flag about plugins which haven’t been updated in a while. Let me make one thing clear: in an ideal world all plugins would be updated regularly and would have full compatibility reports with all recent versions of WordPress. But this isn’t an ideal world.
There are plugins (in which I include my Check Email plugin) which are so simple that, barring bug-fixes, they don’t need to be updated. Some plugins touch such a small part of the WordPress system that compatibility will in all probability never be a problem. Especially if those plugins use the official APIs which – by their very definition – should very rarely change. Should we force plugin developers to bump version numbers, or even just update the version compatibility? I don’t think so.
In case anyone thinks I’m advocating allowing out-of-date plugins to continue to be used, I’m not saying that at all. However I do think that there are many plugins for which updates would be an unnecessary task for the developer to have to undertake. Remember; most plugin developers (including me) write WordPress plugins in their own time, with no financial reward. Placing extra demands on them means they will be less likely to want to continue working within the Word-o-sphere, even if those extra demands have the aim of generaring better quality plugins.