arrow111 Comments
  1. WPSpeak
    Oct 04 - 19:04

    I hate the idea of selling other people’s plugin. Those who buy from any of these sites will be in huge trouble when asking for help support.

    ps: Oh I thought WP Avengers has shutdown since WooThemes decided to give an option to their clients (few days after WP Avenger announced their plan)

  2. Ajay
    Oct 04 - 20:09

    I think it is really cheap to be stealing any developers code irrespective of it being free or paid. That being said, if any user chooses to buy plugins off another developer, they are asking for lack of support.

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 05 - 00:01

      It’s perfectly within the GPL but I don’t think it’s ethical, and personally I feel that it will add some confusion to the WordPress marketplace. Not all users are knowledgeable enough to know which are the real developers of the plugins and which are those who are just reselling at a cheaper price minus support.

  3. NS
    Oct 04 - 20:32

    They could make more money selling an affiliate product. I don’t get why they choose to sell a product not developed by them, what’s the deal here? Someone explain the mentality of these people.

    It’s a very sleazy way of making a living.

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 05 - 00:02

      In the case of Woothemes, they shut down their affiliate program about a year ago. But yeah, I don’t think it’s the best way to make a living, and they are most definitely ostracizing themselves from the WP community by doing this.

    • Brewskie0124
      Jan 10 - 13:34

      I think affiliate marketing is probably a less profitable form of selling. If you think about it, you can find plugin affiliate links on almost any blog about WP or you could just Google what you want to buy. I don’t think many people care one bit whether affiliate marketers make a commission or not. Anyhoo, this is definitely an interesting conversation. I came across the debate after reading a similar article from proserveweb.com (which doesn’t look anything like the image above – earlier design maybe?) and it really seems like a hot topic. I don’t really find anything wrong with these sites but I’m also benefiting from the savings so I guess my opinion is biased.

  4. donnacha
    Oct 04 - 20:56

    Unless they are stripping the original authors’ credits, there is absolutely nothing unethical about this re-distribution, the GPL explicitly allows it. This is what it was designed for. The problem is that some companies have built up business models that overlook this reality, that conveniently forget that this is the deal they accepted when they built their products upon the code of others.

    Original developers can easily fight this by providing good support, pricing intelligently and not antagonizing their customers – it is not a coincidence that WooCommerce features so heavily in these sites. The GPL protects users is several ways, including making it more difficult for companies to retain their customers if they treat them badly or raise prices too opportunistically.

    Getting angry with these sites, or perceiving them as a threat, is fuzzy thinking. The vast majority of users who are willing to pay any money will either need or perceive that they need support. None of these sites provide any support at all, they are very clear on that. The likelihood is that many people who use these sites, hoping to save money, will end up having to buy a “real” license anyway.

    A smarter way to interpret these sites is see them as a safer alternative to simply getting the same themes and plugins from torrent sites or whatever (which, by the way, is what the vast majority of users currently do). By charging a small fee, it is in the site owner’s interests to at least ensure that the code contains no malware or hidden links; the guy creating torrents has no such incentive. I have a hunch that a user willing to make the jump from free to paying a few dollars is likely, in time, to make the further jump to buying from the original developer.

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 04 - 23:58

      Valid points Donnacha, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • leokoo
      Oct 05 - 17:55

      Thanks Donnacha. The problem with Woothemes and many others that followed are outrageous prices. In fact, many of the WooCommerce tickets I submit were on bugs in WooCommerce or the extensions themselves.

      Also, having a multisite extension as expensive as USD 299 with a 50% renewal is a killer. A typical WooCommerce store would need about 30 to 40 extensions, costing up to USD 3k and 1.5k ford yearly renewals. If they had reduced the prices of extensions to USD 59 or 69 and charge a yearly renewal, GPL shops won’t pop up.

      As for ridiculous, take a look at NinjaForms. To obtain the same functionality as Gravity forms on unlimited sites, you would need to pay up to USD 800. And add to that a yearly renewal charge of 50%! Who would buy it?

      • Jean Galea
        Oct 08 - 15:02

        Pricing is always subjective. If people think that a particular product comes with an outrageous price tag, they can always fork it. That’s the beauty of the GPL and the WordPress community, the end user is protected from abuse by vendors.

        I don’t think that somebody should decide whether a vendor is doing a bad thing by charging a particular price, because you don’t know the exact details of how that business runs. Many people think Apple charge outrageous prices for their products, but it’s also a fact that a lot of their income goes into research and development, which allows them to continue to produce innovative products.

        Now in the WordPress community, we have the advantage of being able to fork a product. So if you think you can run a profitable business without charging those amounts, you are free to do so by forking the plugin/theme.

        As for Ninja Forms, if they can be profitable at that pricing, why should we attack them? People already have a choice, so they can just go with Gravity Forms in that case.

      • James Laws
        Oct 08 - 16:03

        Ninja Forms is no doubt more expensive than Gravity Forms depending on how you look at it. I’m not going to even get into how extremely powerful our individual extensions are. Many really can’t be compared to the features in other forms plugins.

        That being said we are working with a very different premise than other form plugins.

        First of all Ninja Forms is a framework. That means anyone can build almost anything off of it and even contribute to make it better. The core plugin is completely free. Anyone can help shape it to be better for everyone.

        Second, our customers don’t need everything. Some do and gladly pay for the functionality we’ve built while others just need one feature without all the other stuff getting in the way. Some of our features are just not even possible with any other form plugins. We offer the unique opportunity for people to buy just what they need and in some cases something they can’t find anywhere else. Based on our sales and support satisfaction our customers love what we offer. We aren’t planning on changing any time soon.

        As to the actual topic of this post I stated this on Twitter but I will share it here as well.

        “Having the right” and “Doing right” are not the same thing.

        • Carl Hancock
          Oct 08 - 18:20

          James, I only speak of the competition and especially directly by name when they do so first. So please remember this in the future because I really don’t like getting into some stupid “My plugin is better than your plugin” discussion. But when you mention our product by name, i’m going to respond.

          I think it’s a bit, actually more than a bit it’s actually hugely disingenuous to imply that your individual extensions are more powerful than the other form plugins or that other form solutions are not frameworks.

          The majority of your Add-Ons are for 3rd party integrations, which we also provide. Between our own Add-Ons and the numerous 3rd party Add-Ons available for Gravity Forms all the same 3rd party integrations can be found for Gravity Forms that you provide for Ninja Forms.

          As far as as other Add-Ons go, things like Conditional Logic goes, Multi-Page Forms, and File Uploads? Well those we don’t have Add-Ons for because all of them are core features and built right into the base plugin itself.

          I’m sure you could point to one of those and go, “Well our XXX Add-On does this and Gravity Forms built in features doesn’t” but we could certainly do the same. To use an example, you could say our File Upload field doesn’t support multiple files from a single field and I can simply say it’s coming in Gravity Forms v1.8, which it is, and will be available later this month.

          Another example you could point to would be Front-End Posting. Gravity Forms only creates Posts. It can do custom post types but only via 3rd party Add-On or available hooks. And I would simply say just wait until Gravity Forms v1.9 when the Post Fields will be deprecated and WordPress content (not post) creation will receive a complete overhaul that will see it provide more powerful functionality than any existing form plugin or post creation plugin out there.

          Save and Continue functionality is in the same boat. It will also be introduced in Gravity Forms v1.9.

          Frankly, between user facing features that are planned for Gravity Forms v1.8, Gravity Forms v1.9 as well as the developer facing features planned between both releases it’s going to completely wipe away any backlog of features that people could point to Gravity Forms as lacking and do so in spades.

          All of this will be functionality available within the core plugin. Not extensions.

          And sure not every use needs every feature. But once they do, it’ll be there for them without costing them yet more money.

          Our Add-Ons have grown beyond simple 3rd party integrations and into more advanced territory such as Poll, Quiz and Survey functionality.

          We have even more advanced Add-Ons in the works which we’re considering referring to as Apps because they simply aren’t an Add-On. They’re an application built on top of Gravity Forms. I won’t go into details, but i’ll just say your statement about not being able to compare would apply to what we have in the works as far as this goes. Only it applies to our competition.

          Which brings me to the comment regarding Ninja Forms being a framework. Gravity Forms is every bit a framework as Ninja Forms and is only going to make bigger strides in this direction over the next couple major releases.

          Your comment implies that Ninja Forms is a framework and anyone can build for it and that’s not the case with Gravity Forms or other form solutions which simply isn’t the case.

          We have more 3rd party Add-Ons available than any other WordPress form solution out there. That is a fact and it’s not even close.

          Gravity Forms can, is and has been used to build all sorts of applications and custom functionality on top of. To imply that Ninja Forms is somehow special in it’s capacity to do so is again very disingenuous.

          The functionality we are introducing in Gravity Forms v1.8 and Gravity Forms v1.9 is only going to further enhance Gravity Forms capabilities as a framework and platform to build applications on top of and that will be reflected within the Add-Ons that we will be releasing.

          Now… I have no interest in mudslinging. I replied because of the comments you made.

          I have no issues with your business model. It’s the business model that we use but it’s one that many people, including WooThemes with their WooCommerce plugin use and that’s their choice and your choice. There’s nothing wrong with it. But don’t point to it as being superior. It’s not superior. It’s simply a different business model.

          We’ve butted heads before when you’ve made similar statements and it got heated. I would have hoped you would have come away from those past exchanges with enough respect for us as your competition to not call our product out by name and proceed to make statements that imply that Ninja Forms is superior because of your advanced Add-Ons and it’s ability to be used as a framework. Obviously that isn’t the case.

          You could have easily commented to the users comment without referring to Gravity Forms by name and making statements that your Add-Ons, features and ability to be used as a framework simply can’t be compared. Because that is simply bullshit.

          You could have easily explained your business model without even mentioning the competition and certainly without making superiority statements.

          I wish you would have done so, because then I wouldn’t have had to comment.

          • James Laws
            Oct 08 - 18:49

            Carl, I didn’t mean to imply anything disparaging about Gravity and my most sincere apologies. I was only making the reference as it pertains to pricing which the comment mentioned us both and then tried to shift gears speaking of how we see our model but I can most definitely see where it came off the way you feel you needed to respond so strongly.

            It’s awesome to hear about all the awesome things you’ve done and have planned in your new releases. The things you mentioned publicly that are coming to Gravity sound great. Some of these we are developing as well. You don’t need it but I still wish you all the continued success possible.

            So let me go on the record and say that I was not implying that any of Ninja Forms extensions were better than functionality that Gravity includes specifically as I have not used Gravity Forms ever. That’s not to say they are or are not. I can in no way make such a claim as I’ve not experienced them. I was not implying that people could not develop on top of Gravity. Obviously people have been doing it for years with much success. My comment on being a framework was simply a remark about how we see Ninja Forms not that others can’t be used that way. I now see that might have been a blurred line. My overall comment was solely about why we have the model we have and that it’s working for us and our customer.

            Like Carl, I have no time or desire to get into any “my plugin is better than yours” drama. And I apologize to Carl and the community if my comment demonstrated anything to the contrary.

          • leokoo
            Oct 11 - 20:29

            Thanks for your replies @James Laws and @Carl Hancock. I appreciate both your companies for the hard work put in and yes, you’re doing well due to us, the WordPress community appreciating your product.

            As such, speaking from a consumer point of view, like what I wrote in reply to Christopher Ross below, we don’t mind price increases, or to pay more, but then, does it fulfill the following criterias?

            1) Constant work / innovation is being done to improve the plugin
            2) Constant work is being done to fix vulnerabilities in the plugin
            3) They don’t just go about changing prices as and when they decide to. At least give us time to adjust. (Studiopress does this very well)

            Also, just like Thomas Griffin and the Soliloquy Slider, we’re keen to have developers who do the following if they’re keen on price changes
            a) Reduce prices, but change it to yearly
            b) Increase prices, but have it on lifetime
            c) Do both

            One good example is the newly launched OptinMonster by Syed Balkhi and Thomas. We can either pay USD 300 (with a 20% off coupon) or pay yearly. Both are good options. We will never say it’s expensive.

            Also, wrt Gravity Forms, we’re amazed that they even came up with a Zapier Add on! That’s real innovation. And for USD 199/year, it’s worth the price! Of course we hoped the Zapier add on was in the basic addons instead =)

            But yes, if everyone is selling for USD 100-200, please do not price your add ons to be almost USD 1000 for unlimited sites. And if you introduce yearly renewals, most of us will just go for alternatives.

            In the same way, with WooCommerce and iTheme’s Exchange. Why pay USD 4k for starters and 2k/year for renewal? We all love WooCommerce, but it becomes a major barrier for entry for mom and pop shops aka. small businesses like us. Especially if our currency exchange rates are much lower.

            In Malaysia, for USD 250/year, we could have a full fledge, well supported ecommerce store. (http://www.easy.my). Well, lacking some of the features, but it’s good enough for many. Plus hosting is taken care of.

            Look a little further, and we can pay USD 14/mo for Shopify and upgrade as and when needed. And like what Andrew Bleakley said, in the long term, it’s easy to switch between shopping carts. Be it Prestashop, OpenCart or WooCommerce.

            Most of my friends are already Prestashop / Opencart users. And its much cheaper yearly than WooCommerce.

            And yes, as consumers, though we talk about your business model and say your product is expensive, we’re not directly attacking you. Is it wrong to call a spade a spade? Just like when WPMU did a review on theme providers / theme shops, and concluded that WooThemes was expensive, some loyal customers of WTs took offense and called WPMU biased. But
            1) were they biased, especially when we do a comparison with the other shops out there?
            2) Was it wrong to call Woothemes expensive? Especially with their tiered pricing and yearly renewal packages that can cost you an arm and leg?

            For example. For Squeeze pages, we could either go for
            1) Premise by Studiopress, USD 147/lifetime (97 during discounts)
            2) Leadpages, USD 199/yearly renewals
            3) OptimizePress, USD 295/yearly renewals
            4) WP Enlighten, USD 299/lifetime

            Now, if I were to write a comparison review, I would definitely call Premise value for money. Not just are they backed by StudioPress, but they kept innovating and improving the plugin.

            How then should we compare OptimizePress or LeadPages to Premise? Expensive?

            And let’s say if Thomas / Pippin / James Laws / Adii – decides to start one as well, calling it Ninja Pages, offering the base plugin as free, but extensions going all the way up to USD 1200, what would you say as a reviewer / 3rd party / customer?

            Should we say that Ninja Pages is much better than Premise? Or that it just has a different model? I mean, we’ve to call a spade, a spade.

            And if we called Ninja Pages (the new squeeze page with extensions going up to USD 1200) expensive and are riled because if we can’t afford it, we better shut up, then the person who says that is either really smart or a mindless loyalist.

            And yes, appreciate your feedback =) I’m not here to argue. Neither am I a developer myself. Just a small time online store owner running off WordPress.

            As much as we would like to see your company sustainable, we also need to be sustainable ourselves =)

            Cheers

      • Christopher Ross
        Oct 08 - 18:03

        @leokoo “A typical WooCommerce store would need about 30 to 40 extensions, costing up to USD 3k and 1.5k ford yearly renewals.”, how is this unreasonable?

        $3,000 is a small price to pay for quality programming and support, and $1,500 a year is barely a drop in the bucket for ongoing support/upgrades. If you factor that cost over 36 months, that’s a $166/month investment for an ecommerce store. Personally, I’d say that if a merchant isn’t willing to spend more on an ecommerce store than their cable package, they shouldn’t be in business.

        • Jean Galea
          Oct 08 - 18:17

          I perfectly agree with this analysis Christopher. I think people should stop attacking developers for presumed high prices, everyone should run his own business and make decisions based on his situation.

          There are too many variables in the world to attack a vendor purely on their pricing. If that’s the pricing they need to stay in business, then so be it. If people cannot afford that (and you have to consider that in some economies that is indeed unaffordable for many businesses) then they have to find alternatives.

          • Jonathan
            Oct 08 - 20:01

            Sorry guys, I’m going to have to disagree with that. You not factoring in the cost of hiring the developer/designer to implement those plugins, set them up, and create a site for the client. With those type of yearly expenses being passed on to the client, it can definitely be much more than $3,000 or $166/mo. Don’t forget hosting.

            If you’re an above average web professional, then you may end up charging 4 – 5k to build the site, now you have to pass on yearly costs to the client as well, in upwards of $3k/year. A good size business may have no issues with this, but a small business is going to most likely find some issues paying a large upfront cost and a yearly cost in the thousands to maintain their site.

            So with that said, they would definitely need to find alternatives, or Woo would have to decide who their audience really is. Is it Joes’ eCommerce Store setting it up himself, or the Developer that’s charging for a service and using Woo as their tool of choice? If it’s the developer, then it’s definitely on the pricier side of things.

          • Jean Galea
            Oct 08 - 20:16

            @Jonathan, I still think we shouldn’t be attacking developers and putting them in a bad light just because they decided to raise their prices. They are not forcing anything on us.

            Since their code is GPL, one can fork all their plugins and even support them, running a parallel business which results in lower cost for the users. That way everybody is happy. People can choose to purchase the original plugin or the forked one. What are your thoughts on that?

        • Jonathan
          Oct 08 - 20:23

          @Jean, I personally don’t like that at all. While the high prices may suck, someone taking someone else’s work and selling the same exact thing at a cheaper rate will only hurt everyone in the long run.

          Say the cheaper company starts selling more and more. No one is getting support so if something goes wrong, you’re screwed. Plus the main company isn’t making anything in return either, so their business is going to suffer.

          Undercutting is not a legit business model and I think people do it just to earn a quick buck to say “Hey Look, you get the same thing but cheaper” and I don’t agree with that at all.

          If the only outcry of not using a GPL license is because WordPress will get mad at you, then I say change the license. If it’s deeper than that, then expect the under cutting to happen.

          It sucks that they cut their affiliate program… maybe they could do a club like wpmu does, or even have an application based affiliate where discounted rates are offered to developers, or people interested in making a buck. I dunno.

          Bottom line, I don’t like the business model of reselling someones hard work and undercutting that actual author who is the one doing all the building, but, we live on Earth, and it’s going to happen so expect it or change the license.

          • Jean Galea
            Oct 08 - 20:35

            So the recurring conclusion is that it’s perfectly legal but not likeable.

            Having read Justin Tadlock’s post, I am however moving towards the opinion that there’s nothing wrong about these websites in reselling other plugins. That’s what the GPL allows and so everybody needs to work around it or else leave the club (i.e. sell under a different license).

        • leokoo
          Oct 11 - 19:17

          @Christopher Ross @Jean- Hey Chris & Jean.

          First and foremost, I really appreciate WPMayor and reading what you write on the site =) It’s been an eye opener and I look forward to reading daily.

          Thus said, here’s my reply
          ——————
          I wouldn’t comment about the prices if we haven’t invested time or money into the WooCommerce system. The fact is, WooCommerce, while approaching maturity, still has some areas where a few more extensions is needed.

          The problem is, when you’ve already built your shop on WooCommerce, and are left to need to buy new extensions just because you need certain functionalities. And the price increase was abrupt. Most of us couldn’t purchase what we needed.

          I really appreciate the work done by Adii and Woothemes, but if I knew from the beginning of the upcoming price change, we either wouldn’t have used Woo, or would’ve grabbed every extension out there on the Unlimited Sites package.

          As such, you don’t see me talking about Gravity Forms as expensive. I think it’s well worth the money based on the following criterias
          1) Constant work is being done to improve the plugin
          2) Constant work is being done to fix vulnerabilities in the plugin
          3) They don’t just go about changing prices as and when they decide to

          In comparison, out of the numerous WooCommerce plugins I have, there are some that are still on version 1.0.x even after 6 months or more of release. Some have very basic functionalities, but costs from USD 79/single site to USD 199/25 sites.

          In that sense, I would rate Gravity Forms as a much better choice. And iThemes’ Exchange has lots of potential. For only USD 199/year now, it’s unlimited sites and unlimited add-ons. If someone were to ask me which should they build their shop on, why should I recommend Exchange?

          I wouldn’t say I’m attacking Woothemes for this. But as a long term customer, who’s already locked into Woothemes and WooCommerce, it’s not a very nice situation. But I would say, what’s wrong with saying these are outrageous prices, especially when we could be on Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce or others with that price or less?

          If functionality wasn’t an issue, Shopify starts at USD 14/mo, and by the time we’ve enough customers, we can either go for a custom developed site or something =)

          Also, previously we were willing to pay prices of USD 99, 199 or so for unlimited use licenses (and no, we’re not developers), but that’s with the understanding that it’s for lifetime.

          The issue is now, WooCommerce decided to increase the prices of the extensions AND make it a yearly renewal thing, PLUS not improve nor innovate on the extension.

          If they had
          a) Reduced prices, but changed it to yearly
          b) Increased prices, but have it on lifetime
          c) Do both, no one will complain
          or if they

          d) Increased prices, drastically improve extension and change to yearly, why not?

          Don’t go around saying we’re attacking WooCommerce. It’s like you’re in a long term contract to buy a certain speciality ingredient from this supplier and have already committed. And then he jacks it up 300% and expects you to continue buying. Isn’t that crazy? And you can’t really switch, as you’ve already spent time and money to build your menu on this ingredient.

          You can either then
          a) Rebuilding your menu with other speciality ingredient, but lose time?
          b) Suck it up and pay the 300% increase.

          And the sad thing is, if you’ve bought from the other supplier, he only charges a fraction of this first guy.
          –> iThemes Exchange vs WooCommerce : USD 199 vs USD 4000

          And when you tell people your supplier’s expensive, they tell you, if you can’t afford to pay, get out. Shut down your business.

          Sorry, but that’s not good thinking.

          • Jean Galea
            Oct 11 - 19:34

            Thanks for clarifying further Leokoo and for your comments about WP Mayor, such feedback is very motivating for us. With regards to WooCommerce, I can understand the feelings of many customers who were affected by the price changes, and of course there was a whole discussion about that on Woo’s blog (http://www.woothemes.com/2013/08/a-sustainable-woothemes/).

            When I wrote the post I didn’t have any particular product in mind, my main question was whether these websites are able to do what they are doing, and to investigate how this will impact the community. Some of the sites (such as WP Avengers) have indeed sprung up in retaliation to Woo’s pricing changes, but not all of them. Some of the others are just redistributing a number of plugins, not necessarily due to any changes on the original vendor’s part.

          • leokoo
            Oct 11 - 21:24

            Thanks Jean. As mentioned, at this stage, it’s way too late for us to change to another cart. We’ll prolly work our way to get Techgarage.my to be a leading ecommerce shop in our country and around the South East Asian region.

            But if Adii had made it clearer, either from the beginning, or gave us a grace period to purchase the needed extensions, it would have helped much. To me, that was uncalled for. Woothemes is a multi-million dollar business, as in tens of millions/year. And with the new changes in pricing, it’ll be generating much more from now.

            Why wouldn’t they give their loyal customers the opportunity / grace period?

            And yes, we were severely tempted to go for GPL shops, after this incident. After all, it was a dishonorable behavior from you know who in the first place.

            And yes, there’s a need to also consider mom and pop shops. Small time business people like us who are working hard to carve a niche with an ecommerce store.

            Still love WooCommerce, but I can’t recommend anyone to them for now.

  5. Jojo
    Oct 04 - 23:24

    I have started to pick up a majority of my plugins this way. I used to pay from the source but the truth is I can’t afford it anymore. I’ve been priced out of that market and pushed into this one. Would I rather go to the source and support the people putting in the work? Of course.

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 05 - 00:05

      It’s also true that while plugins tend to be affordable in many of the world’s economies, there are other economies where the mean income is much lower, and it’s not easy to afford many plugins on a yearly licence basis. Thanks for bringing up the point.

  6. Beka Rice
    Oct 05 - 02:47

    Thanks for a great article Jean :)

    I think you’re right that new consumers have a hard time distinguishing what’s legitimate or not, but hopefully many realize that they probably shouldn’t trust an anonymous company, especially while building a business that could be their livelihood.

    Yes, it’s legal by the GPL. But to say that automatically it’s ethical because it’s legal is a weak argument. You could have said the same of slavery in the US 150 years ago and it still wouldn’t be right. I think that a disclaimer is the least that is required to state that the code was developed by someone else so as not to confuse new users.

    However, I doubt these sites will have repeat customers once people realize that support is probably essential for using plugins, especially when more than one is installed and compatibility is an issue. Chris Lema wrote a good viewpoint on this, and I think he’s right that it will never turn into a business.

  7. Dan
    Oct 05 - 04:19

    Thanks for publishing this article Jean, it’s something that the premium WordPress community really needs to think about.

    @donnacha You seem to understand this on a level that many others don’t. The authors’ products we resell at GPL club are only possible due to the freedoms the GPL license enables, without the GPL these businesses would simply not exist.

    We don’t see ourselves as a detriment to the WordPress community, in fact quite the opposite. Current pricing models are fundamentally broken, especially at WooThemes. “Original developers can easily fight this by providing good support, pricing intelligently and not antagonizing their customers” I couldn’t have said it better myself! At present the majority of customers subsidise the few who require support, the recent changes at Woo have rocketed the cost of standard WP eCommerce functionality to $1000′s, and with yearly renewal costs! It’s opportunistic pricing at it’s worst. If you’re a customer of Woo you’ll understand how awful the premium ‘support’ is.

    We’re providing a much needed service in the premium space, where web developers, designers, agencies and small business owners want to increase the functionality of their websites without paying the massive premiums.

    @Ajay @ Beka Rice. As previously stated there is no stealing or theft of code going on, it’s explicitly allowed within the GPL, it’s what makes WordPress possible. And a comparison with slavery is offensive at best.

    • Beka Rice
      Oct 05 - 18:01

      Thanks for joining the conversation Dan.

      Just as a quick note, what I’m asking for is a real argument that can be compelling for the ethics of the practice. I used slavery as an example that breaks the legal = ethical argument, as I think it needs premises that would support it without a leap in logic. Let’s understand one another fully rather than trying to be inflammatory as a diversion from the actual conversation. I’m not comparing it to slavery in any way, but rather asking for a real argument.

  8. martin
    Oct 05 - 11:28

    As I mentioned before we are going to release our jb-websiteBuilder as a WordPress drag and drop WebsiteBuilder plugin, which is called REAL. By this you will find many new features, which are not available at all in WordPress Beyond that we will buy as well some plugins to extend the showcase and even open a Market place to sell these plugins. But don’t worry, you will buy not from us and rather directly from the producers, we will link to them. So how can I comment your questions you did here. Well, making a small plugin is often not “hard work”, most (not all) of the plugins are doable in 2 – 3 h, but that’s not the point, the point is mostly the idea, and that’s the point. Good made internet is like Rock n Roll, most great Rock songs where written in 5 minutes, while Mozart needed 3 month to write down the magic flute – it is the creativity, the idea what makes it breath and stealing that, means to take the breath away, because it creates the fear. It could kill creativity. But there is more to say, Mozart was buried in a poor grave, the just through him away like a dead dog, because they supposed that they pay for the work (teaching rich kids) but not for the ideas (composing) and that’s what many users like to do as well, paying maybe a donation, but looking around if the can find a cheap copy or cracked version for free…. Beside, you can find a first demo of our REAL Plugin here http://jb-wordpress.com

    • NS
      Oct 05 - 12:05

      Dude, you can’t use ‘WordPress’ in your domain. You just contradicted yourself in everything you just said.

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 08 - 22:54

      What’s your point exactly? Besides, the domain you chose is not allowed, you’re gonna have to change it down the line.

  9. Ren Ventura
    Oct 05 - 19:37

    Hi everyone. I just wanted to chime in on this because I’d like to point out exactly what ProServe is all about.

    First, thanks to @donnacha for making some great points. Also, the primary service offered through my business is web design. Premium plugins and themes are offered as a secondary service to those who want to save money. Like @Dan from GPL club mentioned (and many other WordPress users), there are WordPress tools that are very pricy. One of the main reasons to using WordPress if you’re designing your own website is to avoid high costs of design. Personally, I don’t see how there is much difference between paying a designer $1,000 to install plugins that they themselves are “reselling” and directly purchasing the same thing from a third party source. There is also no theft as the GPL allows anyone to do anything with the source code, as long as they make it available without restriction.

    To answer some of the writer’s questions:

    1. How will we make sure end users know that they need to make this decision between buying from the original developer or a third party? All products on my site explicitly state that they are purchasing the product from ProServe and not the author/vendor. I also state that if automatic updates and support is needed from the author, then to consider purchasing from them (I even include a link to their site to make it easy). I never make any claims to be the original author. I want my customers to know what they’re purchasing and to know the difference between buying from me vs. buying from the author. I would argue that forking a plugin or theme by making slight alterations and then passing it off as your own is unethical.

    2. What kind of support can such reselling companies offer? I pride my business on customer service. My members gain access to support that helps them with using the product to it’s full potential out-of-the-box. Customizations are not supported but no author offers this service as part of their support. However, as I mentioned before, I make it clear to my customers that support is provided by ProServe and not the author.

    3. Isn’t it bad for customers that some of these companies operate anonymously? Anyone who visits my site will have no problem contacting me. While some may act anonymously, I certainly do not.

    The reason I decided to start offering premium WordPress products at discount pricing was because I know there are many people out there who don’t have the money to drop on expensive designers and need a low cost way to build a quality website. If someone wants to think this type of operation is sleazy then they are entitled to their opinion. However, I have quite a few customers that are not only happy that they saved money but are even happier that they received so much help (a few have even spoke poorly of the support they were receiving from the author). So I disagree with @Beka Rice and anyone who argues that the support and service is inferior just because the products aren’t provided by the author. My #1 goal is to provide a quality service and that’s what I’ll continue to do.

    • NS
      Oct 05 - 19:58

      I agree about the extortionate pricing and the serious blow of having to renew WC extensions every year. However, what I like most about WooThemes is the ability to update extensions from my WP dashboard.

      Can you do that with your service Ren?

      Why do I prefer to purchase from the original developer? They put a lot of time, effort and mental energy to produce high quality kick ass themes/plugins. I for one want to support that.

      Whereas you sell discounted products which you haven’t developed yourself or worked your butt off to deliver awesomeness.

      • Ren Ventura
        Oct 05 - 20:15

        No one is forced to buy from me or any of the other third party sources that provide discounted products. If you don’t agree with it and want to support them then you’re more than welcome to. I’m not arguing people shouldn’t purchase from the developer. I only offer a choice that some people would rather have. To answer your question about whether I offer auto-updates from the dashboard, my answer is no. Not everyone wants to pay the high prices and would prefer to exchange this feature for lower pricing. All it is is choice.

        • CP
          Oct 06 - 08:31

          I agree. This is how a free market economy works. People create goods and services, and they’re sold to willing customers. Shunning plugin marketplaces would be akin to expecting Campbell Soup to sell their own cans, and being angry when a grocery store tried to sell them.

          • thats not actually true.. it would be like Campbell Soup having a Chinese company make an inferior product and then place the exact label on the chinese soup and place it on the shelf next to Campbell’s cans … at a lower price

          • Jean Galea
            Oct 08 - 15:18

            Having no support and possibly limited updates makes them an inferior product, and I’m pretty sure many users are not aware of this.

            I think users who go to sharing sites and download a plugin for free from there are very much aware of the trade-offs they are making. On the other hand those buying and downloading plugins from the sites mentioned above are probably not aware of the trade-offs.

    • Carl Hancock
      Oct 07 - 03:22

      Somethng people fail to mention with these sets, including yours, is the fact they cause customer confusion and the fact you are using the Gravity Forms brand name for financial gain without our consent. That along with API/SaaS issues and the fact that it plays against security best practices make what you are doing bad for the community and users.

      First the customer confusion. The average user who finds our product though our site will make the assumption that hon have com kind of relationship with us, such as a reseller agreement. They assume there is a legitimate business relationship between us. The is not. They they acquire the flutie from you or done of these sites and when there is an issue they contact us for support and when they are too they’d have to buy it from us in order to receive support, they get upset. In a lot cases thy understand and rather thancbify upset arch, they are upset at wherever thy purchased it (you). But there are instance where the users is irate and no matter how we explain situation they blame usdavd it damages our relationship with that user in a situation that would not have happened had they purchased though us. It causes brand confusion that can have a negative impact on our band. I know this for a fact because it’s something we encounter regularly.

      Second. Our brand. You are using our brand name for financial gain without our approval. Yes, the actual code is GPL but the name is not. We allow it to be used in situations where fair use comes into play, such as reviews and our affiliate program, but not in situations like this. In order not infringe on our brand you’d need to do wht th GPL really intended in this situation… fork the plugin and rename it, resell it and support it yourself. The fact that the PHP is GPL doesn’t give you the right to monetize our brand name.

      API/SaaS issues. By purchasing through you they don’t get a license key which means they don’t get access to SaaS services such as automatic updates, add-on installer an in the future more an more feature such as email notifications will use SaaS. No key. No SaaS. Are you providing buyers with a key? If so you are violating our term and conditions.

      Best practices say to always keep WordPress, plugins and themes up to date. How do you provide these if you don’t provide a license key which enables automatic updates? Manual downloads? If so I guarantee most users don’t update if that is the case.

      Then there is security best practices related to malware and where you get plugins and themes. Users should be advised to acquire them direct from the developer or WordPess.org in the case of free themes and plugins. Why? Because most WordPress malwar is spread via sites like yours that offer commercial plugins and themes for free or cheaper than their developer. This undemines the communities attempts to promote best practices to avoid malware, etc.

      None off this even touches on the fact that those that do this to undercut the actual developer for their own financial gain will get no respect by the devlopment community as a whole.

      Want to do this and not ruin your reputation? Fork them. Rename them. And support them yourself.

      • Jean Galea
        Oct 08 - 15:06

        Good points Carl, I think forking is the right way to go in this scenario.

        And since you mentioned it, we also need to discuss the issue of brand misuse. So now the article switches from legal but possibly not ethical to one where there is a possible illegal usage of brand names.

        Will plugin developers be suing companies like GPLClub and WPAvengers on this point?

        From a few conversations I’ve had with plugin developers, it seems they’re not really that concerned about people reselling their plugins in this way, from a financial point of view. The impact on their profitability seems to be minimal for now. But what if these resellers become much more popular?

      • Dave Navarro
        Oct 10 - 21:43

        I was wondering about this… It seams that these sites are using images and names that are copyrighted. Seriously, if you want to take someone else’s work and sell it, then at least fork it, change the name, and replace all of the copyright items (images are not included in the GPL license) with your own. Put in at least some work.

        • Jean Galea
          Oct 10 - 21:53

          I believe the images are GPL as well unless they are using split-licensing (allowed on Envato marketplaces).

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 08 - 15:39

      @Ren, thanks for replying to my concerns.

      Here’s some follow-up.

      1. When forking you still keep the credit to the original author, so there’s no issue of claiming that another’s work is your own. You do a good job of helping potential buyers make an educated decision, others don’t.

      2. Glad you also offer support, again others don’t do this. Maybe another case for forking the plugin?

      3. Agreed on that one in your case, definitely not anonymous. Applies to other vendors though.

      The only remaining concerns I have in your case:

      - Misuse of company branding, may lead to issues with the original vendors (see Carl’s comment).

      - Difficulty of updating. As Carl mentioned, you cannot just give users a licence enabling the auto update feature, so they’d presumably keep checking your site for new updates, or receive an email when an update is available, then login to download it and upload to their site. Not the most streamlined process. Especially for plugins which are updated frequently (e.g. once a week).

      - Community backlash. You’ll probably have a hard time presenting at a WordCamp, for example. Then again you might not mind this, but many want to have a good standing within the WordPress community.

      And of course, there’s also the argument of potentially driving the original vendors out of business . If they don’t have enough income to support their products and continue to improve them, who will? But I guess the market would eventually take care of that situation.

      • Ren Ventura
        Oct 08 - 21:18

        @Jean,

        Thanks for acknowledging that what I offer isn’t a product with a lack of updates and support. I’d also like to point out that the product offered is not inferior. Updates and support are services. The code itself is the product and it’s materially identical to what is purchased from the vendor. One may argue that the “service” is inferior but I would disagree, especially for the cost.

        Anyway, I’d like to follow up again to address your additional concerns. First, my decision to resell these products rather than fork them is because, ultimately, I’m not trying to replace any of these products. I only offer what I’ve used and what I’m comfortable in offering support for because other people want to use them as well but may not want to spend the additional money for whatever reason. Something I feel that is seriously lacking in the WP community is the ability to “try before you buy”. Many vendors tie updates and support into their products to charge higher amounts. This is perfectly fine because it’s their business. But the option to purchase the download and decide later if it’s something for which you’d like to invest in updates/support is not something that really exists. My business is to provide this option.

        On the concept of brand misuse, I am simply letting people know what they’re purchasing. As I conveyed before, transparency is very important to me and I want people to make educated purchasing decisions.

        Regarding community backlash, I understand that those who disagree with my opinion on this subject may not appreciate my business. However, I disagree that I’m doing a harm to the WP community. I’d argue that the developers who try to control the use of their GPL product (or at least discourage its use without paying annual fees) are doing a disservice to the community. Justin Tadlock wrote a great post on his similar opinion. I enjoy helping others with WordPress and helping them to achieve their goals. I fully embrace “open source” and everything it represents so if there is any backlash from what I offer, it’s from a business standpoint and I’d hope that business and the WP community don’t overlap to that great of an extent.

        Lastly, I don’t foresee ever driving anyone out of business. If that was my goal, I’d fork the products and make them available for free while marketing them as “the closest thing to …”. The only way I see my business coming close to doing that is if the vendors fail to provide a service that makes them profitable. If that happens, then the market will dictate as the cost will outweigh the benefit.

        I’m glad this conversation is being held because I think it’s wrong to slander another’s business as “sleazy” or as being a distasteful way of making a living without understanding the full picture. I wrote a post on my blog that addresses my beliefs on the ethics of this. I’d love it if you could take a look and offer some additional discussion. If you don’t mind, I’ve posted a link:

        http://proserveweb.com/ethics-wordpress-premium-plugins-gpl/

        • Jean Galea
          Oct 08 - 21:38

          Thanks again for joining the discussion Ren, I’m thoroughly enjoying working through all the concerns and clearing things for everyone involved. Discussions like this one are what makes the WP community so open and interesting.

          I had already posted your reply in my update to the original post, and in fact also included Justin’s post.

          In my previous comment I expressed my concern about updating, how do you go about that? Most plugin developers now include automatic updates to their plugins (usually based on a licence check being done before the update is downloaded). Related to this point, it is very possible that developers might implement the extra measure of preventing usage of the plugin if a valid licence is not entered (have already seen a number of plugins operating in this way), what would you do in that case?

          • Ren Ventura
            Oct 08 - 22:11

            If that were to happen, it begs the question as to whether the product is truly GPL (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#DoesTheGPLAllowRequireFee). Perhaps it’s against the GPL since the code is made available but some may argue it is because it requires a license key to use. That’s where I think things would get really grey. But if that is to happen then I think the forking/reselling model will become even more popular. I can’t say for sure if I would get into this but I am certain that others would.

          • Jean Galea
            Oct 08 - 22:20

            Indeed, I had forgotten about that, thanks for pointing it out. Again, thanks for participating in the discussion Ren, I for one certainly see things clearer now as a result of all the comments here.

          • Ren Ventura
            Oct 08 - 23:34

            Jean, I forgot to answer your question about updating products purchased from my site. Any customer that joins my mailing list is notified when new products or updates are made available. I do not provide a license key for anyone to access updates directly from the developer. So., as you mentioned in a prior comment, manual updates are necessary. I agree that this isn’t the most efficient but the point is to simply provide the plugin so that it can be used. That’s why I recommend purchasing from the developer if the FULL service (dashboard updates) is needed.

  10. I think the question really is.. are these major developers that release plugins that have high function such as a store plugin or a theme with many options or targeted at a vertical market such as real estate developing plugins that they want to sell or are they creating a market to provide support.

    Are they Software Developers or are they Support Specialists?

    If you have ever looked at the prices for VIP WordPress Support from Automattic then you realize that a single job that they take is as much as the average American income They charge Tens of Thousands of dollars for Support. … but they give away WordPress for free.

    So is Woo or another large and very needed plugin for most WP Users developing for sales of the Plugin .. or are they expecting to charge HUGE Sums of money for support because they are probably the best at it..

    The fact is .. Being the best at support does not always mean you are making money…

    Automattic can charge insane prices relative to the rest of the market because all of their customers are huge companies that simply write everything off…

    On the other hand Woo or someone at a lower level than WP.com can’t charge anything but the going rate for support.

    And with small to medium sized companies more than happy to go to Developers and Support staff in India or elsewhere for their support where undercutting is the way they do business then Americans and Europeans or anyone that needs a paycheck finds it difficult to make a living wage.

    It has got to the point LA Times and NY Times and HUGE Publishers are laying off their in house Artists and expecting their reporters to become Photo Editors and Designers.. and themes are being outsourced and addins are single purchases …

    This is not how the Publishing Business worked even just 15 years ago….

    The fact is .. this business is dead for anyone trying to make income unless they have a special hook like the hundred or so people that work for Automattic.. .. for the rest of us we struggle and will never see that type of success ..

    But remember WordPress its self was another Project that was taken over by Matt .. and turned into WP..

    So is it fair? probably not.. is there a way to get around it and secure a dependable income for the future? probably not…

  11. John D
    Oct 08 - 00:49

    Supporting a plugin is onerous at small scale (I know because I’m a commercial plugin author), but the support argument is rubbish. If Woo was genuine, they’d offer at least two tiers:

    * No-support (about one third the cost)
    * Support (full cost)

    TA-DA!!!

    Until Woo offers people like me (a plugin author myself) a much cheaper no-support option, I’ll happily purchase elsewhere from anyone obeying the law.

    The ethical argument is also lame. There are lots of conventions that aren’t written down in law. For instance, if you’re married then you’re supposed to not cheat on your partner without their knowledge and consent.

    Developing under the GPL is different. If you develop under the GPL you have explicitly agreed to be ‘cheated’ on.

    Ignorance of the implications of the GPL is not a rational or objective reason to be outraged, nor is naive faith in the goodness of others.

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 08 - 15:15

      How about forking the plugins though, rather than offering a plugin branded by someone else? Carl’s point above is very valid I think. That way you’ll be acting much more in the spirit of the GPL, while not damaging/influencing another company’s brand.

      • John D
        Oct 09 - 06:03

        While I’m not certain of the law in that regard. My caveat about ‘obeying the law’ was a tilt towards the points above about branding etc. Forking and re-branding the projects seems like a reasonable bare minimum to me. If that’s what the law requires then I’d be in favor of it, and would support those re-forkers who do so.

        The argument about confusion in the market place is less convincing though. ‘Confusion’ seems like a euphemism for ‘less profit’ to me. Again, if Woo cares so deeply for its easily confused customers, charge less, provide support in a more efficient way, or charge for support separately. They could even create video tutorials/FAQs for their less able clients… that is, of course, if they were serious about solving the support problem.

        Forcing people to buy ridiculously overpriced support along with the plugin itself is hardly different to record companies that used to like forcing us to by 10 bad songs along with 2 hits per CD (showing my age now…).

  12. At first I would like to thank all original plugin/theme developers of “premium” plugins who can still keep their cool whenever the next GPL-discussion comes up.

    Remember you can not and MUST NOT sell code licensed under the GPL.
    Providers of GPL-software can only make money by charging for support and/or access to services like automatic updates.
    Why would you deny developers who keep a product secure and compatible with the ever-(fast-)changing WP ecosystem the ONLY LEGAL way of generating revenue?
    Premium GPL (plugin) businesses create jobs for a lot of devs and help them to provide for their families!!

    Even Automattic could never “sell” the source code of WordPress because it is derived from GPL code. It is the same with Red Hat. But who would finance the majority of WP core, wp.org (and the free code making CentOS and Fedora) possible?

    So they charge their big clients high amounts which is paying for making WP core better and give all of us free access to WordPress core, plugin and theme downloads.
    Does anyone of you want to pay for the traffic generated by everything on *.wordpress.org?

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 08 - 19:05

      “Remember you can not and MUST NOT sell code licensed under the GPL.”

      That’s not correct. Anyone can sell code licensed under the GPL, whether it’s the original developer or someone else who obtained that code. You might even take a free plugin from the .org repository and sell it (distribute it) at a price. It is hence perfectly legal to sell a plugin without any support offered.

      Just thought I’d clarify that.

    • A little off-topic:
      I am no dev selling a premium theme or plugin but I think the Envato marketplaces have a far bigger negative impact on the WP ecosystem. They take a huge part of the revenue generate by premium code with a non-legal license approach (I know it is changing).
      The “normal” WordPress user might purchase through one of these marketplaces and not know they are purchasing a product not compliant with the GPL.

      Too harsh? Only my opinion

      • Jean Galea
        Oct 08 - 19:08

        Envato enables authors to choose to sell their items with the GPL (http://notes.envato.com/general/100-gpl-option-now-available-plus-woothemes-arrives/).

        Also, using another license doesn’t make a plugin/theme illegal.

        • Yes, they are on the way of changing.

          No. You are not allowed to run code with WordPress (GPL) which is licensed under a non-compatible license.

          • Maybe my stance on non-compatible licenses is a little strong and debatable since the GPL is somewhat unclear concerning some definitions.

          • Ren Ventura
            Oct 08 - 22:53

            Are you saying that people cannot run non-GPL plugins with WordPress? Because that’s not true at all. Licenses are a choice for developers and the GPL is not required simply because WordPress itself is GPL.

          • Jean Galea
            Oct 08 - 23:00

            @Ren @Christian You can definitely run non-GPL plugins with WordPress (for example a plugin created for a client, which will not be distributed to the public).

            You are not allowed to host non-GPL plugins on the WP plugin repository though.

            Furthermore, the general consensus seems to be that distributing non-GPL licensed plugins is not allowed (http://wordpress.org/support/topic/which-license-to-use-for-a-paid-plugin).

  13. Christopher Ross
    Oct 08 - 21:41

    Jean, thanks for bringing this up today. It’s been interesting to watch the parasites try to justify their behaviour.

    • Ren Ventura
      Oct 08 - 23:04

      But you’ve provided so much to the discussion, haven’t you? I don’t think anyone needs to justify what is allowed. You’d benefit from reading @donnacha’s comment below.

  14. donnacha
    Oct 08 - 21:58

    The big problem with GPL discussions is the sheer lack of clue that most people have about what the GPL is, why it exists and what all these commercial plugin makers actually gain when they choose to build their products upon GPL components and a GPL platform.

    I won’t single people out by name, but as these comments have popped into my inbox, one-by-one, many of them have just made me roll my eyes and wonder how it is possible that people can be interested enough in WordPress to follow WordPress-related blogs and, yet, know so little about its most fundamental pillars.

    Reality is an important guide in business and life in general. It does not matter, not one little bit, how much people would like reality to be different, it does not matter how wonderful a business they could have if only reality could bend to their needs, it does not matter how comforting their delusions are and it doesn’t even matter how many other people with vested interests chime in to agree with them. The only thing that matters is actual reality.

    If you distribute code under the GPL, you have already relinquished all exclusive rights to it, both legal and moral, there is no further discussion to be had. If you start to tell yourself that there is something morally wrong with people exercising their rights under the GPL and, even worse, if your business plan revolves around your value being stored in the code itself, well, you need to wake up and familiarize yourself with the world as it is, not as you wish it to be.

    For example: Gravity Forms is a solution to a specific set of tightly-clustered problems. Through a combination of ever-evolving code, a good forum and ticket-based support, it enables developers to create more functional websites. The overall advantage outweighs the cost for a sizable number of developers. At the margins, there may be developers from poorer countries who would rather forego the forum and support in order to safe money but, on the whole, $199 per year is broadly affordable.

    Gravity Forms succeeded because they were smart about building their reputation and their community of users. They knew that this was an integral part of what they were selling, that the code alone was not sufficient. They understood the realities of the WordPress market and were ruthlessly deliberate in what they built.

    If you hope to sell plugins or themes, get acquainted with reality and build your value into your overall offering. Continuously improve your solution so that people understand this isn’t a one-shot deal. Cultivate your users and resist the temptation to screw them over once they have already invested time, money, effort and seem to be locked into your product … again, naming no names :)

    So many of the arguments voiced in this thread against these code distribution sites miss the point. Some are just implementation details: there is no technical reason why one of the sites could not put together their own updating system, it’s fairly simple and bound to happen eventually. Equally, the GPL does not require them to fork the code in order to distribute it, that would be completely meaningless. Finally, from what I can see, they are all already pretty clear that they are not the developers, that they are providing the code only and that no support is included – if customers are genuinely turning up at the developers’ sites and demanding support, well, they need pills, not plugins.

    But, look, GPL arguments always attract those with a vested interest in encouraging a mass delusion, and those who are just plain ignorant of the facts. It doesn’t really matter, they are all wasting energy on the wrong things, but if you want to actually succeed, again, focus on the reality and look at the guys, like Carl, who have made it work for them.

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 08 - 22:22

      This comment is worth its own post, and is definitely worth reading a few times. Thanks Donnacha!

    • Justin Tadlock
      Oct 09 - 23:34

      Some are just implementation details: there is no technical reason why one of the sites could not put together their own updating system, it’s fairly simple and bound to happen eventually.

      I’ve already got the code for this too. It took me a couple of days to figure out the system and test it, but it’s not that hard to do. I imagine we will eventually see that happen with some of these sites.

    • leokoo
      Dec 09 - 13:34

      Wow, well said! Great comment Donnacha!

  15. Teresa
    Oct 09 - 01:18

    I’ve noticed that people choose to be part of Open Source or a GPL then don’t like it when their code is re-used. I don’t think you can have it both ways. I believe the majority of WordPress people have their favorite plug-ins and themes, and re-use them and they are from the original artist but I might be wrong. I’m a bit tired of wasting money on unknown things only to find out they didn’t work that great. Usually if the original author makes improvements it is the best way to go. And I wouldn’t buy from someone if I knew it was copied code. While I do think it is not ethical to take things without permission, the GPL allows you to do it so I guess it is up to the people to be ethical.

    It is the same thing in the US food industry in that they continue to put food on the shelves of our grocery store that is banned in other countries. Knowledgeable people don’t buy it but once they become aware, hopefully they will.

    I don’t know if this helps but I don’t see a good solution to it at the moment.

  16. Brad Touesnard
    Oct 09 - 15:54

    When buying a plugin, I think there’s a customer expectation that the developer they buy it from is the one who developed it. If it’s not clearly communicated on the marketing site that they forked someone else’s code, then I think it is misleading the customer, which is no way to build a business.

    Quite the discussion you’ve sparked here Jean, nice work!

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 09 - 16:06

      Misleading customers is clearly a no-no in any context.

      From the discussion above and within the GPL context I think that when done in the right way, reselling is ok.

      Take a look at Ren’s way of doing it as an example (http://proserveweb.com/wordpress-shop/plugins/gravity-forms/). He provides a clear disclaimer that the product is being resold and even provides links to the plugin developer. Here’s the disclaimer for quick reference:

      “Disclaimer: This product is provided in it’s original, unmodified form. However, it is provided by ProServe Web Solutions and not the original vendor/developer and, therefore, it not supported by the vendor/developer. ProServe will provide non-warrantied support and updates for this product. If you wish to receive support and updates from the vendor/developer, you may wish to purchase from them using the “Read More About…” link above.”

      • Dave Navarro
        Oct 10 - 21:56

        The problem with reselling an unmodified package is that the brand name can be copyrighted and/or trademarked. Additionally, the code itself is covered under the GPL license, but no other assets (including images) are covered. So selling the unmodified package is a violation of GravityForm’s copyright.

        • Jean Galea
          Oct 10 - 22:49

          I stand to be corrected but I believe all assets are GPL, at least for those plugins that go in the WP repository that’s the rule, and most others follow that guideline.

          With regards to the brand name, Carl from Gravity Forms has already raised the issue above, although till now there seems to be little will to actually sue people on this basis, if indeed it is a legal violation.

        • Jean Galea
          Oct 11 - 07:02

          “The Free Software Definition’s Four Freedoms
          By the Free Software Foundation’s definition, Free Software guarantees you:

          1. The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
          2. The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish.
          3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
          4. The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.”

          Under point number 3, the way I see it is that there is no problem with redistributing unmodified packages. There is no question of branding infringement, unless the author claims to be involved with that brand when he isn’t.

  17. Jean Galea
    Oct 10 - 19:41

    I can be mistaken on this one, as I’m not an expert on Linux, but it seems to me that there is an analogy with CentOS and Red Hat Linux. Basically CentOS appears to be the same system sold by Red Hat, but CentOS is free. Obviously enterprise users would go for Red Hat since they are great at supporting such clients, while CentOS makes the system more accessible, removing all pricing barriers.

  18. Dave Navarro
    Oct 10 - 22:01

    I realize that any code that is originally GPL must remain GPL. But can a plugin developer use a standard copyright notice on their original code? Or does the user of an WordPress API call constitute acceptance of the GPL requirement for all portions of code?

    Wasn’t this an issue with Envato where their themes were not GPL compliant? That didn’t prevent them from being sold by Envato, it just meant they weren’t compliant with GPL.

    What’s to prevent all of these authors from dropping GPL since they don’t go through the WP repository anyway?

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 10 - 22:46

      According to Matt Mullenweg, plugins and themes built on top of WordPress need to be GPL since they are using a GPL-based system (WordPress). That means they are a derivative of core WordPress GPL code. See Matt’s explanation for more information: http://wordpress.tv/2009/10/13/matt-mullenweg-wordpress-gpl/. Of course that hasn’t stopped plugin sellers from creating non-GPL plugins and distributing them, but I’ve come across very few of these.

      The question you pose is indeed a valid one, however if plugin and theme developers decide not to use the GPL, then they would pretty much need to move away from WordPress itself.

  19. wycks
    Oct 14 - 16:21

    Anything that uses WordPress code to function needs to be GPL, so naturally most if not all of your plugins and theme will inherit the license. Code/art that is completely decoupled from WP does not have to be GPL, unless you wanted hosted in wordpress.org. In other words GPL code is derivative. Finding out exactly what is derivative is sometimes difficult (javascript for example).

    GPL is a license which covers distribution, copyright on the other hand gives credit to the original owner or owners of the work. Copyright also implies who may adapt, perform and benefit from the work. The Copyright holders choose the license.

    The GPL does expect you to add a copyright notice in your software, and WordPress does this. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-howto.html

  20. Diego
    Oct 15 - 15:41

    I’m a plugin developer, and I find the “scavenging” of these sites a minor annoyance. Sure, they provide the software for very cheap, but they don’t give any kind of support, which I, instead, provide free of charge with every purchase.
    Considering that one hour of paid support costs 40% more than the licence for the most expensive product I sell, anyone buying from these sites will soon realise that they are wasting their money.

    • donnacha
      Oct 15 - 15:52

      Then why not release the plugins for free but charge for support?

      Seriously, if what you say is true, that would instantly solve the problem and gain you a much bigger base of users, each properly compensating you for your time.

      Woo say more or less the same thing: that the support required for each customer, valued at $5 per hour, justifies the license cost of around $1000 per site per year.

      Support is obviously where the demand is but, strangely, Woo will not separate the cost of support from the cost of the code.

      • Jean Galea
        Oct 15 - 17:34

        I think the biggest issue in this whole argument is that people are reluctant to make the shift in mindset that the GPL brings about. Traditionally we cling on to the products we produce and want people to pay to use them, but all this changes when we accept to embrace the GPL.

        In Woo’s case, there is definitely a great value in support, not because the product has bugs and the users will email requesting fixes, but because setting up an e-commerce site is always bound to present some questions to the average user, think about support more as consultancy and you will understand things better.

        • donnacha
          Oct 15 - 17:50

          I do, totally, understand that mindset Jean, but I want to encourage developers to embrace reality, rather than remain swaddled in the cosy comfort of how they would like things to be, because I see so many people wasting time on business models that are built upon delusions.

          We all need to be honest with ourselves about what we do, what it means and how the consequences of our decisions are likely to play out in the future. Don’t waste time trying to recreate Microsoft in the WordPress universe, there is a fundamental flaw in that plan and it does not matter how many celebrity developers bolster your delusions.

          The sooner an individual developer manages to cast off all that nonsense, the sooner he will find a model that actually does work.

          I don’t know what the exact answer is, but I do know that the world is big and that the majority of users who have the means to pay a reasonable price will do so. I also know that user’s online ambitions far exceed their technical abilities, so, there will always be money to be made in bridging that gap. A lot of people will choose to save money by downloading commercial plugins for free but many will choose to buy from the original developer if they perceive that it will make things even slightly easier.

          • Jean Galea
            Oct 15 - 17:59

            I think we also need to point out that when we talk about creating additional value that doesn’t include future product updates, would you agree on that? Because I see many developers saying ok, the plugin is free, but you should pay a yearly license for updates (and support).

        • donnacha
          Oct 15 - 18:39

          I am not saying that providing access to the code itself is not a valid thing to charge for, there is undoubtedly a value in receiving code “from the horse’s mouth”, so, for me, both the original plugin and the updates fall into that same category.

          Updates have no special quality, the original developer only has a slight time advantage in delivering them. The only reason why the other sites are not yet providing automated updates is because their market has not yet matured to that stage, but it will.

          Site offering free or cheap versions have been around for as long as commercial plugins have existed, but it remained an amateur, anonymous and disorganized niche and, actually, I believe it could have remained largely irrelevant for several more years.

          The lightning bolt that zapped life into this niche was the appalling way in which Woo treated their existing customers. If one were to merely read the tweets and supportive posts by other commercial developers, you would have come away with the impression that Woo were taking a wonderful and much-needed step for the commercial market but, if you read the reactions of actual customers, it was pretty clear that a line had been crossed: the number of customers who felt conned was sufficient to feed a serious backlash, and that fed straight into a new generation of these sites, giving them an impetus and justification that they never before had.

          I don’t know what Woo thought would happen, and it does not particularly matter to their profits which have zoomed upwards, but the sad part is that they have now anchored an unofficial channel through which smaller commercial developers will also be heavily distributed.

          A lot depends on how much mindshare these sites gain: commercial developers should probably just ignore them and continue to price their products on the assumption that the customer is not aware of cheaper sources – a substantial proportion are always going to buy from the original developer anyway, and the overall number of WordPress users is going to continue growing anyway. In the same way that the vast majority of installations of every iOS game are pirate versions, you have to focus on the portion of the market that is still willing to buy and trust that the overall market will grow more quickly than that portion shrinks.

  21. Diego
    Oct 15 - 16:42

    Donnacha, charging for support is, in my opinion, the most unethical of practices, as it encourages poor quality. The poorer the product, the more support it requires. The more support is required, the more money comes in. It’s a downward spiral, all the way to the bottom.

    For the same reason, I don’t hire anybody who works only on hourly rates. If they cannot provide a bid on a project, I’m not going to pay them by the hour (the slower they are, the more hours they can bill).

    Ironically, if one knows his trade, billing by the hour is also LESS profitable than charging for a licence, or for a fixed bid project.

    • Diego
      Oct 15 - 16:55

      I reply to myself to make an example: I’m a strong advocate of the idea that software should be treated like other tangible goods. It looks like it would be much more profitable, for a car manufacturer, to give you the car for free and then charge for every single repair, instead of providing you with a multi-year warranty, how comes that they don’t do it? There are two reasons:
      1- It encourages bad quality, to sell more services and spare parts. Nobody would buy a car, if those were the terms (same reason why I don’t buy software which doesn’t include free support).
      2- If the car is built properly, it’s more profitable to sell it at a fixed price and provide free warranty, for it won’t require any extra labour once it’s sold.

      I apply the above principles to all the projects to which I take part, and I can tell you that it’s a much profitable model (and it often costs less to the customer).

      • Jean Galea
        Oct 15 - 17:30

        That’s a good argument Diego, but it all boils down to the fact that when working with WordPress, you are accepting the GPL and its ramifications. And under the GPL all software is free, while value should be provided in add-on services, support etc.

        Look at what Automattic does, they distribute WordPress for free, but probably make millions through their WordPress.com platform, VaultPress, VIP support, etc. All of them are add-ons to a freely downloadable product.

        • Larry Kokoszka
          Nov 26 - 07:12

          Jean, good topic, I’m glad you wrote about it. The GPL is the GPL and we all must accept it.

          That said, there is a clear as day progression of events that this kind of thing will lead to. Individuals and businesses will not be able to support themselves to do business the right way any longer and soon we’ll be back to where we were 6-7 years ago where plugins were coded by amateurs, didn’t follow standards and broke your site.

          Yes, they’re in compliance with GPL. But that’s not the point.

      • donnacha
        Oct 15 - 17:32

        Okay, so, for your particular situation, you have worked out two things that make your business more profitable:

        1. You build your products upon existing GPL code because, although this means that they inherit the GPL license, the disadvantages of that are outweighed by the advantages of not having to write all that code from scratch yourself AND you get to sell into the WordPress platform.

        2. You locate the value of your product in the access to it, rather than support, because, as you say, it is a much more profitable model DESPITE the fact that your choice of using GPL components means that others have an equal right to provide access to your code.

        Given that you had total freedom in making and benefitting from these choices, for you to now describe these sites as “scavengers” is exactly the same as WooThemes attacking you because you make WooCommerce extensions and your site makes heavy use of their trademark.

        I don’t mean to offend you or insult your business, I am just pointing out the general hypocrisy of commercial plugin makers reframing reality to suit their own interests.

        A car is built using metal purchased at the market rate. A product that depends upon WordPress is built upon the hard work and collaboration of thousands of people over many years, the price they demand is that you allow others to benefit from your additions to their work, just as you have benefitted. No gun is held to anyone’s head, you have complete freedom not to use their work but, if you do take that deal, it is dishonorable to then turn around and begrudge others their rights under the GPL.

        If nothing else, feeling that people are scavenging from you will eat you up inside. Justin Tadlock’s perspective, described at the end of Jean’s article, is far healthier. Commercial WordPress developers should print that paragraph out and stick it to the inside of their toilet door.

        • Jean Galea
          Oct 15 - 18:07

          Probably one of the best models from major plugins is the one adopted by Paid Memberships Pro. Take a look at it and let us know what you think.

          http://www.paidmembershipspro.com/pricing/

          Basically their plugin and addons are completely free, but they have two tiers of premium service. One is aimed at developers and includes the support forum, recipes and videos, while the more expensive one is aimed at non-developers and includes installation and configuration of PMPro on their existing WordPress site. It also includes up to 5 hours of consultation and hands-on development.

          Here’s what they say about their code:

          Our plugin’s code is not obfuscated, runs on as many sites as you want and can be customized to fit your project’s needs. We just ask that you follow the GPLv2 guidelines by applying the GPLv2 license to any altered or unaltered version of PMPro that you distribute. Thanks!

        • Diego
          Oct 15 - 18:16

          Taking someone else’s work and build on top of it is a very different thing from “dumping” someone else’s work as is. I’m not arguing on the fact that GPL allows it, and I’m well aware of it, but it doesn’t mean that the two things are the same, and should be treated the same way.

          I agree that redistribution of GPL software is part of the GPL philosophy, I seriously doubt that adding no value whatsoever to the redistributed product (and just reselling it cheaper, without providing any support or improvement, to me, falls into the category of “not adding value”) is a commendable approach. Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean you should.

          For the record, I don’t begrudge others for redistributing GPL software, nor I that they are stealing from me (otherwise, I would not have gone close to GPL at all). If anything, I would be happy to see that they improved what they got and made an even better product out of it, rather than aiming for the lowest of the low hanging fruits.

          • Jean Galea
            Oct 15 - 18:36

            Following this discussion here I’ve come to see that redistributing a product at a cheaper price does fall into the category of adding value. As I understand it, the GPL is always in favour of users. So if a user doesn’t need support and cannot afford a particular plugin, for whatever reason (not all world incomes are the same, as everyone knows), then he has an alternative. That to me is value for the user.

          • Diego
            Oct 15 - 18:53

            That is a point of view, exactly like mine. I still think that simple redistribution is not adding value. Also, I believe that GPL is not always in favour of the user, especially when such practices happen, for they can backfire.

            It may seem a paradox, but, since not all developers fully understand, approve or like such licence, even though they distribute their work under it. Some of them can easily drop out of the market if they feel “offended” by the redistribution of their work (to which, we know, they agreed). As a result, their talent is lost, the product dies and everybody loses. Right or wrong, that’s always a possibility.

          • donnacha
            Oct 15 - 19:00

            But, Diego, don’t you understand that the people who allowed you to use their code expressly insisted, as their payment from you, that you maintain the GPL’s protection for users, not just developers.

            You say that you acknowledge that people have the right to redistribute without adding any improvements, but you also say that this is not commendable, and you imply that it should not be done, as if it is some sort of regrettable side-effect of an idealistic notion.

            In fact, the GPL explicitly encourages, commends and applauds the redistribution of code. This is not some vague philosophy, it is a license that has become one of the most successful in the world because a huge number of developers decided that they wanted their code to be useful to as many human beings as possible.

            They chose to use the GPL because, although they do not begrudge your product piggybacking on their work, they wanted to ensure that your “improvements” did not stand between their work and the rest of the human race.

            If you think that these sites are just picking the lowest of low hanging fruits, get your product higher up in the tree – Jean’s example of PaidMembershipsPro is a terrific demonstration of how to do that and I have a hunch that is the direction that successful commercial developers are going to move in.

            If I was planning a commercial product today, I would think very carefully about the ancillary needs that my customers might have, and how I could specialize and streamline the provision of those services. If you stand back and really think about it, there are some obvious ways in which you can turn pirated versions of your products into mere adverts for “the real thing”, but we all need to clear our heads first and start thinking in terms of what people can and are doing, rather than what they should or should not.

          • Ren Ventura
            Oct 16 - 19:17

            @Jean As an economics major in college, I’m someone who thinks that choice is a good thing because it promotes a competitive market. I whole-heartedly agree with you that making things available at a lower cost is adding value. This subject will probably be debated for years to come but I don’t think it’s arguable that sites like mine fail to increase accessibility. Some may not appreciate that I offer these downloads at reduced prices but I am working to make them more accessible to anyone who wants them. I have a number of customers from other countries that are thankful they can afford to access the plugins I offer.

            @donnacha Thanks for continuing to make such great points.

            @Diego It’s nice to read your opinions and see that you’ve been getting involved in this discussion (including on Justin Tadlock’s post). While you may not appreciate sites like mine, I’d like to point out to you that I offer support for the plugins that I make available. I just finished restructuring my pricing model to include a membership subscription that strictly gives users access to support for the plugins available from ProServe. I also edited the product descriptions and Terms of Service to reflect this change and make it as simple as possible for people to understand because there seems to be a lot of discussion going on where people are indicating these sites offer NO support. It’s important that my site is not included in statements like this because it’s not true of me. The support provided to my members includes getting set up with the plugin/theme and using it to its full potential given the “out of the box” functionality. What it does NOT include is support for customizations that require additional coding and/or fixing errors caused by users editing the plugin’s core. While I can’t speak for every developer’s support (I’ve met those that go well beyond the call of duty and those that cannot be reached), my support is comparable to what you get with a lot of commercial plugins.

          • donnacha
            Oct 16 - 21:36

            @Ren – I have a strong hunch that offering any form of support is big mistake: ultimately, no matter how crappy Woo support actually is, they have the authority of being the creators of their plugin, and they have a sufficient mass of high-paying customers to make it possible to maintain a deep knowledge of their products among their support team. You cannot really compete with that.

            The sad reality of any form of technical support is that a substantial portion of all clients are functionally retarded. People who should not be entrusted with lace-up shoes suddenly get it into their heads that they are going to start the next Facebook or Amazon and YOU become solely responsible for all their problems, from their inability to login to their new hosting account, right through to their frustrations that Godaddy won’t let them register the domain Store.com.

            Woo are in a position to kick those morons to the curb but, in your case, any and all disgruntled customers will have their cause taken up, by pretty much everyone in the commercial WordPress community, as an example of what a conman you are, offering support for a plugin you don’t even understand.

            Trust me, you do not want to get into that nightmare, and you certainly don’t want to further blur the lines. The people attacking you for not offering service are completely clueless anyway – the whole point is that you provide a legitimate option, but people are still free to go to the original sellers if they want the full package.

            Of course, you can offer specific, predictable paid services, such as installation or guided configuration without risking a backlash, but avoid generic, blanket “My Website Just Exploded” support, leave that to the original sellers.

    • Jeff Chandler
      Oct 21 - 08:33

      Is there any way Donnacha can be nominated for an Emmy for his comments on this topic?

      • Jean Galea
        Oct 21 - 12:07

        He’s got my vote, that’s for sure.

      • donnacha@gmail.com
        Oct 21 - 16:48

        @Jeff @Jean – Ha, thanks guys :)

        Please note that all my comments are licensed under the LOL.

        • leokoo
          Dec 09 - 13:45

          LOL-ing =) Thanks donnacha! Appreciate your comments!

  22. Ren Ventura
    Oct 17 - 05:34

    @donnacha Thanks for your input on the support. This is definitely something I plan to consider over the next few days. Although I try to make it clear that I only offer basic support, I realize that this may not be fully understood by customers. I appreciate the thought.

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 17 - 11:39

      I would agree with Donnacha on this point Ren. It’s one thing offering support on those plugins to a few select clients, but when you’re opening it to the whole market then it becomes unsustainable.

  23. Ren Ventura
    Oct 18 - 02:40

    @Jean @donnacha Thanks for your advice guys. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this over the last couple days and I’ve decided to scrap the support as a paid service. I’ll always be willing to answer questions but I completely agree that the expectations may be different if it’s a paid service. Since I’m still in the startup phase of this aspect of my business, this kind of feedback is very useful.

    • Jean Galea
      Oct 18 - 12:44

      I’m sure that’s the right move Ren, I think this discussion was very beneficial for all of us.

    • Brewskie0124
      Jan 10 - 13:41

      Hey Ren! It’s nice to read your thoughts on this topic. I thought you did offer support (you helped me a lot)??

      Todd

      P.S. Your website looks a lot better now than that image at the top…. Love the new design.

  24. Patrick
    Oct 19 - 23:49

    A type of gpl abuse could be Matt Mullenweg himself not allowing theme developers to protect their intellectual property and still sell it in the WordPress marketplace. It is absolute undeniable fact that your theme code is gpl but your css and images can be proprietary. That has been established by the Software Freedom Law Center. Matt’s little post on the subject (http://wordpress.org/news/2009/07/themes-are-gpl-too/) in 2009 is quite laughable.

    He said he would only allow 100% gpl or compatible themes in the marketplace. Well a restricted license for the css and images IS 100% gpl or compatible. Themeforest has a 100% gpl compatible license for it’s sellers.

    WordPress can “force” you to put your images and css as gpl to be able to sell in their marketplace but they say Themeforest shouldn’t be allowed to “force” you to gpl what you have to but protect what you’re allowed to to sell on their marketplace? Both ways are gpl compatible. And only WordPress bans you for even using the 100% compatible split license on Themeforest for a theme. Themeforest doesn’t care if you sell on WordPress with their version of the gpl and sell on Themeforest with the split license.

    The Themeforest way is 100% gpl compatible but more capitalistic while the WordPress way is 100% gpl compatible but in a more socialistic way. WordPress even bans people from speaking or even volunteering at Wordcamps for not using their approved standard of the gpl. lmao. Themeforest just gets on with business (business, making money, protecting what’s yours. Other things the socialistic minded people can’t stand.) and allows theme makers to protect their property while open sourcing what they have to.

    The facts are facts about the gpl and that both ways of licensing are both gpl compatible. The only problem is WordPress and their licensing supporters are only running on feelings and have an authoritarian bent on making others conform with their version of licensing when a split license is just as gpl compatible.

  25. Susanna M
    Mar 11 - 12:14

    I have to be honest. I haven’t quite developed an opinion.

    On the one hand, just because something is legally ok based on a contract, doesn’t mean that it’s ethical. There are a lot of things that are legal that are really downright wrong. Personally, I would be annoyed if someone took my work and resold it.

    On the other hand, just because you CAN charge a certain amount, doesn’t mean that you should. Some of these people REALLY overcharge by overselling their crappy support. If you’re going to offer support, make sure it’s GOOD.

    I purchased the full license for Themedy and it was SO worth it. I have yet to question that decision. I post a question in the forums and I usually get an AMAZING response from one of the owners with a 1-2 business days. Even though I’m probably annoying I have never once been made to feel like I am.

    Woo Commerce on the other hand has me irked. I WANT to spend the full amount on their extensions but I’m wondering if there’s any point. Maybe I should just spend that extra money on programmers to help me set it up?

    The problem is that I haven’t had the best experience with their support. I have sent some questions in and have waited 4days+ for a response. When they do answer my question they often don’t do it very well. This is really irritating when I have to wait another few days for a response or information that they should have thought to include.

    I’m also really irritated by their article about how to be a good customer and how ask good questions. I get it. I do! The concept is fabulous (ask your question well and you’ll get a better answer). I just find the tone of it to be a little odd. It makes me feel like their customer service staff makes me feel – annoying!

  26. Susanna M
    Mar 11 - 13:01

    I’ve been reading through some of these posts and it looks like the creators of Woo have been here. If you are signed up to receive updates on this thread, this message is for you!

    I absolutely love your cart. I’m sure you know this…. that’s how you’ve justified your prices. What I really like is the flexibility, scaleablity and quality. Price, obviously, is an issue. It’s staggering. Like seriously – who is your target market? It’s like you’re going after people with a lot of spare cash or funding OR a company who’s already make a lot of money. If so, I guess anything else I say is moot, because your prices reflect that.

    As a consumer and super small business starting an online store for the first time, I wish to hell WooCommerce would just have a monthly fee – at a cost of around $50 a month.

    As a business person, I can see why that might not fly?! So, here’s an idea that I HOPE you will play with if you haven’t already…

    EXTENSION PACKS!
    - Pick any 5 for $25 a month.
    - Pick any 10 for $40 a month
    - Pick any 20 for $60 a month
    - Pick’em ALL for $150 a month

    The prices might not be quite right, but I actually think you would make more. Most other shopping carts require monthly fees so it would be very acceptable if yours did too. If people could upgrade their extensions packs when necessary, it would also feel very scaleable. As a small business, this is VERY important.

    And ya… your customer service is kinda sucky. Sorry :) Sometimes they do really well, but a lot of the time response times are REALLY long. There is also a wee tinge of annoyance a lot of/most of the time. Are they overworked or does your company have a weird culture of “customers are annoying”.

    I honestly think it’s the second – your culture. Your price increase (without offering grace or special fees for longer term customers) is a reflection that your customers don’t really matter to you. Maybe I’m naive and overly idealist, but that’s really shitty. I don’t like it that business is run this way by a lot of companies.

    It makes it really hard to want to support your business even though I’m an idealist who believes in behaving ethically, even if doing that is more expensive.

    The problem I’m having is that I often people/strangers even before myself and my friends and family. I have recently been hurt by this behavior. My new attitude is this – if they haven’t given me a reason to think that they deserve it, I won’t put myself into physical or financial hardship.

    Right not, I’m not sure if I think that you/your business deserve it.
    The only question that remains is whether or not I’ll put my ethical feelings first or not. Creator rights are going down the drain everywhere, in every niche. I think it’s a real shame and really terrible for the economy.

    This is a tough one for me!

    I really hope that I find another option. I really do!

  27. Susanna M
    Mar 11 - 13:03

    Oh. And how much did/does Woo give to JigoShop which is the foundation of its products?

  28. Susanna M
    Mar 11 - 13:14

    I am SO sorry. I guess maybe I am one of those annoying customers :)
    I had another idea for WOO.

    If you can’t make your money with packs alone you can sell specialized support packs for a yearly and/or monthly fee. This would actually get you premium support with your own specialist.

  29. Daniel
    Apr 16 - 17:33

    Woocommerce itself was forked from Jigowatt. So I’d have to assume they are fine with the same happening to their code. Karma?

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