111 Responses

  1. WPSpeak
    WPSpeak October 4, 2013 at 19:04 | | Reply

    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
    Ajay October 4, 2013 at 20:09 | | Reply

    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.

  3. NS
    NS October 4, 2013 at 20:32 | | Reply

    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.

    1. Brewskie0124
      Brewskie0124 January 10, 2014 at 13:34 | | Reply

      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
    donnacha October 4, 2013 at 20:56 | | Reply

    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.

    1. leokoo
      leokoo October 5, 2013 at 17:55 | | Reply

      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?

      1. James Laws
        James Laws October 8, 2013 at 16:03 | | Reply

        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.

        1. Carl Hancock
          Carl Hancock October 8, 2013 at 18:20 | | Reply

          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.

          1. James Laws
            James Laws October 8, 2013 at 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.

          2. leokoo
            leokoo October 11, 2013 at 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

      2. Christopher Ross
        Christopher Ross October 8, 2013 at 18:03 | | Reply

        @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.

        1. Jonathan
          Jonathan October 8, 2013 at 20:23 | | Reply

          @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.

        2. leokoo
          leokoo October 11, 2013 at 19:17 | | Reply

          @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.

          1. leokoo
            leokoo October 11, 2013 at 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
    Jojo October 4, 2013 at 23:24 | | Reply

    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.

  6. Beka Rice
    Beka Rice October 5, 2013 at 02:47 | | Reply

    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
    Dan October 5, 2013 at 04:19 | | Reply

    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.

    1. Beka Rice
      Beka Rice October 5, 2013 at 18:01 | | Reply

      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
    martin October 5, 2013 at 11:28 | | Reply

    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

    1. NS
      NS October 5, 2013 at 12:05 | | Reply

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

  9. Ren Ventura
    Ren Ventura October 5, 2013 at 19:37 | | Reply

    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.

    1. NS
      NS October 5, 2013 at 19:58 | | Reply

      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.

      1. Ren Ventura
        Ren Ventura October 5, 2013 at 20:15 | | Reply

        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.

        1. CP
          CP October 6, 2013 at 08:31 | | Reply

          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.

          1. ZippyTheChicken (@ZippyTheChicken)
            ZippyTheChicken (@ZippyTheChicken) October 6, 2013 at 17:16 |

            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

    2. Carl Hancock
      Carl Hancock October 7, 2013 at 03:22 | | Reply

      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.

      1. Dave Navarro
        Dave Navarro October 10, 2013 at 21:43 | | Reply

        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.

  10. ZippyTheChicken (@ZippyTheChicken)

    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
    John D October 8, 2013 at 00:49 | | Reply

    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.

  12. Christian Foellmann (@cFoellmann)

    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?

    1. Christian Foellmann (@cFoellmann)

      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

  13. Christopher Ross
    Christopher Ross October 8, 2013 at 21:41 | | Reply

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

    1. Ren Ventura
      Ren Ventura October 8, 2013 at 23:04 | | Reply

      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
    donnacha October 8, 2013 at 21:58 | | Reply

    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.

    1. Justin Tadlock
      Justin Tadlock October 9, 2013 at 23:34 | | Reply

      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.

    2. leokoo
      leokoo December 9, 2013 at 13:34 | | Reply

      Wow, well said! Great comment Donnacha!

  15. Teresa
    Teresa October 9, 2013 at 01:18 | | Reply

    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
    Brad Touesnard October 9, 2013 at 15:54 | | Reply

    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!

  17. Dave Navarro
    Dave Navarro October 10, 2013 at 22:01 | | Reply

    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?

  18. wycks
    wycks October 14, 2013 at 16:21 | | Reply

    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

  19. Diego
    Diego October 15, 2013 at 15:41 | | Reply

    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.

    1. donnacha
      donnacha October 15, 2013 at 15:52 | | Reply

      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.

  20. Diego
    Diego October 15, 2013 at 16:42 | | Reply

    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.

    1. Diego
      Diego October 15, 2013 at 16:55 | | Reply

      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).

      1. donnacha
        donnacha October 15, 2013 at 17:32 | | Reply

        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.

        1. Diego
          Diego October 15, 2013 at 18:16 | | Reply

          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.

          1. Diego
            Diego October 15, 2013 at 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.

          2. donnacha
            donnacha October 15, 2013 at 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.

          3. Ren Ventura
            Ren Ventura October 16, 2013 at 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.

          4. donnacha
            donnacha October 16, 2013 at 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.

    2. Jeff Chandler
      Jeff Chandler October 21, 2013 at 08:33 | | Reply

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

      1. donnacha@gmail.com
        donnacha@gmail.com October 21, 2013 at 16:48 | | Reply

        @Jeff @Jean – Ha, thanks guys :)

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

        1. leokoo
          leokoo December 9, 2013 at 13:45 | | Reply

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

  21. Ren Ventura
    Ren Ventura October 17, 2013 at 05:34 | | Reply

    @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.

  22. Ren Ventura
    Ren Ventura October 18, 2013 at 02:40 | | Reply

    @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.

    1. Brewskie0124
      Brewskie0124 January 10, 2014 at 13:41 | | Reply

      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.

  23. Patrick
    Patrick October 19, 2013 at 23:49 | | Reply

    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.

  24. Susanna M
    Susanna M March 11, 2014 at 12:14 | | Reply

    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!

  25. Susanna M
    Susanna M March 11, 2014 at 13:01 | | Reply

    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!

  26. Susanna M
    Susanna M March 11, 2014 at 13:03 | | Reply

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

  27. Susanna M
    Susanna M March 11, 2014 at 13:14 | | Reply

    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.

  28. Daniel
    Daniel April 16, 2014 at 17:33 | | Reply

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

Leave a Reply