WordPress Plugin Quality Control

Filed as News on December 12, 2006 9:56 pm

Aaron writes over at the WordPress blog about version 2.1′s upcoming release. With this, plugin developers are being encouraged to make sure their plugins are compatible with how WP 2.1 will be handling information, particularly with respect to the MySQL database tables.

WordPress 2.1 is almost here and you know what that means for developers. It’s time to pull out those old plugins you’ve had stashed, blow off the dust and start applying some spit and polish and make sure it will last longer than Grandma’s Ham and Bean soup that has been sitting in the refrigerator for weeks.

I think this reminder is best extended to us regular bloggers as well, meaning the rest of the WordPress-using populace who are not much into hacking nor plugin development. Abe wrote recently about Akismet’s being momentarily offline, and how this seemingly opened the floodgates that enabled spam to once again invade our blogs. There is a good, albeit short, discussion on how other third-party plugins are better able to catch spam, but take additional server load. So there’s the beauty of Akismet–it may not necessarily catch 100% of your spam (I still experience a couple of spam comments getting through once in a while), but it’s server-friendly, especially to those on shared boxes.

Relatedly, I have occasionally been experiencing problems with my personal blog, too, and while I am sometimes tempted to bash my hosting provider (who is none other than our new editor), I do understand that it’s sometimes the plugins installed on my blog and the other blogs hosted on the same box that cause problems.

For instance, I used to have an old version of Jalenack’s WordSpew (an AJAX-based tagboard) installed on my blog since last year. Apparently, spammers found a way to use the WordSpew executable to continually generate spam messages on my chatboard. So I took it down. But even after I uninstalled the plugin, I unintentionally left some copies on other folders in my hosting account. A few months after, the server was constantly being flooded with requests, leading to unusually high server loads, and my bandwidth being eaten up faster than usual. After a little investigation and hunting, we found the culprit: the plugin files I wasn’t able to delete.

Lesson learned: it pays to be picky with your plugins. Be sure to delete the ones you’re not actively using, especially if you think these are potential spam-magnets. It’s probably okay if you’re on a dedicated server. But if you’re on a shared box, do save yourself and your neighbors the headache by practicing good blog housekeeping.

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