Not with a bang, but an insult

I’ve had very few negative experiences in the open source software world. Though that’s not an experience shared by all, I’m no doubt spared much by my gender—my tendency to be shy and reserved contributes of course.

In years past I developed WordPress plugins and themes with PHP being my most familiar language—I’ve forgotten more PHP by now than I ever knew in the first place. I published a total of three plugins for WordPress circa 2010 when I was just 13 years old. I’d update them again several years later in 2013, but this would prove to be the end of my time shared with WordPress.

WordPress was a bit of Wild West when I knew it, plugins would walk all over each other and code quality was seldom high, and my plugins were no different—they’d be improved in their respective ‘version 2.0s’. I’d hope things had improved since then.

Eventually my plugins rotted; they hadn’t been updated in over five years and I have no doubt it showed. While I’d long discarded the code I was once proud of, others hadn’t. My most popular plugin still shows 7000+ active installs—something, something, vulnerable software.

GitHub introduced archived repositories that are well worth using for that long forgotten code.

We’ve all found that project that is just right for us, that project that does exactly what you need, but as is often the case, that project is simply dead. That tends to be clear when you see the date on that last commit and you know to keep searching. Some people chose a different response.

Until this year my plugin had only one review, of 4 stars:

"Such an Awesome plugin!" review

That changed six months ago when the following two reviews, both one star, were left:

"Useless shit" review
"Useless dangerous plugin" review

It ought to have been obvious to anyone that the plugin was long since past being maintained, and ought to have been passed by. WordPress.org even go to the trouble of warning users that a plugin is outdated[1], so it surprises me that people would go out of their way to denigrate it.

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering what my point was in writing this. Truth be told, I’m not quite sure I have one.

There’s a point to made about civility, and one to be made about riding other people’s coat tails without compensation, and a point to be made about expectations we put on others. I’m not about to make those points, at least not today.

I suppose the most fitting conclusion to this post is a simple email exchange, a rather unfitting goodbye.

Date: Thu, 03 May 2018 20:52:20 +0930
Subject: Close old plugins

Hi,

I’d like to request the following three of my plugins be closed:
- https://wordpress.org/plugins/author-geolocation/,
- https://wordpress.org/plugins/jquery-page-peel/,
- https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-exec-php/.

This is the procedure outlined in: https://developer.wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-org/plugin-developer-faq/#how-do-i-close-my-plugin.

Kind Regards,
Tom Thorogood.

Date: Thu, 3 May 2018 14:05:26 +0000
Subject: Re: Close old plugins

Per your request, the plugin page has been closed. Please note it will remain available via SVN, but it will no longer be downloadable from the directory.

Please note: By asking for your plugin to be removed you are asking for a permanent change. This is not meant to be a stop-gap so you can work on a new version, it’s intended as a final closure for code that you will no longer work on. Should you return and ask us to reopen it, be prepared to justify your initial request and explain in detail the reasons you would like the plugin listing back.

--
Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)


  1. Unmaintained plugin notice ↩︎

Data, data, everywhere

‘Federal agencies reported a staggering 25,000 data breaches in 2013, and foreign governments and hackers have repeatedly penetrated federal systems – the White House’s network being the latest.’

That’s the United States Governments track-record on computer security. Now consider that Tony Abbott wants your internet and phone companies to store every detail about every call, message and internet connection you make – including your geographic location – for two years. If we manage the track record of the US Government you can expect your data to be stolen by identity thieves, cyber-criminals and foreign governments a whopping 50,000 times. That is only if we can master security as well as the Americans.

As we have learned from the AOL search data debacle, or the German MP who requested six-months of his telephone meta-data and handed it over to a news site, meta-data is revealing. The six months of meta-data allowed the site to track his movements throughout the entire six month period (with the exception of small gaps) to precise locations.

So if you enjoy any of the following, a) privacy, b) security, c) your identity, d) democracy, you must exercise your rights (while you still can 😟) and contact your local MP (in fact contact as many as you care too) and stress to them just how important it is that we Stop The Spies and protect our vital right to privacy.

Quote taken from The Government is in Pursuit of a Less Secure Internet, the American Civil Liberties Union.