All plugins are (not) created equal

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Written By Sarah Pressler

21 thoughts on “All plugins are (not) created equal”

  1. Hi Sarah. Congrats for your article, great value. Love the analogy with the little black dress. lol

    By the way, the link to Brainstorm Media on your author box needs the “http://”. Now it’s going to “”.

  2. Sarah, you seem to have somehow missed the oldest, largest and most used premium plugin site on the web, how can this be?

    Hundreds of plugins, 100% GPL, fully supported by a massive team, always update, guaranteed to work and relied upon by tens of thousands of users… WPMU DEV!

    We’d be more than happy to comp you a free account if you’d like to have a play… we think you’d like them 🙂

  3. Hey James!

    Nice segue from a self-promotional comment to an offer to play with all your toys so I’ll take it! Shoot me some info!

    Honestly, I have heard of you guys, but didn’t recommend you in the article b/c I haven’t ever used anything from your company – but that’s really only b/c I am not personally running any buddypress sites or multisites. However, I do consult a lot of small businesses that are just branching out online and I’d be happy to take a look at your stuff, and if it fits, thumbtack it up to my virtual board of developer resources! Thanks for the generous offer!


  4. Sarah,

    I am the author of Contextual Related Posts plugin, amongst others and noted your comment on WP Engine’s disallowed plugin set.
    In my opinion that’s not the best place to visit for users to check on which plugins not to install because WP Engine has well optimised systems which are designed to give you the best performance and using any of the popular plugins that display related posts or caching impedes this.

    If you’re running a normal host or a normal VPS, this doesn’t hold true and you might want to install a caching plugin or a related posts plugin.

    • Ajay – WP Engine specifies why a plugin is disallowed, so it’s easy to tell whether they are disallowing because they already have that feature built-in to their system (such as backups or caching), or whether it’s because it’s a performance hog – and if it hogs THEIR system, you can bet it will hog a lesser one!

      Sarah, I think that’s a great tip to check with the WP Engine list – I do that as well. They are performance experts so I trust they have done their research and they always have reasons for their decisions.

    • Hey Ajay!

      Thanks for the information and I’m glad you left a comment. The article is really meant for people just getting into WordPress development or consulting and is more of a starting place to work from. Definitely not meant as a divisible topic by any means – I just shared what I personally do when putting together the framework for a site.

      I hope that helps explain why I referenced WP Engine.

      Do you have another site that users could reference when trying to determine if a plugin is going to be helpful or harmful for their site?

      I love what WP Engine has to say about all this:

      A Window into our World

      By no means are we [WP Engine] suggesting all (or even most) of these plugins are bad plugins. Some of them, like related posts plugins, can be very good for content discoverability and SEO on most sites. However, our main focus is on making sure our customers scale. So they aren’t good for us.

      As for insecure plugins, we try to work with the plugin developer to find a fix. While we work with the developer we may temporarily add a plugin to our disallowed list. But we’ll happily allow it again once the issue has been addressed.

      In other cases, for stability and scaleability, we just have to wash our hands and move on.

      In all cases, when asked, we try to provide reasonable alternatives. If you have any questions about these plugins or help finding an alternative, please contact our support team.

      • Sarah,

        I agree completely regarding WP Engine’s approach. I have no doubt they are experts and even though I don’t host with them, I’ve had a flavour of their customer support and they are really good, responsive and know what they are talking about.

        I don’t think I have seen a list of what is good and what isn’t good. I guess it bows down to a matter of choice for most users. I tend to monitor a few blogs regarding WordPress to see what people are monitoring and recommending.

  5. Hey Sarah, some really good tips here thanks for putting it up. I’ve been working on the WordPress docs team for some time now, and one of the biggest problems we face is educating new users on how to navigate the often times daunting and complex WordPress community. Posts like this are a huge help for people just starting out, and even after almost a decade I still run into plugins crashing my site from time to time.

    I actually started a site to help with this. It’s called Tidy Repo ( I only put up plugins that I have tested fairly extensively and I know are reliable with no major security risks. If I find that a plugin starts falling below a rigid standard, I remove it. Hopefully, this can help newcomers and veterans alike find reliable plugins. One can hope I suppose. Anyway, thought I’d let you know.

    Thanks again, keep them coming!

    • Wow Jason, what an a great compliment so thank you.

      And looks like an amazing resource! Digging through the repository is overwhelming. Add in all the commercial options and WHOAH! It’s enough to make anyone reconsider even touching a WP Install. LOL Thanks for the note! I’ve book marked your site to throw in my Developers Tool Box and plan to read through it over the next couple of days!

  6. Good point, Mathew! I was excited to see, at Contributors Day for WordCamp San Francisco, a team of highly regarded WordPress experts putting together standards and guidelines for future Plugin submissions! With over 26k plugins, objective standards would be awesome!

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