Anonymity is bullshit

anonymous-bobI'm a little fired up. Tonight, I saw an open-ended and, honestly, silly post from Torque about a strange WooCommerce extensions shop called WP Avengers.

WP Avengers, as it turns out, is a group of essentially anonymous folks who claim to be experienced developers. I say “essentially” because the site claims to be led by “Nathan Walker”, but there are no links to real profiles, and I literally can't find anything on this guy. All they said when Carrie Dils and I asked them to reveal who they were was that, “that too shall happen when the time comes.” Ugh.

They say they are fed up with WooThemes WooCommerce ecosystem and have decided to create their own. They say they have been around since before WooThemes forked Jigoshop. Okay, fine. Me too. And whatever they want to do is up to them. But what really rubs me the wrong way is when someone takes pot shots, as they do on their website, anonymously.

Anonymity is bullshit.

The first thing I try to find out when I see a new product is what it does. The second thing? I want to know who's behind it. It's shocking how frequently I have a hard time finding out who is behind a website or product. And that is lame as hell. Anonymity is an option on the internet, but it is not an option for ethical business in my opinion. If you are running a serious website, or especially selling something, you should say who you are. I buy things online. But I buy them from humans. From companies. Real ones. Like WooThemes.

Be clear, honest, and open

These are three things I think WooThemes does very well. They are three things most people I buy products from do very well. I respect a clear message, honestly delivered, in an open way. I've always admired how WooThemes puts it all out on their blog, like in their Customer Happiness Reports they do. And when WooThemes screws up, they are pretty good about owning it and fixing things. Just like they did with their grandfather option after their recent pricing change. There was no shortage of commentary about WooThemes' decision, but they held their heads high, listened to criticism like they should have, and responded in kind. They did the right thing. And I'll happily pay without being grandfathered in. Because they are worth it, and I want them to be around for the next decade.

What WP Avengers have done is bitch about WooThemes, while not being clear, honest, or open with their own offering. They try to pin down Adii over support ticket numbers he shared that appear in the provided context to not line up with what other Woo folks say. Yet, on their own offering, they don't say anywhere that the extensions they are promoting aren't actually their own extensions. As Brad Williams noted, one of WebDevStudios extensions is listed as part of the club membership on WP Avengers site. Based on the extensions I see, many others appear to be from a variety of current WooCommerce extensions as well. How about honesty and clarity?

People trust people

I want to know who I'm buying from. And I know I'm not alone. I know I've gone off specifically on these WP Avengers strangers in this post, but the more important point is that if you are selling something or running any sort of website, you should really make sure it's easy to find out who the real you is.

Make an about page. Even put your picture on it. Use your real name. Be real. Then, I'll be much more likely to trust you. And you'll be more likely to do the right thing if you aren't hiding behind the veil of anonymity.