Jetpack promotions in search, and fallout

In the last newsletter, I mentioned Jetpack's search replacement for promotions as well as the discussion and fallout that followed. It escalated quite a bit, and then it got out of hand.

Jetpack has now removed the feature in version 7.2.1. Jesse Friedman said the following with the release:

Similar to buying a new phone or getting a new car, you don’t always learn about every single new feature on day one; instead you discover new things as you go. These hints are meant to help out in just that way.

However, we made a mistake, and we’re moving to correct it immediately. Our intention with these feature hints is to help you discover helpful features of Jetpack that you already have, right when you need them most. Today we’re correcting an error in judgement that resulted in the hints suggesting Jetpack features that actually required an upgrade. We’ve also made some design changes that make these feature hints less prominent. This way, you can choose to enable a feature of Jetpack that you already have installed, or you can quickly choose another great solution from the WordPress directory.

Joost de Valk created a Trac ticket for integrating something into core that would help folks identify existing solutions to the issues they search for in the plugins they already have. I like the principle of this idea and the mockup. If I have a concern about it, it would be that it may encourage plugin makers to move further down the path of “all-in-one” plugins with dozens of modules, to help site owners to rely entirely on their feature set.

The conversation on Joost's ticket is productive. This issue of discovery and plugin notices is a problem in WordPress. Right now, it's part of what makes the whole notifications system such a mess.

Honestly, I thought Jetpack's idea was smart for feature discovery β€” though inappropriate for a promotional item. I would love to see this be a catalyst for further exploration of design solutions for all kinds of feature hints, upsells, and general notifications.

Perhaps out of an ugly situation, something good can come.

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