Apr
25
2012

[Blog Talk] Do too many WordPress Plugins add pointless Dashboard widgets?

I regularly find myself installing new WordPress Plugins. Not just for Technically Motivated, in order to increase functionality, combat spam and downtime, or to replace functions that haven’t met up to scratch; but also for other blogs ran by friends and colleagues, to suit their own needs. Though most plugins for WordPress just get on with the functions they were designed to give and are generally unobtrusive, very occasionally you come across a plugin that adds some other feature that wasn’t indicated to you before installation; but you can’t help noticing once you know it’s there.

One of the common “features” some plugins include but fail to mention are Dashboard widgets. These are little boxes on the first page of your administration panel (known in WordPress as the Dashboard, hence the name) which the developer included with the plugin as a “convenience”, or to promote other works by them. For example, some plugins link to their support pages on the Dashboard and/or suggest “other plugins by us”.

While it seems unfair for this not to be mentioned or an option given to turn it off if undesired, it seems only fair to allow people with established presence in WordPress Plugin development to share other projects or offer links to quick support, so as to create a good relationship with their users. What I DON’T agree with is plugins where the widgets are just to boost the author’s exposure – for example by showing their Twitter feed or recent blog posts on your ACP – even when these have NO RELATION to WordPress or their works. (As a recent example, Artiss YouTube Embed showed short snippets from its own WordPress Blog until the most recent release.) There are also a number of plugins I’ve seen that incorporate random RSS feeds that seem lacking a purpose.

Are you a WordPress blogger? If so, have you installed any plugins that you thought incorporated pointless widgets? What are your opinions on plugins and plugin developers who DO? Please leave your comments below; and let’s get a general feel of the Blogging community’s feelings.

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