Commercial developers

After seeing a post else where about someone's 'free' but very limited plugin being useless, I thought it might be worthwhile discussing it in a more appropriate group.

At the risk of enduring prickly reactions from plugin developers who market their work in the community, I agree to a point with the poster about some plugins being useless, and being them only as an advert for the 'full' version which has to be paid for.

Vasco and Team Webgalli are the two sellers who seem to appear most to me, but, it's not my decision whether to allow selling their work here or not. I did post somewhere on one of Vasco's plugin pages that I found it irritating to find when I installed it that it showed a lot of widgets, but trying to use them cause a message to appear saying that they were only available in the paid version. (I suggested not displaying what doesn't work, and making the advert more appropriate). I no longer look at any of Vasco's, Team Webgalli's, or any other plugin by someone who is selling a 'full version'.

Why? Well, there are a number of reasons, but here are a couple. Elgg, like Drupal, WordPress, BuddyPress, Joomla, etc., have very helpful plugin communities. I use Drupal mainly, and everything is free. There are very few plugins which are commercial, and when you find one, often the seller just adds a link to their sales site. The free versions do everything you could need, and when there is a commercial version, it offers very powerful extras normally only required by commercial companies and websites. In other words, they know most people don't have the cash to hand over, or if they do, they often don't have enough to purchase professional programming and support time.

Of course systems like Drupal and Wordpress are actually very wealthy commercial concerns. Matt Mullenweg received something like $29 million into WordPress from corporations in 2009, who invested because they use the product, and want it to grow and be around 20 years from now. Open Source does not mean "totally free to everyone" in every way, and WordPress (actually Automattic) have paid staff. Matt's personal blog makes very interesting reading.

So, back to Elgg. The Elgg development team are probably not well-off to the tune of $29 million, and probably don't employ a large team of staff yet. They've made Elgg Open Source for their own reasons, for which I'm grateful. I'm also grateful to plugin developers who spend many hours on things and give them away free, even if they would have done it as a hobby anyway. (I do so myself, though not in Elgg as I'm new to it).

I think that those selling plugins in this community should make them much more functional, and offer a lot more for those who can and will pay for more. Giving away a car with no engine and wheels in the hope that someone will buy the full car would be ridiculous, but selling the car cheaply and offering lots of goodies at extra cost works well, and always has done.

Oh, and the point about "useless". Yes, in the sense of "this does nothing I can make any use of". But in another sense, it's good that coders let others have and modify what they've done. After all, you could take one of the free plugins and use it for inspiration to create something very useful and powerful, then offer it freely yourself.

Elgg does seem different in allowing people to advertise plugins they sell on an Open Source community rather than just allowing links to their commercial sites as others do. I prefer that, but as I say, it's not my decision. What are your thoughts..?

  • ok further thoughs, Elgg Campus, makes and holds plugins that are not in the community. So why not other developers as well? Elgg is trying to make money via Campus to keep this all here for us. It is they who bought it to you for open source. Stop stealing their code and calling it your own just cos you wrote it from scratch. You are using open source code to plug in  to an open source website structure.

    Technically Elgg is one of the best I have see by far. It is the lack of community and the sharks circling scaring people off.

    Typical user: "I came to the Elgg site, its free! Yay! Wow look at these features, hang on I have to pay for that, and pay for that!! ok thanks for being free lets keep looking."

  • @n0de I totally agree.

    I miss that the Elgg team takes a stand, setting clear rules for what is allowed and what is not allowed. And especially, they should enforce these rules.

    The people who can code does almost as it suits them. They use every opportunity in the forum to point out to help solve a problem costs money. Or just post link to where you can buy a plugin that solves the problem you are working on.

    They upload plugins with limited function that makes them almost unusable. Some even includes ping packs.

    Why not introduce a standard where you can post a link to your commercial site, when you upload something. And otherwise keep advertising and money talk in the group that is designed for just that, the Professional Services group.

    This is after all a forum where it's supposed to help each other solve problems.

    But again it is up to the Elgg team to enforce the guidelines.

    It must also be said that many people make a great and beautiful work to develop plugins for the benefit of all. And when people, especially from the team takes part in forum discussions, it comes at just the right constructive manner. Thank you.

  • A couple points:

    • Policies on this site are changing over the next couple months to address commercialism and the "beggars" that have started popping up.  I haven't made this public because I'm speaking privately with individual developers who have a business based around Elgg development, to give them a heads up before any big changes.
    • Admins aren't the only people who can tell someone his behavior isn't appropriate.  If someone asks "How do you do X?" and another user says "Pay me and I'll tell you" or "Buy my commercial plugin to do that" call that user out.  That sort of reply doesn't help the community at all.
  • Clarification: By "beggars" I mean developers who are saying "If you want more plugins, you'd better do X, Y, or Z!"

  • Thank you Brett, for this response.

    I can sort of understand the need to move slow with people who have started making a living from this work. But "next couple of months" why? The terms have not change to when I was here over a year ago? but the situation has gotten worse. The policy is no advertising, yet that is all over about 1/4 (lol huge generalisation there) of all plugins.

    Start with moving those plugins to a seperate plugin category today! Plugin categories 1. Open Source 2. Commercial.

    Ayone advertising on open source plugins page, ban them. It is that simple as they are already breaching YOUR terms, and does not remove the commercial listing, just seperates them. If they can't offer the full plugin as open source they can not list in Open Source plugin category.

    And before you say, yes but we don't want to hurt someones business, then think of Elgg, it is hurting already cos of this and every person in this community hursts because of it.


  • @n0de there are tons of people who advertise here... Make groups, topic posts, etc... and yes, I've seen a lot of guys that ask for $$$ when someone ask for help. 

  • Advertising in the community is not allowed. As Brett said we'll be cracking down on this in the next couple of months. If you see anything, please report it.

  • @Evan it is quite obvious... Just check latest group activity...

  • @rj  not sure why you made that comment to me? That WAS the point I was making.

  • @n0de, I think your idea about separate repositories for paid and free plugins is very good. It would separate open source from commercial part* without limiting development of Elgg. We have three sides here - users, developers and Curverider. We all help each other and Elgg won't succeed without involvement of all three sides. This is how all OS projects succeed.


    We've already helped at improving code of plugin repository, I'd gladly help in development of a code that would allow to separate open source and 'commercial' plugins. I put the commercial in quotes, since all plugins offered here are in fact open source, and only the background of the plugins is important.

    I would really like to solve this situation in a way that would make everyone happy. Right now I feel the situation is intense, as I'm often being accused of commercialism even when we're releasing plugins with no commercial background.


    Brett indeed contacted me a few days ago about their change in policy. Since changes were very severe, I appreciate the information in advancement very much. I will answer shortly, as we're currently thinking of a possible options.



    *Of course 'commercial' plugins could have restrictions as well, I think a simple button near download button stating "Elgg developer" and redirecting to user's profile would be enought to make developers want to mark their plugins as commercial - even if such plugins would be bound by the same rules as non-commercial ones.

Feedback and Planning

Feedback and Planning

Discussions about the past, present, and future of Elgg and this community site.