One of the biggest problems in the WordPress community are abandoned plugins. This is a real issue for WordPress users as well as administrators, sometimes even for authors and developers as well.
(Disclaimer: I feel guilty on my own: my first two open source plugins were so badly coded that I couldn’t fix them; users switched, I though I learned a lot from this mistake. Wrong. Years later I forked another abandoned plugin, then I become mantainer of the original one, then I was stuck again, couldn’t find help any way and had to abandon the plugin after its creator, leaving it unmantained. I think I know the problem inside out.)
In the past there was some private effort to deal with this, like the WP Recycle program from PluginChief, but it didn’t gain a lot of feedback from both end users and developers and it quietly shut down. (I’m sure to have read an interview with a PluginChief guy about the project’s EOL but I can’t find it anywhere).
As a developer myself I feel plugins and themes are sometimes difficult to mantain and support: authors and developers may lack the knowledge required to fix (or even identify) some bugs, while cooperation and reciprocal support between projects is a rare thing.
Lack of satisfaction and motivation is also another common cause: authors may feel “slave” of their open source plugins because they are supposed to provide free lifetime support while – at the same time – they may have their own issues in their personal life, or they are having hard times making a living out their freelance work (something I experienced on my own. both. twice.)
I feel that the WordPress community is lacking a couple of tools that would make plugin and theme authors’ life really easier.
First one is a dedicated online place (being it a forum, a list or whatever) to share coding best practices as well as to ask for help, exchange coding for graphics work or look for a new mantainer. This should be an official community effort (aka: in the wordpress.org realm) and should complement the tools already deployed – like the wp-hackers list – in a clear web interface. I would really love something like that.
The last tool I think we’re lacking is a sort of “open source marketplace”, based on a simple and proven concept like Flattr. Let’s call it “WP Karma” 🙂 I’d like to think an easy process to support open source developer: let users define their monthly contribution, divide it by *installed* plugins and themes, count each plugin/theme days of activation and give each plugin/theme author it’s own.
I feel those tools would really empower and strengthen the community as a whole. I’d love to help build it but not on my own, so I’ll try to spread these concepts in the WP community, let’s see what happen.
(aside: I’m trying to get used again to english writing after a long time, fix and suggestions are welcome! )