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It's really frustrating to be trying to figure out the answer to something searching previous questions, Google, etc.. and a bunch of posts come up with similar questions but rather than answer the question people write stuff like 'You shouldn't do that'

All that does is make it more time consuming for the next person with a similar issue to find a solution to their problem.

If your not answering the question, put it in a comment. If it's not an answer.. it's not an answer, it's a comment.


And on a similar note, quit recommending plugins as the immediately solution to issues. I believe this is a Wordpress developer site not a Wordpress webmaster site. As a developer, I prefer not to use someone else's code simply because I don't know how to do something. Jumping to using someone else's plugin code is the last option not the first and should be for increasing efficiency of development not to solve problems you don't know how to fix.

I would think, like myself, people would never take someone else's code and slap it into a project without reviewing it and understanding what each line is doing.

Sorry I'm just frustrated this morning.

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    Let's do this together: Breath in ... hold it ... breath out. Now concentrate on a good thing. For example: Tomorrow is another day :) – kaiser Jul 10 '14 at 17:55
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    Wait, so you've audited every line of WordPress core? – anu Jul 10 '14 at 17:56
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    A lot of people slap code into their project without review, much to my dissapointment – Tom J Nowell Jul 10 '14 at 18:04
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    I'm with you, even though - no insult intended; I'm doing it all time - it is utterly useless, lets rage against the machine! At least for a short moment in time and then luckily, like @kaiser said, tomorrow is another day. Btw I think many people want this to be a (much more) development centric exchange, but on the other hand it is also a platform to bring people that are beginner closer to WP development - those aspects aren't easily balance able. – Nicolai Jul 10 '14 at 20:20
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    With you here! Working lots on a WP (custom) theme at the moment. Due to performance we really don't want the additional overhead that many plugins bring along. So everything is done custom. Yes yes, I know there are efficient plugins as well, but how to tell the difference when you don't want to buy all of the pro-version that "might" offer a quick solution? Right, code it yourself. So when researching (say Google), my default search query always has "-plugins -theme -buy" at the end, just exclude them out of frustration with useless results. – rkeet Jul 15 '14 at 9:58
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    and what's more about plugins... The WP master branch is developed by well established developers & critiqued/debugged by thousands upon thousands of developers. Plugins can be written by anyone, and even getting a plugin listed on WP isn't very difficult or thoroughly reviewed. Very little testing is done on any plugins. So no, while I have not debugged the entire WP master repo, I am confident enough in its peer review, & I accept its shortcomings as mitigated. Plugins like any untested code be it related to WP or not, I assume will break something if not thoroughly tested rather than not. – davidcondrey Jul 15 '14 at 21:07
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I concur, this is very frustrating Thursday. :)

Now let's go over your concerns.

bunch of posts come up with similar questions

Are you covering this fact in your question? If you are repeating previously made questions, that just increases amount of duplicates and dilutes attention to them.

If you are looking at different angle, it would be good to work through how your question is different or what other aspects you are covering / looking into.

people write stuff like 'You shouldn't do that'

It's always frustrating thing to get told. However sometimes it's also truth. Such statement should be backed up, but to be honest sometimes they are so beaten (you-should-never-use-query-posts kind of thing) that people have long lost steam to keep explaining them again and again.

quit recommending plugins as the immediately solution to issues

Ha! :) There is about half a zillion of people that are looking for opposite — just get a perfect plugin that does everything for them pointed out.

While asking for plugin recommendations is not in scope here, quite often plugin is pretty valid answer. If you are interested in code and internal mechanics then you could specify that in your question. Even then plugins are valuable prior art to look at if they does accomplish something on topic of your question.

And overal — this always goes way better on meta if you come with specific threads. General level venting is tad less practically productive. :)

  • "quite often plugin is pretty valid answer" if plugins and plugin recommendations are considered Off-Topic why are answers that just link to plugins valid answers? – Howdy_McGee Aug 1 '14 at 17:49
  • @Howdy_McGee because it's not symmetrical both ways. Asking for a plugin is mostly just asking someone else to do leg work. Answering with a plugin is pointing to existing prior art (especially since it's usually public source prior art, answers recommending paid plugins are historically much less well accepted). – Rarst Aug 1 '14 at 19:03
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Resurrection

I completely agree with answering questions with plugins. As plugins are 100% Off-Topic and the header regards WordPress Development, plugin recommendations should be left as Off-Topic in both Questions and Answers. Mostly because it takes almost no thought to google a relevant plugin and post it as an answer, if someone really wanted to they could answer a good portion of the front-page questions with "Try Plugin XYZ..." - they're just low quality answers 99% of the time and better as comments.

For example, this question: Change background image per page might as well have been a "Plugin Recommendation" question without actually coming out and sayign "Recommend a plugin for me." I also feel like new people who come to this site asking questions like that and receive plugin recommendations as answers would probably come back should they have problems with that plugin thus generating more Off-Topic content.

Since we regard 3rd Party Plugins as "Off-Topic" questions we also shouldn't promote those same 3rd Party Plugins as answers to developmental questions.

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I'd like to hop on the "plugin" theme here.

I have to say that sometimes writing your own code is not the best time consuming solution. We always use the phrase "do not reinvent the wheel". I think that in some cases, developers like us tend to do the exact opposite in WP. Maybe it's because the code goes so peacefully with the enviroment that it feels more like a framework than a CMS. Still, we tend to do that.

And why? For better control? Sure, you get that. But then again, doesn't this brings us closer to legacy?

Let me make an example. Developing a news website in WP I had to add the print/pdf/eamail posts feature. I found an amazing plugin that creates an interface, lets you do all 3 actions, select what parts to remove and other stuff. After a little while, I decided to use it, because... why not? It's open, it's good, it's supported.

And in the case another developer will take my place on that project, the whole part will be pretty straightforward.

Sometimes a plugin is just what a developer should use.

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    I would make the argument that what is efficient for the developer is not always what is best for the client/product. What happens when the plugin developer/community stops supporting the plugin? More than likely, the plugin will silently stop receiving updates. If changes to WP core do not deprecate or otherwise alter the functions used in the plugin, the plugin will not produce errors or warnings. Several months down the road, things start going awry, and that developer who replaced you must now hunt down the culprit, maybe even learning that the site's been compromised for months. – bosco Jul 17 '14 at 7:22
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    Conversely, coding the plugin yourself and providing proper documentation will put your successors in a far better position than asking them to maintain some 3rd-party plugin that would require more time to dissect than it would to code an equally functional implementation. If things go wrong with 3rd-party code, they tend to go really wrong (in my experience). Coding for control tends to make a good amount of sense because the alternative is, well, out of control. I would regard your example plugin as simple enough that it's not worth the extra risk of introducing 3rd-party code. – bosco Jul 17 '14 at 7:29
  • The key factor is always time. if you have time enough to code everything, then it's great. If you don't, you can rely on good plugins. Yes, it's not perfect. But if you always want to rely on your code, why use wordpress at all? Just as a framework? – Alevalentini Jul 17 '14 at 7:38
  • I agree regarding time being the key factor, however the consideration of time extends beyond the initial development - if something breaks or new functionality is desired, will you/your successors be able to fix/add it in a timely fashion? Will the time spent researching how the 3rd-party code works prove to be less than the amount needed to code a custom implementation? As always, the choice should be dependent on an assessment of risk versus reward. – bosco Jul 17 '14 at 7:45
  • As @dcc points out in the question, the act of "using" a plugin is a task associated with a webmaster of a WordPress site. If the act of coding a custom implementation is "using WordPress as a framework," then this is in fact what every plugin/theme developer does - and their doing so is the only reason WordPress is accessible to webmasters as anything other than a basic, limited CMS. Our community tending to be more developer-centric in nature, I feel it makes sense that answers geared towards developers should be more well received than those providing solutions without displaying work. – bosco Jul 17 '14 at 8:00
  • I don't want to be misunderstood. I am the first looking for plain code solution rather than plugin ones. And I totally agree that the first answer should not be "hey, there's a plugin for that", but rather emphasize on the code. Still, it's nice to know that there are already soultions in place for your specific problem. If nothing else, you could use it as reference. – Alevalentini Jul 21 '14 at 9:17
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I totally get your post and question. I do not understand the "can't do that" answers. Yes that is not an answer. I really can't stand reading those when I have actually done the thing they say can't be done. Yes those answers should be flagged. It is a comment.

On the other side I totally disagree with your take on plugins. I am a developer of at least 30 WP implementations from small site to big shopping to big internal site at Fortune 500. Give me all the plugins. Yes some suck. Yes some break other things. Yes some don't do things the "right" way. So?

I am lazy. I like to learn. You don't have to install the plugin. Read through the source code to see what is going on. This may not be the optimal answer but it gets your train of thought going. If I had to write every site from scratch, well I would be on site #1.

There are core plugins that I will install on every site as needed. After that I have my maybe plugins if this this and this are in place. I also keep notes on 40-50 plugins that have flaws but also good ideas on how to do something. Some are just old and need code updated for new codex. Some might be me just taking bits and pieces.

Give me all the plugins. In a perfect world they would make a plugin for all my weird cases and I would just install and activate plugins and call myself a developer.

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