Woocommerce, Jetpack etc... These are WordPress features that Automattic simply spins off as separate products. The decision to put them in different brands is simply a marketing device. It's one company.

These things shouldn't be "off topic". Is this a decision this forum makes itself, or is it a rule from on high? Can the mods overturn this rule if they decided to, or is it structural to the way this website works?

** edit ** I'm not asking WHY this decision is being made. I'm asking what it would take to overturn the decision. Do SE execs set this policy, or is it some kind of group decision made here. And how does SE decide which issues to decide by fiat, and which to leave to the mods? Is this one of those types of decisions. Is this a corporate policy, or a forum rule?

How about this... if all the moderators and people on this site suddenly voted a certain way, could this decision be overturned? Or would a person in a suit overrule them?

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    Note that Automattic and its products are 3rd party, WordPress isn't a product of Automattic released by Automattic. It's an open source project, with its own structures, and to imply otherwise is to be disrespectful of the people who contribute, and those who lead releases and efforts that don't work at Automattic. The only 1st party plugins are Hello Dolly, and featured plugins being built to test new stuff to merge into core, e.g. the 2FA plugin or the Gutenberg plugin
    – Tom J Nowell Mod
    Jul 20, 2019 at 19:46
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    Also, this isn't a discussion forum, it's a Q&A site, it has more in common with a wiki
    – Tom J Nowell Mod
    Jul 20, 2019 at 19:47
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    downvoted as this was discussed about 100 times by now and you do not bring any new thing to the discussion. Questions about general SE attitudes should be direct to SE itself as they are off-topic for this meta. Jul 21, 2019 at 7:53
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    So that's three mods who either downvoted, or commented, but still no answer to the question! This proves my point.
    – John Dee
    Jul 21, 2019 at 10:14
  • At least you guys have helped positively identified yourselves
    – John Dee
    Jul 21, 2019 at 10:16
  • @JohnDee I've tried to answer the question in my edit. To overturn a rule regarding 3rd party plugins or what is and isn't off-topic would require a community discussion and agreement via Meta SE. If enough people agree that the policy you're suggesting and have decided that it is a good, valid policy via upvotes then it's something that we can put into place. One way to do this is to come up with clear, concise policy changes and then spread your question via social media to gain traction. Once it's popular enough it will automatically appear in the WPSE sidebar.
    – Howdy_McGee Mod
    Jul 21, 2019 at 18:31

2 Answers 2


John, I am a mod at Money.SE. Those at a higher level have helped me and my fellow mods when we’ve had attacks or spam problems. Short of those kinds of things, they do not dictate our On/Off topic list.

Each stack has its own personality and its own tolerance for the gray area. On our stack, there are questions that may be on the edge of “close as opinion based” that draw answers which are good facts, and remain open. Others that attract opinion based answers and get closed.

We narrow/expand on-topic as required, via a meta post discussion when appropriate.

I believe this answers your headline question, while McGee’s answer would address the specific question you propose to put on meta for a proposed expansion of topic here.

(By the way, the link in your profile does not seem to work)

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    Thank you Joe. I wish I could have gotten an answer from one of the mods here. There are literally thousands of complaints about the moderation on this particular board. Engagement has TANKED and this board simply doesn't work anymore. I was wondering if that was due to a SE policy, or if it could be fixed by removing the current people. It took a mod from another board to answer the question.
    – John Dee
    Jul 27, 2019 at 15:14

3rd Party Plugins being off topic has been a hot button for years. Every time it's discussed on meta (which is usually once a year) there is a bundle of problems that come up which don't have optimal solutions. Some (not all) of these issues that come to mind are:

  • How do we separate premium plugins from free repository plugins?
  • How do we separate premium plugin support from open support?
  • How do we handle authors who want to dump their support to WPSE? I.E. How do we prevent authors from abusing the site and the users here volunteering free support?
  • How do we handle version changes of plugins?
    • For example, WordPress Core rarely has mass code changes because of backwards compatibility. WooCommerce on the other-hand deprecated a literal ton of functions and methods in v3.0. Many pre-3.0 questions would no longer be valid or helpful but it would be difficult to tell based on the question content itself. Many questions dont definite what version plugin they're running, neither here, SO, or the forums.
  • With the influx of plugin related questions, how do we keep the Q/A ratio from plummeting?
    • Closing poor questions, non-development related questions, and actually answering questions helps keep our site and QA ratio healthy.
  • With the influx of plugin related questions, how do we keep janitorial duties ( spam-busting, closing of actual low-quality questions, edits to keep questions in good form ) from getting out of hand?
  • There are currently 54,891 plugins on the WordPress Repository. How many have a decent documentation? How many don't have any documentation at all?

Many, I would almost say most, questions regarding 3rd party plugins are either non-development related, very low quality, or "do this for me" which are not good questions for StackExchange.

I also do not think we can treat any Autommatic supported plugins (WooCommerce, Jetpack) different than the rest of the plugins repository, in my opinion it's an all or nothing change. Otherwise, it's not fair to the community as a whole.

It would be fantastic if we could open the site to all 3rd party development questions in theory but I feel in practice there would be many hurdles, not enough experts, and too many low quality questions to sift through. Simply put, in my opinion, WordPress Core is a much more manageable scope than the WordPress Ecosystem as a whole.

I think to overturn the rule of plugins being off-topic we would need to find creative solutions to the issues above. I personally do not have good answers or solutions to the problems stated above and can see them getting out of hand quickly. That is a problem.

I believe it really comes down to Logistics. Are there enough experts to active in this community to keep up with the influx of plugin based questions?

  • That's not what I was asking. I was asking about the corporate structure of the human beings who own this company. I'm not trying to rehash this issue, I'm trying to solve it.
    – John Dee
    Jul 20, 2019 at 5:12
  • I see your points (which make for a fine argument) but raise you the following questions: How do we know devs will offload support here? Can developing with other plugins in mind be on-topic (while end-user use might not be)? Aug 11, 2019 at 3:06
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    @MatthewBrownakaLordMatt We don't know that it will happen in the future but it did happen in the past. One example that sticks out is when the WooCommerce website first launched their support link ( on the launch of the website, in their main navigation ) just linked over to WPSE woocommerce tag. We were flooded with questions without enough experts to answer. We know that it's something that can happen and may need to account for. For the 2nd question, it's really a gray area and depends how much knowledge of the specific plugin one would need to answer the given question.
    – Howdy_McGee Mod
    Aug 11, 2019 at 3:19
  • That clears that one up then. We don't want to be used like that which I can now see is something we must be careful about. Aug 11, 2019 at 3:21

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