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Good Luck Lester Chan

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February 3rd, 2010
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WordPress Plugins

How many plugins do you run on your website that were created by Lester ‘GaMerZ‘ Chan? I’m guessing at least one or more. On WPTavern.com, I use three of them. I’ve been a huge fan of Lester ever since I discovered his assortment of plugins that provided functionality I didn’t think any WordPress site would want to be without. Features such as polls, easy page navigation, and nifty stats. I learned today that Lester is unable to provide support for his plugins due to a full time job he recently accepted. However, he states that he will try to keep the plugins working with newer versions of WordPress as time allows while also keeping the forum open to enable the community to help each other.

As you all know, I have been doing WordPress plugins and supporting it for the past 6 years. These 6 years of my life, I have been through my polytechnic education, my national service as well as my university education. I just graduated from university in December 2009 and have been looking for full-time jobs. I am offered a full-time job and will be starting work on 1st February 2010.

I regret to say that I am NOT ABLE to provide support for my plugins anymore due to my full-time job commitment. I will leave this forum open and let the community help one another. However, I WILL still update my plugins whenever I can and you still can report bugs to me via email and I will try to fix it.

I’ve donated a chunk of change to Lester in the past, something he was very much appreciative for but there are quite a few vocal members of the community that argue Lester could have placed all the plugins behind a paid support model that might have negated the need for a full time job. I would not have paid for each individual plugin, but I would have paid a yearly fee that would cover the support costs of all of his current and future plugins. No one should be upset at Lester for pursuing other endeavors related to his career path. Also, it’s not as if he is completely abandoning development and support for his plugins so if his full time job doesn’t work out, we may very well see some sort of plugin club membership option from Lester in the future.

So I wonder, what type of business model would Lester have to set up in order for you to consider paying for both the plugin and support?

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47
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Comments

  1. Kenji (1 comments.) says:

    Congratulations, Lester!

  2. Banago (84 comments.) says:

    Good luck Laster – we all love your plugins – you have done a wonderful job. Wish you the best!

  3. Jeff Chandler (171 comments.) says:

    Here is a little Lester stat for you.

    2,430,673 is the amount of downloads for all of Lesters plugins on the repository combined ;)

    • Chanda | BizDharma.com (2 comments.) says:

      Even a dollar for a plugin would had been a whopping amount !!! But I dont believe the stats than would had been the same.
      Lester has definitely helped the community and the community should take this forward…

    • Hikari (79 comments.) says:

      If he received 1 dollar for each download…

      ppl that never paid can’t complain, he was earning nothing from his plugins, not even a link (and I think it’s his the plugin that lists all installed plugins and their links!)

      Yearly fee is not enough, he’d need monthly income to be able to dedicate time to his plugins.

      It’s what I’ve read once. Somebody that is able to live from his blog WON’T live from his blog! We must find a way to get proper income from visits of our sites.

  4. Joel (4 comments.) says:

    Lester’s plugins are fantastic and I too am disappointed he won’t be supporting them as much. If he did want a full time income from his plugins (after it, the job he’s going to may be his dream job) then I think it’s currently very difficult to decide on a sustainable business model. I too would pay perhaps an annual fee to keep support up and running in return for plugin access, but the volume of people who would have to do so may not be present in the WordPress community. There are plenty of people who donate to plugin in authors of course, and buy premium plugins, but the percentage must be tiny compared to actual users. A difficult one.

  5. DazzlinDonna (8 comments.) says:

    I often donate to plugin authors for the plugins I like, but I can see how that wouldn’t compensate for a full time job in most cases. You mention that he’s had 2,430,673 downloads. If every person that downloaded it had paid a mere 10 cents for the download, Lester would have nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

    Now, I’m not really suggesting charging for every download, because a lot of plugins, once downloaded and tried, really don’t work the way we expected, so we don’t use them. But what if everyone paid a dime for a plugin that they decide they will continue to use for more than a trial period? (Let’s say a month, just for this conversation). Authors who create outstanding, useful plugins would do well. Not sure how such a system could be implemented, but I see no reason to not start thinking about that kind of possibility.

  6. Deuced (2 comments.) says:

    In a world full of money and profit there are things (at least for some ppl) that cannot be charged like your will to help and contribute to a community. For 6 years Lester Chan developed what he wanted inspired from the community and wordpress. Personally i dont think i own him money for his plugins but only a huge THANK YOU LESTER for your efforts and contribution. You know all good things come to an end but thankfully there are always good people starting good things.

  7. Mattias (32 comments.) says:

    Good luck Lester and thank you for all the time you’ve spent so far to make some of the best plugins available :D

  8. chrispian (1 comments.) says:

    Good on him for cutting out what doesn’t make the money. Can’t blame him one bit. But this is not bad news for anyone. Since all code for WordPress is GPL, the community can now pick up and either maintain the current plugins he’s written or fork them into new plugins. Open Source FTW!

  9. Oliver Schlöbe (2 comments.) says:

    What about delegating support to the WordPress Help Center, Lester?

  10. Flick says:

    Lester Chan rocks – no doubt about it. It is really great news that he has found such a brilliant job after so long, even though it is sad that he won’t have the time to support the plugins as much anymore.

    To fair, I’ve never really had to ask any questions because his plugins have always worked straight out of the box (with some nice documentation to boot) and once they’re integrated into the site, you wonder how you did without them.

    I <3 WP-Polls and WP DBManager.

    And in answer to Jeff's question: I'm not sure every developer feels the need to monetise their plugins, and imho the issue with charging a fee is that people are likely to become more demanding with their support requests as a result, which perhaps wasn't what Lester Chan had in mind, so maybe donations out of free will = good in this instance?

    And just to stick my foot in it: I believe that he worked on and supported his plugins primarily because he is really very public spirited and its an enjoyable hobby.

    Thanks Lester Chan.

  11. Lloyd Budd (22 comments.) says:

    Thanks for the fish Lester!

  12. Lester Chan (32 comments.) says:

    Thanks so much for the support guys! I am really touched by the responses you have given me =) I really appreciate it. I now work as a Web Engineer at mig33 http://mig33.com/ =)

    Oliver Schlöbe: Yea I thought of that but that requires me to have a FAQ created by me. WPQuestions did approach me and need nothing on my end just to have a banner which I think is pretty reasonable

    Flick: You hit the spot! If I start charging clients will become more demanding and I will have to cater to each and everyone of them which is rather time consuming as I am just 1 person running the whole show. That is why I would based it on donations and charging people if they want to customize my plugins which I think is pretty reasonable. The support forums is a way for helping the community but unfortunately, it is also a one man show most of the time =)

    Once again, thank you so much for the great support =)

  13. Stephen Cronin (30 comments.) says:

    I don’t comment often, but I will for Lester – Congratulations Lester and best luck for the future. Thanks for all the great plugins!

  14. Iva (3 comments.) says:

    I would pay if there was a system other than PayPal supplied (can’t use PayPal in this country), why not? His plugins have been a part of all my sites even back in the B2 days!

  15. Lester Chan (32 comments.) says:

    Thanks Stephen and Thanks Iva! Yea the good old b2 days =D

  16. Karen Mae Farro (1 comments.) says:

    Hi Lester, wishing you all the best in your endeavors. Love your plugins!

  17. Andrew@BloggingGuide (90 comments.) says:

    Best of luck to your chosen path, Lester Chan! It’s somewhat sad that you will not really be there for the WordPress Plugin world as you ahd these past years but at least you now have your dream job.We are happy for you!

  18. Tal Galili (13 comments.) says:

    I too, love Lester’s plugins.
    Good luck in the future!

    Tal

  19. Kjetil (4 comments.) says:

    Its incredible to make so many useful plugins and – would I believe – have so (relatively) few questions for support. I have used several of your plugins (without DB-manager the world would be less safe!) and they have just worked. Well done!
    I’ve once had a problem, where Lester responded promptly. (Turned out to be a server problem)
    I like donating, and I would hope there are enough donators to keep Lester motivated – even if the days are busy.
    Lester: What’s the best solution for your point of view (not being too modest :o) ?
    Kjetil

  20. Dgrut (2 comments.) says:

    wordpress community once again lost one of its contributors to this community. I personally admire your work, and I’m sure more than 70% user wordpress with the same opinion. But I also respect your decision and I’m sure you’ve thought about this decision carefully. good luck that I can say, and do not stop innovating. Good luck ..

  21. Lester Chan (32 comments.) says:

    Thanks Andrew and Tal =)

  22. Long live Lest Chan! And congratulations! I believe Lester will continue his entrepreneurial spirit in the future. He has a great thing going for himself and WordPress.

  23. Lester Chan (32 comments.) says:

    Thank you Lloyd, Karen, Dgrut, Q Ball of Old School Scholar =)

    Kjetil: Thanks =) I will try my best to maintain them =D

  24. Alex (1 comments.) says:

    Congratulations, Lester!

    Thank you VERY much for your wonderful plugins!!!

  25. Alfred (1 comments.) says:

    I’ve used a lot of his plugins, good luck with the job lester

  26. Lester Chan (32 comments.) says:

    Thanks Alex and Alfred =)

  27. pete says:

    I wonder???? with wordpress plugins turning the way of paid support/updates I can see website develpers also adding an extra fee on their prices to account for this??

  28. Nile (18 comments.) says:

    As a developer, I respect Lester Chan. I have used his plugins. I have used 2.

    The problem is that I believe Lester is like myself on the ‘underappreciated developer.’ Although it would be ideal to make a living off our work (I have 2 popular scripts out there that are GPL and free.) I get an occasional donation and have been linked to even on some big sites.

    (some tense change)
    However, if it is free, people will download the crud out of you, drive your bandwidth through the roof, and you will get questions from all over no matter how many are similar and were because they did not follow the instructions that were provided. It takes a lot of time to answer emails and some throw their passwords and expect you to do it for them. (I get over a dozen a day and I still need to get through my regular web design clients.)

    —-
    I do not have the heart to tell these people that I no longer offer free support, but I did.

    I understand Lester’s plight and I wish him well on his career. And the stats on his plugins are an awesome little tidbit for him to add to his resume because it shows how much his work has influenced others.

    I think if he had put in some type of monetizing program, he could have just put together a subscription free for support, and put together a ticket support system for those who have subscribed.

  29. S.K (23 comments.) says:

    Lester’s plugins are ideal and exemplary – standards-compliant, following best practices in coding, continuously updated, quick to respond with a set of friendly and easily navigable plugin info pages on his site. I think you can’t ask for more!

    His plugins are as staple as the core WP!

    Congrats Lester and wish you success in all your endeavours.

    S.K

  30. Lester Chan (32 comments.) says:

    Thanks Nile and SK for the very kind comments and support =_

  31. Harry, BikeTravellers.com (5 comments.) says:

    I think supplying his plugins was a smart investment even though it might not seems so now. He will get back what he gave away, with interest:

    I am pretty sure that the millions of downloads on his resume, coupled with the learning experience of developing his excellent and popular plugins (rare combination :)), have increased his “market value” (on the job-, and freelance market) for the coming 10 years much more than if he had charged $1 for them.

    Meanwhile his employer(s) will get a young/relatively cheap but very experienced employee, still costing much less than a similar experienced colleague that had to have 15 yearly payrises to get to his level.

    So it might take a while, but in the end everybody wins, which is great. GPL combined with creativity is not a zero sum game.

    Anyway, thanks for your work, good luck with your next plans!

  32. WP Tricks (5 comments.) says:

    I really enjoy Lester Chan plugin…

  33. Lester Chan (32 comments.) says:

    Thanks WP Tricks =)

    Thanks Harry for the support and compliments, I got somewhat similar thinking as you. My hardwork for giving support and offering my plugin for free has paid off as I got a job =)

  34. Satish (2 comments.) says:

    I use at least one of his plugins on all my blogs. I used the code form pagenav plugin in my theme.
    http://swiftthemes.com

    Thankyou for all the plugins Lester, Wish you good luck.

    PS: Sent you a small donation :)

  35. Lester Chan (32 comments.) says:

    Thanks for the donations Satish =)

  36. Matt Hole says:

    WordPress has set up a model that essentially prohibits talented developers from making professional themes and plugins because everything is expected to be free.

    If Matt at WordPress had set up a paid plugin model, Lester could’ve earned $0.99 per plugin. Matt could’ve earned $0.25. They’d be rich (in Matt’s case, richER) and we’d all be enjoying professional support.

    Instead, Matt seems to be either a GPL fanatic, immature, or blinded by greed. Or maybe all three. He’s clearly hostile to the idea of paid plugins and themes, even trotting out ridiculous legal aruments to prohibit them and haranguing plugin/theme authors.

    As a result we get thousands of crummy, broken plugins written by hobbyists who lose interest in a few months when we could have professional developers with all the polish of the Apple App store. What a shame.

    • Jeffro (20 comments.) says:

      The model WordPress has set up only has to do with the repository hosted on WordPress.org. Nothing stops plugin or theme authors from doing things on their own outside of the repository. Plenty of theme and plugin authors are doing that now with good success.

      Who knows, the system you describe could have been a giant wall in front of users and the third party community may not be as rich and diverse as it is now. Sure, 25 cents is cheap but it’s still a barrier. Also, I think it’s worth mentioning that it’s not about money for Matt in terms of the open source philosophy he has. He could have charged for WordPress but he decided not to. The way you make it sound, Matt Mullenweg is responsible for ensuring the commercial success of plugin authors which is not the case.

      As for him being hostile to paid plugins or themes, how do you explain GravityForms, StudioPress, Press75, iThemes, PluginBuddy,Headway, etc? I don’t see Matt threatening to sue all of those companies and it’s pretty easy to see that you have to be off your rocker if you really think he is anti commercialism when it comes to WordPress. In fact, the opposition is true. He loves seeing people make a living off of and around WordPress. All that he asks is that those who do follow the guidelines as outlined by the GPL. Follow the GPL and you’re pretty much ok. I think that could be argued a little bit but generally, if you’re GPL compatible you’re generally in the clear.

      Regarding your last point, who’s to say that charging for all the plugins in the repository would have resulted in better plugins? What if instead, we had a situation where the community was purchasing plugins and a lot of them were still crappy. What a firestorm that would cause. Paid plugins do not equal better. I’ll agree that most of the time, a commercial offering will be better than if it’s free but on the other side of the coin, WordPress kicks ass as a content publisher and it’s free.

  37. Bill Canaday, 2010 (5 comments.) says:

    I know that if I come to the options page of a plugin a few times because it is working pretty good but I want to tweak it and I find the tweak I wanted already anticipated, eventually the PayPal button is going to get clicked.

    Not when I install … but when the plugin has proven itself to be essential and well-made.

    To be honest, I think that an annual donation of about $10 per plugin is about right. As far as I am concerned, make the Paypal button go away when I donate and restore it 11 months later. Don’t make the donations automatic unless you are going to check to see if the plugin is still activated before dinging me.

    It might also be reasonable to automatically deactivate the plugin if a donation has not been made after 24 months or so. Call it “Suicide Ware”.

    This way a persons compensation is directly tied to their value to the community and that is an inherently honest evaluation.

  38. Ajay (11 comments.) says:

    I’m minimalist when it comes to WordPress plugins. I prefer to hard code or write my own custom changes. I’ve seen a lot of Lester’s plugin floating around and have used some of them. WP-EMail is his plugin which I use most often. It is used on http://www.freeindianrecipes.com and proved to be a hit with visitors.

    And yes I’ve donates some money to him if not a lot.



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