Doc Pop’s WordPress News Drop is a weekly report on the most pressing WordPress news. When the news drops, I will pick it up and deliver it right to you.

In this week’s News Drop we talk about a recent Jetpack update which adds feature suggestions to activate a Jetpack feature to the top of search results on the plugin repository. Doc talks about why they did it and what it means for the future of ads in the WordPress dashboard. Since this video was recorded, a newer version of Jetpack has been released to make these suggestions easier to identify as modified results, but they still appear in search results.

We also hear a WordCamp Europe update from Milan Ivanovic and talk about the semi-final round of the Plugin Madness competition.

Love WordPress News, but hate reading my name is Doc and this is Doc Pop’s News Drop.

It is week 4 of our Plugin Madness competition! It’s the semi-final round and we are down to just two matchups between 4 WordPress plugins.

In one matchup we have The Events Calendar,  a popular plugin for showing upcoming events, paired up against Advanced Custom Fields, who were the winner of the first ever Plugin Madness competition a few years back.

The other matchup is between Elementor Page Builder and Smush Image Compression, which is a two time Plugin Madness winner and a great plugin for reducing image file sizes.

This semi final round is just getting started, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see two previous winners pitted up against each other in the final round. Be sure to vote for your favorite developers over on pluginmadness.com

Jetpack 7.1 was released in March and is full of new features… unfortunately the one most people are talking about is a feature that changes results when searching for new plugins in the in the plugin respository.

When you search for something like “optimization” or “preformance” in the repository, you might expect to see an unbaised set of plugins in the results, but if you have the current version of Jetpack installed, you’ll see a new result up at the top of your search results that suggests using Jetpack for your solution since you already have it installed. The suggestion looks like an organic search result and is followed by the usual search results for your keyword.
From Jetpack’s point of view, if a user is searching for something they already provide, that user should probably just activate the feature in Jetpack rather than install a new plugin. Given Jetpack’s reputation for being a bloated plugin already, it’s probably even a good idea for users not to add redundant features.

The problem for many folks is that this search results are not clearly labelled as something changed by Jetpack. It does show up slightly different than a usual search result, but most new users might not realize that they are seeing something that has been altered.

Some users are even more worried that this could lead a dangerous new precedent for plugin developers to promote their tools in the WP-dashboard, which should be a sacred space, right? Already we are seeing tons of pop-up notifications at the top of our dashboards, that are starting to feel more and more spammy as the trend becomes more normalized. If you have a plugin installed now, you might see nags to leave a 5 star review or upgrade to premium show up on the top of your dashboard notifications, but as these developers get bolder its scary to imagine them altering search results.

Some users are saying this new feature breaks WordPress’s plugin guideline rules. The plugin’s developer says that since the results aren’t an ad, they are not breaking any rules, but that answer didn’t sit well with some users. Shortly after the conversation got started, the plugin repository rules were modified to “Simplify the explanations regarding advertising”, but it appears these changes were added specifically to permit these new Jetpack changes.
Where the old rules said “Advertising within the WordPress dashboard should be avoided.” the updated rules now state “Advertising within the WordPress dashboard is permitted within reason.”

So wether or not you have Jetpack installed, you can probably expect to see your favorite plugins add more ads to your dashboard because why wouldn’t they?

Okay, thats enough talk about plugins, let’s check in with Milan to hear the newest happenings over at WordCamp Europe.

Thanks so much that Milan. We cant wait to hear more in next week’s episode. Thanks for watching and let us know your thoughts on the WordPress’s new rules regarding in-dashboard advertising in the comments below.

Doctor Popular is an artist and musician living in San Francisco. As a full disclaimer, he is neither a doctor nor popular.

The post Doc Pop’s News Drop: Should Plugins Alter Search Results? appeared first on Torque.