WordPress plugin ban mystery

The ban in 2016 of a popular WordPress optimization plugin with 20,000 professional users has remained a ‘mystery’ until today. The ban followed after I posted a neat written message that I had been treated ‘unkind‘ by WordPress moderation, which was the case as is evident in the following comment by a user:

WordPress plugin ban mystery user comment

As it appears, such an action was never done before. It received no media attention and users were not allowed to talk about the ban on WordPress.org.

Nobody knows the actual motive for the ban until this day (the idea that is displayed in the comment by a user, is actually not possibly the reason).

The preceding ‘disrespectful’ action came completely out of the blue.

Plugin

The plugin was named Above The Fold Optimization. The plugin enabled to achieve a real Google PageSpeed 100 score which was of high value for SEO at the time. The plugin enabled online businesses to get better access to customers via Google.

The plugin started as a quickly setup boilerplate plugin and based on user feedback it became more mature over time. It grew to 20.000 professional users.

Origin of ban

In 2016, high quality free support was being provided to users of the plugin. This included more comprehensive service by logging in to their website for help, for which users where very thankful.

The WordPress.org support forum displayed a history of high quality free support and users that were very happy with that.

Suddenly, out of the blue and without an apparent reason or motive, a WordPress moderator performed a slander attack.

The moderator replaced a polite signature under support messages with a link to a WordPress anti-spam policy text that stated that “advertising in topics unrelated to your own plugins or themes is not allowed” and he did it with a very angry attitude.

The following signature was replaced by a link to an anti-spam policy text.

Best Regards,
First Name
info@pagespeed.pro

There was no warning. It was clear instantly that the action was not related to the signature itself, as the moderator ignored the same signature by other users. Almost all users were using a similar signature, which is simply a polite part of communication, and the linked policy text stated that it was allowed to advertise on the forum as a plugin or theme author, so even a small advertisement would have been allowed.

The moderator spent several hours to replace the signature in 100 posts. It was therefor a remarkable action and it made it look as if severe spam / advertising had been removed.

Initially my decision was to try to undo the smearing effect by posting a polite reply to the moderator stating the fact that a plain signature was removed. That reply was first blocked and later deleted by the moderator and the WordPress account was blocked for 8 days so that I couldn’t respond.

Attitude of moderator

The moderator was agressive and angry. That didn’t make sense after coming from a long period of providing high quality free support to users.

It made me wonder what was going on. It couldn’t be just about a polite signature that almost all users were using as well.

Motive to ban the plugin

Following the absurd and disrespectful behavior by WordPress.org moderation on the support forum for our plugin, we decided to move the support forum to Github and posted a decent notice about that on the WordPress.org support forum, directing users to Github for support. In that message we communicated to have been treated unkind by WordPress.

WordPress.org responded with a ban of the plugin and communicated that they had perceived the message as an ‘attack’.

Email subject: About your attacks…

About 7 hours ago, you posted 9 scathing attacks on our forum moderators.

As far as I can tell, these attacks are entirely unjustified.

As we do not allow this sort of thing on the forums, your posts have been removed, and all of your plugins have been closed. Also, your account has been blocked.

The message that we posted was short and simple. It directed users to Github for support. As reason we stated that we had been treated unkindly by WordPress. It was not an attack.

Our support replies to users were being blocked for 72 hours and it had been going on for months. We did initially wait to see if the issue would resolve over time, but it didn’t. It caused harm to the development and to the users.

Our choice to move the support forum to Github and our communication had been appropiate.

Nothing wrong with the plugin

In June 2019, Google published a link to a new version of the plugin on their official documentation at https://developers.google.com/web/ and one of the optimization company’s last customers for a paid installation of the plugin is Vice President of Mastercard who said that he knew what happened with regard the saboteur from Hollywood. That proves that nothing was wrong with the company or with the plugin.