The Problems With Old Plugins

Last week another of my favorite plugins died. It’s called Compfight, and it’s what I used to pull in images for all of my blogs from Flickr’s Creative Commons. If you look at the first image on a post from two weeks ago you’ll see that it shows the name, and if you hover over the first link below the image you’ll see it goes back to Flickr.

sad plugin dog

Since last Thursday is I’ve been getting this particular message on all of my blogs:

The Flickr API returned the following error: #100 – Invalid API Key (Key has expired)

Since there’s nothing I could have changed that would have affected all of my blogs at the same time I did my usual thing, which was to go on the search engines and research the denial code. I didn’t see a single thing talking about Compfight as it related to the code but I did see that the plugin hadn’t been updated in over 2 years. I assume that means it’s done, especially since these people now have their own website that I also assume they’re expecting people to go to instead of using the plugin; ugh!

I have to admit that most of the time I don’t pay attention to plugins unless I update one and things start going wonky. Yet, last year, on my quest to increase my mobile speed, I did have to kill a few of them because it turned out they were killing my speed because they hadn’t been updated in over a year.

I’m someone who should know better in general because I’m kind of security conscious, and I know that some older plugins will allow bad people entry into your blog. At the same time, there are some older plugins that still work wonders, such as Limit Login Attempts, which is actually one of my biggest security plugins; it hasn’t been updated in 5 years!

Another plugin that’s never going to be updated is CommentLuv. Unfortunately, the guy who created it, Andy Bailey, is sick and unable to continue working on it, and apparently hasn’t shared the information with anyone else to keep it going. This means that the GASP Anti-Spambot plugin also will never be updated; the same goes for Anti-Backlinker, which was exclusively a part of the premium version; sniff! All of these still work beautifully… but for how long?

Not including the plugins mentioned above, it turns out I have 11 more that haven’t been updated in a least a year, and two of them are security plugins. One of my plugins hasn’t been updated in 8 years; another 7. Ugh!

I may be courting trouble, so it’s time to do a plugin audit of sorts. By that I mean looking for other plugins that might do some of the same things I’m looking for, only updated. It’s too easy to get comfortable with a plugin you believe has always been working for you but even I have to come to grips with the fact that an 8-year old plugin might not be doing what I think it is.

Another problem is that sometimes you’re not going to get a one-on-one with a plugin, which means you have to make a big decision. For instance, there’s no other plugin like either Compfight or CommentLuv.

mad at plugins me

On the first one I’m going to have to switch to using either my own images (I have almost 10,000 images scattered around here, but all of them don’t fit everything I write about) or go to one of the many free image sites and find something that might fit my needs… or won’t, but they’ll look pretty. 🙂

On the second one… well… there are some other plugins that will share previous articles of your commenters, just not in the same way. For instance, I believe Disqus or Livefyre will share links if you hover over them, but they only work if you sign up for their services, which also allows you to comment on blogs that use them (which I won’t do). I’m not interested in using anything like that but if you are then it’s something you can explore.

Truth be told, most of us know that all plugins don’t work with all themes. Most of the caching plugins have broken this blog over the years because my original theme was pretty old. This theme’s old also but it’s got a lot more flexibility and more plugins have worked with it. Sometimes an existing plugin will quit when a new WordPress update comes in; if you’re not technically savvy your hand will probably be forced to eliminate it.

Time for a full plugin audit. What this entails is disabling each plugin one at a time to see how it affects things. If you can’t notice any effects then it’s probably not doing anything for you. At that point you can decide if you want to find something else or leave it alone.

I’m going to start with my security plugins because they’re the most important. I’m starting with my login plugin because I’ve found two others that might do the job well, one updated 3 days ago, another a month ago. One is rated 5 stars, the other 4 1/2; both will probably do the job I need them to do and seem to be regularly updated.

I recommend all of you take a look at your plugins to see if they’re updating or not. The way you do that is go to your plugins page, then click on the “view details” link (right click to open it in a new tab). You’ll see when they were last updated; you’re good if it’s been within a year.

Always think security first; this means check your plugins. I’ve been somewhat remiss, so I consider myself lucky I didn’t become one of these people. Take care of your blog and your conscious.

22 thoughts on “The Problems With Old Plugins”

  1. Hi Mitch, oh yes I had trouble commenting on here and had to reopen and am redoing.
    I have had issues with CommentLuv an Mayura has been working on it for me. He made adjustments so it’s working better but not all fixed. I wish someone could buy it from Andy and update. That would be awesome. I am always leary of using new plugins, I love the functions they provide but not at the cost of the speed of the websites.
    It’s a real catch 22 Mitch!
    Maybe you could use a new theme? When I updated mine this year it did eliminate some plugins but not all.
    I’ve never used Compfight.
    Good luck and let me know how it goes.

    1. Lisa, the last thing I want to do is figure out how to use a new theme, because I’d have to modify it to get it looking like this one. Heck, changing to this theme was hard enough; I know I didn’t get it totally right. lol

      I’m with you on Andy, but he might have been ahead of too many people when he created it. I know I still have problems using CL when I comment on your blog; good thing I’m not commenting just to get links. lol

      At this point I’ve downloaded a couple of new security plugins, but I’ve yet to turn them on while turning the others off. I’ll get around to it, but I really should test them on a different blog rather than this one. We’ll see…

  2. Wow I had no idea commentluv hadn’t been updated in that long! It seems as though it’s time to get a fresh start on plugins! Unless of course your old ones do the trick just fine. Can’t wait to read more of your posts, Mitch!!

    1. I’m taking a look at all my plugins because I’m not sure they’re all working fine or if they’re all needed. CommentLuv is one of those that I’m going to leave alone as long as possible since there’s no real alternative for it.

  3. Hi Mitch,

    I bought the premium version of CommentLuv back in the day, but don’t use it on my current blog. I had no idea that it hadn’t been updated in that long.

    My blog is still fairly new so I don’t use any old plugins that haven’t been updated. However, I understand the pain of having to try to find an alternative plugin because it doesn’t work for one reason or another.

    I’ve been there done that. It’s not fun and it takes a lot of time unless you know what you’re looking for.

    Hopefully, you’ll be able to find a replacement for Compfight, it sounds like it did everything you needed it to do. Personally, I’ve never heard of it.

    Thanks for sharing and good luck on finding some alternatives.

    Have a great day 🙂


    1. Glad to help Susan. BTW, if you put the link to your blog above it’ll allow you to use my CommentLuv for your blog posts. 🙂

      As for plugins in general, you never think much about them until one decides to stop cooperating. I don’t think I’m going to find another Compfight, but over the last couple of years I’d started using more of my own images anyway, though nothing all that fancy and a lot of them I’m in. Not narcissistic, just easier to put me in something if I can’t actually find an image that works with my blog topic (not tons if pictures out there for blogging lol).

  4. Hi Mitch,

    Outdated plugins may create compatibility issues anytime.I was using Click to Tweet plugin of Co-schedule until last month. But the same is not updated for more than two years & I am afraid whether it will create any issues in future.

    I faced index error issues with another plugin last year and it damaged my site.I contacted Click to tweet developers for a specific inquiry but they did not respond at all.So I removed the plugin recently. Otherwise, it may create more trouble and we can’t expect any kind of support from the developers too.

    1. You definitely have to watch those plugins. This particular blog always crashed when trying to use cache plugins until last year when I finally found one that plays well with others. Luckily, other than CommentLuv & my security plugins I’ve never been overly obsessed with a plugin that I absolutely needed… that is until Compfight. That one’s going to hurt a little bit, but it’s also going to make me be more creative with my own images.

  5. Yes I agree Mitch; nothing quite like commentluv. Thanks for the response! I hope you find that all of the plugins you still need run perfectly fine. It would probably help your website to remove useless or broken plug ins. I’m sure there will be good alternatives to most plug ins in the near future as well!

  6. Mitch, sorry this happened to you. Unfortunately, this happens all too often. Many times I’ve used a plugin, to see it deserted a year or two later by the developer. I guess they get busy with other projects. I understand it takes time to maintain it, and sometimes they are building it for for free. Luckily, lots of alternatives nowadays. And, I’m not objected to pay for a plugin if it’s really good.

  7. It is sad when a very good plugin dies. There has been so many great plugins especially for wordpress over the years that the programmers just quit supporting.

    1. I’d have to agree with this. I’ve had other plugins I enjoyed that bit the dust unexpectedly. Still, I’m realistic enough to realize I have to protect my blog, so if I must change I’m ready to do so.

  8. Hi Mitch,
    Thanks, just a quick query; how can one identify old plugins as if it is compatible with the current version then it will not notify us and it is really difficult to identify too.

    1. Actually Nicole, if a plugin is not totally compliant with the WordPress software it will tell you once it’s updated. For the rest of them, you’ll have to do what I did and look them up to see when they were updated last or be paying attention when something you expected to work decides it’s not going to cooperate. Go to your plugin page and then click on the “view details” link and that’ll take you to the page for the plugin, where you’ll be able to see when it was last updated. A recommend is to right click and open in a new tab or window so you don’t have to keep reloading your plugins page.

  9. Oh this stuff drives me crazy. A few months ago, when I updated my theme, I deleted as many plugins as I could. I never thought about looking at the date of last update. Thx for the warning.

    1. No problem Rich, it’s what I do 🙂 I think I still have way too many plugins but it’s down from where I was at one point so I’m feeling good about it for now.

  10. Nice article. Really using old plugin might be not a feasible option, because they are vulnerable as well as shows error many times. Thus I always use trusted and reliable plugins which is updated on a regular interval.

    1. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s what you’re stuck with if you want something in particular. Like CommentLuv; no one else has anything like it and I absolutely love it, even knowing it’ll never be updated again.

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