When Free Plugins Ruin Your Life
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 22, 2015
The best thing about free stuff is that it’s free. The worst thing about free stuff is that they can indiscriminately change it up, mess it up, make you do things you didn’t want to do if you want to keep using it and pretty much ruin your life… okay, that last point is a bit over the top, but it did mess up the blog. lol
Today’s gripe is about a plugin called AddThis, which had been recommended to me in 2013 as a great social sharing program. Lots of people were using it, and it allowed me to get rid of the 4 independent plugins I had for Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn, the only 4 sites I share stuff to. I liked its design and how easy it all seemed to be.
Then they went and changed things up. Deciding it wasn’t so convenient for them to allow you to make changes on your own blog, they set it up with their 4.whatever update that you now had to create an account on their website and manage things from there. I assume they did that so they could pitch other services to you that you’d be charged for, since I saw something there where you could get certain types of reports and education.
All of that might not be bad; I don’t know. What I knew was that I didn’t want that kind of change. I’m kind of an insular guy; I like fooling myself into thinking I’m controlling my own stuff. Thus, I didn’t want to go to another site to take care of my business.
That wasn’t the biggest issue though. The big problem is that the widgets disappeared from the blog. Right at the point where I’d had a blog post go live reminding people how hard it was for their content to be shared if they didn’t have these buttons, mine disappeared. Well, that was slightly embarrassing; actually, I wasn’t embarrassed since I didn’t know for a day or two and, when I discovered it, knew I hadn’t done anything wrong.
Actually, that’s kind of a misnomer. I did was most of us do, which was to immediately upgrade when WordPress said “Hey, there’s something shiny and new”.
I should know better. There are upgrades when it makes sense to immediately do it. For instance, if you have version 3.5.2 anything (just as an example) and the upgrade is 3.5.7, that’s almost always just a bug or security fix that doesn’t change the version any, and you should go ahead and upgrade. However, if the upgrade goes to the immediate next number, such as from version 1.1 to 2.1… that’s when you should take a moment, go to the website and find out what’s being added or what’s changing.
After things disappeared on this blog I went to check my other blogs, all of which were running the same plugin, and my widgets had disappeared from all of them; sigh… Oddly enough, within a few days they came back on one of my blogs but not all of them. I complained on Twitter, then went to Google to do some research, thinking that maybe it was an issue with me, and found that there were lots of people who were complaining about the same exact thing… it’s true, sometimes, that misery loves company. 🙂 And I wrote on Twitter how bad it was that a company didn’t respond to so many 1-star reviews.
Lo and behold they did finally respond to me, after I’d written them something on their website, and asked me to explain my issue. So I did, and they responded that it was their intention that everyone go to the website now to manage their tools, and asked why I’d had a problem doing that, which I had.
Here’s the thing. You don’t take something that was relatively simple and change it to where your users need a crash course. In my case I did try creating an account and going to the site where I was presented lots of different links, none of which said “manage your tools here”… at least I couldn’t find it. Course I was in a state of frustration so maybe I just couldn’t see it.
No matter. I’ve inactivated it and deleted it and now on this blog I’m using something called Simple Share Buttons, which was the 4th plugin I tried because, for some reason, the first 3 I tried after I shut down AddThis wouldn’t show up here. The look is a bit different but I like it, and it works!
Because, when all is said and done, the other good thing about free is that you’re always free to find something else that works for you without lamenting your waste of money. Who’s with me on this one?