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.
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.
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.