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Yoast’s Black Friday Ad

I just want to briefly discuss Yoast’s Black Friday Ad, which was launched on WordPress Admin dashboards on Thanksgiving without really a heads up to site owners:

And I’ll try to do this without cussing.

First of all, Yoast, as a WordPress plugin provider is successful GREATLY due to the work of thousands of people that provide their software to their own customers. Now, perhaps Yoast doesn’t consider implementing their FREE plugin software into a WordPress site as an act of volunteerism, but they of all companies should recognize that, since freeware is their model for selling subscription software. Get somebody to use it, and they’ll like it so much and want more so they will actually pay for the fuller version tomorrow.

So who are among the people that Yoast depends on for this distribution of this plugin software? Web developers/designers. Those are the folks that actually install it for them into their customers’ web sites.

Those web developers/designers then will train their users on how to maintain their sites, particularly with content, using a backend login, often admin.

These users, not as savvy about the plugin marketplace, then wonder, first to themselves and then to their hired web expertise – what the hell is the deal with this big ad on my dashboard?

Do I think Yoast realizes this will be a result of these ads? Yes I do.

Do I think that means that Yoast doesn’t care enough about the impact of dashboard advertising on others for distribution of their freeware?

Yes I do.  (Later note: I retract that.  Yoast sent out an update later on Thanksgiving morning getting rid of the Black Friday Ad.  They definitely care about the feedback they were getting.)

There was no real heads up from the software update that installed this. No explicit override to kill this for all admin users. They want the ad. They don’t care about the volunteers. They’ve seem to believe they’ve already gotten what they needed from the volunteers.

Yoast isn’t the only one that does this. MonsterInsights does this with their Google Analytics plugin, and here’s the story:

We do not install any MonsterInsights plugins on any new or redesigned sites any more, haven’t for a year. They’re not to be trusted with dashboards. They’ve proven that, more than once. We are slowly removing them.

We’re just a small company, but I bet we have a lot of company in the WordPress realm with how we think about what Yoast has done. The hijacking of the WordPress admin screen for advertising is a practice to be stopped or plugin developers should suffer the market consequences. There are freeware and paid subscription alternatives that are not so bombastic with unwanted advertising.

The fact that Yoast is such a popular plugin just makes this worse. It gives incentive to every other plugin provider to try to use the admin screen – or worse – to sell their wares.  How much closer should the Admin screen get to the Yahoo front page?

This needs to be stopped. Now.  It should be part of the greater enforcement of Rule 11 of Plugin Development.

Advertising within the WordPress dashboard should be avoided, as it is generally ineffective. Users normally only visit settings pages when they’re trying to solve a problem.

UPDATE:

Most likely due to a LOT OF NEGATIVE WORDPRESS COMMUNITY response, Yoast has removed the banner in a Thanksgiving update:

This is GREATLY APPRECIATED but something needs to happen to prevent this kind of abuse in the future by any plugin developer. 

KFI on Twitter

Kessler Freedman, Inc.