February 19, 2013
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Cool, so, hey everyone! Great to be here.
Thanks, Steve, for inviting me.
A few words on my background.
I'm the founder of Zemanta.
We are a New York City startup.
We offer widgets for related posts
for different purposes to bloggers.
We've been doing it for five years now.
I'm also an open source hacker for the last decade
and so and a blogger since 2004.
... always on WordPress.
Now, today, I want to talk to you about my pet project
that I've just launched today which is basically trying to,
it's an experiment in how to make the WordPress
plugins directory better or user-friendly.
Now the reason I started playing around with it
was that I felt there was so much innovation going on
in this plug-in space.
So much additional functionality is offered.
We have 23,000 plugins available now
that it's increasingly harder
to find the best one for a specific purpose.
So if basically you search for a plugin for related posts
you get, let's be honest, poor search results.
Some plugins are abandoned but they are still
on the first ten lists.
Some plugins are poorly rated but are in there.
I've learned that that's because the search engine here
only ranks stuff that mentions the words
that you are searching for more often.
So if a plugin had rated post written all over the description,
it would surface up.
But not it's probably not the best plugin.
The other thing that I was missing from this directory was how many people actually use the plugin.
If I look at a specific plugin like, even Jetpack for instance.
How many people are actually installed or upgrading it.
How many people engage with it.
That's pretty good metric to qualify the plugin in my mind.
But it's not available anywhere in the directory.
So, I started playing around with it a couple of months ago.
I scraped the whole thing and built my own version.
Then I played around with it a bit more
and this is where we ended up with today.
It's completely different.
It's an experiment in every sense
so I'm eager to hear feedback.
There's also a "Feedback" button over here
so you can just leave feedback on the side.
Feel free to do that.
I won't go into too many details but just to highlight the points that bothered me in the original directory.
So the search engine is fastly better than the original one
just partly because my company is building a search engine so we know something about the algorithms.
So I searched for a related post in here.
The results that will show up.
This is live demo so bear with me.
It's also the largest screen I've ever presented on.
The results are actually ranked based
on the quality of the plugin,
number of people actually using it,
the number of links that are pointing to it
from around the web and couple other details
and OF COURSE the description.
But the other three things,
so number of people, number of links, quantity
actually make the difference.
So, again, I've been tweaking the algorithm a bit.
It can always be better.
If you try it out, and you think
that, something, some results are not right
do leave me feedback.
The graphs, well that's interesting,
so in the original directory, there's this "Most Popular" list
which actually nobody knows exactly what it represents,
but it keeps changing.
So, the graphs actually show you, and on the most popular lists you can click next until you get to all 23,000 plugins.
So essentially it's like the search frame for every plugin.
These graphs are actually how the rank has been changing over the last couple of weeks for this particular plugin.
You can see which ones are being actively developed
and are progressing, which ones are abandoned and stuff.
Does it only search on the title or does
it actually search on something in the description?
It searches on title. It searches on description and
it searches on links that are around the web
pointing to this plugin.
Then it ranks them according to a number
of installations and quality screen.
Now, if we look into one of them. This is the first one.
There's a bunch of usual details that you'd expect
from the [inaudible] directory with the installation
and users number that didn't exist before.
These are the related links
that I'm referring to in the search as well.
So for the first time you can actually see
all the posts that are written about the plugin.
A nice surprise for me was that a lot of these plugin reviews are actually written in foreign languages
in Arabic and Japanese and Chinese.
There's a lot of people writing
about these plugins around the web.
And then, another, and of course there's
description and screen shots
but I've added an "Install From Here" button which is,
if I've just found the plugin that I want to try,
it's actually annoying to have to go to my Dashboard
and search for it again and find it again and install it there.
Now, write your blog location here.
Click on the button and it opens in a new tab and deep links you straight into your WordPress Dashboard and
you just click once more "Install" and that's it.
Also, there's a "Next" button so you can just look at,
flip through all these plugins that you found.
Just click "Next" "Next" and get an idea of what are
all the top twenty related posts plugins.
Let's find one that you like and install it.
So the other thing is the number of installations.
My "Most Popular Plugins" list is not randomly sorted.
It's basically sorted by a number of installations.
Now one thing to keep in mind is this number
is the best guess I could do so far.
Because the data is not publicly available anywhere,
and I hope it will be and there is no reason it shouldn't.
This is actually estimated based on how many people have upgraded the plugin at it's last upgrade
and then some math that somewhat works out.
(audience lighty giggling)
I've compared it with actual numbers
from a couple of plugins and it seems to be okay.
(audience question inaudible)
The quality score?
The quality score is a number that I've, is a formula
that I've just made up after just collecting this data.
It's explained in the "About" section.
It's basically, if the plugin has 5 stars it gets 3 points.
If the plugin has more than 100,000 users, it gets 3 points.
As pointing system, it can get up to 10.
(audience question inaudible)
This is the best estimate that we can do.
It actually is an estimate of how many people have active blog installations of that plugin.
Can you repeat questions?
Oh, sorry, sure.
So, one of the things that I like about the way the WordPress plugin
works on the other site, is that it tells me how compatible
it is with the most recent version.
Is there something that can immediately show me which is compatible with the most recent version?
No. But if more people.
The question was "Does the system show if the compatibility of the plugin with the version of WordPress?"
The answer is no I don't keep that information.
But if more people in the community
think it's valuable I'll add it.
I think it's valuable. [inaudible]
And also, the age of when it was last updated.
That's something I look at.
If it's updated more than [inaudible]
We have that. We have that.
And it's actually included in the quality score
but last updated number is here.
It would be good that was also included in the search functionality, you know, plugins updated this month is [inaudible]
Okay. Alright. Cool.
Did you try to work with Automattic or WordPress.org to, you know, improve it there?
Question is "Did I talk to Automattic?"
I think, Matt, and he says he digs it.
(audience lightly laughing)
That's as much as I could get from him. So far.
One last bit, I think my time's up otherwise.
If we have all this nice dataset going on
plus some nice charts.
Again, this is very rudimentary, but some basic stats
like how recent are the plugins,
how many users do they have,
and my favorite is this one, which basically tells me
that vast majority of plugins have 3 stars or more.
So very few plugins have 1 or 2 stars rating.
It's heavily bias toward the 5 stars so the stars have nothing to do with any kind of quality rating.
Yeah, that's it for me. Any more questions?
Would you lower the value of the star rating?
It would make sense to lower the rating of the stars, yeah,
the importance of star rating, yeah, you're right.
This is the last thing I've done, so.
Do you have plans to continue
to developing this or extend it.
Yeah, sure. It's a pet project. It's totally voluntary basis.
I'll keep updating it.
I'll keep working on features that I will feel are useful
or people will tell me are useful.
I also welcome any help. Yeah, definitely.
Are the plugins, like if I added a new plugin today, which I'm not, but if I did, would it be found in this search engine?
Yeah. I update the database every 2 days.
So, yeah, reasonably fast.
Bostjan, when you gave us a figure earlier, the number of plugins available. How close is that? Is that ....
So, the question is
"How many plugins are really out there?"
There really is 23,000 plugins and probably a bit more.
Those that are there are day of directory.
But of the really useful ones,
we can take a look at plugins by number of users
and you can see that there's very few plugins
with less than 10 users.
So I think it's reasonable to assume
that all 20,000+ plugins are actually
being used by a meaningful number of people.
So, I will deem them alive.
As a plugin developer, I have found
that the plugin search so unuseful.
Particularly lately, I that I tend to just look
for public projects to see if there's one
available that I can put a request on.
So, is it possible to look for public projects within?
What do you mean by public projects?
I'm sorry. Plugin projects.
Uh, I didn't look into that but I'd love to explore this idea.
Maybe after the talk.
Cool. Thank you.