On advertising of paid plugins in non marketplace topics

I think that’s a perfectly fair argument, and I think you’ve been somewhat unfairly treated here on Meta.

Many developers don’t do any advertisement for their work, and eventually give up on their projects because they couldn’t garner any interest. I can’t fault you for trying to get your name out there.

That being said though, keep these things in mind:

  • Unwritten rules are still rules. Just because Meta isn’t officially or explicitly stating (or maybe it is, but it’s hard to find) that commercial advertising isn’t allowed except within Category X and Y, you should still take great care to listen carefully when told to show off your wares elsewhere. You went with the “ask for forgiveness, not permission” approach, which is fine, but now it’s time for the forgiveness part.

  • Contributing back to Discourse can be a great selling point. As a frequent customer of premium WordPress products, I can attest that I’ve always preferred sellers who’ve had some involvement with the WordPress open source project, either through a popular open source plugin or direct contributions to core (WooThemes did both, and they’ve now been bought up by Automattic/WordPress.com)

You don’t wanna get off on the wrong foot with the community that you’re trying to enrich.


I am fine with paid stuff being in the Marketplace category. That is what it is there for, after all.

It is when paid stuff starts bleeding over to other categories that there could be issues.

I think the complaint @sam has is that very minor code changes are being packaged up as “paid” components, which is not really in the spirit of open source. It is one thing to have a complex, large component you sell as an add-on, but quite another to add twenty lines of code and charge $20 for the right to use it.


My 2 cents:

  • It should be OK for 3rd parties to create a complete description of their paid offerings in the Marketplace category

  • It should OK for 3rd parties to reference said topic in any other category where relevant. But they should not put additional information and screenshots in these non-marketplace topics. They should simply reference the marketplace topic.
    EDIT: concensus below is that it’s NOT ok to mention paid plugins in any category other than Marketplace. Such posts should be flagged as Spam going forward.

Beyond that, I think we’re just dealing with culture and common sense.

It’s generally not adviseable for 3rd party’s to make trivial plugins and attempt to charge for them. The marketplace will decide, but if it’s so trivial, the 3rd party assumes the risk that someone will add it as an open source plugin or core feature before too long. The community should encourage them to instead make these contributions to the core product.

Otherwise, they also assume the risk to their own reputation as being opportunists, and I don’t think it takes anyone calling them out on this for it to be clear to the rest of us.

That said, creating non-trivial plugins carries potentially even greater risk for 3rd parties hoping to make money or cover their development costs by selling access to them. There are likely maintenance costs involved in keeping them up to date and the plugin ecosystem is not very mature. The team is also weary of fragmentation and plugins which demonstrate real demand may get implemented as core features or plugins that are supported natively by the team.

So what other opportunities exist for third party developers to receive compensation for larger contributions to the discourse ecosystem? Good question. Some on the team recently laid out some ideas, but I don’t think a serious, open discussion of this topic has yet to be explored here on meta.


I have reservations about this one. I don’t think it’s acceptable for third parties to push their wares elsewhere. There have been recent examples of this, where a new marketplace thread appears and the same author then resurrects other threads to push their product.

I don’t think anyone is participating here only to receive notifications, which boil down to adverts, long after discussion has ended.

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I guess I’m somewhat on the fence about that too. But at the same time, if we look at the ‘table’ topic, while it was rather dormant, it did get bumped every so often, and was a request that had yet to be fulfilled by any non-paid option in over a year. Isn’t it somewhat fair to think that the people who had requested it might be interested in an option to purchase the functionality?

It’s not obviously worthy of a spam flag given the current language in the flag dialogue:

This post is an advertisement. It is not useful or relevant to the current topic, but promotional in nature.

Yes, the post is an advertisement. Yes the post is promotional in nature. But… it is relevant to the current topic.

That said, I don’t really object to your point of view and would be happy to help enforce it if that is what the community agrees upon. It would be good to clarify it here so we can all be on the same page about it though.


I think the test should be “is it relevant?” If not - it’s simply spam.

Well in that case the discussion was in the ‘feature’ category. It specifically asked support for tables in Markdown.

The team has plans for the markdown side of things which will resolve the whole tables issue in the future. Today Discourse uses Markdown-JS, the plan is to switch to CommonMark which supports tables natively. That answered the original query, by acknowledging that tables were somewhere further down the roadmap.

The option presented was neither a discourse feature, nor was it a Markdown option, and as @sam pointed out it’s not even an elegant solution.

Since that response was posted, the author has subsequently indicated that they’ve no interest in contributing to core. If they don’t want to get involved in the project, and have to be called out by one of the founders as such, then the only place I want to see them push their wares in the marketplace.


Correction CommanMark does not support tables, markdown.it which is the parser we plan to move to supports tables as a built-in, default on, CommanMark extension.

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Thanks for the clarification Sam, although I don’t think it dilutes the point


If I were wanting to sell “feature X” and did a search for related discussions (often long dormant) about “feature X”, on-topic or otherwise, that is what I’d call “opportunistic SPAM”. That is, I took no part or interest in the discussion, nor will I likely return to it.

A more pertinent example, say I see several discussions about members wanting “feature Y” and I realize I could provide this without undo time or effort.

What I would do is offer a Pull Request.

Not accepted into Core? I would either

  • host the code myself for others to use as they wish (under GPL)
  • write a tutorial so that others could learn from it

I understand that not all write code out of the love of writing code.
Likewise, the more complex the code is and the more time it took to write it could move it closer to “I should be compensated for this”

But for anything simple, I think freely sharing it provides it’s own form of compensation i.e.
It helps build credibility and trust that can’t be bought.

IMHO if a member wants to charge for their work, keep it in Marketplace or their own site (a link in their Profile is OK by me) but I don’t want too see it advertised elsewhere in the forum if you please.


I think we should not allow any paid plugins to be mentioned anywhere but the marketplace category.

I know it sounds draconian and over harsh. However, I do not see “paid closed source plugins” as a practical endeavour anyone should follow (either customers or developers), cause we have no groundwork for it.

I don’t want to be encouraging this throughout the forum.


Maybe rather than posting about it in the existing topic, the plugin author could link the relevant post in their Marketplace topic?

“I made this, it solves the issue decribed in (link).”

Then it’s not spamming outside of Marketplace, but people who are likely to be interested could still be informed of its existence. Or is that still too spammy?


Feels a bit spammy, but definitely not as bad as reviving old discussion

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I will be flagging posts outside of the marketplace category from now on.

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I think that’s a good solution. No matter how hotly debated, relevant content should be properly linked.

And if I recall correctly, linking to a topic that people are tracking will send them a notification about the incoming link right? I think that one-time “heads up! if you’re interested, this thing is now available, at a price”-notification for anyone previously engaged in discussion about that feature is reasonable.