In his 2022 State of the Word address, Matt Mullenweg revealed plans to introduce new taxonomies for WordPress theme and plugin directories. The new filters, which have now been enabled, will allow users to quickly differentiate between free community extensions and those with commercial upgrades. Anything with a “pro version” will be designated as commercial, while themes and plugins without paid upgrades will be classified as community extensions.
While the number of themes identified as commercial currently exceeds the number of community themes, the Plugin directory has almost equal numbers of free and commercial extensions. Some of the most widely used plugins, such as Yoast SEO, Jetpack, Akismet, Elementor, WooCommerce, and All-in-One WP Migration, have already been identified as commercial. Examples of community plugins include the WordPress Importer, Classic Editor, Classic Widgets, Gutenberg, Performance Lab, and Debug Bar.
Despite the introduction of these taxonomies, only a small percentage of authors have designated their extensions using them. At present, use of the taxonomies is not mandatory. This has led to some questions about whether a better classification system would be to have no label for the majority of extensions and use a label such as “includes paid upgrades” for those that offer additional services on top of their free versions.
WordPress developer Kevin Batdorf has also questioned whether the use of these taxonomies will become mandatory in the future. He has suggested that their low usage could give some plugins an advantage under these new classifications. Batdorf has also pointed out that all plugins are open source, regardless of whether they sell something. He believes that this does not make developers any less passionate about open-source or imply that non-commercial plugins have fewer features or less dedicated support.
WordPress’ Meta team is seeking feedback on the current implementation of these taxonomies. Automattic-sponsored contributor Steve Dufresne has said that work is continuously underway to improve the browsing experience and refine the visual aspects of the Theme and Plugin Directory as part of the site redesign. The new filters will be incorporated into the upcoming redesign changes that have been slowly rolling out across WordPress.org.
In addition to being available on the theme and plugin directories, these filters will also be integrated into the admin theme and plugin browsers. This will allow users to access them from wherever they search for extensions. In the meantime, users and theme and plugin developers can leave feedback via Meta Trac on the specific tickets outlined in the announcement, as the team continues to iterate on the project.