Sarah Gooding, WP Tavern:
Jetpack is recruiting customers for 45-minute long interviews on Zoom where they will preview some new designs and talk about proposed product improvements that are already in the works. In exchange, participants receive a $25 Amazon gift card.
This outreach effort may help in easing the periodic friction between Automattic and the larger WordPress community, which tends to emerge like pop-up storms on social media and quickly dissipate, but not without taxing onlookers’ good will. Although Jetpack is active on more than 5 million sites, and is marketed as “the most popular WordPress plugin for just about everything,” its team occasionally seems out of touch with users.
I’m old enough to remember when Jetpack was a decent plugin. Back then, Jetpack’s had no sketchy upsells, and the plugin was designed in a modular fashion that allowed for individual features to be fully switched off.
Is that still possible? I don’t know, and quite frankly – I don’t care enough to find out. Based on the public sentiment of the WordPress community, it sounds like Jetpack is now bloated by design.
Sarah is right here, Jetpack and Automattic do occasionally seem out of touch with users, and this product improvement strategy is, ironically, yet another example of that. The idea of rewarding people with an Amazon gift card in exchange for Jetpack feedback feels wrong to me. The WordPress community has been making valid complaints about Jetpack and Automattic for years. There’s no need to go through the charade that is this product improvement plan. Jetpack should just listen and reflect on the WordPress community’s existing feedback.
One recent example of this happened when Matt Medeiros drew attention to the wording for the Jetpack Scan upsells that appear on the plugins page in the admin. Specifically, people took issue with the claim that “adding plugins can expose your site to security risks.” While this is true, participants in the resulting heated discussion said it implies that Jetpack, the plugin that claims to do “just about everything,” is the only safe plugin.
Matt Medeiros of Matt Report has a long history of critical takes on WordPress, especially regarding Automattic and Jetpack. If anyone at Automattic happens to read this, just listen to Matt’s podcast (seriously). There’s no need to engage in 45-minute long interviews. You’ll find almost everything wrong with Jetpack and Automattic within Matt’s podcast archive.
At the end of the day, the problem is fundamental in nature. Jetpack’s issues are not going to be fixed by practical methods like codebase optimization or code refactoring. The problem with Jetpack is a conflict of interest between WordPress.com (Automattic) and WordPress.org (the WordPress community). Jetpack, a plugin developed by Automattic, will always put corporate interests before community interests because that’s the only incentive model that makes logical sense from Automattic’s perspective. Unless that changes, Jetpack will never get better for WordPress users.
I wonder how many Amazon gift cards it’ll take for Automattic to realize this.