WP to Twitter was my first plugin. I released it in 2008, as a project originally paired with a Pierre Far’s custom URL shortener, Cli.gs. (Now long gone.) I’ve maintained it steadily for 15 years.
In 2012, I added the premium add-on WP Tweets Pro, so that I could afford to continue to update the plug-in. At it’s height, it had about 130,000 installations. That user base has since fallen to about 30,000. The decrease has a few sound reasons. One is that I never added support for other social media networks. This decision gave other platforms broader appeal. This is fine; I only intended to earn enough to keep it going, and that’s all it has ever done. Another reason is the difficulty in setup, which is also reasonable, although it has some benefits.
Why do I think things should change now?
Since the change in ownership at Twitter and all the ensuing chaos, I’ve felt that the plugin is on fragile ground. The Twitter API is always a fickle partner – unpredictable, with poor support. With the reductions in Twitter’s staff the already scarce updates about API changes have dropped to almost nothing. I know they’re making changes. I’ve had a spike in support requests that indicate changes in authentication rules, application rules for elevated access, and arbitrary API access suspensions. I can’t do anything about these changes.
Right now, the plug-in still works – which is possibly because every user has set up their own developer application to use it. Instead of a single API instance, where the flick of a switch can shut it down, WP to Twitter uses thousands of individual applications.
This difficulty has hindered growth. WP to Twitter is hard to set up – and since the change to require Elevated Access for applications like this, it’s become even harder.
What I could change with WP to Twitter
I could re-implement how I use WP to Twitter’s API. Making the plug-in easier to use was my hypothetical growth path prior to new ownership.
But the changes I would make would also make the plug-in vulnerable to being shut down completely by Twitter. If it weren’t for last week’s sudden and complete shut down of 3rd party clients, I’d still consider this a viable option.
Making the investment of time and resources to implement a change that could lead to a total shutdown feels like an incredible waste of time.
I don’t see a viable route forward for the plug-in. I can leave it as it is: difficult to set up, and each user may be shut down by Twitter with no explanation or recourse. The support burden of that, however, with the increasing unreliability from Twitter, is high – and has the potential to become suddenly catastrophic.
It’s a frustrating position to be in as an independent developer. I’ve put a lot of time into this plugin, but I no longer have the trust in Twitter required to continue working on it.
Where do I go next?
I’m open to ideas, but I’m also realistic. WP to Twitter and WP Tweets Pro are effectively on life support. I see no reason at this time to continue to develop new features or make major changes. If you wish to cancel your Pro subscription, you can log-in to your account and visit ‘My Subscriptions‘ in the Account Information sidebar.
It’s been a fun ride, but it feels a lot like it’s over.