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WordPress.org plugin review analysis

Do you check WordPress plugin reviews before trying it out? Most people do. So do I. 💬

My name is Raitis Sevelis and I work as a product manager at Visual Composer. In my free time, I like to analyze WordPress plugins, their prices, licenses, etc.

A few days ago, a comment in the WordPress community cached my attention. The context is not important, but the comment was something like: “We all know how plugin reviews are made.” 

That triggered me and I decided to look into the data of some prominent plugins. There has to be a correlation between the number of active installs and reviews. 🤔

Plus, I was curious if I am going to find something extraordinary.

The average number of reviews

In this article, I decided to look exclusively into 5-star reviews.

The reason is simple. Everything below 5 stars is organic and I doubt that plugin owners put extra effort in getting reviews below 5 stars. Of course, 5-star reviews may be organic as well.

Plus, recently I talked with one customer who said that he skips all 1-star reviews because most of them are heavily biased. Some may have not received a refund. Others asked for customization that was denied. There are tons of reasons why people can rate your plugin with a single star even it is not that bad. 🤷

As we sorted that out, let's get to numbers.

I have analyzed the number of active installs and 5-star reviews of 87 popular plugins. With the list on my hands, I've calculated the average percentage of active users leaving 5-star reviews.

The average percentage is 0.61%. What does it mean? It means, that plugin with 100k active installs has 611 people rated it with 5 stars.

That's the average, but industries may show a different picture. For example, page builders have an average of 0.38%, while membership plugins have as high as 0.99%.

The thing to point out is that the size of the sample data is pretty small and anything unusual may have a significant impact. With that, I am saying that you should not fully rely on the industry average that much.

An example would be a Zion builder that has only 2000 active installs and 16 5-star reviews. That gives Zion a solid 0.80% which is way higher than Visual Composer and Beaver Builder with 0.16% or Elementor with 0.11%.

You may tell me that Zion is probably a lot more loved by the community. I will answer that they needed only 16 reviews to get there. With that, I would say it is just hard to rely on the reviews in such a case.

Extraordinary plugin reviews 😝

When I was starting this research, I was hoping to find something extraordinary. And I did.

We know that not everyone is playing by the rules. I may be mistaken and maybe those people are working their asses off to get reviews, but with an average of 0.61%, I find anything above 2% being suspicious.

raccoon winnie GIF

From the list, I've managed to spot several plugins which have a ratio above 2%. Some of them have really ironic names, like CleanTalk or Ultimately Social (extremely social indeed).

Again, this is just me being suspicious and maybe those guys have developed a genius method to get reviews. Still, I don't think that people behind Yoast SEO (0.52%) or GiveWP (0.46%) are that stupid that they could not figure it out as well. 💡

You can find a full list of data I have analyzed here. To that moment, I doubt that I will keep this document ever-green as it was made for the purpose of research only.

Just for laughs

Before we jump to conclusions, I want to put a smile on your face.

As you can see from the document, there are 88 plugins on the list. I did not include the last one in my analysis, but these numbers were the reason I decided to do my research.

MainWP Dashboard has 10k active installs. But guess what. It has 2061 5-star reviews! This gives them a 20% ratio. Imagine, every fifth user was so excited about the plugin that he/she decided to leave a review on WordPress.org.

With such numbers, they should open a church or something. ⛪

Conclusions

Getting reviews is hard and plugin owners are doing their best (and sometimes their worst) to get good reviews.

If you ask me, be cautious when checking reviews. Look into the numbers of active installs and reviews. Compare those numbers to see if they look legit.

Sometimes low ratio does not mean that the plugin is bad. It could mean that plugin owners do not fight for extra reviews and maybe focus on other things.

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