Finding abandoned/no longer maintained plugins

After Matt’s State of the Word 2014 presentation I was talking to my host (QTH) about how Matt would like to encourage/pressure hosts into upgrading their PHP installs. My host told me that he’s tried this but it often results in broken sites because users don’t have their plugins updated in the first place and many are using plugins that are no longer maintained by anyone.

WordPress does a pretty good job of alerting you that a plugin is no longer maintained if you actually visit the WordPress plugin website but once you’re in the backend you (shudder) have to actually read! And worse, once you have a plugin installed you have no idea when it was last updated by the plugin author unless you (double shudder) click and then read on each individual plugin. Who has the time?

Seriously, I actually do click and read, but most people don’t.

This lead me to build a quick plugin to query the WordPress API servers for each plugin and ask them when each plugin was last updated. You can download the Vendi Abandoned Plugin Check here. Version 1 will query the servers daily and update your plugin listing screen with the number of days since the last SVN check-in.

Unfortunately it needs WordPress 3.4 or greater because of improvements made to the built-in HTTP request methods. I spent a while trying to get it working in 3.3 but eventually had to give up.

If I get a chance, version 2 will add support for alerting on the plugin install screen itself for abandoned plugins. Version 3 will add a management screen where you can actually configure a couple of settings like “how old is abandoned (currently 365 days, half of WordPress’s 2 year)” and possibly excluding plugins from the check.