I Live in A World Where an Ad-Blocker Plugin for the WordPress Backend Exists

Justin Tadlock over at WPTavern published an article highlighting a plugin called Clarity which is supposed to block or hide pop-ups and banners in the WordPress backend. These banners usually consist of upsells or some other form of annoyance. If you would have told me 15 years ago that a plugin like this would be created and in some aspects, needed, I would have shrugged it off.

Stanislav Khromov, the author of Clarity, has a draft in progress that lays the foundation of an acceptable ads policy in WordPress.

Plugins and themes show banners or other sorts of notifications to users to inform them of important things that affect the usage of the plugin and theme in questions.

However, many plugins are asking for reviews, informing users of discounts and asking them to upgrade to a “pro” version. This is generally not useful or desired users to see. It can also cause confusion in end users that do not understand why they need to buy something.

The types of notifications that are described above are being removed by Clarity.

Notifications of the type outlined above should:

  • Be shown only on an option page that belongs to the plugin and theme, and nowhere else.
  • Be shown only to Administrator role users
  • May not be intrusive or distracting.
  • Should not be displayed in the main column, but rather in an “aside”.

I think the draft is a decent start and now that Clarity is making the rounds throughout the community, I imagine this document will be changing soon with additional suggestions. As Tadlock mentions in the Tavern post, WordPress developers have chimed in on the WordPress Advanced Facebook group. Some are upset as they feel it harms their ability to turn free users into paying customers. Others see it as a necessity.

The most surprising aspect of all of this is that a plugin like Clarity hasn’t been created sooner and if it has, I don’t recall it. The WordPress Backend is the Wild West for plugin authors looking to turn free users into paying customers. Notices that are non-dismissable, that practically beg you to pay, and that reappear 24-72 hours after you dismiss them. And considering most WordPress installs probably average 20 plugins or more, it’s easy to see how the notices and upsells can quickly get out of hand.

There have been efforts over the years to create a centralized notifications center or at least a notifications API but without core buy-in, it’s tough to make any sustained progress. One day though, I think something like the proposal linked above will make it into core, what it looks like is anyone’s guess. But until then, it’s facinating and disappointing that WordPress has reached a point of something like Clarity existing.