One of Matt Mullenweg's announcements at State of the Word 2022 was the addition of new taxonomies for the theme and plugin directories that will help users more quickly ascertain the purpose of the extensions they're considering.
With nearly 60.000 free plugins available and more than 10.000 free themes, it's not always immediately obvious which extensions are officially supported by the community and which commercial updates and support are available.
The new “Community” and “Commercial” designations were created to demystify the selection process and allow users to find plugins and themes that fit their needs. They were live on WordPress.org the last week and plugin and theme authors were invited to participate in the categorization. Categories are visible in the list sidebar.
In the example below, Akismet, Automattic's commercial anti-spam plugin bundled with WordPress, has the new Commercial category applied, indicating that it is free but offers additional updates or commercial support for a fee.
Categories don't seem to be as widely applied to themes yet, but one example is that all of the default themes fall under the "Community Theme" designation, meaning they are developed and supported by a community rather than being part of a commercial trying to to strive.
There are currently only two categories, but meta contributor Samuel (Otto) Wood said this effort is "the beginning of a broader categorization of plugins and themes." He outlined how plugin and theme authors can adhere to the new categorization feature:
To activate a plugin or theme, please send an email at email@example.com o firstname.lastname@example.org and simply ask to activate it. This is a manual process for now. In the future, we will add a method for plugins and themes to do it yourself.
Once you add the plugin or theme, you will get a new feature (in the Advanced tab for plugins or at the bottom of the listing page for themes). In both cases, it's a simple URL entry.
For commercial extensions the URL is a support link. Community extension URLs will be labeled as contribution links.
Several contributors to the announcement comments suggested that commercially tagged plugins and themes should also have the ability to include a “contribution” link since they are open source software. Wood's answer seems to indicate that the URL is more about where to direct support.
“This is a matter of categorization,” he said. “Community plugins are those that are primarily supported by a community of users. Commercial plug-ins are those primarily supported by a profit-seeking commercial entity.
Once these categorizations are adopted more widely, it will be interesting to see if the theme and plugin directories add the ability to filter search results using these tags. This would allow users to narrow down the results to align with their support expectations.