WordPress.org now reports active plugin installs

So interesting tip I saw from @bfintal on Twitter: WordPress.org plugin pages now report an “Active Installs” number, as illustrated in the screenshot below.

It’s important to note it’s not an exact number as of now, but rather a minimum count like 40+. it gets less specific the higher the number is. For example, Jetpack’s active installs are currently listed as 1,000,000+.

It has always been a slight pet peeve of mine when a download count is used as a measure of success for a theme or plugin. While far from irrelevant, active installs are a much more useful metric.

For example, if somebody installs a plugin, realizes it’s not a right fit for whatever reason, and deactivates, the download count remains unaffected. Active install count won’t.

Pretty cool move!

P.S. I haven’t seen any mention of this on the Make WordPress Plugins site, but I’m expecting that will come soon.

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And just noticed on individual plugin stats page, there’s now a breakdown of active versions. Pretty cool, and also a bit disturbing to see how evenly split outdated versions are.

The following screenshot is from the Jetpack stats page.

Really interesting stats. All popular plugins have majority of users on older versions. For example Contact form 7, only 22.5% use the latest version.
I don’t understand this trend. Same as how many users use older WP version or lover php than 5.4.

Yep, it’s interesting. But not really surprising. Most people just aren’t proactive with plugin updates. And probably wouldn’t be with core updates if it didn’t auto upgrade nowadays.

I don’t know whether this change is good or not, or whether it’s sufficient. Although it’s fun to see how many active installs plugins do have as against their number of downloads.

For example, I have seen a plugin that has 30k+ downloads but only has 1k+ active installations. As against one that has 10k+ downloads with 3k+ active installations. Go figure :smile:

I hope they add something though that can help new plugins. Take for example Page Builder Sandwich, it says there:

Last Updated: 2015-2-25
Active Installs: 100+

It doesn’t much imply that “Hey I’m new, I might be cool to check out”. But of course the description should be the main source of information, but those side information help.

As someone who writes about WordPress for a living, I’m very pleased to see this change, especially as it relates to Security Vulnerability posts. When I write about plugin security vulnerabilities, I use the download count as a measure of the potential amount of user’s who may be affected by it. The install numbers give us a better picture of how large the threat is.

One side effect I’ve noticed is that some plugin authors are seeing install numbers of over 1,000 and I’ve seen them mention that because of those numbers, they’re going to work on a pro version of their plugin. I know the plugin directory allows upselling and this small change may inspire a ton more of that practice.

@bfintal - The downloads figure includes all downloads ever, of any version of the plugin. Ie, it includes updates to the plugin. I’m guessing the plugin with 1K+ installations released a lot more updates than the 3K+ installations one.

That’s big part of why many of us are so excited to see the number for active installations. You really couldn’t tell much from the downloads figure.

How is this collecting? Do this mean each WordPress site send some stats somewhere? (how often?)

Another update for stats. These numbers looks much better than previous :wink:

Yes. See the “Aggregated Statistics” section of the Privacy Policy.

Maybe someone else can weigh in on the “how often?” question, but this repo search for “api.wordpress.org” will provide some better insight.

But yeah, WordPress has been collecting this data for a while.

Simply put, WordPress sends the information about all installed plugins and themes every time you update. Even the number of users (and blogs if multisite) is sent along.

Actually, I think it does it every time your installation checks for updates, which is every 12 hours by default. Some people may have disabled this or altered the frequency of the check, but the vast majority of sites will be pinging the .org servers every 12 hours - that’s a lot of data.

Oh yeah, good point. Forgot about update downloads being included

Huge spikes in the download curve = plugin was updated. :slight_smile:

I thought WordPress said no pinging home or something in their policy. Now they are going against it and doing it themselves. I’m confused.

I think you’re thinking of the Plugin Guidelines (under item #7).

Actually, this change is a huge boost to new plugins. Older plugins tend to accumulate very high download numbers because they’ve been around a long time. New plugins still need time to build up installs, get their first reviews and prove themselves in their support forum. But the numbers will reflect much more accurately how quickly they gain ground on competitors.

For instance (here comes a brag): in 9 months I’ve netted roughly the same number of downloads as a competitor that has been around about three times as long. This made us look about equal in terms of user adoption. But since the changes I can see that my plugin has up to 4x as many active installs. w00t!

The downside is that these changes don’t appear to have made it into the plugin discovery area within WordPress. It’s still showing download totals in search on the .org website and through the WordPress > Plugins > Add New page. Will be great when this rolls out everywhere.

Yes, that’s the one.

No “phoning home” without user’s informed consent.

So how is WordPress doing this? Is it because this is the plugins guideline and not the WordPress guideline?

Yes download stats are really just raw data, while active installs tell much more. It can be really interesting to see active usages for themes.

If we deactivate a plugin that is on WordPress.org. Will those stats go down?

Correct. This is how you receive update indications for new theme, plugin and core releases.

Can we disable the ping that does this?