XenForo Marketplace - How can it be better?

Discussion in 'XenForo' started by Steve, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. Steve

    Steve Administrator

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    Going to preface this by saying this isn't for attacking addon authors or XF developers but more of a CONSTRUCTIVE discussion on how it can be better. Some of the "Pros and Cons" are ideas I've seen being posted beforehand not necessarily my views or ideas.

    Any post that directly attacks an addon author or XF developers will be deleted, warnings may be issued and possible removal from further replies.

    Starting off here, I've been burned a few times and I'm sure many others have too but what can be done to help reduce the effects of buying a addon, style or service on XF.com RM only to be left with an unsupported product. Also "XenForo Marketplace" is a term I assume would better suit any future chances of it being just that, a place to buy things not a place for links to other sites to buy. I feel the XFRM needs to be able to handle transactions before much of this can change so keep that in mind while making your post.

    Some of the main issues with Authors: (feel free to add to this and I'll update this post)
    • Author goes MIA
    • Author does not reply to support questions in the support threads
    • Author is leaving but doesn't give a clear indication
    • Author has very slow updates with know bugs causing errors or making the addon unusable
    Below are some pros and cons of the current XFRM setup (feel free to add to this and I'll update this post)

    Pros:
    • Easy to use ie: creating resources is easy
    • Open market no fees to Authors for selling
    • Easy to navigate ie: XF 1.x - XF 2.x categories / Paid - Free sorting
    • FAQ tab is nice for both authors and users
    Cons:
    • Users have to register on many other websites to acquire products
    • Takes a good amount of time to realize a author has given up on the product
    • Giving support in a single thread can be daunting
    • Tracking bugs in support threads is tedious

    The Marketplace idea is to have a central place to house all transactions, support and possibly bug tracking. Below we can outline the pros and cons of the marketplace idea. (feel free to add to this and I'll update this post)

    Pros:
    • Possibly better protection for XF customers from buying dead products
    • Single place to get ALL products, no need to sign up at many different sites
    • Safety of audited addons and styles by XenForo (this of course would likely mean a percentage of sales to go to XenForo to cover man hours)
    Cons:
    • Addons/Style/Services prices increase from having to pay a percentage of sales to XenForo
    • Getting addon and style developers on board with fees
    • Unsupported products could still be an issue and what to do with those
    Really it's a topic that isn't going to have an end all answer to everything but I'd like to see what others think can be done to help both authors and users.

    Also would like to hear from users here who've used the IPS Marketplace and how it operates in the sense of the pros and cons outlined above.
     
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  2. HWS

    HWS TAZ Member

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    While I am a big fan of a "XenForo Marketplace", I cannot see how this could be calculated.

    Currently, most forum owners complain about high add-on prices, but in fact the prices are to low for developers who take their job seriously (leading to most of your current cons with authors). There are only 3 or 4 developers with acceptable income from XenForo add-ons.

    Problem is the global user base of XenForo is to low to get acceptable prices in a "XenForo Marketplace" and even if the count of XenForo forums would get doubled the calculation would be difficult.
     
  3. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    Pricing is an issue users think they are too high and developers think they are too low. For some one working from home here in the Netherlands you should have an income of 45 to 55 euro a hour. This includes everything. The reason is simple that pay is low lots of developers and not enough customers, not everyone can cough up money too buy add-ons.
     
  4. R0binHood

    R0binHood Fan

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    Access to the 3rd party marketplace from within the admin control panel, like with Wordpress.

    The ability to search and install the plugins from within the control panel on your own site is brilliant.

    All the search results are designed in a way to display plugins in a format suitable for actually browsing plugins, instead of relying on the same search designed for threads, on a forum on an external site.

    Complete with one click install.
    5.png


    You get an overview on the plugins page with a ton of info about all the plugins installed, if there's updates available or not.
    1.png

    Note the WP Rocket plugin. That's a great example of a paid plugin, where my licence has expired but there are updates available. It reminds me every time I check this page and links me off to where I can buy it. But it still lets me monitor the installed version, and access the change logs so I can see if there's anything in each new update to see if there's anything that will encourage me to pay to upgrade.

    You can see from the admin control panel of your site if the plugins have been marked as compatible with the version of the software you're running.
    upload_2019-3-7_20-9-26.png


    Single click update actions the add on install:
    2.png


    And confirmation, all without leaving or reloading the page. I can initiate the update of 10 plugins with 10 clicks in 10 seconds this way.
    3.png


    Viewing the details of any plugin gives you an onsite modal with access to a ton of info, including reviews, documentation, change logs, screenshots and links to appropriate resources:
    4.png


    Make it easier for admins to find, install and update plugins and their use will go up and demand will increase.
    The one click core upgrade seems like an amazing step in this direction, but it would great if a system could be worked out for 3rd party plugins.

    The resource manager doesn't scale that well in terms of usability in its current format. It is handy being able to search the discussion threads of resources, of course, but often when I search for something in the resource manager I want to be able to see list of resources with more info at a glance as in the wordpress plugin search example above, rather than a list of titles and random snippet of text.

    upload_2019-3-7_20-16-40.png
     
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  5. cheat_master30

    cheat_master30 Moderator

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    The issue with pricing is basically that different groups expect different things.

    Some people, especially those who grew up with vBulletin, expect mods to be a passion project type deal. For people in this camp, mods were the kind of thing people built because their own personal forums needed them, or because they had a bit of spare time after work/school/uni one day and decided to do a bit of programming.

    However, at the same time, there's also a growing percentage of modders who think their mods should be their main job/livelihood, and for them, the existing prices are too low for that to be viable.

    And that's really where the clash lies. Do you think mods and forum extras be something people do for fun, or an industry in of itself? Because where you lie on that spectrum will probably dictate how much you're willing to pay for them.
     
  6. cornnfedd

    cornnfedd Captain Futurama

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    Needs to be a bit more wordpress like when installing and the ease maybe?
     
  7. cheat_master30

    cheat_master30 Moderator

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    Can't disagree with that. It'd be great to be able to search/install mods through the XenForo dashboard, and being able to install them by merely uploading a few files would be neat too (no XML import required).

    *Looks up*

    Oh, R0binHoodR0binHood explained it nicely with pictures.

    Other than that, definitely make it so you can buy all mods without leaving the XenForo site (and hell, maybe even within the admin panel too). As people have said a million times, having to sign up for dozens of different sites to get mods is annoying.
     
  8. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Administrator

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    I would like to see:
    1. developer profiles.
    2. developer reviews. (not just resource reviews)
    3. projects marketplace like IPS and Upwork have. Admins can post custom work and developers can offer their services.
    4. client reviews/feedback.
    5. resource reviews on specific aspects. (price, features, service, code quality)
    6. bug tracker per resource.
    7. resource questions. Instead of a cluttered thread, have one question per thread, which can be marked answered.
    8. suggestion tracker per resource.
    9. git integration.
    10. code reviews.
    11. buy/renew several addons from the same marketplace. I run 100 addons and it takes quite a bit of time to renew / upgrade everything. I'd love a 'renew all' button.
    12. And an 'upgrade all' button as well. :)
    I wouldn't mind paying more because higher quality addons saves us money. I also think that if some of the more problematic addons would be removed due to code issues this would give opportunities to new developers. Trust would grow. I think it would have a positive effect in many directions.
     
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  9. Mike Creuzer

    Mike Creuzer Developer

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    I want their names. :p
     
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  10. sbjsbj

    sbjsbj Adherent

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    There are a lot of things I think which would be needed. But the first and most important thing is, that the current RM is in my opinion useless in its current form.

    That needs to be enhanced massively. I think it is still the same basic framework it was 6 years ago.

    There is a reason why Bob's Showcase/Articles addons are very popular.

    So for the XF Marketplace getting better, it needs the right infrastructure to host the marketplace. THEN we can talk about the transactions (developer - customer relation). How to keep devs and the customers happy etc.

    Although I think the XF as a platform still needs a lot of enhancements, the core is pretty solid and well rounded right now. It has nothing on the level of "game changing", but playing it safe has also its advantages.

    The problem is that the RM and MG are nowhere near from being solid in my opinion like the core is. They are underwhelming at best. Alfa1's list has examples of what the RM lacks as an example.

    I think XF should hire 1 more developer to help out with everything.

    I think right now XF is not lucrative enough for developers to stay and the experience of customers is not very good because of that. When I compare the products on Wordpress or codecanyon I can get and compare them with XF's products, there is a huge quality difference. So as a customer I am not happy with the low-level products on XF. But at the same time I think developers are not happy because they can't make enough money of their products.
     
  11. Alfa1

    Alfa1 Administrator

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    Their names are 'Quality Products', 'Service with Care' and 'Customer Retention'.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2019
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  12. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

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    Pricing -- you guys are looking at it entirely from the retail perspective. The best developers in the IPS Marketplace know they're going to lose money on a pure time / cost basis. But they continue to participate for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is that it's an advertisement to private work where the real money is at.
     
  13. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    But not all developers are capable of doing large projects in a timely matter. Only the once that can do this will earn enough.
     
  14. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

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    Steve is on a roll with all of these interesting topics LOL.

    I'm going to share with you insights from the IPS Marketplace on what works well:

    1. Code Review - A T2 developer actually reviews the code of all Marketplace submissions. Greater emphasis is paid to new contributions or those with a known history of poor coding. The main goal of the code review is to protect large sites. Small sides can handle terrible code since nobody is visiting anyways. But large sites can grind to a halt with poor code or nonrecommended methods.

    IPS will block or disable the the sale
    of mods that don't follow critical methods until the author updates the file. It's a heavy hand that's led to some grumbling, but it's ultimately at the protection of the client.

    2. All active mods must maintain compatibility with the latest version.

    It's always a mad rush in the Marketplace near big point releases like 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4 because Marketplace authors know if they don't update, their mod will be disabled and potentially delisted. Disabled means the mod is available for downloads by existing clients (so clients can grab old copies), but not available for new purchases (so the money stops). All authors must compatibility of their files to the newest version within a certain time frame. Usually that timeframe is many, many months out though.

    This prevents non-updated mods from cluttering up the Marketplace. It's okay for authors to list several versions of their mods for old versions, but they must offer at least a version for the current Invision Community release. Disabled mods can potentially be delisted (although IPS has only done this sweep once so far).

    This means the Marketplace and IPS move in lockstep. We're about 2-3 weeks after the official release of Invision Community 4.4, and the majority of the Marketplace is already updated.

    3. All Marketplace authors must have an active license.

    This has led to some obvious grumblings. There was an author last week who got mad about having his file disabled and ultimately delisted from the Marketplace because he hadn't maintained compatibility in over a year. Guess why? He didn't have an active license, so he couldn't test on the latest release yet he was still offering in the Marketplace.

    4. IPS offers basic data to the mod author. It's nothing fancy, but every author can see how many paid licenses, number of downloads, and who downloaded and when. IPS knows this aggregate data too so they've built in some of the most popular mods directly into the suite like Name 2 Avatar and Group Colors.

    For all of the huge benefits, it's not perfect. They're still using support topics which are a mess of feedback, bugs, and release notes. This doesn't stop authors from going AFK for several months. And this doesn't mean authors guarantee any level of support. But the active moderarion does clear out the very worst of the Marketplace and ensures those who do participate keep up the latest releases.

    IPS has a more controlled experience of the the third party modding community but I know they've also waffled between completely decentralizing and offshoring the Marketplace to even tighter experiences like a Trusted Providers that are certified by IPS. It'll be interesting to see how they progress.
     
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  15. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

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    True, but I'm pretty sure there are enough requests from small clients for small custom plugins to keep folks busy and paid.

    I also think people consistently overlook the qualitative benefits you receive. Things like ... A sense of affilitiation, camaraderie, teamwork, empathy. I came from the SMF world and everybody did everything for free! Themes were free. Mods were free. People helped each other for free. It was great! And people continue to participate in those communities because they obtained an emotional value from helping others.
     
  16. Russ

    Russ Administrator

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    I’m not sure removing addons because they’re not updated quick enough is a good practice. Almost seems like it could result in a sloppy/rushed job of updating the resource. If anything I’d rework the displaying of updated vs outdated resources putting an emphasis on the updated ones obviously. On top of that, at least with XF a lot of folks aren’t in a rush to update to the latest version, so why would addon authors be punished for doing the same thing.
     
  17. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

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    I mean, delisting is done like ... Two years after the release. Trust me there's plenty of time. If you get delisted, if because you're dead or don't care.

    Disabling is done in a shorter time frame but it's still many many months after a release.

    But it does give some pressure to mod authors.
     
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  18. R0binHood

    R0binHood Fan

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    Ahem...

    XF 2.1.1 Released

    20 mins later....

    upload_2019-3-12_18-3-26.png

    *Proceed to twiddle thumbs awaiting theme and add on authors to update their add ons*

    :p
     
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  19. Steve

    Steve Administrator

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    I think people still do this but not as much when there is a chance at making money and getting that pat on the back too. A lot of fly by developers just there to make a quick buck and when those bucks are no longer coming in it's "see you later" type attitudes. A good developer will know how to price their work and handle support durations.

    Once money starts switching hands for a paid add-on customers feel they are obligated to good support (rightfully so) and an expectation of features being implemented (can be overwhelming to add-on authors).
     
  20. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

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    Yeah for sure. It's always funny to see the difference between how new developers and mature developers interact .

    The mature and serious developers are non-committal on new features and time frames. They usually say things like "we'll consider it" or "we don't have a timeframe." They don't release or talk about it until it's done.

    It's the new guys who actively solicit feedback and feature requests, can't wait to show off the sexy new mod they're in the middle of developing but haven't finishrd, and then get burned out when they realize they over promised and under delivered.
     
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