WP Social Lock Plugin Review

WP Social LockWP Social Lock is a great, but buggy plugin

I'm a WordPress plugin addict. Every month I check out all of the newest WordPress plugins that have been released since the last time I went through the list. I invariably find a handful of plugins that I download and try out. Unfortunately, most of the ones I try turn out to be not as useful as I had hoped or the implementation just isn't quite what I expected. Out of the hundreds (and I've possibly cleared a thousand now) of plugins I've reviewed, I've kept about 100 of them with about 40 active and the others pending further analysis. With all of these plugins there's certainly a performance hit, but I use WP Super Cache to eliminate most of the overhead introduced by so many plugins.

I've also tried a few paid plugins. Very few paid plugins don't have a free alternative so I make it a point to always look for a freebie first. However, one that I recently paid for that didn't have a free alternative is WP Social Lock. This plugin allows you to "lock" a portion of a post until the user Tweets, Likes, or +1s the post. Once they do the locked portion becomes visible to the user. You can see this in action on any of the free downloads listed here.

The idea here is to describe a download in enough detail that a user can determine if they're interested in it enough to "pay" for it by sharing it on a social media site. The download is still free in the sense that no money is exchanged, but at least the page benefits from a user's vote. And if the download turns out to be horrible, they can always unshared it.

I like WP Social Lock's implementation far better than the plugins that interrupt users with an full screen overlay. I even tested one such overlay and found that it had a very low response rate which means that my users were either closing it immediately or bouncing from the page — both are undesirable actions in my opinion.

Unfortunately, not all is good with the WP Social Lock plugin. First off, there's a bug. It appears that the plugin references the GUID associated with a post rather than its slug. This means that if you're using sub-folders or your GUIDs become out of sync with your post slugs, the Tweet button won't work as expected. I reported this bug to the developer for version 2.6 of the plugin, but even in version 3.1 the bug remains. I was surprised, because the support team has been otherwise responsive to my other e-mails.

For a good plugin with a bug I'm willing to go in and fix the bug. That's exactly what I did with version 2.6, but I'm unable to do with version 3.1. The developer has gone and encoded the PHP code in such a way that has made it non-editable and therefore not fixable. Sigh.

So long story short, if you can get a version of the plugin that is editable and can fix the bug, I recommend you get this plugin. I'll even share the code fix. If you're only able to get version 3.1, don't buy it as you'll be buying a buggy version that might not work for you.

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