End of life notice: Thumb Fixer for Social Media will no longer be maintained
The once-popular (60,000+ active users) Thumb Fixer for Social Media WordPress plugin has reached the end of its life. To find out what led to this decision and why you should immediately stop using this plugin, read on.
Why the need for change?
Like a lot of WordPress website owners, Open Graph was an afterthought. I don’t use any off-the-shelf theme or other plugin for handling open graph duties, and so I had to come up with my own solution. Thus, Thumb Fixer for Social Media was born after a long weekend of code (formally known as Facebook Thumb Fixer until Facebook legal ‘requested’ that I change the name).
I felt it worked well enough that others might also find it useful. Hence, eventually making it publically available for free on the WordPress repo.
And while the implementation was “good enough” for most people, I eventually realised it wasn’t the best solution. The plugin worked by simply using your post title, truncated content (or excerpt) and featured image for open graph meta which would be used when shared on social media. This might seem logical, but the problem is that it’s terribly inefficient when you consider you’ve only got milliseconds to capture the attention of a user as they thumb through their news feeds on social media.
This led me to the realisation that Thumb Fixer for Social Media was not doing the best job possible for my website, or anyone else’s website for that matter.
What’s wrong with the plugin?
The best way to answer this question is to cite a real world example. Let’s demonstrate with this blog post titled “Introducing Open Graphite Pro for WordPress”. While the title is perfect for discovery when browsing the blog of this website, it’s not very captivating for sharing on social media.
Ideally when shared the title should have similar characteristics of a call-to-action (or even click bait if you’re into that sort of thing), something like “Better social conversions with Open Graphite Pro”, as it describes a problem (social conversions) and a solution (Open Graphite pro), is more meaningful to the right audience, and therefore (hopefully) more likely for someone to click or tap on it.
The featured image and description should also be appropriate to the message you’re trying to convey. Here’s what is actually shown when that post is shared on Facebook:
Notice that the title and description are not what is shown on the actual blog post in question. I could have changed the image too, but in this case I felt it was fine to use the same image on the blog post and on social media.
Ultimately, being able to customise the social title, description and image without compromising them on your page is a level of flexibility that Thumb Fixer for Social Media simply does not have.
With this in mind, I knew that I had to choose between significantly re-engineering the Thumb Fixer for Social Media plugin, or start fresh. Starting fresh was the obvious choice, as I knew the new plugin (which would eventually be called Open Graphite) would have significantly different engineering requirements, and there was no good reason to work with the legacy code of the old plugin. It was a no-brainer decision.
Why you should stop using Thumb Fixer for Social Media plugin
When any software project is abandoned, there are inherent risks to anyone using it. In the case of abandoned WordPress software, the most obvious risks are functionality and security.
In all likelihood the plugin will eventually have compatibility issues with newer versions of WordPress as they are released, which could prevent the plugin from functioning correctly, or at the very worst cause your website to break or become exploited in some way.
Potential security exploits should be a greater concern though. The older a plugin, the more likely it is to become exploited. While there are no security issues in the plugin that I am aware of, the last time I was reasonably sure of this was around early 2019.
Alternative plugins to use
It would be self-serving to suggest using my Open Graphite plugin to replace Thumb Fixer for Social Media (there is a free version available for download). But the truth is there are other alternatives I am happy to make you aware of as well.
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