There’s been a whole lot of controversy recently surrounding the introduction of advertising from both Jetpack and WooCommerce. The main issue with both of these is that they are using either WordPress to advertise paid services outside of the plugins own areas in admin.
With Jetpack, they are forcefully manipulating plugin search results in order to advertise their own paid services. At this time, the backup service is the main culprit, but if one is allowed, the rest will follow.
WooCommerce doesn’t take it to quite the same level, but has decided to ad advertising to all product pages to “suggest” additions that they feel may be useful to the site.
The issue with both of these isn’t advertising. That is allowed and acceptable by both plugins and themes. Advertising is allowed in certain areas that are controlled by that theme or plugin, and has become a good way for authors to try and make some return on their investment of time to create the free plugins by offering upgrades to pro versions. The problems that we are seeing with both Jetpack and WooCommerce is that they take that advertising out of the themes/plugins area and inject it into separate areas of the admin area that are supposed to remain free of advertising. As both plugins are owned by Automattic, the commercial company behind WordPress.com and the WordPress.org codebase, there’s a very blatent display of “one rule for us, one for the rest” in relation to these issues. Any other theme or plugin that attempted anything even close to this would be blocked form the WordPress.org repository, and there are many examples of this on the forums and slack.
At the time of writing, Jetpack has decided to remove this feature, for now, due to the backlash that it faced. There is still no word on if WooCommerce will do the same. Even though this has been removed, there’s no guarantee given that it will not return in the future.
The good news is that both plugins have also offered a way that developers can add filters to block these advertisements. While this is a good start, there’s no way for a standard user that doesn’t know how to code to add these filters to their sites.
To block the Jetpack advertising this filter can be used:
add_filter( 'jetpackcom_remove_search_hints', '__return_false', PHP_INT_MAX );
For WooCommerce, this filter will block their advertising:
add_filter( 'woocommerce_allow_marketplace_suggestions', '__return_false', PHP_INT_MAX );
Let’s hope that this issue can be sorted out soon, and that it doesn’t damage an already shaky user-base that’s been ignored about the continuing issues with the Gutenberg project.