Previously on the CogitActive Saga:
Happily, it didn’t take me long to find a better – multisite compatible – alternative, namely React & Share – Customizable Reactions Buttons.
As related in the previous post, I was looking for a system for my readers to share their quick comments (e.g. “Thank you”, “Great post” and the like) somewhere else than in the comment section. I ended up choosing the React & Share – Customizable Reactions buttons plugin; a reaction plugin allowing text buttons. Icing on the cake, it was also coming with Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other share buttons (that appear after reacting); hence its name React & Share. The only “costs” of this freemium were 1) the “Powered by React & Share” branding and 2) the creation of an account (in order to customize the buttons).
The honeymoon period
There was a 30-day free trial for the pro features, but I didn’t take advantage of it for two reasons. First, I was nowhere to go for a paid plan – 249€/m (at the time) for analytics and support. Thanks, but no thanks! For that price, the React & Share branding is also removed, but I was okay with that amount of advertising on my blog (see footer). More importantly, I was fine with the free version. Second, when I installed the plugin, my blog was still under construction. The Search Engine Visibility restriction in Settings > Reading was indeed checked, meaning that during this period nobody knew about my blog.
Admittedly, not having access to the analytic dashboard (pro feature) was particularly annoying. The only way to know whether people were reacting to my posts was to check the counters (on the actual reactions buttons) while visiting each post – one by one – a burdensome workaround! Now, this issue was not affecting my visitors. Hence, I was not planning to look for an alternative in the near future; but React & Share saw things differently.
Out of the blue
On October 14 2019, I received the following email:
Hey there, We are closing the React & Share freemium plan in two weeks. It's been a great journey so far for React & Share team. Thanks to our first users, we've learned how to demystify what our customers' audiences want to hear. Thank you for making this possible. Why no more free service? We don't sell our customers' data to 3rd parties, unlike many companies providing engagement tools and analytics. We value privacy and personal service instead, and that's why we cannot offer the service free of charge anymore. As the free use of React & Share tools is going to end on November 1st, we'd like to offer you a 50% lifetime discount for all of our products. What to do next? Please take a look at our pricing at https://reactandshare.com/pricing and request a demo with our sales. Alternatively, you can drop us a line on our chat. If you don't want to keep using React & Share, we recommend you to disable React & Share plug-in on your Wordpress[sic] before the termination of the free service to avoid response errors. Best regards, React & Share Team
At first, I could not believe it, but the harsh reality was there:
We are closing the React & Share freemium plan in two weeks.React & Share Team
How could they
not offer the service free of charge anymore? Seriously, what could be the cost of four buttons? Clearly, I was taken aback by the email and I forgot that, even though I had no access to the dashboard (see above), React & Share were still collecting
customers’ data from the reactions buttons. In addition, few months earlier, they started to implement a Weekly Summary feature (sent by email) with some basic statistics (i.e. Reading time, Views and Reactions) for the most engaging pieces of content1. In other words, the plugin was using their server resources anyway, whether I benefit from their pro features or not. I could not care less, though! In fact, I would even prefer not to use their servers at all.
All I wanted were buttons for people to share their quick comments (e.g. “Thank you”). That’s it.
Once I got a grip on myself, I look at their pricing. After all, what could be the cost of four buttons? I mean, seriously! Oh naïve! Their most popular plan was (and still is at the time of this writing) at 449 euros per month; their cheapest one, namely Essential, being at 99 euros per month. Are you kidding me? Their “50% lifetime discount” offer would not change anything. No way!
Eleven days later, I received another email:
Hi there again, We will be deactivating all React & Share free plans in a week. If you would like to continue to use React & Share, we’d like to offer you a 50% lifetime discount for all of our products (limited time only!). You can find our pricing in EUR here and in USD in the attachment. If you would like to stop using React & Share, we recommend you to disable the React & Share WordPress plugin before November 1st 2019. For more information, please book a free demo with us here or visit our pricing page at reactandshare.com/pricing. Best regards, React & Share Team
Again, I was nowhere to accept their
50% lifetime discount
deal rip-off. Yet, I checked the attachment (for USD pricing). Back to my recurring question: what could be the cost of four buttons? The answer2 – that is the price for the reactions buttons alone – was listed at $49 per month. No share buttons, no dashboard, no weekly reports, nothing but reactions buttons! Unbelievable! Unacceptable!
On November 1, I received their last email:
Hi there, We have deactivated all React & Share free plans today. If you would like to continue to use React & Share, we’d like to offer you a 50% lifetime discount for all of our products (limited time only!). You can find our pricing in EUR here and in USD in the attachment. If you would like to stop using React & Share, we recommend you to disable the React & Share WordPress plugin as soon as possible to avoid unnececcary[sic] HTTP requests that might slow down your site. For more information, please book a free demo with us here or visit our pricing page at reactandshare.com/pricing. Best regards, React & Share Team
Obviously, I didn’t wait the last minute to disable the plugin. In fact, I started my hunt for a new plugin immediately after the first email; I had two weeks to find a substitute…
To be continued…
1 Actually, the data provided were for 3 posts only. Even worst, my not-yet-published posts had many views (with a high reading time) according to the reports. How posts not yet published (i.e. scheduled) could gather some views? Clearly, the stats were taking my own writing of the posts, as well as my reviewing (i.e. preview), into account. Unacceptable! ^
2 Little aside. When investigating about Gutenberg, I could not understand why people were so reluctant about this project. I remember watching an eloquent conference by Matt Mullenweg that was not welcomed with enthusiasm by the audience. In particular, at the end of the presentation (during the questions), a person argues that the button block was a treason! How come could implementing a button be a betrayal? Back then, I had no idea how lucrative was this market! ^