Round 1: 31 / 32 correct w/ 3 perfect brackets
Round 2: 13 / 16 correct w/ 2 perfect brackets
Round 3: 8 / 8 correct = PERFECTION
Overall: 44 / 48 = 92.85%

I won’t be wearing an electric neon onesie anytime soon, but it does feel nice to get all of the brackets perfect going into the Exceptional Eight. With just one match-up in each bracket, let’s be done with the UI element designers love to loathe (accordions) and get straight to the predictions / picks for which plugin will make it to the Phenomenal 4 semi-finals.


The Pressers

Your website is potentially accessible to millions of potential clients, customers, readers that can help you build your brand empire, but it’s also equally exposed malicious script kiddies / hackers looking to exploit any possible holes in your technology stack. If this were a straight up battle between scope of plugin functionality, I think Maintenance Mode would be pushed to the fence for the many different exploits Wordfence Security protects your site from. Same if it were a pure plugin popularity contest, as the active install stats favour The Fence heavily.

But….If Wordfence is doing it’s job, it’s a bit like a Ronco infomercial product, you want to set it and forget it. Maintenance Mode on the other hand may be a plugin that people activate on a semi-regular basis as they test new themes, other plugins or fix up any issues should there be a hole in the fence. Is that enough for it to beat the chalk pick which has a star rating advantage 94% to 63%?

Prediction: I hope so because WP Maintenance Mode is my semi-final cinderalla

WP Maintenance ModeWP Maintenance Mode vs Wordfence SecurityWordfence Security

The Wordees


WP SmushItWP SmushItvs WooCommerceWoo Commerce

If this were an evaluation of plugins for planetary status, these two plugins better hope that Neil deGrasse Tyson doesn’t show up as both WP Smush and WooCommerce exist in functional areas, optomization and ecommerce respectively, with viable alternatives to consider activating.

The name recognition consideration in this round will certainly help WooComerce and hurt WP SmushIt if the recent thread in the Advanced WordPress FB group is any indication. As one commenter wrote that, “TIL: Basically everyone in Advanced WordPress hates WPMU.” who develops WP Smush. I don’t think it will be a lopsided victory but…

Prediction: Smile happy dolphin, WooCommerce shall win this round.

The Extenders

In my original bracketology tweet, I posited that ACF would join Woo, JetPack and WP Maintenance Mode in the semis. At that point in time, I was starting to explore ACF v5 after having found performance problems at scale with ACF v3 – moving to more code-centric custom field solutions like Custom MetaData. Everything I’ve found has been exceptional improvements, especially the layouts feature.

Yoast by contrast has had a number of version update hiccups in recent releases. A year from now? Perhaps the Fields API will have integrated much of the ACF value proposition into core, but I’d be mad to not pick my new / old favourite plugin to get to the semis if not further.

Prediction: Advanced Custom Fields a spot in the semi-finals

Advanced Custom Fieldsvs
Yoast SEOYoast SEO

The Installers

The Events CalendarThe Events Calendar

I heartily agree with Chris Lema’s perspective on how important Jetpack is to the future success of WordPress – but the population making picks in a plugin March Madness on a WordPress-centric site are not the core demographic Chris was speaking about. So a slight edge in that aspect goes towards TEC which I know many developers keep in their client toolkit.

Modern Tribe also went out between rounds and bought GigPress which focuses on musician / live event listings. No indications that will become part of the events calendar, but if this were a sports league I’d draw the analogy to it being a free agent pick-up before the trading deadline. The calendar is making a run for the cup….Will they get it?

Prediction: No. Jetpack has too many use cases to to slow down / stop.

So if all those predictions come to fruition, it’ll be ACF vs Jetpack and Maintenance Mode vs WooCommerce in the semi-finals. Is an all Automattic final in the cards? We’ll find out as Round 4 of #pluginmadness wraps up in a few days.