Free plugins, the library, popularity & feedback

Sorry, this post is a bit of a ramble…

As I have a new module waiting to be released, hopefully soon, and I hope/expect it to be my most popular creation yet, I wanted to do a little research to see if it is possible to validate that in any way.

I compiled a very quick list of all the free plugins listed in the library today, and I can see that my plugin is currently 128th on that list:

Although, I am not sure if the “Popularity” is an incremental counter or a live subscriber count (ie. if a user unsubscribes does this number reduce?) @Vortico could you confirm please?

Ideally I’ll find the time to recompile this list and do it using a script so that I can also include the age of each plugin and its last updated time, as I think this is quite interesting data.

For example, the top 10 plugins are fairly predictable, all are 6 years old (this is why I question if the popularity is an incremental counter). 4 of them have not been updated in 2 years, 1 has not been updated in 1 year, 1 was updated 4 months ago, 1 was updated 1 month ago, 2 were updated 25 days ago and 1 was updated 18 days ago.


Potentially also the version number gives a fuzzy indication of the amount of updates a plugin receives. This seems more accurate for the older plugins:

Ultimately, I’m not sure I can really gain any insights from this popularity data, there are so many factors that may or may not affect it. For example, @Omri_Cohen has enough subscribers that, a single video featuring a particular plugin has the potential to shoot that plugin up the list


I would be interested in other developers thoughts on this, but as the dev of a free plugin, I find that I really don’t get very much user feedback at all, positive or negative.

I mean, sure, here on the forum I have a release thread and there are comments in it. But my plugin is supposed to have thousands of users according to its popularity data. Not once have I ever received an email or other type of communication about my modules. Do they look good? Do they provide useful functionality? Do they sound good? Are there any bugs? Are they missing features? Do they suck?

The most feedback I have is a few YouTube comments on my demo videos… I update my plugin quite often, is that good or bad in users eyes?

Maybe my plugin just hasn’t hit the big leagues yet, so I better shamelessly plug it at every opportunity…

I would really love to have some sort of resource that makes this type of data more accessible and more reliable. An API to library data, for example would be cool. But I think probably it has to be a 3rd party solution, a community run website & database for plugin reviews, feedback, comments, votes, etc… thoughts? (The main issue there is that running any sort of website with dynamic data and a userbase is going to cost money for hosting…)

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When I last looked at this last year and attempted to determine what info could be gleaned from the existing popularity data, I came to the conclusion that the data to first order correlates to the length of time the plugin has been around. That is what I published here, somewhere in a “popularity” topic-thread.

This post?

I would agree, that the Popularity does correlate to its lifetime, and thus we both conclude that it is not particularly useful.

However, I would also say, that thread is mainly focused around changing or adding to the VCV library itself, and there could be a number of reasons why that would be problematic to either Andrew or Rack users.

My thoughts are that if a large enough proportion of the community want some sort of rating or review system for plugins and modules, then it should be independent, created, controlled and maintained by the community… we (the community) just have to figure out how to achieve something like that…

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A wildly new approach to such an analysis might be:

Have one of the current (or soon too come) multi modal AI models to scrape and analyze VCV Rack related internet content. And ask it to record relevant info into some structured format (e.g. in a formatted table as a structured datasource for further analysis). You could then also ask it to analyze the collected data and present it in some fancy way with text and graphics.

E.g., yesterday Google / Deepmind presented their long awaited and eagerly expected multi modal model Gemini that seems quite capable to perform such a task.

Introducing Gemini: Google’s most capable AI model yet (

You could ask such a model to find and analyze YouTube (=Google) videos featuring VCV Rack modules.

Ask it to identify the Maker/Model of modules discussed/used/shown (from text/audio/video). Maybe describe/derive the use case(s) or any more general correlations between all modules in a patch. Maybe add some metadata like date of publication of video, channel/contentcreator).

This kind of previously quite impossible forms of analysis is becoming evermore possible and accessible, even for ‘common folk’ like most of us…

:wink: I am familiar with the announcement…

Interesting idea, I may give it a shot, however I fear that the majority of content related to my plugin on the internet is produced by myself… :infinity:

I always thought ‘popularity’ was simply a tally of total downloads/subscribes - thus the older the plugin, the more downloads it likely has.

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As @k-chaffin says, this has been discussed several times in the past. The popularity does just reflect age. It seems a lot of users subscribe to everything. It is just a count of downloads, not usage. VCV does not phone home, and plugins are not allowed to. Well of course VCV phoned home to check the library for updates, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t log any analytics.

Also much discussed is some form or “ratings”. The idea is extremely unpopular (although not with me).

When I cared about such thing, I used published youtube and facebook videos as my “metric”. If I saw a few videos using a module I figured it was pretty popular. Based on that, my two most popular modules are my compressor, and basic VCO. Interestingly, those were both quite easy to make. Some other modules took one or two orders of magnitude more work, and were not popular (Seq++ and SFZ Player, to pick a couple of dismal failures).

If you want to make posts saying your plugins are better than some other free “competitors”, be careful that you don’t violate the rules or the culture here. I think the rules say “only constructive criticism” of free plugins, because this forum is supposed to be a welcoming place for n00bs. I can tell you from personal experience that comments like “your plugins suck and you are an idiot” don’t go over well, and can get you banned.

no sh!t? :rofl:

Yes, this is what I mean by an incremental counter, was this confirmed?

I think that would be unfortunate, because it provides no value, as opposed to a live subscriber count (seems like that should be possible?) which would provide value. For example if your live subscriber count reduces after an update release it would seem safe to conclude the update was not appreciated by the userbase.

I’m not sure it’s been confirmed, but its a number I have only ever seen go up FWIW.

No absolutely not, has someone suggested this? I don’t want to post “reviews” of my own plugin, I want my users to post reviews of my plugin so that I can get some form of feedback.

And of course, reviews are always going to be contentious, this is part of the reason I said such data should be 3rd party to this VCV community.

I look at all YouTube videos daily that are tagged with VCV Rack. If my Meander is used in the patch, I can tell at a glance as the circle of 5ths panel display looks like a target :wink: I also look to see what YouTube videos are tagged with “Meander” or “PurrSoftware”. It is always fun to find someone doing something creative with my module (now 3 modules as soon as the my library build is processed). Unfortunately, it has been many months since someone has tagged a YT video with “Meander”.

I especially like when someone posts a patch that uses my modules as I like to download it and play with it to see what people are doing that sometimes I have never imagined.

These days I just look at the number of VCV installs to get an idea if new people are still installing my software.

SoundCloud has a number of “analytics” reporting. It is an ego boost to see my VCV music listened to in just about every country. Feedback there is useless to me since it is invariably someone offering to make me rich by distributing my music :wink:

BTW, my SoundCloud music has been listened to 8,686 times :grinning:

Hmmmm, I have realised that it is not necessarily obvious what my intention was with posting that “popularity” list, apologies for being ambiguous.

To clarify, I have no interest in comparing other plugins to my own, of creating any sort of leader board, or data related to competition between plugins.

The purpose of the list was to understand the current usage of my plugin, so that after my next release I can determine if the release was received positively or negatively by users.

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What about embedding a ‘most used broadcast’ into your modules?

You could get a logfile about the modules that are used with your modules in the same patch and possibly could log the frequency of usage.

Technically possible, but:

I don’t think that would be a popular feature, plus it wouldn’t work for any users that are offline, there are more than a few issues to overcome with this type of thing…

Yeah, gathering user and usage info. Always tempting because it’s possible and under the assumption of benign intent and use.


“Most used” assumes that module wowuld need knowledge of all modules used by a user in all patches. At any time? That would therefore be a higher lever aggregate function, I guess. Say, for the VCV Rack application to gather and report info on. From either actual use or scanning th users preset files.


An explicit opt-in switch would be applicable. And opt-out the Default setting.

And not opt-in/out in the Cookie kind of way (e.g. when opt-out limits functionality and/or store/gather/share/send all sorts of user/usage information). That could really hurt the whole VCV Rack initiative.

Essentially the same problem to solve. Just narrower scope. Just your modules instead of all modules. Effectively just discriminating/selecting/limiting on the “Maker” dimension. A subset of all.

Technically could be based on module / plugin proporties like slug, name, brand, author).

About a more technical data based approach:

A(nother) way to determine usage/frequency is to (have an AI) find and analyze VCV Rack patch files. E.g. from VCV Rack | Patchstorage and such sources. The VCV Rack patch files contain information on all modules and all relations/connections (for that patch). So could also be used for correlation analysis.

Getting quantitative information seems quite achievable.

Getting subjective information might be harder. Like the kind you could get from product reviews/demos and such. Subjective information could also be helpful as feedback for product development. E.g. it could be about specific “disappointing” or “missing” features. Either as compared to some other implementation, or just as a “I wish it could or wouldn’t do x or y”.

The birth of the current AI’s (e.g. LLM’s) was very much about sentiment analysis. Scraping and analyzing reviews and other product related user generated web content. To determine what users/consumers were happy with and what not. Mainly for advertisements purposes (of course…). But the same information can also be used as feedback for product development.


AI’s can be pretty good at gathering and analyzing subjective information. Gathered from multiple modalities and many sources.

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Yes, I agree there is definitely something here that’s worth a little bit of effort to see if it will produce useful data.

On the other hand, I have used and perused Patch Storage a fair amount and very rarely seen any of my modules, I just don’t think the data is out there at this stage of my plugins life. I imagine plugins with a higher profile or longer life might have success though.

Personally, I think for me and my plugin specifically, I would get more value from a 3rd party community “review” effort. In addition, my employment contract places restrictions on what I can do in a computing sense, in a public setting. Sadly this means I am unlikely to follow the AI route no matter how interested in it I am…

PSA: clicking on a users avatar brings up a profile dialogue, some forum users even put pertinent information there… :disguised_face:

Yeah, finding relevant information where there’s relatively little available in huge quantities of irrelevant data is definitely a thing. But, hey, machines can work 24/7 on finding needles in haystacks.

Having said that…It might even be that there are AI models currently available that have all this info already available as part of their training set.

So…you would need someone else to do your biddings for you? :wink:

Is that an offer? :grin: