One of the the most convenient things about WordPress is the abundant 21,834+ free plugins available in the WordPress plugin repository, but how many times do you run into the scary warning at the top of the page, "This plugin hasn't been updated in over 2 years. It may no longer be maintained or supported and may have compatibility issues when used with more recent versions of WordPress". If that doesn't discourage you enough not to download the plugin, maybe putting scary zombies all over the page will do the trick.
Truthfully, the no-update-warning-in-over-2-years isn't there to indicate that a plugin is abandoned or bad, it's there to get plugin authors who care about their plugins to actively update them, adjust their readme.txt files, read the support forums, etc. It's to encourage dev participation, not necessarily to indicate dead plugins. Although, personally I find most plugins with that warning to be abandoned by the author, and sadly there is no way really to know which plugins are truly abandoned, meaning the author is gone forever, never to return.
This we do know, out of the 21,834 plugins in the repository, 7,849 have the no update in over 2 years warning, that is 1 in 3 plugins that are out of date. This is not a healthy sign for such a popular CMS, and the questions being asked shouldn't be "What can WordPress do for me, its what can I do for the WordPress community". Authors who contribute free plugins in the repository should be commended for doing so, but if the author can not maintain a plugin that has thousands of users depending on it to be updated and supported, a logical answer is finding a new author, to adopt the plugin.
WordPress currently makes this a little challenging if you want to adopt a plugin. If you can't contact the author, you try emailing email@example.com but that is no guarantee. So far the only place where abandoned plugins are wanted is the WPrecycle program, where users and authors are encouraged to submit abandoned plugins, in hopes they will be adopted. There are a few rules with the program to make sure the program remains genuine.
- There must be authors consent, and access to the plugin in the repository, so the original plugin is updated, decreasing duplicates in the repository.
- If the plugin is free, it will remain FREE in the repository!
- The author of the original plugin still gets recognition of being the founder of the plugin. (some rebranding maybe done, if the plugin doesn't have branding at all, name and all will always be the same)
But in order to keep these plugins from going back to being eventually abandoned, and or out of date and not supported, there has to be some sort of incentive for us/developers to invest time in the upkeep of the plugins. The plugins will be free, but depending on the plugin, charging for support, and/or ad ons will be the way to fund the project. By far this is no solution for the high abandonment of plugins, but its a start, its just a matter of time till recycled plugins are announced.