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I help manage https://www.delscookingtwist.com/, a bilingual food blog which runs Wordpress (need I say that?) along with several other plugins including Yoast SEO and WPML.

Recently, I noticed 404 error reports in Google Analytics. I traced the beginning of these 404 error reports to plugin updates I ran on 12/8.

This blog post in English works fine but its French translation yields a 404. Yet the post is published and the slug is correct. I tried accessing the post with the page_id=xxx and it also 404ed. If I search for the post using Wordpress's search feature on the blog, I can see it, along with feature image, in the search results.

To narrow down the culprit, I made a copy of the site backup (before upgrade) to my staging environment and started updating each plugin one by one, testing whether a 404 occurred as a result. Eventually I narrowed down the issue to Yoast SEO Multilingual. This is the plugin that causes the 404.

You'd think it'd be the end of the story - roll back to the older version of the plugin and notify WPML, right? Well this is where things get weird: this plugin is actually inactive in both the prod site and the staging site (because I'd had issues with it many months ago). It's been inactive and the site has been working fine. The inactive plugin has nothing to do with redirects.

So I'm pretty concerned at this point. Can a plugin install / update modify other plugins? Is there any kind of isolation to prevent that? Obviously, plugin installs / updates can modify the DB schema. So does this mean this plugin updated parts of the DB used by its sister WPML plugins?

I know this isn't an ideal question. At this point, I'm looking for pointers. Thanks all!

Edit

  • Yoast SEO Multilingual is a plugin by WPML (in spite of its name).
  • Yoast does have redirects - it's part of the Yoast plugin and those redirects work fine.
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    It looks like the Yoast plugin adds a URL rewrite for extra functionality, and now that the plugin is inactive the that no longer exists, so you get a 404 instead. TLDR: When you deactivated the plugin it's functionality was deactivated too, if you want it back, you need to turn it on
    – Tom J Nowell
    Dec 18, 2020 at 18:54
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    Another analogy might be a friend who complains the milk in the fridge is missing, because you removed milk from the shopping list and no longer buy it, and they're now theorising that other people are concealing the milk. No plugin modification is taking place, no database modifications/queries, or code running causing problems
    – Tom J Nowell
    Dec 18, 2020 at 18:54
  • That's not it! TheYoast plugin IS active. It's the WPML plugin that's inactive. Yoast SEO Multilingual is a WPML plugin (in spite of the name) Dec 18, 2020 at 19:22
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    (though I do like the milk analogy :-) ) Dec 18, 2020 at 19:36
  • Ah well if WPML is deactivated then your translations will give 404's, you should turn it back on or tell Google they don't exist anymore
    – Tom J Nowell
    Dec 18, 2020 at 23:56

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