Sanitization and escaping

We follow WordPress VIP's guidelines

  1. Never trust user input.
  2. Escape as late as possible.
  3. Escape everything from untrusted sources (like databases and users), third-parties (like Twitter), etc.
  4. Never assume anything.
  5. Never trust user input.
  6. Sanitation is okay, but validation/rejection is better.
  7. Never trust user input.

Every output has to be escaped. Even translatable strings. This means that instead of using __() and _e(), we have to use esc_html__(), esc_html_e(), esc_attr__(), esc_attr_e(), wp_kses(), wp_kses_post(), and other escaping functions.

When writing data to the database, be sure to sanitize the variables

sanitize_text_field( wp_unslash( $_POST['my_data'] ) )

and to prepare your database queries.

<?php
$meta = 'Custom meta';

$post_id = 12;

$wpdb->query( $wpdb->prepare( "DELETE FROM $wpdb->postmeta WHERE post_id = %d AND meta_key = %s", $post_id, $meta ) );

This is especially important when dealing with user input from front end (forms).