sigh

Using WordPress in Your Domain Name? Don’t! trumpets Lorelle to whoever may actually be reading the Dashboard. Only seven months late to the story. Impressive.

But, returning to that hoary old post and its unwieldy comment thread, I was reminded of the comment by Christine defending her right to use the word however she pleases:

I’ll “google it” or I’ll “Tivo it” or I’ll “blog it” all I want, thank you very much. And if I want to “WordPress it” (which just sounds silly), then I will. *sigh*

Now, I don’t remember whether I mentioned this at the time — probably not, the thread was already pretty old by then — but it just so happens that Christine was the original inventor of the WordPress name, back when it was just another b2 fork. Naturally, this has been airbrushed from WP history; you’ll no longer find any mention of her on wordpress.org, but you can’t hide from archive.org. I’m sure she never dreamt that one day businessmen would be sending out cease and desist letters on behalf of the company that now owns the trademark, because it’s no longer a name invented by one blogger and given freely to another, but a commercial asset that needs to be guarded carefully.

I think getting angry about this sort of thing is naïve, and being an uncritical fanboy about it is naïve, and there is a melancholy inevitability to selling out which is not unpleasing. So I think I’ll just repeat what she said. Sigh.

30 Comments »

  1. vkaryl said

    Bless you my dear. This is the best thread I’ve read this week. I have to agree: *sigh*

    [Hey. Maybe we can blog enough to make *sigh* = matt mullenweg! How would THAT be, huh? *laughing*]

  2. markku said

    Why does this slowly remind me of the mambo-joomla controversy from not so long ago?

    If this is really about inappropriate use of wordpress in domain names, their campaign should be specifically targetted at such and not sound like they’re gonna sue everyone with a wordpress in their URL.

  3. Andy Beard said

    It is quite funny if you read what has been said carefully.

    One person making a big point by quoting someone that was misquoting someoneelse who had been given the info anonymously.

    There is some more controversy. If you have sold a “business” to someone that was based around one of the offending domain names, do they have any recourse if they are forced to shut up shop.

    I know one domain / internet business that was using wordpress in it was sold to a new owner.

    Here are my WordPress domain woes

    WordPress Trademark and domain change

  4. Matt said

    There is no campaign, and only TWO sites have been sent notes like the above since this entire policy started months ago – wordpresstutorials.com and wordpressvideos.com.

  5. How come those sites are sufficiently spammy to get letters sent to them and something like poweryourwordpress.com isn’t? How come ‘wordpressarena.com’ was unacceptable and ‘wordpress-themes.net’ was fine? It looks like you’re just picking targets at whim, and it’s hard to see what that will achieve other than a sense of persecution among the few who get singled out.

    If you’re not going to bother enforcing your policy with any kind of consistency, there seems very little point in having one. Right now, you’re getting intermittent dodgy publicity about your hardline attitude without even reaping the benefits of having a hardline attitude. It’s the worst of both worlds.

  6. Matt said

    poweryourwordpress is spammy, I should send them a note. wordpress-themes.net looks like it’s redirecting and not being used directly, so what’s the problem? If you have any others you think I should contact please let me know, I don’t read the entire internet.

  7. Andy Wibbels already did a whois search for you on domains containing ‘wordpress’. I don’t have time to go through all 169 right now, but if you put out a call on the forums or the mailing list you could probably find another volunteer with a couple of hours to spare. It is, at any rate, much more manageable than attempting to read the entire internet :)

  8. Jennifer said

    Wow, it’s the best two-fer ever!

    First, you only pick on two Asians out of 167 people using WordPress in the domain name…then (because why stop there?) you accuse their sites of being spammy…which, while not clearly definable…is definitely derogatory…

    Enjoy your libel and discrimination lawsuits.

  9. markku said

    Matt, I’m glad you read my comments here, because I’m always put into moderation when I comment on your blog. ;)

    Now seriously, I think “automattic speaking on WordPress” should consider wording these statements with a pro-community stance. Not that you’re against the wp-community, which I honestly think you love, but because people tend to misunderstand things especially when you leave room for such.

    When you write you’re enforcing a trademark, say it like “we’re gonna sue those bastards like blahblahdomaindotcom for tricking wordpress users and taking the community and the wp name in vain.” When we do it this way, I’m sure there will be more sympathizers. Write it in a traditional blogging kind of way, not like a press release from a million-dollar company.

    I’m sure you’re not discriminating nor picking on anyone specifically, so don’t let others think that way. I’m sure we’re all for WordPress’s continued success.

  10. Matt said

    TGA, most of those aren’t being used, some are mine, and some appear to be community projects.

    Jennifer, thanks for bringing the quality of discussion on wank to a new level. I’m sorry if the 20% cut of WordPress Tutorials you get from the affiliate link on your site might go down because they are being asked to change their domain name.

    Markku, I’d rather not give these guys any more publicity, they’re obviously trying to leverage this into more exposure for their products, and some blogs are playing right into their hands.

  11. I’d rather not give these guys any more publicity, they’re obviously trying to leverage this into more exposure for their products, and some blogs are playing right into their hands.

    This is getting silly. May I point out that you were the one who started throwing around the names of individual domains in my comments? And that Toni was the only one who mentioned a specific domain in relation to Andy Wibbels’s post?

    ‘Wishing to remain anonymous’ doesn’t seem the most logical way to go about using the situation to get extra publicity, and being the first to name and shame the sites in question doesn’t seem the most logical way of denying them it. It makes zero commercial sense for these guys to be seen to be fighting with you.

  12. Owen said

    There is a desire to be included as part of theDebian stable distribution.
    Firefox was recently turned into a weasel due to the same trademark issues that Automattic is now applying to WordPress.
    The people at Debian have reasonable rules about including things like trademarked names and logos and lyrics that are likely still covered by copyright.

  13. Andy Beard said

    @ Matt

    Power Your WordPress is just a tool. WordPress is just a tool as well.
    The sales letter isn’t pro or anti spam tactics
    It had honestly been a while since I purchased the script, well over a year, so I did need to check.
    There are serious time advantages in being able to modify the themes and plugins used on all your blogs.

    Markku, I’d rather not give these guys any more publicity, they’re obviously trying to leverage this into more exposure for their products, and some blogs are playing right into their hands.

    I followed a chain of sometimes incorrect information on a few blogs, read all the comments, thought about it a little, and just wondered “why?”

    I read additional replies in comments, and thought “why?” a lot more, and wrote about it.

    I think I actually now have more spontaneous, heart-warming testimonials for Sherman in the comments of that post, than on his original sales page.

    I am not affiliated with the training sites in question. Somewhere buried in my site’s content imported from my blogger account is a mini-review of poweryourwordpress.

    And then there is a link to my future custom wordpress plugins site. I honestly have other plans for launching it. Much higher profile.

    Everything has been pretty low-key up until now.

    But then I read this latest of your comments, and you seem to think we are trying to monetize this?

    If I wanted to monetize that page, it would have affiliate links and no leaks to other sites, and I would be sending Adwords traffic directly at the page.

    Then I would also write a series of daily press releases and articles.

    Instead I am encouraging people to air their own views on the subject, leave links (I use the DoFollow plugin), and spread the word if they care to.

    @ TGA

    It makes zero commercial sense for these guys to be seen to be fighting with you.

    I honestly should turn it commercial, because I could and in some ways it would make short-term business sense.
    But I haven’t done that.

    Thus Sherman might be seeing a relatively small spike in his existing traffic, but it seems insignificant, and hard to tell because he has forum traffic.

  14. Christine said

    The whole thing still makes me bristle a little bit, but I guess that is because I’m still old-school nostalgic for the free-love days of the Internet, and I believed in the freeness of WordPress and the whole thing being free. I still remember the good old days of sitting with Matt at the coffee shop and talking about these grand ideas, taking B2 and developing it into something better, and free. (I was a diehard MT user, and it took me a long time to convert to the beauty of WP.) I didn’t buy into the GNU license ideas that Matt was talking about at the time, but eventually, I became a believer.

    Now it makes me bristle whenever I see the money issues swirling around it all.

    Looking back, MT went through similar growing pains a few years ago – especially when they finally launched the version that required paid licenses, but there is a difference. MT was never developed out of a GNU license. WP was. I know that WP will always be tied to the GNU license, but this whole trademark issue is just wrong.

    Leaving me, again, saying it. *sigh* I miss the good old days.

  15. Christine said

    Oh, and I should add that while I did come up with the name, it was only after Matt pointed out that he needed one. WP was already pretty far in development, but it needed a new name – and a URL – for the public. A day or two later, I called him from work after making sure that it was available in some form. (Initially just the .org was available, and so that is why the software is there.)

    So I didn’t really give it freely other than sharing my idea. You know, back in the free love days.

    It is hard to resist being more snarky – but you have already said it all for me. :-)

  16. [...] That means only “tutorial” sites got them. And when WP was questioned about this move specifically on one particular blog, Matt commented, “we might send a letter to those sites, too.” [...]

  17. John said

    @ Jennifer

    I honestly doubt that Matt picked those two sites simply because they are run by Asians. I think he’s made a mistake but I doubt it’s that much of one.

    @ Matt

    I have yet to see a comment anywhere from either of the guys you’re targeting, so if they’re trying to monetize this they’re not doing a very good job.

    From what I’ve read in some of your posts, you seem to have something against affiliate programs and the like. I can’t help but wonder if that’s why these two sites were singled out, since they are both targeting people who use WordPress as a platform for creating websites that are marketing products, whether their own or someone else’s.

    It seems to me that if you’re going to take steps to protect your trademark you should either go all the way or don’t do it at all. How can you possibly expect to rid the web of unauthorized WordPress based domain names if you’re doing it whenever you find the time, a couple at a time?

    Hire someone to do it right, make the time to do it right yourself or deal with the consequences.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s been a run on WordPress-based domain names over the last few days. :-)

    And let me point out, I’m not linking out to a site promoting either of these products, so these comments are not sour grapes about losing that 20% commission you jabbed Jennifer about.

  18. Flower Guy said

    More importantly,
    who actually CARES if someone is making 20% off of an affiliate link?!

    My goodness, Matt, are you also critical of amazon and google who are nothing but mass affiliate companies?
    Because if you are, then I will jump on THAT bandwagon today.
    Google makes BILLIONS off of “open-sourced, trademarked” content…
    I would love someone with as much power as you to take on Google. Now that’s a battle worth fighting.

    This nonsense over “spammy” affiliate marketing.
    Come on. Have you NEVER bought anything in your entire life? Do you drink Coke or generic cola,
    Do you eat Total or Kelloggs or do you only buy the generic corn flakes?
    Do you drink Budweiser or buy the cheap stuff.

    The fact is, the codex stinks. Millions of people use your (christine’s) great software and a vast majority of them can’t figure out how to modify a darn thing by reading the Codex.

    Are you TRULY interested in the open source community?
    Because users understanding in “simple-to-follow”(

  19. Flower Guy said

    (oops cut off)

    Are you TRULY interested in the open source community?
    Because users understanding in “simple-to-follow”(

  20. Flower Guy said

    (so sorry, forgot about php coding ;) how ironic

    Are you TRULY interested in the open source community?
    Because users understanding in “simple-to-follow”( that’s affiliate marketing jargon) language goes a long way to making WP more user-friendly (more ‘scammy;’ affiliate marketing speak) and more likely to be improved upon.

    Heck, strike a DEAL with the “offensive” sites and buy out their tutorials and post them in the codex.
    Or if you want to stick to the “no one should ever get paid” ideology, get some of your more “down-to-earth” (more affiliate marketing scam talk) coders to rewrite the mass majority of the Codex in simple language.

    It’s amazing how fast the learning curve grows when learning PHP programming once someone dumbs it down to start off with.

  21. Zwolf said

    @Matt – Here is a list of potential trademark offenders: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=wordpress&btnG=Google+Search

    You should talk to your trademark lawyer to see if your selective defense of your trademark is a good idea. I believe that you must protect it in all instances, and failing to do so may result in forfeiture of the trademark. I may be wrong, though. Check with your lawyer. If you do have to defend it in all instances, it’s going to be anywhere that your trademark is used, not just domain names. If someone mentions your trademark on a web site, even if it’s not in the domain name, you need to check it out.

    Also check with your lawyer about making statements that can be interpreted as you speaking for your corporation. Given the current political climate in America, I would not have made your comments about affiliate marketing in the same post that talks about your attempts to shut down a couple of merchants who offer affiliate programs. Too much risk of some loon trying to make a political name for themselves by raising a ruckus about “interfering with interstate commerce” or some such.

  22. Zwolf: that’s pretty much what I was thinking. If you go after one domain on trademark grounds, you have to go after them all. It sounds like these two domains were not called to account because they were using the name without permission (there are other people doing that who haven’t been sent these emails) but because Matt didn’t like the look of them. I can’t honestly say I like the look of them much either, but it’s open source software and that means anyone can use it for any purposes they wish. As I’m endlessly pointing out, it’s GPL. You have no rights.

    If theyre serious about protecting their intellectual property, they can’t afford to pick and choose their targets in that way, and they certainly can’t afford to make it look like they’re merely using trademark violation as a pretext for shutting down sites they don’t like. Target everyone equally, and the ‘is it because I is Asian / an affiliate marketer/ a support guru / competition for you’ argument is dead in the water because it’s obvious the only problem is with the use of the trademark. I am not, of course, a lawyer, but even I can see that going after some sites and not others leaves a hole in your case a mile wide.

    From what I’ve read in some of your posts, you seem to have something against affiliate programs and the like.

    That would be the zeal of the convert. Matt got his fingers badly burned when he tried to monetise wordpress.org so it’s only natural for him to be extremely suspicious of anything that looks like profiteering.

  23. Flower Guy said

    Indeed, when one is all caught up into APPEARANCES, one tries to hide something other’s might frown upon (ie. Hot Nacho) and then condemns the ‘spammy’ appearance of a truly useful site.(the current snafu)

    How bout the web 2.0 community take a deep breath and KEEP IT REAL.
    Affiliate marketing isn’t the bane of the internet nor all things holy..err ..open source.
    Money is NOT the root of all evil and if it is, can the web techno-geeks start with the main spam-causing culprit – the hallowed G.

    The problem is, when the community as a whole “frowns” upon anyone trying to make any money, they handcuff themselves when it’s time to pay their own bills.

    It’s good to keep a moderate approach about such things and not go off on “anti-affiliate-money-making-whatever” tangents because one day, they will want to GET PAID and feed their kids, grow their business, etc.

    Lol really it’s ok web 2.0 blogging, social-bookmarking, open-sourcers.
    One can make money and not become evil. Try it, you might like it.

  24. [...] But that doesn’t change the fact that, up until recently, only tutorial sites got them. And when WP was questioned about this move specifically on one particular blog, Matt commented they might send a letter “to those sites, too.” [...]

  25. Zwolf said

    That’s going to be a lot of sites, Michel. The ones with the trademarked term in the domain name are only a drop of water in the barrel of potential infringers.

    Searching Google for “wordpress” gives me over 200 million results. Many of those could be infringers. Since you know those pages exist, I believe that you need to police them to defend your trademark.

    I’m all in favor of trademarks, copyrights, and intellectual property rights. I also think that the owners of such have every right to defend them. I’m just boggled at the number of law clerks you’d have to hire just to keep up with just the growth of web pages that mention “wordpress,” never mind policing the 200 million+ existing pages to see if each one falls under fair use or if it’s infringing.

    I would think that the best way to deal with it would be to have the lawyers come up with a blanket statement that covers everyone who uses the term, whether they’re a commercial site, an open source project, a print magazine, or anything else. I don’t even know if you can do that, but it’s got to be better than trying to do selective enforcement for the sites you don’t like today.

  26. Jennifer said

    @ Matt – Isn’t it frustrating when you read comments directed at someone and they pick completely nonsensical things to harp on instead of actually dealing with the issue at hand? Me too.

    As with so many other comments you’ve made, you’re just making statements without asking questions. I have the affiliate link because I rebate back my commission to the person that buys through my site. I don’t make a penny off of that link. Again, open mouth…insert foot…you’re taking this “assumptions without facts” thing to a whole new level.

    @ John – I didn’t think for one moment that these sites were targeted for being Asian! I was only trying to point out how poorly thought out this whole thing is. When making legal-type business decisions, one would think you’d take half a second and think of the legal ramifications of the action about to be taken.

  27. timethief said

    @Jennifer
    IMO you protest far too much and too loudly for an innocent. Like how many people in the blogging world do you think there are, who can verify beyond any doubt, that they put affiliate links on their site and donate the money back [rolls eyes]?
    You didn’t think for a moment that the two sites in question were targeted on racist grounds and you *only* used the word “Asian” as a synonym for “poorly thought out”, give me a break [rolls eyes].

  28. markku said

    Markku, I’d rather not give these guys any more publicity, they’re obviously trying to leverage this into more exposure for their products, and some blogs are playing right into their hands.

    That’s a good point, Matt. Though we’re borthering on what is legal and what is not, I agree that the domains you mentioned are indeed spammy. It’s just sad that we have to resort to using the trademark to weed them out, though I’m sure your lawyers investigated other possible ways of catching these bastards without alienating the innocent. I trust you guys to always know the right thing to do, and I sure do hope no innocent weblogs and publishers are inadvertently affected by these actions.

  29. It’s just sad that we have to resort to using the trademark to weed them out

    More than anything else, it’s sad because it hurts Automattic’s own claim on the trademark, and by extension its value as a company asset. If these people were to challenge Automattic’s position, Automattic’s failure to object to anyone else using the name would seriously damage their case. A position based on personal dislike for selected sites, rather than on the law, is not going to hold up terribly well in court.

  30. [...] Andy Wibbles, Kenneth Stein, Blogging Pro, The Blog Herald, Lorelle on WordPress, Denis @ Semiologic, and of course That Girl Again @ WordPress Wank who went through this multiple times. [...]

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