career guidance

My comment on this went mysteriously missing (and no, the moderation excuse won’t cut it this time — it showed up as soon as I posted it, then its existence was concealed by a (0) on the index page even though it was still on the post page, today it has gone entirely). Never mind, we’re used to this by now. This is what it said:

Before WordCamp all sponsored themes should be removed from themes.wordpress.net.

Is this you publically ordering Thomas to do it, or have you already taken the site back under your wing?

I would kind of appreciate an answer, though I’m not holding my breath. The wording seems to me ambiguous. ‘Should’ rather than ‘will’ might imply that it’s someone else’s responsibility, but surely nobody seriously believes that theundersigned is going to sweep through four thousand themes in a week, checking and deleting them, when he hasn’t done a site update since March and there is no indication on the site itself that sponsored themes should no longer be uploaded?

My prediction is that Matt will sweep in sometime before WordCamp, wipe the whole thing and replace it with the contents of the wp-themes net repository (which, I note, is currently unreachable), throw a couple of wp.com themes in there so it looks less bare, maybe relocate to wordpress.org/extend/themes and then unveil his shiny new GPL-only official theme directory to the conference-attending masses.

I really hope this is just wild speculation on my part, because even though Thomas clearly isn’t up to the job of running the site on a day-to-day basis, that doesn’t negate the work he and others put into building it and he doesn’t deserve to be screwed over to that degree. Either way, he’s clearly not in charge anymore. Last week he was responding to demands that sponsored themes be removed with ‘Try to refrain from irresponsible comments, nobody needs your career guidance’, so no way is their removal his own decision. Evidently Matt thought he did need career guidance.

I’m really past caring about Matt’s personal vendetta against sponsored theme designers (though I still think it’s hypocritical to fulminate against sponsoring whilst being quite happy to use the fruit of it on wordpress.com). They’ve had a decent enough run, and if they’re savvy they’ll switch to developing for other platforms which actually need more themes and don’t treat designers with contempt. But I’m not sure reducing the number of easily-findable themes helps users, I’m not sure screwing over yet another volunteer helps the community, and I know that forcing themes into a GPL straitjacket, if people actually knew what the GPL entailed, would kill a lot of good, creative work at birth. I don’t know what Matt thinks is so terrible about using a beautiful CC-Attribution photo off flickr, and crediting the photographer in the footer, but in his GPL-only world it would never happen.

(Obviously, this is all the fault of the evil photographer for seeking recognition for their work. I suppose he thinks all books should be published anonymously as well.)

21 Comments »

  1. adam said

    forcing themes into a GPL straitjacket

    matt’s not capable of that. as i said on clazh’s post, and as i’ve said before, another unrestricted gallery will pop up, take precedence, run out of bandwidth/money/man-hours for managing it, and be succeeded by another unrestricted gallery.

    matt’s current wp theme doesn’t give you any indication of whether your comment is being held for moderation, it just looks like it posted. until you visit the main page and see that the comment count hasn’t increased. when your comment disappears, then it’s been deleted.

    ironically, with permission from the photographer, you could use a copyrighted flickr photo, since it’s illegal to remove a copyright notice (at least outside of china) and contrary to the GPL.

  2. Star said

    Er…I think my last comment got eaten b/c I bad-mouthed WP and Matt in the same breath. I’ve re-posted it below, slightly edited. Here’s hoping it makes it through this time.

    —– Original Comment —-
    It’s a shame. Somehow, I predict a massive theme designer exodus to TextPattern or Joomla or possibly even b2.

    For some time, I’ve thought about creating some great WP themes for free release, but after reading about all this, seeing how some users give no love to the designers (some people actually remove design credits), and demand so much of the designer, I’ve thought better of it.

    Good luck WordPress (and Matt). You have great software, but you s*** a** at being kind to your community.

  3. Ray said

    A very similar comment (unanswered as of right now) to yours is on the site (from Matthew Pollack).

    It’s all a bit of a mess really, isn’t it?

  4. […] we called them out. Most of your supporters kiss ass, but no one wants to do shit for free.. We could have revealed “headsetoptions” was the “moderator”, but we didn’t. That’s the difference between work and […]

  5. hso said

    @ Wank

    Now that the word is out, I can confess that I wrote the “Try to refrain from irresponsible comments, nobody needs your career guidance” comment!

  6. Well, keeping your identity secret is one way to try and dodge being fired ;) Sorry it didn’t work.

  7. Yeah, all of this is really leaving a bad taste in my mouth and I really think it has to do with the way it is being handled and the attitude of those against sponsored themes. It’s like anyone who supports sponsored themes is a effing spammer and deserves to die a horrible death. I don’t create sponsored themes and I don’t care if others do. I do care, though, that people are treated fairly and I really don’t think that that’s happening in this situation.

    So yeah, Joomla is looking pretty good right about now. Yeah you have to pay for a lot of the good extensions but at least people are up front and honest about it and the community itself doesn’t denigrate those commercial designers and coders for charging for their wares.

  8. It’s just more confusion between ‘free-as-in-speech’ and ‘free-as-in-beer’, isn’t it? Whenever there’s a conflict between the two, beer always seems to win. I think sponsored themes are as tacky as the next person, and would never make or use one myself, but I also believe that people should be free to make and use them if they wish without being dictated to from on high. You’re always going on about how it’s free software, well sometimes people are going to do things with it you don’t like. The answer to that is not censorship, it is to give people better options. Tag sponsored themes so people can avoid them if they wish. Commission some themes from top designers for use on wordpress.com and release them to the community. Pay the people whose themes you profit from commercially. But no, purging people’s work without notice and alienating large sections of your userbase is apparently preferable to any of these.

    And those who say ‘well it’s Matt’s site, he doesn’t have to promote anything he doesn’t want to’ need to ask themselves why it is Matt’s site rather than the community’s.

  9. And those who say ‘well it’s Matt’s site, he doesn’t have to promote anything he doesn’t want to’ need to ask themselves why it is Matt’s site rather than the community’s.

    Yeah, that’s a good point. I didn’t really think of it that way. I just figured it’s like any other company out there. The person who owns the company calls the shots but at the same time Matt is supposedly all about the “community” and everyone in the community should have been considered in this decision.

    Well all he’s really done is open the door of opportunity for his competition.

  10. Root said

    I am just waiting for the next step which is going to be a declaration by SuperMatt that all themes need to be under the GPL. That is where this is headed.

  11. And is he going to give people a chance to remove or relicence their CC-licenced themes first, I wonder, or are they going to be purged wholesale as well?

    Ironically enough I have a CC theme still up there from when Shadow was running the thing, and would love to delete it myself but a) I can’t log in and b) even when I could log in, they wouldn’t give me edit permissions on it. By not giving people the ability to remove their own themes before the next wave of deletions he’s just making a raft of extra work for himself and whoever’s mug enough to volunteer to take it on next.

  12. Root said

    I hope podz has got his head down. I can see this heading his way:)

  13. I don’t think Matt actually wants Automattic to do the day-to-day running of the site (i.e. the boring stuff), only to determine policy. He’s advertised on the themes.wordpress.net blog for part-timers to email him with details of how much money they want to run the place, so it will probably end up being administered by a Singaporean teenager for $5 a week.

  14. Today foolswidom posted to the girly themes thread http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=10166&page=6&replies=164#post-99394

  15. Yes; isn’t it odd how being sponsored is enough to rule out a girly theme, but not manly ones like Pressrow and Fjord?

  16. Root said

    As I predicted :)
    Now the fighting is really going to start. :)

  17. timethief said

    I may be long suffering but I’m not stupid. I won’t be conducting a campaign for fair treatment or hanging in when it comes to “girly” themes. The young white male gadget boys aren’t inclined towards listening to anything women have to say, despite the fact that we are the majority of bloggers. So I hired a pro to create me a theme and I got me a web host. And very soon I’ll be waving bye, bye.

  18. […] a look at Where can I get more WordPress Themes?. It was excellent to spend some time looking over career guidance. It was worth reading Part One – Dissecting the WordPress Import/Export Format: Categories. It was […]

  19. Boy, that’s a sneaky way of getting a spam link past Akismet. If you look at the four square banner adverts along the right, they include wank’s url for this post within the url of the banner image.

    Sneaky.

  20. [link broken but comment retained so that response makes sense]

    I’ve noticed they’ve started using tinyurl as well to disguise obviously spammy urls and get past Akismet. Difficult to see how Akismet can target that without legitimate commenters getting caught in the net.

  21. Um, I do it fine on my spam solution. Email me if you want to know. I’m not publishing it here.

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