cutthroat

You thought all was forgiven now Chris Pearson finally got bullied into split-licensing Thesis? No, of course you didn’t. So here you go, more grudgewank:

Cutline was sold a few years ago and had a more restrictive license placed on it. The original author of the Cutline theme has gone on to produce other themes with more restrictive licenses. Using Cutline has been seen as a promotion of that work and that’s not something we want to do–so, we made something better: Coraline!

So yeah, by the sounds of it they’ve tarted up Cutline with some code from the new default, changed a couple of letters in the name and are calling it a new theme.

Stay classy, guys.

I’m not really sure why they chose the theme in the first place if it’s such ‘junk’, and I fail to see why existing users have to be screwed around. If you hate it so much, couldn’t you just deprecate it by making it unselectable as a new theme? Come to that, why do we still have three versions of Sandbox cluttering up the place? I can’t see what’s so difficult about hiding a theme option without removing it from existing blogs. All you would have to do is add a BIG WARNING to the theme description saying that the theme is deprecated, it is recommended that you upgrade, and if you do change themes, you will not be able to get the old one back. Simples! And then I would no longer be troubled by the continuing existence of Sweet Blossoms.

[ETA: unsurprisingly, though it was a surprise for them since evidently not all Cutline users lurk in the CSS customisation forum, existing users are not massively pleased about the whole being screwed around thing.

If I were the person whose theme changed halfway through a presentation, or I were having to fend off emails from my boss about why the company blog suddenly looked weird, and then I found out the only reason this happened was because some guy had a vendetta going against some other guy because of a disagreement over SOFTWARE LICENCES… wow. I don’t know how I’d even begin to compute that level of estrangement from reality.]

20 Comments »

  1. Richard said

    There have been two other times this has happened. Once with the no-warning upgrade to Journalist which spawned a virtual riot in the forums causing staff to extract the old version from the dustbin. Right no I can’t remember the other example.

    Sadly AutoMATTic doesn’t seem to have a rearview mirror.

    • I don’t believe the fallout came as a surprise to Automattic at all. After all, people were saying in the custom CSS thread that they needed to give Cutline users more notice, and it was pretty obvious that pulling the theme overnight was going to result in many unhappy campers. They’re not totally stupid; they knew people were going to be pissed off, but they didn’t care. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Matt set out to piss people off just so he could swan into the forums and blame it all on Mr Pearson… ;)

  2. WordPress.com are now the enemy.

    Lies about why. No notice. Waffling aftereard. Going on an offiste while clients who rely on blogs see everything messed up. That’s what I get for loyal use (and paying for DNS redirection)?

    I will tell everyone, everywhere, forever, to avoid wp.com like the plague. I just WASTED a day moving my blog to my own location at http://www.speedlighter.ca and I am only part finished.

    Matt iks a spoiled toddler. He had a chance to be the next facebook, but with this many enemies that ain’t gonna happen. If he fails, I will not shed any tears.

    • drmike said

      Some of us have known this for years now. Nothing new.

  3. […] broke their themes. I’m not the only one who thinks it’s too much of a coincidence (see Cutthroat for coraline, and Coraline the changing way). Way to keep it classy […]

  4. David said

    I worked on the Cutline theme for a year, developing it, supporting it, making minor improvements and changes to keep up with the ever evolving WordPress core software, and the only thing I’ll say is that I am happy they kept the original design ideals intact. Even re-named, even with all the changes, and issues, it is still Cutline, and I am happy to have been part of its legacy.

    If you don’t like how Automattic runs WordPress.com, go to WordPress.org. If you don’t like how WordPress.org is managed, then switch to another platform. It might seem crappy, time consuming, frustrating and annoying, but at this point, we’ve seen how things are organized, there are a number of posts pointing out the mistakes that have been made with WordPress over the years. If any of them are a deal breaker, then move to something else.

    That’s pretty much the company line now, and rightly so.

    Am I frustrated that they didn’t just get Splashpress Media to GPL the theme so they could update it? Sure I am. Am I frustrated that they completely ignored the hard work that was put into it? Yup. Do they make it seem like the theme was long ago abandoned? Yes, they do that too. But at the end of the day, I don’t care.

    They kept the design (more or less), and they are giving their user base an updated version of Cutline and you should always serve your users, even if they don’t think it is in their best interest.

    • Couldn’t have said it any better myself David! :)

    • Am I frustrated that they didn’t just get Splashpress Media to GPL the theme so they could update it? Sure I am. Am I frustrated that they completely ignored the hard work that was put into it? Yup. Do they make it seem like the theme was long ago abandoned? Yes, they do that too.

      In my role at Splashpress Media, I can safely say that Cutline has been GPL’ed long time ago already. The theme and its rights were acquired by Splashpress Media in Spring 2007 and the theme was originally licensed under the CC-SA 2.5 by Chris Pearson, not by Splashpress Media. The same license Cutline was under when Automattic acquired the rights from Chris to use the theme on WP.com, shortly before Tubetorial and Cutline were acquired by us.

      Ever since Automattic acquired these rights, Cutline has been available via SVN/trunk as well, updated by the Automattic theme.

      Should we sue Matt now for blatant lies in the Coraline entry, should we sue Matt for not respecting the original rights holder of the theme or for damaging or business ever since I dared to call out Matt in July 2007 and call for the WordPress Foundation? Sorry, we are better than that and just get on with our business. Most of all… we have been snubbed by people in the WP scene at Wordcamps for owning several sites with WordPress in the name. For each and every site we have received authorisation from Toni Schneider to use the WordPress trademark in both URL and site title.

      One thing is sure though: we will never make a donation to the WordPress Foundation. While we did consider it recently, we do not agree with many ‘policies’. I have gone on the record and said that I admire Matt and think he’s a good leader for the WP open source community and still stand behind that but that does not mean that I think that the Foundation right now more than a fluke is.

      • *that I *don’t think* that the Foundation…

        that should be.

      • I do agree that rising above it is the professional thing to do. It’s not as if the fanboys are interested in the truth. I also think that not-donating to the WordPress Foundation is a wise move too, since everything I have read about it indicates that WordPress Foundation = Matt and to be honest, I can think of many more deserving charitable causes than a twentysomething millionaire. YMMV.

        Speaking as a wordpress.com user (and former paying customer), I’m disappointed that Matt continues to regard this site as just another venue to perpetuate his personal grievances. I am tired of wordpress.com users being treated as if we were simpletons. It’s frankly insulting to claim that deleting a popular theme and nuking everyone’s widgets improves the user experience.

        There are multiple themes on here more dated and more buggy than Cutline and Pressrow, and there are others of far more doubtful provenance (at least one CC-licenced sponsored theme, plus another that was ripped without the designer’s permission). But nothing gets done about them, because Matt is only concerned about getting one over on Chris Pearson (like Pearson even cares what happens to a theme he sold years ago). Millions of people entrust their words and images to this site, and we deserve better than to be treated as pawns, however foolish or ill-informed our hosting decisions might be.

      • > For each and every site we have received authorisation from Toni Schneider to use the WordPress trademark in both URL and site title.

        Franky, could you please email me at toni@automattic.com so we can chat about this? The only record I have of Splashpress is trying to contact Mark Saunders WRT to wordpress.ph twice and never getting a response (wordpress.ph appears to be no longer in use but was in violation of our TM policy at the time).

        • drmike said

          I’ve been waiting for Toni to respond to my emailed complaint dated Jan 8th, 2008. Anyone else see irony in that?

      • Andy Beard said

        Franky

        You know

        I read a comment from you, I think it was on Blog Herald or Blogging Pro that Cutline was GPL.

        I even then later mentioned to Matt in comments on his blog that I beleived Cutline to now be GPL.

        But then I went to the official cutline site and downloaded the current version.

        There was a file inside that stated what I download was Creative Commons.

        You are quite legally allowed to dual license your themes GPL and CC, but I haven’t been able to find a GPL version.

        Ultimately it isn’t worth fighting over a mention in the CSS

        • Andy,

          You are right and the truth is as painful as ridiculous but is an internal matter. I think you refer to a comment on the Tavern but after all it doesn’t matter at all because Matt said that it was GPL when released and you can not ‘de-GPL’ (technically it *is* possible but with such a popular or widespread theme rather difficult unless you have at least licensed the name and can retire/reuse the name).

          Ever since this new episode in the Automattic – GPL saga, I have explored several license options, but sadly the GPL isn’t as free as people might think it is (or I would much more prefer WordPress to be GPL v3.0). We are working at solving specific things because we want to contribute to the scene (and Tony is aware of this) but not because we want to make a knee-fall to Automattic.

          We are only a small team though and things require some time but we will make things happen as soon as we can.
          We think Automattic could have handled the Coraline situation better and one simple email or tweet would have been sufficient and all downloads would have been updated. We have no issue with the blatant and not accredited CSS rip off because we fully support open-source and most open source licenses. We are glad to see Cutline’s legacy carried on. More even, we are very satisfied that after many years the Automattic board has decided to do the right thing and handed the (TM) over to the WPF. :)

          We have moved on, Coraline was only a blip on our radar for two days… maximum. As soon as we have time we will update Cutline to the latest WP standard and include all new WP features. Then we will check what license we opt for but at SPM we would like as many platforms as possible to be able to use the theme, also Apache licensed platforms. We’ll have to check what is the most optimal and compatible license to cover as much ground as possible. Nothing with applying more restrictive licenses at all here, rather as open licenses as possible. :)

          • Andy Beard said

            Just take coraline, tweak it and release it as Cutline.

            Or take Coraline/cutline and release it as a child theme for various frameworks.

            GPL2 is the safest way to go and the least resource intensive.

  5. […] broke their themes. I’m not the only one who thinks it’s too much of a coincidence (see Cutthroat for coraline, and Coraline the changing way). Way to keep it classy […]

  6. […] broke their themes. I’m not the only one who thinks it’s too much of a coincidence (see Cutthroat for coraline, and Coraline the changing way). Way to keep it classy […]

  7. […] broke their themes. I’m not the only one who thinks it’s too much of a coincidence (see Cutthroat for Coraline, and Coraline the changing way). Way to keep it classy […]

  8. […] broke their themes. I’m not the only one who thinks it’s too much of a coincidence (see Cutthroat for Coraline, and Coraline the changing way). Way to keep it classy […]

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