code v. poetry, redux

I really need to start keeping copies of every comment I post on photomatt or the news blog. For example, last night I wrote a reponse to this, which touched upon the fact that plugin authors and theme authors tend to be coming from completely different places.

So: theme authors, in general (all of this is a massive generalization and there are always going to be exceptions) care more about getting credit for their work because they conceive of it as creative, and authorship is important in the creative arena. Demanding credit for your work is par for the course in the world of free blog templates, and a lot of the people doing it don’t even know what pagerank is. They do it automatically, the same way an artist signs the bottom corner of her paintings or a writer has his name on the front cover of a book. (Yes, I can hear you snorting, code guys, but may I remind you a lot of books and paintings aren’t that wonderful either?)

Plugin authors, in general, care more about the philosophy of open source and conceive of their work as functional. Hackers think making themes is easy — anyone can throw together some CSS and a Photoshop image or two, this stuff is child’s play compared to regex — and don’t understand why these people are being so precious. Designers admit that making a crappy theme is easy, but want them to acknowledge that making good themes, which are aesthetically pleasing as well as functional, is hard, and requires a measure of artistic flair and originality. Since hackers think ‘aesthetically pleasing’ consistutes a generic Big Blue Header and links in Internet Blue, it is difficult to get them to concede this point.

(As far as monetization is concerned, don’t forget that the people with the skills to write plugins are substantially more likely to have a decently-paid day job on the strength of them. Nor that your average plugin is quite a bit smaller than your average theme, making bandwidth costs not nearly as high.)

We all know which side of this fence Matt is on, and hence it is no surprise that my original comment appears to have vanished into the ether. C’est la vie. I know, I know, I should have trackbacked in the first place rather than rely on the comment actually appearing (what was I thinking?) but I thought I’d spammed you enough with this lately.

5 Comments »

  1. […] just read this and how strange indeed it seems that the author’s critical comments are apparently being […]

  2. Matt said

    Your link is broken, and your comment is on the blog. I’m in New York and it got stuck in moderation.

    Bandwidth is so cheap it’s basically free. You could host WordPress’ 15k downloads a day on a Dreamhost account.

    I don’t think making themes is easy at all, but in terms of time spent though I think a good plugin and a good theme are similar. I agree completely that the mentality of each community is different, but I think that’s going to change over time.

    The pattern I’ve seen over and over again is the people who give the most away get the most back. Karma? Maybe.

  3. I agree completely that the mentality of each community is different, but I think that’s going to change over time.

    Actually, my feeling is that the theme community has moved further away from the plugin community as WP has moved into the mainstream and picked up new users who aren’t particularly clued up on the whole OS thing, and for whom adware is the norm. I don’t think anyone would have dreamed of selling sponsored links a couple of years ago, because at that stage the majority of themers had some understanding of the open source ethos and were largely in accord with it. I just don’t think that’s the case anymore.

  4. […] this is a rant: against the bullshit that is going on the everbroken themeviewer. First of all: I like to make money like everybody else, but those crappy coded, butt […]

  5. […] themes Now this is a rant: against the bullshit that is going on the everbroken […]

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