unperson

Chaos Theory has been launched. I found this unfinished theme hiding in the repository a while ago, but assumed that it had been abandoned when Bryan was fired and written out of history. But no! it’s here. Nobody has bothered upgrading it to 1.0 (yes, that’s right, it’s Sandbox-based), or for that matter styling the comments form; but that’s not surprising, since apparently it was designed by… nobody.

unperson!

Root said the other day that Matt was a Stalinist, and while this is clearly hyperbole, I have to admit that things around here are becoming ever more 1984. See that smiley in the corner? It’s watching you.

39 Comments »

  1. this certainly feels very revyver-ish, but i didn’t want to say anything until i was sure. there’s another unfinished theme in the repo that’s definately his.

  2. judyb12 said

    wank,

    here’s a weird thing: when i click on the links in this post, they take me back to this post, but with the URL of the link. For example, my URL right now is https://wank.wordpress.com/2007/11/04/how-to-make-the-5050-split-less-painful/#comment-81362
    but the post i’m seeing is “unperson”.

    Maybe there’s something wrong with me…

  3. i’m gonna go with “Browser bug” there, judy. close your browser and reopen. it usually happens to me when i’ve got an unresponsive javascript in another tab.

  4. hmm, can’t reproduce. What browser are you using?

    I don’t know if the font size in this textarea is livable-with. I must be getting old

  5. judyb12 said

    forget it. As suspected, the bug has gone away with a closure and re-opening of the tab (Firefox 2.0.0.9) running on a Mac (Tiger, not Leopard). I shouldn’t have even posted the comment.

    Now i’ll be on the Photomatt blacklist😉

  6. Root said

    Stalinist? Hyperbole obviously. Completely unreasonable. :)And this theme sucks.🙂

  7. Gabriel... said

    “See that smiley in the corner?”

    Actually, even with a select all, I’m not seeing the smiley.

  8. That’s because it’s black on a black background. When Almost Spring rolls round again you’ll see it.

  9. drmike said

    Dear god. Please switch back to the old theme. I see frames.

  10. You see frames? OK, I give up. They really should have finished this theme before releasing it. I comment too much on this blog to put up with this screwy textarea. And <em> tags don’t show up either. The hell?

    If quality control on the marketplace is anything like quality control on the free themes, I’m worried. Because if I’d paid $10 for this, I’d a) want a refund, and b) not buy any more themes from Automattic, ever.

  11. Wank has frames

    Wank changed her theme and now I see frames. edit: She’s changed the theme back now. Wanted to get another screen cap to show that it wasn’t the image within the post causing the issue. Oh well……

  12. drmike said

    I was thinking it was the image in your post but I see frames as well on timethief’s blog.

    An aside: I sent a trackback over and it appears to have been akismet’ed. Care to dig it out please?

  13. Kissing Bandit said

    I wanted to mention something earlier (before this post was up) about all that was wrong with that theme, but thought it polite to wait.

    I don’t know if the font size in this textarea is livable-with. I must be getting old

    No, it wasn’t.

    And I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of something more diplomatic than “this theme sucks” and haven’t yet come up with anything.:/

    Thank you for changing back.

    -KB

  14. Kissing Bandit said

    On another note, their current “themes by hazard” method of providing pretty clothes for blogs seem a tad unprofessional. Autmattic should bite the bullet and do what Google did — hire a professional designer to churn out a few damn fine and tested all around themes than scrape together leftovers from the “unperson”.

    -KB

  15. Root said

    There is no need for WP to hire a pro designer. Their problem is that even when they see good work they do not recognise it anyway. In part that is because they do not have either a technical specification in place nor a test suite. For a long time they have used the *publish it and see what happens* approach. But generally they are then too pig headed too respond to the feedback. It is a vicous circle. Putting aside all the old issues with Kubrick – surely to God it is now time to move forward? But they won’t. Once Matt gets criticised for something he becomes really stubborn. It is one of his worst characteristics. That and fabricating reasons to dislike anyone who does not agree with him.

  16. options said

    Everything you see in the program thus far was developed in coordination with some of the highest quality designers around, including some surprise ones that aren’t public yet.

    perhaps, this theme is part of the program which Matt refers above?😉

    but seriously, SVN says this theme has that mysterious meta credit line since the initial import into repo at 25/07/07. and all the road before release it was modified by the tellyworth (only one change by the matt2nd). so, at least some part of its person (appearance) definitely belongs to alex, imho.

    frankly, I believe that tiny smiley (which is, btw, also used to display number of hits on your sidebar) is somewhat better than 0px/JS/iframe etc totally invisible beacons, because it still recognisable enough to drag it into an ad-blocker.

  17. Kissing Bandit said

    Their problem is that even when they see good work they do not recognise it anyway.

    And that’s exactly why they need to hire a professional designer.

    If they cannot or are unwilling to recognize the good freely available designs (of which there are plenty) and accept feedback from their users which is ultimately meant to help them, then they need to stop acting like spoiled children and start acting like professionals.

    One step in that direction, if they’re unwilling to listen to the nudges of those people, is to just take a middle road — hire professionals.

    There’s an explanation of why I consider professionals the middle road, but I haven’t had my coffee yet and my brain is foggy.

    -KB

  18. Root said

    Weell they have got Jeffrey Zeldman at Happy Cog at work on the admin area although you will be hard pressed to find any mention of it.

  19. AJ said

    KB,
    Brian Veloso was/is a professional designer. He has done some gorgeous stuff and he was booted out of Autocrattic!

    You can hit Matt with the best designs in the face and he’ll likely not notice them! Or will notice them, try to “port” them and screw them up

  20. Hiring professionals to produce wordpress.com themes is never going to happen, because Matt can already get all the generic blue-headered themes he could ever wish for without having to pay for them. I’m sure the Happy Cog team are perfectly aware that their admin redesign is either never going to be adopted, or adopted in such a mangled form that they’ll be happy to forgo the ‘credit’, but as long as they’re getting paid why should they care?

    What worries me about this marketplace idea is that, given the lack of quality control on the themes already available, wordpress.com users are going to end up paying $50 a throw for themes which are worse quality than the ones they’re getting for free. It could be that they’re deliberately making the free ones a bit shoddy in the run-up to launch so as to encourage more people to buy, but then I look at stuff like Sweet Blossoms and think, no, actually, it really is just that they’re happy to throw themes up here without checking them out thoroughly. (And I’m not talking about aesthetics, I’m talking about actual functionality. I used Sweet Blossoms briefly when it was launched, and it broke horribly on long entry titles.)

  21. Kissing Bandit said

    I agree with all of you that the probability of MattCo™ acquiring a professional theme design team is somewhere around nil (and yes, I understand Brian was/is a professional, but how likely is he to come back and work with Automattic? Really?).

    What I should have said: “…just take a middle road — hire professionals, then step back, shut the hell up, let them do their jobs, and implement what they’ve done with no (unreasonable) questions asked.”

    Reasoning: Users are complaining about the currently available themes and their low quality and suggests higher quality themes. Automattic does very little about this because of various reasons that are guarded more closely than McD’s secret sauce recipe. That creates a problem.

    So, if Automattic thinks that the user suggestions are worthless, instead of just ignoring them, it would be in Automattic’s best interest to just splurge on 4 or 5 exceptionally done themes. That way, they say to users, “Hey, we’re listening to you, but unfortunately we can’t use the themes you suggest for <insert random reason>; but to show you that we care, we’ve actually gone out and had X number of themes professional coded to our high standards just for you bcuz we wub you.”

    I hate to admit it, but Blogger has Automattic beat hands down in this department and they really should learn a thing or 6 from Google.

    But…never gonna happen. Just thought I’d put it out there.

    -KB

  22. drmiketemp said

    Wank, thanks for pulling out that trackback out of whereever it went. 🙂

    That way, they say to users, “Hey, we’re listening to you, but unfortunately we can’t use the themes you suggest for ; but to show you that we care, we’ve actually gone out and had X number of themes professional coded to our high standards just for you bcuz we wub you.”

    I raised that point in a discussion previously with staff but got told that they don’t respond on purpose. Not sure why they feel that that is ther correct way with dealing with clients. I wasn’t told that it was “policy” but it was worded that that is how they did things.

    Remember that it took months (Like 3, wasn’t it?) for anyone to get back to the Girly themes thread. Very rarely do we see a staff member respond to requests on the forums. usually I took a look at whatever folks were requesting and gave my own feedback. (ie pay item, not gpled, not for pro use, etc.) Didn’t count but at least it was something.

    The issue with getting 4-5 pro themes done would be that if large amounts of folks used them, they would drop down in level from pro status to cookie cutter, get boring and folks would probably complain about wanting new ones.

    But I don’t think they’re making the themes look poor. As tga says, a lot of wp themes just don’t work well or are poorly made.

    It’s a pity really about the themes. Doesn’t take much effort to run a validator on an install, add in some page templates, or look at it in a couple of different browsers.

  23. Well, I’ve sent a feedback detailing the obvious bugs in Chaos Theory, so hopefully they should at least be able to fix the most glaring errors and make it usable for others. (Don’t worry, it’s not coming back. This incident has made me realise how important comments handling is to me, and how I learn as much from poor design as I do from the good stuff.)

    I generally advise people not to bother making theme requests, since the party line of getting them to contact support is only setting them up for disappointment and clogging up channels better used for, you know, support. Like the other day someone was wanting anime themes. They don’t have a hope in hell, so I might as well tell them that and point them to workarounds like custom headers.

  24. Root said

    I have long believed that the basis for *good* themes – for one’s own use or commercial puroposes, and by extension – com themes is rearranging the thought and production process. In particular in can be convenient to separate everything to do with – loosely – the template and everything to do with style / design. Sandbox as a model is a good and right step in this direction but it is an idea that could be refined and developed a bit further as IMHO it has some peculiarities. Thus the Pro – or at least hard core coder can work on coding, cross browser performance, validation, accessibility issues. But they only need be concerned with a limited number of templates (layouts) and even then much is interchangeable. Every body else should be downgraded to *stylist*. The core templates (say 6 of them) should employ a common and agreed nomenclature, consistent and semantic mark up, and common classes. Subsequent dialogue concerning templates can then be kept at the higher and technical levels without getting involved in font colors and other trivia. (2). If WP insists on deleting options panels then a common to all themes option panel could be introduced. A color / and bg graphic selector is an obvious candidate. My system would allow the development of unlimited high quality themes. In the com environment sectioned / imports for the CSS are pretty much mandated by the structure.

  25. Root said

    OT: Wank: What have you done with your *recent comments* ?:). I really miss them.

  26. engtech said

    Themes are easily the most broken thing about wordpress.com, and the funny thing about it all is that instead of fixing themes they’re being turned into an option the make money.

    I’m all for making money, but good user experiences are important too. The CSS upgrade isn’t for everybody. This marketplace thing is going to leave some designers with burnt fingers (it has potential for being win/win, but I’ve seen too many examples of bad community building actions to trust it’ll end up that way).

    It’s sad that tumblr/blogger have wp so beat for easy of theming now.

  27. This marketplace thing is going to leave some designers with burnt fingers

    To be honest, I’m less worried about the designers than I am about the end users. (It does not bode well that hardly any designers have bothered to consider end users in this debate. It’s mostly been ‘is this good for me? will I make money from it? will I get publicity? will I get ripped off?’ You can kind of see why Matt hates them.)

    If you design a crappy theme and it doesn’t get downloaded, good. I’m more concerned about the possibility that people will pay good money for your crappy theme because it looked good in the screenshot, and won’t get a refund when their users complain that they can’t read what they’re typing in the textbox. If there were somebody on staff who was capable of distinguishing polished, good-quality themes from amateurish unfinished ones that might help; but even if there were, that’s not scalable, is it?

    And here I am back with Almost Spring and I’ve had to insert two empty text widgets because Automattic aren’t capable of putting proper margins on their widgets. I still don’t get why they think it’s OK that some sidebar headers are smooshed down into the content while others are padded. If I were in the business of designing professional-quality themes, I wouldn’t want to waste them on a site that’s going to screw up the sidebar as soon as it’s installed.

  28. Root said

    The widgets have always bothered me. On my last pro job they drove me nuts. You have to be prepared for them all even the ones that may not be used just in case. Plus you can’t charge the proper price that fixing WP screw ups really takes.

  29. Kissing Bandit said

    I’m more concerned about the possibility that people will pay good money for your crappy theme because it looked good in the screenshot, and won’t get a refund when their users complain that they can’t read what they’re typing in the textbox.

    Another argument for hiring a professional design team.

    When you go with professionals to this business, it becomes less about “will I get credit” and more about “does this theme look good and perform as it’s supposed to for the benefit of users and readers?”

    And before anyone thinks I’m trying to dis the freelance designers out there, I’m not. There are some superb WP themes created by freelance designers, but they aren’t a proper fit for WP.com for one reason or another.

    Getting themes prepared for WP.com is not a one person job, but something for an actual design team because there’s much more to be considered than the design/CSS elements. It’s something that needs to be properly managed and Automattic has shown it’s something they are having obvious problems with doing.

    They say they have some “well known names behind the scenes”, but right now, that’s only speculation until we can actually see some results.

    -KB

  30. They say they have some “well known names behind the scenes”, but right now, that’s only speculation until we can actually see some results.

    I don’t think Matt trusts the amateurs any more than you do. Here’s what I think the score is right now: Matt already has a couple of friends on board who are willing to do it for the publicity and because they like the guy. (Such people, being Special, will of course be working on far more favourable terms than the ones offered to the general public.) He knows these people will come up with the goods, so his marketplace will hit the ground running with skins that people are actually prepared to pay for.

    Then, and only then, will he open it up to the sponsored link crowd. Phase two is about loading the theme selection panel with bog-standard themes so he can boast about how many thousands there are. Quality, at this point, is irrelevant, since they can blame the designer for everything that breaks (regardless of whether it’s their fault) and send all support requests on to them; even though the designers almost certainly won’t have access to their themes in order to fix them.

  31. drmiketemp said

    Hey wank. What’s your opinion of their new funding?

  32. I don’t find it very interesting, tbh. Investors put more in so they can get more out a few months down the line. Wow. And I haven’t seen much blog chatter about it, which suggests everyone else is as bored as I am. So what if, to steal raincoaster’s phrase, Matt has more money than God? We knew that anyway. He’s always had money, so it’s a complete non-issue.

    (And yes, the fact that he’s always had money has a lot to do with the open-source fundamentalism and his attitude towards people trying to make a profit out of WP, but that’s a different issue and not in any way a new one, or even a WP-specific one.)

  33. divya said

    Hey,

    Is there a way to control the number of posts displayed on the homepage? Currently this theme displays 10 posts.. what if i want say only the newest 2 posts?

    Is there a way i can do this? That would only make the sidebars that are present right at the end of the page to be atleast visible!

  34. Last time I checked, the support forum was located at http://wordpress.com/forums, rather than in my comments. But, since I am (occasionally) nice, I will tell you to head to your dashboard, click on ‘Options’, ‘Reading’, then change the number of blog posts to be displayed from 10 to 2.

  35. divya said

    Thanks for being “not-so-humble”, I realize some people would help others only IF

  36. divya said

    * They are STAFF.
    * If they have some profit out of it.

    Some people feel that knowledge about themes and wordpress and blah blah is important. They have it too and its a good thing… But THEY will not share with someone who needs some tiny help.

    Thanks for telling me about the wordpress forums anyways… will certainly go there henceforth, and I’m sure there are very helpful people there. I would be rather surprised if I found you there anyways!

  37. drmike said

    Actually wank is there quite often helping out. More so than the actual stuff that *cough* runs wp.com.

    Gotta admit though that this wasn’t the place for your comment though. “There’s a correct time and place for everything” rings a bell…

    *chuckle* Staff in the forums. That made my day. Folks seem to have forgotten that in the past staff only posted there when I emailed them and asked them to answer a question that I or anyone else didn’t know the answer to.

  38. I think Mark is basically forced to spend more time there now none of the volunteers have full mod powers (though Trent has made one or two attempts recently at actual moderating, which is encouraging to see).

    If wordpress support relied on the efforts of people who were getting paid, Automattic and wordpress.com would not exist because wordpress.org would never have got off the ground. Their entire business model is based on an unlimited supply of volunteers who help people because they want to. It’s sort of lovely that they can rely on user goodwill to that extent. Exploitative, sure, but also lovely.

  39. judyb12 said

    i’m so tempted to comment about the use of volunteers in the forum and the problems that come with having no real power structure there, but i’m going to hold my tongue and just smile🙂

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