don’t hold your breath

In response to Nathan Rice’s bitching about the deadness of themes.wordpress.net, Matt provides ‘a quick update for those wondering when you’ll be able to add new themes or update existing ones’ which somehow completely fails to address the question of when we’ll be able to add new themes or update existing ones.

We all know Matt thinks theme designers are morons, but that’s kind of breathtaking in its audacity.

I will answer the question: if he had even the vaguest idea of when this stuff might be finished or even whether it’s achievable, he’d have said. We are certainly talking months rather than weeks, and you’d be a fool to discount ‘never’. My guess is that if the relaunch happens it will be in conjunction with the second phase of the wp.com marketplace (only GPL themes permitted, you have the option whether you want to offer your theme for sale on wp.com when you upload the zip) and I’d wouldn’t expect to see that before mid-2008.

My advice to theme producers and, more importantly, consumers is to forget about themes.wordpress.net. If you’re keeping up-to-date with your wordpress installations, downloading a theme that’s at least six months old and doesn’t support tagging is ever so slightly counter-intuitive. Find another directory, pick something you like and download it from the author’s site; that’s going to be the latest version and the least likely to contain random crap in the footer.

If you’re one of the designers with outdated and insecure themes on there, report them. I can’t promise they’ll take them down, but it’s worth a go. If you’re scouting for excuses, there’s a handy security hole which is Kubrick-derived so should be in more themes than not.

13 Comments »

  1. Scott said

    My themes on themes.wordpress.net include files that aren’t even in the default package. That’s broke.. So I can’t vouch at all for those who download (my) themes from that site. Somebody please shoot that horse.

  2. timethief said

    Switching the focus to wordpress.com for a moment have you seen this? http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=18959

  3. drmike said

    I seem to remember Andreas (or was it Ainslie Johnson? I could never keep straight who was doing what) trying to get staff to upgrade the #09 theme as well to solve a couple of outstanding issues and it took them a bit.

  4. drmike said

    Oh, I forgot. Lorelle had blogged about it. I wonder if that had anything to do with Matt’s timing of his post.

  5. Almost certainly. It’s not the kind of thing he wants going out to people’s dashboards without some form of corrective. Now Lorelle has dutifully posted a misleading ‘update’ which implies that he’s addressed the issue. As long as he posts something on the theme viewer every couple of months she’ll leave him alone.

  6. drmiketemp said

    Gotta admit that I don’t see Lorelle’s update as saying that he’s addresses the issue. All she did was copy and paste what Matt said about them still looking into it.

    Someone was expressing their annoyance on the wp.org forums as well a few days ago about the plugin database being unaccessable as well on wp.org. That and getting plugins approved in a timly manner or even at all has been an issue for quite some time as well.

  7. matt’s explicitly said that the marketplace and the allegedly forthcoming themeviewer will run on the same code (response directly below this question from jez

  8. milo said

    Hum, I’ve sent several mails to get my themes updated with no response. I’ve commented for the downloading people to guide them to the new updated themes on my site = comment disappeared.
    With nearly 300 000 downloads (search for miloIIIIVII on tv) my mailbox is each day full with complains…

  9. matt’s explicitly said that the marketplace and the allegedly forthcoming themeviewer will run on the same code

    They will be one and the same, won’t they? He’ll use the complaints about outdated themes as an excuse for wiping the existing database and starting from scratch with the profit-making wp.com submissions. It’s the only course of action which gives him the requisite level of control over quality, licensing, security etc. Running two entirely separate repositories would make no sense. There may be some grumbling about the GPL requirement and the ban on linkbacks, but I suspect most designers will be willing to trade in their rights for the prospect of .com pennies. Bullying may not have worked, but bribery might.

    As for the plugin issue, that’s because Matt doesn’t have the time to approve the volume of submissions but refuses to delegate the gatekeeping on .org to anyone else. He needs to get over that sooner rather than later. It could be a deliberate policy to deter contributions from outside Automattic, but mostly these things are down to incompetence rather than Matt’s Master Plan of World Domination.

  10. that’s what it sounds like to me. i doubt he’ll ban linkbacks on “non-premium” themes, though.
    pennies indeed. is there any indication that the uptake for custom CSS has budged from 0.1% of all users?

  11. drmike said

    Sun, do you want to try that link up there again?

  12. drmike said

    …please. Sorry about that. Wank, feel free to edit.

  13. is there any indication that the uptake for custom CSS has budged from 0.1% of all users?

    It’s probably down. Early adopters were more likely to buy the CSS upgrade than people who signed up later. Plus the site is accumulating more and more dead blogs; the last news post of supposedly impressive stats puts the percentage of ‘active’ accounts at 25-30%, and that’s with a very generous definition of ‘active’; the proportion of blogs which are actually being posted to must be substantially lower (or he’d have used that figure instead).

    If the figures for custom CSS were anything other than mildly embarrassing, they’d have found their way into Matt’s marketplace announcement as proof that there’s a market for paid themes here. But then, if custom CSS had worked out, he wouldn’t need to resort to selling ready-made themes at all.

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