one-fingered salute

It being over a year since the senseless killing of themes.wordpress.net, Automattic have thrown up some content at extend/themes in a vain attempt to stop people bitching about it.

I say ’some content’.

Three themes.

[laughs for two minutes straight.]

They couldn’t even be bothered to include the ones they’re using on wordpress.com. There’s the photoblog one by Matt’s pet designer friend, the inevitable Prologue, and Tarski. The authors of that one must have handed development over to Automattic, or maybe they’ve just been doing so much inhouse mutilation they think it constitutes a new theme.

The so-called preview blog has evidently been thrown together in four minutes. It doesn’t have blockquotes, it doesn’t have an entry truncated with <!- -more- ->, it doesn’t have multiple pages (let alone child pages), it doesn’t have any trackbacks or pingbacks, it doesn’t have an oversized image, it doesn’t have any links in comments, it doesn’t have a password-protected post… I could go on, but I’m sure you’re getting bored.

Oh, and naturally your theme will have to get past the Great Firewall of Matt, so unless you’re a personal friend of his I wouldn’t bother uploading anything. Well, you could try, just don’t expect it to be published before Christmas. He’s a busy guy.

As for the requirements, it’s more important to include a version number than to ensure your theme supports the current version of WP. (This is perhaps understandable, since Prologue apparently breaks in 2.6). You don’t even have to include widgets, let alone tags or gravatars. As for valid xhtml or CSS, this is not important either. It doesn’t have to work in multiple browsers or resolutions. Basically you can upload any crap you like, as long as it doesn’t have sponsored links in it and you don’t demand people keep your linkback. Because vanity links are sooo much more evil than broken layouts🙄

So yeah, another one-fingered salute to theme designers and users. Somehow, I doubt the likes of wpthemesfree will be quaking in their boots.

16 Comments »

  1. Valid CSS maybe not, but it does parse your CSS (or at least run it through regex) looking for img.alignleft, img.alignright, img.centered, .alignright, .alignleft, all of which have to be at the start of their own line.

    Ben (tarski) has been pretty active on wp-hackers, and pretty good at taking the company line, so i’m not surprised to see tarski up first (at time of writing they’ve added 2 more).

  2. Matt A. said

    I think you’ve misread the version number requirement. As I read it, it has to do with acknowledging in the css file when there’s been an update, which doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the version of WordPress. Prologue, for example, is version 1.3.

    Now that you mention it, though, Monotone breaks the rules by having a screenshot that is a splash screen.

    And it’s interesting that the screenshot MUST be a png format, which until a few weeks ago (via gravatar) was supposed to be a ridiculous idea because of rendering trouble with IE6.

    And the requirement that the theme MUST include tag support is odd, since some of the best themes out there don’t support them at all, and some of the themes at wordpress.com don’t support them.

    AND they require that you MUST include css for styling their neat-o 2.5 image classes.

    Other than that, it’s fine.

  3. I’m not quibbling with the fact that valid CSS isn’t required (the ongoing existence of IE6 necessitates the occasional use of hacks, so to exclude themes on that basis would be horribly pedantic) so much as with the fact that coding standards aren’t even mentioned. From a project which trumpets its commitment to ‘aesthetics, web standards, and usability’ on its front page, and whose leader likes to use the W3C validator as a rhetorical tool, the complete lack of reference to any of those things is peculiar to say the least.

    Basically, the ban on CC-licenced content rules out so many potential contributions that they’re scared to impose any other restrictions. If nothing else, I do think end users are entitled to expect that a theme downloaded from the official site will work in all major browsers and I’m disappointed that Automattic don’t share that priority.

    And the very first third-party upload appears to be a half-assed pirate version of a paid theme. Doesn’t inspire confidence, does it? I don’t see a link for reporting problems with individual themes; all you can do is rate stuff down or post a topic to be ignored in the forum. This has the potential to get very messy very quickly.

  4. I think you’ve misread the version number requirement. As I read it, it has to do with acknowledging in the css file when there’s been an update, which doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the version of WordPress.

    I know, I just happen to think that whether your theme actually works is more important that whether your theme is called version 0.1 beta or whatever. I can see the necessity of it when they move to auto-update, but right now I would put it somewhere at the bottom of the priority list rather than the top.

    the requirement that the theme MUST include tag support is odd

    As I read it, themes don’t have to support tags, they just have to be tagged in style.css. The way they have worded this is confusing. I personally think that all .org themes should have tag support by default, on the basis that it is easier for end users to remove stuff they don’t need than to hack in stuff they do. If something’s included in the WP core code, it’s reasonable to expect a theme downloaded from the official site to support it. So I don’t have a problem with their insistence on the gallery CSS; I just think it odd that they demand support for that and not other core features which are used more frequently, such as widgets and tags.

  5. Dave said

    “Basically, the ban on CC-licenced content rules out so many potential contributions that they’re scared to impose any other restrictions.”
    Burying your lede again.

  6. I don’t see a link for reporting problems with individual themes

    There’s contact info at http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/contact/ which is linked to in the left hand side bar, when in the themes section.

    I’m happy to take suggestions on improving the site, including the preview site, which could certainly use some additional content.

    I’ve also contacted the folks at gettemplate.com about the Retro Book theme. If it wasn’t legitimately submitted I have no problem removing it.

  7. And it’s interesting that the screenshot MUST be a png format

    Usage of png format is not an issue here, since what IE6 failed to do is to render png image with alpha channel only. But anyway, accepting png yet not accepting jpg looks like an arbitrary personal decision, and plain stupid.

    the requirement that the theme MUST include tag support is odd

    After noting who coerced tag support into wordpress without any discussion, this requirement immediately sounds “reasonable”.

  8. Isn’t throwing an email address up there a little, I don’t know, quaint? Call me a spoiled little wordpress.com user who can’t spell FTP, but I’ve grown rather fond of contact forms.

    You could take a look at the dataset Automattic use for testing wordpress.com themes. It’d be overkill for a demo blog but you can cherrypick the most commonly used features. To showcase the themes effectively, I’d add at least one post with multiple comments, including one from the post author (many themes do funky stuff with comment backgrounds), a couple more Pages, trackbacks and blockquotes. The more detail you have, the easier it becomes for the end user to distinguish the top-quality themes from the also-rans, and the less likely they are to waste time downloading unsuitable themes.

    If the gettemplate theme turns out to be pirated, who’s going to pay for the 41 copies that have already been downloaded? The person who uploaded it? The people who downloaded it? Automattic? Or are you just going to rub your hands in glee at the downfall of the premium theme business model?

  9. Also, I always thought you couldn’t specify no resale of GPL-licenced code. When did that change?

  10. Sunny said

    @ Joseph Scott

    Looks like this version of “Theme Viewer” will have the same set of issues such as down rating, downloading our own theme to boost popular ranking, updating frequently to stay on top of the list… Brace yourself for the bumpiest ride of your life.

  11. They think they can run it exactly the same way they run the plugin repository. The trouble is that plugin developers and theme developers are very different communities. When somebody complained on wp-hackers recently about another plugin on the site stealing his code without permission or acknowledgment, the general consensus was ‘so what, it’s GPL, suck it up and deal.’ Somehow, I can’t see themers being quite so accepting.

    All the issues you’ve predicted will occur, but Automattic won’t do anything about them — what with vetting dozens of themes a day, they simply won’t have the time. People will soon learn to disregard ratings and download counts because they’re so easily gamed they’ll rapidly become meaningless. Complaints will soon find their way into the company spam filter. I can’t help feeling that the reason they didn’t provide a contact form or a ‘report a problem with this theme’ button is to discourage people from reporting issues. They don’t want the hassle of ‘x is downloading his own theme forty times a day! and he made thirty sockpuppets to give himself five-star ratings! and he’s boasting about it on forums! make him stop it!’ or ‘this theme uses one of my copyrighted photomanips from deviantart without crediting me’. Sadly, they are going to get it anyway.

    Their best hope is that the year without an official theme directory has rendered them so irrelevant that theme authors won’t trouble them with too many uploads. Or that people will actually read the rules and say ‘hang on, my theme isn’t GPL-compatible, better go somewhere else’. I don’t think either of these are likely.

  12. Kissing Bandit said

    Also, I always thought you couldn’t specify no resale of GPL-licenced code. When did that change?

    It didn’t.

    The sad part about all of this is that a majority of the theme designers are ill-informed on what is actually contained in/granted by GPL and as a result, will end up miffed when they see their hard work being molested by unscrupulous people every which way from Sunday.

    Frankly, I’m just going to sit back with a bowl of popcorn and watch as the comedy ensues.

  13. anonymous tipster said

    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=31937&replies=6

  14. Sunny said

    @ Kissing Bandit
    The wait and watch approach seems fit, it is the safest option.

  15. […] Unfortunately none of my themes are released under GPL, so you would not see my themes there. [Read this post if you have a little bit more […]

  16. […] Unfortunately none of my themes are released under GPL, so you would not see my themes there. [Read this post if you have a little bit more […]

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s