Archive for i must not blog about habari

the bbPress syndrome

Oh look, my half-baked ideas on default themery have won me a premium theme. Not of course that this was the intention, since I have no use for a premium theme (they are not .com-compatible, and in the event of this particular kitchen ever getting too hot for me I will be going the Habari route) I was just randomly spouting off.

It is true about Kubrick, though. Ever since I was at diaryland, I’ve believed that defaults should be a bit rubbish. It encourages people to branch out. Kubrick wasn’t quite rubbish enough a couple of years ago, which is why WP is still struggling to break free of the iron grip of the BBH. Also, it’s handy to be able to tell at a glance that the site in front of you isn’t worth reading. Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen an interesting blog using Kubrick. Anyone?

Also, here is Matt on wp-hackers studiously pretending that premium themes do not exist. Which is fair enough, since for the purposes of wordpress.org/extend/themes they pretty much don’t, and for that matter wordpress.org/extend/themes pretty much doesn’t exist either.

One day I will be done carping on this, but it will be because I am bored of saying the same thing over and over and over again rather than because anything has changed. Just this. If what is holding the vaporware marketplace up is really the impossibility of importing .zips into a user-friendly SVN setup, or the difficulty of building ‘a scalable payment system’ are these things an issue because they’re intrinsically difficult and time-consuming, or are they proving an issue because of the bbPress syndrome?

If you’ve ever spent any time at all in any WP support forums you’ll probably already have guessed what I mean by the bbPress syndrome. The bbPress syndrome is about not wanting to use anyone else’s code because you think you can do it yourself. I completely get this, because it’s why I have no use for a premium theme. It’s not that I think my own stuff’s better, it’s just that I can make my own themes so I will, even if they’re not as good-quality, or polished, or indeed time-and-labour-saving, as the ones I can grab off someone else’s shelf.

I have a really bad feeling that, rather than hiring or contracting folks with actual experience building scalable e-commerce sites (and, really, it’s not like taking money off people is something that has never been attempted on the internet before), Automattic are still trying to re-invent the wheel, keeping everything in-house and learning on the job. Which is a really great way of doing things, if you’re a hobbyist and the process is just as important as the end result. It is rather less great if you are trying to be a business, with investors and customers and a reputation to maintain. You’re wasting time, you’re wasting labour, and so even though it feels like you’re saving money you’re actually losing it.

I hope this isn’t the case. I hope that the bbPress syndrome was just a passing phase Matt went through on his journey towards being a businessman. But then I look at the forums and they’re still using bbPress. And I look at themes.wordpress.net and it’s still dead.

Comments (11)

WP, phone home

The day before 2.3 is due to be released, hell breaks loose on wp-hackers as they fail to see why update notifications require Automattic to grab blog urls. Matt explains that they already know your blog url because they’ve been forcing you to ping Ping-O-Matic for years, and anyway it could be useful in the future. (Collecting information when you don’t really know what you want to do with it but you’re sure you’ll think of something? Yeah. That’s going to assauge people’s paranoia.) Hackers point out that Ping-O-Matic isn’t taking notes of what plugins and version numbers they’re using. Matt tells them if you don’t like it, fork. (I cannot be the only person who thinks this response is beginning to sound a little tired.) In response to pressure from Mark Jaquith, Matt racks his brains to think of something he could use the urls for in the future and comes up with some stuff about tying offsite blogs more closely into .org (He’s really not proving that good at this assuaging paranoia thing, is he?)

Doug Stewart’s explanation of how this isn’t going to play well with Techcrunch naturally goes unaddressed, because there isn’t really anything you can argue with:

If TechCrunch, Engadget, Slashdot, Kuro5hin, Linux Today, Ars Technica, etc. get wind that WordPress is “phoning home” and not notifying users that it is doing so (with some explanation as to the full ramifications), well, I think Six Apart’s recent issues with Open Sourcing MT 4 are going to look like a tempest in a teapot. Your reputation is something that is extremely difficult to build up, fairly difficult to maintain and EXTREMELY easy to lose very quickly.

Well, ok, I’m not sure about that last bit since the fanboys have been extraordinarily forgiving in the past, but I’m sure Six Apart could tell you that the more devoted the fans are to start with, the nastier they get when they think you’re screwing them over.

I don’t, as it happens, think this issue is as huge as they’re making out. If you’re so worried about security that you think people are going to hack into the wordpress.org database to find out what plugins you’re using, then why are you still downloading software in which holes are found every month from a server which was compromised earlier this year? And if you’re so worried about privacy, why are you using software that has a long-established history of ‘phoning home’ through hotlinked images and default pings? The majority of wordpress users are, by definition, fairly indifferent to privacy and security.

And the other thing is that, selfishly, I find it really hard to care what crap goes into 2.3 because I have no intention of having anything to do with it. Well, maybe some light theme testing, but it’s not something I’ll ever use. My main problem these days is deciding between Textpattern, MT and Habari.

Comments (62)

in which i do not start a campaign

Further sorties in Matt’s ongoing crusade to ensure mere designers do not profit from their work:

  • Small Potatoes is rewarded for caving into pressure to relicence his CC themes as GPL with precious linkjuice from the master’s PR 8 blog. (Remind me how he got that ranking again? Oh yes, I remember. It was the blogosphere’s collective fascination with his myspace-esque posts arranging meetups in random cities.)
  • Matt takes his bright new ‘censor all mention of sponsored themes’ concept to the Ideas forum (h/t Adam). Now, if I were in the business of activism and believed there was, or ever had been, such a thing as the wordpress community (as opposed to a loose grouping of rabid fanboys and the occasional malcontent, none of whom can seriously expect to have their views taken into account), I would be urging everyone to go and vote this down. You know, in order to remind Matt that wordpress.org is not his sole property and that the ideas forum was invented to give the community a voice, seeing as Matt has more than enough outlets to parade his prejudices already. Except, of course, wordpress.org is Matt’s sole property and the ideas forum was invented as a PR exercise in the aftermath of a kinda-sorta fork project by people who objected to his control-freakery. So that would be pointless.

    Awesome if it happened, mind.

  • I don’t like defending sponsored themes but thin ends, wedges, the Voltaire principle, all that. I don’t like people being kicked off forums for the crime of making money. I don’t like people using sponsored themes, attempting to conceal their origin, and then coming all holier-than-thou about the evilness of sponsored themes. If they’re so evil, don’t bloody use them. Or use them, and quit whining about their evilness. As I’ve said before, if SEO people have discovered the joys of theming you only have the default blogroll to blame. And if, in the face of getting banned for being honest about what they’re doing, they resort to putting their links in divs styled margin-left:-9000px I don’t really see how that’s going to help the users avoid spammy layouts either.

Comments (7)

barbeque is food

Now that Automattic are far too sensible and corporate for AFD silliness, the Habari guys have stepped into the void with ForkPress.

I actually think their logo may be better than WP’s real one.

Of course, this is mostly a way of getting publicity for their developers release. Which reminds me, I need to svn up again and see whether themes are working yet.

Comments (3)