114 Responses

  1. Nathan Rice
    Nathan Rice Published |

    This is really getting out of hand. Automattic policy is none of my business … I could care less. But this move on WP.org is really immature.

    So, as far as I can tell, not only do they not like people selling themes (no shocker there), but they also don’t like it when you make 100% GPL, high quality themes, but you happen to either have a link on your site to a premium theme, or maybe you sell one. Nothing wrong with the theme you’re uploading … you’re just blacklisted for not being a zealot too.

    Like I said, it’s getting out of hand. To be honest, Automattic is making a lot of stupid decisions “for the community”, that the community probably wouldn’t make itself.

    To be honest, it’s becoming sad to watch. Automattic keeps throwing stones at theme developers. The sad part is, the community is suffering, and premium themes aren’t going away. It might be time for them to consider letting this one go. Their plan isn’t working.

    (which is actually mildly amusing)

  2. David Coveney
    David Coveney Published |

    Hi Justin and thanks for adding your perspective on this. We’d love to hear the full story from Automattic too, but they’ve so far been mute. As you say, it’s not a classy move and if they continue in this vein it’s going to make it hard to support WordPress and feel so positive about it.

    Steve Ballmer may come across as a fool at times, but his developers developers developers speech was spot on – if you don’t engage and encourage the developer community and win their support you’re a lost cause in today’s interconnected world.

    @Nathan, I guess my point above applies to what you say too. All those stones thrown by Automattic at the developers means they’ll soon tire of it and start looking around at other solutions if it keeps on. Would it be simpler to make a living on the Expression Engine platform, for instance? And I hear Drupal’s come a long way of late too. I really really like WP, but it’s not the be all and end all and although we specialise in it, we’re also a business that needs to make a living. We could just do it for fun… but so that Automattic take all the profits? No, I don’t think so….

  3. Nathan Rice
    Nathan Rice Published |

    Yes, Automattic is going to eventually feel the consequences of screwing their community. It’s inevitable. A personal vendetta against a group of developers is no excuse to start acting crazy. I haven’t heard very many “community members” complaining about premium themes, much less anyone complaining about a FREE GPL theme linking back to a commercial site (or, God forbit, a site that links to a premium theme site).

    Nope. This wasn’t done for the community. It was a directive from the top, in the best interest of Automattic, inc. So much for the “open source community” rhetoric.

    Just out of curiosity, I searched for the word “premium” at the ideas forum at WP.org. As suspected, not a single call for the removal of these themes. Not even a single call for the destruction of the premium theme market. This is political BS, designed to make the fine folks at Automattic happy, not the community.

    All hail our benevolent overlords. Doing what’s best for us, even when we don’t want it.

  4. Dan Cole
    Dan Cole Published |

    I guess this means that developers who want to be in the theme pool at WordPress.org and have premium themes will have to run two websites… like WordPress .com and .org, where the difference it clear between Open Source and Commercial. Even though Open Source can be commercial.

    They can link to whom ever they want and if we don’t like it, we can take the GPL WordPress Code and start our own distribution, similar to Linux distributions.

  5. Gary
    Gary Published |

    I’m not a web designer or developer, just an occasional WordPress user without a clue, so would someone fill me in on how this benefits Automattic? Thanks.

  6. ruigato
    ruigato Published |

    I think this they are over reacting.
    They shoul care about end users, its good for Automattic if people are making money with wordpress themes and its good for end users to have acess to good themes made by pros. I amd a “paid theme” client not only because of support but speacialy because the “future proff” of paid themes (or at least the fealing).
    If the themes are released in GPL we can remove the credit link anyhow users just cant steal the knowledge and say that they made the design or release it as if.
    Spammy links i agree, paid themes also (although i think WP could make a win/win with it) but deny a thing that its released as GPL i cant understand..

    Keep up the good work, cheers from Portugal

  7. milo
    milo Published |

    Overreacting? Maybe. Not very classy? Could’ve been done with more style.

    But there is another point:
    WP was established long ago before all those “premium” themes popped up.
    At the start there were just a handful hardcore developers with not much help.

    And those “premium developers” will quickly turn away if no buck can be squeezed out of the WordPress market. Community?

  8. John Kolbert
    John Kolbert Published |

    Why does an open-source project (WordPress) get to determine, or think they need to determine, every aspect around the project? Why is a premium theme any different then a client paying me for a custom plugin for their blog? or installing their WordPress setup for them because they don’t know how or don’t have time? WordPress is open source. Fine. Contgrats. Let businesses be businesses. Consumers alone should determine the fate of premium WordPress content.

    WP.org can host or not host any thing it wishes, but premium content is here to stay. As it should be. Take a look at quality of the slew of free themes released weekly compared to say, iThemes, WooThemes, or a dev firm like Bernadot Studios. Premium themes are a great way for people who want a professional looking blog without paying the big bucks of hiring a development firm or freelancer to custom make one. Everything has its place.

  9. Stu McLaren
    Stu McLaren Published |

    It’s certainly a shame that they’ve started to make these kinds of moves. Personally I agree with a number of people above.

    If they continue down this path it will drive people elsewhere.

    Automattic please look at what Apple has done. It’s ok if people make money with WP… it only drives the demand for the product and therefore your company will grow!

    Just my two cents.


  10. dinu
    dinu Published |

    I can’t agree with automatic 100% here .. because, they are also selling premium services through wordpress.com, so, even though they are open source, they are not a non profit org.

  11. Adii
    Adii Published |

    What is so funny, is that because they can’t stop commercial themes / plugins / services to be developed and rendered around WP – they’ve now decided to punish the innocent peeps. Irony anyone?

  12. freddy
    freddy Published |

    Potentially one of the reasons is that WordPress themes have to be GPL -by nature- Any theme for WordPress which is NOT GPL is going against WordPres’s GPL licence.
    (Which is the main reason the themes must be GPL to be on wordpress.org)

    If Its chosen by the WordPress.org crew(Who just so happen to also mainly be automattic guys/girls) that only Pure GPL themes (& most likely plugins) which do not link to another place to buy themes and dont link to a gpl-violating version of the theme are able to be hosted on WordPress.org, Then so be it, Its a decision they’re allowed to make, There are many other theme repositories where people can -choose- to go if they want a non-gpl compatible theme.

    Yes; Automattic makes profit from WordPress, But so do a lot of other companies. Automattic pays for the core developers of WordPress, bbPress, BuddyPress, Akismet, Etc. Theres nothing wrong with making money from GPL software, But you have to do it legally, And selling a theme for a GPL application is a huge grey-area to some, to others its cut-clean, Derivitive works of GPL software need to be GPL’d, and since themes -require- wordpress, that makes them a derivitive work, which means they need to comply with the GPL to be legal. If the WordPress.org crew decide to take that approach, then thats their choice to make legally.

    (Notice the distinction between Automattic and WordPress.org there? Its bad to slime a company just because you can)

  13. Themes for sites that support “premium” (non-GPL or compatible) themes will not be approved. :: WPLover
  14. Andrew
    Andrew Published |

    I won’t pretend to understand licensing but I believe the Habari license is much better placed to allow premium content.

    OK, the market isn’t there yet, but we make the market right?

  15. Magnus Jepson
    Magnus Jepson Published |

    Good discussion going on here, and it seems like most agree that this is a bad move for WP.org. I agree that authors that have one GPL theme on WP.org and then sell premium themes on their site, are really only getting extra traffic to their site, and potentially more customers. But if this author doesn’t have any premium themes but only a WooThemes affiliate banner ad? That’s going a bit to far imho… I feel like we are running a nasty porn site or something :/

    What is more interesting to me is why nobody ever takes up the discussion on web designers using WordPress for client projects. All those custom projects built on WP are all GPL right? (according to WP) So every Tom, Dick and Harry is free to take any design built on WordPress and offer it for free download on their site.

    So basically you could go to bestwebgallery.com and browse through all the best sites or just go directly to say freelanceswitch.com and copy their theme, zip it up, and offer it for download on your site. Then you could put up some adsense and your set on running a “legit” website.

    So basically WP/Autom should be taking action against anyone making a living as a web designer by using WP as a backend for their clients right? How is that any different from making a premium theme? All we are doing is designing for more than one client, much like if you designed a theme to be used on a blog network with thousand of users….

    When will WP.org wake up and and realize that every business can’t be run the “GPL” way?

  16. David Coveney
    David Coveney Published |

    Just had an e-mail (also sent to various other parties) of Matt Mullenweg saying that they’d been removing a lot of themes with spammy links in them or non-GPL license terms and that perhaps mistakes were made. He’s suggested giving a week to allow them to catch up with stuff.

    However, although our themes are GPL the new condition does say that themes which support premium themes services aren’t allowed, so it’s not clear if we’ll be back in.

  17. Adii
    Adii Published |

    @David – I find that response from Matt fishy at best. How do you just make mistakes and cut about 35% of the themes on the library? BS?

  18. David Coveney
    David Coveney Published |

    @Adii – well, it could be seen as little more than a platitudinous statement, but at the same time I’m willing to give Matt and the rest of the team the benefit of the doubt. Ultimately, it’s a company made up of many people and, being structured the way it is, they probably act pretty independently. The consequences of that could be issues like this.

    I always say – it’s not whether companies, software or anything else has problems – it’s how they get resolved.

  19. Adii
    Adii Published |

    @David – Generally I’d agree, since I to subscribe to the mantra that a company who fixes a problem in the right way, deserve more kudo’s (in my mind) to the company that didn’t even make the mistake from the start.

    BUT – I’ve personally been on the receiving end of some pretty shoddy practices from Automattic’s side this year. Having met Matt in person in August, I can assure you that he is not always being truthful / honest. So suffice to say, that I don’t trust their “intentions” in this regard and I still think it is extremely fishy.

  20. 200 Themes Removed From WordPress.org - Matt Explains Why | The Blog Herald
  21. Peter Flaschner
    Peter Flaschner Published |

    I’m a moderately intelligent, reasonable human. I’ve been wracking my (admittedly coffee deprived) brain, trying to understand the logic behind Automattic’s action. But I give up! It makes no rational sense as far as I can see.

    As I see it, a theme developer who releases a GPL version to attract traffic and potential buyers is doing the community a SERVICE. Anyone who follows a link to a premium theme and chooses to buy that theme has made up their mind all on their own. The .org theme list didn’t force them to buy. Where’s the problem here?

  22. Nathan Rice
    Nathan Rice Published |

    Here’s why. Automattic wants an ideal world. In an ideal world, every theme would be free. When theme authors release both free and paid themes, generally speaking, the paid themes are better than the free ones. WP.org gets the free theme. Automattic wants to get its hands on the paid themes. Currently, they think they’re getting sloppy seconds.

    Automattic has established an OS business model around WP. And if anyone dares to compete with them, they get no love. Here are the only approved methods of making money with WP:

    1. Sell hosting
    2. Sell support
    3. Sell your time (custom themes)
    4. Sell services (consulting)

    And believe me, unless you run Automattic, inc., none of these business models will be more than a side-gig, or at best, enough to support you full time. Very rarely can a person build a business around these models. Automattic knows this. And that’s why they keep pushing people into these models … because in reality, they don’t want people to make money from WP.

    If Automattic wanted to get premium developers to go GPL and free, then they’re taking the wrong approach. Where are the olive branches? Instead, they throw a bunch of crap and hope some of it sticks to us. But in reality, as @Adii pointed out, the only ones with crap on their face are the innocent “compliant” theme developers.

    Either Automattic is stupid, or they are blind with hatred. Either way, this decision doesn’t affect premium developers one bit.

  23. Adii
    Adii Published |

    @Nathan – Well said.

  24. Peter Flaschner
    Peter Flaschner Published |

    Thanks Nathan. I have to take *some* issue with your statement about building a business around that model – we’ve been doing just that for nearly 4 years now 🙂

    I think it’s incredibly short sighted of Automattic to go after the premium theme business. Premium theme developers are motivated to push WP themes further than most. The inventions and refinements being developed for custom themes inevitably find their way downstream to GPL themes. Without the incentive of financial reward, far fewer smart people would be pushing theme development forward, and the whole WP community suffers.

  25. David McKendrick
    David McKendrick Published |

    So, my question is, whose going to step up to the plate & replace Automattic — really, you can’t have a firm pulling these sort of stunts. I can understand modifying themes to remove any paid links, spam, etc. however pulling them outright is simply silly.

    I must revert & take away previous kudos given to Matt and co., as this was an unprofessional move.
    With that said — time to replace (at the very least) wordpress’ own theme site with a better product.

    I’ve got some coins ready for the first one up to plate to help me launch themejury (a la’ hostjury style), shouldn’t be more than a day’s worth of work with a basic rating backend.

  26. David Coveney
    David Coveney Published |

    I don’t think it’s time to start talking about anything to rival Automattic. And in fact, Matt has just pointed out to me that I mustn’t conflate WordPress.org with Automattic. And it’s a fair point – they’re separate, albeit linked by a common lead. So, for now I’m going to ease off on this one – I want to see how it all resolves itself over the coming week or so.

    And nobody I know could create a top quality themes browser in a day – even us! So let’s not even go there for now 🙂

  27. Nathan Rice
    Nathan Rice Published |

    Any comments of mine that were speculative or out of line should be ignored. I shouldn’t pretend to know what Automattic is thinking with this move.

    I still hold to the premise that this move seems very odd, and I have my suspicions concerning the reasoning behind it, but my attitude was uncalled for and rude.

    Making speculative guesses about Automattic’s motivation is what was stupid. And I take responsibility for it.

    Sorry Matt.

  28. David McKendrick
    David McKendrick Published |

    Well, from my standpoint I don’t see any validity in their removal unless again, reiterating that it was because of some sort of affiliate links, spamlinks, etc. Removing them out of spite would be unfair and really shows the nasty side of Matt & co.

    I’m an idealist myself but to cut off your nose despite your face isn’t getting far. And note my earlier comments about ‘replacing automattic’ weren’t in reference to Wordpress, their projects, etc. Obviously they’re doing a wonderful job at that sort of thing but to suddenly start picking off innocent users on the ‘extend themes’ section and removing them without much basis (or at least zero notification) is unacceptable. What I had meant was that more theme ‘galleries’ and download sites need to launch if this is the stance Automattic is going to take.

    The only valid reasons to remove them would be if:
    * The code or themes could lead to exploitation
    * Affiliate links and or spam links

    But, let’s not get too far. We’ll see in time I suppose.

  29. Why Were 200 WordPress Themes Removed? : Jeffro2pt0
  30. Adii
    Adii Published |

    @Nathan – I don’t think you need to apologize, until actually being proven to be wrong. Sure you might not have all the facts, but none of do due to Automattic’s silence and lack of engagement on the subject.

  31. Nathan Rice
    Nathan Rice Published |

    I definitely am not apologizing for my complaints against Automattic. I think I’ve made valid points. Their lack of engagement with certain areas of the WP community is disappointing. Their under-the-table moves are confusing and frustrating. And this latest move certainly seems shady.

    But I said some pretty rude things in my comments. And any speculation, as if it were truth, is inappropriate and stupid. That’s on me.

  32. 10 Things You’d Like To Know Just Now « Feet up, eyes closed, head back
  33. Tom
    Tom Published |

    They have just placed their own affiliate link for Revolution at wordpress.org/extend/themes. They have fired authors for free themes for doing the same thing. It’s all about money.

  34. Brian Gardner
    Brian Gardner Published |

    Tom, the one difference is that Revolution is an open source/gpl licensed theme, and not premium themes that the elimination of free themes occurred because of. Your comment isn’t an apples to apples comparison.

  35. David Coveney
    David Coveney Published |

    Now, this may not be what it is, but this is what it looks like:

    1. A while ago Brian Gardner flew to have a meeting with Matt & Co.
    2. Matt makes a big announcement about BG going GPL – albeit with the teeniest & tiniest links to downloads on the Revolution2 site. So small it took me a while to find them.
    3. WordPress.org pull GPL themes that have any kind of association, even by two steps, to non-GPL paid for themes.
    4. Revolution2 adverts suddenly appear at http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/ as the only supplier of paid for themes. And they’re marked as that – paid for, not free… for money. The link is a pukka affiliate link – as are most of the links to commercial products at wordpress.org

    During the storm after step 3, Matt comes up with an e-mail that may just be about buying some breathing/thinking space after they realise the flack they’re under.

    Now, everything may be above board, straight, and honest. But to some it may appear otherwise. Just an observation.

  36. David Coveney
    David Coveney Published |

    @Brian – your post crossed mine. So, nice to see you joining in with the conversation.

    Do you not see the hypocrisy in one type of commercial organisation being favoured over another?

    There are hints of Machiavellian undertones in all of this. It may not be the case, but sometimes if something walks like a duck and… well, you get my drift. So just what was discussed in your meetings with WordPress.org? In particular, when was the deal for the link to your own themes club arranged?

  37. Brian Gardner
    Brian Gardner Published |

    My decision to go open source was completely independent of anything dealing with WP/Automattic. Our trip to SF to meet with Matt & Toni was to share our business model, and to ensure that it complied to the open source/GPL license standards.

    David, I don’t see hypocrisy in it for this reason – Revolution complies to the standards that WordPress is built on. If any other theme designers decided to make their themes in compliance as well, then they would have an equal chance at being listed there as well. There is nothing exclusive about our banner on that page.

    That being said, it may appear exclusive, mainly because in my opinion, anyone selling a premium theme will unlikely chose like I did to go open source/GPL. Why, because their business is probably doing well, as was the original Revolution model. But, I took a HUGE risk by going open source, and I don’t forsee many others (if any) will be willing to take that risk.

  38. Jason Schuller
    Jason Schuller Published |

    @Brian… Took the words right out of my mouth.

  39. Magnus Jepson
    Magnus Jepson Published |

    @Brian – I respect you and your work a whole lot, but don’t you think this whole ordeal has taken a turn for the worse?

    I think it’s great that you struck a deal with WP.org to get a banner there, well done, but the case of the matter is that innocent authors are being punished for nothing. I have yet to see one comment that agrees with the actions that WP.org has taken against them for having ads on their own blogs that link to premium authors.

    @David – I totally agree that they are sending a hypocritical message to everybody, and it totally baffles me that they behave so unprofessional. Aren’t they supposed to be the leaders of this community? I think they need to face up and be a hell of a lot more transparent about what their aim is. If Matt is so against premium theme authors, why doesn’t he tell us this directly and tell us why and what it is exactly that we are doing wrong?

    I think the silence speaks for itself.

  40. Brian Gardner
    Brian Gardner Published |

    Magnus, I’m not saying it’s not a mess, all I am doing is explaining how our banner appeared on their page, and how others can get there as well. Like I said, we’re not getting any exclusive rights – Matt clearly said that he’s willing to promote those who go open source/GPL. Not just me, but if Woo Themes went that route, you’d have an equal chance at exposure. Can you explain what you mean here: “I have yet to see one comment that agrees with the actions that WP.org has taken against them for having ads on their own blogs that link to premium authors.”

  41. Brian Gardner
    Brian Gardner Published |

    Magnus, forgot to say thanks for what you said regarding me and my work – appreciated, and the feeling is likewise.

  42. David Coveney
    David Coveney Published |

    @Brian – Take a look at http://spectacu.la/category/themes/ – six themes, four of which carry GPL licences. One is given as an exclusive early membership but will be released by Christmas.

    We’re not the devil incarnate and don’t deserve to be treated this way. We’re an ethical company, with publically stated guidelines and, I believe, the only one with an address posted on our websites (legally required in the UK anyway, but many here don’t bother.) In other words, we’re open. We believe in fair business practices and at the moment it doesn’t feel like that’s what we’re dealing with. I’d absolutely love to be proved wrong, because after two years of promoting WordPress to all and sundry and introducing it to a wide range of companies and individuals – including folk at the BBC and an MBE, we feel like we’ve just received a massive kick in the teeth.

  43. Brian Gardner
    Brian Gardner Published |

    David, please don’t think I don’t understand or see your point – really, I can’t and won’t speak about what and how things take place on WP.org, etc. My points in commenting here are more to address what people are saying about Revolution and the insinuation of what took place in SF. Furthermore, I believe that you and your crew are stand up individuals, and have promoted WordPress in a good way.

  44. Magnus Jepson
    Magnus Jepson Published |

    @Brian – Thanks 🙂

    What I meant by my comment was that of all the comments spudding up in the aftermath on this decision, I have failed to see anybody that find any good reasoning behind WP.org’s move to kick out GPL themes that linked back to a blog that had advertising to premium themes on it.

    I feel as though WP is trying to alienate part of the community that I personally feel (although I may be biased) has brought WP to a whole new level, and promoted it in a way that GPL themes never could. You might be on the right path though, but I think the smaller entrants to this market might find it hard to get anywhere near the point that you have gotten to in such a short time.

    Could you see that you would be in the same place as you are today if you didn’t have an amazing following backing you up, which you gained by being a premium author for one year? Most people who tap into this market will probably not last long if they elect to follow the same open source path that you have taken, simply because they will need way more time than one year to gain a customer base like yours. Just look how hard it is for premium theme authors to enter the market now…

    That being said, I admire your courage, and am excited to see how this all pans out in 2009. Hopefully there will be a market for both GPL and licensed themes that is acknowledged evenly by WP.org

    Merry Christmas 🙂

  45. Jason Schuller
    Jason Schuller Published |

    “Automattic is trying to phase out the premium-theme business altogether” Is this really news to any premium theme designer? I think we all know how Automattic (i.e. Matt, etc.) feels about the premium theme marketplace, and it is no secret that they would prefer that we would all release everything that uses WordPress as a foundation under GPL. I myself had only started to see the potential of premium themes before beginning my collaboration with Brian Gardner. Then, we had the opportunity to speak with Matt and Toni directly… one on one (or 2 on 2 as it were). During that meeting, the big thing that stuck in my mind was the fact that they really do believe in the GPL model, and they really do want to “reward” guys like Brian and myself that take the risk of giving up a “sure thing” to align our businesses under GPL. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not kidding myself. The end game is always the same… being successful at what we do. For some, success = $$$, for others, it’s just being good at what they do. Either way, in my opinion, the best way to achieve success with WordPress is to be creative, align with Automattic’s values and the rest will work itself out.

  46. David Coveney
    David Coveney Published |

    @Brian – I’m pretty certain you’re dead straight, but we definitely don’t know what deals have been struck. And that link to your site is an affiliate link – WordPress.org will make money from all the folk who sign up to your site.

    Throw in the timing of everything and you can see how it might look, no? Had your affiliate link gone up sometime next summer I don’t think anyone would have been so concerned.

  47. Brian Gardner
    Brian Gardner Published |

    David, the link on the WP theme site is not an affiliate link.

  48. John Kolbert
    John Kolbert Published |


    The link DEFINITELY was an affiliate link (through e-junkie). I verified it myself hours ago. But you are correct, it no longer is.

  49. Brian Gardner
    Brian Gardner Published |

    John, not saying it wasn’t an affiliate link, just saying right now it’s not.

  50. David Coveney
    David Coveney Published |

    @Brian – I thought it was an e-junkie link too, but now it isn’t, and Google cache says it’s not, so it’s hard to work it out.

    Either people are being a bit disorganised or failing to be 100% straight.

  51. Magnus Jepson
    Magnus Jepson Published |

    I don’t believe automattic is trying to phase out the commercial theme business altogether. With the previous talks from Matt of a theme marketplace, how can they be against it?

    Commercial themes being GPL is a grey area… at best. The GPL license doesn’t seem to be fitted towards web / design, but rather just software. I think it is clear to most theme authors who sell their themes that their themes are not GPL because of CSS and images are not “eaten up” by the GPL license.

    A drupal theme site says this better then I could:

    Can I redistribute a theme from TopNotchThemes?

    No. This isn’t all of the story, but the simple answer is that no, you can not legally distribute, sell, or use a full theme you purchase from TopNotchThemes on more than one website (without purchasing a new copy for each site). The details of this are a little more complicated – it actually depends on the specific files you’re asking about. A theme is made up of several files – template files (ending in .php), CSS, images and JavaScript. The template files are considered a part of Drupal, which is licensed under the GPL, which means they are not restricted in their redistribution. You are free to share the .php documentation and blog so others can benefit from them. However, the rest of the theme – images, CSS and JavaScript – is independent from Drupal and owned by us and licensed by you for one website per purchase. You may not publish or share these parts of the themes with anyone else. Please review our EULA for full details.

  52. Brian Gardner
    Brian Gardner Published |

    David, yes, there was an affiliate link, and the intention was to use it ONLY to track conversions to see how the business model works – and there was never any intent for money to exchange at all.

  53. Brian Gardner
    Brian Gardner Published |

    Magnus, yes you are correct – I have an amazing “following” as you call it, and have a ton of loyal users. I know that my going open source was less of a risk because of that – but more than anything, I knew long term it was the better way to go. All I can say is that the opportunity for you guys (as it is for others) as well, it’s a matter of what you believe in and what kind of risks you are willing to take.

  54. Tom
    Tom Published |

    @Brian sorry, but

    1. WP deleting all themes where author’s sites or themes point to paid theme sites
    2. WP arguing that you are no longer allowed to advertise for ‘paid premium themes’ as a theme designer – at first they said nothing about ‘GPL’
    3. WP editing theme requirements after deleting 200 themes in advance
    4. WP placing ads on wordpress.org/extend/themes for Revolution2 with an e-junkie link (I saw that too – definitely)
    5. You arguing that they only took e-junkie ‘ONLY to track conversions to see how the business model works’ (is e-junkie a good statistic tool btw?)

    is really a sad thing. It makes me worry about WordPress and its future. This all is very, very alarming for anyone who thinks of building future on WordPress.

  55. Adii
    Adii Published |

    @Brian – You are right in saying that Matt has indeed offered everyone the opportunity of being promoted via WP.org should they toe his line – in fact, he had originally offered this only to WooThemes back at WordCamp SA and I was the first one to tell you about it. Ultimately though, the offer is more like a bribe (imo) to commercial theme developers to fall in line with Matt’s own wishes and not based on any factual premises.

    This whole situation is a mess, because Matt / WordPress / Automattic have failed to engage anyone involved with these issues in a constructive and objective way. They have been leaving snide comments and sending out malicious e-mails (to me personally – so I’ll vouch for this); and in the process they are talking-down to the people that they do not agree with. Instead of trumpeting the “good of the community” vibes all the time – maybe they should start looking after the causes & concerns of the lifeblood of that community i.e. designers & developers.

    Having gone through this whole year with this situation hanging over our heads, I’m absolutely sick of it. There is NOTHING even remotely good about how Matt & co have handled this situation and tried to force / bribe designers / developers to toe their line. In my mind, that is communism at best and not particularly aligned with the open-source principle of engaging one’s community.

  56. Thomas Clausen
    Thomas Clausen Published |

    Having been using themes from WooThemes, Revolution2 and ThemeHybrid, I consider myself an experienced user. You all (Adii, Magnus, Brian, Jason and Justin) produce fantastic themes, and I think that Justin has put it best when he told me one time:

    I will say that if you’ve found a theme (paid) that works for your site and you get any help you need using it, then it was probably a good purchase. I’m not against all premium themes, so long as they’re legitimately premium.

    From a user perspective (because I’m a terrible with php, css and the like) I have different perspectives on this.

    1. When I look at themes in the WP directory, I want to see them all (even paid themes), but I want to be able to segment. Not all users care if the themes are GPL, but those that do should be able to choose. Then it comes down to a discussion on defaults, should the non-free themes i.e. opt-in or opt-out.
    2. I want to be able to see the themes as they’re supposed to be seen, that means that the theme directory should be more customizable to the different special features that more advanced themes have.
    3. I like the Revolution2 and ThemeHybrid business model, but I can see the reason for having a Wootheme business model (although I would hope Adii and Magnus et. al. would change it 🙂 )
    4. I think the action from Automattic in this case has been a little hasty, and I think that Matt’s mail sends that signal as well.
    5. I think that it’s cool that Automattic encourages people like Brian and Jason to take the leap into GPL, and I hope they make loads of cash of it.
    6. I think it’s sad that 200 themes got pulled, because you’ve freed some themes in the hope that people would buy in to some more advanced ones (or support). I think that “the first ones for free” businessmodel is an admirable and honourable way of doing business (except when dealing of course 😉 )

  57. David Coveney
    David Coveney Published |

    Well well well, I just discovered a funny, and it makes me wonder just how committed Automattic (not WP.org) are to the open source model….

    We’ve had a sort of semi-unofficial company blog hosted at WordPress.com for a while now – it’s at http://liverpoolwebdesigner.com and it’s really just a place to sound of, talk over ideas and see what sort of responses we get. However, before all this theme deletion malarkey we decided to move the site to our own server. There are various reasons for this, but largely it was about control, plugins and so on. We also wanted to fix up the theme we were using (the lovely DePo Masthead) as it has various cross-browser issues. Our plan was to contribute this fix back to the community – in fact we’ve sent fixes back to theme designers on numerous occassions.

    Now here’s where it gets interesting… I went looking for the download of the theme. I couldn’t find it in the repository, and the designer’s blog doesn’t have it either. Now, that’s perfectly acceptable under GPL terms. In fact, it makes sense in many ways. But it’s fascinating that Automattic are commissioning themes, at a cost no doubt, which are then not being released to the community. In other words, they have their own walled garden, and get to call the shots on the WordPress.org direction in order to protect their own investments.

    Let’s not forget – Automattic is big business. They have millions of dollars of funding (compared to our small, self-funded ventures) and need to monetise their services effectively in order to get the money back to their investors. But there’s a clear conflict of interest in having Matt heading up both WordPress.org and Automattic.

    How can this be resolved?

  58. Brian Gardner
    Brian Gardner Published |

    Tom, the E-Junkie link is the only way to track “conversions” because of the way the affiliate system is set up. Straight links wouldn’t really give us the information we want.

  59. Brian Gardner
    Brian Gardner Published |

    Another thing to note, that themes can be sold, if they carry the GPL license.

  60. Tom
    Tom Published |

    @ David – ‘how can this be solved?’

    I think the real problem is that recent developments make the big ones even bigger, and the little ones chanceless.

    It’s about being at the controls. I can’t exactly see the open source or GPL side of that.

  61. Magnus Jepson
    Magnus Jepson Published |

    @ Brian – GPL permits selling, but it does not permit us to say you can’t redistribute after you have bought it.

    Many argue that CSS and images do not need to be GPL since there is no reference to WP API calls. I feel this is the gray area in this matter. Until Matt & Co take an official stance to this, then this discussion will just continue on, and themes will continued to be sold with licenses that breach the GPL license.

    A commercial theme model that licenses all .php files as GPL and gives a seperate non-GPL license to images/CSS seems to be a great model for me… that way we can continue to license our work in line with GPL laws, and everybody will be happy.

  62. Monika
    Monika Published |

    The next step: wordpress.org/extend/themes removes all themes by professional WebDesigner, because they link back to their website –and this is evil, very very …….


    Auttomatic would like to have a theme market place, and make much money with this market place – so they can’t allow themes like yours Brian with a link back to your premium designs-

    if they allow something like this, they can’t make much money with the future market place.

    this is company policy- 😉

    have a nice day and thanks for your good design ideas

  63. Interesting Posts Around the Web |
    Interesting Posts Around the Web | at |
  64. WordPress Targets Premium Themes for Deletion
  65. WordPress Themes and Vagueness · Pressed Words
  66. John Adams
    John Adams Published |

    I am relatively new to WorPress and blogging (only 1 year) but (and maybe this is too simple) but why doesn’t WordPress.org sell a “one -time” fee based Developer License. Then developers would be free to develop premium themes. WordPress.org would set very simple straight forward rules to protect their “OS” and the consumer but would allow free market forces to decide the pricing based on quality of theme development. The cost of the license would be a tax write off. Everyone wins.

  67. RedAlt Blog
    RedAlt Blog at |
  68. here we go again « wordpress™ wank
    here we go again « wordpress™ wank at |
  69.   200 free WordPress themes weeded out of WordPress.org by Free WordPress Themes Blog
  70. eXtra For Every Publisher » Blog Archive » WordPress’ “GPL” and Theme Mess
  71. Benjamin
    Benjamin Published |

    If they apply these requirements to plugins… will we lose wp e-commerce, akismet, wp db-backup, every single one of Yoast’s plugins (Sociable, Breadcrumbs, Google Analytics, etc)… and I could go on.

    All these are on the first page of the popular plugin list. They also all have a “premium” version of their plugin being sold on their personal website OR an affiliate link to a premium theme store. These two criteria were enough to remove themes from the repository. Why not plugins? Is it because they don’t want to lose the flexibility these plugins bring to WP? Or is Automattic just trying to kill the premium theme business and doesn’t really care about GPL?

  72. Sunday..oops Link Love Series No 7
    Sunday..oops Link Love Series No 7 at |
  73. Benjamin
    Benjamin Published |

    WP db-backup doesn’t actually have any links or issues that I was talking about. My apology to Austin (the wp db-backup developer) for misrepresenting his work.

  74. Premium WordPress Themes and the GPL Discussions — WP-Premiums
  75. erica
    erica Published |

    I wonder if they altered their download number to reflect the 200+ they pulled out
    Meaning 1,926,531 DOWNLOADS, AND COUNTING if its not up there, I would think it should not count in their downloads.

  76. getondaground
    getondaground Published |

    “whew” just in a nick of time. – well god must be on my side, because i just discovered this Hybrid theme today on wordpress.org. I was looking at their (Themes that are compatible with Wordpress 2.7 list) when I stumbled across Hybrid. I must’ve demo’d every theme on that list before I came to your site. Im bout to activate it as soon as i finish wit this comment. You got some serious themery going on over here. I like the vibe you got going on over here, too. It feels like the beginning of something real big is about to happen over here. Im new to this wordpress stuff, and for the pass two months i’ve been switching themes every two days, trying to find something exactly like Hybrid. Believe me when I tell you, I’ve tried every so-called hot theme out there from WooThemes to WixiePixie to Unique Blog Design to Ikarus and everything else. If you can think of it, I’ve tried it. I downloaded your Options theme first, played with the Shadow child theme for a couple of hours, and was ready to leave Shadow on my blog, and be done with it. That Shadow theme is hot also. But I know this Hybrid Theme will be even better. Anyway, thanks for these hot themes, you got another loyal follower.

  77. Some thoughts on the WordPress community, themes, and the GPL
  78. WordPress Themes, GPL and Money | Weborithm Blog
  79. Thomas Clausen
    Thomas Clausen Published |

    The value is not in the theme itself, but in the support around the theme.

    Matt Mullenweg about 40 minutes into this episode: http://www.talkshoe.com/talkshoe/web/talkCast.jsp?masterId=34224&cmd=tc

    You’re pretty good of then Justin, because your support is great 🙂

  80. dinu
    dinu Published |

    revolution ad on theme directory ? matt, are you kidding me ?
    hmm, about revolution 2 themes… I waited a lot for their released and found that they are not even up to the standard of a free theme in its looks .. lol … yes, photos themes were way better than other themes….. they just wanted the “free label” and didn’t work on quality

  81. WordPress Pulls the Plug on Premium Themes — WPCandy — WordPress Themes, Plugins, Tips, and Tricks
  82. shockwheat
    shockwheat Published |

    I think Automatic did the right thing. If people are going to violate the GPL, they should expect to get tossed without notice. In my opinion, only services should be allowed to be “paid” for. Charging for plugins and themes…outrageous! Shame on these people.

  83. The WordPress theme directory needs an upgrade
  84. WordPress Pulls the Plug on Premium Themes | omelyn.com
  85. TalkPress, Yet Another WordPress Echo Chamber
  86. Home Removal Services
    Home Removal Services Published |

    What Wordpress is doing is not right at all as the people suffering are the end user like us who do not a clue about programing. This Wordpress script is just fantastic and even a beginner in the internet world can have a decent website. They should definitely bring the themes back if people are willing to pay for premium themes.

  87. Girokonto
    Girokonto Published |

    Yes but its ok to pay for good premium themes is my opinion.

  88. Kevin Eklund
    Kevin Eklund Published |

    I think it’s time to re-evaluate the current business model theme and plugin developers use. It’s quite disheartening when Matt Mullenweg and Automattic to have plugins like Akismet and Poll Daddy in the official plugin repository at WordPress and charge for their services. Whether those are specific models that are GPL compliant or not, Matt should help define them so there’s no confusion throughout the WP community. Plugin and theme developers have helped build WordPress, why can’t they be treated the same as Automattic? There seems to be a double standard here.

    Link removed by the administrator.

  89. Kevin Eklund
    Kevin Eklund Published |

    I know he’s not saying that and I pointed that out. But I think he could do a better job of mapping the GPL compliant business models so there isn’t any confusion. So many people are still convinced that you can’t sell themes and plugins period. They don’t even understand that the word “free” refers to freedom, not price. Obviously if that’s still not clear to most people there’s a definite need for him to clarify such issues.

  90. Kevin Eklund
    Kevin Eklund Published |

    Sorry about that link mistake above that refers to your last comment. I would edit it but I can’t 🙁

  91. Kevin Eklund
    Kevin Eklund Published |

    Justin Tadlock – No problem, I didn’t intend to add it, that’s why made the comment to remove it. I actually have looked at the issues and I have read every blog article I can find on this topic. Like I said, there is still a lot of confusion over these issues. Most people still don’t understand that when the GPL refers to “free” it means free to distribute, not free as in price. So obviously it’s still an issue with this.

    If you’re worried about your users being confused I think it’s a little late for that. Just read the comments above. There was mass confusion before I even wrote the article. The article I wrote contains real concerns and real questions that most of the WP community want addressed.

    How are you looking for an open discussion if you censor or get pissed off because my opinions may conflict with yours? If I have pissed people off, then why aren’t they commenting on the article? There was practically no one that commented on the article that was pissed off except Matt and he didn’t say he was pissed off.

    Yes, Matt has been clear about referring people to the GPL like that should answer everything. Well, as you know it doesn’t address everything. That’s why there’s so much confusion still. Matt and Automattic make mistakes and poor judgment from time to time just like everyone else. Do we have to discuss the Revolution2 banner ad and the e-junkie link again?

    I understand that people are less inclined to criticize Matt Mullenweg as their businesses and working relationships depend on Matt’s and Automattic’s approval. I on the other hand do not wish to remain silent as I think this issue could be ironed out by just addressing the questions in public to help clarify them once and for all (instead of just referring people to the GPL).

    Anyway, I really do like Matt; I think he’s doing the best he can and WordPress is an awesome platform. I think bringing issues like these to the forefront to help plugin and theme developers and address questions/misconceptions about the GPL is a good thing don’t you?

  92. Kevin Eklund
    Kevin Eklund Published |

    Comment deleted by the administrator.

  93. Roger
    Roger Published |

    justin has correctly recognized that we must give him right, let’s see what awaits us in future, so many seem to be interested, please continue reporting times

  94. Wordpress Themes Are Only Partially GPL-Licensed | The Mighty Mo! Design Co. | Minneapolis Wordpress Developers and Designers
  95. WordPress Themes are GPL and Chris Pearson still acting like a bully » Mark Finch Thoughts
  96. Bony
    Bony Published |

    justin has correctly recognized that we must give him right, let’s see what awaits us in future, so many seem to be interested, please continue reporting times

  97. Enforcing GPL Compliance — Chris @ Olstrom (.com)
  98. WordPress Plugin Developers Versus Matt Mullenweg
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  100. The WordPress GPL Timeline | WPCandy
    The WordPress GPL Timeline | WPCandy at |
  101. WordPress Pulls the Plug on Premium Themes | WPCandy
  102. WordPress Targets Premium Designers for Deletion | Pro Blogging News
  103. Ranvijay
    Ranvijay Published |

    Hi Justin, thanks for giving your opinion in this regard. This is so sad to see this. Automatic will have to face the consequences for acting against a particular group of developers. And this is going to happen.

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