Justin Tadlock

Defending King Rat and the GPL

As many of you in the WordPress community know, this month’s GPL argument is about the cforms II plugin. A discussion has ensued on how it is not GPL-compatible and should be removed from the repository.

I was going to sit this song and dance out, but I felt compelled to join in after reading through the comments on this post. It sickens me that people in the WordPress community would behave the way they have in those comments. I would not have had the same self-restraint Philip (King Rat) has shown toward those leaving nasty comments.

The issue

Oliver Seidel released the cforms II plugin on the WordPress Plugin Repository. Plugins in this repository must be compatible with the GPL. His plugin was not licensed with a GPL-compatible license. Someone ratted him out (sorry, I simply had to use that word). The plugin was pulled, but I’m not sure if it was Oliver or the team at WordPress.org that pulled it.

From all indications, this is the most popular form mail plugin for WordPress (never used it myself).

Quite a few people were angry at King Rat for making this announcement on his blog and have behaved like uncivilized adolescents in his comments section.

Do all plugins for WordPress have to be GPL compatible?

That’s not really the issue here. Any argument made either way is trivial within the scope of this discussion.

I believe Oliver can do whatever he wants on his own site. Release the plugin in any form. But, as for WordPress.org, that’s an entirely different scenario.

Do all plugins at WordPress.org have to be GPL compatible?

Yes. Any argument otherwise is senseless. It is clearly stated in the rules, which is kind of hard to miss since it’s the first one:

  1. Your plugin must be GPL Compatible.

No matter what license you throw on your plugin, by releasing it there, you’ve asserted that your plugin is compatible with the GPL. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a great purging of the plugin repository as we’ve recently seen with themes.

On Return True, the author of cForms II - The GPL Rat Strikes asks:

Should GPL compatibility [be] put before the popularity & usefulness of a plugin?

To answer this question quite simply — yes. As long as we’re talking about WordPress.org, the answer is yes. No one is above the system.

Why defend King Rat?

Well, I’m disappointed that people have behaved the way they have in his comments section, calling him a nobody, telling him that he will be shunned by the WordPress community. I’m here to say they’re wrong.

I’m not sure how many people his blog reach, but I know mine gets to a few people. So, I’m willing to put whatever popularity my blog has on the line here — call me a rat or whatever names you can come up with. I am part of the WordPress community and will back that community and any rules implemented on WordPress.org.

Whether King Rat should’ve openly posted what he did might be debatable to you, but think about this: It’s his blog. Does he go to your blog and tell you what you can post?

I’d also like to invite you to read his followup post, Truly Great Insults, in which he has openly asked people to come up with better insults in a contest.

Defending Oliver

I don’t want to say anything bad about Oliver or the plugin. That’s not the point of this post. The cforms II plugin seems to be a great plugin by most accounts. I don’t care how he releases his plugins.

If he (or anyone) wants them on WordPress.org, they must follow the rules. Oliver has announced that the plugin will be released under the GPL though:

With version 10.2 cforms will be 100% GPL compliant, why the “change” in direction? Because of the few of you, who do respect the effort that went into this plugin.

Be nice to people when you visit their blog

A little civility never hurt anyone.

If you don’t like what someone has to say on his or her blog, then at least be nice about the way you disagree. If you can’t do that, then take your uncivilized behavior to your own blog. Post what you want. Flame someone. You have permission to say what you want.

We do have these things called trackbacks and pingbacks nowadays.