WordPress Banishes Theme Moneygrubbers

July 12, 2007 · Filed Under Web Publishing 

There has been a trend recently for people writing themes for WordPress to include some code which acts as links to sponsors. It means that if you deploy one of these themes (which are given away free, but have links included) you may be promoting sites with which you would not otherwise want to be connected.

There is some talk that you are legally able to remove the links if you wish as WordPress itself comes under a GPL General Public licence and some comments that the theme writers include heavy-handed legal threats to dissuade you from attempting to do this.

It seems, however, that the general line of thought from the users of WordPress is opposed to the attempt to make money while riding on the back of free software, which is a heartening reminder of the days when the internet was not just a platform for global corporatocracy.

Mark Ghosh, the boss of WeblogToolsCollection.com (which is an important repository of WordPress themes and plugins information) has banned the inclusion of sponsored themes from now on. The announcement was followed by what seems like almost universal agreement and applause.

Matt Mullenweg (one of the originators of WordPress) has endorsed the decision and requested that all sponsored themes be removed from the official WordPress themes site at Themes.WordPress.net.

Lorelle.WordPress.com comments about WordPress and draws more support for the ban.

I think the general feeling of opposition to people peddling sponsored themes is twofold.

One is that they can never be trusted to leave a simple, unobtrusive link. It has to be bolted into the code with legal threats and there have to be about a dozen links to dubious sites which eventually become the invasive singing and dancing graphical blitzkrieg of the pornographers’ arsenal.

Secondly, if you want to make money, do it in the real and spiteful world of the amoral corporate hegemony with all its psychopaths and henchmen. Don’t try to inveigle your way through the back door of the Open Source community.

It is similar to why people like Cherie Booth/Blair are castigated for speaking at charity events and then pocketing huge fees for so doing. You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.


2 Responses to “WordPress Banishes Theme Moneygrubbers”

  1. Theme Sponsor on July 30th, 2007 2:24 pm

    And yet, you use a sponsored theme on your blog. I guess if the big guys sponsor the theme, that’s cool, but not if the little guys do.

  2. John Stevens on July 30th, 2007 10:33 pm

    Thank you, Theme Sponsor.

    By coincidence, I have changed the theme for the moment, simply because I had been intending to make some changes to the other one and had not got round to it.

    The distinction I have made at weblogtoolscollection.com and probably elsewhere, is that I have no issue whatsoever with people who develop a theme and put a link at the footer for their own site as theme developers. It would seem churlish to remove it and it is a way of keeping useful information within the community, along with a payback for the time taken to write the code in the form of a link.

    I do see this as separate from people who are putting paid links for gambling sites or whatever, which carry threats of legal action against their removal. To a degree, for me, the question is one of pertinence. To link to a theme developer seems appropriate when carried as part of the footer information, in the same way that a link to the software developer seems reasonable, although I notice that this theme does not do that yet. I shall have to revise it. A link to a commercial sponsor’s site may be pertinent to the site on which it appears, but probably by simple chance, will not.

    As far as the big guys and little guys go, if I had made a choice on that basis, I would always go with the smaller operation.

    I suppose we all try to make what we imagine are ethical decisions, but as we do so, we have to be prepared that the outcome may not always be how we would wish.

    I certainly wish you well with your endeavours and hope that fame and fortune will be the result.

    Naturally, I hope the same for myself, but I am not holding my breath in the meantime.

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