WordPress has removed over 200 themes from the WordPress theme directory for the crime of the themes linking back to the sites and people that created them.
The jihad against themes started last year with Automattic’s Matt Mullenweg declaring there was no place for non-GPL licensed themes on the WordPress Themes directory.
I wrote at the time of the original jihad about the gross hypocrisy of Mullenweg in a post to TechCrunch that gained a lot of flack, including from Arrington, but it stands true today: Mullenweg has an issue with people profiting from WordPress despite the fact that he’s the one person who profits from it the most. It’s all very well and good wanting to be a open source purist, but you don’t get to play legitimate purist when you’re making money from it yourself.
The issue last year, as it seems to be this time around is primarily links out on themes to other sites. Mullenweg likes to call all links SEO scams, and while I’ll agree that some themes do meet this criteria, many don’t, and a simple link back in a theme to the person or organization who wrote the theme is hardly a scam nor by any stretch of the imagination unfair.
What’s interesting in the new round, having purged non GPL (open source) themes last year, is that Mullenweg is now purging open source themes for the link crime. The number isn’t insignificant either: 200 themes is around 35% of the themes on the WordPress Themes site. As one site put it: the decision is similar to Apple pulling apps from the iPhone App store, with the same loss of custom for theme creators.
This is yet another case of Mullenweg biting the hand that feeds him. WordPress theme designers were one of the backbones of WordPress’ spectacular rise from obscurity to the powerhouse it is today. Those same designers help drive use of WordPress, and they are continually treated with little or no respect.
I use WordPress today due to familiarity and availability of extensions, and the lack of a easy to switch to alternative (there are some, but they lack the community, features or ease of use). I can say though that I don’t use WordPress as a mark of support for the direction WordPress has taken since Automattic took over the show: there is zero church and state seperation between WordPress open source and Automattic the commercial enterprise, and until there is this great idea of an open source and free platform is a running joke. Mullenweg should excuse himself from decisions within the WordPress community while he continues to profit from Automattic if he truly believes in open source and that WordPress.org and supporting sites should maintain a strict ethos in that directions. That is the only way this decision could possibly be delivered with any authority and trust.
(via Pro Blogging/ Alistair Cameron. img credit: Duanestory)