Stricter guidelines for WordCamps

May 20, 2010 | No Comments Yet

There are a lot of helpful tips for organizing a WordCamp that can be found at the official WordCamp how-to site, but what’s got people buzzing is the announcement of stricter guidelines about who can and can’t be associated with an event, from individuals to companies in various roles as organizers, speakers, and sponsors. This all depends on whether they comply with WordPress philosophies.

Lately there have been a number of WordCamps accepting speakers, sponsorships, door prizes, etc from people/companies acting in violation of the WordPress license (GPL v2) with regard to their themes/plugins. It is the official policy of WordCamp that WordCamps not provide publicity/a platform for such individuals/businesses. They are welcome to attend, but WordCamps may not have non-GPL-compliant people as organizers, sponsors, or speakers.

It’s only fair that WordPress stand its ground on matters relating to the GPL, WordCamps included. For participants who aren’t as familiar with the software, its community, and philosophy, WordCamp is the perfect venue to discuss those things.

I’m curious to see if any part of this controversy will affect the upcoming WordCamp Philippines 2010.

The complete list of guidelines can be found at WordCamp Central.

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Official word on WordPress theme licensing

July 3, 2009 | No Comments Yet

The great debate on the GPL (GNU Public License) and its pertinence to WordPress themes has been going on for months, but it seems the issue may be finally be laid to rest, thanks to the response of the Software Freedom Law Center on the matter.

Matt Mullenweg quotes the whole thing on the WordPress Development blog, but he has a a one-sentence summary for it too:

PHP in WordPress themes must be GPL, artwork and CSS may be but are not required.

Of course Matt points out that a WordPress theme would be pretty useless without graphics and CSS, and therefore now that they’ve launched the Commercial Themes Directory, they’re requiring 100% compatibility with the GPL. Meaning everything, including graphics and CSS, must have no restrictions on usage. Again, the GPL license does not require themes to be free of charge.

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Official WordPress Commercially Supported GPL Themes Directory launched

July 2, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Here’s the big lesson on the opening of the official WordPress Commercial Theme directory (also under WordPress Extend): it’s possible to make money off a commercial theme while still having a GPL license, which in turn, means you’re supporting the WordPress philosophy of making everything accessible to everyone.

While our directory is full of fantastic themes, sometimes people want to use something that they know has support behind it, and don’t mind paying for that. Contrary to popular belief, GPL doesn’t say that everything must be zero-cost, just that when you receive the software or theme that it not restrict your freedoms in how you use it.

So now that’s all cleared up, time to submit your premium theme—although I think we should stop using the term for good and use commercial instead, especially since there are a number of the “premium” themes that are free. Here’s the list of guidelines for the theme directory:

  • Distribute 100% GPL themes, including artwork and CSS.
  • Have professional support options, and optionally customization.
  • Your site should be complete, well-designed, up to date, and professional looking.
  • Include a haiku about yourself to be included.

A haiku? Now there’s a requirement you don’t see everyday.

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WordPress plugin developers still need good business model

June 16, 2009 | No Comments Yet

There’s been a lot of talk about how to earn money from WordPress themes, including whether or not such methods comply with the GPL it possesses. Now it’s the plugins that need addressing. Kevin Eklund of ToMuse discusses this issue in depth.

Many developers reach a point at which they are simply unable to continue long-term support their plugins. This is largely due to the maintenance and support costs incurred for their plugins which far exceed the revenue generated by the donation based business model which most plugin developers utilize.

He then lists alternative business models for developers: premium, freemium, paid support, and ad-supported.

WordPress is a flourishing community and a potentially good source of income, so we have high hopes for the hard working folks who have made the publishing platform as beautiful and flexible as it is today.

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Transcript from Matt Mullenweg interview on GPL WordPress themes

December 23, 2008 | 4 Comments

Update (12/27/08): Part 3 is up.

Update (12/23/08): Part 2 is up.

The other week I wrote about Automattic pulling 200 themes from the WordPress theme directory. Since then we’ve been waiting for an official word from Matt Mullenweg and it couldn’t have come in a better form: a live interview on the WordPress Weekly Podcast, hosted by Jeff Chandler. For those who weren’t able to listen to it, here’s part 1 of the transcript courtesy of WP Snippets.

One of the big questions regarding the team’s decision is: “why do they have to approve themes based on the content and links on MY site?” It’s a pretty sound question because a website is a pretty big leap from a theme. Well Matt likens it to WordPress endorsing Expression Engine, a paid CMS solution, on their website:

First of all, you can do whatever you like on any website. There’s nothing built in WordPress that’s going to you. I am not even going to tell anyone or tell you that you should change things. But WordPress.org is sort of a community hub where we’ve tried to promote the open source stuff.

So, just like I wouldn’t want to, I don’t know, umm… let’s say a commercial CMS, Expression Engine. Ok… I wouldn’t have links advertising Expression Engine on WordPress.org. I wouldn’t have links advertising other things that are not on open source, even ones that actively violate our license.

Here’s another burning controversy: is Automattic doing this to keep the profitability of WordPress to itself?

JC: Ok, so here’s the next question: Why is it that so many people within the inner circle of the WordPress community believe you and Automattic don’t want anyone else profiting through or around WordPress? It seems to be this notion, primarily from those who make a living selling premium themes.

Matt: *laughs* Well, I have said it before that it’s hard to convince anyone that the way that they currently making money is wrong, *laughs* you know, if you are paying your bills with the way you’re making money, you’re going to find ways to rationalise and… sort of believe in that. There are, at every WordCamp, there will be 100 people there, and there may be 20-30 there making their living from WordPress right then.

And it’s all sorts of different things: sometimes it’s developing sites, like their agency is a site developer or designers; sometimes they’re provide training services – education; sometimes they’re just working for a company and being like the sort of full time WordPress guy.

But if I had to estimate, there are probably tens of thousands of people out there that make their living either with or on top of WordPress, and that’s not even counting bloggers. If you talk about a network like Digg or ??? or TechCrunch or something, also built entirely on top of WordPress.

So I’m totally for that. And you know what, honestly, the GPL is very commercially friendly. It was designed to allow commercial enterprises to thrive. You know some people say it doesn’t work, but you only have to look at one, the growth of WordPress, and two, the grown of the open source world in general for the past thirty years to say ‘Wow, this is actually a very, very powerful force.’

Bottom line here is, don’t make free, GPL-compliant WordPress themes and submit them to the directory if your only motive is to get people to buy proprietary WordPress themes. (Helpful hint: you can make money from WordPress in many other ways. If it’s specifically themes, take a look at Brian Gardner’s Revolution Two. He gives away high-quality themes for free but charges for support.)

Matt and the gang are just trying to keep the WP community a good one.

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WordPress theme directory updates policy, removes 200 themes

December 12, 2008 | 1 Comment

Spectacu.la reports that over 200 themes have been removed from the official WordPress theme repository a couple of days ago, and this is the notification they got:

Links to spectacu.la will no longer be approved, as a result this theme has been suspended.

Looks like Automattic has updated its policy for theme approvals:

Themes for sites that support “premium” (non-GPL or compatible) themes will not be approved.

That means it’s not enough for your theme to be GPL compatible. If you’re simply associated with premium WordPress themes, your free and open source WordPress themes could suffer as well.

More discussion at Justin Tadlock’s site. Is this fair or is this getting to be too harsh?

(Via WPLover)

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