WordPress Theme Directory submissions require 100% GPL support

February 25, 2010 | No Comments Yet

WordPress theme authors looking to submit their works to the official theme repository should take note of some specific guidelines with regard to the GPL. While it’s a given that your theme should have a GPL license, your website should also be in full support of the license. Matt Dunn shares that when he submitted a theme and got rejected, this was the message he recevied:

Thank you for submitting the Elegant Blog theme, however it has not been selected to be part of the theme directory. Themes from sites that offer or support non-GPL themes (matthewlyle.com) are not included in the directory.

His post serves as ample warning:

You must either create a separate website to house them, or remove any “support” of non-GPL themes from your website. This would include advertisements for something like the Thesis theme, ThemeForest, and also any paid themes that you’ve created in the past that are not GPL compatible.

It seems the folks behind WordPress want WP designers and developers to embrace the spirit of GPL completely, not just during the occasion that they create themes for the platform. That sounds like a fair price to pay to earn inclusion into the directory, though I wonder if using a “separate website” is a proper solution if promoting the GPL is the goal.

(Via WPLover)

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Include child themes in the WordPress Themes Directory?

November 11, 2009 | No Comments Yet

Patrick Daly examines the possibility of including child themes into the official WordPress Themes Directory, including previous discussions on it.

The inclusion of child themes in the official WordPress Themes directory is good idea because it gives themes greater flexibility and makes theme management easier for users. There’s a few problems to overcome before allowing child theme submissions into the directory, but nothing a little more brainstorming can’t resolve. I think with enough support from the community we could get this implemented rather quickly (who can even know what that means though?).

It will definitely mean modifications to the way to integrate them alongside the usual parent themes, but that’s what child themes are doing anyway—they’re changing the way we look at themes. If WordPress can officially push for this feature by way of the official theme directory, it’s a great step in easily developing themes on already available theme frameworks.

Meantime, check out Themelets, a site that features everything on WordPress child themes.

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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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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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Interview with Matt Mullenweg and Joseph Scott on the WordPress Theme Directory

August 15, 2008 | No Comments Yet

Ian Stewart of ThemeShaper has interviewed Matt Mullenweg and Joseph Scott about the recently reopened WordPress Theme Directory. You’ll get a good idea of where WordPress theming is headed—for example, automatic theme updating just like plugins—and the general vision behind the official theme repository and its guidelines.

The WordPress theme directory addresses all of these, and as a bonus allows us to do a theme update mechanism like we have for plugins and give theme authors a canonical place to track their distribution.

Since there have been over 150,000 downloads in less than a month it seems to be working.

Read the whole interview here.

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