Thesis Pissing In the WordPress Well?
I am going to prepend this by saying up front that I typically disagree with Matt Mullenweg on many decisions
- The WordPress Trademark issue still isn’t clear almost 4 years on, it isn’t policed, the logo for WordPress doesn’t contain the expected ® symbol, there should probably be a statement on all sites that use it, even the ones owned by Automattic, and it should be 100% clear that it is owned by the WordPress Foundation.
- To be 100% transparent I have to mention andybeard.wordpress.com has been dead since beta, banned for breaking a terms of service that didn’t exist for months after I was banned (and all I was doing was debugging a xml-rpc bug)
- I have ranted a little about various SEO issues with WordPress.com
- I have also pointed out various interesting commercial decisions including partnership choices (keep it in the family)
Akismet… I have had a few disagreeable words about that as well
To balance that I am not a massive fan of WordPress SEO Themes that claim they do things better than existing plugins. In some ways Thesis in particular was worse than Kubrick for 18 months (up until 1.7 when they supposedly fixed meta nofollow noindex).
As well as lots of back and forth comments on Twitter between Chris Pearson & Matt Mullenweg that were entertaining onlookers on Twitter last night, we also have this interview by Mixergy.
There is also this short version on DigWP for those that don’t have much time, but it doesn’t reference the legality of blow jobs.
(note: they were asked like many others in the WP community not to use WordPress in their domain)
My own short version is that Chris thinks he should be allowed to license his software any way he pleases.
But he is overlooking something
WordPress was a fork of B2 and has existed on its own for 7 years.
I doubt there is any code from B2 left, but if there is, it would be easily replaced.
Chris’ whole arguement hinges around his interpretation of the GPL license rather than the interpretation that seems to be prevalent & understood by the vast majority of the WordPress core developers.
Chris can only argue with the letter of the law.. the written license.
Morally that stamps all over the frequently stated intent and expressed interpretation of the GPL v2 license used by WordPress & the core developers.
I am saying prevalent… not universal… there have always been a few people who are smart coders who have worked out legal ways around the GPL, but this is mainly using duel licenses & proprietary classes, or filtering the full output thus not using any WordPress specific functionality.
Chris’ arguments seem to stem around the core WordPress code base, which is already being picked apart.
It will get even more interesting if you compare to the whole code base of the plugin repository. There is very little if any functionality in Thesis that wasn’t present in some capacity before Thesis existed, maybe other than the big save button.
No Need To Use The Legal Stick
There has been suggestions that Matt Mullenweg might take legal action… I don’t think that is needed.
This is what I would do (I am an evil bastard)
- I would create a list of every Thesis function name, and search the whole of the plugin database. Any mention of any of those function names, even just a check to see if it exists, delete/ban the plugin. Plugins in the repository shouldn’t make use of proprietary 3rd party functions, or data structures.
This would of course affect things like Scribe SEO and lots of plugins dedicated for use with Thesis.
Only 32 plugins of 10K+ even mention Thesis in their description, so it isn’t a huge loss. You might catch a few people promoting Thesis affiliate links as well.
- Thesis is meant to provide support, not the WordPress forums, so all discussions regarding Thesis should be banned on the WordPress support forums. If for some reason there is an issue of Thesis with another plugin, that is obviously a problem with Thesis… as Thesis doesn’t interact with WordPress code.
- I think anyone using Thesis is using WordPress commercially, or would be very clearly a non-profit. It would be very easy to check all websites that use Akismet, and if any of them are using Thesis but haven’t purchased a license sufficient with their use to use Akismet, Akismet should be switched off.
(note: I am also not a fan of Akismet or any kind of collective intelligence for comment spam, but all is fair in love & war)
- Vaultpress – you wouldn’t want the risk of breaking any Thesis copyright, so obviously Vaultpress shouldn’t be useable with any site using Thesis.
- Pingomatic – isn’t Thesis a keyword associated with spam and copyright violation?
- Extend Code Poet crackdown – if you are serious on your CodePoet crackdown, I would do the same with the plugin & theme directory. It would be very easy to take a list of every plugin or theme author, and then perform a site search of every domain of Thesis promotion.
I am looked on as a SEO – SEOs are frequently looked on as “pissing in the well” though most don’t – I am not a fan of comment spam etc.
I am a marketer… I am not a fan of email spam though I know there are legal loopholes that are exploited by spammers.
If the DiyThemes people can’t come up with a way to dual license so that any code that interacts with WordPress is GPL, they are pissing in the “WordPress well” – doing something that it seems the majority of core developers don’t agree with.
In my arguments above the literal interpretation of the GPL doesn’t really matter – what matters is how the core WordPress developers wish for it to be interpreted.
That doesn’t mean I like that interpretation, it doesn’t mean I can stop using plugins/themes that might not comply… as in some situations I don’t have much of a choice, but where I have a choice I know the right decision to make.
P.S. I don’t think this has anything to do with the Thesis distribution servers being hacked.
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