Marketing Strategy Geek - Andy Beard » wordpress http://andybeard.eu Internet Marketing, Lead Acquisition, Online Business Strategy and Social Media with Original Opinion and Loads of Attitude Wed, 01 Oct 2014 18:21:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Microsoft Live Spaces Selling Out To WordPress.com – Not Outsourcing http://andybeard.eu/3259/microsoft-live-spaces-wordpress.html http://andybeard.eu/3259/microsoft-live-spaces-wordpress.html#comments Mon, 27 Sep 2010 19:02:49 +0000 http://andybeard.eu/?p=3259 It has been announced today that 30M (million) live spaces blogs will soon be migrated over to WordPress.com in a “partnership” between Microsoft (MSFT) and Automattic.

Translation

Microsoft is dumping these blogs anyway, and maybe gaining some other value from giving 30M users to Automattic.

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It has been announced today that 30M (million) live spaces blogs will soon be migrated over to WordPress.com in a “partnership” between Microsoft (MSFT) and Automattic.

Translation

Microsoft is dumping these blogs anyway, and maybe gaining some other value from giving 30M users to Automattic.

This is like upgrading Windows 7 to Ubuntu (yeah yeah yeah)

Problem?

Of those 30 million live spaces blogs, I bet 15 million of them don’t comply with Automattic’s rather strict terms of service, and of course Automattic don’t support any form of advertising unless you are a V.I.P.

Over a six month period, beginning today, Windows Live Spaces users will have the option to move their blogs to WordPress.com. To make this possible, we’ve created a brand new importer for Windows Live Spaces to WordPress.com. New Windows Live users will also be offered a WordPress.com blog when they choose to create a new blog.

That phrase is a little ambiguous but try this comment by raananbarcohen

@liamdaly — redirects will work forever and you can pick any WordPress.com URL you would like, and then map it with a custom domain.

Free Unrestricted 301 Redirects – Data Portability 101

I have complained in the past quite vocally about how badly Blogger/Blogspot treat people who leave their service by sticking interstitials in the redirects… I ended up a couple of months ago removing 100 pages of historical content back to Blogspot to effectively let it rot because there was no effective way for it to be an integral part of this site.

Microsoft need to find a way to 301 redirect their existing bloggers to whereever they require, as a free service, or WordPress need to provide that service for them. WordPress haven’t done that up until now.

The only way to move from WordPress.com is to pay a $15/year service fee for domain mapping. That is on top of the fees you pay for domain registration.

In many ways the most valuable thing you create when blogging is not the content, but the links to the content. You can always improve content, merge it together, even delete an article totally, but you have the option to redirect a visitor to something more current, and there is a search engine benefit.

Microsoft & WordPress.com need to come up with a better option because I know many real bloggers on Live Spaces who actually make a living from the occasional advert or affiliate link.

The headline from Techcrunch is misleading – this isn’t outsourcing it is selling out.

Their small businesses are effectively being terminated.

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WordPress SEO – Deep Link Engine Spam http://andybeard.eu/3253/wordpress-seo-deep-link-engine-spam.html http://andybeard.eu/3253/wordpress-seo-deep-link-engine-spam.html#comments Mon, 27 Sep 2010 17:04:03 +0000 http://andybeard.eu/?p=3253 The Deep Link Engine WordPress plugin was released back in March as part of the launch for a product “Auto Content Cash” by Brian G Johnson, Jared Croslow and Alex Goad.

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The Deep Link Engine WordPress plugin was released back in March as part of the launch for a product “Auto Content Cash” by Brian G Johnson, Jared Croslow and Alex Goad.

I quite like some of Alex’s products, I have been critical of most of Jared’s and I suppose I am neutral on Brian’s as I have never bought any.




Hyper lazy affiliate banner

In theory it is like a simplified version of Zemanta with an additional option to check to see if a reciprocal pingback link has been published.

There are lots of options to get rid of most footprints the problem is people are lazy and leave the defaults.

Thus you get nice footprints like this

<p><!-- pingbacker_start --><br />
<h4>Related Blogs</h4>
<ul class='pc_pingback'>

The other problem is people are greedy.

Rather than choosing the most related posts they add as many as they can – a numbers game, and may or may not keep the links.

I am referring to extreme greed.

Deep link engine

  • Is the plugin legit? It is just a tool
  • Can it be abused? Most certainly
  • Are idiots abusing it? Without a doubt
  • Is it blackhat? Not necessarily

If you want to test the plugin you get it as a free download from an exit pop sequence if you visit the site via the banner above.
I don’t think as a tool for finding relevant links it is a bad thing, and if you are automating content aggregation in some legitimate way then those receiving (genuine) (relevant) (followed) links aren’t going to complain too much.
With a lot of creative thought something like this could be turned into a very crude Techmeme clone built on WordPress.

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New GPL Icon Set Available (can use with WordPress Drupal Joomla) http://andybeard.eu/3161/gpl-icon-set.html http://andybeard.eu/3161/gpl-icon-set.html#comments Sun, 12 Sep 2010 15:12:54 +0000 http://andybeard.eu/?p=3161 Icons that can be used for the development of open source projects, themes and plugins are very rare. So many designers are either a little lax in their licensing, or opt to use creative commons licenses.

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Icons that can be used for the development of open source projects, themes and plugins are very rare. So many designers are either a little lax in their licensing, or opt to use creative commons licenses.

They would choose to use creative commons often because they think it is “free” or because they want attribution, and maybe the links that go with it.

I recently covered the inconsistant use of creative commons icons in themes.

Today I just heard one icon set owner has updated the licensing terms for his icon set from a general “free to use for any purpose” statement, to be officially GPL.

I found out about this quite by chance.

I saw a little trafic in my stats from a thread on Drupal.org, where part of a theme project had been flagged for removal from their CVS code system because it contained icons with an incompatible license – FamFamFam Silk.

The developer, Edison Wong seemed to have found an alternative, Spirit20 but the wording wasn’t quite up to the Drupal requirements, which are effectively the same as WordPress.

The theme developer contacted the icon designer, Dale Morrell on Facebook, explained the situation, and now the icons have been switched to a GPL license.

It looks like a nice Drupal Theme.

There are 2 sets of icons

Macchiato – Social

This is a sample of 29 icons, with a full set still to be released

macchiato-gpl-icons

Spirit20

spirit20 consists of almost 500 transparent PNGs at 20×20 pixels

spirit20-gpl-icons

Go Grab These GPL Icons Now

Licensing Confusion Is Rife

It looks like Edison was thinking about using the Circular Icon Set.

But there is a conflicting license on the site.

The Products Page

Claims Creative Commons

Circular Icons Creative Commons

Creative commons is not GPL compatible, and doesn’t guarantee rights in the same way – it also covers display as I previously explained.

The Download Page

Circular Icons Don't Distribute

We have some funny wording about free to use but don’t distribute.

That isn’t GPL
That also isn’t compatible with the Creative Commons license.

The Site License For All Products

The icons are a free product listed on the products page

Pro Theme GPL

So all the Pro Theme Products are GPL… 100% GPL or they wouldn’t be listed on the WordPress commercial themes page.

As far as I am aware none of the icons are used in the themes, and even if they were it is quite possible the authors (Darren Hoyt & Ben Gillbanks) have licensed those particular icons differently, as is their right.
Thus this isn’t in any way suggesting some confusion in the licensing of the themes.

Downloaded Archive

There was no license in the downloaded file – oops.

I’m Confused

I can’t even differentate between which license is most restrictive… Creative Commons & GPL are both free and restrictive, but in different ways, and neither would prevent me distributing the icons.

Please Designers – Make Up Your Mind!

Clarity in licensing is important – wimpy statements on use just don’t work for open source projects as shown by Drupal, and confusing licensing on a site needs to be fixed.

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Warning: WordPress Trademark Now Has Teeth http://andybeard.eu/3150/warning-wordpress-trademark-now-has-teeth.html http://andybeard.eu/3150/warning-wordpress-trademark-now-has-teeth.html#comments Fri, 10 Sep 2010 12:19:22 +0000 http://andybeard.eu/?p=3150 Close to 4 years ago trademark policy with WordPress was confusing.

Automattic registered the WordPress trademark and began sending out letters to domain owners who provided goods and services around the WordPress brand.
They actually started sending out these letters and emails before the trademark was even published for opposition.

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Close to 4 years ago trademark policy with WordPress was confusing.

Automattic registered the WordPress trademark and began sending out letters to domain owners who provided goods and services around the WordPress brand.
They actually started sending out these letters and emails before the trademark was even published for opposition.

WordPress Registered Trademark - artistic representation

WordPress Registered Trademark - artistic representation

Matt has just announced that he has finally transferred the WordPress trademark to the WordPress foundation which is to be applauded.

Automattic were certainly discussing this around a year ago, so it seems to have taken a while. To be honest I have never understood why it was ever registered under Automattic anyway.

There is also a new (draft) policy.

Historically there have been 2 major complaints with the WordPress Trademark policy.

1. ® – Do As I Say, Not As I Do

I don’t know the legal ramification as I am not a lawyer, but the WordPress project as a whole has never used the highly visible ® symbol in everything they have done for the last 4 years.

No mention of trademark useage has ever appeared on the WordPress.org home page before today, though there has for a long time been a little note on the .org site buried in the documentation.

To reduce confusion people using the WordPress trademark in any way were asked to include a statement about their use to avoid confusion.

Automattic does include mention within their WordPress.com terms of service however I wouldn’t class that as visible.

Intellectual Property. This Agreement does not transfer from Automattic to you any Automattic or third party intellectual property, and all right, title and interest in and to such property will remain (as between the parties) solely with Automattic. Automattic, WordPress, WordPress.com, the WordPress.com logo, and all other trademarks, service marks, graphics and logos used in connection with WordPress.com, or the Website are trademarks or registered trademarks of Automattic or Automattic’s licensors. Other trademarks, service marks, graphics and logos used in connection with the Website may be the trademarks of other third parties. Your use of the Website grants you no right or license to reproduce or otherwise use any Automattic or third-party trademarks.

Typical useage by people using the Trademark (probably) with permission might be the WordPress Philippines site

WordPress is a registered trademark of Automattic Inc.. This website is not affiliated with or sponsored by Automattic or WordPress.

Thus up until now, if the Trademark was owned by Automattic, WordPress.org should have had a similar statement. Now the license is transferred to the foundation, Automattic should if all things are being done fairly and crossing all the “t”s, include such a statement on every one of their properties.

That is the way to enforce your brand… which with all due respect to Matt, the WordPress project as a whole, the developers and the people at Automattic, there has been a real lack of consistancy.

2. WordPress Trademark Scope

WordPress have always policed the trademark based upon domains

If you already have a domain with “WordPress” in it, redirecting it to the “wp” equivalent is fine, just as long as the main one users see and you promote doesn’t contain “WordPress.”
“WordPress” in sub-domains is fine, like wordpress.example.com, we’re just concerned about top-level domains.

Up until now that has been the whole official policy and the only page that contained that policy.

So the WordPress foundation have a new draft policy.

Permission from the WordPress Foundation is required to use the WordPress name or logo as part of any project, product, service, domain or company name.

We will grant permission to use the WordPress name and logo for projects that meet the following criteria:

* The primary purpose of your project is to promote the spread and improvement of the WordPress software.
* Your project is non-commercial in nature (it can make money to cover its costs or contribute to non-profit entities, but it cannot be run as a for-profit project or business).
* Your project neither promotes nor is associated with entities that currently fail to comply with the GPL license under which WordPress is distributed.

[…]

All other WordPress-related businesses or projects can use the WordPress name and logo to refer to and explain their services, but they cannot use them as part of a product, project, service, domain, or company name and they cannot use them in any way that suggests an affiliation with or endorsement by the WordPress Foundation or the WordPress open source project.

So all of these use cases might be in violation now

  • You can publish a series of blog posts, say on WordPress SEO but if you ever want to turn it into an ebook for free download that is “for profit” in some way, you need to use WP not WordPress in the title.
  • What happens if you wanted to sell the ebook? Same situation.
  • Have a WordPress plugin – don’t use WordPress in the name if you have any plans to ever have a commercial version.
  • Any conference – you can forget about using the trademark unless it is not for profit such as the WordCamps.
  • Created some great WordPress videos – it is fine to give them away on your website, but don’t sell the DVDs or video downloads… got that YouTube? That would make it a product.
  • Then there are books like WordPress Bible – does that now require special licensing and permission?

All of this creates a sub-brand – WP that WordPress doesn’t currently own and in many ways dilutes the WordPress brand itself. I rarely use WordPress in searches – I am more likely to use just WP as it often gets better results.

You also need to look at the registered trademarks themselves. I have copied them at the end of this post for convenience as the USPTO site isn’t easy to get a permalink for specific documents.

The WordPress trademarks are for software and downloadable software

Whilst they haven’t done so yet, I would expect them to eventually police the trademark over all possible use scenarios – they do for instance have trademark use blocked for Adwords, unless you have specific permission.
However they seem to be relaxing a little on that front – lots more theme publishers using WordPress in their ads – maybe that is because of being 100% GPL.

Scope In Social Media

Matt in his comments when questioned about use of WordPress in social media stated:-

I know it’s harder to switch Twitter and FB and we don’t have an official policy there yet, but I do think it makes sense for them to match the domain.

The suggestion is there might be a policy decision in the future – scope creep rather than feature creep. In the past for instance I have been told that I can use subdomains containing WordPress which is a step beyond just a folder.
I would think the line in the sand on this is whether the use of WordPress is for a product in the new interpretation, no matter where it is being used.
Thus is you have a WPThemes domain selling themes, but a @WordPressThemes twitter account or facebook page, you might be in violation in the future.

Level Playing Field

All I want is a level playing field with every use case publicly acknowledged. I think it could be a good way for the WordPress foundation to promote the use of the trademark “with permission” to even post blog updates on every decision.

WordPress Tradmark Now Has Teeth

With the new wording of the Trademark Policy, and the much clearer ownership that will gain a lot more community support, if WordPress & Automattic clean up their own use of the WordPress Trademark such that they can show explicitly that it is a universal policy, I expect them to also clam down on other useage.

Many more sites and products don’t comply with the new policy than the previous domain policy, and there were still countless offenders of the domain policy, even among people you would expect to be a little smarter.

Don’t be a WordPress community martyr – clean up your own use pronto.

Appendix

WordPress Trademark for the word (no capital P Dangit)

Word Mark WORDPRESS
Goods and Services IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Downloadable software program for use in design and managing content on a website. FIRST USE: 20030328. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20030328

IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: Software solutions, namely providing use of on-line non-downloadable software for use in enabling internet publishing. FIRST USE: 20030328. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20030328
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 78826734
Filing Date March 1, 2006
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition November 7, 2006
Registration Number 3201424
Registration Date January 23, 2007
Owner (REGISTRANT) Automattic Inc. CORPORATION DELAWARE 570 El Camino Real #150-454 Redwood City CALIFORNIA 94063
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record David A.W. Wong
Type of Mark TRADEMARK. SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

WordPress trademark for Logo

Word Mark W WORDPRESS
Goods and Services IC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: Downloadable software program for use in design and managing content on a website. FIRST USE: 20030328. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20030328

IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: Software solutions, namely providing use of on-line non-downloadable software for use in enabling internet publishing. FIRST USE: 20030328. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 20030328
Mark Drawing Code (3) DESIGN PLUS WORDS, LETTERS, AND/OR NUMBERS
Design Search Code 26.01.17 – Circles, two concentric; Concentric circles, two; Two concentric circles
26.01.21 – Circles that are totally or partially shaded.
26.17.13 – Letters or words underlined and/or overlined by one or more strokes or lines; Overlined words or letters; Underlined words or letters
Serial Number 78826938
Filing Date March 1, 2006
Current Filing Basis 1A
Original Filing Basis 1A
Published for Opposition November 7, 2006
Registration Number 3201428
Registration Date January 23, 2007
Owner (REGISTRANT) Automattic Inc. CORPORATION DELAWARE 570 El Camino Real #150-454 Redwood City CALIFORNIA 94063
Assignment Recorded ASSIGNMENT RECORDED
Attorney of Record David A.W. Wong
Type of Mark TRADEMARK. SERVICE MARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

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How To Create a Better Tweet Button (+WP Shortcode) http://andybeard.eu/2907/better-twitter-tweet-button.html http://andybeard.eu/2907/better-twitter-tweet-button.html#comments Sun, 15 Aug 2010 01:09:25 +0000 http://andybeard.eu/?p=2907 Having criticized the new retweet or “tweet” button that Twitter have introduced, lets see if we can make it better.

This mainly covers WordPress – if you are on another platform, find a geek that uses it to try to do the equivalent, but I doubt this is possible on Blogger.

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Having criticized the new retweet or “tweet” button that Twitter have introduced, lets see if we can make it better.

This mainly covers WordPress – if you are on another platform, find a geek that uses it to try to do the equivalent, but I doubt this is possible on Blogger.

I should point out there are already implementations out in the wild that are significantly better in some ways, though might not meet all the goals of the Twitter developers.

As an example, in my comments on the last post one of the goals of the Twitter button was for it to work even with javascript switched off. Some existing sharing solutions use an empty anchor link href=”#” – from a SEO perspective that is better – for usability maybe not.

Here is some default code generated by the official Twitter button generator – the data-url is optional if you are using canonical tags and don’t have lots of buttons on the home page of a blog, or within archives – otherwise it is best to be specific.

<a href="http://twitter.com/share" class="twitter-share-button" data-url="http://andybeard.eu/2902/7-reasons-not-to-use-the-new-tweet-buttons.html" data-text="7 Reasons Not To Use The New Tweet Buttons" data-count="vertical" data-via="AndyBeard" data-related="seodojo:SEO Training">Tweet</a><script type="text/javascript" src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script>

We are going to try to solve a number of issues

Twitter decided to use “data” attributes that are in the HTML5 spec. On one project I am using data attributes with spans which are not in the spec.
What some share widget developers are using is an empty anchor link with no destination.

If Twitter wanted the link to function as well as a defined button if Javascript is turned off, they should have opted to use their implmentation which uses URL parameters.

In my last post criticising the tweet buttons, I have added some test implementations of what is discussed here. Test the 3rd one “With Nothing Defined” – that is a text link as implemented by Twitter, it doesn’t pick up the title.

I should also note that Google have used HTML5 data for their buttons by default, so they suck just as much.

This is their current static text link for sharing

http://twitter.com/share

It picks up the referring URL, but it doesn’t seem to pick up the page title as it is meant to when using a text link (it works with Javascript), and you would somehow need to work out defining rel=”me” in the header which is something I have never even heard of before.

Share This On Twitter

So that is the page you are sending “link love” or “Google Juice” to – a crappy form on a social network – this is going back to 2006 when I was first moaning about plugins doing this.

I was then compelled to make my own version of the Socialble plugin “Antisocial” as the original author refused to add nofollow, and eventually Yoast took the Sociable project over and one of the first official things he did was add nofollow to the links.

If they want the link, there needs to be some content of value on the page.

However we can do something about the link formatting to ensure it passes some useful data.


http://twitter.com/share?url=http://andybeard.eu/2902/7-reasons-not-to-use-the-new-tweet-buttons.html&text=7%20Reasons%20Not%20To%20Use%20The%20New%20Tweet%20Buttons&count=vertical&via=AndyBeard&related=seodojo:SEO%20Training

All those parameters have been added to the URL, which has a benefit with W3C validation & content syndication, and when someone clicks through to the form, it has the data filled out.

Whoopie!

Share This On Twitter Dojo Version

So lets take that link code and slap it into the original

<a href="http://twitter.com/share?url=http://andybeard.eu/2902/7-reasons-not-to-use-the-new-tweet-buttons.html&text=7%20Reasons%20Not%20To%20Use%20The%20New%20Tweet%20Buttons&count=vertical&via=AndyBeard&related=seodojo:SEO%20Training" class="twitter-share-button" rel="nofollow">You should Tweet This Post</a><script type="text/javascript" src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js"></script>

I also added a nofollow to the link, but even then it still means Google could opt to take juice away from other links on the same page. Sucks doesn’t it.
However Twitter are also gaining nothing of value to them, and even without it they possibly wouldn’t because of how they messed up their Robots.txt

Part of me still wants to believe that Twitter added this Robots.txt just to block indexation of search results, and had no intention of holding my content to ransom by preventing Google crawling it.

http://twitter.com/robots.txt

#Google Search Engine Robot
User-agent: Googlebot
# Crawl-delay: 10 — Googlebot ignores crawl-delay ftl
Disallow: /*?
Disallow: /*/with_friends

#Yahoo! Search Engine Robot
User-Agent: Slurp
Crawl-delay: 1
Disallow: /*?
Disallow: /*/with_friends

#Microsoft Search Engine Robot
User-Agent: msnbot
Crawl-delay: 10
Disallow: /*?
Disallow: /*/with_friends

# Every bot that might possibly read and respect this file.
User-agent: *
Disallow: /*?
Disallow: /*/with_friends
Disallow: /oauth
Disallow: /1/oauth

The 4th line down blocks any URL which has a parameter in it. It is a side effect of messing it up or being greedy (or incompetent) – various SEOs would describe it different ways.

Sometimes Google allows blocked URLs to accumulate PageRank – sometimes they don’t – in a case where that PageRank might end up somewhere that isn’t a benefit to Google depending on how they handle their “reset vector”, they may discount the juice.
I don’t know the order Google process the link graph – it is quite possible there would be a difference between linking to a page blocked with robots.txt, and linking to the same page using nofollow – that difference could be for both sites – Google has no intention of enlightening us on this.

This is especially so as the page has no unique or relevant content – the static text link does not display any of the information that is available from the widget, and neither does the connected page.

In my opinion the page should be merged with the search results for references to the URL – that would then be a worthwhile page to index especially if it also included all the threaded conversation.
There is no logical reason to have 2 actions from the same button – the destination page should have both the tweet form and the search.
If it was on a real permalink, that is something of value to be indexed.

I actually have no idea whether Twitter even care about SEO – the actions they take seem almost random – search other than on their own brand accounts for less than 2% of their web traffic according to Alexa.

The Javascript

The Next Web have posted some async javascript code. It makes sense to use it, but as you should have the javascript for the Twitter widgets loading at the bottom of all your pages, it doesn’t really make a huge amount of difference.
At this time Twitter are loading the javascript from a CDN, so it shouldn’t be affected by fail whale.
If Akamai dies, you might as well stop browsing as half the internet will die with it.

<script type="text/javascript">
//async script, twitter button fashiolista.com style
(function() {
var s = document.createElement('SCRIPT');
var c = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0];
s.type = 'text/javascript';
s.async = true;
s.src = 'http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js';
c.parentNode.insertBefore(s, c);
})();
</script >

If you have this code in the footer of every page, then all you need to load a button is a static link, or one created using PHP if you are using WordPress.

I am not going to create a whole WordPress plugin here… so how about a quick WordPress shortcode.

There are tons of Tweet Button plugins appearing, but I haven’t seen any that do a decent link implementation which is essential for a shortcode – after all blog posts get syndicated… and javascript generally gets stripped out.

<?php
// Usage tweet rel="scobleizer:Tech Geek" or tweet rel="mashable:Tech Blog"
function mytweet($atts) {
extract(shortcode_atts(array(
		"rel" => 'seodojo:SEO Training'
	), $atts));
$via = "AndyBeard";
$url = urlencode(get_permalink());
// Different Themes & Plugins implement titles in different ways - find a way to code this that works for you
$tweettitle = urlencode(the_title("", "", false));
$related = urlencode($atts['rel']); // this should maybe be defined in some custom meta

$code = '<a href="http://twitter.com/share?url=' . $url . '&text=' . $tweettitle . '&count=vertical&via=' . $via . '&related=' . $related . '" class="twitter-share-button" rel="nofollow">You should Tweet This Post</a>';
return $code;
}
add_shortcode("tweet", "mytweet");
?>

To use this it would be something like

[tweet rel="seodojo:SEO training"]

That comes out like this

Really to be useful it should include a dynamic graphical image so when content gets syndicated there is some social proof with the link… but at least the link will now work when it is syndicated.

I still need to work out what data-counturl that I spotted on techcrunch is for. I am assuming that it can be used to set a canonical URL, while the URL used for each Tweet could be different (based on source, affiliate, membership status etc)

If you click this link, you will be taken to this same page, but residing at a slightly different URL. Tweetmeme makes a mess of URLs like this.
http://andybeard.eu/2907/better-twitter-tweet-button.html?mysource=12345

The new Twitter buttons and Topsy seem to get it right on the landing pages, I need to do more testing on tweeted URLs.

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Creative Commons Images With WordPress Themes & Plugins http://andybeard.eu/2738/creative-commons-wordpress-themes.html http://andybeard.eu/2738/creative-commons-wordpress-themes.html#comments Wed, 28 Jul 2010 11:21:17 +0000 http://andybeard.eu/?p=2738 I thought for completeness I would throw out some quick notes on the creative commons and how it relates to both GPL and proprietary WordPress theme licenses.

I am not a lawyer, this isn’t legal advice, and I am trying to make this “non-specific” to any particular theme because it affects users of themes, not just the theme authors.

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I thought for completeness I would throw out some quick notes on the creative commons and how it relates to both GPL and proprietary WordPress theme licenses.

I am not a lawyer, this isn’t legal advice, and I am trying to make this “non-specific” to any particular theme because it affects users of themes, not just the theme authors.

The Difference Between GPL & Creative Commons

The primary difference between the GPL & the least restrictive Creative Commons licenses (such as SA – share alike) is that the GPL is aimed at programmers, and the Creative Commons is intended for various forms of art.

The GPL comes into play based upon distribution

Creative Commons covers distribution, but also covers performance, as art can normally be seen or heard.

In the recent WordPress GPL discussions, it was clearly stated by people involved with developing WordPress core that they have no issues with end users, as they are not distributing code.

This wouldn’t be the case of copyright infringement involving the Creative Commons and art which ends up being displayed.

Creative Commons make it pretty clear that their license isn’t intended for software pointing out that they have no distinction between source code and object code.

WordPress Theme Directory

If you use Creative Commons artwork within a theme, it doesn’t qualify for the WordPress Theme directory. It is impossible for such a theme to be 100% GPL because Creative Commons placs restrictions on users in how they can display the artwork.

The only person who can change the license for a particular item licensed Creative Commons is the copyright holder.

Specific Example: FamFamFam Icons

FamFamFam icons are highly popular for good reason, as many of them are 100% free to use.

The Mini set is licensed as public domain

FamFamFam mini icons

These can be used in WordPress themes and plugins with no licensing issues as you can use 100% GPL. You might still add a credit in your license, but there isn’t a GPL compatibility problem.

The flags are licensed as public domain

FamFamFam Flag icons

These can be used in WordPress themes and plugins with no licensing issues as you can use 100% GPL. You might still add a credit in your license, but there isn’t a GPL compatibility problem.
All the translation plugins use these with no issues.

The “Silk” icons are licensed as Creative Commons 2.5 or 3.0

famfamfam icons
If you click the image you can see the full set of 1000 icons which are free to use, even comercially.

These icons can’t be used for themes submitted to the WordPress repository, because only the copyright holder could make that assignment.

The fun scenario is the RSS feed icon – whilst it is generally free to use, Mozilla do have some specific guideance for use, thus it isn’t strictly public domain. The icon provided by the Feed Icon site that is similar is 14×14 – they also have 12×12 in various colours.

Within the dev pack from the Feed Icons site there is a 16x16x32 RSS icon that is 734 bytes
feed.png from the FamFamFam “Silk” set is 691 bytes

However there is also a very clear visible difference which you can see when you load the icons into an image editor.

These are reasons why the RSS icon isn’t part of the free mini pack, but can be included in the Silk pack under the creative commons license and if you use the FamFamFam version of the feed icon, you are bound by that license.

You could use them with a GPL theme with a split license

If you have a split license theme, the FamFamFam icons have to remain Creative Commons 2.5 or 3.0 – you can’t place them under your own proprietary license.

Remember Creative Commons covers display, so people using your themes are also bound by the license restrictions, thus in the case of FamFamFam I believe the requirements are that you provide a credit notification and link, though it is even stated that doesn’t have to be a sitewide link.

This means you may use it for any purpose, and make any changes you like. All I ask is that you include a link back to this page in your credits (although a giant link on every page of your website really isn’t needed, contact me to discuss specifics).

It is possible for commercial projects that Mark James, the author of the icon set would be willing to waive the license requirements for customers, but that would require specific licensing, and even then he would still own the copyright of verbatim copies.

If you are using a theme which has icons from the “Silk” icon set, you need to have a credit link somewhere unless you have specific notification that the icons have in some way been licensed such that you are excluded from this requirement.

I am not playing license police today as this affects not only theme authors but also their users, plus I am not sure how far Mark would want to press the license of his version of the feed icon which is the most common issue, but certainly not the only one.

If you are a theme author and discover this is an issue, make sure you own up about it in public, on your primary website, and give Mark some links.

Fuge Icons

There are some huge similarities between the FamFamFam Silk icon set, and the Fuge Icon set – however from what I can see they are different.
There are details of license options provided as an alternative to the creative commons license, but that doesn’t allow for sub-licensing.

Note: I realise there is a way to (ab)use this with both free & commercial themes to force attribution links, but you wouldn’t be able to tie that to specific PHP that is GPL licensed. An interesting paradigm.

Update

Joi Ito on the board of Creative Commons and yesterday wrote about the worrying trend of non-standard licenses. One thing I would like with CC licenses is a very clear definition of what a copyright owner looks on as commercial use. In many case no commercial use might prevent reasonable use by the primary intended audience.

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I Create, Distribute & Disseminate Cracked Software (updated 28/7/10) http://andybeard.eu/2709/thesiswp-refund-policy.html http://andybeard.eu/2709/thesiswp-refund-policy.html#comments Sun, 18 Jul 2010 18:33:52 +0000 http://andybeard.eu/?p=2709 Update 28/7/2010 – Theme Footer Links

The sales page for Thesis no longer mentions footer links though the license agreement isn’t available in public.

The sales page for Headway still requires attribution, subject to the license agreement – but the Headway Theme license agreement is available for public viewing.

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Update 28/7/2010 – Theme Footer Links

The sales page for Thesis no longer mentions footer links though the license agreement isn’t available in public.

The sales page for Headway still requires attribution, subject to the license agreement – but the Headway Theme license agreement is available for public viewing.

You must also not change or remove the copyright information within any theme style.css file. You may however remove credit text from the footer of the themes if needed pursuant to the terms indicated below.

Full marks to Headway… choice is a wonderful thing.
I would really like to see the Thesis Terms of Service in public but maybe we will have to wait until they have them fully ironed out. Full marks as the intent certainly seems to be there.

Update 23/7/2010

Thesis is now GPL compliant with a split license to match the Headway Theme changes earlier in the week

Friends and lovers: Thesis now sports a split GPL license. Huzzah for harmony! #thesiswp
@pearsonified
pearsonified
Thrilled, however, that #thesiswp is now legal and in compliance, I hope this encourages others to fully embrace the GPL.
@photomatt
Matt Mullenweg

Plus earlier in the week Headway Theme

@ Tell you what, when @ actually says it on twitter, I will make a formal annoucement.
@GrantGriffiths
Grant Griffiths

I hope the guys realise that they can’t place limitations on how a user modifies the PHP, thus any limitation on removing footer links would make the theme no longer GPL compliant.
Also if they were using some kind of copy protection based around PHP to limit the number of installations, customers can request unencrypted source code.

Link Removal Update 2 – 23/7/2010

Will Anderson asked Chris Pearson directly about attribution links.

I notice that the "personal option" for #thesiswp still prohibits footer attribution removal. Just not updated yet? (@)
@itsananderson
Will Anderson

It seems Chris has no intention to change the sales terms

@ The proprietary part of the license preserves that.
@pearsonified
pearsonified

Chip Bennett queried him on it

@ how so? Is it not part of the PHP? (cc @)
@chip_bennett
Chip Bennett

Chris claims it hasn’t been discussed and they might remove that requirement

@ Maybe it doesn't, I dunno—we haven't discussed that internally. I'll probably just remove the requirement.
@pearsonified
pearsonified

I honestly can’t believe it hasn’t been discussed internally – that one link is a “big rock” possibly responsible for 5-30% of revenue. That would depend on what percentage of sales are for a single license, and what percentage upgrade based on either wanting to remove that link, or to change the link to an affiliate link.
It also has a significant long-term branding effect, and has an affect on search/indexation including a knock on to partners of various types – in many ways it could be looked on as a bigger elephant in the room than the effect on any other proprietary code being shared/reused.

The Thesis – WordPress GPL discussions have been going on for 2 years… the situation of that credit link must have been part of that decision process…

Regarding terms of service, it seems DIYThemes have no intention of publishing their terms of service in public, before a purchase is made – I wonder what Paypal think of that. Would the terms of service make it seem (in Paypal’s weird way of determining these things) that the developer license is some kind of pyramid scheme?

@ PHP is GPLv2; CSS, JS, and images are proprietary. You can view the new Terms of Service here: http://bit.ly/a4WozG
@pearsonified
pearsonified
@ The entire ToS is only available to customers, but summary = PHP is GPLv2; CSS, JS, and images are proprietary.
@pearsonified
pearsonified

Original Article

I think it is time to be 100% truthful with my readers

  • I take someone’s copyright work
  • Often I take the copyright work of 100s of people
  • I access the source code of the software and reverse engineer it
  • I then create software modifications and packages that modify the operation of the original software, often in ways not intended or approved by the copyright owners.
  • The code I write patches the original software – it cannot stand on its own
  • Not only do I do this on my own account, but I am a dealer & dissemination point, actively encouraging others to crack and distribute software as well.
  • In the past this has included the removal of protection
  • It has also included adding in my own layers of protection
  • I offer no support for what I create
  • I offer no guarantees – in fact I often warn people never to use anything I create
  • I am part of an organization – not formally, but our activites certainly could be looked on as organized crime

The laws I break have been tested in court.

However as far as I can legally tell:-

  • The individual parts of the software I “crack” are Copyright by their respective authors
  • The overall copyright for the collection of software is owned by… Free Software Foundation
  • Just like James Bond has a license to kill, they provide me with a license to hack, crack & distribute modified versions of their software, in whole or in part

That license is the GPL

Personal Notes

The following are just my personal notes & research about WordPress, GPL, Thesis & all the legal decisions that might have some relevance.
There is some personal opinion mixed in, that is me thinking out loud – I have deliberately not included any final opinions and kept all the following highly disjointed. This is not intended to be a flowing argument for or against one side of the controversy or the other
.

Legal Opionions

The falacy of the moment in the WordPress vs Thesis GPL discussions, is that Open Source Software has never had it’s day in court over a software copyright issue. That there are no teeth to the WordPress claims that themes & plugins in most cases should be licensed as GPL.

So I spent hours digging into legal stuff to satify my own insatiable curiosity

I am possibly the worst person in the world to be trying to explain anything law related, so please treat all of the following as just my personal notes of no consequence other than they take up space on my server, and are posted in public.
Opinions here are absolutely personal, quite possibly subject to change based on the weather or shifts in the moon, or the amount of beer in the fridge.

I would also like to mention in my last post I tried very hard to stick to the moral issue of ignoring the interpretation of a license that was the desire of the license holder.

  • I compared it to comment spam which isn’t illegal
  • I compared it to email spam which in theory isn’t spam if you comply to the letter of the CAN-SPAM act

Deja Vu

The Thesis / WordPress debate has been going on for over a year in earnest, in theory with discussions happening not just on the surface, but also behind closed doors, emails etc.

As an example just after Studiopress went GPL, but before the commercial themes page on WordPress.org was announced, there was this interesting tangle between Matt Mullenweg and Brian Clark (read all the comments – lots of them).

People Hiding Behind Anonymous Google Docs

I just love people posting stuff anonymously which they can edit at any time on Google docs. Maybe I should track down who tweeted it first.

However this document suggests that copyright comes before the GPL
It seems to think there could be a fair use argument

My personal opinion… bull$hit

Statements like “All this code is written by me” then we hear that the comment code ripped directly from WordPress was added by a 3rd party developer with no credit. (see references in second paragraph Mark Jaquith post)
Important Note: Whilst Mark works on WordPress code extensively, he does not work for Automattic
My personal interpretation of copyright & fair use is you really need to credit the source to have even a thin leg to stand on, but my personal opinion on this is probably not that important.

What is probably important is the way for the last 2 years the commercial message from Thesis has been that WordPress (and by that I mean the whole ecosystem that is GPL compliant) is somehow inferior in SEO capabilities.
The whole notion that the platform is Thesis, you just happen to have to use it with WordPress (currently) in my mind really screws up any notion of fair use as tries to undermine the marketing message

Also to justify the fair use argument it would have to be shown that Thesis is a stand alone application, but more on that later.

Jacobsen-v-Katzer

Summary judgement partially upheld that not including the open source software license along with code taken from an open source project was subject to DMCA. It was only partially upheld because at the time the judge couldn’t determine damages as part of the summary judgement as there was no commercial use by the plaintiff to base a summary judgement on.

From: A Big Victory for F/OSS: Jacobsen v. Katzer is Settled

1. The code in question was sufficiently original to be entitled to copyright protection. While not unique to F/OSS code, this was a legal issue on which Jacobsen had to prevail in order to assert claims under copyright law.
2. While the JMRI Project made its code available for free, there was “evidence in the record attributing a monetary value for the actual work performed by the contributors to the JMRI project,” thus laying the basis for monetary damages.
3. The removal of the copyright and authorship data contained in the pirated code was a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, thus providing a basis for suit for that action in violation of the JMRI license.

A lot of the discussion around the WordPress vs Thesis potentially originate at least in part from this case before it was appealed, overturned on appeal & subsequently settled. At that time is was being looked on that Copyright Law couldn’t be used because the terms of the license were not sufficiently limiting enough.

Erich M. Fabricius, Recent Development, Jacobsen v. Katzer: Failure of the Artistic License and Repercussions for Open Source, 9 N.C. J.L. & Tech. On. 65 (2008), http://cite.ncjolt.org/9NCJOLTOnlineEd65

I suggest you at least read Section B. Implications of Jacobsen on Open Source Licensing which explains why the “Artistic License” was thought to be too open, but also why the GPL which is written in a much more restrictive way is much more likely to be looked on favorably for copyright claims.

The Thesis camp have been pushing for a declaratory judgement for over a year

Here is another analysis of Jacobson vs Katzer worth reading for clarity (it is quite short).

Hacking & Cracking

Why did I start off with hacking & cracking in this post?

First of all it was the closest analogy I could find to the way WordPress links together with plugins & themes, and what changes when someone switches from a default theme such as 2010 or Kubrick, to an alternate theme.

In my possibly incorrect way of thinking, that is just a big ass software patch – there is no runtime, but it is replacing functions all the same. It is effectively patching the source before it is compiled, with the compilation happening in real time.

WordPress GPL couldn’t “infect” something like CaRP (the RSS display & processing system) even if Antone bundled a WP plugin directly with CaRP as all the plugin would do is provide an interface to the proprietary software.

It also provides a convenient lead into other topics such as legal decisions about mod-chips from the UK.
The UK appeals court judge wasn’t interested in the number of lines of code that were changed, but what that enabled.
I haven’t quite worked out in my head how this “transient copying” becomes precisely relevant, but remember these are my public notes for others to do with as they please.
Another part of the decision, and this was at the appeal court stage in the UK is that complex copyright issues should be handled by specialist judges in chamber, without a jury – I suppose that is the equivalent to the declaratory judgement the Thesis creators are looking for. (I am trying to be unbiased in this)

I come largely from a computer games background where mods of various kinds, from just changing a few variables in a script all the way to total conversions are prevalent.
There have been various equivalent licenses to the GPL created specifically for game mods, but ultimately I don’t know of any game mods that have been sold commercially without the express approval or involvement of the original publishers or developers.
Game mods don’t need to ship with the original code, it would be quite easy to package things so that they just install into the original game directory, or look for the required files where an original game is installed.

Whilst game developers and publishers are more than happy for you to create mods, they want exclusive right to exploit their intellectual property commercially. You would never get away with fair use, and in most cases game mods don’t even link together in the same way as WordPress does with themes and plugins.

Fair Use

One of the biggest problems in determining fair use especially in regards to the WordPress codebase is because it is so vast.

Say the 2010 theme which ships with WordPress
Lots of the work was done by Ian Stewart before he was even working for Automattic.
Some of the code almost certainly, even in small amounts might have come from his Thematic theme which has multiple contributors whether just ideas or code.
Thematic in turn came from Sandbox which was the first theme with really rich semantic markup, and some of that markup code probably ended up in core, or inspired it heavily.
Sandbox was also one of the first themes to extensively use custom css, and promote the idea of child themes.
I don’t want to be unjust, I know K2 was (and still is) doing lots of great things as well.

But the ultimate claim to fame for custom.css probably goes to Semiologic.

For over two years, the Semiologic theme was the only WordPress theme on the internet that allowed one to upgrade his site without worrying about losing his changes to his theme’s styles, through the use of a custom.css. Did we mention this theme was a precursor for a number of things?

There is no “black box” development going on – all these developers have been exposed to each other’s code – code of various plugins etc, especially for things like SEO, semantic markup, tagging, options pages, custom widgets etc.

To argue fair use, you can’t compare directly against the core code – you have to compare against at the very least the whole WordPress GPL code base including themes & plugins.

As an example a plugin author at some time came up with the idea of using the post title for the meta title tag.
Another might have added a way to define a title using custom fields, and yet another came up with the first interface to change this in the post interface.

Once a prima facie case of copyright infringement is presented, my understanding is the burden of proof would fall on the defendant.

Supplanting Demand

The alleged derivative must “physically incorporate a portion of a copyrighted work… [or] supplant demand for a component of that work.”

That is a pullquote from Mike’s post on Perpetual beta, which was a quote from Gallob.

In my wacky line of thinking, whist a proprietary theme might not supplant demand for WordPress core, it would supplant demand for other components of the WordPress project, such as the 2010 theme, or great WordPress SEO plugins like Headspace 2.

John Godley has been working on WordPress for years… I am sure some of his code is in core… after all he now works for Automattic, but I am sure there were contributions to core before that.

It would be almost impossible to unravel whether there is Headspace inspired code within core, or other plugins which then inspired core features in some way.

Thesis definately supplants demand for Headspace 2, and even directly suggests in the sales message that SEO plugins aren’t needed with Thesis (which is why many SEOs still use Yoast’s Meta Robots Plugin with Thesis)

Thesis certainly supplants demand for other themes that comply with the GPL wishes of the WordPress project as a whole.
Themes copy large chunks of code from each other, including original themes such as Kubrick and 2010 – 2010 no doubt has some code from Thematic/Sandbox which probably have some code seen in various plugins, including SEO plugins.

Comparative Advertising

I also came across this..

Comparative advertising causes a stink in the Court of Appeal – much to the Judges’ regret
WordPress is certainly a brand with a registered trademark… the sales video on the Thesis website certainly disparages most WordPress themes, suggesting code bloat, invalid code, speed issues etc.
I would argue that any theme or plugin published under GPL is part of the WordPress Project, no matter whether you have to pay for access to that part or not.
Years ago it would have been so easy to add SEO functions into the WordPress core but a decision was made that they should be kept external to promote choice.

Any claims in a sales page directed purely at WordPress core is in my personal opinion significantly misleading.

There is also an invalid claim that valid clean code would infer some kind of huge ranking benefit.

Valid Code For SEO = Sales Bullshit

In general most WordPress themes are pretty solid on validation, because the designers actually care about validation.

Most of the time it is either users using 3rd party plugins or being themselves sloppy with markup that might cause validation errors & warnings.
A good example of plugins that really suck for valid markup is the Tweetmeme WordPress plugin – the Topsy one is much cleaner.

Using the Thesis theme does not guarantee good markup.

Copyblogger doesn't validate

Some of those errors are things like Tweetmeme or errors caused by humans…

However there is this:-

Thesis markup error

Now I know this markup used on Copyblogger pretty well, as I highlighted it in a blog post almost 3 years ago (before Thesis). It is the method used on Copyblogger for the multi-line titles which is quite distinctive.
You will see that the markup previously used contained HTML entities for the line breaks. The current code does not.

This is what I have copied from my old post – it is quite possible the entities have been messed up a bit due to different code plugins, but it seems relatively ok, though the BR should really be stripped out.

 <a href="http://www.copyblogger.com/writing-for-stumbleupon/" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link to Writing for StumbleUpon:&lt;br /&gt; High Impact Content “Above the Scroll” in Four Easy Steps">Writing for StumbleUpon:<br> High Impact Content “Above the Scroll” in Four Easy Steps</a> 

This is what is used on a similar post currently on the Copyblogger home page

<div class="post-9508 post hentry category-1 category-creativity category-editing post_box top" id="post-9508"> <div class="headline_area"> <h2 class="entry-title"><a href="http://www.copyblogger.com/writing-perspective/" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent link to The Foolproof Cure for Weak Content: <br />4 Ways to Get Some Perspective">The Foolproof Cure for Weak Content: <br />4 Ways to Get Some Perspective</a></h2> <p class="headline_meta">by <span class="author vcard fn">Ali Hale</span></p> </div> 

This is what the code looks like from a search page (I know Brian uses Lijit but that doesn’t stop someone adding a parameter to pull up a search result)

<div class="post-426 post hentry category-social-media post_box top" id="post-426">  <div class="headline_area">  <h2 class="entry-title"><a href="http://www.copyblogger.com/writing-for-stumbleupon/" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent link to Writing for StumbleUpon:<br /> High Impact Content &#8220;Above the Scroll&#8221; in Four Easy Steps">Writing for StumbleUpon:<br /> High Impact Content &#8220;Above the Scroll&#8221; in Four Easy Steps</a></h2>  <p class="headline_meta">by <span class="author vcard fn">Muhammad Saleem</span></p>  </div> 

This is what the same code looks like from a related link

<li><a href="http://www.copyblogger.com/writing-for-stumbleupon/" rel="bookmark" title="Permanent Link: Writing for StumbleUpon:<br /> High Impact Content &#8220;Above the Scroll&#8221; in Four Easy Steps">Writing for StumbleUpon:<br /> High Impact Content &#8220;Above the Scroll&#8221; in Four Easy Steps</a></li> 

Just to show I am not making this crap up I just added a break to one of my old blog posts on my home page to see how it is being handled by my theme, Thematic which is one of those free theme frameworks that have been downloaded 200K+ times (but I use SVN) – one of the ones being disparaged in the Thesis sales video.

<a href="http://andybeard.eu/2637/internet-marketing.html" title="Permalink to I Use Aggressive Hype &amp; Obnoxious Tactics To Fool People" rel="bookmark">I Use Aggressive Hype <br />&#038; Obnoxious Tactics To Fool People</a>

Strangely the BR doesn’t make it into the anchor title attribute on a well coded theme.

  • It would have looked ugly
  • It wouldn’t have validated
  • If HTML was making it into the attribute I would question code security

It seems the poor output also appears when used in the sidebar… I really hope the input data is being sanitized.

Is Valid Code Important For Ranking?

Matt Cutts said it isn’t

Edward Lewis followed up reasons it might be with lots of detail.

Alan Bleiweiss followed up with more details on why he doesn’t do validation checks as a SEO.

The sad part of this is that Matt Cutts for some reason has allowed his photo to be published on the Thesis sales page, immediately under the video making all the claims about how the clean valid code enhances SEO.
It does however seem Matt is considering switching back to “vanilla” WordPress, though he doesn’t mention whether he will use the 2010 Theme or maybe a free framework.

I sometimes get a little confused listening to Matt when talking about WordPress, as he might not be fully aware which panels within his “write” interface were added by his theme, Thesis, including options for custom meta descriptions and custom titles.
Those are features that can be added by one of 50+ WordPress plugins, which is why he no longer feels he needs the All In One SEO plugin or similar (go for Headspace 2 if you want something created by WordPress core developers).

I also wonder (just curious) whether Matt paid for a developer version of Thesis so that he could remove the credit link.

My primary issues with Thesis SEO features such as adding meta nofollow on archive pages were apparently fixed with Thesis 1.7.

Thesis Refunds

Thesis officially has a 30 day refund policy – that is probably sufficient for normal situations.

However you can’t expect users to understand the nuances of copyright violations, SEO claims that might not be as valid as they appear at first especially in regards to valid code etc.

Then of course before you actually pay any money there is no indication that Thesis has some kind of proprietary license different to the WordPress project as a whole.

So when I see people attempt to get a refund based upon the current licensing issues, it makes me sad that such requests are being refused, no matter how long after initial purchase.

As stated on our website, refunds are available within 30 days of purchase. Therefore you are not eligible for a refund. I want to assure you that DIYthemes in no way deceived its buyers. When you purchased Thesis you purchased software. The GPL is a license not a law. Customers are not liable as you can see in this tweet by Mark Jaquith of WordPress: http://twitter.com/markjaquith/status/18808836688

Customer Support
DIYthemes

If I was a customer of DIYThemes, and for whatever reason maybe due to all the recent GPL debate you couldn’t live with yourself to continue using the theme, and wanted a refund, this is how I would play it based on UK law. How it applies where you live is up to you.

Possibly the goods are not fit for purpose based upon whatever you might wish to state. That could be based upon what you read above that you think applies, but lots of the above could very well be based upon flawed logic – even the validation errors on the Copyblogger site could be due to beta code or some specific customization.

This does not necessarily entitle you to a refund outside the refund period that is stated, but that does not exclude a manufacturer from having to come up with a remedy within a suitable period.

I have no idea how they can come up with a remedy for complying with the GPL – code can always be fixed, though it might be hard to prove a benefit in SEO performance claimed on the sales message which by its very nature takes a lot longer to evaluate than the refund period allowed.

The Which magazine has a good guide for understanding the Sale of Goods Act in the UK.

You have the right to get a faulty item replaced or repaired, if you’re happy with this (or if it’s too late to reject it). You can ask the retailer to do either, but they can normally choose to do whatever would be cheapest.
Under the Sale of Goods Act, the retailer must either repair or replace the goods ‘within a reasonable time but without causing significant inconvenience’. If the seller doesn’t do this, you are entitled to claim either:

  • reduction on the purchase price, or
  • your money back, minus an amount for the usage you’ve had of the goods (called ‘recision’).

If the retailer refuses to repair the goods, you may have the right to arrange for someone else to repair it, and then claim compensation from the retailer for the cost of doing this.
You have six years to make a claim for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; in Scotland you have five years.

Now apparently if you read the article, within the first 6 months of purchase it is up to the person selling the goods to prove that your claim is wrong.

So if you happen to be in the UK, and you have purchased within the last 6 months, and wanted a refund of your Thesis purchase you could just quote the sale of goods act and ask for proof that your reason… copyright/license compliance/uncertainty for instance is unfounded – as this matter hasn’t been to court, there is no proof that could be provided that I am aware of.

In the US I have no idea whether the UCC (Universal Commercial Code) could potentially be applied to software, or whether you might be able to argue that there is an Implied Warranty of Merchantability that based on this article on the FTC site might last 4 years.

Generally, there is no specified duration for implied warranties under state laws. However, the state statutes of limitations for breach of either an express or an implied warranty are generally four years from date of purchase. This means that buyers have four years in which to discover and seek a remedy for problems that were present in the product at the time it was sold. It does not mean that the product must last for four years. It means only that the product must be of normal durability, considering its nature and price.

I certainly wouldn’t advocate contacting your local trading standards office, the BBB, FTC, Paypal, Ripoff Report, Consumer Report etc unless you felt you had significant cause and weren’t gaining satisfaction by other means.
Let me emphasise I am saying DO NOT DO THIS – The Thesis people are nice people, you are a nice person, I try to be a nice person – it is only a few bucks and Matt Mullenweg keeps tweeting thaat he will buy you a free replacement.

Personally I think that is over generous of Matt and he shouldn’t bare the financial brunt if customers are dissatisfied for whatever reason.

My personal opinion on warranties is that as a marketer it just isn’t worth fighting refund requests where there is even a slightly valid reason. You might choose to block perpetual refunders but ultimately they are a buyer, and if they don’t buy from you now, they could still buy in the future.

In the past I have fought extremely hard to ensure people were universally given refunds after I was personally refused a refund on a particular product I paid for. In that particular case it wasn’t the primary product owner but his new business partner on that venture and their support staff trying to “save the sale”.

Guess what? That is how Zappos & Amazon grow their business… ensuring customers are happy even when something they buy doesn’t work out.

Conversely not givng refunds can have a negative effect on good will – for me any and all good will evaporates when I hear of problems with refund decisions.

As an example a large portion of this post I already had stored in my bookmarks for my own reference – I would never have posted them.

But there is a tipping point… and for me that is refund policy.

Disclosure

Just to reiterate… these are my personal notes, subject to change and not in any way shape or form to be looked on as some kind of legal advice.
This blog post is like my personal wiki on GPL stuff, if you quote me on something written here, just like Wikipedia it might not be there the next day.

I personally made the decision 3 years ago, having paid someone 4 figures to develop a WordPress plugin without using any 3rd party code in a “black box” environment, to publish it as GPL… because it was the right thing to do. There was absolutely no pressure to do it. I actually gave the plugin away for free as well, but that was a commercial decision.
I also didn’t abuse credit links in any way.

Most of the current crop of commercial theme developers were still giving away themes so they could sell links – some people are now selling themes with licenses preventing you to remove design credits… possibly to sell links or it may be just to add more leverage for an upsell to a developer version.

If you don’t pay for the upsell to a dev version, financial logic is that you have a discounted version of the theme because of the link, thus you are paying someone to also have a paid link on your blog to them.

Google hasn’t yet interpretted things that such a link is paid, at least as far as PageRank penalties go, but they could. From my personal perspective which is worth nothing it seems to be abused.

Responses

I refuse to respond to tweets as Twitter still haven’t removed robots.txt preventing me finding my own historical tweets

Thus I am going to respond here on the blog

@ Andy Beard is suggesting harassment & fraud. Is this what WordPress has degenerated to? Are you/WordPress endorsing that? #thesiswp
@CaseySoftware
D. Keith Casey, Jr.

Harassment & fraud? I don’t think so

I compiled a lot of research which hadn’t been mentioned anywhere else to my knowledge in connection with this situation, and as I am in Europe there is a little more European perspective. Lots of factors regarding copyright are international.
I would have also drawn on some German decisions as well but they were a little too hardware focused, and I wanted to get away from Linux driver/hardware related stuff as it just adds fud.

What the product claims to do, the way that is worded in relationship to the product it is meant to be enhancing/replacing and actually achieves has a lot to do with fair use, especially considering my own opinion that the WordPress Project is more than just the core.
I am someone who spent a lot of time up until Thesis 1.7 was released, when asked to do a site review, informing people that they should switch off certain Thesis features because they had the potential of having a negative effect on indexation.
I very clearly stated above that that was fixed in 1.7 (as far as I am aware, though the default options might not be optimal)

If the comment was in regard to the information on refunds… I don’t think I encouraged casual refunds just for the sake of it. I provided factual information to the best of my ability which I think is far better than the Thesis support referencing a Tweet.
They are the ones without a terms of service of sale before you purchase, and no visible license agreement.

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Thesis vs WordPress GPL http://andybeard.eu/2701/wordpress-thesis.html http://andybeard.eu/2701/wordpress-thesis.html#comments Thu, 15 Jul 2010 11:55:13 +0000 http://andybeard.eu/?p=2701 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.

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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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WordPress Hacked? Total Security Lockdown http://andybeard.eu/2517/wordpress-hacked.html http://andybeard.eu/2517/wordpress-hacked.html#comments Tue, 08 Dec 2009 10:34:11 +0000 http://andybeard.eu/?p=2517 It is no huge secret that I have had this WordPress blog hacked twice this year but some consolation is that I am not alone.

Helpful resources

Alex recently launched a DVD course on WordPress security that is available for FREE + shipping
Stop – I know what you are thinking – FREE + Shipping these days normally comes with lots of strings attached, forced continuity often hidden etc. Whilst Alex does cross-sell a few related products, the main offer is genuinely free.

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It is no huge secret that I have had this WordPress blog hacked twice this year but some consolation is that I am not alone.

Helpful resources

Alex recently launched a DVD course on WordPress security that is available for FREE + shipping
Stop – I know what you are thinking – FREE + Shipping these days normally comes with lots of strings attached, forced continuity often hidden etc. Whilst Alex does cross-sell a few related products, the main offer is genuinely free.

Michael VanDeMar has a useful plugin to lock down your login process

SEO Egg Head offers a WordPress firewall

Donna has a useful script for monitoring your files

Of course you should also keep backups which you have total control over – this includes both database and files and you shouldn’t rely on claims that your webhost has a backup. With a VPS I find being able to “roll back” to a previous version useful, but backup with shared hosting plans supposedly made by admins isn’t a solution when you need to fix things in minutes.

Keep WordPress up to date, plugins up to date etc

Part of security is controlling what bots can crawl and index on your site, so some pamphlets would be useful as well

Getting URLs outta Google – the good, the popular, and the definitive way
Handling Google’s neat X-Robots-Tag – Sending REP header tags with PHP

Nasty Bots & Users

A lot of security relies on identifying nasty bots, detecting rogue activity such as failed logins or preventing access to all but approved users using an additional layer of password protection, or only allowing access to a server from a specific IP or range of IP addresses.

Also it is important to realise that different WordPress implementations require different levels of access control. With WordPress frequently being used for membership sites, you need to allow access to members. This reduces the number of security options available.

SEO Benefits

Lots of the pages you want to block from being crawled for security purposes also need to somehow be blocked or removed from indexation for SEO purposes, so tightening up security using the right methods will have natural SEO benefits.

Robots.txt isn’t the best option because you end up with lots of blocked pages appearing in search results and potentially indexed instead of pages you want in the index. As Sebastian explained, you have to let the bots in to crawl a URL before you can redirect them.
Not all bots can be identified, and not all bots obey robots.txt, though you can trap the naughty ones. If you are serious about your bot control you might also consider Fantomasters Searchbot Database.

User Agent Access Control For Total Lockdown

Lots of security and SEO methods rely on identifying various bots and kicking them somewhere else with 301 redirects, or denying them access to areas they are not wanted.

Far better would be to only allow access to one specific user agent, and globally kick out anything that doesn’t match – this is the user agent equivalent to restricting access to only a single IP address.

But how could this be achieved?

Many SEOs would already be familiar with User Agent Switcher for Firefox. This allows you to wander around the web pretending to be someone else, or something else such as Googlebot.

Unfortunately User Agent Switcher has a nasty problem – you often forget you have it switched to something different and then suddenly realise when a website starts misbehaving, refusing you entry, redirecting you to funny places etc.

If you created a custom user agent for security purposes, it wouldn’t be very secure if there was a chance you could broadcast it to lots of other webmasters by mistake. It is bad enough that user agent is broadcast “in the clear” unless you use SSL connections.

Then I came across an article discussing how to fake your user agent specifically for itunes but not other sites.

The Header Control Firefox plugin allows you to set your User Agent specific to a domain.

This would allow you to set a specific unique or relatively obscure user agent, and for it to only be used when accessing your own websites.

Even more useful this can be set up in multiple locations, work with variable IPs etc.

Experimental

This is something I am still experimenting with – I haven’t decided whether it is best to use .htaccess, php or a combination of both, and I am convinced the best option is to 301 redirect everything rather than deny access.
The best option might be to use a combination htaccess > php so you can do some enhanced logging.

The user agent doesn’t have to be unique, it could just be an obscure out of date version of Firefox or Chrome.

Example .htaccess to deny access

RewriteEngine on 
#
RewriteCond %{HTTP_user_agent} !^RareUserAgent
RewriteRule .* - [F,L]
# 

Example .htaccess to 301 redirect

RewriteEngine on 
#
RewriteCond %{HTTP_user_agent} !^RareUserAgent
RewriteRule ^ http://WhereIWantPagerank.com/MyMoneyPage/ [R=301,L]
#

What I haven’t included are rewrite conditions based on specific paths as I haven’t worked out exactly what paths I need to block whilst using specific WordPress Membership Plugins.

Warning 1 – always have backups
Warning 2 – you can majorly mess up access to your website with htaccess it you get it wrong and can’t restore a working version

Disclaimer/License: GNU FDL – run with it, make it useful

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What Is Quansite? http://andybeard.eu/2358/what-is-quansite.html http://andybeard.eu/2358/what-is-quansite.html#comments Wed, 14 Oct 2009 00:06:51 +0000 http://andybeard.eu/?p=2358 This is in many ways one of the most painful blog posts I could write, because it is about a service that is the closest anyone has come in 4 years to the “software as a service platform” I would like to create.

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This is in many ways one of the most painful blog posts I could write, because it is about a service that is the closest anyone has come in 4 years to the “software as a service platform” I would like to create.

The business model is totally different but the front end seems to have many of the features and attention to detail that I would require, and to be honest much of what I want to achieve on the backend & network effect isn’t necessary for many business users.

If what I want to create is a lion, Quansite is a tiger – different animals, different prey – both killers and could probably co-exist.

Quansite is a WordPress based blogging platform for business, but calling it that is really doing it a bit of a disservice.

It is the kind of system that will take a huge bite out of the business of high-priced website development shops targeting small business, because so much is done for you.

Quansite Marketing Pro

There are a couple of WordPress themes I know of which can claim drag and drop, but they are not designed for creating sales pages & one-time offers, or “touch of a button” squeeze page creation.

quansite-marketing-pro

Quansite Optimization

A lot of these features many might claim “I know a plugin that does that” but they are buggy or unsupported. Or you would have to pay for them, and purchased plugins you have to update by ftp etc.
If you like tinkering with things, fair enough, but it isn’t efficient use of your time as a business owner.

quansite-optimized-business-booster

Quansite New Media

Quansite is by @coachdeb and @jpmicek – they know social media backwards – the real thing, and can teach it.

When everyone else anything to do with social media consulting was on a mass “follow everyone” drive, Coach Deb just kept on doing what she had always done, maintaining relationships.
Here is me, writing a blog post possibly about my most serious competitor, and I am doing it because of the relationship I have built with Coach Deb over the last year.

I don’t know the specifics of the modules, in some ways the video and audio “blasters” seem very similar to Traffic Geyser and could be some kind of white label – they are limited by credits for all but the highest level packages.

quansite-new-media-dominator

Quansite Backend

Trying to translate from “marketing speak” into more geeky terms, it seems like they might have a CDN integrated… looking at their own site this is through SimpleCDN, though I don’t know if it is their S3Plus service, or as a Highwinds reseller.
I can’t quite work out “server ring” – some kind of clustering maybe using memcached but don’t count on that.

Solid backups and security – I know geeks can do this stuff, but webdev shops charge small businesses $X’000 for this stuff.

quansite-optimized-management

I am not going to spy on my competitors friend’s proprietary stuff, though to be honest it is so tempting just to abandon goals and get on with just using technology to make money – I could make a lot of money just using Quansite.

Take a look, they have for a limited time an introductory offer for all the main packages of just $9.97 for the first month

It is still shared hosting, even on their most expensive plans, but I doubt the servers will be oversold and all sites are using a CDN which makes a huge difference, especially if they are also doing some decent caching.

I am not going to review it in-depth for a number of reasons

  1. I haven’t seen anything that would stop me spending less than $10 to check it out for myself
  2. It wouldn’t be right for me to pay the $10 just to snoop with no intention of staying around – I still have my unfulfilled plans (who knows they may never happen)
  3. They have been running this platform for a while now under the brand i360 and I have never seen any critical reviews
  4. How could anyone say anything bad about @coachdeb? The training is probably worth more than she is charging for the whole package.

I have no idea if every aspect is as optimized as I might want it to be, but I am sure it fulfils the 80:20 rule

I am not sure what additional limitations that places on things like design.

Warning: This is a NO TECH solution – you don’t even get FTP access, they say there is no need.

For anyone who isn’t a geek, that is actually a good thing, they can concentrate on marketing and making money.

Disclosure: I should just tell you to read my disclosure policy but I have included affiliate links in this post.

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