Support » Everything else WordPress » An Open Letter To WordPress

  • I just published an open letter to WordPress on my blog and it might offer some interesting conversation fodder for this forum. I have copied and pasted the text in this thread but if you are interested, here is a link to the original page:


    By Richard Finch /

    I just had a most unpleasant experience.

    For the past few days I have been waiting for my WordPress theme (Blogazine) to be reviewed for inclusion in the official WordPress Theme directory. has a ticketing system that allows theme authors (and the various volunteer reviewers) to discuss the status of theme submissions. I figured there would be some obscure technical issue that would delay my theme’s approval (and there was) and I was prepared to make the appropriate changes in order to pass the submission process.

    However, I did not expect my theme to be rejected over a backlink.

    I have a website called CameraBooru; it’s a directory where people can find local photographers and videographers. I also created a blog that features interviews with interesting photographers and filmmakers doing interesting things. I decided to make my website design available as a downloadable theme for WordPress. It wasn’t anything special, design-wise. But it had a few neat features for better embedding images and video…and I figured it would be a good way to encourage people to better use WordPress while also promoting my site via a credit link.

    In the world of search engine optimization this is considered a “white hat” technique, a perfectly legitimate and above board form of marketing that neither users nor Google would have any qualms over. But WordPress didn’t like my credit link because it’s “not appropriate.” As per their Theme Review policy: “Author URI, if used, is required to link to an author’s personal web site or project/development website.”

    But CameraBooru is my project development website. I replied:

    I’m incredulous. I don’t understand why this is an issue. The theme is based on my web site. If people have support issues I want them to contact me through my website. If I release additional themes in the future, they will be announced on my website. What does it matter if it’s a business site/directory? WP listed themes link to web design companies and whatnot all the time. I don’t understand how you can favor one kind of enterprise over another.

    I created a page CameraBooru dedicated to my theme and asked if a link to that would be satisfactory. It was not.

    There was also a suggestion that I forgo receiving a credit altogether in order for my theme to be approved. But why should I forfeit credit for my work? The primary reason I released the theme was for self-promotion…just like any other theme designer. This is hardly anything new. Web designers release free themes so they can better market their design services and products. But I’m not a web designer, I’m an entrepreneur trying to promote a web site. I’m not some shady Internet marketer selling Viagra or online gambling. I didn’t load my credit link with ugly keywords like “Photography Directory!” or “Find a local wedding photographer. Click here!” I simply included, an unobtrusive link in the footer that read: “Designed by CameraBooru” followed by “Powered by WordPress” – Links that anyone is free to remove.

    NOTE: Based on WP’s own theme policy, I shouldn’t be able to link to their site since they are neither the author of this theme nor a design firm…curiously they didn’t seem to mind.

    via WordPress:

    …it is our prerogative to maintain a strict standard with respect to credit links, due to the sheer volume of Themes that get submitted with all manner of attempted credit link spam. If you are unable or unwilling to understand our policy, that’s okay; you’re always free to distribute your Theme from your own website.

    I’m not unwilling to understand your policy, what I’m trying to explain to you people is that in this instance, it doesn’t make any sense. I was hoping you would demonstrate some empathy and try to understand my position. I am not a spammer. The credit link isn’t some paid ad arbitrarily inserted into my theme. Instead, it’s a link to my website–an inoffensive one at that! How is anyone adversely affected by seeing a link to my website in a theme that I created, released and support for free?

    Rather than demonizing commerce and entrepreneurship, perhaps they nurtured and celebrated. That way entrepreneurs would have one less excuse for engaging in unsavory marketing practices. I think that would be a much better way to combat Internet spam.

Viewing 7 replies - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
  • The rules are the rules for everyone.

    Per you CAN have a credit link, so long as it is both optional and turned off by default.

    If you don’t like this, please take it up with the Theme Review team on their site – – There’s very little the support forums can do for you here, except as a place to rant, and that’s more appropriate for your blog 🙂

    I did take it up with them and they didn’t care. Now I want to have a discussion about it on the community “discussion” board.

    P.S. Just because something is a rule doesn’t mean it’s fair. I’m not throwing a fit about it, I’m simply trying to open a dialogue.

    Emil Uzelac


    Theme Review Admin

    Dear @booruguru,

    First of all we would like to thank you for the opportunity to review your Theme, as well as for your “Open Letter To WordPress”.

    Here is what Credit Links say about Authors URL:

    Author URI, if used, is required to link to an author’s personal web site or project/development website.

    The very first thing we see on your site is a business directory: Find a local photographer or videographer this cannot be personal web site or project/development website.

    Easy “workaround” is to change your link to and “problem” solved.

    If you have any other questions regarding your Theme review please use the trac and the ticket where your Theme is currently in.

    Oh sure, it’s just a bit of the ‘wrong place.’

    If I was going to pick on your theme, I would have said “Your link in the footer needs to be optional.” Which … I do say to plugins, a lot.

    It’s really not a case of trying to shut down your ability to advertise, but a case of WordPress puts the user first. GPL (yes, I said it) is about protecting user rights, and that’s what WordPress tries to hold first and foremost in mind when coming up with these rules. No plugin or theme, not even the commercial ones, get to have their link on the front of user sites, if they want to be hosted in the WP Repository.

    It seems innocuous, but it’s one of those things that gets so readily abused, we have a very simple check in place to prevent it.

    The link you wanted to include, camerabooru, has nothing to do with your theme or WordPress, and it certainly doesn’t look like an author’s personal blog (which you state you do not have in – yes I read it).

    It’s just not appropriate for the culture being cultivated on WordPress. Sorry.

    “No plugin or theme, not even the commercial ones, get to have their link on the front of user sites, if they want to be hosted in the WP Repository.”

    Since when? An hour ago? Because that’s when I posted this thread. We were just talking about the kinds of links that are allowed in a footer and now you’re saying “no links” of any kind are allowed at all???

    And what do you mean by “optional footers.” Credit links are generally included by default and webmasters have the “option” to remove them.

    Links are permitted in the front end of a theme or plugin if they are opt in.

    Been that way for at least 2 years, probably longer.

    And what do you mean by “optional footers.” Credit links are generally included by default and webmasters have the “option” to remove them.

    Right, for WP it’s the other way around 🙂 Credit links are included, but webmasters have the option to turn them ON. From the theme guidelines:

    Themes may optionally include a public-facing credit link in the Theme footer.

    It’s pretty much the same for plugins. Links are okay, so long as they are optional and turned OFF by default.

    Y’know, I was corrected.

    In PLUGINS you cannot have a link unless it’s opt in. Themes permit one in the footer. Which explains why they’re more stringent!

    Live and learn 😀

Viewing 7 replies - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
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