Support » Theme: Stargazer » Misleading as a Free Theme

  • This is a very nice theme, as of itself, clean, wel thought through and executed. And it is different, as the programmer claims.
    However, it is given as a Free theme, and it is not really. For it’s difference makes necessity for some support acute, and there is next to none at the support forum. I have asked 4 questions, and received an answer to none for months on the forum. The one which was answered was via mail, and only because I have shared translation of the theme.
    All support is paid, which costs as much as Premium themes and that is misleading, to say the least. One invests so much to do everything under false expectation – and then hits a wall, when it’s too late to go back.
    This is very disappointing to me, and that’s the reason for low evaluation.

Viewing 8 replies - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
  • Theme Author Justin Tadlock

    (@greenshady)

    WordPress God

    However, it is given as a Free theme, and it is not really.

    Yes, it is. Really. The theme costs nothing. It is completely free. No money. Zero dollars. Nada. πŸ™‚

    For it’s difference makes necessity for some support acute, and there is next to none at the support forum. I have asked 4 questions, and received an answer to none for months on the forum.

    Unfortunately, I’m not able to to spend my free time on the WordPress.org forums. And, frankly, after spending all day working with WordPress, I’m not very motivated to spend my off hours doing more WordPress stuff. Therefore, that leaves little time for this sort of thing. I’m an adult with a job, family, and friends. I have to spend my days working so that I can provide food, clothing, and shelter. It sucks, but that’s life.

    I’d love to be able to devote my free time to answering support questions for free. I really do. I love WP and its community. It’s just not realistic for me. I wish reality was different.

    What little free time I do have, I try to give back by being involved in the WordPress.org theme review team so that people like you and other users will get quality-built themes that don’t have spam and other nasty things in them.

    The one which was answered was via mail, and only because I have shared translation of the theme.

    If you shared a translation of the theme, that’s wonderful! I hope other users of your language will benefit.

    All support is paid, which costs as much as Premium themes and that is misleading, to say the least.

    To be fair, all support is not paid. You are more than welcome to use the $free support forums here on WordPress.org. However, you do have to pay for my time if you need it. That’s why I have a professional support forum. No one is forced to use it. I will still continue to provide the themes free of charge either way.

    Support at my site does not cost as much as commercial (not “premium”) themes. With the average prices, it’s actually about 1/2 the price of a commercial theme. Not to mention, you get more than just theme support at my site. Also, this particular theme is better coded than the vast majority of most commercial themes available (I’ve seen 1,000s of them over the years), so it’s not really a fair comparison.

    ***

    Thank you for your review. In the future, I hope that you can evaluate themes/plugins on their merit rather than on things (such as free support) that were not promised.

    Justin,
    Thank you for responding here.
    However, I think I DO evaluate the theme, because if I need to wait for two months + (stil waiting, by the way) for you to answer a question because “you are an adult and NOT MOTIVATED enough” to answer me – then it BECOMES the problem of the THEME’s unusable merits. It is also insiniating that the free users do not deserve any attention from you. And that is the point, really.
    I HAVE stated that the theme itself is good. And if you choose to say that providing something for free with the need but no way to get support, unless pay for it, is not misleading – then, well, I am sorry, there is something fundamentally different in your definition of “misleading”.
    If I cannot use something – what use is it to me? Free or not?
    If I can get no answer for a question, no way to make something work – what good is it being “free”?
    I do work for free as well, and I do not claim that midway through I stop, for I am “not motivated enough”. It is YOUR choice to provide some of your work for free, I did not force you to. And you, as you state, are an adult, and a professional. So you must take into account that this “free” theme WILL require SOME time from you to answer people’s questions. But to cut it there and ignore the users of that work – because you are “not motivated enough”? That is making the “free” statement misleading, at least. And I am being careful and precise in the choice of the word here.
    BTW, in my desperation, I have written to you to ask to pay for your costly time part of the year, for I just need it right now, not for a whole year. You haven’t bothered to even answer that mail, either.
    So I think people should know what they are getting into, before they do.
    As Quality Assurance specialist, I must tell you the SUPPORT is much more important than the product for customer satisfaction.
    It’s a shame that you make the experience from you superior coding pale because of bad support experience.
    And though I appreciate what you wrote of “that’s life” up there, I suggest you just fnakly tell the potential users on the donwload page that there is no free support for it. Just be honest. I wouldn’t have spent months waiting for it then, for example.
    Thank you,
    Vera

    Moderator Jan Dembowski

    (@jdembowski)

    Brute Squad and Volunteer Moderator

    Hi Vera and good morning! For me anyway, timezones are odd. πŸ˜‰

    I’ve stumbled upon this review during my morning routine and I’d like to chime in for a few minutes. Don’t mind me, I sometimes get the urge.

    *Reads, drinks coffee, begins reply. Drinks even more coffee.

    TLDR: You’re mistaken in your assumptions and while you are free to review any theme or plugin here, other users may make the realization that your review is Not Quite Rightβ„’. Although I sincerely thank you for sharing and exchanging ideas in public forums. It really is a good thing to do that.

    Longer version below.

    If I cannot use something – what use is it to me? Free or not?

    All code in the WordPress.ORG repository is offered for free and there is no obligation or expectation that you will get support for any of it. That includes free or even paid for support.

    It’s nice when that code is supported but again, there is no obligation to do so just as there is zero obligation for you to use any of that code.

    If I can get no answer for a question, no way to make something work – what good is it being “free”?

    Good question! But let’s look at what you’ve posted for this theme. This one sticks out.

    https://wordpress.org/support/topic/category-view-full-post?replies=1

    My client wants to see the whole audio post in the Category view.
    He also wanted a Download button, so I have installed a plugin mb.miniAudioPlayer, and use it for the audio files.

    I’ve taken the liberty of marking some items from my selective quote.

    Two items stick out there for me. First, you are being paid to support your client. Justin offers a membership club for support for a small annual fee of $25. That small fee doesn’t mean you’ll get full time support for your project but it’s good and years ago I used that option myself.

    Club

    Have you availed yourself of that option? Do you not see any disparity for any theme author wanting to limit themselves to paid support especially when the fee is so miniscule? You are getting paid by your client (I certainly hope so!) and that theme club membership is very community friendly. It’s also optional but here we are.

    Second item: You are attempting in that topic to integrate a third party plugin into the Stargazer theme. What does that question have to do with this theme specifically?

    Justin’s themes work like any other theme out there. Before you attempted to perform that integration with this specific theme it may have been helpful for you to get it working on Twenty Fourteen first.

    To hold a theme author accountable for your inability to get that third party plugin working the way you want isn’t really germane for a theme support topic.

    The other topics? This one was well handled don’t you think?

    https://wordpress.org/support/topic/genericons-are-not-showing?replies=11

    And this one really is a repeat of the one I focused on above.

    https://wordpress.org/support/topic/add-download-button-to-audio-file?replies=2

    Except in that one wasn’t posted in the right place and it was a duplicate. Had a forum moderator caught that it would have been closed with a duplicate topic note.

    In conclusion: Doing a little math here, you had 2 topics that you asked for support for this theme. The first one was resolved with many replies in detail. The second one (and it’s duplicate) had not much to do with this theme.

    Using some dubious math I think you may want to switch your 2 star to a 4 star. Even if you didn’t like the outcome or reply from the author. πŸ˜‰

    Theme Author Justin Tadlock

    (@greenshady)

    WordPress God

    Again, thanks for your feedback. I’ll try to respond to everything the best I can. I’m sorry if I leave anything out. I’m writing this out rather quickly.

    However, I think I DO evaluate the theme, because if I need to wait for two months + (stil waiting, by the way) for you to answer a question because “you are an adult and NOT MOTIVATED enough” to answer me – then it BECOMES the problem of the THEME’s unusable merits.

    If you’re going to quote me, I ask that you please do it correctly. You also left out the part where I said I don’t have time to answer questions. That would be the main reason I don’t spend time on the forums here.

    There is no promise of free support for any free software that I know of. This theme is no different. I’m not sure what else I can say about that.

    It is also insiniating that the free users do not deserve any attention from you.

    I’m not insinuating it at all. I’m happy to outright say it though. Free users do not deserve anything. Deserve means to “do something or have or show qualities worthy of (reward or punishment).” That’s not a negative thing. That’s simply the truth of the matter. And, it doesn’t mean I don’t value free users. I value them in many ways. If I didn’t, I’d never give away a free theme, free plugin, write free tutorials, or volunteer with the theme review team.

    And if you choose to say that providing something for free with the need but no way to get support, unless pay for it, is not misleading – then, well, I am sorry, there is something fundamentally different in your definition of “misleading”.

    To mislead means to “cause someone to have a wrong idea or impression about someone or something.” I’ve attempted to use all the tools that are available to me to make sure you know that I run a paid support service for my themes and plugins. I peronally let you know that. That’s the opposite of misleading. That’s openness and honesty.

    If you felt mislead in any way, I can assure you that I neither have now nor had in the past any intention of doing so.

    If I cannot use something – what use is it to me? Free or not?
    If I can get no answer for a question, no way to make something work – what good is it being “free”?

    I’ve seen the theme running on your site. You can use it. What you’ve repeatedly asked me via email is to answer support questions about a third-party plugin for your client.

    I do work for free as well, and I do not claim that midway through I stop, for I am “not motivated enough”. It is YOUR choice to provide some of your work for free, I did not force you do something or have or show qualities worthy of (reward or punishment).to.

    If you work for free, that’s wonderful. I’m happy you’re able to do that. I’d love to be able to do more of it myself.

    It was my choice to provide some of my work for free. You’re right. It took several months to build and test this theme. I did all of this without knowing whether I’d see any sort of payment, either directly or indirectly, for the work I put into it. If I had stopped midway through, 1,000s of people would have an unusable theme. Fortunately, I finished the work on the theme and released. Since then, I’ve released more free theme updates to fix problems and add enhancements. I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

    And you, as you state, are an adult, and a professional. So you must take into account that this “free” theme WILL require SOME time from you to answer people’s questions.

    No, it really doesn’t require any of my time to answer questions on a free support forums. I encourage you to please read the license associated with the theme: http://themes.svn.wordpress.org/stargazer/1.2.1/license.txt

    Reading and understanding the license with any software product is important. I know that not everyone wants to do that. However, the GPL (license for this theme) puts no requirements on me answering questions. It does give you a ton of freedoms though that are really cool. I highly encourage reading through it.

    BTW, in my desperation, I have written to you to ask to pay for your costly time part of the year, for I just need it right now, not for a whole year. You haven’t bothered to even answer that mail, either.

    If you want to hire me, my consulting fee is $75/hour. I think you’re better off sticking with a simpler support package.

    As Quality Assurance specialist, I must tell you the SUPPORT is much more important than the product for customer satisfaction.

    I agree. I believe the members at Theme Hybrid would also agree with you. You are more than welcome to ask them how good (or bad, as the case may be) the support they receive is.

    And though I appreciate what you wrote of “that’s life” up there, I suggest you just fnakly tell the potential users on the donwload page that there is no free support for it. Just be honest. I wouldn’t have spent months waiting for it then, for example.

    Again, it’s untrue that there is no free support route. The forums here are free and open to anyone. I just don’t personally answer that many questions here.

    Nevertheless, there is no way for me to say on the theme download page that I offer commercial support. That is out of my control. The ability to add this information and other important info is something that theme authors, including myself, have been asking WordPress.org for. We can do this with plugins (note that my plugins mention paid support on their pages), but we simply have no way to do this on the theme repository.

    I’ve also made a topic announcing commercial support here on these forums. I’m not allowed to sticky topics here on the theme’s forum. This is something I can do with my plugins, but it’s not possible to do so with themes.

    Unfortunately, this is not within my power. I wish it were. You and I both will have to wait for WordPress.org to implement these features for theme authors.

    Jan,
    Thank you for your input.
    First – I think, and said it, that for total honesty’s sake it is a good policy to SAY what is to be – or not the be – expected. That is, if, as you say, no support is forthcoming unless paid – why then, at the theme download page there is a “Support” tab, inviting to post questions? Why not just say: no free support available, in plain language.
    I see that Justin has addressed this issue now. I understand. Hope it will change.
    Second, you have addressed my question, for which I am waiting for an answer for so long. I think you are misreading the question you have shared with the forum here that I have posted. Let me clarify.
    1. Yes, I do have a client, for whom I am making an upgrade of his website, using a child-theme of Stargazer.
    2. Yes, I am being paid, even though rather symbolically, but this is not the issue. I am not telling him I’ll do it free and then allowing him to find out he is to pay me for his site to work.
    3. No, I am not asking anything regarding a third-party plugin. I am just relaying the situation on the site, explaing the need. My question, per se, has nothing to do with the plugin and everything to do with the theme. A single parameter in a theme.
    Why am I explaining the issue? Because the use of the plugin is due to the fact that the theme does not have a download button, for which I have asked before and received no response on the forum. So we solved that issue by utilizing a plugin. Nothing to do with the request from Justin, really.
    Third, about the paid support. I have written to Justin and asked to have a parial year of support, as I really finished the work, there will be no questions afterwards. There is only one issue. One request. And I am willing to pay for 4 months! – but cannot for a year.
    You say the year is “small annual fee” of $25? That’s Justin’s call, not mine. And I really don’t have to justify to you why this is too much for me right now, however difficult it might be for you to grasp that sometimes, for some people it might be too much…
    So yes, I have gone and tried to “avail” myself of that option. I received no answer. As I saw just now, the answer I got above is this:
    “If you want to hire me, my consulting fee is $75/hour. I think you’re better off sticking with a simpler support package.”
    Well, unfortunately, I cannot at this moment afford the whole year. I cincerely hope you and Justin both will not get into that position, ever. I do not enjoy it, to say the least.

    Fourth:
    It would really help if you get your facts straight, before you post your analysis for everyone to read. Because you are off by a great deal from the reality. You know, actually READ the threads?
    You brought up 2 other topics:
    The first one that was “well handled” in your opinion – I HANDLED IT MYSELF. You say it “was resolved with many replies in detail.” You fail to mention that there was only one reply from Justin was, which said he didn’t know why. And I have shared MY OWN SOLUTION, for the benefit of others. Most replies were my own. Then he said he did not see that problem in his copy. And then – shared a totally different thing, regarding his request to send him translation of the theme – which, btw, I did.
    The second one – was not responded to for over two months (to date). It was NOT a duplicate. In this one I was ASKING for something lacking in the info of the audio files. In the request I was posting about in the first place here – I was INFORMING of my SOLUTION for that lack with the help of a third party plugin.
    Now to sum:
    There were three questions. Two of them – not even a single response. One – one response to MY question, which did not help solve it at all.
    So yes, it is good that people discuss things in forums, but they should really READ what they discuss, before plunging in.
    Thank you.
    Vera

    Justin,
    Thank you,
    I understand you perfectly.

    Just one correction:

    “What you’ve repeatedly asked me via email is to answer support questions about a third-party plugin for your client.”

    No.
    I am sorry to see you did not bother to read my question through, either.
    The first time I asked for a download button for audio, which is not available in the theme “info”. When you did not answer on forum – I wrote via e-mail. For which YOU have suggested that I search for a third-party plugin.
    The second time – I told you I have solved this with a plugin. And asked for a way to display the posts fully (full content) in category view. That is NOT about a third-party plugin.
    What I asked was another status of display – as not audio, or video or wny of them is allowing to display all content of the post, which is required.
    For some reason, you chose to not even respond at all to either the posting on the forum or the email. Not even to say this is something you have no intention of doing.
    Now I know, at least that you didn’t bother to even understand what I asked you.
    Unlike this conversation, where you go to great lengths to explain yourself (because of a couple of stars?)
    Thank you,
    Vera

    Update:
    We have since purchased an annual support package on Justin’s website.
    The paid suppot is prompt and thorough, Justin solves the problems and patiently explains when asked questions in an attempt to understand the logic of the solution, even if the question may seem obvious to him.

    Bottom line – a theme one would be advised to get ONLY with PAID support, unless you are a developer yourself, or prepared to go unanswered for months (or never) in the general WordPress support forum.
    Vera

    Justin,

    Regarding:

    If you want to hire me, my consulting fee is $75/hour. I think you’re better off sticking with a simpler support package.

    Your noted consulting fee (hourly rate) is about half of what it should be.

    Seriously, as a minimum, you’re worth $150/hr as a WordPress-related consultant. Please don’t be shy about charging your worth, and be confident about your value.

    While your rate may reflect your physical locale, there’s no reason you shouldn’t charge on a par with the best WordPress professionals in Seattle, San Francisco, NYC, or anywhere else in the world. You rank right up there with the best of them.

    Your vast contributions of time and expertise to the WordPress Community and WordPress ecosystem are much appreciated.

    Cheers

Viewing 8 replies - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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