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  • Jose Castaneda 5:41 am on August 18, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Weekly meetings 

    As brought up from the mail list there are some that are interested in having a weekly meeting, or perhaps two. Much like some of the other contributing groups that have office hours I feel we can do the same.

    Our first meeting was August 15 and dealt with when would be a good time for a weekly meeting. The decision was made for Tuesday 1700UTC and possible office hours on Thursday 1700UTC as well.

    The first of what hopes to be a great rebirth of the IRC meetings for those looking to help in reviewing themes and contributing will begin on August 19 2014 1700UTC.

    Hope to see you there with questions so we can all learn from one another from our trials and errors.

  • Chip Bennett 1:22 am on July 9, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: , sane defaults, , Theme Mods API   

    Using Sane Defaults in Themes 

    With the release of WordPress 3.9, one of the changes to the Theme Review Guidelines is that Themes must use sane defaults. That means that Themes must not write default setting values to the database. For many Themes, this may seem like a major change; but it doesn’t have to be. This post will step through a few ways to implement sane defaults.


    To make this method easier, put all of your defaults inside a function:

    function themeslug_get_option_defaults() {
    	$defaults = array(
    		'option_1' => 'value_1',
    		'option_2' => 'value_2',
    		'option_3' => 'value_3'
    	return apply_filters( 'themeslug_option_defaults', $defaults );

    (Note: by making the return valuable filterable, the Theme defaults can be easily overridden by a Child Theme or Plugin.)

    We’ll make use of this function later.

    Options API

    Most Themes use the Options API, and will use get_option() to put Theme settings into a global:

    $themeslug_options = get_option( 'theme_themeslug_options' );

    Knowing that this get_option() caall will return FALSE if the option has not yet been saved to the database, Theme developers have taken to saving default values to the database as part of Theme initialization, like so:

    if ( false == get_option( 'theme_themeslug_options' ) ) {
    	update_option( 'theme_themeslug_options', themeslug_get_option_defaults() );
    $themeslug_options = get_option( 'theme_themeslug_options' );

    But this is entirely unnecessary. And everything needed to implement a better solution already exists.

    As a first step, consider that get_option() includes a second parameter, which specifies the default value to return, if nothing is returned from the database:

    get_option( $name, $default );

    So, the simplest solution is merely to tell get_option() to return the defaults, using the function we previously defined:

    $themeslug_options = get_option( 'theme_themeslug_options', themeslug_get_option_defaults() );

    This works, but isn’t perfect. It will return the Theme-defined defaults if the user hasn’t saved settings to the databse. But if later versions of the Theme add, remove, or change options, this might break, since the return value is either/or: either the database-saved setting, or else the defaults. So, if the user saves settings, and then a new setting is added in a later Theme version, the new setting value won’t be included in $themeslug_options unless/until the user saves settings again.

    The solution is to merge the arrays, rather than to return one or the other. WordPress has a core function specifically for this purpose: wp_parse_args(), which will use the settings array, and “fill in the blanks” with the defaults array:

    wp_parse_args( $settings, $defaults );

    Caveat: bearing in mind that wp_parse_args() expects both parameters to be arrays, and knowing that get_option() returns FALSE by default, be sure to specify get_option() returns an empty array by default: get_option( ‘theme_themeslug_options’, array() ); otherwise, wp_parse_args() will (might – see note below) choke if the user hasn’t saved settings to the database.

    The construct will look something like this:

    $themeslug_options = wp_parse_args( 
        get_option( 'theme_themeslug_options', array() ), 

    This is perhaps the simplest, most elegant way to implement sane defaults.

    (Note: according to Otto, passing an empty arrayy() as the second parameter to get_option() isn’t necessary. In his words: “The wp_parse_args() function checks for the first parameter to be an object or an array. If it’s neither, then it calls wp_parse_str on it, because it can take a GET URL-like array of parameters too. The wp_parse_str() function calls PHP’s parse_str on it, and does a deep strip_slashes if magic quotes is on, then filters the result. So, because false maps to the empty string, parse_str will return an empty array for it, so passing false to wp_parse_args should be A-OK and probably has been like that for a very long time. Doesn’t hurt to add the empty array(), but doesn’t really change anything.” YMMV.)

    Theme Modification API

    Using the Theme Modification API (get_theme_mod()/get_theme_mods()) is fairly similar.

    An individual setting can be called via:

    get_theme_mod( $name, $default );

    But perhaps more useful, all settings can be called via:

    $themeslug_options = get_theme_mods();

    Since get_theme_mods() returns an array, you can use the same technique as with Options API settings:

    $themeslug_options = wp_parse_args( 

    Portability/DRY (Part 2)

    To be able to use this method throughout the Theme, wrap the wp_parse_args() call inside a function:

    function themeslug_get_options() {
        // Options API
        return wp_parse_args( 
            get_option( 'theme_themeslug_options', array() ), 
        // Theme Mods API:
        return wp_parse_args( 

    Then, wherever you need access to Theme options:

    $themeslug_options = themeslug_get_options();

    From there, you can globalize $themeslug_options, or cache/transient it, etc. When you need to add a new option, simply add the new option default to the defaults array, and the Theme will handle it automatically.

    • Justin Tadlock 2:05 am on July 9, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      No need for the custom filter hook there on the defaults. Child theme authors can simply filter 'default_option_' . $option if they need to overwrite this.

      • Chip Bennett 12:32 pm on July 9, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        But that only works if the option is not yet set in the database, right? In which case, it’s a bit more fragile, and wouldn’t work in the case of a Theme (or Child Theme) adding a new option in a later version of the Theme.

  • Chip Bennett 12:07 am on July 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: copyright,   

    Proper Copyright/License Attribution for Themes 

    There seems to be a great deal of confusion/misunderstanding regarding what constitutes proper copyright/license attribution for Themes, and several Themes are being approved without proper copyright/license attribution.

    There are four primary types of attribution: the Theme itself, derivative-work, incorporated code, and bundled resources. For works licensed under (or compatibly with) GPL, this attribution is important, because it ensures that end users know their rights regarding modification and distribution of the copyrighted work. The “copyleft” nature of GPL ensures that those same rights are preserved in downstream distributions of a copyrighted work, or works derived from that work – which is why it is imperative that correct copyright/license attribution be included in GPL-compatible works.

    Theme Copyright Attribution

    Fred WordPress Theme, Copyright 2012 Joe Smith
    Fred is distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL

    The Theme itself is a copyrighted work, and requires copyright attribution. According to GNU (the maintainer of the GPL):

    Whichever license you plan to use, the process involves adding two elements to each source file of your program: a copyright notice (such as “Copyright 1999 Terry Jones”), and a statement of copying permission, saying that the program is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (or the Lesser GPL).

    The copyright notice:

    The copyright notice should include the year in which you finished preparing the release (so if you finished it in 1998 but didn’t post it until 1999, use 1998). You should add the proper year for each release; for example, “Copyright 1998, 1999 Terry Jones” if some versions were finished in 1998 and some were finished in 1999. If several people helped write the code, use all their names.

    The statement of copying permission:

    This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
    it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
    the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
    (at your option) any later version.

    This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
    but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
    GNU General Public License for more details.

    You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
    along with this program. If not, see < http://www.gnu.org/licenses/ >.

    Derivative Themes and Incorporated Code Copyright Attribution

    Themes that are derived from other Themes (such as Twenty Twelve or Underscores) must declare that they are derived from another work, and include the original copyright notice from that work. For derivative works, the declaration would follow the Theme’s own copyright notice, and would take a form similar to the following:

    Ginger WordPress Theme is derived from Fred WordPress Theme, Copyright 2012 Joe Smith
    Fred WordPress Theme is distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL

    Incorporated Code Copyright Attribution

    Themes that incorporate code from other Themes (or Plugins) must declare that they incorporate code from another Theme/Plugin. The difference between a derivative work and incorporated code is, generally, a matter of extent. If you use a Theme as a “starter” or a base (such as Underscores), then you have created a derivative work. If you use one or more functions from another Theme, then you have incorporated code from that Theme.

    For incorporated code, the declaration should be added to the header comments for the files and/or the doc blocks for the incorporated functions, including copyright, license, and a source link, using appropriate syntax (such as phpDoc for incorporated PHP code). The Theme readme (or license) file should include a declaration of incorporated code:

    Ginger WordPress Theme incorporates code from Fred WordPress Theme, Copyright 2012 Joe Smith
    Fred WordPress Theme is distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL

    Bundled Resource Copyright Attribution

    Themes that bundle third-party resources (such as script libraries, PHP or CSS frameworks, images, fonts, etc.) must declare that they bundle those resources. For bundled resources, the original copyright notice (normally found in file headers, or a license file) should be retained if it exists. Additionally, the Theme readme (or license) file should include a declaration of bundled resources, including copyright, license, and a source link.

    Ginger WordPress Theme bundles the following third-party resources:
    Genericons icon font, Copyright 2013 Automattic
    Genericons are licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL, Version 2 (or later)
    Source: http://www.genericons.com
    Cycle2 jQuery library, Copyright 2012 M. Alsup
    Cycle2 is dual-licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL, Version 2, and the MIT license
    Source: http://jquery.malsup.com/cycle2/

    Requiring this information to be listed in the readme when it is available in file headers is a bit redundant; but it is a matter of ensuring that the Theme developer has considered/verified that the licenses for all bundled resources are GPL-compatible, and that end users (and reviewers) have a known location to find this information. Note that, because binary files (such as images) do not have human-readable file headers, the inclusion of copyright, license, and source link in the readme is critical, since otherwise the end user will have no way to know how to find this information.

    Putting it All Together

    Here is an example of a complete copyright/license attribution section in a Theme readme (or license) file:

    Ginger WordPress Theme, Copyright 2012 Joe Smith
    Ginger is distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL
    This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
    it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
    the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
    (at your option) any later version.
    This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
    but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
    GNU General Public License for more details.
    You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
    along with this program.  If not, see .
    Ginger WordPress Theme is derived from Underscores WordPress Theme, Copyright 2013 Automattic, Inc.
    Underscores WordPress Theme is distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL
    Ginger WordPress Theme incorporates code from Fred WordPress Theme, Copyright 2012 Joe Smith
    Fred WordPress Theme is distributed under the terms of the GNU GPL
    Ginger WordPress Theme bundles the following third-party resources:
    Genericons icon font, Copyright 2013 Automattic
    Genericons are licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL, Version 2 (or later)
    Source: http://www.genericons.com
    Cycle2 jQuery library, Copyright 2012 M. Alsup
    Cycle2 is dual-licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL, Version 2, and the MIT license
    Source: http://jquery.malsup.com/cycle2/

    Hopefully this post helps clarify the requirements for proper copyright/license attribution, and will help ensure that review of license requirements is more consistent. As a reminder: under the current guidelines, these copyright statements must be included in the Theme readme (or license) file. The examples given above are intended to describe required content, and not necessarily a required format for that content.

    • Joan Boluda 6:38 am on July 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great resource. Very useful to the TRT. Thanks for clarifying, Chip.

    • Team Vivacity 10:18 am on July 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thanks Chip, The post is really helpful for the beginers and as well as experienced developers to put all necessary things in theme.

      Great work!

    • alex27 10:59 am on July 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      This is great! We should make those nuggets part of the guidelines, so that they are easy to find also for theme authors!

      • Chip Bennett 1:28 pm on July 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        We intentionally keep this level of detail out of the Guidelines. If we tried to put all this in the Guidelines (Front page settings, Copyright attribution – and more coming in the days/weeks ahead), the Guidelines would quickly become unreadable.

        Long-term, my goal is to link all of these long-form tutorials in an updated Review Guide (something else I’m working on, but it takes time), so that the information is easily accessible, and easy to follow, while conducting a review.

    • rajlaksh 5:50 am on July 12, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Sir, Your Site is confusing. I was unable to find what i was looking. But that exists in your site.

      I was waited for it past 1 month. Thanks for deep tutorial.

  • Chip Bennett 4:57 pm on June 28, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: template hierarchy   

    Correct Handling of Static Front Page and Custom Blog Posts Index Template 

    Recently, there have been several Themes submitted – and approved – that include a template-blog.php (or page-blog.php) custom page template, or that include a static front page template (front-page.php) that doesn’t properly account for the user configuration to display the blog posts index on the front page. In order to be approved, Theems must handle these correctly.

    Themes must properly support user configuration of the front page display, as configured via Settings -> Reading, Front page displays, Front page, and Page for posts.

    The “Front page displays” option correlates to get_option( ‘show_on_front’ ), and returns a value of ‘page’ (static front page) or ‘posts’ (blog posts index). Themes must account for both values, whether or not the Theme uses front-page.php. For more information, see here.

    Theme support extends beyond the “Front page displays” setting, however. Themes must also properly implement support for the “Front page” and “Page for posts” settings, as defined by the Template Hierarchy. To understand the implementation, consider the user configuration. Users set up a static front page like so:

    1. Create two static pages, which we’ll call “Front Page” and “Blog”
    2. In Settings -> Reading, set “Front page displays” to “a static page”
    3. In Settings -> Reading, set “Front page” to “Front Page”
    4. In Settings -> Reading, set “Posts page” to “Blog”

    In this scenario, using the Template Hierarchy, WordPress will determine what to display in the context of Front Page and Blog Posts Index.

    Front Page:

    • front-page.php
    • Page Template Hierarchy (custom page template, page-slug.php, page-id.php, page.php, index.php)

    Blog Post Index:

    • Home Template Hierarchy (home.php, index.php)

    That means that, according to the Template Hierarchy, the correct file to use to define a custom blog posts index is the home.php template file, and not a custom page template. In fact, when users have properly configured a static front page and assigned pages to display the site front page and the blog posts index, a custom page template is pointless. Even if the user applies the template-blog.php custom page template to the page assigned to display the blog posts index, WordPress will ignore it, because the blog posts index uses the Home template hierarchy, and not the Page template hierarchy. WordPress will look for the home.php template file, and will fall back to the index.php template file.

    So, the only possible way for the user to use a template-blog.php custom paage template would be for the Theme to instruct the user to configure the site front page and blog posts index in a way other than the way that core defines. Forcing the user into a different configuration than the one defined by core is poor UX. Users should not have to configure core WordPress features differently whenever they install a new Theme.

    So, if a Theme incorporates a custom template for the blog posts index, it must be implemented as the home.php template file, and not as a template-blog.php custom page template. If you are reviewing a Theme, please ensure that this is part of your review. If you’re a Theme developer, please ensure that you’re instructing your users to implement static front pages (and blog posts index pages) consistently with the core implementation, and that your Theme properly implements the Template Hierarchy.

    (Side note: I strongly recommend the habit of prefixing custom page templates with “template” or “tpl” or something similar, rather than “page”. Naming a custom page template ‘page-foobar.php’ will cause WordPress to use that custom page template any time the user creates a static page with the slug “foobar”. Using something else, such as ‘template-foobar.php’ or ‘tpl-foobar.php’ will prevent that from happening, and will ensure that the custom page template is only used if the user explicitly assigns the custom page template to a given static page.)

    • Emil Uzelac 6:44 pm on June 28, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great post Chip, well covered!

    • Maria Antonietta Perna 10:16 am on June 29, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      This is a great point, thank you for having brought it up in such a clear way.

    • kevinhaig 9:52 pm on June 29, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      So I guess I’m one of those using custom templates. My index.php still allows users to implement a blog page using core configuration. But my themes have a couple of custom blog templates that provide users with different blog options. For example, a blog with a slider at the top or a full width blog versus a blog with a sidebar.

      All the user has to do is create the page using the template and put the page in the menu. If the user has configured a static home (front) page and they want to use a custom blog page, they are instructed to leave the “Posts page:” to” — Select — “.

      I am struggling on why this is such a bad practice. If a user switches a theme, then they will have to set up a blog page witch is just a few clicks. Much simpler then having to reset all the sidebar widgets.

      I could program a custom home.php, setting up all the user options that are available in the two custom blog templates, but what would I do with all the existing users that are using the custom templates?

      If blog pages are to be restricted to home.php or index.php, then why are all the pages created on a site listed in a drop down list for “Posts page:” ? I realize they are ignored anyway, but why are they there?

      • Chip Bennett 10:36 pm on June 29, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I am struggling on why this is such a bad practice. If a user switches a theme, then they will have to set up a blog page witch is just a few clicks. Much simpler then having to reset all the sidebar widgets.

        Start from the assumption that users already have properly configured their site to use a static front page. When they activate your Theme, they have to change their configuration. They shouldn’t have to do that. Likewise, if they use your Theme first, and then switch to another Theme, they again have to change their configuration. They shouldn’t have to do that. Themes – especially WPORG-hosted Themes – should support core features and configurations out-of-the-box. Anything less adversely impacts end users.

        Sidebars always have to be reconfigured when switching Themes. But that’s a different discussion for a different venue.

        I could program a custom home.php, setting up all the user options that are available in the two custom blog templates, but what would I do with all the existing users that are using the custom templates?

        Work with your Reviewer. Add in a proper home.php template file, with associated Theme options, and instructions to your users for how to make the switch. Then, in the next Theme update, remove the custom page templates. Let your reviewer know up front that you’re working on a transition path for your users, to bring the Theme into compliance. If you have any problems, CC me on the ticket and I’ll help.

        If blog pages are to be restricted to home.php or index.php, then why are all the pages created on a site listed in a drop down list for “Posts page:” ? I realize they are ignored anyway, but why are they there?

        That relates to how the Template Hierarchy works. The “Posts page” dropdown simply applies the ID of the selected page to get_option( 'page_for_posts' ). If that value is set, and a query request is made for that Page ID, WordPress recognizes it as the Posts page (view source), sets the query context to the Blog Posts Index (is_home() = true), which then causes the template loader to call the Blog Posts Index template hierarchy.

    • kevinhaig 10:49 pm on June 29, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thanks Chip

    • Greg Priday 9:57 am on July 2, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I’ve used template-blog.php in some of my older themes that are live on the directory already. Would I need to remove these page templates from my existing themes or just encourage users to use the proper reading settings for the blog page?

      • Chip Bennett 2:59 pm on July 2, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Yes, you’ll need to remove them. But as I mentioned previously: work with your reviewer, and use a transition plan. In the next revision, add in the correct templates, and provide instructions to your users. Then in the following revision, remove the incorrect, custom page templates.

        • Greg Priday 7:22 am on July 3, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Great, I’ll get to work removing them. It does seem a lot less hackey doing it this way, so I’m all for the change.

          Would adding the following code to the top of my current template-blog.php files be a valid transition plan?

          if( !get_option(‘page_for_posts’) && get_option(‘show_on_front’) == ‘page’ && get_post_status() == ‘publish’) {
          // We’re transitioning away from using the blog page template
          // Automatically update this so it uses the proper system.
          update_option( ‘page_for_posts’, get_the_ID() );
          update_post_meta( $post->ID, ‘_wp_page_template’, ‘default’ );

          Basically what I’m doing here is automatically setting up everything for the user and if all goes well, I’ll be able to remove template-blog.php in the following update, without much fuss.

    • vinnyj 10:34 am on July 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I am a theme developer have been for about two years now. I am still learning to use a development tool for themes designed for word press. How would I get involved in the theme team to see if my themes are qualified for being used with word press. I want to know is there were I can discuss most of my concerns about making themes for word press. I have come to realize that its not that easy to make themes designed for buddy press.

    • weblizar 11:31 am on July 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Very Helpful Post,Thanks Chip..

  • Chip Bennett 6:45 pm on June 20, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment  

    Review Workflow and Closing Tickets 

    There seems to be some misunderstanding about the review workflow. A few of the newer reviewers are leaving initial review comments, and immediately closing the ticket. While that was our old workflow, it has not been our current workflow for about a year.
    Our current workflow is designed such that, as long as the ticket remains open, any subsequent Theme updates that get submitted are automatically appended to the open ticket – which allows for the review process to take place in a single ticket. This process is much easier both for the reviewers and for developers.
    Tickets should only be closed under two circumstances:
    1. The developer fails to respond within a reasonable time
    2. The submission is not legitimate (ripped theme, spam theme, etc.)
    We currently define “reasonable time” as a week. But in order to make things even easier and consistent, I am asking that reviewers not close tickets due to lack of developer response. This is something that I check for, usually daily, in order to close tickets with no response, or to request a status update.
    1. Do not close tickets due to lack of developer response. Admins will take care of such ticket closures.
    2. Do not post “bump” comments, as doing so impacts Admins’ ability to follow up on idle tickets.
    The idea is that reviewers can just focus on doing reviews, and helping developers proceed toward approval; Admins can focus on dealing with tickets without developer response and otherwise idle tickets.
    • Rizqy Hidayat 1:54 am on June 21, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      got it, except for “bump” comments. what kind of these?

      • Chip Bennett 12:14 pm on June 21, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        On forums, a “bump” post is one that is used just to bring a topic back to the top of the list – i.e. “bumping” the topic. In the context of Theme-Trac, a “bump” comment is one that is just an update request (e.g. “Any update on this review?” or “Any response from the developer?” – that kind of thing). Such comments actually work exactly opposite as they would in a forum, in that they “bump” the ticket to the *bottom* of the lists we Admins use (tracking assigned tickets, pushing approved Themes “Live”, etc. – which is why it is counter-productive to post “When will my Theme be live?” comments).

        For example: when tracking assigned tickets, I follow up on any ticket that is assigned, but not modified in more than 7 days. So, by posting a “bump” comment, the ticket is modified, and it drops to the bottom of the list. The same is true with pushing approved Themes “Live”: I start with the oldest “Approved” ticket, in terms of last-modified date/time. So, by posting a “bump” comment, the ticket is modified, and it drops to the bottom of the list.

    • perryb 7:27 am on July 2, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Ah, thanks for the update. Also having your theme review shut down before you can reasonably respond is going to come across a tad rude ;)

  • Jen Mylo 6:19 pm on June 20, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: ,   

    Team Meetup at WCSF 

    Hi again! We’re working on making sure we have enough room blocks to make sure all the contributors who are coming in October can get a decent rate (or have a room provided by us if applicable). Some of you replied to my post from last week and filled in the survey so I’d know you were planning to come, but some haven’t. Additionally, some people did the survey and marked themselves as team members of teams they’re not actually involved with, so I need your help! :)

    I just want to make sure we count everyone so we can try to put you at the same hotel to make the meetup part easier.

    If you didn’t read the post before, the plan for the event is:
    Sat/Sun — WCSF conference
    Monday — community summit
    Tues/Wed — team meetups (team being together to talk issues, make plans, work together, etc)

    The people who identified themselves as active members of the theme review team in the survey are:
    @jcastaneda, @cais, @otto42, Tammie Lister (@karmatosed), Aleksandra Łączek (@alex27), Sakin Shrestha (@Catchtheme), Ayman Al Zarrad (@aymanalzarrad), and Joe Dolson (@joedolson).

    Notably, @chipbennett and @emiluzelac are missing. :) Could you guys fill out the survey so I can have you on the list as we start deciding which hotels to put each team in (this applies to anyone on the team planning to come who hasn’t submitted this survey yet). We’ll be spread out among 4 or 5 hotels, so I want to be sure we can keep the teams together. If you’re not planning to come, just let me know in the comments.

    @emiluzelac and @chipbennett, could one of you let me know if the list above is accurate or if there are names on it that are not active members of the team?

    And just a reminder that we have a travel assistance program this year to help contributors who don’t work for a wp-based company and can’t cover travel costs on their own. Apply for travel assistance by June 30. IMPORTANT: if you apply for travel assistance, you still need to fill out the contributors at wcsf survey so you’ll be included in the team count as we do our planning.


  • Jen Mylo 11:33 pm on June 12, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: , wcsf,   

    WCSF 2014: Who’s Planning to Attend? 

    Heads up, theme review team! We’re getting ready to publish details about the plans for WordCamp this October (which includes a mini team meetup), so if you’re thinking of attending, please read the post at http://make.wordpress.org/updates/2014/06/12/wordcamp-san-francisco-travel-contributor-days/ and take the short survey linked at the end of it so I’ll know how many team members to plan for (don’t worry, this isn’t a commitment or anything, I just need to get some rough numbers for budgeting purposes). Thanks!

  • Emil Uzelac 4:39 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment

    GPL-Compatible Images 

    We are moving a very healthy discussion from our list. If you need to catch up, archives are available here.

    RE: GPL-Compatibility

    Hey guys,

    I was thinking to write a post about it, but I chose the list instead.

    As I was going over some license *issues* with my very own work, it turns
    out that sites like http://unsplash.com/ are completely unreliable and
    probably not the best choice to use images from.

    The site itself does not have an explicit license, other than a line where
    it says “All photos CC0″, which is definitely not enough.

    Should we “police” this? You bet!

    All right, so I took few extra steps and came to conclusion that the
    original license and the license http://unsplash.com/ advertise are

    In most cases the license are either not CC0, or they require a special
    permission by the owner and in some other cases released under CC and we
    all know that CC alone is not GPL-Compatible. Not to mention that sites
    lists images from people that don’t even exist.

    When that special permission is granted the source needs to have that in
    writing, otherwise “All photos CC0″ means nothing to us.

    Best example:



    • Towfiq I. 4:55 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      unsplash has lots of images that have cc2 license..
      are there any websites that provide *beautiful* gpl compatible images? not the ones that you find on public domain image websites..

    • Manoz69 4:57 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      In my last theme review, the developer included pattern images from http://thepatternlibrary.com/ . After few researches, I just found one line about the license: “This on going project compiles patterns shared by the most talented designers out there for you to use freely in your designs”. This is definitely not a license (in my opinion) but I didn’t know what to do (the theme is still in review btw).

      For my themes I usually take my images from http://pixabay.com/ wich is nice and lot of images are free and GPL compatible.

    • imon Hasan 5:10 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Looking at the site’s license terms:

      I don’t think the images are licensed compatibly with GPL. For example:

      • You may not use Images for pornographic, unlawful or other immoral purposes, or in a way that can give a bad name to depicted persons, or to imply endorsement of products and services by identifiable persons, brands, organisations, etc.
      • You are not allowed to mass download Images with an application, or reuse a big part of the Images for redistribution on a similar Website.

      Neither of these terms is GPL-compatible.

      • Manoz69 5:35 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Well for me and for creativecommons.org, images from pixabay (CC0) are GPL Compatible. Further reading: http://creativecommons.org/tag/gpl

        The paragraph is clear: “[...] Both public domain works and the simple license provided by CC0 are compatible with the GNU GPL.”

      • ThemeZee 6:57 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        All images uploaded on Pixabay have stated their license explicit on the image page, for example: http://pixabay.com/en/drop-of-water-drip-blade-of-grass-351778/

        Since the image declares the CC0 license on its page, and CC0 is GPL compatible, I think we should be able to use them. I guess Pixabay just cites these general terms to protect itself.

        Pixabay is one of the very few resources for good GPL compatible images and was so far always okay in theme review. Forbidding images from sites like Pixabay or Unsplash would have the result that 90% of all themes need new screenshots ;)

        As theme author you can only carefully select your images and photographers, but there will never be a platform which can ensure 100% that nobody has upload a copyrighted image.

        • Manoz69 12:32 am on June 6, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          “[...] but there will never be a platform which can ensure 100% that nobody has upload a copyrighted image.”

          return true; :)

          Pixabay is probably one of the best website with free GPL-compatible images. This is a reviewer who made ​​me discover Pixabay and I use it today in all my projects even outside of WordPress. In fact Pixabay should be recommended in the Theme Guidelines.

      • ThemeZee 7:01 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

    • Sovit 5:14 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Selecting an images for screenshot are head-pain. If we cannot use the screenshot from http://unsplash.com/ and http://pixabay.com/ than where we can :(? If I am not wrong Twenty Fourteen A Default WordPress Theme also used an images from http://unsplash.com/
      I think WordPress should start a free GPL photo blog like Genericons?

      • Jose Castaneda 9:05 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Some of us actually have a few:

        Christine: flickr.com/photos/crondeau/sets/72157636563358724/

        Carolina: flickr.com/photos/layout_nu/

        Personal: blog.josemcastaneda.com/downloads

        I know esmi shared: publicphoto.org quite some time ago and from what I can recall Matt’s ( ma.tt/gallery ) his are GPL compatible as well.

    • imon Hasan 5:44 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @sovit this is a good idea

      • Sami Keijonen 8:05 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        That’s really good idea. We need a source we can trust. For now I can only trust my own photos to be GPL compatible and it has been several years I’ve been playing with a camera.

        • Manoz69 10:12 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          And if the author decides to change the license one day? I think we can never really believe in a particular source. We’ll unfortunately continue to search unless you have friends photographers or you’re yourself.

          It’s a very good idea but I don’t think we “need” a source. We can find GPL images everywhere. I don’t really understand the problem. If you have doubts, just search on Google: “license name + GPL compatible” :)

          • Sovit 5:48 am on June 6, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            I don’t think that author will decide to change the license one day. We some are also the author of some themes here in wordpress.org. Can we change the license of that theme one day? “NO” we can’t because theme must be a GPL licensed. If we clearly write about the license before uploading a images. I don’t think that author one day decide to change the license if so we can remove those images permanently too.

            And also you said that we can never believe in particular source if so than how it comes to trust images that are search on Google under key word “GPL compatible images” are 100% GPL compatible and from original authors.

            • Manoz69 10:25 am on June 6, 2014 Permalink

              I should have been clearer. I didn’t want to talk about Google image search but the search for information about licenses. The 1st time I’ve heard about CC0 I typed “CC0 + GPL compatible” on Google for more informations about the compatibility.

            • Chip Bennett 3:06 pm on June 6, 2014 Permalink

              I can give an actual, real-world example of a license being changed: IconSweets, which is an icon set. Some (long) time ago, when looking for GPL-compatible icons, I found IconSweets, which had a “free for use in personal or commercial projects” statement. Under that license statement, I used the icons. Later, the terms were changed to an explicit license (CC of some form or another, if I recall correctly). Now, because I was using icons that were distributed under different terms, I would have been fine to continue using them. But if anyone were to go back to the source, the change in license would have been confusing. So, I switched to a different resource. (Actually, I switched to an Icon Font – Genericons – which was a better implementation all-around, and eliminated all license ambiguity/confusion.)

              So, yes: it is possible that licenses can change.

    • mindctrl 7:22 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Ideally themes wouldn’t be bundling images such as the ones you find on the aforementioned sites. Background and pattern images are one thing, but “content” images such as the ones you see on Unsplash really shouldn’t be bundled with a theme. Just as themes shouldn’t include functionality that belongs in plugins, they shouldn’t be bundling content that should generally fall under the purview of the theme consumers and content creators. Huge image assets that either end up being deleted or otherwise not used really don’t have any place in a theme. Twenty Eleven set a poor example, in my opinion, by bundling all the header images with the theme. This is distinctly different from using these types of images on a theme demo site.

      Would someone mind explaining exactly why the CC0 license isn’t GPL compatible? Thanks.

    • Andrey "Rarst" Savchenko 5:27 pm on June 6, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Note that copyright holder (original author) can release the work under different licenses. There is nothing preventing author from submitting photo to unsplash under CC0 and having it hosted under different license elsewhere.

      Of course that means author needs to understand implications of CC0 release and preferably be verified by unsplash.

      Essentially it’s about how much do you trust unsplash to handle submissions properly. But there is nothing inherently incompatible or not “sufficient” about them hosting images under CC0.

    • StefanRisticDev 10:40 pm on June 13, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I’m a bit confused. Can someone please share a link that would explain what is GPL-Compatible image?

      When I go to images.google.com, and choose “free to use, share or modify, even commercially” I’m getting some awesome pictures that I could use.

      Are those images GPL-Compatible?

    • Carolina Nymark 4:17 pm on June 14, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      What about model releases?

      ..And what kind of photos are you mainly looking for?

    • Zilli 9:23 am on June 30, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @Emil. Sorry if I didn’t get your point, but what is the problem with unplash.com? All their photos are in public domain license. Why wouldn’t you accept a theme that has a public domain photo? I hope you can clarify my thoughts.

    • Emil Uzelac 6:48 pm on June 30, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      It was a license mismatch, just double check that’s all. Just confirm with author or the site :)

    • fasterthemes 3:12 am on July 1, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @Emil I’ve more 10-12 professional photographer friends who are ready to share a few of their photos under GPL license. I’m going to launch a website soon where they will be able to share their images and they will also ask other friends of theirs to share awesome quality photos under GPL3 license.
      Now I need your little help. Please guide me how I can ensure that the OTHERs who will upload the images are owing those images. Because if someone uploads someone else’s photo then I don’t want to be in trouble :)
      The website link will be share to all theme developers here where they will see FOOD, WILD LIFE, Architect, Person, Wedding etc GPL3 or more compatible images :)
      I would really appreciate if you can throw some light to help me developing this website. :)

      • Emil Uzelac 4:25 am on July 1, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        This is slightly outside of the scoop, but no worries, I’ll help!

        Just like anything else out there, work with trusted people and ensure that every submission has some type of submission agreement. Also include the license under which the images are released as well.

        Agreement for your own protection and GPL inclusion before that hit the upload button.

        Nothing is perfect, but you can get close to it :)

        Hope that this helps!

  • Jose Castaneda 7:25 am on April 25, 2014 Permalink

    Contributor Poll 

    Take a moment and give some feedback. Make giving back to the community easier for you and others. :)

  • Jen Mylo 9:33 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink
    Tags: incentive program   

    Theme Review Incentive Program 

    Hi theme reviewers! It seems like there’s been some disagreement about the implementation of the theme review incentive program lately. Disagreement draws attention, and once it was looked at more closely, turns out the theme review incentive program (as it exists right now) is actually kind of a problem. In this post, I’ll lay out the issues that jump out, and ask for your feedback; we’ll gather up the team opinion and take it to a conversation with Matt about what should be done moving forward.

    When this team suggested the program, I think there may have been a miscommunication about the intent/outcome, or perhaps it just sounded like such a cool idea that some of the more questionable aspects didn’t get the scrutiny they could have, but when Matt approved trying the idea as an experiment it sounded more like it would keep themes rotating through the Featured section for the benefit of users, not that people would be featuring their own themes in exchange for reviewing themes for the directory.


    • People choosing their own themes to feature. Basically, what this amounts to is a form of pay-for-play, where someone gives something of value (in this case reviewing time and expertise) in exchange for something of value (advertising in the form of a featured theme listing). That’s pretty much the opposite of how contributing to the WordPress project is supposed to work. No other team has that kind of tit for tat, nor should they. Recognizing contributors needs to be absolutely separate from formalized promotion of their products, businesses, etc.
    • Themes being chosen repeatedly. The featuring was intended to be a way to move more themes through that lineup (and not by putting more themes on that page), and though that page wasn’t getting the attention it deserved before the TRT program, we should still be working toward that goal. Any theme that is always on the Featured page might as well just be called a default theme; if someone thinks their theme is so awesome that it should basically be a default theme, then they should consider donating it to core as a potential base for the next year’s default theme.

    The goal of Featured Themes is to present people with a variety of quality themes they might not see otherwise. So featuring the most popular themes (which are already listed under Popular Themes) or the same themes month after month doesn’t really serve that goal. And telling people that if they volunteer their time they’ll be rewarded with advertising is pretty unfair to people volunteering in other areas of the project. Recognition is something we need to get better with, but we shouldn’t be using promotion of products — even if those products are free — as a reward. So! What does that mean for this program?

    Basically, it has to change. In talking to Matt, we came up with a few possibilities for the featured themes page:

    1. Abandon the program altogether, and use an algorithm to select featured themes to auto-rotate so there’s always something different there rather than a static selection for any period of time. Note: this is Matt’s preference.
    2. Switch to an algorithm to choose featured themes, but build in a feature for theme reviewers to suggest themes for inclusion that they reviewed and think are really good, so that it pulls from a pool recommended by TRT members (incentive or just in general, whatever).
    3. Keep the incentive program but put two rules in place: no one can feature their own theme, and no theme can be selected to be featured more than once in a six month period. That addresses both the project pay-for-play issue and the stagnation issue, but still retains the possibility of gaming the system (you choose my theme, I’ll choose yours, etc).
    4. Something we haven’t thought of but that addresses these issues.

    So. In the comments, I ask that you weigh in, with these caveats:

    1. Be constructive. No accusations, no name-calling, no anger. Just working toward a common goal. Your comment should move this conversation forward, not rehash old ones.
    2. Focus on the goals of the project and how this impacts users, the team, and the overall project, not your own personal goals. If you care about your own goals and not the goals of the WordPress project, that’s fine, but that’s not what project-wide decisions are based on, so it shouldn’t be the subject of a novel-length comment here.
    3. Think about other ways we can recognize (rather than reward) contributors on this team. Putting recognition on the pages of themes they’ve reviewed? Doing something like the about page they do for core but for the theme review team? Any and all suggestions encouraged, as long as they don’t veer into pay-for-play territory.

    Sorry if this bums you out. Hopefully we can resolve this quickly and painlessly so we can all get back to what we were doing. :) Thanks!

    • Rohit Tripathi 9:41 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

      The first 2 suggestions are actually great. Non Static featured themes is a good idea, and must be implemented. At least to experiment, to see how it goes.

    • Ulrich 9:57 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

      I like the first suggestion. The question that arrises, is how will the algorithm work?

      It would be nice to have a page with the top reviewers with a time filer to see for all time and for the last month. Something like the about page for core sounds good.

    • acosmin 10:01 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

      First two suggestions are quite awesome. It was starting to get frustrating to put a lot of time in a theme and knowing it will not get featured even a single day.

    • tskk 10:02 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

      #2, human input will enhance the algo results.

    • Matt Beall 10:14 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

      My vote is for #1 or #2, but two questions come to mind.

      First, in general, how would the algorithm work? We shouldn’t publicize the details of the algorithm, otherwise it may be able to be manipulated, but I’m curious how it would work in general.

      Secondly, how do we encourage involvement in reviewing themes? The incentive was a great way to get people involved, but it also only rewarded the top contributors, and didn’t recognize all the others. So how do we incentivize getting involved for everyone?

      One last thought: we don’t want reviewers to review their own theme, but reviewing a theme is the best way for a theme developer to understand the review process. Maybe instead of, or in addition to, an incentive program, we require or at least strongly recommend that theme developers review x theme(s) before submitting their own for review.

    • CyberChimps 10:15 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

      I’m glad something is being done on this front, at CyberChimps we felt the review contest was extremely unfair and biased. Our contributions these past few months felt more like extortion then they did volunteering.

      On the other hand, some consideration needs to be put in place as to which themes are featured.

      While the review process is designed to make sure all the themes on the repo are quality themes, the reality is a lot of them are not maintained, and the theme authors can’t support themes with as much traffic as a featured theme receives. Even at CyberChimps we’re struggling to maintain Responsive which is by far the most popular theme on the repo, and has been for over a year.

      We’re also not opposed to version 2.0 being considered as a default theme, but at very least we’d like to keep our work under our name if that is at all possible. @Jen please reach out to trent at cyberchimps dot com if this is something worth discussing with Matt.

      With all of this said, I’m fine with an algorithm, but the themes it should pool should be curated by a human.

      In other words, instead of the algorithm grabbing from all themes on the repo, it should only pool from a list of maybe say the top 100 themes on WordPress.org to ensure the themes are regularly updated and maintained.

      There needs to be a reliable theme author behind the featured theme to make sure it is being maintained and supported.

      • CyberChimps 10:51 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

        I’m fine with an algorithm, but the theme pool should be curated by a human.*

      • Chip Bennett 10:56 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink


        I would think that the 48 New Themes that are approved and Live in the directory as a result of @cyberchimpscode reviews in the past 90 days would be a point of pride – a reward in and of itself.

        That, after all, is the point of a community contributor group, isn’t it?

        As for the fairness to reviewers of the review incentive program: in those 90 days, 288 New Themes were made live, and 10 incentive winner “slots” were named over three months. 2 of those (20%) were @cyberchimps code, who completed 17% of the reviews of New Themes made live during that period. I’d say that the program – which was intended from the beginning to be a fun way to encourage more participation, rather than a serious contest with rigidly defined rules – accomplished its objective of fairness.

        Personally, I’m glad to see the program changing. I’ve wasted more time managing a program that ended up getting taken way too seriously, which detracted from my time available for actual TRT admin duties.

        • Jen Mylo 11:04 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

          That, after all, is the point of a community contributor group, isn’t it?

          Yes, it is, flat out. Anyone expecting any form of reward or compensation other than feeling good, knowing you’re helping the project and that your volunteer efforts are helping millions of people, and recognition by your peers in the project, has expectations that are not in line with project values. For wp-based businesses, it’s considered an investment in the platform upon which the business is based (instead of, say, license fees ike proprietary platforms would charge).

          Ask not what WordPress can do for you, but what you can do for WordPress. :)

        • CyberChimps 11:07 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

          Numbers do not justify the cost and harm to the community.

          I’ve never seen pay-to-play rules in the WordPress community before, and I had never seen contributions being punished before either.

          We use to contribute reviews to contribute to the community, not for some reward of being featured.

          Due to the review contest we were forced to pull our developers away from doing what they do best, which is developing themes, and instead were forced to do theme reviews to keep our themes relevant. That is why it felt like extortion.

          To make matters worse our reviews were being disqualified from the contest if we made even a minor mistake for rules that are mostly subjective and mostly a matter of opinion.

          I don’t really care how many reviews were conducted or what the numbers are, contributions shouldn’t be forced.

          • Jen Mylo 11:11 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

            You’ve never seen it because it gets cut off before it gets that way, as other areas have much tighter oversight by project leaders/Matt. I have told MANY potential contributors thanks but no thanks when they offered to give us something awesome (code, video content, docs, etc) but wanted proprietary credit. We tend not to dwell on the bad things, and promote the good.

          • tskk 11:13 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

            Nobody forced anyone to compete.

          • Jen Mylo 11:13 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

            No contribution is forced. Period. If you were doing it just for the possibility of getting to promote your own theme on the Featured Themes page, then that’s pretty much the definition of pay for play. Anyone who isn’t here for love of the project/the work is absolutely encouraged to spend their volunteer hours with a cause that will give them those good feelings. No one should be building a business model around the site pages of wordpress.org.

            Further, I specifically asked for comments to focus on the discussion of what to do with the program moving forward, not to rehash old complaints, so please stick to that. Thanks.

          • Chip Bennett 11:31 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

            I would like to address this point, because it is important for moving forward:

            Numbers do not justify the cost and harm to the community.

            In the eight months since the inception of the program, 691 New Themes have been approved and made live in the Theme Directory. That equates to 1,036 Themes in a 12-month period. If you recall from Matt’s last State of the Word address, he mentioned that 300-some New Themes had been added to the directory.

            The review incentive program contributed to four times as many New Themes being added to the Directory. And that doesn’t even get into the considerable reduction in turn-around time for Themes to be reviewed (ah, yes: the glory days of 60-day waits in the review queue). Nor does it address the almost three thousand Updates to approved Themes that were reviewed and approved during that same, 8-month time period.

            That also doesn’t address the many developer comments I saw in the Trac tickets, thanking the reviewers for helping them through the review process, expressing appreciation for how helpful their reviewer was, and saying that they learned a lot through the process. (That’s a remarkable change from what used to be the typical response: frustration and resignation.)

            Those, far from being harm to the community, are measurable, demonstrable benefits to the community.

            It is that benefit that I want to ensure we maintain, in whatever changes we make to the review incentive program. To be honest, I’m not especially confident, given the amount of energy that was expended into the rules of the incentive program, rather than in working to improve the quality of reviews, and finding ways to work together as a team.

            So, I don’t plan to have much input on the discussion here. I’d like to see what the whole team has to say, and what we can come up with, as a consensus, for how to move forward.

      • Jen Mylo 11:06 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

        Any interest in contributing to a default theme should be directed to Matt. That said, no, we would not keep anything in a company name. That’s not really how contributing code works here. When something is contributed, it gets hammered on and changed by a bunch of people, and the default themes all carry worrdpressdotorg as the author, even if only one person wrote and designed most of it.

        • CyberChimps 11:17 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink


          We’d just hate to give up the name Responsive, but perhaps a better alternative would be to contribute our 1.x code base, and then still release 2.0 under CyberChimps. Best of both worlds that way.

          Will think on this.

          • Jen Mylo 11:19 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

            That’s always an option. The themes that went into some previous default themes live on as separate entities.

    • arpowers 10:17 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

      Great, to hear you guys have figured this out!

      It seems to me that ‘featuring’ has a specific role in a marketplace (and economics).

      Specifically ‘featuring’ helps prevent good products from getting buried from products already on the leaderboard. For example, this is how Apple views featured Apps on the App Store for example. It’s all about visualizing things and giving good products a chance.

      TL;DR – If you guys want to do it correctly, then featuring is somewhat of a soft art, but it has a clear function. Admins should select featured themes monthly, objectively, based on an application and peer review. You can’t fight economics.

    • eminozlem 10:27 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more. It seems for reviewers, promoting their own theme is a huge motive to make more reviews. I too don’t like the section to be occupied by biased themes and same themes.
      So, the best would be a hybrid solution ie; If there are 10 featured themes; make 6 of them a random selection, 4 of them reviewer’s choice, like it’s right now. That could make everyone happy.

      As for the algorithm, I think everyone should be taken into account.
      1- Download count. (Should be calculated together with time. Otherwise older themes would gain advantage)
      2- Rating. ( Should be calculated together with number of reviews, Otherwise 5* theme with only 3 reviews would win over one with 4.8 rating with 155 reviews)

      • tskk 10:29 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

        Downloads and ratings can be manipulated.

      • Chip Bennett 10:44 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

        Ratings are broken, and, in their current implementation, irrevocably so.

    • tskk 10:55 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink

      This is off topic, since the decision is already made to scrap the program, but did you guys have any plan to deal with the issue of 2 months waiting time or will that be something theme authors have to live with?

    • Bryan Hadaway 12:06 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      Let’s look at the program in a purely objective way.

      What’s the point of the program? To get more reviews done, faster and ultimately get more themes approved. Why is that important? Because, the more themes and plugins there are available to the end-user, the more popular WordPress becomes. Why is that important? Because WordPress is a product of Automattic, a business, like any other. The more popular the brand/trademark is, the more people use it, the more people use it, the more money it makes, through affiliated hosting referrals, through .com services etc.

      WordPress.org is an upsell to WordPress.com (regardless of any idealism held by WordPress being open source software under the WordPress Foundation, which is great, or even regardless of intention, that’s still the reality of it), just like a lot of our free themes are upsells to premium versions.

      That’s the objective bottom line of any business, understandably and there’s nothing wrong with that.

      The program works, period. All of these things are being accomplished.

      However, subjectively, people simply don’t like the program, regardless of the fact that it works. That to me, seems like the problem that needs to be addressed.

      It’s an Incentive Program, again, that’s INCENTIVE Program.

      Basically, I see only 2 options being presented to us:

      1. Retire the incentive program.
      2. Remove all the incentives, but keep the program. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, how is that different than removing the incentive program? If there’s no additional incentive, then the program simply dissolves.

      There are a lot of unpaid volunteers, theme developers, plugin developers, reviewers, admins etc that keep the project alive and popular. Yes, it is our choice to volunteer our time to help out, but let’s not demonize receiving incentives in return for our effort like it’s some dirty, unethical thing.

      There’s no such thing as a purely selfless act, so please, let’s stop pretending and stop spinning the desire for gain with a negative connotation.

      We all gain something from the project (ALL of us), for one or all of these reasons:

      • It’s fun to volunteer
      • It makes us feel good to help out
      • It’s fun to build something that other people actually use
      • It’s a good way to stay sharp and keep informed about web design trends and best practices
      • We use WordPress for client projects (and our own projects)
      • We make products for WordPress for monetary gain

      Matt is a millionaire because of WordPress after all, we’re not really going to continue to spin incentive as a negative are we?

      I personally use/have used WordPress for all these things, I love WordPress and I receive incentives daily from contributing to the project. These are all good things.

      One hand washes the other. That’s the true spirit of WordPress and really, any community in general. We wouldn’t do it if it served no benefit to us. It’s called being human.

      I vote that we keep the program, which must include logical incentives or there’s no program at all. If Matt thinks volunteers receiving incentive is wrong, of course the program will and should be removed, but I think if we could address what about its current implementation people find unfair, that would be the most constructive and productive approach.

      Here are my thoughts for an actual solution for the main Theme page. Keep the program exactly the way it is now (with maybe a few minor tweaks), only change the design of wordpress.org/themes to have 5 even columns/blocks of listed themes, in this order:

      • Featured
      • Reviewer Recommended
      • Popular
      • New
      • Updated

      Featured will be admin picked and “Reviewer Recommended” or just “Recommended” will be what the incentive program is for. Yes, reviewers should still be able to pick their own theme, that’s what drives competition (another word that’s not a bad word) and makes the program work in the first place.

      Fairness. I don’t see why there’s even a fairness problem to begin with. Anyone that can submit their own theme and get it approved can also review other themes. It’s entirely someone’s choice how much they want to contribute. Those who choose to contribute the most should naturally receive the most incentive. That’s the way the world works.

      For the record: This comment is not made in a rude or accusatory or off-topic or angry manner. It’s just an honest and calm construction of my thoughts on the issue.

      Thank you.

      • tskk 12:23 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        If there is a vote, then i would vote to keep the program at least the earlier version.

        Removing the incentive of not selecting our own theme will bring back the problem of 2 month wait time. Volunteer reviewers can only do a little, 2 month wait time is after the volunteer effort.

        Only other viable alternative is to hire full time reviewers.

        • Chip Bennett 1:24 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

          If people stop contributing because the “incentive” goes away, then the entire Review Incentive program was a failure from the start. Regardless of how many more Themes were approved, and how much the review queue wait-time was solved, if that all came about only because of the pay-to-play aspect of the program, then we failed.

          • Bryan Hadaway 1:27 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

            I don’t think so.

            The problem isn’t really an objective one, but a subjective one.

            2 + 2 always equals 4 even if not everyone agrees on the method 4 was reached. That’s really what we’re talking about.

            The program works.

            • Chip Bennett 1:33 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

              I’m not a believer that the end justifies the means. The Theme Review Team is a community contributor group. It exists to give people an opportunity to contribute to the WordPress project. There are many benefits inherent in participation in the Theme Review Team: become a better Theme developer by learning more best practices, help other developers get their Themes approved and listed in the Theme Directory, and help ensure end users have a wider variety of the highest quality Themes they can find anywhere.

              Those are the reasons the Theme Review Team exists. If the Review Incentive program caused the team to lose sight of its raison d’etre, then yes: the program failed, and needs to be replaced with something that similarly advances those objectives without turning the Theme Review Team into a pay-for-play operation.

            • Bryan Hadaway 1:40 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

              @Chip – Agreed, I was here before the incentive program and I’ll be here after, but I did review more with an incentive because I could justify the time spent more. I think that’s the ideal.

              I think a simple pros and cons list would still prove the program useful.

          • tskk 1:30 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

            I think it all came from only that aspect, but i will be happy if proven wrong.

            • tskk 1:34 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

              correction : not all, but most of it.
              A few reviewers were there before the program and continue to do so and will continue to do so.

            • Bryan Hadaway 1:37 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

              @tssk – I was one of those reviewers that was there before the incentive and will be there when it’s gone. I’m not going to lie though, I reviewed way more with an incentive than without because it allowed me to justify allocating my time away from other things I was working on.

      • Jen Mylo 12:29 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        WordPress.com is a product of Automattic, but WordPress is not. Have you checked out .com lately? They have a vastly different user experience, and lots of developers that do not have anything to do with .org.

        I also think you have it backwards… if anything, we generally pitch .com as the entry-level freebie, with self-hosted/.org being the kind of site you ‘graduate’ to when you need more complex stuff.

        • Bryan Hadaway 1:23 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

          “WordPress.com is a product of Automattic, but WordPress is not.”

          Yes, I know that. But, that’s only a legal technicality.

          “if anything, we generally pitch .com as the entry-level freebie, with self-hosted/.org being the kind of site you ‘graduate’ to when you need more complex stuff”

          I also understand this.

          Both of your points I already expanded on and rebutted in my original comment, because I had already predicted someone would say .com is a “product” of Automattic and .org is a “project” of the WordPress Foundation. We’re talking about words, not function.

          I’m referring to the reality of brand building as seen from the consumer’s eyes and the bottom line dollar reality, not what’s written on paper. The point I’m making is that every little thing volunteers do to contribute to WordPress.org, builds up the name of the “WordPress” trademark overall. Without the popularity of .org, .com wouldn’t make as much money. Keeping in mind that .org also directly makes money via wordpress.org/hosting. But that’s of course chump change in comparison.

          Again, it doesn’t matter what the legal technicalities or the intended ideals are, the reality remains unchanged. Matt and other paid employees gain direct (not indirect like “feeling good”) incentive from our efforts, why is it a problem for us to receive direct incentive in return? Again, one hand washes the other. Community is about give and take, not hierarchy. In that case, we really are talking about volunteers being employees, admins being managers and Matt being our boss.

          Of course, I don’t expect Chip or Emil to all of sudden get paid for their hard work or any volunteer for that matter. We are here by choice. But, to be able to feature a theme (that in and of itself is a contribution) for our contribution efforts of reviewing themes for others seems like a very mildly generous incentive, not something to feel bad about or frown upon. That’s pretty disheartening to say the least.

          Again, that’s great that Matt and company is so successful, I’m casting no negative shadow on that whatsoever. What I’m talking about is the double standard that’s been presented here.

          But, we can get deeper and deeper into the philosophical state of the issue, and we’ll probably just rest that portion on disagreeing and move onto the next…

          Do you have any thoughts on my proposed solution? I don’t think it would be too difficult to implement and maintain and I feel like it kills two birds with one stone.

      • Sami Keijonen 7:36 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        Very good points Bryan, I pretty much agree all of them. And your our solution seems best so far. I’d like to add some kind of random theme section. Also default Twenty themes should not be featured all the time. They should be treated like any other theme.

        Community is a two way street. It’s not just about giving, it’s also about getting.

      • Zulfikar Nore 11:17 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        +1 to “Let’s look at the program in a purely objective way.” and everything else Bryan said!

    • Carolina Nymark 12:45 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      I dont mind nr1 or 2, but I wish there was a way to make sure theme authors are actually ready to submit a theme. I mean the que will go back to two months because there are so many themes that goes into the “not approved” bin and you put time and effort into a review and the authors don’t bother to try and fix it. The incentive should be the authors not the reviewers.

    • Josh Pollock 1:34 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      This isn’t a vote, or an opinion about what to do, it’s just a comment:

      I actually stopped reviewing themes soon after the incentive program started.

      I started reviewing themes, like a lot of people, when I looked up how to submit my own theme, and saw that it involved a 6-8 week wait and thought “that sucks, but this looks like a good way to contribute to WordPress.” So I started reviewing themes and learned a lot from doing it. This was the first thing I did to contribute to the WordPress community.

      Then the incentive program came along and at if there were ever tickets available, they were always “problem” tickets. So it became way less fun and I stopped. I didn’t feel bad as the queue wasn’t 6 weeks long anymore, which is great.

      Since then I’ve started contributing to the community in many other ways. I’m not upset, I like the fact that themes get reviewed quickly and I’m just saying that before theme reviews was a competition, it was a gateway to becoming an active contributor to and participant in the community.

      • Chip Bennett 1:40 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        Your experience is a big part of why I knew the program was in trouble when I had to post about not hogging or selectively assigning tickets. Despite all of the good that resulted, it turned Theme Review into a competition. I would rather see 100 people review and approve one new Theme a month, than have a dozen people fight over a competition.

        • Jen Mylo 1:59 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

          One of the other infrastructure improvements I’d like to propose if we have bandwidth is a ticket assignment system that works like a customer service call center, where it just assigns the next theme in the queue to whoever’s next (or whoever is next with the right qualifications) so that cherry picking isn’t just discouraged it becomes pretty much impossible.

          • Zulfikar Nore 11:20 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

            “or whoever is next with the right qualifications”

            What would be the “right” qualification and how would that be determined?

            • Chip Bennett 11:40 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

              I think Jen is referring to the “reviewers” group in Theme-Trac – the group that has ticket-assigning and ticket-closing privileges.

    • Drew Strojny 2:12 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      Observing this from a distance it certainly looks like paid compensation for reviews. Almost all the winners are featuring for profit themes. If you’re selling freemium themes, being featured in the theme directory is like rocket fuel for that business model. The “cost” of reviewing themes is incredibly cheap for the real dollar return you’ll get on that work. If you were selling those featured spots they’d probably go for a few thousand dollars a month or more.

      When you receive something of significant dollar value for work performed, it’s called compensation, even if it isn’t real dollar bills in your pocket. I think we’re just seeing basic economic realities play out here.

      My vote is for a completely randomized featured theme list. It’s simple and it takes the drama out of the whole thing. This will eventually turn the “popular” list into a meritocracy, which I’ve always felt it should be.

      There is no point in subjectively choosing featured themes unless the person or persons choosing the themes has absolutely zero incentive bias. They shouldn’t be selling themes themselves, affiliated with anyone selling themes, or doing freelance work for someone selling themes. This is hard to accomplish in such a small and tight knit community. Even just being friends with someone might make you more likely to feature their theme.

      • Jen Mylo 2:17 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        If comment likes were in Jetpack already, I would totally “like” this comment. :)

      • Bryan Hadaway 2:24 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        You have some good points here, but you’re also not offering a solution.

        The incentive program was put in place because theme reviews were absolutely stagnant. It was taking months for theme developers to get their themes approved, that is, if they didn’t give up altogether first.

        The trac (https://themes.trac.wordpress.org/) is an absolute graveyard of abandoned themes.

        I think those of us who actually review themes, as well as submitting our own themes have a much better insight into this issue. A lot of you are only looking at one side of the issue because you really don’t understand the whole picture, first-hand.

        • Drew Strojny 2:46 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

          In my opinion the solution is to scale back the theme review standards so it isn’t such a colossal project to get a theme approved. This makes the reviewers job easier and the whole process less intimidating.

          It’s the same balance government has to strike when they pass laws. If you add too much regulation, it ends up stifling innovation. You need to keep tweaking until you find the right balance. At the moment, WordPress.org themes feel overregulated to me. I think the recent changes that Chip enacted are a step in the right direction.

          • Bryan Hadaway 3:12 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

            You’re right. I think that’s a very good solution, probably gets more to the root issue than anything else we’ve discussed so far.

            Honestly, the only mandatory checks should be for security, spam and bug issues. Any subjective design and function reviews we could probably do without.

            But then again, we’re probably just opening a whole new can of worms because naturally, there’s likely some who think we should only be more strict in our filtering of themes and what they’re allowed to do, not less.

            With that, I guess we’ll see what those in charge decide.

            • Chip Bennett 11:34 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

              There are no “subjective design and function” Guidelines. We even down-rated the entire Theme Unit Tests to recommended.

              Security issues are where most (especially, new) reviewers struggle the most. Security issues generally derive from Theme Settings, which are the one aspect of Themes that have the highest learning curve. So, eliminating everything but security issues really won’t help the review process at all.

              And I disagree that the other aspects of the Theme Review Guidelines aren’t important. Ensuring that the Theme uses proper hooks, enqueues scripts and stylesheets properly, separates presentation from functionality, uses proper core functions, and maintains a consistent UX are all important. Directory-hosted Themes should play well with core and with Plugins, and should provide as consistent user experience as possible from Theme to Theme. These may seem like unimportant issues to some Theme developers, but they are certainly important to end users, to core, and to WPORG.

              But wholesale changes to the Guidelines really are a separate discussion, that would only sidetrack this one.

          • Ulrich 6:45 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

            Only have security checks part of the review process would make the reviewers job easier but I don’t think this the best solution.

            The problem that I find is that a number of themes that are submitted are half baked or are just submitted so that they have a theme on the repository and somehow is free marketing for their company. These are the themes that you spend the most time and normally the theme author has put no effort to read the guidelines.

            I would love to see lower number of themes but more quality themes.

            Perhaps even require theme developers to review themes before submitting them.

          • Frank Klein 8:50 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

            In my opinion the solution is to scale back the theme review standards so it isn’t such a colossal project to get a theme approved.

            I disagree with this, because it values quantity over quality. In my opinion, the problem with WordPress themes isn’t that there aren’t enough of them. There are just not enough good ones.

            We can’t review for design, but we can review for code quality and observance of best practices.

            I think that the biggest problems right now for theme reviews is that the process is entirely manual. You have to open the theme files, verify a whole laundry list of things and type up a report with all the issues you find.

            It also requires the reviewer to be an experienced developer and often to dig through code that may not be easy to read because it lacks things such as basic formatting.

            It’s very time consuming and repetitive, which is why it isn’t fun. It also wastes human brain power on things that machines could detect easily.

            So instead of lowering standards and thus reducing the quality of themes in the repository, we should look at our review process, note the things that could be automated and write tests for it in the Theme Check Plugin.

            Because if we invest the time to write a check that saves a minute for every review, we end up saving hours of reviewers’ time due to the volume of submissions.

            AFAIK, the Theme Check Plugin is not on Github, which would be a first step towards accepting community contributions.

            • Jose Castaneda 11:05 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

            • Ian Stewart 4:59 pm on April 21, 2014 Permalink

              instead of lowering standards and thus reducing the quality of themes in the repository, we should look at our review process, note the things that could be automated and write tests for it in the Theme Check Plugin.

              Because if we invest the time to write a check that saves a minute for every review, we end up saving hours of reviewers’ time due to the volume of submissions.


            • alex27 3:22 pm on April 24, 2014 Permalink

              Amen to that! This would go a long way towards reducing the queue without incentive program.

      • Philip Arthur Moore 3:24 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        Spot on.

      • Frank Klein 9:05 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        My vote is for a completely randomized featured theme list. It’s simple and it takes the drama out of the whole thing. This will eventually turn the “popular” list into a meritocracy, which I’ve always felt it should be.

        Absolutely. I think that the proposed solution #1 is the best way to approach this. The algorithm doesn’t have to be complicated.

        The only two things that I would check for in this code is to make sure that themes that weren’t updated in a while don’t make the featured section and keep a list of the already featured themes during a certain time period (6 months? A year?) so that a theme isn’t featured too often.

    • Konstantin Kovshenin 7:31 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      I think #1 is the best approach.

    • Stanko Metodiev 9:18 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      I like the general idea of this initiative, but different people understands contribution differently. I like #1, but it would be great to have place where top reviewers could list their themes

    • nikeo 9:30 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      Let’s have a quick look at the different actors of the game and their “interests” here :

      • wp.org => featuring the best of what you can do with WordPress. This contributes to keep its position of first open source CMS in the world. This of course benefits to the WP.com business=> brings a huge popularity, talented developers, ideas, etc…
      • users => finding awesome free WordPress themes and beeing sure that they work fine and contain no malicious code
      • theme developers => beeing able to propose their work and ideas whithout waiting for weeks, having the possibility to support their theme’s users, build a freemium business
      • theme reviewers => contributing to a great project. But since this review activity is the key of success for everyone, it seems that some kind of reward/incentive is normal.

      Like @chipbennett highlighted it, looking at the theme review stats, the incentive program has brought really great results. Both from a user perspective => more great themes beeing available in the rep and from a developers perspective => faster reviews of course.
      To me, abandon this program and all the efforts that have been put into would not be optimal then.

      That says and following @jenmylo and @matt ideas, I think that an adapted solution #2 would be the best :
      Use an algorithm to select featured themes and keep the incentive program.
      How? The featured themes list would be a monthly merged list curated both by the TRT admins and the other half by the top reviewers of the month.
      Let’s say we keep the idea of 10 featured themes. The theme review admins would choose 10 themes and the reviewers would choose another 10. The algorithm would then randomly grab 10 themes among this pool of 20.
      With this solution, reviewers should still be able to choose their own themes and would have a statistically significant chance to see their theme featured. All other actors : wp.org, users and developers, could also benefit from it.

      Thanks for opening this discussion!

    • Greg Priday 9:44 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      I’d like to see #1 for the featured themes list. A weighted randomized list of themes that takes into account downloads, rating and newness. We could also allow admins or other trusted community members to boost themes they like so they generally land up higher on the featured themes list.

      This way we could keep the incentive program if we wanted to (it did solve the 2 month queue problem). We’d just allow the winners to give their theme a small, month-long boost in the algorithm. Maybe something that would translate to ~50 extra downloads per day.

      At the moment, incentive program winners are getting 1000+ additional downloads/day on their themes. I wouldn’t be surprised if this worked out to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in monthly sales. That’s far too much of a bonus for what should be a fun little program.

      • Schwarttzy 11:44 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        Not a fan of the newness part. I think old theme should enjoy the spot light from time to time.

    • Zulfikar Nore 11:33 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      If a decision to abandon the incentive program has been made then #1 is the viable alternative.

      The only reason the program should be abandoned thought is because it is no longer what it was meant to be and we should not loose sight at what the program actually achieved, cut down the waiting Que :) – to me that is in no way a “failure”.

      Just my 2 cents :)

      • Schwarttzy 11:47 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        It has serious problems, when themes are being check out the second they get uploaded. Means the reward is way too high.

    • Schwarttzy 11:42 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      I’m so up for changes! I’m sick of these people blasting their theme month after month.

    • tskk 11:50 am on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      Out of the 10,
      2 for twenty somethings
      4 for best themes feature wise, decided by TRT admins/reviewers, these can be unseated only by themes with even better features.
      4 themes from last month’s new themes voted by TRT admins and reviewers who reviewed at least 5 tickets last month.

      • Chip Bennett 12:01 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        Note: the Twenty-Somethings are separate from the 10. Also: 10 isn’t a fixed number.

    • ThinkUpThemes 12:26 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      Removing 100% a program that has contributed so significantly to improving the theme review process is highly illogical and is a major step back. I struggle to see any sense in entirely removing a program which will result in the theme review process becoming a lengthy and cumbersome process. Surely an objective of any operation, whether it be for profit or not for profit, is to deliver a service in a streamlined and efficient manner? The review incentive program helped achieve this.

      Also considering @Chip comment “a remarkable change from what used to be the typical response: frustration and resignation” I would hate to see WordPress be viewed in this light again, particularly by potential .org theme authors, who are essential in ensuring the continued growth and future success of WordPress. Theme developers will simply go elsewhere, to other platforms or even marketplaces. We might brush this off and say “let them go”, however this would be a terrible attitude as for me it will indicate the start of the fall for WordPress.

      I personally think that competition is great, it drives developers and others to push their themes to be even better. As surely if they have an opportunity to become featured, they are more likely to bring to market a product that looks great, works fantastic and ultimately represents WordPress in a positive light. Removing the incentive program 100% will remove the friendly competition that’s currently in place and will inevitably result in reviewers going elsewhere. However if change is required, then lets approach the issue and seek a resolution in a manner that aims to satisfy all parties.

      I should stress that I don’t believe reviewers will actively seek to abandon their involvement with the review team, however this will happen due to the realities of life. If a reviewer is able to identify an “opportunity” elsewhere for them to gain exposure for their theme then it’s likely they will pursue the opportunity.

      Any incentive program that does not allow a reviewer an opportunity to benefit, I’m sad to sad, is not going to work. No matter how much we all believe it will. In this case I agree with many above that #1 is the most viable option.

      • ThinkUpThemes 12:27 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        Just a note, change is always a good thing. So I’m excited to see what’s next in store for the review process. :-)

    • Justin Tadlock 3:38 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      I originally thought the incentive program might be a good thing because the winners would choose themes that they actually reviewed during the month to be featured. Their reward would be to choose a theme that they found interesting, thought was good, etc. That’s the only way I would really like to see incentive program stick around.

      I’ve seen a number of good themes come through since the program started that have no chance of being featured though, and that’s something I’d like to see changed.

      But, we have to look at why the incentive program was introduced in the first place to get at the root of the problem. That problem is that we have way too many themes coming in and not enough reviewers/time to do full-scale reviews, which creates about a 2-month long wait time before a submitted theme is ever looked at. Then, it could be another month or so before the theme is ever approved (we’ve taken major steps in improving this second wait time with how we now do reviews).

      Therefore, we need to look more closely at why it takes so long to get these reviews done. I don’t believe this is a secondary topic or unrelated. All of these things are intrinsically tied together. What we’ve done over the past few years is create a review system that introduces a high barrier to entry for theme authors and makes for long and arduous reviews for reviewers. There are a lot of good reasons for our guidelines, many of which I’ve taken part in creating. However, this is probably an area we need to take a long, hard look at because it is what has led to the situation we currently have.

      Something has got to give somewhere because I don’t think any of us want to go back to the days where we had those 2-month long wait times. Like it or not, the review incentive program fixed that. While changing how themes are featured is good, we need a way to fix the problem if we drop the incentive program. We can’t fix one problem without addressing the other.

      On the specific subject of featuring themes, here’s what I’d like to see:

      1) All reviewers should get an opportunity to propose a theme (not their own) to be featured. At the end of the month, the admins choose from any themes proposed by the reviewers.

      2) The algorithm approach. Of themes not specifically chosen by the theme review team, they should be auto-rotated.

      3) Themes that are chosen as featured should not be featured for more than a month nor should they be chosen again within a specific time-frame (3 months, 6 months, year, etc.).

    • ThinkUpThemes 3:58 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      I like points 2 & 3, however there are a number of issues introduced with point 1. A number of theme reviewers, especially those heavily involved during the incentive program run their own theme shops, many of which are small businesses. Do you truly believe that someone who runs a small business will (or can afford to) spend the amount of time they’re currently doing so to review themes without even the potential of benefiting their own business?

      It sounds great, however lets all be honest. If we all truly took actions solely out of the kindness of our own hearts to help others without the need for recognition or benefit, then we’d all be volunteering at our local hospices. This is simply the reality of it. So I really do hope that when arriving at a solution we are realistic in our expectations on how it will impact the review process.

      I’m fairly new to WordPress and honestly am truly grateful for this whole project. The reality is that reviewers can still build successful theme shops without ever being featured (e.g. Elegant Themes, StudioPress, and the many MANY theme authors on ThemeForest).

      Please lets not alienate our theme reviewers and punish them for wanting to benefit their own situations whilst working to developing WordPress. If we do this then the experienced reviewers (who I would assume it’s safe to say are also experienced developers) will simply go elsewhere. Then we’ll be left with a situation where the majority of the review team consists of those that are new to WordPress reviews, and therefore less experienced, and possibly stick around for less time as they do not even have a prospect of benefiting. Inevitably those that will suffer are the admin, prospective .org theme authors and eventually the WordPress users that are left with low quality themes which are rarely updated and developed by inexperienced developers.

      I say we return to the old program where only 3 reviewers can get featured. There’s no need to completely scrap something that is working and greatly benefiting the community.

      • Chip Bennett 4:09 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        I just did a quick count; we have about 150 people with “reviewer” privileges. We’re currently approving just under 100 New Themes per month. If every person with “reviewer” privileges reviewed one New Theme every two months, we would be able to keep up with the review queue. (That’s not counting Theme Updates, of course; but those are much simpler, diff-reviews.)

        We say that we want quality-over-quantity for approved Themes; I think that we have reached a critical mass of reviewers that we can set a goal of quality-over-quantity for Theme reviews now, as well.

      • Jen Mylo 4:09 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        Do you truly believe that someone who runs a small business will (or can afford to) spend the amount of time they’re currently doing so to review themes without even the potential of benefiting their own business?

        That’s how contributing to WordPress works. Some people won’t do it without getting paid or rewarded, and that’s okay.

        • ThinkUpThemes 4:15 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

          Hi Jen,

          I should stress that I’m a part of the group that will still continue at my current rate of contributing. I don’t do many reviews, but do as much as I can afford to. Lets just hope that every reviewer has this view. However, I do believe that we’ll have a drop off from reviewers that are running small businesses. Hopefully though this wont impact the review queue too much. Like I said I’m new, and grateful for everything everyone here is doing. :-)

          @chip. I didn’t know we had so many reviewers! in that case, maybe my predicted impact wont be as significant as I’d thought.

          • Jen Mylo 4:38 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

            Don’t second guess yourself. Removing the possibility of featuring your own theme will definitely mean some people don’t participate anymore, or at least at the same level. What I’m getting at is that that’s how the WordPress project works, and the loss is something we’ll deal with. Just like if someone has a job that pays for them to contribute to core loses that job and doesn’t want to put in as much time anymore because they ant to spend more time on paying work or other hobbies — it’s a built-in expectation in open source projects.

            • ThinkUpThemes 4:42 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

              “Don’t second guess yourself.”

              Not sure what you mean? :-)

          • Chip Bennett 12:09 am on April 20, 2014 Permalink

            I’m not sure I understand why those with commercial Theme shops are really any different from those without commercial Theme shops. We all have families, and day jobs, and other commitments and priorities. We are (or should be) all here because we want to contribute to the WordPress project and community. We do so because we prioritize that contribution for its own sake.

            Idealistic? Of course. But then, WordPress itself is idealistic.

      • Justin Tadlock 4:41 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

        No, I don’t believe all will continue reviewing as they do now and said as much above. I don’t think any of us believe that. The whole point of my post is that if we scrap the incentive program, we’re probably going to have to rethink other parts of the theme review process to be able to keep up.

    • Emil Uzelac 6:47 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      Quick Background.

      At the beginning I was not for the program, but it kind of grew on me.

      First it was great seeing this entire group of people at one place, reducing the ticket number and approving them quickly.

      What a fantastic feeling, @chipbennett and I were simply relieved.

      Soon after that we started getting poor reviews, tickets re-opened and some complaints from Theme authors. We figured that this was only a temporarily but we were wrong.

      Reviewer approves the Theme and admin evaluates each review before the Theme is “marked” live. After the evaluation admin decides the scoop and “holds the right” to re-open the ticket if the bare minimum is not set.

      So if you have 100 tickets, admin goes through all and tries our best not to re-open them because that can create more work for author, reviewer and delay the overall approval process.

      The contribution turned into competition and competition became a “battle”, not only among the reviewers, but also toward the TRT (not a healthy “relationship” if you ask me).

      Please note that program was just a trial and because of that we don’t have to go over a lengthy discussion to decide weather we need to continue or discontinue.

      • robin90 5:43 am on April 21, 2014 Permalink

        Can’t agree more on what Emil have said. The start of the incentive program was very good but slowly it has turned out to be an unhealthy competition. The number of tickets being reopened has increased lately and admins have to waste their time justifying themselves for the reopened ticket when the incentive winners were announced.

        The incentive program was just a trial and if more people are having problem with it then it’s fine that we close down it. But again a viable way should be there to reduce the number of tickets. We don’t want a month queue as used to be before the incentive program. Also I would like to see reviewers being rewarded for their work somehow, whether it’s via featured themes or any other way.

    • Jose Castaneda 9:52 pm on April 19, 2014 Permalink

      This doesn’t bum me out. When it was first introduced I liked the idea of empowering the reviewers and letting us share some cool ways of creating themes. As Justin mentioned previously it took a side step and wound up in this path. I really like the first implementation and think that the second could be very feasible.

      When I first chose to start reviewing themes it was to give back to the community. If it benefits me that’s fine. If it can benefit everybody: even better.

    • Catch Themes 1:27 pm on April 21, 2014 Permalink

      Firstly thanks @chip and @emil for the hard work. This incentive program was opened with good intention and before of this, we have learned a lot. It’s not become a habit to review the theme. Closing the incentive program will be definitely increase the waiting time for theme review and approval. So, we should come up with alternatives. We will continue to support review even if there is no incentive. As learning and giving it to the community is what values the most while working in open source projects.
      Good Luck to @jenmylo and hope for the best one :)

    • Ian Stewart 5:08 pm on April 21, 2014 Permalink

      Abandon the program altogether, and use an algorithm to select featured themes to auto-rotate so there’s always something different there rather than a static selection for any period of time

      This is a great way to feature themes. A trending list based on downloads + usage stats + reviews + support requests. (That’s an unordered list of positives and negatives.) It would be the freshest, fairest, and fastest way to feature the finest themes.

      That said, there is something to be said about the power of subjectivity — despite Drew’s really great points. A human editor can make great lists that pull out beautiful, on-trend, themes from the directory like this:


      • Emil Uzelac 8:20 pm on April 21, 2014 Permalink

        I like it!

        @otto42 would something like this be hard to integrate?

      • carlhancock 8:43 pm on April 23, 2014 Permalink

        The problem with an algorithm to select features themes based on analytics such as downloads, usage and reviews is that it’s going to neglect NEW themes that might be amazing but because there are so many themes they got lost in the mix and don’t have the analytics behind them for the algorithm to then feature them.

        Popular themes just get more popular. New themes that could be popular get buried. Rinse. Repeat.

        With something like this, human curation has to be part of the equation.

        I’ll give a great example. Digg.com. How is that relevant? The original incarnation of Digg.com was something I never used because the frontpage of Digg looked like the frontpage of Reddit to be honest.

        A ton of useless funny pictures, videos, etc. I found it pretty juvenile for the most part and sure you could find something of interest but you had to search for it.

        After Digg was acquired and re-launched they added a heavy dose of human curation to the mix and have a staff dedicated to just that. It’s a mix of both an algorithm and human curation to determine what was featured on the homepage.

        I now visit Digg everyday because there is always interesting news, etc. features on the homepage because they do such a great job with the curation.

        The same applies to featuring themes. The human element has to be involved in order to make it more powerful.

    • Ulrich 6:59 pm on April 23, 2014 Permalink

      @emiluzelac, @chipbennett & @jenmylo – What is the next step? When will a decision be made? Will the current featured theme be featured till a decision has been made and implemented?


    • Greg Priday 11:03 am on April 25, 2014 Permalink

      Quick idea for a possible incentive that could replace the (outgoing?) incentive program.

      How about we add 2 fields to theme pages on WordPress.org? “Reviewed By” and “Last Update Reviewed By.” These could be links to the WP.org profile pages of the reviewers who initially approved the theme and who approved the most recent update respectively.

      Here are the benefits as far as I see it

      • Exposure for reviewers: These profile links would indirectly result in more eyeballs on their themes, plugins and website.
      • More accountability: Having their names publicly displayed on theme pages might encourage reviewers to do a more thorough job of reviewing.
      • Reputation for reviewers: Probably the biggest benefit for reviewers. Reputation within the community as an (active) reviewer.

      It might not be quite as effective as the old incentive program in keeping the review queue clean, but it should be enough to keep more reviewers interested and active.

    • Zane Matthew 12:26 am on April 28, 2014 Permalink

      My vote would be for #1 “Abandon the program altogether, and use an algorithm to select featured themes to auto-rotate so there’s always something different there rather than a static selection for any period of time. Note: this is Matt’s preference.”

      Honestly really really surprised its done the way its done, I mean why wouldn’t someone just keep on submitting their theme to be featured.

      Maybe they should not be able to feature their own theme?

      I mean, I remember in grade school plenty of times we had to vote for x, y, and z and it was always like “okay, class, no you can only vote once, but remember you can’t vote for your own idea.”

    • Zane Matthew 12:29 am on April 28, 2014 Permalink

      One idea might be for theme reviewers to have the number of themes they’ve reviewed featured on their WordPress profile page, or next to their theme and/or plugin.

      This would server as a type of quality assurance, were the person downloading the theme/plugin would say; “Oh wow this author has reviewed 56 themes, they work must be up to par.”

      • Jose Castaneda 6:28 am on April 30, 2014 Permalink

        Would be pretty neat but I think would take some time to gather all that information and sort it all out.

    • CyberChimps 9:56 pm on April 28, 2014 Permalink

      Month is coming to an end. What is the status of the program?

      • Emil Uzelac 3:00 am on April 29, 2014 Permalink

        Patience is a virtue friend :)

        • CyberChimps 6:19 pm on April 30, 2014 Permalink

          Just curious since tomorrow is the 1st.

          So are the existing featured themes going to remain feature indefinitely until this is figure out?

          • Zulfikar Nore 7:30 pm on April 30, 2014 Permalink

            If the incentive program is out then I don’t think it would be ideal to feature the current listed themes until a decision is made on the way forward.

            All current featured themes (but for the default ones) should be removed and the admins then pick any random themes they feel deserve to be on the list and feature those for this month – that would be a fair call IMO.

          • Emil Uzelac 9:33 pm on April 30, 2014 Permalink

            I know that you meant no harm :)

    • Manoj H L 4:06 am on May 1, 2014 Permalink

      My opinion incentive program is not that bad..
      out of 10 featured themes Twenty Fourteen, Twenty Thirteen will always be there and make only 3 featured themes from who ever the winner is… **only Three winners** so 5 so still their will be slot for 5 more themes now randomize the process of selecting these 5 themes.
      ;) this is just my idea!!!!

    • CyberChimps 12:49 am on May 6, 2014 Permalink

      Can someone explain what the criteria is to be featured now?

      • Emil Uzelac 4:18 am on May 6, 2014 Permalink

        Program is in recess until further notice.

        At this time, featured items are handpicked Themes based on Underscores.

        • tskk 1:37 pm on May 6, 2014 Permalink

          I have a ton of themes based on Underscores :)

        • Zane Matthew 12:13 pm on May 8, 2014 Permalink

          I’d love to know what classifies a theme to be “based” on Underscores. I base all my themes on Underscores in some form or shape, but they always ended diverging from the original code base.

    • Emil Uzelac 12:48 am on May 8, 2014 Permalink

      @CyberChimps that is not what I said.

      All I know is that featured section will no longer serve as a promotional tool.

      • Romik84 5:07 am on May 8, 2014 Permalink

        Finally! this is what I said two years ago and is the changehttp://wordpress.org/support/topic/featured-themes-section-boring?replies=26 . It’s kinda funny.

    • CyberChimps 1:30 am on May 30, 2014 Permalink

      So what the heck is the criteria now?

      It seems The Theme Foundry was just allowed an upsell theme in the featured list.

      As well as themes from a WordPress.org admin, an Audrey Capital blogger, and other theme shops.

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