WordPress.org

Theme Review Team

Welcome to the Theme Review team.

We are a group of volunteers who review and approve themes submitted to be included in the official WordPress Theme directory.

The Theme Review team maintains the official Theme Review Requirements, the Theme Unit Test Data, and the Theme Check Plugin.

We also engage and educate the WordPress Theme community regarding best practices for themes.

Interested in joining the Theme Reviewers team?

Great! The team is open to anyone who wants to help out, and the process is simple. To find out more just visit the Join The Team page.

Want to know more? There is a more information in the Theme Review Team’s Handbook and the Review itself.

Once you get a theme to review, you will also get a mentor to help you on the road to becoming a theme reviewer.

Weekly meetings

We use Slack for real-time communication. As contributors live all over the world, there are discussions happening at all hours of the day.

We have a project meeting every Tuesday at 18:00 UTC in the #themereview channel on Slack.

There is also a second meeting temporarily on Thursday at 18:00 UTC in #themereview

Recent Updates Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Justin Tadlock 5:43 pm on February 9, 2016 Permalink |  

    Can I have a slider and other things? 

    It seems that the team has to answer the question, “Can I have a slider/carousel/etc. in my theme?” almost weekly.

    The question is both simple and complex, if such a thing is possible. Stick with me for a moment while I explain. I hope this post helps answer your questions. Please ask any related questions in the comments.

    What is a slider?

    Sliders are nothing more than some HTML, CSS, and JS. So, when you ask, “Can I have a slider in my theme?” what does that mean? When I read that question, I’m reading, “Can I have some HTML, CSS, and JS in my theme?”

    Yes. One hundred times yes.

    TRT doesn’t care if you want to have a slider in your theme. Honestly, you can make your entire theme a slider. That’d actually be kind of cool.

    You described pretty much what a theme is: HTML, CSS, and JS. That’s the essence of a theme.

    The actual question

    Most often, the real question is whether you can put some options in your theme such as the following or a variation of it for each slide:

    • <input> box for the title.
    • <textarea> for the content.

    Theme options isn’t really the best place to save this sort of thing.

    All you’re really doing there is creating faux custom post types. If you’re interested in allowing users to create custom content, there’s a wide variety of plugins available for handling such things.

    However, there are paths you can go down:

    • Allow the user to choose a category/tag/etc. of posts.
    • Allow the user to select individual posts/pages.
    • Pull media from the media library.
    • Make a slider “sidebar” that can be populated with widgets.

    This is but a small sampling of ideas off the top of my head.

    The difference here is between creating and presenting content. It’s the age-old discussion in which we absolutely stand firm when we say that themes are meant to present content.

    The second actual question

    Yes, there’s another hidden question in that seemingly innocent question about the slider. It is, “Can I put my slider on the front page?”

    That depends.

    First, you must respect the user’s front page settings under Settings > Readings in the admin. If the user has chosen to display their blog posts on the front page, the theme should show blog posts.

    It should not show a slider, carousel, and some boxes, burying the blog posts way down at the bottom of the page. Leave that to custom page templates or when a “page” is meant to be shown on the front.

    There are exceptions though. You can certainly display the latest blog posts in “slider” format if that’s the design of your theme.

    The point here is that it’s not about the slider. It’s about showing the content that the user has explicitly chosen to display on their front page.

     
    • Carolina Nymark 6:12 am on February 11, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Thank you, very helpful post, hopefully this will help reduce some of the content creation that we see.
      But it is also striking to me that the user does not chose the default setting. The option to show the blog index on front must be available, but I’m not convinced that it has to be the default. That is why we need progress on the core ticket for static front pages.

  • Jose Castaneda 1:13 pm on February 8, 2016 Permalink |  

    Making a changelog work for you 

    In our most recent meeting we had an open floor. The subject of a changelog and standardizing the readme file was brought up. There have been several themes that are using changelogs but there are also several that are not.

    What is a changelog

    A changelog is a log or record of all the changes made to a project, such as a website or software project, usually including such records as bug fixes, new features, etc.

    As a theme author, a theme reviewer, or even a contributor to a theme this should matter because it gives you an idea of how the theme has changed and where things have changed as well. A well-cared and maintained changelog can be a very useful thing.

    With that in mind what constitutes for a good changelog? Is it a novel explaining why certain changes were made? Or is it like a mobile app that simply says, “minor bug fixes” when you read the notes? There are a few things that will help in making a better changelog. They are:

    • Listing versions in reverse-chronological order ( newest on top )
    • One sub-section per version
    • Group changes made per version
    • Don’t dump commit logs ( if using version control )
    • Emphasize deprecations

    So let us take a look at a sample changelog:

    == 1.2.3
    * Added `trt_column_classes()` to better handle layout options
    * Added `trt_sections()` to extend template parts
    * Fixed CSS header height when there was no image set
    * DEPRECATED `trt_body_styles()` in favor of `trt_body_clases`
    
    == 1.2.2
    * Fixed PHP array literal declaration for PHP5.4 and below
    * Added `clearfix` to gallery rows 
    * Changed phrasing of post byline for better context
    
    == 1.2.1
    * Added `trt.isFlickrStream()` to `main.js` to validate if input is a Flickr account or not
    * REMOVED `content-welcome.php` as it was not being used
    

    As you can see the above format is a great starting point and is taken from a combination of keepachangelog.com and the plugin’s readme standard.

     
    • Edward Caissie 1:50 pm on February 8, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great link to `keepachangelog.com`; didn’t know about that site! Thanks!

    • Maria Antonietta Perna 3:38 pm on February 8, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great example, thank you! Changelogs are very useful, I agree: developers can more easily keep track and make sense of changes and the reviewer’s job is made a bit easier by having a summary of what’s changed with respect to a theme’s previous versions.

    • InSightGraphicDesign 8:24 pm on February 8, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      If a theme changes css selector names (class names, etc.), or names of sidebars or functions, please list those changes, with both the old & new names, so that people using child themes can make the corresponding changes easily, when we install a parent-theme update, instead of having to figure out why the update broke something.

    • Drivingralle 3:24 am on February 9, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Getting support for changelogs like for plugins would be a great thing.

      If well maintained it enables users using child-themes to check if they maybe need to adjust it to a new feature or changes.

      I always try to read the logs of the themes I use on GitHub or there homepage. Getting this right into the admin would be a nice timesaver.

  • Justin Tadlock 5:34 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink |  

    Discussion: Advertising in themes 

    Advertising in themes is always a bit of a tough subject to discuss. It can be hard finding a balance between elegant marketing and providing a quality free theme that doesn’t get in the way of the user if they don’t want to purchase anything from you.

    Many on the theme review team have commercial ventures based on our free themes, so we’re all in the same boat.

    Recently, some people have pointed out some themes that might be taking things a bit too far in terms of marketing theme upsells (e.g., “pro” versions). We’re not really looking to fall into that trap of adding guidelines for everything under the sun though. That’s the old way of thinking.

    Providing users with high quality free themes is always our first concern.

    So, the team wants to put a question up for discussion: What solutions do you have in mind for balancing between providing free themes and upselling/marketing?

    This is an open discussion for users, theme authors, and theme reviewers. Please share your thoughts on anything related to this subject.

     
    • Frumph 5:40 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      .. really hate themes (and plugins) that add ‘click me’ links that are globally at the top of all pages, if the advertising stays within the theme options; it’s not really a big deal most of the time

    • Jan Dembowski 5:53 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I’m a theme user so I’ll add my 2 cents. 😉

      It’s difficult for me to quantify how much advertising is too much except I know what I like versus what I think is a little thick.

      There’s one theme author who’s advertising is limited to one moderately sized line in the Customizer. It’s a link to his site for purchasing a plugin that adds much more options and UI to the theme. I like that because it’s easy to find but it’s not intrusive. It doesn’t take over the theme settings page or dashboard.

      If a WordPress hosted theme creates a UI but all of those “pro” options are for show can can’t be used then that’s too far. Teasing the user shouldn’t be allowed IMHO.

      Excessive promotion is for me a reason to switch to another theme. As a solution perhaps theme reviewers can be provided example themes for comparison. “This one is acceptable, this other one it too far for the following reasons” that sort of thing.

      Subjective I know, but it’s one idea.

    • Sandy 5:53 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      If theme offers advance customization in pro version than it’s not big deal WordPress guidelines apply to every theme it is up to user can continue with free or go for advance. Because developer also spending his/her time to provide good product and may that only source of income for developer.
      This is my point of view may be you have diff. Thanks

    • Patryk Kachel 5:54 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      From my point of view it depends… I see 2 options:

      1. If we as a TRT want to shortening queue trust and educate authors – then should be no limits 🙂
      Just more education about UX.
      This can lead to many spammy themes and bad UX for users (but I’m not sure).

      2. Provide some rule i.e. one subpage under Appearance menu is enough and should be about current theme pro version – not about every author product/service. Some standard solution is good for authors, users and reviewers too. There is enough place for some useful informations and I feel it’s already popular solution.

      Personally when I see how many tickets are opened on trac I think we have too much rules…

    • Aristeides Stathopoulos 6:04 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Perhaps one of the best implementations I’ve seen is in the customizer of the Make theme…

    • zstepek 6:09 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Rules are great, but they are often ignored. A set of UX-focused guidelines for advertising premium features for a theme (pro version, commercial plugins that work with the theme, etc) and a policy for fast-tracking theme reviews for themes that follow the guidelines might be the best way to get theme creators to self-police. Example code that adheres tightly to the guidelines should be included with theme starters like Underscores to make the barrier to entry as low as possible.

    • smartcat 6:19 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      prevent theme developers from adding pages or anything outside of Customizer in the WP dashboard.
      This could be part of the theme review plugin, to check for add_theme_page, which i don’t believe is an issue right now.

      I think anything beyond that would be tough to govern in the theme review process, and would likely take a toll on the queue and the review process, as people might be subjective/opinionated about this issue.

    • smartcat 6:23 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      further to my previous comment, theme developers should be able to advertise in Customizer. Be it a link, button or callout.

      Some users will be annoyed if the theme developer adds panels that don’t actually do anything. Those users will probably opt out of purchasing the paid version, or choose a different theme. I think developers that over-advertise hurt themselves more than anyone else.

    • Micah Wood 6:26 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I hate the global nags, but have no problem with ads in options pages. Of course, now that the customizer is the default, there may be no options page to utilize.

    • RwkY 6:26 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      IMHO, an “check out the pro version” link in the theme options or description should be pretty enough.

    • Utsav Singh Rathour 6:35 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Something on the customizer is fine. Anything that adds a constant message on the header is most definitely a headache.

    • sidati 6:36 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I believe the author has the right to promote him self but he must produce really good theme for it, but we can force him to respect some rules like :

      • No global admin notices
      • No huge banners or only links are allowed.

      Something like that 😛

    • Ben Sibley 6:41 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Here’s my opinion as a theme author here who runs a business selling upsells.

      I originally had one advertisement in the theme options page. Perhaps it was the design, but it didn’t receive a lot of clicks. I got the impression that many people didn’t see it, and may not even visit the options page. I don’t need to spam people with ads, but I do need them to know that there is a premium upgrade. If they want more functionality, but don’t know about the upgrade, we both lose out.

      I later saw some other themes adding an advertisement to the top of the Customizer, and copied this in all my themes. I started getting a lot more visits to my sales pages, and thus more sales after that (see Tracks as an example).

      I later added “locked” sections in the Customizer to some of my themes (see Apex as an example). This has generated more visitors and sales, so if people are annoyed by it, there are comparatively more people who are lead to purchase. That said, I have gotten some criticism for this and I feel I may be pushing things a bit. If we reached a consensus that locked sections like that aren’t allowed, I would be okay with it.

      The one change I made that had a serious impact was the presence of the ad at the top of the Customizer. I just want users to realize there is a premium upgrade, and the Customizer ad accomplishes this.

    • kevinhaig 11:11 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      It seems to me that we have lost touch with WordPress.org repo being a place to provide themes that honor the concept of open source, under the spirit of GPL. I think many authors today view it as a place to market their themes first, and offer quality GPL themes second. In my opinion this needs to be reversed.

      I am without question in favor of up-sell, when it is done in a way that does minimal impact on user experience, and is not a primary focus for the theme. To that end I would like to see the following considered:

      1) Only one up-sell link in Customize. I have seen as many as 12 up-sell links in themes.

      2) No option panels or options behind a paywall. That is just not a cool user experience. I have seen themes where 80% of the options offered and multiple panels are behind paywalls. This is just not in the spirit of open source and GPL, in my opinion.

      3) Theme page is allowed but must only contain up-sell information about submitted theme. Up-sell for other themes offered by the author should not be permitted. I feel up-selling other themes crosses the line on submitting good quality open source themes to submitting themes for advertising.

      4) Theme Preview has become another area where authors use the default load primarily for advertising. In many cases the default load is made to look like a static landing page, that is ultimately filled with up-sell advertising. Again I find this is not cool.

      The intent of the default load is to show a blog index. In some cases authors insert sliders and features above the blog index so that it is well below the screen on initial load. There is only one reason this is being done and that is advertising.

      A good test for this is to check the standard blog index that is seen when the user is using a static front page load and sets the Posts page:blog. I will guarantee you that in cases where the Theme Preview default page is being abused, the Posts page will look entirely different, like a blog index page should.

      The big concern is there are different reviewers that have different opinions on this and you can consequently find many themes in repo that are doing this. Guidelines in this area are interpretive and results in an inconsistent approach. and an unlevel playing field(if that is the term).

      The default page load in Theme Preview should not be altered from the themes presentation of a blog index page and the intent of this default load should not be geared to advertising.

      These are my opinions, but ultimately I would certainly agree and support any decisions that are different.

      The bigger issue I think is ensuring all authors are treated consistently.

      Once a final plan is made, lets ensure approved themes also adhere to the guidelines.

    • Star Verte LLC 11:54 pm on January 26, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      WordPress.com has premium themes, why don’t we start letting premium themes exist on the WP.org site? Then, we can have a standard way of supporting updates, upgrades, and promotions for premium themes. Non-standard advertising and any advertising that gets in the way of a user performing basic actions is unacceptable and doesn’t belong in WP.org free theme territory. Short of supporting premium themes, the only advertising should be adding a single link/button on Appearance->Themes page and wordpress.org/themes/ page.

    • David Chandra Purnama 12:26 am on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      advertising in theme:

      1. admin notice
      2. link in customizer
      3. meta box in post edit screen
      4. dashboard meta box (is this allowed?)
      5. fake/blank customizer setting (unlock this feature with pro…)

      I think that’s the only possible way to advertise in wordpress.org themes?

    • dmccan 2:30 am on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I just installed Make and Tracks to see as examples. I think a small button or banner at the top of the left side of the customizer is fine.

      I’ve seen more problems with plugins than themes, but I guess my exposure is limited. Messages on every page that don’t go away are evil :).

      Thank you for asking for input.

    • acosmin 4:15 am on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Whar about aĺlowing advertising as it is now but make a rule to add a button in the Customizer to disable all ads?

    • Emil Uzelac 5:27 am on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Other than Make theme, I really like what Storefront has done with it: http://imgur.com/2F5SA5J. Page on its own and very clean 🙂

    • Creativecoon 8:32 am on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I think advertising in free themes feels a little gimmicky at the moment, I would go to some lengths to ban it from actual free themes. If an author wants to sell it’s theme, it would be in a special designated environment and not relying on free advertising from wp.org.

      Most of the authors rely on this because they are not accepted on TF guidelines and quality and/or they don’t agree on price/fees of the established marketplaces.

      My solution is to have a premium area where the authors can list their premium products and keep the free wp directory only with free themes (no ads, no links, no pro unlocks). Also, with the premium versions the quality needs to go up a notch.

    • Andrew 11:25 am on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I think advertising commercial plugins or themes have affected the way authors treat the review system. The review system is there to retrieve feedback about someone’s experience with a theme or plugin, but now we’re seeing authors using it as part of their business model. An assumption for this is that a lot of people are reviewing commercial services now.

      It would be reasonable to assume information found on a specific WordPress.org plugin/ theme page is related to that plugin or theme, but we see information regarding other themes/ plugins and services.

      I’ve come to the conclusion that the majority of people who post commercial theme/ plugin reviews think that they’re posting in the right place. This could suggest that the way authors go about advertising is confusing. Mixing information about a commercial theme or plugin onto a free theme or plugin could be the issue, rather than the act of up-selling itself.

      I don’t think it is good enough to rely on the formatting of the plugin/ theme description page to distinguish the free and commercial plugins/ themes.

      The only way I think you will discussing information not regarding the plugin or theme on the WordPress.org plugin/ theme page and in the plugin/ theme itself.

    • Jami Gibbs 1:26 pm on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      If I’m being honest here, I think that theme developers should be given the same freedoms as plugin developers when it comes to how they can upsell in their products within the WordPress dashboard. What I’ve observed is that there’s little (or no) oversight for plugin developers on this topic.

      With that said, I think that it’s reasonable to have upsells in the customizer and a separate info page within the dashboard menu. Popups and dashboard notices are overkill and I think that should extend to plugin developers as well.

    • Ulrich 5:16 pm on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      We should not include more requirements.

      If users don’t like the upsell they can switch themes.

      We do the reviews to protect users from things they are unable to review like security and licensing.

      I think we all agree site wide notices and dashboard metaboxes are over the top.

      • kevinhaig 5:31 pm on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I agree that more requirements are difficult to swallow, however having an inconsistent approach is worse.

        Either open up advertising completely or develop a consistent approach so that reviewers have no doubt about what is allowed.

      • Carolina Nymark 3:37 pm on January 31, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Agree.

        Ads are annoying, and so are disabled options. But we also pass themes that are not that well designed in other aspects, because they pass the requirements even if they don’t follow best practice.

      • beautymodel 7:20 am on February 2, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        The problem that you don’t seem to grasp is that a lot of themes are showing screenshots that are of the pro versions. It’s a huge waste of end user time to scurry around looking for themes that offer what is shown in description/screenshots.

        • Justin Tadlock 8:03 am on February 2, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          If you come across a theme showing something in its screenshot or saying something in the description that’s not in the free theme offered here in the repo, let me know. That’s already not allowed.

    • Jean Felisme 7:28 pm on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Don’t allow site-wide notices and dashboard metaboxes.

      The ad/upsell should be related to the actual theme.

      The option page under Appearance and/or link in customizer are great locations.

      This is pretty fair to me and if users do not like the locked out sections, this provides opportunities for other themes to get a look.

    • Mark Root-Wiley 7:34 pm on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I feel like the plugin repository already has most of the problem areas covered. https://wordpress.org/plugins/about/guidelines/

      Some even would appear to apply to themes already, even if they’re not being enforced.

      Regarding disabled options (which I think are terrible!):

      > 5. […] **All code hosted by WordPress.org servers** must be free and fully-functional. If you want to sell advanced features for a plugin (such as a “pro” version), then you must sell and serve that code from your own site, we will not host it on our servers.

      And regarding ads:

      > 11. Plugins should not hijack the blog admin. It is fine to include an Upgrade prompt on the plugin admin page, but not throughout the blog. It is acceptable to embed a widget on the dashboard but this should be the same size as others and be dismissable. It’s fine to put an error message at the top of the admin for special cases, but it should be linked to a way to fix the error and it should be infrequent. Any form of “nagging” is absolutely prohibited.

      Ads should:

      • Be dismissable via a UI element (option or “close button’) and not “nag”
      • Not interfere with using the admin (e.g. redirecting away from the Theme screen after install or update, etc.)
      • Justin Tadlock 9:40 pm on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        We actually don’t allow disabled options. All options must work out of the box.

        Dismissable ads sounds like a pretty solid idea.

        • Mark Root-Wiley 11:23 pm on January 27, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Just tested Apex (https://wordpress.org/themes/apex) and it sort of has this: https://cloudup.com/cckMzLusU_v I’m fairly certain I’ve seen that in other themes as well, though can’t remember them right now.

          • Justin Tadlock 12:27 am on January 28, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            That’s due to inconsistencies in the review process. I would’ve asked the author to change it. I’d like for us to avoid calling out specific themes though.

            Those are not exactly non-working options (similar). For example, we have some themes that I’ve seen with a color picker for a color option that wouldn’t work until the user upgraded to the pro version. I consider that crippleware, which I don’t think has any place in the repo. One such theme had a small part leading up to this advertising discussion.

            • Ben Sibley 12:33 am on January 28, 2016 Permalink

              It’s okay, I volunteered Apex for scrutiny earlier in my comment. It’s all in the spirit of discussion 🙂

              I got this idea from other themes on the marketplace, so there are others as well. The locked sections were an experiment, and if this is not acceptable I will remove them. As mentioned in my comment, all I want is for users to know that there is a premium upgrade available, so they have the choice. It seems that the blue ad at the top of the Customizer accomplished this well enough on its own.

            • Mark Root-Wiley 4:19 pm on January 28, 2016 Permalink

              Sorry. I really didn’t mean to call out a particular theme (which for the record is on a very short list of ones I recommend!). It was just the only example I knew off the top of my head of a theme with bricked sections. I know I’ve seen much worse.

              Maybe the more appropriate question would be what the TRT thinks of empty (at least not containing any settings) panels in the customizer? The test that something like that fails for me is not meeting user expectations that a customizer panel contains functional options.

        • Carolina Nymark 3:22 pm on January 31, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Wait there is no requirement in the guidelines that says you can’t have disabled options. So no wonder the reviews are inconsistent.

          • Justin Tadlock 5:43 pm on January 31, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

            It goes under the “your theme must actually work” guideline. Yeah, that one’s not listed. I guess it’s assumed that if you add an option that the option itself must work.

            Maybe we need to go back to the older days with a longer set of guidelines.

            • Carolina Nymark 7:19 pm on January 31, 2016 Permalink

              “Common sense” and assumptions don’t work well during these reviews.

    • Edward Caissie 3:37 am on January 28, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      As much as I can appreciate there are authors that look to the repository as a marketing forum, which I do not agree with, I can still want to believe these authors are trying to give back to the community with quality themes being available from the repository.

      That being the case, I am very much OK with a single link in the customizer (formerly the theme options page?!) but I would also draw the line there. Paywalls and feature teases are simply annoying and for all intent and purpose useless code … which is essentially already covered in the review guidelines as something that should not be there to begin with.

    • Guido 2:20 pm on January 28, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I, like many of you, am in favour of a (single) link in customizer.
      On the other hand, if an author ‘locks’ certain settings in customizer it’s clear what you miss when using the free version.
      And in case of too much advertising / distraction, theme will receive bad ratings and other users will (hopefuly) ignore it.

    • Mark Root-Wiley 4:23 pm on January 28, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Slightly radical and longer-term proposal, but what if the directory and Appearance > Themes screen both included a standardized display of a “Paid Option Available” link that got pulled from the style.css header? That feels like the right place for upsells and would also allow people to search the directory specifically for free-only or upgrade-available themes.

      I could see then a few more small things allowed (like maybe a customizer link or Appearance sub page listing available features), but I think it would be appropriate to then remove most other advertising.

    • _Y_Power 5:23 pm on January 28, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      As a user, I hate ‘grayed-out’ elements, ads, flashy elements and such: a simple link will be both desirable and sufficient, if I want to purchase anything.

      As a developer, single links requirements might need rules to be broken frequently, in my opinion.
      I believe that adding a default customizer section (let’s say ‘Theme Info’) at the END of the list (low priority and with no actual customizer control) is the way to go. Developers would be free to add info and even panels as long as no option/feature is touched: it would then be up to the developer to use that section a bit like the options pages have been used so far. It would become a standard, non-intrusive way to look for info on any theme.

    • Carolina Nymark 3:19 pm on January 31, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I don’t see why themes need to have different rules than the plugins.

    • Patryk Kachel 1:26 pm on February 1, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Maybe we should consider what is primary purpose of this repository?
      What is role of Theme URI and Author URI?

    • wpweaver 10:55 pm on February 8, 2016 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      There are a lot of interesting comments here, and I’d like to add my views.

      First, I think it is a good thing to allow free themes to have the ability to pay for extra features. But what I hate are “lite” themes that are in fact really limited, almost broken, and that the paid version is needed to really take advantage of the theme. The free version is essentially useless.

      On the other hand, if the free version really has features to offer the the general user, and in fact most users won’t need the paid features to effectively use the theme, then an upsell can be a very good thing if the features rally provided added value. While some people just want everything to be free, there are a good number of people who will either feel like rewarding a theme author for job well done, or who can really benefit from the paid features, and perhaps find the upgrade will save theme valuable time and effort.

      But for plenty of theme authors, having the ability to provide an upsell makes the whole thing worthwhile. Sure, a donation button might be philosophically the ideal, but in reality, very very few people bother with a donation. On the other hand, if the premium version offers true value, many users are happy to pay for that.

      But I think that for many of the premium upsell versions, the users would really like to know what they are getting, and how they can use the added features. How does one provide that information? Maybe a link here or there might be enough, but if the premium version provides many new features, having those showing as disabled options is actually providing a true service to the users. If they see and option with a “Premium Version needed or this feature” displayed in the natural place in an option page, they will be able to see and understand what they would be getting for their money. If the feature is useful, and will save theme time and effort, I think it is a true service to the user to provide that information. For those who don’t care, such notes or disable options soon become invisible, and make little impact on the usability of the theme.

      Upsells have been allowed in repository based themes for many years. They help keep the repository filled with great new themes because at least some of us want to provide a great free theme while getting a little return on our efforts from those who can benefit from a premium version. So I think limitations on information allowed about a premium version should be minimal. If appropriate information about premium features doesn’t dominate the free options, and doesn’t intrude to non-theme option menus or pages (not on main dashboard, or Appearance pages, for example), then what is it really hurting? It should be up to the theme author to determine that balance of providing information about the premium version, or annoying the user so much that they don’t want to use the free version at all.

      Allowing upsells is a good thing for the repository in the long run. While it is possible to go too far with upsell promotion, in most cases I think the reactions of end users will keep things reasonable. If a theme overdoes is, it will create negative reactions from the users, and the over-upsell of that theme will die a natural death.

  • Ulrich 8:32 pm on January 4, 2016 Permalink |  

    Thank you everyone for your for helping out with the reviews.

    In 2015 910 new themes were reviewed and set live by 236 reviewers.

    I would like to especially thank a few people who have reviewed over 2% of the total themes. @djrmom, @poena, @rabmalin, @kevinhaig, @catchthemes, @jcastaneda, @alex27, @karmatosed, @antsanchez and @benlumia007. Also a big thank you to the theme admins for doing the final reviews and leading the team in 2015.

    Let us go forward in 2016 to work on education, automation and having fun.

    Happy New Year!

     
  • Jen 5:45 pm on January 4, 2016 Permalink |
    Tags: annual survey, contributors   

    2015 Contributor Survey 

    Hi theme review folks! Thanks for all your hard work and contributions in 2015. Could you contribute few more minutes to fill in the 2015 contributor survey? It will help us establish some baselines around the contributor experience so that we can see how things change over time.

    **This is being posted to all the Make teams, so if you subscribe to a bunch of p2s and keep seeing this post, know that you only need to fill the survey in once, not once per team.**

    The survey is anonymous (so you can be extra honest), all questions are optional (so you can skip any that you don’t want to answer), and we’ll post some aggregate results by the end of January. It took testers 5-10 minutes to complete on average (depends how much you have to say), so I bet you could knock it out right after you read this post! 🙂

    There are two sections of the survey. The first has questions about team involvement, recognition, and event involvement, and is pretty much what you’d expect from an annual survey (which teams did you contribute to, how happy are you as a contributor, etc).

    The second section is about demographics so we can take a stab at assessing how diverse our contributor base is. All questions are optional, but the more information we have the better we can figure out what we need to improve. If there’s some information you’d rather not identify, that’s okay, but please do not provide false information or use the form to make jokes — just skip those questions.

    The survey will be open until January 15, 2016. Whether you have 5 minutes now, or 10 over lunch (or whenever), please take the 2015 contributor survey. Thanks!

     
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