Based on the recent discussion prompted by @lancewillett, the following change has been made to the Guidelines, effective immediately: the Theme Unit Tests have been reduced in criticality from Required to Recommended.
We believe that this change will help eliminate a source of subjectivity/inconsistency in Theme reviews, while ensuring that review effort focuses on the truly required criteria. And in all honesty, almost everything that is truly required in the Theme Unit Tests will be found during the code review. In the future, this change may allow us to re-focus the Theme Unit Tests on recommended/best-practice design/aesthetics, without introducing further subjectivity into the review process.
Please note that this change does not impact any of the rest of the Guidelines; only the Theme Unit Tests specifically. And during reviews, Themes should still be checked against the Theme Unit Tests, any conformance issues should be noted as Recommended as part of the review, and Themes will still be required to document any extraordinary design limitations.
As a reminder: when conducting a review, please ensure that Required criteria are clearly stated, separately from recommendations or other comments, to ensure that those required criteria are clearly communicated to the developer. (A bullet list of required items usually helps.) Reviewers are welcome (and encouraged) to leave other recommendations or constructive feedback for developers, but we need to ensure that developers know exactly what is needed in order for Theme approval.
As always, thank you, all, for your continued contributions!