Proposal: Curated theme directory

Last night, a few of us were together tossing ideas around. Matt himself seemed to be willing to open some avenues that TRT had previously believed were closed to us. That’s pretty exciting stuff because it means we might be able to make some of the major changes that many of us have wanted to do for a long time.

One of those ideas was to split submitted themes into two camps:

  • Themes that pass the full review requirements.
  • Those that pass some minimal checks (mostly, the automated scanner).

In the first group, it’d be business as usual. If you, as a theme author, want your theme reviewed by our team, you get that review. You also must follow the guidelines. The barrier to entry is the same as it is now.

In the second group, you’d pretty much get an automatic submission into the repo. We’d still need to make sure that we’re not allowing anything nasty through and any other major issues. We’d have to work out the details of this. But, the idea is to have an extremely low barrier to entry.

Incentive to get a full review

Why would a theme author choose to get a full review when it’s so much easier via the second route?

That’s the big question, one that I think is easily solved by giving an incentive to theme authors who follow the standards laid out by TRT. This can be any number of things. I’d love to hear feedback.

My proposal is one of two things:

#1: Featured Themes: Only themes that have met the “gold standard” of the review team be shown in the featured themes list.

#2: Gold Star Themes: (made up name) This would be a secondary list similar to featured themes in the directory (and in the WP theme install backend) to showcase approved themes.

The first is easier and what I believe to be fair. Again, I’d love to hear ideas across the board from theme authors, reviewers, and users.

Benefits of changing

There are some major benefits I believe we’ll get from such a move:

  • A lot smaller workload on the review team (we have tons).
  • We can shift a lot of focus to development education.
  • Spend more time focusing on design education.
  • Users play a bigger factor in deciding what they want.

Problems with the change

One of the reasons TRT was first formed was because there was a lot of really nasty stuff and a lot of bad code. The goal, we were told, was to not host every theme but to have the best themes. That’s been a big part of the mission statement from day one. Moving away from that will require a major shift in our philosophy. And, that might just be OK.

We’ll need to catch more issues (sometimes security issues) after a theme has gone live in the directory. It’s possible that we can do more with automated checks in this area. I think someone mentioned the Automattic VIP Scanner and PHP CodeSniffer. Solutions for security and spam are paramount.

Ideas and feedback

I want to make it clear that this is only one of many proposals. And, it’s only up for discussion as a possibility at the moment. We got a few +1 votes for proposing it last night.

Now, it’s your turn. What do you think of the idea? What would you like to add to it?