Sponsored Themes beating the dead horse.

Before I begin I want to be clear about a few things I am trying to take a neutral position here. There seems to be a lot of people for and against this whole Sponsored Themes Business. The wank makes some valid points I would like to add a few more.

  1. The Theme Viewer is Broken, Plastered with Adsense and sells Text Link Ads.
  2. WordPress by default comes with Links to the Developers Blogs. (SEO?)
  3. WordPress by default comes with links inside the Dashboard which a lot of people Find annoying.(Traffic?)
  4. WordPress.com runs on WordPress doesn’t allow Ads of any kind except those from Automattic.com (Adsense on other people’s Content?)

I have no problem with any of the above points. So why do people seem upset about this whole Sponsored theme have a quick read SEO, Plagiarism, Link Spamming and Splogs With WordPress or else here’s a brief summary if you don’t like long articles.

  1. Not disclosing that the theme is a sponsored theme
  2. Hiding links inside the footer for SEO benefits.
  3. Modifying existing Themes and redistributing them as your own while not crediting the original owners or by adding NoFollow tags to the original creators links.
  4. Linking to spamm, illegal sites

All of which are very wrong. Sponsored themes are here to stay. Most people on the internet are looking for a quick way to make a few bucks. I have no problems with sponsored themes that are fully disclosed, allow me to remove the links and do not use any sneaky SEO tactics or link to spammy sites. Not everyone to likes to work for free, if theme designers get some compensation then good for them but they need to be open about sponsorship. But saying Sponsored themes are evil is just plain wrong. I hate it when people make statements like “Since WordPress is opensource and free so should the themes”. Opensource is all about freedom of choice. Banning and putting restriction on theme designers is not the right thing to do.

Its hypocritical to point out other peoples faults, when you yourself are doing the same thing(In a indirect way). If the WordPress guys want to be more transparent, they need to remove those links from the default WordPress install and clean up the dashboard or have it switched off by default with a option to switch it on for people who would like to have it.

Matt points out that plugins authors seem to be doing well. I believe that themes tend to be more popular, most plugin authors have a link to their website or a donate button which sends enough traffic to their site unlike the tiny link in the footer of Themes. Plugins tend to be unique and cater to a specific audience. Normal end users are unlikely to use many plugins.

The Bottom line is Sponsored themes are OK as long as they fully disclose, allow the removal of links and do not link to spammy or illegal sites.

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