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It’s Official. Sponsored WordPress Themes Are Out.

WordPress NewsMatt Mullenweg has made the WordPress policy on sponsored WordPress Themes official:

Before WordCamp all sponsored themes should be removed from http://themes.wordpress.net.

He’s not alone. Mark Ghosh on Weblog Tools Collection declared that he would no longer feature sponsored WordPress Themes on Weblog Tools Collection, one of the most important sources for news on new WordPress Themes.

In theory, this means that all WordPress Themes listed on the WordPress Theme Viewer, the official source for WordPress Themes, and those in the Codex WordPress Theme List which contain sponsored links, will be removed by July 21, 2007, unless their authors remove them first.

For more information on previous discussions of the issue of sponsored WordPress Themes, see:

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.

35 Comments

  1. Lidija Davis
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    I’m guessing that sponsored themes are not likely to be included at the WordPress.com site, but can’t seem to find any documentation about it (sorry, days seem so long lately, I’m not sure whether it’s my brain or eyes but something is giving up on me:-). Please tell me you have the answer – do WordPress.com users need to be concerned?

    Finally, congrats on the bloggers choice awards!

  2. Posted July 12, 2007 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    this is really great news! also thanks for bringing up my two takes on theme ethics again. I think I might have coined a term back there :)

  3. Posted July 12, 2007 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    In my view, they were never officially ‘in’. Good to see sense and reason has finally kicked in.

  4. Posted July 12, 2007 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    Fair Enough! It was being misused a lot. There is no limit if you think about it. I’ve myself seen 3-4 links in the same theme. Jeez!

  5. Posted July 12, 2007 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    Well, it’s about time! Hehe :D

  6. Posted July 12, 2007 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    its great to know that these sponsored wp themes are already out.. although im using one sponsored theme right now, its really iritating specially when you are showing a lot of links at the bottom of your page.

  7. Posted July 12, 2007 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Lidija: sponsored themes are used on wp.com, but Matt generally removes the links so you shouldn’t worry about it too much. About the only one I can think of with the links intact was the Vermilion Christmas theme, but you’re unlikely to be using that in July :)

  8. Posted July 12, 2007 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    This is good, but not for everyone on Digital Point pushing these themes. I can’t imagine what the sponsors will do now; ask for their money back?

  9. Posted July 12, 2007 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    WordPress.com Themes, I believe, are not sponsored. No worries there.

    To be clear, a sponsored Theme is one that is paid for to be constructed and/or has advertising and sponsorship links within them.

    When you get a new WordPress Theme and it has links to Matt Mullenweg, Mike Little, and others in the sidebar, those are example links to the “founders” of WordPress. You are free to leave them or toss those. They are not sponsored links. Sponsored links are found usually in the footer. In some extreme cases they are “hidden” and contain advertising.

    And thanks all for the correction.

    And what blogger’s choice awards…? Guess I better find out what that is about. Thanks.

  10. Posted July 12, 2007 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Let the controversy begin…

  11. Posted July 12, 2007 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    It’s about time. Maybe now, theme authors will stop asking for money for free services.

  12. Posted July 12, 2007 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    About time! I was sick of having to remove the sponsored links out of every theme I downloaded off of themes.wordpress.net.

  13. Koriander
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    It is official! A number of serious and professional designers who have used sponsored links to be able to spend all their days providing free theme support and customization services is now out of job – and theme users will once again need to ask in the forums to get help with their themes!

    But beside that sad effect, this is a good move. There were designers who used sponsored links in a good and responsible way – and who returned the income to the theme users. But they were not many. There were much more abuse than responsible use, and the designers who did well using sponsored links in a good way will easily make a living from their themes even without the sponsored links…

    However, there will be a LOT of tricks involved in hiding links in the themes from now on, and who can make the decision if a credit link is sponsored or not? Don’t abuse this policy, remember that the users are still getting free themes for nothing. That is still the only thing that should matter.

  14. Posted July 12, 2007 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    About time too! Okay, 1 or 2 links that’s fair enough, but 6 or 7 sponsored links, well it was getting out of hand.

  15. Posted July 12, 2007 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    It’s FRiday the 13th here in the Philippines as I read this news for the first time. Unlucky for some web designers, lucky for a jubilant WordPress community.

  16. Dave
    Posted July 12, 2007 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I like sponsored themes and find it a shame they are being taken off. Ok so there may be a footer link, but big deal. For a quality theme that would have cost me $200 – $500, a little footer link is a very good deal.

  17. Posted July 12, 2007 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Time has began ;)

  18. Posted July 12, 2007 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Well, at least there’s still a lot of good WordPress themes without sponsored things.

  19. ildergreier
    Posted July 13, 2007 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    It was about time.

  20. Posted July 13, 2007 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Yes!!!!!!! Finally. I think sponsored themes spoil open source.

  21. Posted July 13, 2007 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    I thought this would happen sooner or later, tis a sad day… iv seen many great sponsored themes.

    Sponsored themes will be continued to promoted from my website: http://www.wpskins.org

    Nothing wrong with advertising in something we spend our time time making.

  22. Koriander
    Posted July 13, 2007 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    …but I do hope to see a few more themes by talented designers who don’t put sponsored links on wordpress.com. Howabout the “daleri selection” by Andreas Viklund, or that brilliant silver one by Connyeng?

  23. Posted July 14, 2007 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    What about the designer’s URL? Must they be removed in the footer too?

  24. Posted July 14, 2007 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Credit to the designer is not “out”.

  25. Posted July 15, 2007 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    I have converted all 3 of my sponsored themes to full ad-free. :)

  26. Posted July 15, 2007 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    I am glad to see this coming to an end. I was once a regular visitor to the Theme Viewer site and stopped visiting the day comments were turned off and sponsored themes are allowed to continue to be published. I ranted and raved and felt it was a lost cause. But now I am happy to see everyone pulling together to get rid of the trash found in the footer.php file. So many thousands of people who are unaware of the damage these sponsored links can cause them have downloaded these themes. If you are a publisher you have to take responsibility knowing that innocent people trust in your to provide them something that isn’t going to harm them in the future. People who produce WordPress themes with sponsored links are taking advantage of the people who don’t know better. That is wrong… and I am very happy to see this coming to an end.

  27. Posted July 15, 2007 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    i think there should be a limit set to the number of links on the theme… i don’t see any harm in putting up 1 link at the bottom… atleast give some credit to the designer. After all, i sponsored themes are removed, i think it will wipe out 90% of the theme database.

  28. Posted July 16, 2007 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    It’s time for the big clean up.

  29. Posted July 16, 2007 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    What about designer’s credit? Would it be also removed? Something like “Design By XXX”…

  30. Posted July 29, 2007 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    Yea I think some of the sponsored themes providers got way to carried away with the links. Good for the cleanup.

  31. Posted October 29, 2007 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    This is fantastic news…let’s all do custom themes for $45.

  32. Posted February 26, 2008 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Well, the theme creators ought to have been clever enough to sell the theme to the sponsor and ensure that the sponsor can’t get his money back, by using a clause or something… ‘sponsored’ was also not the best term for it. More like ‘bought links’ or something that clearly showed what it was about. “Sponsored” would mean that someone asked them to create the theme, and the proceeds were going to go to a charity or something. I didn’t like the word being used for themes entirely.
    Yep, I think it was a good call!

  33. mim
    Posted March 13, 2008 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    This move was really great! Most WP blogs came in clean, in the truest essence of the word. I hope other sites that offer similar services or features as WP would also consider this “cleaning” idea.

  34. canvas
    Posted June 10, 2008 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    For authors or designers whose work was included in the sponsored category, what will happen to their works? Will their designs be completely removed or reused?

  35. Posted June 11, 2008 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    @ canvas:

    For the most part, the designs classified as “sponsored” are no longer featured on official WordPress Theme lists. There are many lists to go around that are not official. There are also many lists published about which such lists feature good Themes and which ones feature “bad” sponsored and ad-filled Themes.


34 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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