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Thesis vs. WordPress and the GPL

by Topher

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On Wednesday, Chris Pearson and Matt Mullenweg went at it on Twitter in a live audio debate over Matt’s belief that Chris’ premium theme Thesis is in violation of the General Public License that WordPress has in place.

Full disclosure: I am running Thesis on this blog and love it. I even said so on Twitter:

Topher Kohan Twitter Comments

TopherATL Twitter comments on Thesis

I also believe that if you do not enforce a license legally, you cannot and should not get upset when people break it. However, I think Chris and the team at need to take a step back and stop trying to piss off the WordPress community.

They are making money on the back of a platform that they did not have to build, and as far as I know, they had no hand in the actual building of the core code that runs WordPress.

To be 100 percent fair, I think Matt and the team at Automattic can be jackholes about how they run the project. Do we really need a section of code in the core of a CMS that forces us the spell a word a certain way?

How hard would it be for Chris to split-license his theme and still have control over his code but also play nice with the full WordPress community? But from what I have read and seen from Chris, it looks to me he would never do that, because it seems he gets too much glee out of pissing off the people at Automattic.

Everyone needs to stop and take a step back and do what is best for the community at large.

Matt, if you think the GPL is all that and a bag of chips, then back it up legally: Go to court (and if you really want to look good, do it outside the San Francisco area).

Chris, do what is best for all of us who love your theme and find a way to work with the GPL and the WordPress community. Trust me, you are not going to lose any money, and you might just get some new users.

I love WordPress. I truly believe that it is one of the best — if not the best — blogging platforms on the market today. What makes it that way is not the code we install but the hundreds of people who work on that code and write plug-ins and themes. They extend it to a point that truly makes it great, and all this little war is doing is dividing a community that needs to be unified.

In my opinion, everyone needs to just grow up and play nice.

Digging into WordPress has a quick overview of the “fight” between Chris and Matt.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rob LudlowNo Gravatar August 19, 2010 at 3:09 am

Hey Topher, it was great to meet you at SES today… I knew you looked familiar! We had a great discussion about a lot of topics and what’s funny is that I brought up Matt Mullenweg’s name. Ironic that in a search for your name spelling I noticed your post here on this topic.

I have a TON of respect for Matt. For someone his age, he seems to really have his stuff together (I’d put him against Zuckerberg in a heart beat). Well, just 5 minutes into the interview I was shocked at how cool and calm Matt was, but how defensive and then combative Chris was. If I had to go just on tonality I would have awarded the match 100% to Matt.

Independent of the style of arguing (or lack thereof) I gotta side with the points Matt made. There are a few ways to look at this including “letter of the law” and “spirit of the law” but at the end of the day I think if both are applied they both point to Thesis needing to be GPL.

Honestly, looking at the Thesis site and video on their site I was pretty impressed and thinking about checking it out, but after hearing Chris talk I don’t think I want to touch it.

2 Rob LudlowNo Gravatar August 19, 2010 at 3:20 am

hahaha… looks like I’m late to the game. I just read that Chris made Thesis GPL!

In a tiny nutshell:


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