Back Online

I called my sister last night to tell her about a present I found for her in the market and she interrupted me to say she saw my name show up in Google News a few times and started reading some of the articles. Before the phone card ran out she read me some headlines and my stomach sank. This is my first vacation and I almost didn’t even bring my laptop. (Luckily I talked myself into bringing it to do pictures.) I haven’t been on the internet since Monday and I obviously have a lot to catch up on. It was almost midnight when I found out and there was no access anywhere, so I woke up at 4:30 AM this morning to catch the first water bus to the airport and found some overpriced wifi, and here I am.

I have close to a thousand emails and countless blog posts and comments to go through, but I’ll try to synthesize everything and respond ASAP, I think it’s important because some people seem to be spinning things quite maliciously. If you have a specific question please send me an email and I’ll do my best to respond personally or on the blog, even if you’ve already decided I’m the scum of the earth.

60 thoughts on “Back Online

  1. Hmmm….I feel a little guilty getting you up at 4:30 AM….And for interrupting your story. I hope I didn’t ruin your whole vacation, but I thought I should tell you ASAP. I knew you had your laptop – I saw the pictures – otherwise, I wouldn’t have told you.
    Well, if you’re on AIM, I’ll be up for a few more minutes. I just put together my new desk (I’m convinced that the designers @ IKEA are SADISTS), and I’m trying to wind down from a crazy day.
    Scum of the earth?? I hadn’t really thought about it….hmmm….Nope. I don’t think so. People are often jealous of geniuses (don’t I know it!!) and tend to lash out at the weirdest times.
    Love to you, and miss you,
    Your never biased Sister

  2. Not a nice thing to happen on your first vacation!

    Your not the scum of the earth matt, never.
    I’m sure you will clear the situation up in a sensible manner and hopefully the bad PR won’t last.

    Good Luck!

  3. Judgement is reserved until you’ve had time to address the matter. I hope others will refrain from taking cheap shots they know you won’t be around to deflect.

  4. I think we talked about something similar when you first came by the 6A offices, and it’s that the blessing and curse of creating communications tools is that the communities around them will keep you honest and humble when you most need it and least expect it.

    For what it’s worth, it only takes a few days for it to stop stinging and for any of us to realize that communicating well is *hard*, and that’s how we forget to do it, despite the fact that the tools make it easy to do so. Once that initial period is over, I’ve found that you learn some of the best and most valuable lessons you get to. I’m sure you’ll be at that point soon, and don’t worry, by the time you get to almost a year later, you can laugh about these sorts of things. πŸ™‚

    Take the time to enjoy Italy, the web will wait.

  5. Agreed — judgement is still very much reserved, and in the perspective of everything you’ve contributed already to the WordPress project and open-source community as a whole.

    As an aside, I thought I’d point out the seemingly unintentional pun in comment three: “…and hopefully the bad PR won’t last.” πŸ˜‰ Sorry, couldn’t help it :$

  6. Oh no! You tried to make money? That can’t be true?

    People do things. Some smart, some not so smart. We learn. We move on.

    Have a good vacation.


  7. I think I would only be upset if the articles had been on MY site, not the one for the project. I mean, look at OpenSource as a whole, and you will see that many project leaders are doing what they can to support their pride and joy (their project) while still maintaining a decent living (their real job). Hang in there, and just be keep being open and honest about it. This, too, shall pass.

    – A friendly blogger.

  8. It seems pretty clear cut and not particularly malicious too me. Just rather.. unfortunate.

    I think its been blown all out of proportion frankly, and anyone that thinks you are “the scum of the earth” has really just jumped on the bandwagon for bitching rights.

    Google singleing out and acting like school yard bullies didn’t help either.

    Anyhow… hope its been a good holiday up to this point, sounds like its going to be a stressful little time – remember tho, these things blow over and its not really that important. πŸ˜‰

  9. It seems to be an unfortunate truth that those who give the best of what the world has to offer end up having to take the worst of what the world has to offer.

    You have a supporter in Sacramento. May the rest of your vacation be peaceful.

  10. Dude, they’re scum of the earth. God can’t believe they’re making such a big deal of all of this. You worry too much. This seriously doesn’t deserve you ruining your vacation. Honest the internet will be here when you get back.

  11. Matt – you are NOT scum. I happen to think you did a great job with WordPress.

    I actually thought this was an April Fool’s joke, but it seems this problem is all to real.
    I DO believe it was an honest mistake, and that it will blow over (eventually) when everyone realizes WordPress is still the best Open blogging software out there.

    I realize now that I made a few mistakes when I first approached you when I asked you to use the domain WordPress.Com . Can we start over? I would still like the domain to be properly used by the WordPress community. We get a whole lot of traffic from people looking for WordPress.Org, and I want them to get the help they need.

  12. I too am reserving judgment. We all make mistakes and what truly matters is what we learn and how we react. Personally, I think this whole situation is a mountain out of a mole hill…

    Put this out of your mind for now and enjoy your vacation.

  13. Dude, enjoy what’s left of your vacation or if your back take some time to decompress. I can understand why some might see this as a big deal, but it’ll blow over and, hey, we all mess up.

    “Scum of the earth?” That’s just silly. Not that I know all the details, but I can’t help but think it’s nothing more than a poor decision. We’ve all made those! πŸ˜‰

    If this is handled correctly we all could learn something here. Just do me a favor and take a deep breath, realize that no one died and take it from there.

  14. My advice would be to not loose time replying to thousand of emails/comments, remove the links and the “/articles” and get back to work. We want WordPress 2.0. Now it’s clear that a popular projects have hosting costs. With current experience, think about the budget needed and raise money to support future development and tell the community that without funding the project will be freezed. Also couldn’t you use something like bitTorrent for distribution of wordpress ?.

    By the way I think development of the project “only” take time, it’s hosting the support forum and software distribution that cost bandwidth and hosting.

    Free software and paid support has been made elsewhere. Maybe it’s not a bad idea.

    Again, we want WordPress 2.0, it’s time to move on and keep this mistake behind us.
    I hope you enjoyed your time in Florence.

  15. I have to admit the speed at which the blogo has tried and convicted you freightens me a bit. A lot of us realize how far this has been blown out of proportion. Put it this way, your success is what has put you in this position. It could be worse.

    Keep the faith. Your doing the right things.

  16. “Google singleing out”, I wouldn’t call it that. And from what I read on other sites, the wordpress site will be right back where it was in the google index, before this whole mess happened. Just give it a day or so.

    Take it easy, Matt, tranparency will prevail πŸ˜‰

  17. Matt, first of all: enjoy your holiday!

    I agree very much with John. I know you as a nice guy, working hard on a fantastic product. Thanks again for that! I’ll withhold judgment on this move you are being condemned for until you have a chance to explain things from your side. Maybe it wasn’t so smart to not have this whole thing out in the open from the start, as there is a community involved, and open source demands openness. But let’s hear your story and I think things will be worked out.

    Keep up the good work!

  18. Personally, I like WordPress a lot (just switched my weblog to it) and that’s all that matters to me. Keep the good software coming and you’ll always be OK in my book :-).

  19. Jealousy makes people act weirdly… as proven.
    Matt, just keep doing your thing, looks like the WP-community stands right behind you. All we want is that your core-business keeps going as it does: opensource is the present ànd future!
    It’s sick that some people forget that persons like you are only human, and face the trouble we all face.
    I believe that what you did was based on good principles and so I respect that.

    Enjoy la Bella Italia and do not let this buzz take out the fun of your trip!

    You know what is good!


  20. Matt
    your not the scum of the earth, although it may be a title better given to some of the people coming after you, particuarly knowing that you were far away and unable to respond. Do try to enjoy your holiday, and hope to god that Anil’s comments above are correct.

  21. Well, it seems like a stab-in-the-back-when-you-were-not-looking-thing considering Matt’s absense even if he was warned as seen here :
    And in a bizzare way this was revealed way back in this forum post :
    So I still am wondering about the motives behind the actions of certain people.
    I, as a wordpress user, who payed nothing to have a great blogging software to play with and a great community to support it, really dont care if Matt hosted one hundred or one million articles in his site.
    Euro-bills dont grow on trees and “free” is no more.
    So, after an initial shock after reading the huge bold headtitles calling Matt a spammer (sure, it was SES), I begin to see this as free advertising.
    The community is still with Matt. So what has changed ?
    Maybe a temp downrank of in big search engines.
    Maybe a temp fuss about how evil and scum Matt is.
    But WordPress will go on its course and will still be great to blog with !

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  23. Don’t worry too hard about it. It will all be forgotten about next week, and when you release the next version of WordPress you’ll get your sainthood back πŸ˜‰

  24. Hey Matt, everyone in the game knows that you’re are a decent guy, I wouldn’t worry yourself too much over this. Just keep doing what you do, and to be honest any pubicity is good publicity.

  25. Am I right in saying that this all simply because at the foot of every wordpress blog by default is a note saying “Powere by wordpress” and a link back to

    If it is then google is going to have to ban every site that uses an open source CMS as almost all of them have a “This site is powered by blah-de-blah”.

    I really don’t see how google can honestly say this is the right thing to do and should this actually go through then I will most certainly be finding myself a new search engine who does not filter legitimate results.

  26. Oh, what a tempest in a teapot! I’m a loyal WordPress user and never saw any signs on the WP site of Google nefariousness. If it isn’t evident to the user, what’s the harm? If you can make a few bucks abusing Google’s good nature, more power to you! I’ve contributed towards WP server expenses and I’ll probably do it again next year.

    The simple fact is that WP is serious kick-ass software which has literally changed my life. What’s not to like?

  27. Vacation!? I guess we know where all the money is going! (I’m joking, it is April 1st you know!)

    Matt, everyone makes mistakes, and people are quick to judge others, the important thing (in my eyes) is to learn from your mistakes, move on, and try your best to do better in the future. I think you’ve contributed a lot to the good of the web, and to open-source software. As I said elsewhere, I stand behind you sir, and I’m confident you’ll do the right thing.

    Now enjoy that vacation, you never know when you’ll get another one.

  28. You have my sympathy and support. A lot of the noise that’s been generated is, in all seriousness, probably down to the usenet effect, where those with the most extreme views are the most vocal. Just be aware that most of the WP community is behind you.

    At any rate, hope you had a good break:-)

  29. If the project needs funding, I can understand the advertising, and wanting to keep it hidden. I’ve just made a donation. WordPress users, please note that PayPal is only reporting 174 unique donators! Don’t worry about it, Matt, enjoy your vacation.

  30. I’m only a new wordpress user and already I am a bit of a fanatic. If you have done wrong forgivness is what you need not all those horrible headlines from slashdot and the like. Hey we all make mistakes but the good thing is we learn form them. Stay atop of this and don’t let yourself get ripped apart the way out is to be open. Thats the open in open source. You sound like a community man (from the people who know you) and you probablly are a bit gutted that this has come out and effected the wordpress commmunity so I think you should continue at the helm and steer us back on path again.

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  32. Matt, mistake or not, I don’t really care about this case, and think you are giving the community an awesome work. Instead of mailing my support to you, since I guess you’ll have hundreds of mails to read, I posted my opinion tagged with Technorati tag “iLoveMatt“.

    The problem with this story is that people yelling that this is an unbearable scandal will make more noise than bloggers still thinking that Matt is great. This can be very disappointing and demotivating in the end.
    Show your support, tag with iLoveMatt today.

  33. The fact that some people have become so emotional over this only reinforces how important WordPress has become. People feel like they’ve been hurt so they’re lashing out. That’s just human nature. Everybody makes mistakes. The best we can ever do is to learn from from them, move on and hope the public stoning doesn’t last too long. πŸ˜‰

  34. Matt,
    Your contributions to wordpress (and open source in general) far outweigh this little slip-up (if I may call it that). It certainly isn’t a reason to ruin your vacation though buddy. Close your lap top, and get back to the streets. The beady eyed geeks can wait till whenever for a reply. Meanwhile, there are quite a lot of us who are happily carrying on the battle for you. Hope to see you back later this (or next, or whenever) week, refreshed from some serious relaxation. πŸ™‚ Take care man.

  35. I don’t think you’re the scum of the earth (at all). I think how it has all spun out of control is rather stupid. It might have been a mistake to do what you did, but do I think you did it with malicious intent, or to try and make thousands of dollars for yourself?

    Um, no.

    Enjoy your vacation, man. Seriously.

  36. I have just checked again. The [div style="text-indent: -9000px; overflow: hidden;"] is finally gone and PR8 is back. Let’s look ahead and stop the gossip. Matt, enjoy your vacation. Nothing has been truly damaged.

  37. Matt,

    WordPress rocks. Thanks to you and all the others for putting it together and sticking with it. I first started looking for blog software around the time of the MT licensing deal and the thing that struck me then is the same thing I’m seeing now. Everyone loves the software until someone tries to make a living on it then the flames start. Hmmmm, a fickle bunch we humans are.

    As someone who also tries to do more than will realistically fit in the amount of time available to me, I appreciate everyone’s efforts on WP. Keep it up, and if you can figure out a way to pay the bills while working on it then GREAT! Let’s do it.

    Anyway I’ve been very impressed with the simplicity of WP, the abundance of plug-ins and themes, and the helpfulness and level-headedness of the support community. Thanks again.

    A committed user,


  38. Honestly, I just don’t get what the big deal is. I understand why it’s controversial, but not why this is such a big deal. I say have fun on your vacation and then respond once you’re home, Matt!

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  40. Since I program for a living, I do not condemn what you chose to do Matt. Though my response to you will likely be lost in the flurry that has now become your inbox, remember that there are those among us that would like to help in whatever method possible.


  41. Its ok Matt, tough times make people make decisions that they regret. We believe in WordPress and we believe in you. Thank You.

  42. Matt, don’t overthink it. Let things settle, collect your thoughts, try to enjoy the rest of your vacation.

    The initial reaction was just shock I think. In the end, this didn’t hurt anybody but you… so the rest of us should probably just shut up about it. Maybe a chuckle would be appropriate, but not all the hating. πŸ˜‰

    You made a mistake. Not the making money off WordPress, not even so much the search spam, but you seemingly tried to hide what you were doing. It was dumb. But it’s no big deal.

    Correct the error, apologize for the mistake, and get back to work. If you over-respond you’re just going to have more dogs at the door.

  43. Well, since none of the people who took a swipe at Matt seem to be big enough to drop by and have a say, I thought I would step up to the plate. I’m one of those people.

    My initial reaction was one of disgust, but only after taking a peek at the source code and seeing it for myself.

    After a day thinking about it, and sleeping on it, I’m still kind of disgusted but my overall attitude has changed. Teli, a friend who commented on my blog helped me to look at this differently. The other conmmenters here are right. Everyone makes a bad judgement call every now and then, especially when money is involved. We’re all human.

    I’ve contributed a little time in helping out on the WordPress support forums recently and am happy to do so again. I’ll also be contributing in other ways soon.

    I’ll support the cause, but that doesn’t mean I support what I saw in the source code.

    I’ll post a similar message on my blog later today when I’ve had a little more time to figure out what to say.

    Try and enjoy what’s left of your vacation Matt. Looking forward to your official statements about all this.

  44. As somebody planning on moving their blog to WordPress “any day now” this has not changed my perception of Matt or WordPress one iota. Obviously this experiment has backfired but at the end of the day what Matt has put into WordPress will far outweigh this and any other future mistakes/lapses of judgement that he (and others) will make. The quest to balance the technical and financial aspects of running WordPress must be huge and one can’t fault Matt for trying out every legal avenue he can to support the development of WordPress. Here’s to WordPress 2.0! Enjoy Italy and next vacation leave the laptoop at home!

  45. Matt, you and the others in the WordPress community have contributed greatly. Good luck and I’m sure this will all sort itself out.

  46. You’re not the scum of the Earth. Period.

    Vigilante justice can be difficult to deal with, but your apology was tempered and well executed. It will take a few days, but all of us will move on.

  47. You’re anti scum. Trust me. Don’t let this taint memories of your vacation. Just concentrate on uploading all those Italy photos. πŸ™‚

  48. I think the best thing about this, isn’t that Matt learned a valuable lesson we all could use learning at least once in our life, but that Hot Nacho got some sweet loving justice from Google, likely ending their business model for gaming search engine keywords. πŸ˜€

    I’ve urged everyone involved that I know to donate to WordPress, so as to make it easy for Matt and the community around WordPress as much as possible. It’s well worth it.

  49. Matt has handled this whole affair thusfar with elegance and class. Let’s hope others can do likewise. And for what it’s worth, I’m wit ya.

  50. People should always remember….When you point a finger at someone, there are always three pointing right back at you!

    Who cares! You did an experiment…you made a little money. Good for you. Ten years from know will anyone remember this? Doubt it. So let’s move on and stop acting like children because we weren’t clever enough to have come up with the idea because I know I am jealous as hell I did not think of it…ANd I know I can’t be the only jealous one…..