A Response

Let me do my best to respond to the inquiries have been coming in, only some of these are direct quotes.

There is a shorter version of this available too.

Is this an April Fool’s joke?

Unfortunately not. If I was more clever perhaps I could make it a killer intro for one, but that’ll have to wait for next year.

What was your thinking behind accepting the advertising?

To thrive as an independent project WordPress needs to be self-sufficient. There are several avenues this could go, all of which I’ve given a lot of thought to. One route that would be very easy to go in today’s environment is to take VC funding for a few million and build a big company, fast. Another way would be to be absorbed by an already big company. I don’t think either is the best route for the long-term health of the community. (None of these are hypothetical, they’ve all come up before.) There are a number of things the software could do to nag people for donations, but I’m very hesitant to do anything that degrades the user experience. Finally we could use the blessing and burden of the traffic to wordpress.org to create a sustainable stream of income that can fund WP activities.

But advertising sucks

I’ll be the first to agree, and I’ve turned down a dozen types of advertising offers . We have Adsense on the forums which generates a bit, I can’t say because of Google’s terms of service but it could support a daily coffee addiction. (I don’t drink coffee myself.) It’s the same Adsense I use here and all of that goes toward costs for the servers I run. I’m not wild about Adsense, but it seems to be the least bad of what’s out there. It’s a good month for donations if they go into three figures, and I still hand-write an email thanking almost every person who donates.

The articles hosted content thing was just a short-term experiment, an interesting idea (original and relevant Wikipedia-type content on the site) that was badly implemented. As an experiment it could have been conducted much better than it was. The content should have been more topical to WP issue, I should have kept up with the content that was going up, the links should have never had the overflow CSS, and I should have discussed it with more people. Each was a mistake and they combined badly — I’m very sorry. Originally I wanted to do a poll about it but I never got around to adding a polling add-on to bbPress and thus the poll never happened. In my mind there were more important things to spend time on (the 1.5 release, the plugin and theme directories, etc.) but I don’t offer that as an excuse. I didn’t give the ads much thought after the very beginning until about two weeks ago when I got a few emails about them. I did not know they had mesowhatever/asbestos content on them until Andy Baio messaged me.

What happens now?

In any case everything has been taken down and I’m seeing if I can refund what they’ve already paid for the remainder of the month. I’ve seen some pretty wild estimates about the hosting fee but it’s really about a tenth of that, and obviously not worth it. The remaining money will be used as the Paypal donations are and securing the WordPress trademark and protecting against its misuse, which is very unfamiliar to me and a legal thing and thus I’m worried about its cost. There are other pots on the oven as well, and I can promise that any future actions will get community feedback before we do anything. Life and development will continue as it always has. As of writing this WordPress search results on Google seem to have returned to normal as well.

So this is all about the money?

Not at all, if anyone worked on WordPress for the money they would have quite quit long, long ago. We all have our own reasons, but personally regardless of what happens (or how nasty the personal attacks from the Register and others are) I’ll keep devoting my time to the project because I believe very strongly that WordPress is an important part of many people’s lives and should continue to be Free in all meanings of the word. In my very, very small way I feel like I’m making the world a better place and that’s far more rewarding than anything monetary.

Why not ask for more money?

Honestly because usage of the money that comes in should be much more efficient, and I feel it could be handled better. Donations currently stay in Paypal and I send it out as needed for project-related expenses and other members of the community in need. (For instance when Podz got stuck with a high hosting bill a while ago I sent him most of that month’s donations.) It’s not enough to do anything huge with, but if I can enrich the community with a little bit here and there I’m happy. For example I’d like to be able to give WordPress users I meet at conferences stickers that aren’t crooked because I cut them out by hand. This isn’t to suggest that WordPress is donation-poor, in fact it’s just the opposite, but who could put a price on the hours Ryan and the other developers spend debugging and writing great code or Podz, Lorelle, and Craig spend on the support forums or writing fantastic documentation.

I am acutely aware that this is far from an ideal system and could be a lot better, and we’re working on that. I strongly believe that WordPress can and will be independent in a way that doesn’t involve begging for money, annoying users, or selling out.

WIll WordPress be okay without the income? Should I donate more?

WordPress will be fine, as always. Despite the world stopping because of this and me being offline for an unusual amount of time, development has continued at a healthy pace. We also have fantastic hosting partners. Financially I will continue to cover any costs that come up and ask the community for help if it’s really needed. I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I can donate any or all of my free time and disposable income to something I believe in, and I will. I honestly don’t mind it at all, if we were in trouble and seriously needed help I would let the community know.

The main impetus behind all of this is increasing the bus factor of WordPress. A bus factor is how many central people are hit by a bus before things get into trouble. The WordPress code is golden because it’s under a license (the GPL) that ensures at its core WordPress will live on regardless of any conceivable situation. My focus lately has been on increasing the bus factor on the community, financial, and organizational aspects of WordPress. This isn’t because I want to stop working on things or mind donating myself, on the contrary I’ve been happier with the project than ever, it’s just that I want things to be stable and redundant just in case something truly tragic were to happen to me.

What about you personally?

I work hard and I’m fortunate enough right now to have a good job — I don’t need or want anything from WordPress. I try to structure things so I won’t be in any tight situations. If I ever am in a crunch first I’d try to work more, second I’d tap into saving, third I’d fall back to my family. If none of those things work out I’m doing something horribly wrong that asking the community for money wouldn’t help anything.

“You fat cat living off your illegal riches in Italy, I hope you choke spaghetti!1” (Actual quote.)

There have been no shortage of personal attacks on me, but this is the only one I’m going to address simply because I feel very bad that I wasn’t connected (no internet, no cell phone) and unable to address this bruhaha when it first came to light. Just to clear the air I’ve been planning this trip to visit a good friend for almost half a year, and I’ve been saving for a few months. If I was going to squander illegal loot I’d do it somewhere with a better exchange rate and fewer tourists. 😉

The timing of you being away is suspicious, is this a Waxy/Six Apart/Google/CIA conspiracy?

I know the people at all those places (except the CIA) and I wouldn’t suspect for a second anything like that. They’re all Good People who do Good Things and don’t deserve those sorts of suggestions. Conspiracy theories may be entertaining but it’s very rude to assume evil or malicious intentions of someone who has been exactly the opposite. Though I chatted with Andy last Thursday I didn’t mention my trip and he’s said several times if he’d known I was offline and disconnected he would have waited on the story.

How are you going to respond to the personal attacks?

I’m not, those people have made up their mind long ago, but I am truly grateful for those who defended myself and WordPress in my absence. You have all the friends in the world when things are peachy, but true character shows when things are rough, and I really appreciate those who have reserved judgment until all the facts are out there. WordPress has been doing extremely well and I knew that at some point there would be some blogosphere drama around things — it is inevitable that some people will disparage anything you do, good or bad. It hurts but I’m developing a thicker skin and at the end of the day it matters what you do, not what other people say.

WordPress appears from afar like an overnight success but in fact it has been a long and sometimes hard road, there have been worse controversies than this in the past and today’s drama is just that, another bump. That’s not to say there haven’t been some very valid criticisms, and I’m reading those and trying to learn what I can from them. I don’t remember who says it, but I think it’s important to “only make new mistakes.” The only thing I can really promise about the future is that some point I’ll make another mistake and royally screw things up and all I can do is be grateful for the people that remember we’re all human and the sooner we can move on the sooner we can get back to work, namely trying to make the best free personal publishing software in the world and giving it to as many people as possible.

Faith in Blogs

That’s the story straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speakl. I have a (perhaps naive) faith that at its root the blogosphere values truth over controversy, even if the mainstream media does not. I will happily update the entry to address any future questions or concerns that are emailed to me. I am technically on vacation through Sunday but that’s pretty much over now. I don’t have a cell phone here but I’ll be checking email regularly from now until I get back. If you have already written about this issue and want to present a balanced view of things to your readers the responsible thing to do is update or point people here. If you come across an article that is incomplete please point the author toward this information so we can have an open discussion of the facts.


Some good questions have come in and it will take a while to address each as they deserve. This will be a conversation that happens over the next few days, I expect to get to most on Sunday during my plane ride back to the US. This is just a way to say if your comment doesn’t show up immediately or I don’t reply to your email right away don’t worry, your question was heard it just needs to be aggregated and considered.

179 thoughts on “A Response

  1. I think that this is finally the explanation that we have all been looking for. Now, please do lay off him – in the end he was just trying to do the right thing but took the wrong path.

  2. This is exactly why I reserved judgment until seeing what you had to say, and I’m glad I did. Hopefully everything will get back to normal now. 🙂

  3. I don’t use WordPress (built my own thing), but I recommend it to everyone who asks. Nothing that has happened will change that. WordPress is a classy piece of kit that has made blogging easy for thousands of people, and a “little bit of a brain fade” isn’t going to detract from that fact.

    Now. When are we going to see some Italy pictures?

  4. I do most of my blogging outside of WordPress, so I’m not approaching this from the perspective of a devoted member of the WP community. Nonetheless, I think the mistakes were twofold.

    First, I think this sort of discovery is alienating to community members because it makes people feel like they were left out of an important decision. I’d say that people don’t donate to WordPress mostly because WordPress doesn’t ask for donations, and given a choice between that and dubious SEO-like tactics I think many bloggers would get out their wallets without a moment’s thought.

    Secondly (and relatedly), I think that the very fact that nobody was alerted to this deal is what paints it as shady. If the community had been alerted (and regardless of their reaction, it still would’ve been your call), then they’d at least have approached it with an open mind. Finding out about it like this suggests that you had something to hide.

    That said, there’s no real harm done, and at the very least all this unpleasantness will raise the issue of funding for open-source projects — the most popular of which, oftentimes, are the most strapped for cash. I’ll be donating to WordPress shortly.

  5. …I can’t say because of Google’s terms of service…

    I believe they recently changed their ToS to allow disclosure of the amount earned through AdSense.

  6. 😐

    This is why I suggested mulling it over a bit longer before responding.

    The core issue here is not that you added a revenue stream to WordPress.org. Plenty of us would support that, even prefer that, over a donation based model even.

    The issue is that you were secretive about this, and that you were breaking the rules with Google (which, in doing so, could have hurt us all had Google found out about this first [IMO]).

    You apologized for that, but the overall tone of this post focuses on the money/advertising which, I believe, is not what a whole lot of us were concerned about.

    So since we’re on that issue…

    “We have Adsense on the forums which generates a bit, I can’t say because of Google’s terms of service but it could support a daily coffee addiction.”

    Google has recently adjusted their TOS whereas you can now disclose your earnings so long as you do so accurately.

    I find it difficult to believe it’s but enough to “support a daily coffee addiction”. Maybe relative to expenses? I could swallow that. But it has to gross a decent stream of money. I’ve seen, first hand, how much AdSense can generate on forums but a 1/10th the size of WordPress’s, and its alot more then you infer.

    Despite that, why not just put AdSense on real content pages (where it is more profitable than dynamic forum pages anyway)?

    WordPress should be able to generate 5 figures a month off AdSense without blinking, especially considering the current bidding rates on relevant keywords.

    If you are using the proceeds for the good of the community than I’m confident the community would not have a problem with a few cleanly integrated AdSense blocks on the WordPress site.

  7. Great, to bad you weren’t around to adress this at the time it exploded, but thats life I guess. Hopefully everything will calm down now, but I’m sure it’ll linger a bit longer. No need for anyone to continue the personal attacks, as I’m sure everyone involved know that Matt did this for a greater good, not to enrich himself. Now, please, leave him alone and let the WordPress team continue their great work and providing hundreds of thousands of users a product so worth much more than it’s cost.

    “Move along, nothing to see here”.

  8. Andrew, it came up on the support forums and a few people emailed me about it, notably Podz, Mark, Carthik, and Craig. However it wasn’t discussed widely enough, which won’t happen again.

  9. Well written Matty.

    As I have said other places, I think it is ridiculous that the community feels as though it is entitled to be informed of these things. GPL deals with code, not marketing and fund-raising decisions.

    Sigh, children. Now get back here and answer my freakin email Matt!

  10. Still, it does nothing to reassure me the that default links that ship with WordPress are benign. Before this happend, I had idea that keeping the attribution to WordPress.org on the footer of the blog could actually be used deceptively. Now I know it can, and am much queasier about the default linking in WordPress. Naturally, I see how it’s to your benefit, and a very cool marketing idea, but more disclosure would help alay our worries…

  11. Matt, thanks for all you do with WordPress. Keep up the good work. I really enjoyed reading this post because I feel it reveals even more how decent you are.

  12. I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again. This is just none of my (or anyone elses) business. It does not effect my usage of WordPress.

    WordPress is the best blogging system out there. And guess what folks… It’s free. I wholeheartedly support any decissions made to fund WordPress.

  13. I just ran a report for last month and on wordpress.org Adsense generated $161.02 on about half a million pageviews. As noted, the ads only show on the forums but that’s because I feel like they would detract from more static pages or documentation. (Ads could be confusing to users.) The total check was more than that because it includes PhotoMatt which generally gets better results. (Though much fewer pageviews.)

  14. Elliott, the GPL doesn’t require any visible attribution so feel free to remove any links you’re uncomfortable about.

  15. I’m glad to read a response from you pretty quickly about this, even though you are on vacation! You responded to this how I hoped you’d respond; everyone makes mistakes and of course people will move on and learn from them. I’m still a happy WordPress user and will continue to be one for a long time. Thank you and the rest of the WP devs for making this such an awesome piece of software, and as soon as I have a real job again I will be making a donation. I’ve been using the software long enough (since the b2 days!) so I figure it’s time to make a contribution.

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  17. Matt,

    I blame you for bringing me into WordPress. I blame you for being intelligent and personable, and for doing something that means more to your heart than it does to your wallet. I blame you for giving untold hours of your life to dedicate yourself to creating an amazing project. I blame you for attracting a fantastic team of coders, writers, designers, to work on making WordPress better each and every day.

    I admire and respect you even more today than I did yesterday.

  18. What a fuss about such a little stupid human mistake! I mean, seriously! The sad thing is, all this appears to have such an impact on you and your life, Matt. I’m so sorry to hear about your vacation being “pretty much over now”. Just know that there will always be people who support you, no matter what. Personally, I don’t really give a dick wether you gain money to host your sites through visible ads or CSS-wise invisible ads, but it seems like some people did… It should be their problem, and not more than that. Though things turned out differently. We <3 you, Matt!

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  20. So you didnt actually ‘implement’ the css overflow thing yourself? Cuz that’s the part most of ‘them’ are bitching about.

    As for me, i spend most of the day trying to ask people not to post/flood threads regarding this issue in the wordpress support forum since its not the right place. (with podz help of cuz).

    You have a big heart man, big heart come with big responsibility.

  21. Matt, fair enough, thank you for disclosing.

    Maybe you should talk one-on-one with the community at a later date and discuss some ways on better integrating AdSense into the equation without getting in their way. I know that we wouldn’t mind a few ads here and there if it helps support the project (or even your own pockets… that’d be fine by me). There is definately the opportunity to make alot more than you are seeing.

    Like I said, you have every right to make money off of this thing you’ve done assuming your not going against anything you’ve previously promised and are there are no negative impacts on the project.

    Like Jennifer said, it really isn’t our business how/if/why you make a few bucks off your thing so long as you’re not hurting us in the process.

    The problem with what was done here was simply the deceptiveness of it all. Not the money making… just the way you went about it.

    This was obviously an honest mistake. Hopefully you now realize what the mistake really was.

  22. Very intelligent response to intelligent people who understands. Still is going to be people who will not or dont want to understand. Thanks Matt have a great time in your vacations.

  23. BTW, this was a great post considering the state of mind you are probably in, and the fact that your vacation was disrupted.

    Get back to your trip and put this behind you. You’ve done what you needed to do and nobody will care tomorrow. No need to stress.

  24. Someone with more photoshop skills than me should make a “support wordpress” button that I can display with pride. When your software links to itself, meh. When *you* choose to put a link on your site, it’s because you love the software. I know I would put it up somewhere on my blog!

  25. (sorry, but my english is really bad, so i’m write in spanish)

    matt, ni te molestes en contestar. era obvio que todo esto no era más que un ataque para empezar a crear condicionalidades. la estrategia es vieja…

    gracias por sostener este proyecto que nos beneficia a todos.

    saludos desde el sur del sur !

  26. I think in a case like this, the only thing you can do is claim your stance and move on. And in this case, I believe the true supporters will follow and move on with you.

    Exactly like Andrew said, having the WordPress community find out in such a manner suggests you were hiding something.

    I also think people were a bit too inclined to jump to conclusions and blow things out of proportion. All whilst you were on vacation. Bad timing played quite a part. Just another bump in the road of progress.

  27. Cheers to you, Matt, and your explanations. This is exactly why I am happy to be a WordPress user. (And also why I reserve judgement until the entire story is told.)

  28. Thanks Matt for the considered response and thanks again for the hard work that you’ve put in for the benefit of the community.

  29. I use WP on a few personal blogs and I love it, thank you for your efforts and others. I do not feel used or abused by this Overflow CSS issue. It’s been handled and is a non-issue. I will now donate since I understand the financial aspect of running this website a bit more clearly. Thank you Matt and keep working on the next version of WP.

  30. Well said, Matt. Thank you very much for addressing this in such a complete and professional matter. To all of the WordPress developers, you have an amazing product on your hands.

  31. I never thought about how much it cost to have wordpress, and this episode brings to the front the hidden costs of me having free blog software. All the headaches and pitfalls… The silver lining is that we now all know what it takes to make this wonderful product. Thank you. And I’ll be donating soon.

  32. Thanks for your words, Matt. I’m lucky that the WordPress-Train will keep on the track, because it’s a great piece of software. That’s the only important thing for me. But please, add an poll-option to bbPress a.s.a.p. ;-). And now I’m going to post these (good) news at my german blog. =)

  33. I hope folks are going to leave you alone now Matt. Open Source and GPL are licences. We do not expect you to be a charity (even though you are exceptionally geneous). Google started this stuff with their absurd pagerank scheme. It was always open to skilfull exploitation. 1.5 and the theme thing rocks. Even I am happy. Anyway – speaking personally – I hope you enjoy the rest of your spaghetti. 🙂

  34. Maybe this has been suggested a million times, but has anyone considered charging for “we’ll do it for you” support? Not that it would really be a reliable, long-lasting source of income, but it’s something that you could generate with WP without altering WP to conform to it – I’m sure hundreds of people would much rather shell out a few bucks to have someone get them all “set up,” or get the certain configuration they wanted, instead of browsing the codex or wiki or forums or whatnot. (though the issue of where the limit would be would get blurry… ) Anyway, maybe that is a ridiculous idea, just my under-caffenated, pre-lunch take on the dilemma.

  35. There is something missing from your message. It is full of “this is what happened” and completely lacking in “I’m sorry, I screwed up.”

    The issue that has not been addressed is the matter of reputation ethics. Your method of gaming the Google pagerank system relied on the links from thousands of WordPress users. Without these thousands of links from members of your own community, you could not have traded your site’s reputation for cash.

    The obvious questions are: What were you thinking? How could you justify exploiting your own community without their prior consent? Don’t you think you owe them an apology? Don’t you think you owe the entire weblogging community an apology, for using the very Link Farm methods that everyone is trying to eliminate?

    Your are either part of the solution, or part of the problem. Your site is part of the problem that infests the blog world, you joined the Link Farmers who use exploitive search engine optimizations. You are part of the problem. How could you join with these scumbags, when the rest of the blog developers are trying to eliminate them? Can’t you see that even non-WordPress users (like me) are irate, when you helped the Link Farmers that infest our blogs with comment spam? You have given aid and comfort to our enemies. What are you going to do about it?

    Please try to address these specific issues, and consider phrasing your response in the form of an apology. Consider also that apologies are rarely effective when they say “I’m sorry I got caught” or “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.” You need to make up for the damage you’ve done, for an apology to be something more than mere lip service.

  36. I don’t think either is the best route for the long-term health of the community.

    I find this very strange. You have made the decision with the link deal WITHOUT consulting/exchanging your thoughts with the so called community. Why? Why was there no public announcement of this deal, why was there no call for better ways to finance WP?

    You behaved like the boy king – deciding for ALL others what’s best for their beloved tool/project. This was a very big mistake and insulted many people who care like you for the WP universe.

    Please look at other OS projects or websites that have handled fund raising in a better and most of all more open way. You certainly have done a lot for WP – and without you I would have not progressed as much – but you are not the God of the WP Universe.

    If you want to WP community really take part, then work with them – instead of doing such U-Boot decisions and doubtable deals. Because actions like these will only make (many) people think that YOU neither trust the community and the project to run by it’s own power.

    I’m very hesitant to do anything that degrades the user experience

    Once again you seem to have decided what is best – I think today’s users very will can live with some kind of ‘disruption’ when it comes to so called ‘free’ software. Your decision has ‘disrupted’ the faith into the WP project much more then any nagging screen or asking for donations could have done.

    So if your motivation truly is to make WP self sufficient – then work with the community, diversify the income and be open about it – so people can jump in and see what’s going on. Some other projects have find solutions on how to do it – and so should the WP community. When there is no open discussion about the various challenges the growth of WP brings – then people can’t help in their own way. Sure the ‘inner circle’ will always be the dedicated bunch of people who will have to do ‘stuff’ and take action to make things work – but without open doors nobody will want ‘to walk in’.

    So far there is no openess about finance, no openess what things cost, how donations are spent – people can’t experience and join the ‘openess’.

    OpenSource projects grow at a certain point beyond open code poetry and cool designs – it’s also about community, public relations and commerce.

    Financing such a huge and successful operation will always be a bitch – but don’t make the mistake again to make a less then popular business deal in the name of WordPress to save it – because YOUR deals will always reflect back on the software WordPress and it’s community that had no voice in YOUR decision making.

    Maybe you’ll understand now some people’s anger at you better – you gave them no chance to participate in an important decision that relected on their community – as proud WP users. Blogging is very personal and choosing your blogging software as well. When people love something they get very pissed, when others damage their idol as well as self image. Ask any Apple user about this.

    You decide: is this Matthew Mullenweg WordPress – or is it WordPress’s universe WordPress?!

    Look at this current situation: you have made a decision that afflects the WordPress universe – only you could answer it, you only could remedy it because you had the absolute control over the website and the deal. You made yourself Godfather of the Universe (even with good intentions). What would happen if you ever had an accident or truly decided to join the dark side of the force?

    This isn’t to suggest that WordPress is donation-poor, in fact it’s just the opposite, but who could put a price on the hours Ryan and the other developers spend debugging and writing great code or Podz, Lorelle, and Craig spend on the support forums or writing fantastic documentation.

    I applaud all the good people who have dedicated so much time, knowledge and effort to the project. But the bitch about OpernSource projects is that you have to give your dedication willingly for FREE and NOT expect any return. There is NO way an OpenSource project like WP can repay these great individuals – unless you clearly split the operation into a non-profit part and a commercial entity. Some projects have taken that road – maybe somthing worthwhile considering?!

  37. Matt, I just donated $20 to WordPress–a pittance, I know, but I did it more as a sign of respect and a show of moral support than as financial support. While I don’t use WordPress for my own blog, I installed it on my server to teach myself a little PHP, and I’ve recommended it to others. You and your community have created a fantastic product.

    Also, as someone who has made far too many mistakes to even count, I add my voice to the chorus of well-wishers who are saying it’s not the end of the world, and I commend you on your commitment to set things right.

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  39. Thank You Matt! I was awaiting your response and this is exactly what I figured. It was simply innocent. Now, go on and try to enjoy the rest of your tip!

  40. All right, first things first: I do know you are not a crook, an evil person or even someone with the slightest malicious intents. I know your level of dedication to the project and even if I don’t know you personally, I have heard enough to gather that you are a nice and trustworthy person.

    Further more, I thoroughly despise that kind of angry lynch mob spirit that washes over the blogosphere whenever some such item comes up. Character attacks and sweeping generalizations are unfortunately an important part of Blog polemics, but I think we are all civilized enough around here to know they aren’t worth of much attention.

    A very, very stupid decision: that it was (and only stupid for only one reason: because it was done in an unethical way and broke Google’s rules, nothing else). But I really think everybody has at least once made worse errors in judgement, and it’s hardly the end of the world (nor the end of WordPress, obviously).

    Now, I think both Andrew and Adam above raise some essential points. Much more important than endlessly reflecting on what’s been done, why it’s been done and how ethical/unethical it was, maybe it would be a good occasion to set some very solid foundations regarding future communications on this matter. In fact, I believe even Andy mentioned this…

    It seems like all this could have easily been avoided if there had been any level of public disclosure on this at all. I do not now there was any (most developers did not even seem like they knew much about it). This cannot reflect well on the community at large.

    Then, as has been mentioned before, why not simply make all accounting public? Not talking about keeping tabs or even giving any sort of justification on the use that is made of donation money and other source of revenue, but simply putting up a page with a monthly report of what came in (and how) and what it was used for (I don’t think there’s any need for intricate details here, but giving an idea of what share does what, cannot hurt). Not only would this have the immediate effect of putting an end to the controversy and shutting up all the nonsense being spewed about this affair, but I also believe it would greatly help the financing itself, by showing people the direct impact of their support and outlining the particular need for donation, if necessary.

    Then again: this is your ship, and you are perfectly entitled to make this choice fully on your own. But I think this is basically a crosspath where you need to take a strong stand showing that WordPress (the blogging software, not the company or any other parallel project that you are absolutely entitled to lead separately, however you see fit) remains, for all purpose, a community-oriented project, not a private venture that happens to receive contributions from the public. We all know there has been precedents (and no, I am in no way implying that this is the case here, just pointing the obvious: people have been burnt once, they’ll be much quicker to jump the train now).

    I have no worry though, and I know all the dust and furore will settle down soon enough, hopefully leaving us more solid and motivated as a community than ever.

    Good luck with the future!

  41. Just a few words to show support for you, Matt. You’ve said what you can here, but you never know when you’ll get a chance to go on vacation to Italy again–and you still have a few days there.

    Everyone needs to chill out over the weekend anyway–you should try to too!

  42. As a fairly new WP convert, I’m relieved that you’re so forthcoming, Matt. Not that it would have made any difference in my satisfaction with the product. Just wondering, though–has Google kicked you off Adsense, or are they giving you another chance?

  43. I just wanted to chime in my support. I love WP. I find myself spending hours on my site fiddling with it because of the things that can be done and if I want to try something, the support forums have been a great place to learn. That’s what was the deal buster when I was looking for a something, the support forums- it made the difference knowing if I was stuck with something, that there was a community I could tap into and get help. I think the mess is a shame. I well understand labors of love because I have something similar that few really understand what it takes to maintain. So good on ya mate. 1.5 made me wanna smack myself for ever being hesitant to upgrading. I appreaciate ALL of the community’s hardwork..you guys know who you are.

  44. Well done Matt,

    the response hit just the right mix of honesty and humility.

    Next time we feel you are getting a bit big headed – we’ll just say “Asbestos”!



  45. A very good response and you’d have to be pretty damn crazy to let this affect weather you are going to or are using WordPress or not.

  46. Just chiming in with my own small message of support. I am just a humble WordPress user, and have now read most, if not all the postings on this subject. Clearly, an unwise decision, but I fully agree it is now time to learn from this, and move on. I must say that I would not be in the least bit bothered if Adsense was used on the rest of the WordPress site. Many blogs use Adsense these days, and if it helps generate honest, transparent income for WordPress, I cant see anything wrong with it. Why not ask the community if they feel the same way? If, as some people suggest, a decent amount of money can be made on a popular site…Go for it!
    Now do get back to your Chianti and Carbonara, for goodness sake, and dont worry about this ’til you get back….:-)

  47. I use WP before it was popular. I really thank you and the team for this great script. My blog is one of the great experiencies of life, and WP takes part.

    Sometimes the people take time to insult, but not for say thanks.

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  49. I just wanted to add another thank you for the community you’ve put together. Your group has put together a great product that will help the internet community for many years.

    The controversy will probably fade quicker than the IE7 hype.

  50. I am in a constant battle with Google’s AdWords program to get them to step up their efforts to combat fraud. Google is far too lenient on publishers, and there are many schemes to defraud advertisers, especially those of us who advertise on high-priced keywords. The let’s-write-an-article-about-a-high-priced-keyword scheme is a common one, and works too often because it gets clicks from many IP addresses and therefore bypasses Google’s fraud detection system.

    Several months ago I wrote a letter to Google’s CEO asking him to kick out one site (not WordPress) that was using a system whereby users could write articles and then collect a share of the ad revenue. It lead to articles mostly about high-priced keywords and clicks from the families and friends of the writers.

  51. Hey, I don’t have a job right now. I pay for my own hosting. I am up to my eyeballs in debt. I understand what you did. I understand why you did it. I think that you don’t deserve the negative press that you are getting. I only hope it drives more people to check out WordPress. Also, I hope to pledge some of my Visa debt to WordPress because it has given me so much. I run 4 sites off WordPress, and every version is 10x better than the one before. I first installed WP at the 0.72 mark, and have been a follower ever since.

    Matt you rock, WordPress Rocks, and I hope everyone that says something negative to you realizes how wrong they are.


  52. I have to side with you on this one Matt.

    Though there were plenty of things you might have have done differently, you got blindsided on this one.

    My own personal thoughts are that the Waxy.org story while being sensationalist is nothing more than that. It certainly is not any sort of investigative journalism.

    I guess the point for me is that Matt is fortunate in that WordPress has received much love to date. However as the owner/operator, he is a tech guy who now needs to realize he is running a business with a dedicated and easily aggitated community. Those who are the greatest evangelists of your products can also lead to its quickest demise.

    I also have a sincere problem with the difference in numbers between what Matt claims (1000+ articles) and HotNacho which claims 168,000. Its not like splitting the difference brings the two much closer.

    I have actually managed to turn this little “scandal” into a three part series on my blog. Part I is up, with Parts II and III later today. It’s like my own little ABC Mini-Series…I wonder who will play me?

  53. Thanks for the update, Matt. It’s a smart decision to be more transparent and solicit community input with similar future issues. Don’t let braying Orlowski and his ilk get to you.

  54. I think there’s a lot of people commenting on this who either don’t know what they are on about, or are pretty hypocritical.

    A couple people have said here in the comments what I agree with. It’s not the trying to generate some revenue that is the problem, or to me, even the content of the ads used to do it. It’s not even a problem that you didn’t disclose it, why should you tel us all about how you’re making some cash?

    The one and only problem is the method of using a really old trick to hide loads of content. I first started learning about search engines around the start of 2000, Alta Vista was pretty big back then 🙂 Quite a few people would then do things like setting font colour to the same as the background, and making it really small, thus hiding the text. Frowned upon by the search engines, and I remember seeing some cases where sites were banned.

    Since the uptake of CSS, a few others thought “ooh, lets hide some content using CSS positioning, afterall, we don’t want our visitors to see it, just the search engines”. Guess what, it’s frowned upon by the search engines. This is the same problem with the various FIR/sFIR methods for image replacement by the way, which I’ve been harping on about ever since I saw Doug Bowman’s piece on it.

    The people who say it’s ok because it’s WordPress and WordPress is good, just don’t get it. Yes, WP is a great product, I love it, I use it on my site, and am going to be seeing about using it at work, and for a couple other projects. But just because you have a good Open Source product, does not mean you are above the rules and can do things that get other people banned (ie those things commonley referred to as spam).

    The people who are moaning about the very idea of making some money with some ads and saying ads are evil are just off living in a dream world. Professional quality apps like WordPress take time, time takes money, huge bandwidth requirements caused by popularity of free professional apps takes money. Go ahead, monetise the thing. But there are a lot of better ways than shady hidden divs.

    You’ve got a hell of a following here, surely there are some people around who can give a few ideas on ways to generate some revenue which aren’t annoyingly intrusive, and aren’t shadily underhand.

    Yes what you did was bad Matt, and you deserve a smack on the wrists for it, but it was only bad in the way it was implimented, not in the idea of bringing in some funding itself. To be honest, this whole post could have been summed up in comment 30.

    “I take full responsibilty for how it was implemented. It was wrong, and it wasn’t thought through.

    Comment by Matt”

    Perosnally I think that’s about all that was needed.

    Oh, and I don’t think you’re meant to talk about how much money AdSense is making for you! Comment 17, might want to edit that 😉

  55. Matt,

    I’d like to encourage you to look past all this hype. That eWeek, MSNBC, The Register, Slashdot, Ars Technica, and Metafilter would all place high enough importance on this whole ordeal is actually an indirect compliment to WordPress; it has become such a significant piece of online software and an invaluable tool to many bloggers, that these major media outlets considered it newsworthy to report on this “scandal.”

    The media will always tend to sensationalize events. Regardless of what the actual articles said on those individual Web sites, readers–especially online readers–are typically critical enough to do their own research. A Google search now returns many sites lamenting the tragedy of what has happened. However, the comments of loyal WP community members on these sites mostly defend your position and you as a person. Even without knowing your intentions, they still stood up for you because they knew your character. That is true loyalty and a great testimony to you as a person.

    The reason I write is to point out that, in some cases, bad PR (Google) can ultimately mean good PR (public relations). Many people have been made aware of the WordPress software in the past few days. I myself had never seen the name Matt Mullenweg before two days ago. I don’t think it would not be too much to assume that many of these are either bloggers or are interested in blogging, and that many had either not heard of WordPress or had not tried it for themselves.

    I would hope that the loyalty of WordPress users openly professed on the multitude of sites where their comments exist would at least pique the interest of those who do not use WordPress enough to try it. And if they try it, I have no doubt that they will like the software, which could eventually lead to a switch to WordPress and another satisfied and loyal WordPress community member.

  56. It looks like someone else out there comments under the name “Adam M”, and worse it’s someone who believes all the hype about AdSense raking in tens of thousands of dollars a month for virtually everyone who slaps it up on their site. I guess I’m going to have to start using my full name in comments, now. 😉

    Matt, you made a stupid and wrong-headed decision with the best intentions in mind. I myself have made stupider, more wrong-headed, and ultimately more harmful decisions more than once in my life; most honest people reading this page can probably say the same thing. Live and learn.

    Elliott Bäck said:
    “Still, it does nothing to reassure me the that default links that ship with WordPress are benign.”

    Oh dear God, not more of that “WordPress is spyware / adware!” tripe. Spare me.

  57. I just wanted to say a few brief words to express my support. You most certainly do not deserve the petty flames being thrown at you, I’m quite disgusted at the actions of some people.

    Much ado about nothing really sums it up for me.

    I hope you manage to enjoy the rest of your holiday!

  58. Matt, thank you for posting your explanation. It was a bad mistake from you, but I think everyone has learned a valuable lesson and that we can all move on now.

    I hope Italy was as spectacular to you as it was when I went my previous two times.

    $5 going to WordPress via PayPal as we speak. It’s all I can spare, but it’s worth it for what a great project this is.

  59. If you put an adsense in index of wordpress website, a lot of people click it. Two clicks in a banner dont are effort for people.

    No more “ilegal” articles in WP, please 😉

  60. Enjoy Florence, Matt. What a wonderful city. And don’t miss Galileo’s finger in the museum of science. (It’d be a beautiful little museum even if it didn’t have the Galilean digit.)

  61. Matt, just enjoy the rest of your vacation man. To those of you who are outraged..get a life. There are so many misconceptions being throw around concering cloaking..etc. I really just wanna jump in and go at it, but I don’t want to hijack your entry and turn it into something it was not meant to be. Regardless, I know of many other people who do a lot worse things than that. If Matt were really into using some shady tactics it would have been nowhere near as easy to catch.

    Matt, keep your head up, don’t sweat the drama queens. Go and enjoy the rest of your vacation. Everyone will still be here monday. Life’s too short and the vacations are too few. Enjoy the one’s that you get.

  62. “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.” – Brendan Brehan

    I’ve used Movable Type, Textpattern, Drupal and others (either for my own projects / experimentation or for clients’ blogs), and I have to echo the sentiments of a lot of the other people here. WordPress rocks! Thank you for creating a piece of software with such a warm and inviting community attached to it, as well as buidling something that actually works as it’s supposed to, with minimal headaches. Having been involved in the open-source community and various “fanware” projects, I’m very well acquainted with how much work it takes to not survive but THRIVE in the sort of business climate we’re in nowadays. Anytime you need folks to work on the marketing end of things, all you have to do is say the word. My fiancee and I both hold advanced degrees in marketing and visual communications, and we’re behind you and WordPress 150 percent! Enjoy the rest of your vacation; my donation is on its way.

  63. Matt,
    You should not worry about this, I think more people are behind you then against and if more of us stand up and defend you then it wouldn’t have been so bad. I really appreciate all that you do and if I had a better job I would donate more often. Two things:

    Even if you took some of the money; which you haven’t; you deserve it.

    I don’t disagree with the circumstances at all, it is Googles loop hole and who is more deserving to reap the benefits? Other then the wordpress community.

    Great job on everything you do. I hope next time you go on vacation the whole damn Internet explodes so you can have some peace when you get back.

  64. Matt, I’m very impressed with how you’re handling the aftermath of this ‘learning experience’. You’re doing the right thing. Thanks to everyone who works on WordPress. The check is in the mail. Take care.

  65. I think wordpress have made a mistake, but wordpress is a great project and it’ll remain great.
    I’ll look forward not behind.

    Enjoy your vacation in my beautiful country 😉

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  67. Totally behind you Matt, great post and great work… I second the comment that said I’m an even bigger WP fan now that I was a few days back. Keep on going for all of us.

  68. I haven’t ever said anything regarding WordPress or Matt. In fact, I’m one of those faceless thousands that use WordPress happily each day and am thankful that it’s out there for me to use (and all of the amazing upgrades and plug-ins that come with it).

    That being said, I waited to hear the full story before passing any judgement and I’m glad I did. You haven’t disappointed me with your response, Matt. In fact, I’m impressed with the way you step up to the plate, are honest, and are humble.

    This response says a lot about the person you are.

    As the saying goes, “Keep on keepin’ on.”

  69. Matt, it’s really sad that people have attacked you personally in such a rough manner. As I mentioned on my blog, we should definitely give you benefit of doubt.

    Anyway, it’s great that you have a good job, BUT this incident has really shaken my believes about free (all 3 meanings of it) software, I don’t think they make any sense *financially*.


  70. JD, open source (or free for that matter) have been around, healthy and active, for longer than Matt’s been alive. Don’t let this one incident challenge that which has been successful for decades.

  71. Matt,

    Well stated, and easy to understand. My grandfather used to remind me, “there at least two things in this world you did not invent: the wheel, and the mistake.”

    I’m just thankful that most of my mistakes are not subject to the review of the internet community as a whole; there are some pretty passionate and, apparently, pretty-much-perfect people out there who get very self-rightous about other people’s actions.

    I can’t help but wonder how much greater the whole world would be if those people were more like Matt, and and evidenced a generous spirit as quickly and as passionately as they vent their anger. WordPress Rocks! Thanks, Matt for all you have done for all those who use, or will use, WordPress. $25.00 to the donation kitty at WordPress…just because.

  72. Shelley,
    I mentioned free software and not open source software. And let’s keep that jargon game aside because I don’t really understand differences between OSS/FS myself!

    Lately, I am getting strong feeling that free software doesn’t make sense for us, developers. I have been watching more and more businesses leaning towards free software and instead of appreciating, they devalue our profession and our work. If you visit various message boards, you would often see people requesting software which can do XYZ (a non trivial task) which is free. And no matter how you cut it, if you give out something for free, people think that it’s easy and of no value. And that’s what I hate because I think getting software right is an incredibly complex task.

    Anyway, I think I am going off topic, I would keep my rants aside for now. Will post about it on my blog.


  73. Matt,

    Well stated, and easy to understand. My grandfather used to remind me, “there at least two things in this world you did not invent: the wheel, and the mistake.”

    I’m just thankful that most of my mistakes are not subject to the review of the internet community as a whole; there are some pretty passionate and, apparently, pretty-much-perfect people out there who get very self-rightous about other people’s actions.

    I can’t help but wonder how much greater the whole world would be if those people were more like Matt, and and evidenced a generous spirit as quickly and as passionately as they vent their anger. WordPress Rocks! Thanks, Matt for all you have done for all those who use, or will use, WordPress. $25.00 to the donation kitty at WordPress…just because.

  74. I just donated $5 to WP and I don’t even use it. I did it to make up for the 90,000 freeloaders that won’t spend as much as their daily coffee habit for something that gives them so much value. I really worry about the “everything should be free on the internet” mentality that is seeping into people these days. People have no respect for the hard work of others. Why can’t I make a copy of that song, movie, software? It’s not like it’s stealing. I realize that Matt doesn’t charge, so it’ not exactly the same thing, but come on guys. Pay for what you find useful and/or entertaining. There will come a time when there is nothing but crap left for you to steal.

  75. Because I can never focus on the main topic when there are interesting tangents around, I’ve got a question: what exactly was in wordpress.org/articles/articles.xml (I forgot to look before it was gone), and more importantly, why? Did one of you have a reason to believe that RSS contributes to getting well crawled and indexed, or were you looking for hits from somewhere that requires RSS, or was it just a shot in the dark?

  76. 76 comment : Well you did’nt have to reply or anything but anyway its good that you did.People just like to potshots at anything since this is the internet and crap.Who cares people just wanna make money when they get a chance etc..SEO as such sucks…google is full crappy results these days thanks to fake blogs,infinite loops and spammers…Those old days when are over…whatever…

  77. Matt – The entry itself was written eloquently and seems genuine but I’m not so sure you intended to label the brushback from this situation as “noise.” Perhaps a more humble, contrite title would/could/should have been: “responding to my mistake.” Then again, maybe you do truly see the response as “noise.” Google certainly seems to have viewed those articles as the other techniques employed as that.

  78. Great response. Its a shame so many of the attacks turned personal and people refused to even consider the ‘larger picture’ or consider anything beyond knee jerk reactions.
    I Think you covered all of my concerns and I thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.

  79. I think it’s a great piece of softare.

    I’m very glad you guys worked so hard on WordPress… it’s awesome.

    Close your ears to the racket outside, and do what you know is right. An awful lot of people seem to have an awful lot to say about such small potatoes. So you made a decision like this. Perhaps it was a mistake.

    Never mind. Just learn from it and move on. And I know, we have a business here and it’s pretty much the same thing: we have to MAKE decisions, and sometimes those decisions turn out badly…

    So, don’t worry. Keep going!


  80. Don’t lose rest over andy-pandy’s rag-reporting, that place is beginning to look like the Star lately. Mountains outta molehills. “We” collectively have a fine product here, WP is bigger than Matt, but all roads still lead to Rome.

    Are you short on cash? Would you like me to make you a cheese plate up? 😉 This will fade, the fact of the matter is WP is gold, if not for Matt, but for Matt”¦ thank you Matt.

    Sleep well, you {have} earned it.

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  82. You could have shut the conversation down. You opened it up. All the ethical “moral” bs is exactly that. B.S.

    As I said on bloglogic.net, this was just a plan not thought through. It happens. Time to move on. Good engagement this all is though…

  83. A well done and still almost timely response. You’ve made a mistake, you’ve corrected it and you’ve learned from it. So let’s get back to normal. And let’s hope that you’re gonna find a way to continue your excellent WP dev work and to fund it. Have a good trip back home.

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  85. If wordpress dies, I’ll never blog again….
    It’s funny to me reading post on other forums about “thats the problem with bloggers” etc. I’m seeing more about WP then I was about Google cloaking and keyword stuffing and amazingly all the post about google doing such things has vanished (almost) from every forum or bbs I’ve seen. I’m kinda tired of being lead by Google and the other major SE’s to a point of where it’s desided by them how the internet is used. It’s about time the opensource community builds it’s own SE.

  86. Thanks for the clarification Matt. I appreciate what you do and I understand why you did what you did. I wish our politicians would be as candid as you were when they make mistakes. Keep up the good work and enjoy Florence. BTW, you should try to get down to Sienna while you are there, it’s a nice place and not quite as “touristy” as Florencia.


  87. “TeePee”, I’d be hard pressed to call Andy’s coverage “rag reporting”, and I know that Matt probably agrees himself.

    How many news sources picked up on the story? Several. How many added anything worthwhile? None. How many got it completely wrong, confusing the actions of Matt for the actions, mindsets or inherent faults of a) the developer team in its entirety, b) every WordPress user, c) WordPress the software package, amongst other things? A lot.

    Andy has provided excellent coverage, kept the comments moderated, actually contacted Matt about the whole mess in the first place and done his best to not slide into a particular view. Not what I’d call “rag reporting”.

  88. After my initial dismay at working with a black hat SEO company, I have been dismayed at how many commentators have totally missed the point. The point is that black hat SEO is bad, because it makes search engines less useful for everyone. Whether Matt is a great guy, whether WordPress is great software, whether advertising is OK or whether it is OK to make money from Open Source are besides the point.

    So I think working with Hot Nacho was a very bad idea. I also think it was appropriate to point this out. I think it was appropriate that Google divested wordpress.org of PageRank while to scam was going on. However, even cool guys make mistakes and should be allowed to fix them and be forgiven. (And it is not nice at all to be in the middle of something like this when you are supposed to be on vacation.)

  89. Thank you for a GREAT product in WordPress … it is fundamentally changing what goes on in Higher Education in my classrooms. I wouldn’t be able to do it without the work you and the rest of the WP community has put into this. I understand the issues here, but could care less. We do what we do and that’s that. I am a proud WP user. Keep it up and you’ll be getting donations from me and those who use WP on my campus! Take care–>

  90. Nicely said, Matt. It was pretty much what I figured it’d be.

    Dunno’ why everyone made it out to be some conspiracy or malicious, etc.

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  92. I apologise for calling you a “retard” on that waxy.org thread, but I suppose I wasn’t as sensible as some people in holding my tongue when this blew up. And never mind ol’ Andy, he’s got a bit of a bee in his bonnet about blogs.

    What it sounds like was a few small honest mistakes blown up into a big one – what upset me about it, specifically, was the connection with spam, which these days has a similar aim, to farm PageRank, which seemed to me to be undermining things like the neat spam control stuff in WP – but hey, it’s fixed and, as others mentioned, it’ll have some positive effects, such as making people think about how much it’s worth to them, and contributing accordingly… So I will kick in a few bucks over the week.

  93. Best of luck to you – I’ve only just started using WordPRess at it is a superb piece of software. It would be a genuine shame if there were any problems in the continuing development of it.

  94. I support you and the WP project 100%, Matt. I think you have stated your position very well. You have given everyone so much with the offering of WP. I don’t think anyone has the right to judge you in the harsh manner that they have. People are something else… give them an inch of controversy and they run miles with it. *roll eyes* Take care and thank you for all you do. *pat on the back*

  95. It was a mistake, and I can’t get over how it was exploiting the fruit of those who decided to keep the wordpress link in their template. However, had this happened to Corporation X, they would have released some ridiculous PR statement and waited for everything to fizzle away. I cannot emphasize enough how much respect has been restored due to your candor and willingness to accept responsibility for the mistake.

    If anything, I feel confident (rather than just assuming) that things like this in the future will be out in the open. My link to wordpress.org will surely stay.

  96. There is probably some confusion between Andy Baio who wrote a fair and informative article at Waxy.org and Andrew (Andy) Orlowski who wrote a horrible piece on the Register that not only got things wrong, but tried to mix my day job in with it in what I can only imagine is an attempt to cause me trouble there, even though the two couldn’t be more separate.

  97. Mistakes are there to be learned from. Remove the link to Firefox in the admin or get the image on the own server though 😛 (stupid place to bring this up? yes… but alas, humans are stupid)

  98. I admire the work you have done and support you. The personal attacks against you were unfair and nasty. The blogging community appreciates what you have given us. WP is a brilliant initiative and bloggers around the world will keep supporting you and your collaborators. Thanks for making WP what it is.

  99. 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”¦..

  100. Although, it just occured to me that the title of this post “A Response to the Noise” is not an appropriate response. The concerns of WordPress users and bloggers are a little more than just “noise.” There are a lot of people online who take ethics, disclosure of funding, and other issues as more than just noise on the blogosphere. I suppose I’m nitpicking.

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  102. Hey!!! I cut out some of those crooked WP stickers!!! I still have them on the iPod, the phone, and the keyring. I am the queen of promotion here!
    Honey, I love you, but I’m still giggling over that weird-ass spaghetti quote. If it’s any consolation, I will always use WP!!!
    I also agree with my new buddy, – he of the handsome Tomas (I don’t know how to do the accent here, Tom) – you’d better start watching for “Free Palm – Asbestos” emails 😉 Love, C

  103. Whoops, I really screwed up that link….that’s what I get for playing around. Can you fix that Matt? I’ll stop being fancy. Love, C

  104. David,
    WordPress.org is back on the index and is ranked at 8. My assumption is that the powers that be at Google saw this as a simple, human mistake and therefore acted in kind. Had they viewed this as being typical “spam tactics” they would not have done this.

  105. You know, the initial blunder didn’t bother me one bit. I was (and always remained) willing to wait to hear what you had to say when you got back online.

    But what ticked me off was the reaction of moderators on bbPress. They could have left one thread open to let people comment on the issue and locked any duplicate threads, but instead kept locking all the threads. This left people to either start a new thread and watch it get locked, or comment in their own blog and thus spread the story before a proper response was up. I picked neither.

    Anyway, it came across very poorly and is likely why this went out of control. Although it s ounds like you’ve learned your lesson, I’d be a lot happier if they had as well.

  106. Craig, I doubt that Google saw this as a simple, human mistake. I imagine, though, they didn’t want to penalize the entire WordPress community because of it. And, they might be concerned that there would be accusations of conflict of interest since Google also has a blogging tool/community.

    To be honest, I think Google should apply its rules evenly across the board, but Google is a private concern and does their own thing.

    Hard to say why Google restored the rang, but I have a hard time believing because they saw this as a ‘simple, human’ mistake. Not when it was hidden, which was deliberate.

  107. This is an OK response but I think Matt could have trimmed it by about 90%. Do you really need to include all the bits about how easy it is to pull in a few mill from VCs or about how nasty all the personal emails have been or how opposed to advertising you are or the consipiracy theories? How about “I apologize for this situation. All of the articles have been taken down and I am no longer working with Hot Nacho. Thank you for your support.”

    Also, before you get too far with the WordPress Foundation, please know that this is also a mistake. “foundations” are reserved for very few properties (e.g., Mozilla, Mitch Kapor). Doing a “foundation” will simply appear as an artificial attempt to obtain an elevated status.

  108. Matt, I just wanted to thank you for your dedication and commitment to the WP community. WP is possibly the best thing thats happened to the web. I dunno what some of this is about, as I don’t rightly understand it, but I trust you are doing what’s right, and what might be a neccesary evil in keeping this show on the road.

    Sorry that folks are attacking you personally. Unfortunetly, thats how the internet can get.

    Keep up the good work, I haven’t lost any faith in you.

  109. I don’t know what the brouhaha was on the boards, but I’m sorry to see some really helpful people leaving. I just wanted to take the time to thank you again for some personal help that you provided me. Even though it was a small bit of your time (and was probably frustrating, since I figured out the whole thing was my own dumb human error!) I really appreciated the help. Here’s at least one person (and probably 135 more) saying thanks for your time, effort, and caring. Best wishes to you. 🙂

  110. pb, I posted a new entry which trims it down about 95%.

    Steven, I don’t micromanage the forums. I’ve entrusted what goes on there to the people who spend the most time helping people, and I defer to their decision to keep the discussions support-focused.

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  112. Reading all the OUTING news of this one episode of blogg link spamming makes me wonder how many actually have bloggs solely for the purpose of gaming Google et. all. More revealing, and as an act of pennance, more info should be given about how the real “Taco” Adwhore perp weazled his way into the revenue plans of WP. That site exists to support SE link spamming gamers as Matt already knew. The glut of CSS spamming will bring about draconian changes in the SERPs well beyond the impact of the Florida Update. Adding fuel to that fire storm sure doesn’t help when piled upon the P2P vs Supreme Court case, US Congress fight to curb browser spamming via Adware/Spyware, all feeding the wrath of the general public on getting duped by internet link schemers. Shame on Matt for even considering a blackhat move to garner in funds for his worhty cause. My take is his appologists just are worried their SE blogger spam tricks were in jeopardy from being outed by a Google change.

  113. First, vacation is precious. Log off and enjoy it!!!

    Second, I am was just surfing and got to this post. 140+ comments!?! Could someone (not on vacation) please enlighten me to this “scandal”? What’s wrong with the ads?

    Lastly, it seems like you have a lot of support, and although I don’t use WordPress, I am impressed by many of the implementations that I see. Very slick. Cheers!

  114. i don’t complain much about ad-words, i find them quite unobtrusve (depending on placement)… only one thing tho, please just accept text ones, the graphics ads are butt-ugly. ;-P

  115. What a tempest in a teapot! With all of the scams, scandals and other shennanigans going on out there, this one rather pales in comparison. Don’t let the blogstorm troopers get to you, WordPress is a wonderfully elegant piece of software (especially considering that it is free) and this mini-controversey will pass because of that quality.

  116. I have come to know about this hulabaloo much after it actually started. I can only say , i am more grateful to WordPress, for the superior product . People who have come out with knives and batons, most of them probably has never done a constructive thing ever. So , there is no need to tink of even answering them. You can spend that time bettering the wordpress project.

  117. Well, you’ll probably always remember that vacation! Not exactly the press you wanted, but still news. You’re doing a great job and personally, I think the whole thing was blown out of proportion! It only takes one person who has already “˜made up their mind’.

  118. I’m amazed about what people get worked up about nowadays, mostly without even knowing all the facts. When it comes right down to it, this is free software and you should feel privileged that you are allowed to use it and that people put the effort in to make it better. You have no rights here. How would you feel if someone would write to you and inflict their opinion on you regarding your personal life and the way you go about doing your main hobby? Just back off, and be grateful for what is given to you. If you’re not, make your own, have a coke and a smile and..

  119. I would have to say, let this whole thing rest. An experiment is an experiment and WordPress has worked to be FREE, without nag screens or donation requests. We’ve all had the benefit of using it for so long now, and have had the pleasure of knowing we can always expect and receive updates as they are available. Nothing wrong with a little bit of testing or trying to obtain some type of revenue stream – however large or small that would be.

    It’s just my opinion, but I think a Valid One.

  120. Guerrilla marketing be damned when you have controversy to work with – the chatter generated by this will do nothing but help you, especially if google stays nice.

    Karma (or whatever you personally call it) doesn’t go away. Suggest you bite the bullet and send all proceeds to a worthy charity for a coupla months, have a public poll for it or the like. Even better, build in some sort of function of WP so that WP users can pick where a tiny portion goes based on referrals or something – and make it be something that the non profit community can re-use to great effect.

    Speaking in generalities – but highly recommend you do something that helps charity. Will make people love you and make you love you, win win.

  121. Matt…

    I’ve written you personally but wanted to say publicly that you are the man. I’ve got all the respect in the world for how you’ve carried yourself. As someone who’s watching from afar, I feel you are full of good character and the right kind of attitude. You’ve got humility and steadfast determination (which is a rare combination) and I’m proud to be a very small part of this great community. Keep going and I hope this work continues to be very rewarding to you in many ways.

    As for any further criticism you may receive, remember that many times criticism says more about the people making the accusations than it does about the person it is directed to.

    Carpe Diem,


  122. Welcome back and thanks for the help understanding this issue better.

    And thanks for the kudos for the work on the Forums and Codex. I don’t get involved lightly, in any organization, and I’m very impressed with the work of everyone I’ve come in contact with as part of the WordPress Community, including yourself, Podz, Craig, Carthik, and….well, it’s a very long list of amazing people.

    Good work is being done here, folks. Let’s stick with the positive attitude on all of it and make it even better because of the rumours and scorn. Onward!

  123. Hi,

    I am using WordPress for sometime for blog.taragana.com and hotjobs.taragana.com. I have written, responded in your support forums, wrote few plugins and hacks, but never communicated with you before.

    I think you have done a wonderful job with WordPress. It is a good piece of software, something that forced me to learn php in depth 🙂

    I think lot of people are overreacting to this issue. At the core two issues were raised: 1. Hosting certain articles on WP site and 2. Hiding them from normal users using CSS.

    I think you have nothing to answer for hosting any articles on your site. It doesn’t matter whether the same site also hosts an open source projects. This is a non-issue.

    The second is not a legal offense either. People think it is an offense because all-mighty google has decided that providing different content to search engines is an offense. Frankly I think it is a problem that should be addressed algorithmically by google. I really don’t see why people would resort to personal attacks against you for this.

    The fact that the articles have been removed effectively closes the issue.

    Wish you strength in overcoming this issue with your head held high.


  124. Hello Andy, thanks for helping make Word Press. I can NOT believe that it’s free! I have been using it for a few months now and love it. However you want to make money is fine by me. Can’t wait for the future.

  125. It’s astounding how many people really don’t have lives. Sweet Jesus, if you actually spent more than 30 seconds worrying about this, you really need to get out more.

    Matt, keep up the great work.

  126. I would just say mistakes happens to the best also. I am glad to see this passed over and things are back to normal. Unfortunately such issues get blown out of proportion on what should be just a google issue, because Google is the de-facto standard on web search.

    You aptly said you can know your true friends only in times of crisis.

    Have you considered other advertising options like BlogAds, AdBrite etc. ?

    So when is next version of WordPress coming(hope you don’t stick so rigorously with the forced nofollow on comments this time)?

  127. Well written and straight to the post. I think you deserve to make money, good money, from your endeavours with WP. Have never taken this non-profit open-software stuff to heart. There’s a limit to how much we can do without making money from it. I worked for years for religious publications; packed it in when I realised that I barely had any money for anything and turned to commercial projects, making money online from my websites.

  128. I never found out about this. I just read this from a blog I visited, and then got directed to another blog, and then another, etc. This happened in April? Wow!
    I don’t really think it’s that bad. It was all negative advertising, what people did (telling everyone about this issue without asking first, I mean).
    In the end, just two things are important:
    1. The software was not touched, so nothing could possibly harm the users.
    2. Before doing something in a community-based project, even if you’re the head of it, you must talk about it and ask. Doing things behind people’s back won’t do any good, especially if you want to continue working with the team.
    I used WordPress for a while, it wasn’t for me, but I recommend it to anyone. It’s very flexible! 🙂 Cheers and hope everything turned out all right!

  129. Matt, well put. I, like the commenter above, just found out about this whole thing and am a bit surprised that I did not hear about it sooner…but, that just shows you how much there is to read on the internet. 🙂 Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for your work on WP. I have recommended it to countless people and pumped it up on some of the largest forums on the internet for quite a while. I have also created free-for-use software and some open source projects and I admire the way you have handled yourself through this situation. From what I have read, you are not the oldest guy on the block, but from the sounds of it, you are one of the most mature. I wish you continued success with WP and with wherever your dreams take you.

  130. I just want to say thank you for making wordpress. I am just getting started but it seems so friendly. I cant wait to check out more of the plugins!

  131. I’ve obviously read this story a bit late but WordPress has been a breath of fresh air to both my own blog (04) and our business blogs and long may it continue to be.

    I’m off to make a donation right now 😉


  132. Hi there,
    I’m like reading a pre-historic blog here…
    And when I read it now it sounds kinda funny…

    As a developer I’d like to thank you (and the whole wordpress team) for this awsome web software.

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