Grey Followup

On the bright side, last week’s hatchet job in Techcrunch generated some great blog posts. For whatever reason they don’t show up as links on Techcrunch’s page, but here’s some of the better ones:

To summarize some of my responses:

  • I have no problem with people making money from Open Source, in fact I think some of the most successful OS projects have profit motives aligned with user motives.
  • Related: I have no problem with Pligg being sold. I think it’s better than them selling links in the software.
  • It is possible to make money while giving your users something they want and provides value rather than something they never asked for. (Think of selling a hosted version vs. selling paid links meant to spam search engines.)
  • The fact that I made a similar mistake in the past gives me unique perspective into both sides of the issue.
  • The developer blogroll links in WordPress are nothing like the links being bought and sold for the intention of spamming search engines, but regardless they have been replaced with links to WordPress resources instead of individual contributors.
  • Duncan said “Money is money, no matter how you make it.” I could not disagree more.
  • While anyone can do almost anything with WordPress under its license, that doesn’t mean we have an obligation to promote folks who we feel are doing so in a way which is not ethical or in the best long-term interests of the community.

23 thoughts on “Grey Followup

  1. Matt, as one of the commenters on that venting-thread-that-went-so-OT-its-not-funny who somewhat questioned your position with regards to your history, I would like to say that you handled yourself with great maturity – and this maturity has obviously grown as you have made larger steps in the online community.

    I am REALLY glad that you have replaced the sidebar links which have irked me for some time. Now if I can only convince you to change that horrid name “blogroll”…

  2. You have to admit, the blogroll links were a *little* like the paid links. Both of them are links included by default, both of them are opt-out and can be easily removed with a setting change, both of them support the software developer–the blogroll by providing search engine targeted links directly to you, the paid links by providing search engine targeted links to their sponsors.

    I think that Vanilla did a great job of letting users know, very prominently, what it was doing and how to *easily* remove the links.

    I also think however that people should start attacking Matt for speaking his mind on this. Maybe he feels like if he got trouble for the links he had, then Vanilla should also for their links.

  3. I really like this short explanation on TC you wrote:
    the links in the blogroll were not paid for, and they’re not advertisements for commercial sites.
    They were added almost 4 years ago when no one thought of links as currency, a more innocent time, the idea was like the original Macs had signatures inside.

    As for replacing blogroll links with Codex links: what are you going to reply to people accusing of your promoting pagerank of the Codex pages now ? 😉

  4. what are you going to reply to people accusing of your promoting pagerank of the Codex pages now?

    Presumably that already gets a pretty high PR from the footer links in the default theme (and, incidentally, pretty much any other theme you’ll find, including the sponsored ones), and those are slightly harder to remove than blogroll links, so can they please stop being so stupid 🙂

    Actually, I don’t think anyone has ever seriously argued that the default link to should be removed, even when that site’s pagerank was being exploited in a way that the majority of users did not feel comfortable with. Most people can tell the difference between a personal site and a community one.

  5. Personally, I reckon it’s a shame that you’ve removed the name links… sure you could do it for ease of use but why one earth shouldn’t the core developers get some credit.

    And it’s not like they’re tricky to remove… in fact you guys are working harder all the time to make it easier 😉

    Codex stuff belongs more in the backend too, as it already is and with notation as to the use of it – it’ll just confuse the heck out of most people with one click installs.

    C’mon… bring ’em back!

  6. Hi Matt

    …but why one earth shouldn’t the core developers get some credit.

    I agree with this words fromJames.


  7. @Monica: Why should they get credit in form of links and why not just a text which says this was from “” rather than link.

    or may be just a name. Its open source and if you want to get credit get it by name not links. If people like somebody;s theme they would just visit anyways by the text itself

  8. Personally, I think you’ve allowed Duncan to get to you by taking the links out. By taking the links out, I think you’re stripping the core ‘personality’ face that’s become a part of the WordPress push over the years.

    Duncan doesn’t appear to understand the difference between brand-back associations so that new users can gain a quick understanding of the ‘product’ they’re just getting into using — and, he equally doesn’t appear to understand what spam is.

  9. Static blogrolls are going the way of the dinosaurs anyway. But I do agree with James about giving credit where credit is due. At a minimum, I think the homepage should have a link to bios of the main developers. You guys are heroes to many of us non-geeks.

  10. I agree to a point. And that point occurred when Matt and fellow developers used/made/forked/whatever WordPress into the commercial for-profit version and they received income from it. Double-dipping comes to mind.

    I will support any open-source developer having a non-commercial link on that software when they are doing it for love and not money. I fully support the dev’s names being plastered all over the .org site – just didn’t want them on default installs.

    Everyone forgets that those links are not just about credit, but money (especially if they have monetized their blog/site with adwords etc) from traffic and pagerank. If the blogroll (ick) links had rel=’nofollow’ attached then it would be more palatable.

    That all being said it’s now a moot point since they are gone and replaced by much more helpful links.

  11. I can only agree with James Farmer and Dave.
    I kept some of the links in the blogroll, I removed and added some. Why?
    Its not harming my site in anyway to keep them there.
    Why not keep a link to someone who contributes (leads) the development?

    I would also never move the WP logo on my site, because im proud to be powered by wordpress, and i think it deserves its right to be a part of any wp blog. 🙂

  12. At this point, I’d say it’s time to just drop it. If we all keep talking about this, all we do is draw attention to the offending post. Besides, I learned a long time ago that when I find myself trying to reason with someone on the Internet, or use clear logic to explain my position to them, it’s because they are neither reasonable or logical and I am doomed to failure. Once I can see that, I can see that nothing I can say or do will change their mind and that it’s better to just walk away.

    It was obvious to me that Duncan had an axe to grind. Why he had an axe to grind, I have no idea, but I don’t care, either. I like your approach to OpenSource and the offspring of said approach, including WordPress. Before you referenced TechCrunch, I’d never read it, that I can recall and, after reading the blatantly biased writing on that post, I see no reason to read it now.
    I’d imagine that I’m not the only one who feels that way.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is “Illegitimus non carborundum”.

  13. Jaquith hits all the important points on why Akismet works best as a service to combat spam. Most self-hosting WordPress users prefer to run things themselves, but the very nature of spam makes this difficult. Akismet is a solution to a problem that doesn’t match well with a single user’s attempt to fix it, so a service is the best solution. Of course, the service depends on its users input to stay viable, so there is a valuable trade going on here.

    I’m not a great fan of the new statistics package hosted at I prefer to have all my stats on my own server space, and Awstats is a nice, widely available open source package that does that I really only use the stats to track click-through stats. It’s also nice that the tracking tries to throw out the self-generated traffic. I know there are self-hosted solutions for click-through tracking out there, but I’m lazy : ). It stinks that I can’t keep permanent logfiles of the clickthroughs. I guess if the traffic ever warranted it, I would just use a self-hosted solution.

    One thing that does bug me is when content is hard-coded into the page designs. Yes, I’m talking about you, Mr. “Proudly powered by WordPress” written into the default Kubrick template. It’s a small matter, easily fixed by editing a source file, but it is bad design, nonetheless. I think most people keep the WordPress kudos in, even though they know how to code it out, but it should be easier to change or delete, via the admin pages.

    For that matter, all content, including wording for things like “post your comment” or ” This entry was posted on”, etc., etc., should, as a matter of good design, be accessible and changeable via the admin pages. I know that technically this is a template issue and not necessarily a WordPress issue per se, but it comes down to the base level where the two become virtually indistinguishable.

    I’ve come a bit off topic, but not really. Ultimately, all these are questions of user control.

    The baby has stopped eating the Cheerios and started throwing them, so I gotta go : )

  14. I agree that the developers should get credit. I had no problem with them being on the blogroll. I agree with the above post about adding links on the homepage. Credit should be given to the developers, and I think it makes sense to have those links on the wordpress site.

  15. Googlejuice, Googlejuice, Googlejuice. There, I said it three times. Now when do I get my pagerank increase?

    That’s how silly all of this is. Who in their right mind would leave a default installation of ANY software exactly the way it was at the time of installation? I personally don’t care if anyone or everyone profits from a link from my blog. Heck, I think I’ll dig out my old default install and put Matt and others back on my blogroll. It’s not like it’s helping or hurting ME anyway! 🙂

  16. Ironically, I just added Matt back to my Blogroll for principle sake. Besides, I do frequently read this blog through the feeds from the back-end.