17 thoughts on “WordPress themes, and assumed responsibility Leave a comment

  1. Wow – that would be worse. Thankfully that hasn’t to me but I guess anything is possible. I am certainly going to be more careful with the wording in the credits in the future.

  2. I’ve had my work used extensively on phishing sites, so the threats haven’t just been from “regular” people, but from law enforcement agencies as well. Not fun.

  3. I’d never thought about this. What an interesting/troubling phenomenon. I wonder how much this is people failing to understand that a theme creator is probably different than the blogger, and how much it’s people just desperately wanting to tell anyone how angry a site makes them.

    Coming up with a brief but telling credit line is hard. I’m wondering if “This website’s contents (c) *Blog Name* | Theme by *You*” would defer them.

  4. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know the difference between the person who designed an open source theme and the person who controls the site.

    A lot of people still think that sites are completely controlled by the people who built it. Having a link stating that you designed the theme doesn’t help the case either.

    I think it goes more than just having a link under the credits. It’s about making sure people begin to understand how disseminated the internet community is. Having someone chose to add your free work to their site doesn’t automatically make you responsible for them.

    Having people realize that is going to be very hard indeed.

  5. David – thanks for the suggestion 🙂

    Edrei – yeah, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more to be honest. It’s certainly not something I considered when I started making themes, but it’s something I am going to think about a lot more in the future.

  6. Wow. I can see how you’d be upset. Personally I’d probably report the ones who made threats. It’s scary and dangerous. It’s sad that we live in a society that assumes that since you’re X you must be Y and even more sad when they apply that conclusion to someone who is neither.

    Is there any way to contact the people who are using your theme? Perhaps you could send them each a bit of code to copy/replace into their site to fix this. Surely not everyone would do it (if it’s even possible) but it would at least fix part of the problem.

    Good luck, whatever you decide!

  7. I am really sorry to hear that as you created something great and functional which has been used in a harmful way. It does not matter if the theme is super-expensive or free, who wants to use it, they will 🙁 The disclaimer in the code should make you irresponsible for the content … and if somebody does not understand that, you should ignore it. You have been exploited, that can happen to anybody, anybody’s work or words. I am sorry it happened to the creator or such a great theme I am using 🙂 Wishing you all the best!

  8. I can see a lot of sympathy here, but that’s probably because you don’t mention the boost to your pagerank you’ve gotten based on the overwhelming amount of *positive* linkbacks you get.

    I think that more than makes up for any negatives, don’t you? And if you don’t then the easiest thing to do is not to put your name or URL in the themes.

    Ultimately, if you want credit for your work, then you have to accept that you’re going to occasionally run into some astounding idiots as well.

    Is this really news to anyone on the internet?

    Sorry to be a bit harsh with you (really, I am sorry) but I think it’s important to put this in perspective. What you’ve offered to the community has clearly been worth it to you, or you wouldn’t keep doing it.

  9. Amanda – the sites mentioned above have no contact details on so no way to contact the authors, and even if they were contacted I doubt they would listen to me.

    Milorad – Whilst you’re right that I have in some way benefited from page rank and inlinks I don’t think that’s any plus at all. I would much rather have no PR and no threatening emails than PR and the messages I received.

    I agree that I am likely to run into idiots but that doesn’t change the fact that this isn’t a nice thing to happen, and doesn’t mean I should have expected this to happen.

  10. I feel bad, but I’m laughing at the same time. What a ridiculous way for people to spend their time.

    I guess it goes with the territory of the newer ways of the web. I suppose in the past if you have a website you probably paid that person with a personal check for a personal design. My, how things have changed.

    Glad to see you have your wits about you. Good luck with the crazies.

  11. I notice your Regulus theme is nice. Believe in yourself and most of your works are great, don’t give up because of this. 🙂

  12. Ultimately if you’ve given your theme away as GPL you cede a lot of control over it. We produce GPL themes ourselves and there’s definitely a problem with the license in this respect so far as non techies are concerned. You understand that, I understand it… but unfortunately there are lots of dumb or ignorant people out there. Lots of batshit crazy ones too.

    With freedom comes a cost – we have to understand that. But don’t let the ignorant get you down – just forward the e-mails to the appropriate legal authorities. Making threats is illegal and can be severely punished.

  13. This is my first visit to your blog, and it’s nice to find one of the people that contributed to WordPress themes. It’s quite disconcerting that some people would make leaps and bounds to make conclusions that broad.

    You cannot control what other people put in their blogs, although if people are not pleased with the content they see, they should report it to WordPress and not you. I imagine they wanted to get more direct feedback by contacting the “source” and too lazy to get through the red tape of just reporting the blog to WordPress (which isn’t much red tape to be honest).

  14. Milorad – Whilst you’re right that I have in some way benefited from page rank and inlinks I don’t think that’s any plus at all

    Well, I guess that solves the problem then. If you’ve decided to remove linkbacks from your themes, then lets call this a positive experience, since it has provided you with a solution for the future.

    1. Really? Are you a troll or are you really self-centered enough to believe that a small credit link is so bad that the author should get threatening emails or remove it and get absolutely nothing from the free theme?

  15. That makes me proud to be a regulus user. You’ve got to watch out for those FOX News zombies. They’ll creep up on you when you least expect it.

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