What Do Solutions Have to Do with Ideology? NOTHING!

As an important player in the Web software space, WordPress wields a powerful influence in the marketplace. When you’re in a position of such importance, it is your responsibility to purvey accurate information and to refrain from projecting ideologies and agendas on a market that is likely to take anything you say at face value.

My work with Thesis has placed me in a similar position, and I understand how much you can affect the psyche of your customers/users with just a few choice words. It’s powerful; it’s amazing; but most of all, it’s humbling.

As far as I’m concerned, being a figurehead in the market doesn’t mean that you get to be rich, famous, adored, and influential; instead, it means that you always have to hold yourself to a higher standard than everyone else. In other words, you have to do a better, more responsible job because thousands—perhaps millions—of people are dependent upon the solutions that you claim to provide.

Wielding such an awesome responsibility means that there is no room for ideologies, agendas, or anything else.

Solutions are what matters. You can check the rest of that crap at the door.

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94 comments… read them below or add one

Ray Edwards May 28, 2010

Thought-provoking, as usual.

Do you think Matt was taking a direct swipe at you, or at the premium theme market itself?


Chris Pearson May 28, 2010

Ray, this wasn’t a direct swipe at me—I think Matt was using this opportunity to get yet another dig in against non-GPL products that exist in this market space. I don’t know whether or not the rest of the WordPress crew is taking Matt’s lead or following direction, but it looks to me like there’s a unified push to speak out against products that are not in line with WordPress’ stated ideology (namely, that anything non-GPL is “evil”).

Simply put, this is propaganda, and I hate to think that millions of people are under the influence of this irresponsible garbage.


sam May 25, 2011

Hi Chris..
Can Thesis stand on its own without WordPress ..vice versa ? or just that can Thesis be built on Joomla or other CMS platforms if the GPL or non-GPL software is the main concern?
Seems that this site is running on the WordPress platform which uses your product.
merely a ponder..what say you ?


Brendan Wenzel May 28, 2010

Right on dude! Premium themes are way better than their free counterparts and the same goes for premium plugins. Paying for them helps with further development. Most people would rather pay for quality than get a free piece of shit. Keep up your good work bro.


Michelle May 28, 2010

But there are a good number of quality premium themes that are GPL — look at Studio Press and Woo Themes.


David Krug May 28, 2010

Absolutely right on CP. I’m so sick of the Automattic Koolaid about GPL it’s obviously headed to court at some point it absolutely has to in order to get them to shut the hell up.


Chris Pearson May 28, 2010

David, this isn’t about the GPL at all—it’s about the fact that words and propaganda do not solve problems. Real solutions know nothing of ideology, words, licenses, or any other fanciful crap that gets tossed around in irresponsible rhetoric.


David Krug May 28, 2010

Well absolutely the whole thing is that I’m not even sure Matt knows what his role in the community is in anymore. It used to be essentially chief evangelist. Sharing to the global tech community about WordPress. He did a great job of that.

Now it appears his role has been policing those who step outside of his ideologies. Plain and simple we need a new leader at WordPress.org and to cut our losses in having Automattic be WordPress.org’s permanent babysitter.

At that point clarity might come to this discussion. IMO Matt no longer has any right to say anything in regards to GPL because he has a clear conflict of interest when it comes to business’ models.


Franky May 29, 2010

Akismet is a real life solution. Akismet is closed source, only the plugin is GPL. And Matt has more than once said that he does not believe in Akismet being successful when open sourced.

Now that’s funny. WP initially got that far because it had one of the best solutions to leave comments open, all while still filtering a good chunk of spam. With non-open source software.


Laszlo Toth, Jr July 15, 2010

“(T)he fact (is) that words and propaganda do not solve problems. Real solutions know nothing of ideology, words, licenses, or any other fanciful crap that gets tossed around in irresponsible rhetoric.”

Sounds great.

So… when are you going to start following your own advice, leave “fanciful crap” like your current rants in this thread behind, and start providing “real solutions”?

“(W)hy beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”


Chris Pearson July 15, 2010

I think you need to open your eyes, Laszlo.

I created Thesis. I’ve attracted over 27,000 customers, countless pirates, and a learning experience beyond anything I ever imagined.

I offer a real working solution to people with goals who are quite happy with the value that I provide for them.

The very nature of our transaction confirms its inherent value, regardless of what you might have to say about it.


Laszlo Toth, Jr July 15, 2010

“I offer a real working solution to people with goals who are quite happy with the value that I provide for them.”

OK, fine. Then when are you going to get back to doing that, instead of indulging in spouting all this ideology which, by own contention, provides no value?

Chris Pearson July 15, 2010

I’ve been working non-stop since May 13 in an attempt to bring some new ideas to life at DIYthemes. Occasionally, I get publicly accused of breaking the law, but allegation is not equivalent to law breaking.

The public doesn’t care about this, though, so I was left with little choice but to defend myself against harmful rhetoric.

Laszlo Toth, Jr July 15, 2010

“I’ve been working non-stop since May 13…”

{looks up and down the page, and considers the time and word count Chris has devoted to this topic…}

This must be some newly found meaning of the phrase, “non-stop,” of which I wasn’t previously aware. Are you using a time machine?

Chris Pearson July 15, 2010

Do you even know what I do?

Since May 13, I’ve completely overhauled the DIYthemes site, both inside and out. Also, my team and I worked to refine sales channels and optimize the pages and pageflows on the site.

I don’t know if you’ve ever conducted a thorough sales channel analysis, but it is every bit as rewarding as it is time consuming.

After tweaking the DIYthemes site, I participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Chicago.

Shortly thereafter, I wrote a ton of code for a platform that will eventually become Thesis 2.0. And I only tore myself away from that at the end of June to code up Thesis 1.8, which is currently in beta and contains an unprecedented number of improvements despite the extremely condensed development period.

What have you done, Laszlo? I’m building things all the time—it’s what I do.

Laszlo Toth, Jr July 15, 2010

“Do you even know what I do?”

Yes, I do. That’s not what my prior comment criticized you for. I was criticizing your descent into management-speak, rather than English, and the accompanying error of logic in your writing.

If you’re spending time on this topic, it is not possible for you to be working “non-stop” on your work projects, no matter how valuable, worthy, and aesthetically pleasing they may be.

If you’re spending your time promoting your personal ideology through writing in this thread, it is not possible for you to be, “building things all the time.” {emphasis added}

It might be said I’m being overly literal. But language, and the precise use of it, matters. Any programmer, in particular, should know that.

When you use English as sloppily as you have, it makes one wonder how precise your use of language is in other tasks.

Laszlo Toth, Jr July 15, 2010

“(B)eing a figurehead in the market doesn’t mean that you get to be rich, famous, adored, and influential; instead, it means that you always have to hold yourself to a higher standard than everyone else.”

You first.

Honestly, the gap between what you write, and the way you’re acting through that writing is, um… substantial.


Chris Pearson July 15, 2010

See above for an explanation of how Laszlo only sees what he wants to see.


Laszlo Toth, Jr July 15, 2010

“See above for an explanation of how Laszlo only sees what he wants to see.”

Read every single word Chris has posted to see an example of how he “only sees what he wants to see.”

Then, consider the phrase, “A difference without a distinction.” Or, “The pot calling the kettle black.” Or, choose your own words for this blatant double-standard Chris is applying.

Chris Pearson July 15, 2010

It’s a shame that you have reached a point of muddled understanding such that you cannot recognize a person’s creative output for what it is.

I wonder if that is stifling you from creating something you love?

Laszlo Toth, Jr July 15, 2010

“It’s a shame that you have reached a point of muddled understanding such that you cannot recognize a person’s creative output for what it is.”


a) You’ve devolved to a non sequitur to anything I’ve put forward.

and b) Apparently pointing out how badly you’re presenting your own arguments somehow magically removes my abilities to understand things clearly and/or “recognize a person’s creative output for what it is.” (Where is that coming from? How is it relevant to anything?)

Either you’re applying double standards, or you’re not. Either you’re wasting time being consumed by your own ideology at the expense of putting your best efforts forward on projects you claim to be working on “non-stop” and “all the time,” or you’re not. No personal characteristics of mine have any relevance to issues of your behavior.

Matt G May 28, 2010

Let’s face the facts: Mullenweg is trapped by the GPL. The only way he can make his business have any long term viability is to perpetuate a myth that the GPL itself is somehow responsible for WordPress or the evolution of the web. He needs people to believe that without the GPL, the web would crumble out of existence.

More than that, he appeals to the pseudo-counterculture of blatantly socialist “web” people. Chris, I think you remember that talk at SXSW where the first thing out of the speaker’s mouth was “I’m a pinko commie liberal.” The whole “web coder” crowd (at least, that’s what they think they are) is full of people who know as much about solid economics and sound business practices as I do about Bosonic string theory and conformal anomalies (which is literally nothing).

In short, it is futile to argue with people like Matt. He has made up his mind and lives in a world of ideological rigidity. He surrounds himself with people who cowardly agree with him and voraciously defend him, not knowing what he fundamentally stands for. In fact, I frequently get the impression that he has spent so much time being an apologist, that *he* doesn’t really understand what he is standing for; only that he must defend “it.”


Danny May 28, 2010

GPL didn’t get WordPress where it is today. Users did. A large majority of these users don’t care nor know what the GPL is nor will they ever do so.

Let’s say you find a non-GPL solution that fits you / your business perfectly. This solution (theme, plugin, whatever) will help you with SEO, content management, professional support, many great developers available for hire etc. In addition to all that it will SAVE YOU TIME, tons of time, by being well documented and easy to use.

Would you care if such a solution is GPL compatible or not?

I know I wouldn’t.


Justin Jackson July 14, 2010

I agree. It is users that have made Wordpress what it is today. I think it’s one of the best content creation platforms on the net, but I don’t think it’s because of GPL.


david May 28, 2010

Just wondering: have you given any thought to making your own CMS to run Thesis, or porting it to something like ExpressionEngine, which isn’t GPL-licensed?

I’m sure neither of those are easy option, but given how worked up you’re getting about this stuff perhaps it would be worth it to you.


sam May 25, 2011

Second the motion…good point david!


Alec May 28, 2010


Why not port your template to another platform, especially if you’re not pleased with WordPress?

I recommend ExpressionEngine or TypePad.

Give it some thought,



Carlos Correza May 28, 2010

Question… if it came down to it, would you be willing to make your own publishing tool similar in nature to wordpress so that Thesis would be the complete package?


Amy May 28, 2010


I couldn’t find answer to my specific question so I am posting it here.
I am thinking of using Thesis theme for a new website but two specific criteria determine whether I do or not. Can you please address these questions either via email directly to me or as a response to this comment? Thanks! 1) using Thesis can I do a full on site in a non-English language? I can’t disclose in a public forum what this language is, but I will tell you directly if I know your email. and 2) there are a few unicode fonts available in this non-english language. can I use these fonts with Thesis theme? I am not asking for you to solve the problem, just asking if it is possible. If you say “yes” I will go ahead and start registering for a single-user license.



Chris Pearson May 28, 2010

Amy, the answer to both of your questions is a resounding yes. It’s really easy to do both with Thesis, too—there are literally thousands of international Thesis sites, and using fonts is a simple task no matter how you go about it :D


Amy May 28, 2010


Thanks! Super. So here I come into the Thesis fold…:- )



Rob in Atlanta May 28, 2010


Surprised it took 12 comments to get to the hidden agenda.


Rob in Atlanta May 28, 2010


I agree with you completely about Solutions sans Ideology.

Makes you absolutely have to hate companies like Apple.


Hesham May 28, 2010

Take it easy dude, no one case for what Matt says about the GPL themes thing, even this doesn’t hurt WP but it’s one way of living for a lot of people, I think he don’t know what he is talking about!

Man I was in love the GPL when I first came across, but now I am trying to find a 100 ways to jump over the “FREE” stuff!


Max Bourne May 28, 2010

Dude, if you built a Thesis CMS I’d buy it yesterday. Like you said, I don’t use wordpress because they are “aligned with my ideology”. I use it because it allows me to easily deploy content.

Hurry up and take Wordpress head on!!! :)


Tyler May 28, 2010


You should definitely check out Tumblr, it’s a very great service and I’m currently powering all my websites on them.


Mark Williams May 28, 2010

We don;t even know what GPL is or means, even though we run a web dev business. Wordpress is solid. It’s a shedload better with Thesis on top of it and we’ll be building all our sites that way from here on in.

As a business owner who deals with other business owners, CP is right – we don’t give a rat’s furry ass about the licencing and ideology. All we want is gear that works to get the job done, and gives tangible benefits so we can make money and put food on the table for the family – pure and simple.

CP – stick to your guns on what you stand for mate – we feel very secure in the knowledge that your already good product will continue to get better with you at the helm.

PS – not in a gay way :-) you’re looking buff in the vid dude – not many of us athletes left ;)


R.Bhavesh May 29, 2010

Agree with you 100% on this rant Chris.

Many of the users here wrote the fact – The actual user don’t care whether the thing is GPL or not. What they care for is a solution to get thing done easily and appropriately.

Most of the people who rant over stuff not being GPL, have not personally contributed something worth using.

LOL at this line on the wordpress.org blog “..and is the only way we’re going to get to the next level.”

Fact is, wordpress themes development saw whole new level of theme development this year – theme frameworks. Some even created a marketplace based on those frameworks. ALL of them modeled or somehow inspired from thesis. No doubt about this. The success of thesis has inspired other GPL developers build commercial theme frameworks which would not have existed if thesis has not shown a way. So what does it say? GPL frameworks are modeled after Thesis? ;)

Matt G. mentioned it right – “Let’s face the facts: Mullenweg is trapped by the GPL.” Recently, there was a drama of not allowing Non GPL author to speak at WordCamps. What’s next? No entry to wordcamp?


Joni Mueller May 30, 2010

I love it when you get your dander up! (And damn, you remind me of Randall from “Clerks”! — that’s a compliment, BTW; I adore Randall.) I agree with you and with the other posters who said that end users couldn’t give a crap less if it’s GPL, HBO, FBI or WTF, as long as it does what they need. (Of course if it happens to be free, all the better.)

There’s nothing inherently wrong or evil with wanting to make money. Look at activeCollab. It used to be open source, but now it’s closed source and it’s thriving.

I think it’s just a case of sour grapes and the fact that Thesis has caught on as not only a theme, but darn near a whole platform, in the way that most other themes can’t.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about a custom CMS or possibly basis Thesis on another CMS.


Lydia May 30, 2010

Hi Chris,
I’m using your old Pressrow Theme and have a specific question for you on how to change some spacing between posts. Would you mind shooting me an email at lydia.simmons [at] gmail.com? Thanks so much!


Chris Pearson May 31, 2010

Lydia, although I no longer support PressRow (I don’t even have a copy of the original files anymore), I can tell you that you need to add a greater bottom margin to <div class="post">.


ChannelJay May 30, 2010

I completely agree with this. Sometimes we need to look at the bigger picture here that what we need is something that gives us the perfect solution we are looking for and not look for it if it exists on another “GPL category” kind of thing before you get it. RESPECT.!


Thomas May 31, 2010

It’s not about ideology. It’s about continuity.

Let’s say that Chris decides to retire tomorrow, or decides to focus on a new platform, or moves the project in an entirely new direction, or even, God forbid, gets hit by a bus. Thesis users will suddenly have a huge problem on their hands, especially if a new version of WordPress were to break the old Thesis implementation.

Code can not go out of business, but people can.

There’s a reason that most popular small and mid-sized web content management systems are open source, and it’s not just that they’re free. Just as important is the fact that open source offers the kind of continuity that is essential if your income depends on the software you use.

Proprietary software can deliver even better continuity, of course, but only when it is backed by a sizable corporation.


Shawn June 1, 2010

Hey Chris, I had no idea for GPL was until now.

Really I would not be too concerned and just focus on your own product, because I believe that you are dedicated and Thesis will just get better.


Adam Baird June 1, 2010

Personally, I’m hoping MM pisses you off to the point that you can’t take it anymore and just have to make Thesis a stand alone platform ;)

I’ve been disillusioned with the guy for a while now.

Seriously though…if Thesis, Genesis, and Headway all became stand-alone, that would be a serious blow to WP in my mind. They’d still have a large group of mindless followers, but a lot of the influential WP users would be movin on, and that would seriously damage WP’s long term chances of having any sort of real web influence…just my opinion.


Shawn June 2, 2010

I agree with that, if Thesis can be a stand alone platform.

Interesting how only two popular blogging platforms are available such as blogger and wordpress, sure there is typepad but there is a very low percentage that uses the other smaller platforms


Rae Hoffman June 1, 2010

As far as I’m concerned, Wordpress is simply a tool I need to be able to use Thesis… not the other way around. I look at other folks Wordpress sites running on some convoluted ill-coded piece of archaic shit and WINCE that they don’t have Thesis. Open source is the only way to go? You gotta spend money to make money…

PS… HOT. And I have the same office chair. :P


Etna June 3, 2010

I look at other folks Wordpress sites running on some convoluted ill-coded piece of archaic shit and WINCE that they don’t have Thesis. Open source is the only way to go? You gotta spend money to make money…


Salvatore June 6, 2010

I am by no meaning trying to be provocative, this is an absolutely honest question.

‘What Do Solutions Have to Do with Ideology? NOTHING!’

isn’t this an ideology too somehow, in your hopinion?


Gabriel de Kadt June 7, 2010

Sheesh – as I understand it WordPress has always been up to it’s eyeballs in GPL. If you don’t like it, and can’t make enough money off the back WordPress in the future, you’re a very clever and motivated guy – I reckon you can find your own way out without having to stamp and scream. It’s a free world (ha). Go – be free (haha).


some new fan June 7, 2010

WOW. You got a new customer. Not that i just liked this video and I would have put it the same way, but wow, more shirtless videos like that and I am going to send you the gay blogging community over using Thesis more. (LOL. When “design takes over content”…).

No good job, as if Thesis would not be sexy enough itself.


Roland June 11, 2010

I am a customer and I am running the developer theme from you in combination with the OpenHook Plugin. I am very happy with thesis. First I buyed some other themes which had no flexibility. Another question. What happens with pearsonified.com. I could not find it on Google ?
greetings from spain and germany


Esme Vos June 13, 2010

Matt is using the same argument that geeks use against Apple: Apple’s products aren’t “open” (whatever that means) unlike Android/Linux. But people just want things that look good and work well. Period. That is why Apple is making huge piles of money and they have long waiting lists for their products. I don’t see long waiting lists for Android or Linux anything.

Neither you nor I have any idea why Matt says these things. It’s possible that he believes them wholeheartedly, and it’s also possible that his beliefs are tainted by self-interest, like many of us. After all it has worked very well for him. His company has customers and he has raised money from investors. How profitable they are, nobody knows.

I live in SF and have worked in the tech industry for a long time. My take on it is this: it’s all about MONEY. Matt’s company took money from investors. Part of their product pitch is that they are open, unlike everyone else. This appeals to a particular group of techies and creates a religious following. It’s important to keep up the religion with pronouncements like this from the Guru.

Most people don’t care. You shouldn’t either. If some people can’t think for themselves, that’s their problem. They’ll fall into a deep crater at some point and never emerge (thank heavens).

You shouldn’t waste your energy on this even if you are angry. Expend your energy making your products so good that people will queue up to buy them. Steve Jobs does not waste his energy answering the ideological attacks coming from the “open source” Silicon Valley crowd.


mkjones June 29, 2010

I’m not sure on the title although the video does have some merit.

For example, when Bill Gates said he wanted a PC on every desk, this was his ideology. It led to the solution of the PC as we know it today.

Maybe not the best example but I guess what I’m getting at is that an ideology doesn’t have to be anything moralistic or precious.


Chris Guthrie July 14, 2010

I’m still confused about what the problem is here. Why is Thesis supposedly “bad” when WooThemes and others are “good”?

I’m not into software development or licensing. I just use Wordpress because it’s a good CMS that ranks well in Google for the network of websites I own and operate.



Dave July 14, 2010

Can you link to anywhere that addresses the question of the downside of premium themes being GPL? If there is not much downside, and it’s not about ideology, then would seen to make sense for thesis to be GPL. No where I’ve looked have I seen this issue specifically addressed.


KB July 14, 2010

Rant aside, shirtless Chris is a hottie. ;)

In response to said rant, many of us have discovered a long time ago that Matt’s ideology cannot be separated from his view of WordPress, and as an extension, anyone who creates a business model around the WordPress software; therefore everything under the sun (and moon and stars) should be GPL, and if you do not bend to his will then you should be ostracized and he will do whatever it takes to see that it happens, including propaganda. That’s just how it is in Matt’s world. And unfortunately for the clear-thinking individuals who see the hypocrisy and lunacy of it all, their voices are drowned out by the WP/Automattic/Matt fanbois(girls) who would follow him off a cliff should he ask.


Shawn July 15, 2010

What I am seeing is this video you posted and the tweeter war that is going on will just make Thesis look bad. I exclusively been using Thesis for the last six months and am starting a website for offer design services and something like this doesn’t help.

Now I am considering to look at other Themes for a backup.

The problem is that Wordpress and blogger has the blogging community cornered, there really isn’t other platform that is good to use.

And, there is very few people that truly understand the power of thesis that resides under the hood; for most people Thesis is over complicated. So this entire fiasco can backfire on your Chris. Just consider the possibilities, without Wordpress what platform will you use, or will you build your own?


KB July 15, 2010

There’s always Habari.


Kevinjohn Gallagher July 15, 2010

Hi Chris,

I’m one of a subset of WordPress users who fall in a weird camp right now. When it comes down to it, I do think Matt’s right with his GPL-based reasoning, but thats my opinion and I’ve no problem with you having a different one.
(also, i’m not ecstatic about the derivative/viral nature of the GPL, but thats for another day)

So while I look at what is the fundamental ‘wall’ between two ideals from the other side as yourself, and right now, the same side as Matt… one can’t help but agree with your blog post.

Over the past 18 months, as the Automattic star has risen, that likeable and humble man who helped steer us in this direction has been replaced with someone who now has the audience and firepower to excert his will – loudly.

He who shouts loudest does not win the arguement, I wish someone would tell Matt.


Shawn July 15, 2010

It is because they have the market cornered for self hosted blogs.


Pearsonifieded July 15, 2010

Oh, dude, please keep your shirt on when trying to make a point ’cause I just couldn’t concentrate to what you’re saying.


KB July 15, 2010

Chris, I hate to say it, but you might want to think about restructuring your theme so that it falls into two categories: GPL-released core files; non-GPL non-core files that make it jump through hoops and cook you dinner.

Provide the core theme files as a free download (or charge for it…the GPL doesn’t specifically say you can’t charge money) and then charge a higher fee for the non-core files which do the heavy lifting. That solution, or one similar, should keep the fanbois happy.


Mae July 16, 2010

I’m just curious, (sorry, didn’t watch the video, your player doesn’t let me pause while it’s currently buffering) why won’t you switch the license to GPL?

I know you said it’s because you don’t want to concede (I think I read it on twitter) nor is it about money, is it business, then? If so, WooThemes and other premium themes are doing well, as far as I know. What is it that you want for you to just give in?

Not that I’m antagonizing you, it’s just that Matt and the other WP folks have been clear about why they think themes and plugins should be in GPL, too. They also explained clearly why they can’t switch WP to another license, so I would like to know why you’re sticking to your guns.


Avery Quinn Hall July 16, 2010

From what I’ve been able to gather from listening to the interview and from reading what Chris has said earlier, it seems like this is more about Chris. Chris has poured so much of himself and his self-worth into Thesis. He seems to have attached himself to it. He’s very proud of this accomplishment and so turning it GPL would be, to him, like giving away part of himself. It’s like Thesis is his third arm. Who wants other people poking away at your arm?

Of course I could be wrong, as I don’t know Chris personally, but judging from what Jane Wells wrote in her blog after having met him in person, my assessment may not be far off the mark.

Chris, have you ever thought of creating some other themes in the DIY Themes line? Your Cutline theme is still in use today and it’s great. Couldn’t you make a more advanced version of that? The more themes you sell, the more income you can earn, even if you went GPL. And then you wouldn’t be so attached to/dependent on Thesis.

Otherwise, it may not be worth sticking around building castles in the WordPress sandbox if you don’t agree with the sandbox community leaders…


mae July 16, 2010

He’s very proud of this accomplishment and so turning it GPL would be, to him, like giving away part of himself. It’s like Thesis is his third arm. Who wants other people poking away at your arm?

But… that could be said to the WP contributors, too, don’t you think? And to the rest of the plugin/theme developers as well.


Avery Quinn Hall July 16, 2010

Sure. You can be proud of your work and still maintain a healthy detachment from it. Other plugin and theme developers have done great work and have been quite successful, but I don’t see some of them going on and on about how THEY created said work and how THEIR product is superior and how the rules don’t apply to THEM, etc. No matter how successful you are, a degree of humbleness is required, because like it or not, you wouldn’t be able to create anything without others.


John July 16, 2010

WP can’t switch licenses because WordPress is essentially a fork of a previous GPL’d project, b2. The GPL license requires that any further works that derived (aka originated) from a GPL’d work must continue to carry the GPL license.

Not to antagonize you, but why should Chris change? He’s chosen the license he wants, and until a judge tells him he can’t use such a license, he’s going to do whatever he thinks is best for him and DIYThemes. It would seem like a lot of theme developers were under intense pressure from WordPress to switch to the GPL license when that came down the pipe, so it’s good to see there are still some people willing to stick to their guns.


Avery Quinn Hall July 16, 2010

If you’re going to play in somebody’s sandbox, you’ve got to follow their rules, principles and guidelines. If you don’t like it, either suck it up or get out.


mae July 16, 2010

I’m not really trying to make him switch, I’m just trying to understand why. Is it because there’s a deeper reason aside from he just doesn’t want to or to not disappoint the people who are supporting him or just because he can?

I do know that either camp won’t back down from each other. It would just be nice to understand their reasons.


Gonzalo July 18, 2010

“WP can’t switch licenses because WordPress is essentially a fork of a previous GPL’d project, b2”

“why should Chris change?”

For the exact same reason you stated above.


KB July 23, 2010

Although as I can gather, this has been resolved, but what it comes down to is whether or not Thesis is a derivative work of WordPress. It’s a theme, yes, but there are opinions on both sides of the fence saying that just because it’s a theme doesn’t automatically make it derivative, merely dependent.

So, I think what John was driving at was, “if Chris’s theme isn’t actually a derivative software of WordPress, why should he have to change his license?”

I could be wrong since I don’t know John, but that’s how I read his comment.


SEA7 July 16, 2010

I listened to the July 14 conversation between Chris and Matt hosted by Mixergy.

Any prudent business person would immediately start the process of migrating out of Thesis and into any of a number of other premium themes that won’t have his problems.

This will be a bit like the Blackberry v. NTP debacle in that Blackberry settled a patent infringement battle to be able to continue in business. This is not a patent infringement but the GPL license issue will be litigated and it is obvious that Matt, while pretending to be very sad to consider the prospect of a suit, going to bring the hammer down in a dramatic demonstration of the penalty for hubris.

The destruction of the business underlying Thesis will have no effect whatever on WordPress. The bizarre idea that 27,000 users will impact the 25,000,000 strong community of WordPress is simple proof that Chris has no sense of proportion or his place in this drama. He will be the big test case (Cisco could have been but they bailed and signed on) for GPL. He will go down in flames and become an object of ridicule.

NTP didn’t care if all the Blackberrys went dark, RIM wasn’t playing by the rules. WordPress can’t be concerned if all the users of Thesis wind up with some messy problems keeping their sites up after the court rules against Chris.

Listen to the audio. The man is as incoherent in speech as he is in print. I would not get near anything he has anything to do with after listening to his pretentions of grandeur and lack of any ability to form a coherent argument.

I wish him all the best, but from afar.



Founding Father July 17, 2010

I often wonder how much of Wordpress consists of snippets that were borrowed from some other code base.

Mullenwag better watch his step. FSF is no authority on licensing. The GPL is a hackers hack. The idea that themes are GPL derivatives of Wordpress core is ludicrous. Most open source projects are CLUELESS about copyright issues.

Mullenwag has a very large chance of losing any suit he might consider. Lawyer up Wordpress and he might just get smacked down. Mullenwag should read up on Sun Tsu first. This is not a battle he can ever win.


SEA7 July 17, 2010

One can assume that the incorrect spelling of Mullenweg and WordPress is to be taken as a biting insult and not that the FF is sloppy or clueless.

But where are the examples of borrowed code, who is and is not an authority (and on whose authority) on licensing. Where do we see any facts to support your big bad blustering assertions? Nowhere.

Instead of reading Sun Tzu, read up on the OODA Loop developed by John Boyd. From Wikipedia: “The OODA loop has become an important concept in both business and military strategy. According to Boyd, decision-making occurs in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent, can thereby “get inside” the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage. ”

Chris and his defenders have little chance of coming out ahead in this. The whole thing looks and sounds like a tantrum. I don’t see any support for his postion other than (cue spoon banging loop) “I DON’T WANNA, I AIN’T GONNA, BOO-HOO, HISS!!!”

OODA: Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. While Chris is stomping and wailing, Matt, the laughing Buddha figure in this drama, takes a long, long time to come to the final step. When he does — ANTITHESIS.



Turkey Roaster July 19, 2010


What kind of deluded numbskull are you? Yes, I will take personal shots at you because you come on Pearson’s site and then stab him in your pathetic third-person dramatics.

Get a life and get your own blog — or join a terrorist organization. You have the mentality for it.


Chris H July 18, 2010

I support both sides in this argument, but more so Thesis’

If you borrow chunks of someone else’s code, you are bound by their licence in sections/code where it’s used. No probs with that.

However, that is where it should end. This whole idea that because a theme so tightly interweaves and interacts with WordPress that it is therefore derivative, is nonsense.

Paint becomes one with the canvas, but the canvas maker has no say over the paint maker.

Thesis on WP is a separate entity that, by the nature of WP, interweaves with it.

Thesis could exist on any CMS platform. That in itself proves it is not derivative. And, like Photoshop for Mac Windows, it by necessity, must be written to run on whatever platform. That doesn’t give the platform maker right to dictate Thesis’ licence. What next, Microsoft saying no GPL software can run on Windows?

If this GPL derivative nonsense holds credence, then hardware manufacturers should hold control over software makers, since software becomes one with the machine.

But hang on… WordPress becomes one with my computer. Without my computer, without my browser, it could not exist. Therefore, WordPress is derivative of my computer, and is bound by its licence.

(Or you might argue, the server and software WP runs on.)

My computer, at its heart, has an Intel CPU, so I guess WP need to go to Intel to find out what the WP licence really should be.

Intel dictates all software licences!

Reductio ad absurdum.

This derivative argument is nonsense.

The only losers here will be WordPress. For all their ideology, they a behaving like a big greedy, self-centred, monopolistic corporation.


Chris H July 19, 2010

And the other loser will be GPL. It’s a lose-lose situation for the GPL.

If GPL wins, many developers will be much more wary of developing under its terms.

If it loses, then many Open Source projects will see aspects of them becoming closed source as third-party developers discover they don’t have to GPL their code.

The GPL is untested. As long as it remains so, it remains a principle, or ideology.

If it’s ever tested legally, it’s got everything to lose, and the only thing to gain is “Nyah, nyah. Told ya so!”


Liz Jamieson July 19, 2010

Chris – this is a public lynching and I am appalled by it. And I’m what some people might described as a pinko liberal. It has nothing to do with politics or ideology as stated. The GPL just forces developers to offer their work for free. I don’t mind doing that sometimes and sometimes I do and it should be my choice. Like it should be your choice.



SEA7 July 19, 2010


A perfect illustration of the old lawyer’s rule:
When you have the facts, argue the facts;
When you have the law, argue the law;
When you don’t have the facts or the law, pound on the table.

Where the hell did Turkey Roaster come from, anyway?

The entertainment offered by this comment string has faded.

I will go away.



Constantin July 21, 2010

GPL doesn’t mean anything – if your product solves my problem then I’ll gladly pay for it and I’ll respect your work.

I always thought the open source is about freedom but enforcing freedom and free products is just silly. And since there are tons of free themes out there I don’t see how the community is suffering coz a small potion of the themes are premium and are charged for..?!

People can choose whether they want to pay or not for themes and it’s not like the premium themes have limited the access to WP only to those who have 80 bucks. No!!! In fact premium themes opened new doors to WP and people who were scared s….less of putting up a site got to use WP now – that’s valuable stuff for everybody: for the website owner, for the developer who made the theme and for WP as a platform.

It seems that the only one who wants to make premium themes go GPL is Matt – this seems to be more about ego coz WP users have all the free themes and plugins so it’s not like that they are being put on hold by the premium themes.

A successful product like Thesis proves there’s a problem in the market that’s being solved beautifully. Killing this means making Pearson look like a con and making those over 25,000 people look like suckers. The money back guarantee proves that those 25,000 people are not suckers but are smart and responsible people and their problem was addressed properly by Chris’ software.


Yuhong Bao July 22, 2010

Someone actually did a walkthrough on how the court may actually rule, which is what ultimately matters. Look at the comments too.


Happy Hotelier July 22, 2010

You could use some media training before you create such videos:-)

Out of curiosity I would have loved to see you continuing the big fight. On he other hand enough is enough. Congrats I believe it is a wise business decision.


Liz July 22, 2010

I am glad this is now over. The irony is that split GPL is not something a true GPL aficionado will really appreciate – as in practical terms it’s no different to being non-GPL, but at least they will now be quiet.


Gavin August 6, 2010

Hey man, props for standing up for yourself. Some people are just too damn preachy for their own good.


Edwin Blake August 17, 2010

Great! understanding the ethical values of a business means what you said and it also explains self’s market value


marcs August 26, 2010

Absolutely true. I guess that’s the way they make money out of it.


Martyn Chamberlin September 29, 2010

Lol the dispute with Laszlo Toth, Jr is fantastic. If he ever runs a business or brand he’ll understand how important it is to “defend” yourself sometimes. Love how you come across in the clip. Definitely in the right here. Look good naked too.


Kelly Hays November 28, 2010

Although I believe that open source is incredibly powerful, if you don’t encourage people to make money off of, people can’t become experts and thrive, which is what the community needs. I do think though, that without open source, we wouldn’t have what wordpress is today, or drupal, php, or anything else cool on the web, and that is because it controlled by community, not a corporation, solutions are derived though co-operation not competition.


Prakash December 15, 2010

Excellent posting again Chris. You have done a great job by posting this solutions & ideology, buddy. Really love this stuff which sounds great.

Thank you for share this stuff & make me clear with this solutions & ideology. Keep up your great work always like this.


Target February 28, 2011

props for standing up for yourself. Some people are just too damn preachy for their own good.


Mike April 29, 2011

Yeah, uh, isn’t it Open Source that provided the platform to which you now make your living? I fail to see how you can (or would even consider) combating this as without the Open Source Initiative, and without the GPL, and, most of all, without WordPress, Thesis would not exist.

That’s not say that Matt is 100% correct and it’s not to say that you are not successful because of of your talent in its own right, however, this comes across, to me anyway, as extremely hypocritical.

This is not meant to be disrespectful, by the way, merely a perception.


Marco May 13, 2011

The problem is, in my opinion, that internet is out of control and everybody can write what he or she likes, and of course that makes very important the sense of responsability everyone should have writing on the net


G33k May 25, 2011

just stumbled upon your article, though GPL is good, many people are abusing it left and right, people are even selling all woothemes for $5 and they claim they had the right, you can find similar deals everywhere, there should be some kind of update to GPL.


Hoot and/or Holler

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