Why Am I So Passionate About A Piece Of Software

heartwpI’ve been sitting back in the chair today thinking about the events that have taken place within the past 48 hours. I really bit my tongue before I decided to go through with publishing the post regarding the removal of themes. I checked out the developers IRC channel, I checked out the forum, I looked high and low for an explanation as to what happened and I couldn’t find any. While Thord of the BlogHerald was successful in contacting Matt, I assumed sending an email asking for an explanation was fruitless because I assumed his inbox is swamped with mail, why bother. After confirming that the removal of themes did happen, the only thing I had to go on was Justin Tadlock’s post and David Coveney’s post. That isn’t a lot to go by but because I didn’t see an announcement published on the developers blog, I went with the story as factual after witnessing a number of others reporting that the theme removals did happen.

I don’t want to dwell on the event because it is now a wait and see game with a detailed post by Matt being the only thing that will straighten out this mess. However, I am beginning to wonder if I over reacted? It sounds corny, but I seemingly have a passion for WordPress. The software, the people, the community. Plugin authors, theme authors, those who create patches for bugs, core developers, everything that makes the entire system tick. I want to see everyone that is part of the equation win without any unfair treatment. Make no bones about it, I support Matt and the rest of the team to the fullest extent but if I come across something I disagree with, I’ll make it known.

I feel odd that I’ve entrenched myself in this situation. I believe emotions got the better part of me last night when I wrote the post. I’m not a theme author nor am I a plugin developer yet, I still find a way to get involved with the issues surrounding each topic. I try not to be the one to always bitch and moan. Instead, I try to lend constructive criticism when I can. I’ve always described myself as no expert but simply an end user.

The basis of this post was to try and get my thoughts down on paper to figure out why something that happened with a piece of software ignited an emotional trigger. I wonder if I am too involved with the project, with the people. Do I need to back away? Can one be too passionate about something that it causes one to act and think irrationally? What the hell is wrong with me?

11 thoughts on “Why Am I So Passionate About A Piece Of Software

  1. This has made me feel uneasy to.

    It might not be directly related to the issue of themes, but moreso the control over how we use those themes.

    We are freelancers whose blogs are hosted on WordPress. Its okay to feel a bit uneasy when fellow freelancers, albiet designers, livelihoods can be impacted so suddenly.

    I’m going to sit back and watch. I have no problems paying for themes personally, as the premium price usually comes with premium benefits the designer wouldn’t have the time to otherwise include.

    :) You make a large chuck off your income talking about wordpress and blogs, and we’re in tough economic times. Theres nothing wrong with being really passionate about something.

    – Jade

  2. I felt a bit uneasy about posting my article, Jeff. I searched every venue I could find short of emailing Matt before posting. There were no answers anywhere. Of course, coming from a journalistic background should’ve taught me to seek more information before publishing. But, my reasoning behind publishing the post was to actually stir up an answer from someone at WP.org.

    I become so engulfed in WordPress because I love it. I love the community. I love all aspects of it. WordPress has given me something much more than a hobby or a job; it’s given me something to be passionate about.

    Since you asked the question: No, you shouldn’t back away, even if it does make you act and think irrationally. Life’s too short to not be passionate about something. Even if that something is a piece of software. Granted, it would be a little more sane to passionate about something such as a beautiful woman…

  3. @Justin Tadlock – Glad the feelings are mutual Justin. In fact, I do have a beautiful woman in my life which I am extremely passionate about, more so than WordPress thank goodness. You know, I even looked for a WP-Themes mailing list to go on to seek the answer but one doesn’t exist. I then asked the question on the hackers mailing list as I have seen Matt and other WordPress.org higher ups reply and answer to list questions before and I was hoping that Matt Mullenweg would come out with an answer. If he did, I would have immediately published that answer to the post. If that happened, who knows where this conversation would be right now.

    I know for a fact that if a post is published on the web and it has WordPress somewhere within it, Matt reads it. I can almost guarantee you he has read all three articles mentioning the topic and I’m sure he has his reasons for how he has decided to approach this situation.

    I have to say though, after my conversation with Jason and others on the WP Weekly aftershow, I am very intrigued by what Matt will say in his post. To be honest, I’ll be disappointed if it’s not at least 3-5 paragraphs long heh.

    @Jade Craven – Thanks Jade for the continued support and the vote of confidence.

  4. Your post was helpful and you didn’t say anything unpleasant. You should do the same in the future IMO.

    I honestly think Automattic have just goofed up there. If the theme developers kicked up a stink, they may have been ignored. However you are an external observer without a vested interest in the theme industry beyond being an end users of the product.

    Everyone makes mistakes, this time it looks like one by Automattic. I’m sure they have thick skins by now and can handle a little flack. If they didn’t get the occasional complaint every now and then they’d be in serious risk of a head explosion. 99.9999% of what is said about WordPress is good. They need that extra 0.0001% to stay on top of their game :)

  5. @Ryan – Thanks for the reply Ryan. Also, thanks for reminding me that as an end user who doesn’t create themes or plugins, I don’t have a vested interest in either. You are perfectly correct in that I am an observer. A guy outside looking in. I’m not sure, but I think that approach is what has enabled me to provide level headed coverage of all things that take place within the world of WordPress.

    I have to say though as an observer, I get depressed when I repeatedly see theme authors fighting over the interpretation of the GPL and its true definitions. What is allowed and whats not. Things of that nature. I hope that Matts response to his issue is clear in the way in which the GPL is expected to be followed and if it’s not followed in that way, go somewhere else or don’t expect WordPress to support your work.

  6. The thing about passion is that it can lead one to post about something while missing an alternative. Passion is a good thing to have and WordPress would not be where it is without it, but cold reason is also useful.

    What interests me about the whole debacle is that, to the best of my recollection, and assuming what is going on is what everyone thinks is going on, I don’t recall seeing anyone suggesting that it could be good for the community. It could be. Honestly.

    Anyway, you are a high profile blogger now so, irrespective of whether you are right or wrong in this case, you do need to hold yourself to a very high standard. I think you do that already. But you can never let your guard down.

  7. Of course emotions are involved. But what did WordPress.org expect?

    If you’ve ever taken part in transactional analysis what you’ll see is that WordPress.org has a tendency to act in the ‘Parent’ state. This is quite common behaviour in a lot of situations where an individual or group has a lot of power. Arbitrarily taking away the toys because of a previously unconsidered infraction is almost certainly guaranteed to induce the Child state in the people affected. Why? Because basically they’ve been made to feel like scolded children.

    What then has happened is that Matt & Co have realised what an unpopular move this is. It also makes them look Machiavellian. Links have been changed, conditions modified… and then throw in a “it’ll all be sorted out in a week or so, just mail us if you have a problem” also leaves some bad feeling with some people.

    Now, as time’s passed, some of us have realised that we got caught in the child trap and are trying to start to behave like “adults”. This will hopefully move Matt and others into the same state and at that point sensible negotiations can take place.

    But… I’ve seen a lot of unhappy themes developers in the past. The actions of WordPress.org has led to a dramatic reduction in the numbers of theme writers in recent times. Some commercial organisations, such as ours, have decided to try and fill the gap by providing both GPL and paid for options. If Matt continues in the current vein then we could feel at the mercy of a capricious and difficult parent.

    What WordPress needs is to start acting like we’re adults. Consultation, planning and care will all make us act in a similar way. We can then behave collectively and for the betterment of the WordPress community. Matt’s e-mails we’re a little better in this regard, but they’re not 100% clear and they make the mistake of being after the event so we’re all a little suspicious of one another now.

  8. I think what I’d like to see is Matt shed some light on what he thinks is appropriate as far as people making money with WP.

    From Brian Gardner’s blog, he mentioned that he had a great meeting with Matt back in late September and then shortly afterwards announced the new direction of the Revolution Themes.

    So obviously Matt is ok on some level with people making money from WP. I think if he would clarify his position on that, everyone could move forward.

    But that’s what makes this whole situation frustrating. Nobody knows and it’s all up in the air.

    For those of us who live, eat and breathe WP, it only makes sense that we want to build a business around it.

    The problem is, if we start doing that the whole thing could be pulled right out from under us with just one decision from Automattic.

    If we knew their position one way or the other, then we could move forward accordingly.

    Just my two cents.

    Take care.


  9. Passion is good. It shows you’re paying attention.
    I didn’t get up in arms about the themes although I did read the articles. I just didn’t feel it. Those themes haven’t disappeared. When I look for free themes, I still see them. It sucks to have stuff removed though, I can get behind that, especially if there was no warning.
    Hasn’t the WP themes page always been about having themes that didn’t link back to somewhere else or have that sort of code in them? I know it seems like a small thing and I’ve always left the credit on the bottom but when I can definitely see the point behind WP wanting those themes completely free of that sort of code. (Ducks the barrage of rotten tomatoes).
    Still, probably could have handled it better.

  10. Backing off is absolutely the thing to not do. You saw an item of interest and you followed it up. Passion for a subject is what makes a good blog a good blog. Without passion, the blogger is just ‘phoning it in’ and people will see that and not come back.

    My only concern, and I’ve seen this in several places, is that some folks gingerly step around Matt with this almost savior-like reverence. I like WordPress. It’s a great blogging platform. But Matt is not the second coming. Even he probably doesn’t care for that kind of treatment. He’s a guy just like everybody else.

    Anyway, getting back to your point, keep up the articles. Your coverage of this themes issue has been just fine and nothing to be worried about.

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