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As anyone reading this will most likely know, I go by the name “Japh”. This is a shortening of my full first name (Japheth), and I pronounce it “Jafe”.
Unfortunately for me, “JAPH” is a fairly long-time used acronym for “Just Another Perl Hacker” and other miscellaneous things, so I don’t always get to use it as my username.
Probably you’ll also know that I’m pretty interested in WordPress. I’m involved in the community, I run a tutorial blog focussed on it, and I contribute to WordPress core and other things for Envato. So I was really hoping to get, and use, japh.wordpress.com.
As you can see, it was already taken. From what I could tell, nothing has happened on this site since 2008-ish. So I contacted the email address shown on the site, sayhem at gmail.com, in March of 2010 asking if the person was still using it and if not could I please have it?
I got a reply from Salvatore Capolupo, who said he wasn’t using it anymore (moved the site to a different domain) and “no problem for me, just give me time to recover access data.”
Then we had a couple more emails back and forth. It seems Salvatore was unable to find his access data to get into the site in order to transfer it to me. But he’d let me know when we found it.
I didn’t want to hassle him, so I waited about a month, and contacted him again in April 2010. We tried working through a few account resets together over chat, but we couldn’t get me access.
I submitted a support ticket to WordPress.com asking how I could claim an unused blog URL if I had the current owner’s permission. Of course, support got back to me and said it’d be best for Salvatore to contact them.
Other than me emailing them back again including chat logs with Salvatore and getting the same reply, this is where the process has halted. Even to this day.
I’ve contact @salcapolupo on Twitter now and then to ask how he’s gone finding the access details, and no luck. I recently offered him money to please get this resolved.
So, as annoying someone over the course of 2.5 years and offering them money doesn’t seem to be working, what else can I do? Suggestions welcome!
This morning I got up at 5:30am to attend the WordPress Dev Chat, as I do every Thursday. I had a bunch of notifications from Twitter, which usually means people are excited about something. Here’s the tweet from @carlhancock that got the discussion started:
Fucking ThemeForest.QUIT GLOBALLY REPLACING CONTENT OUTPUT AND BREAKING OTHER PEOPLES CODE YOU ASSHOLES. !@$@#%
— Carl Hancock (@carlhancock) September 5, 2012
It went on from there, mainly with Carl, @pippinsplugins, and @michael_silva talking about ThemeForest themes including bad code that breaks plugins (Pippin specifically trying to make it clear that not all ThemeForest developers write bad code).
The problem is essentially WordPress theme developers include code that removes or overrides core WordPress functionality that WordPress plugins may rely on.
Specifically, things like removing
wptexturize with a shortcode, which is a strange thing for a theme to be doing in the first place. It seems to have been promoted in Step 3 of a tutorial on adding a column layout with shortcodes.
Because quite a number of ThemeForest authors are including this code in their WordPress themes, it’s causing big problems for plugin developers like Carl (founder at Gravity Forms). Having this code in a theme breaks plugins.
So what can we do about it? If this is a problem with themes on ThemeForest, then really that means it’s a problem for themes anywhere. There is already a great plugin called Theme-Check that theme developers can use to check their themes for issues or bad practices, so I’m hoping we can create a ruleset for Theme-Check to stop these issues in any theme, including on ThemeForest.
I spoke on Skype briefly with @iandstewart, who seems to think it’s a good plan, and will be getting some discussion happening on the Theme Review mailing list to make sure it’s a good idea and to get help making it happen.
So that’s been my eventful morning, and it’s only just hit 9:00am!
This post is mainly to get my thoughts out, but if you have any thoughts of your own t contribute, please feel free to leave a comment.
[Update:] To clarify, as my wording above is a little ambiguous, the ThemeForest review team do currently use the Theme-Check plugin. However, it doesn’t currently cover the specific issues being discussed.
I was browsing KickStarter (as I’m prone to doing lately) looking for interesting things, and I saw the listing for “Penny Arcade Sells Out“. This is rather fascinating, and something I had never thought of. The basic premise is that they want to reduce the advertising and other activities that are purely for financial sustainability, so they can focus on just making content people want.
It’s like taking content back from advertisers. No longer will content be a vehicle for advertising, but rather people will pay to get their content without advertising. Not a wholly new concept, but a new way of applying it to blogs and similar content people want to consume.
It also allows users to actually direct the content in some cases. Penny Arcade, at certain pledge levels, are offering users the chance to have some influence over the content they create. Another recent KickStarter listing by @ChrisCoyier was to screencast the complete re-design of his site, CSS-Tricks. His project was 2,562% funded! Now that’s a resounding “Yes please, we want that content” from his users, and also money that allows him to really go to town making it awesome.
Penny Arcade are asking considerably more initially than Chris, but with 35 days to go, they’re already 60% funded (at the time of writing this post). They’ve made it clear they’re testing to see if this is something that might work dependant on the reaction they get… looks like it’s another resounding yes so far!
@JasonImms, a friend of mine and excellent writer himself, also wrote a blog post about a conversation he had with colleagues. The conversation was on starting a site that would be completely crowd-funded and community-driven, so I wanted to put down some thoughts about this. Read his post first… I’ll wait.
Done? Good, cause some of this won’t make sense unless you read that.
I think a platform for crowd-funded content, also contributed to by the community (in the sense of ideas, direction, and content), is excellent. Clearly this is something a lot of users can get on board with, as indicated by Chris and Penny Arcade’s case studies above. Who wouldn’t want the content they love, without all the advertising and detractors they hate?
The balance, I think, is that the community is given some control and extra emotional buy-in in exchange for their financial buy-in.
Jason’s current approach was suggesting almost complete control to users. The site itself would serve as a neutral platform for publishing content, and the content could be on essentially any topic nominated and voted through by the users. I feel like this has potential to end up too open and thus never going anywhere. There’s no topic to be passionate about. As a contributor, your content could get lost in amongst other completely unrelated content, readers who are there for other content aren’t interested in what you’ve written. Also as a user, the same goes, you can’t guarantee what you find is anything you care to read. This is where I would suggest a different approach, so what follows is my suggestion.
Disclaimer: It’s quite possible the things I’m about to suggest are things Jason already thought of, or intended, but I didn’t read them in his post so wanted to get them down somewhere.
The site, isn’t just one site. The site is actually a network. It may start out as one site, it may start out as two or three, but each site is focussed on a particular broad topic. For the sake of argument, let’s say three topics: Gaming, Comics, Tech Industry. True, I’ve chosen topics where there’s a lot of cross-over, but if the network had a fairly generic name, there’s no reason you couldn’t spin up a new site on any topic.
Having a topic gives each site a purpose. Contributors know what general content is expected, and readers arrive with a specific expectation. There’s also the benefit of organic growth by having a cohesive theme running through the posts on a site: users know they can read and contribute there, the name becomes associated with that content, and the more automated consumers (such as GoogleBots) also have an easier time of it.
At some point, this network would have many sub-sites, and be covering such a wide range of content that it would essentially be that neutral platform for publishing content. But I feel having more focus in the beginning will give it its best chance to get started and grow big enough to handle that.
This whole concept actually really excites me. I think it could be amazing, and from various things I’ve read around the web industry, it’s definitely the direction things are moving.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! Feel free to leave a comment here, or over on Allegedly Interesting, as I’ll be keeping tabs there too.
Jason: Aren’t you glad I didn’t leave this big post as a comment on your post? ;)
Work are sending me along to WordCamp Sydney! This is very good news, and I can’t wait to go along and pitch in, catch up with everyone from WordCamp Gold Coast and WordCamp Melbourne.
These are hugely fun and educational events, if you can make it along yourself, do so!
I’ve always loved cooking, but have never really done very much of it. Finding the time to do it properly just hasn’t happened until our recent purchase: a Thermomix. I won’t go into all the details on what a Thermomix is and does right now, suffice it to say, cooking properly is now much quicker and easier.
So, one of my favourite foods for putting together creative and interesting flavours, is French macarons. I’ve never made them before, but I now have all the equipment and a few recipe books to get the basics sorted. Next weekend I’ll do my first batch (by the book), and then it’ll be time to get creative. If things go well, I may even see if a local café is interested in selling some of them! But that’s probably getting ahead of myself.
Anyway, I’ll be sure to post some of my flavour experiments in the future.
I’ve been wanting to get into Unit Testing my WordPress projects for a long time now, but there’s a severe lack of documentation online for actually getting up and running with it. I’m in the very fortunate position, that if there’s something I don’t know about WordPress, there’s a good chance other people want to know it too! Then I get to pay someone to write about it, and everybody wins.
@TomMcFarlin has written two brilliant articles on this for me. One getting things set up, and two actually using the setup for plugin development. I started working on this, but thought I’d try it for theme development, and found the process might be a little different. Tom will be getting an article together on this soon
I think Unit Testing is extremely important for working on projects you’re going to be releasing, or if you work in a team. I mean, ideally we’d do it for every project, but writing tests take time and on a small personal project there may not even be enough code to warrant them. It’s a subject that doesn’t seem to be taught much though (unless you’re a Ruby / Ruby on Rails dev, in which case lucky you!).
I’m looking forward to getting more into testing. TDD just makes sense to me.