July 15, 2010
Andrew Warner of Mixergy conducts an interview with Matt Mullenweg of Automattic and Chris Pearson of DIYThemes regarding the Thesis theme and the GNU Public License.
Special thanks to Mixergy for sharing this video with WordPress.tv.
Andrew Warner 2 Matt Mullenweg 74 Chris Pearson 1
development 152 featured 181 GPL 5 Interview 10 Themes 86
I’ll never forget how astonishingly rude Chris Pearson was when i once commented on his blog because he was just heartlessly rude to a very sweet blogger who Chris felt was stepping on his toes by distributing a theme this blogger described as “being like thesis.” So i find this exchange pretty ironic. I would not buy theseis if it were the last theme on earth.
I tried to talk to Chris about the license issues the day before this video was recorded, and the lack of resolution from that interaction is part of what led to this Chris/Matt interview taking place. I wrote up the backstory from my conversation with Chris the day before, if anyone is interested. He used the same words, tone and attitude with me, almost verbatim.
…so no resolution, eh?
This sort of thing has made me decide, definitely, not to buy Thesis or get into it.
“I dont think it applies, I don’t think it applies”.. it does apply, wake up.
More and more of the blogs I come across seem to be running Thesis. That makes me wonder just how much money Pearson and others are making off of this theme, and the extent to which such financial considerations are adding energy to this disagreement.
Chris Pearson overestimates the importance of Thesis to WordPress, and illogically uses his exaggerated estimate to argue it should not be subject to a license that was in place before he built Thesis. Sorry, but his self-centered “logic” doesn’t work.
Both of these guys are intelligent, and quite passionate about their side. I just don’t see it ending well, and as much as I love open source, I’m not sure its the right fight to pick and I don’t think it helps WordPress’ image, or Matts for that matter.
I also don’t see quite as much attitude or bad tone in Chris’ voice as you guys seem to be hearing.
I love WordPress, and respect the GPL, but I just don’t see where this can do anything good for either side besides maybe give both some free advertising.
I was not aware of this outstanding debate until I randomly clicked on the WordPress.tv link yesterday. Before listening to this interview, I would have likely considered a Thesis account based on the reputation of it’s top users and the valuable feature set. But, after listening to this, I’m very turned off by Chris Pearson’s stance and confrontational dialog.
I highly respect the snapshot of features I’ve seen in Thesis video demonstrations, and I also respect his desire for monetizing his creativity, but his argument only seems to be backed by his own ego and questionable reputation.
Its ironic the Thesis guy doesnt want his license open to be taken advantage of but he thinks its okay to ride on WordPress’ liscense. This sounds like conversations of convenient thinking employees I’ve had that have stolen from my company but think its wrong if I fire them.
Turned me off to Thesis. Thesis guy wants everyone to obey his license and not respect WordPress’. WordPress’ conversation is intellectual and what I would hear in an attorneys office. If WordPress doesnt protect its copyright it loses it. Its a legal issue if you know anything. Thesis guy on the other hand acts and talks like a crazy excuse manic hormone driven kid whose been riding the train for free and is told to comply. He should consider himself lucky, anyone else would’ve dropped a lawsuit on him.
If a theme contains code from WordPress, it should fall under the GPL.
But if the theme contains code that WORKS WITH WordPress, it doesn’t have to. Because it isn’t based on any GPL code. It just works with it.
Now, I don’t know which is the case with Thesis, so I can’t really have an opinion.
Actually, I do not think it is just about using the code, but about being a derived product. Contrary to what Chris “in your face” Pearson says, Thesis does not work without WordPress, but WordPress works perfectly well without Thesis. I had never even heard about Thesis, even though I knew WooThemes, Revolution, and host of others. And WordPress comes with themes… On the contrary, remove WordPress and you cannot run Thesis. Try it with Drupal. Ain’t working. Try it with EE. Ain’t working. Try it with Joomla. Ain’t working. Try it without anything. Ain’t working…
To reuse Chris’s words against his own case, if there is no WordPress, there is “no flow”.
In short, if he doesn’t want the GPL, he can choose another platform, as Matt suggested.
But Chris wants the milk, the butter and the creamer. He wants to be on WordPress, because the platform has a huge following, and hence a wider audience and buyers market ($2-3M worth so far), but he doesn’t want to abide by the terms of the platform.
Name the elephant, please: money! And it’s okay… Just make themes for SharePoint :)
Funny thing is, I’ve searched for and used lots of themes, and I have never heard of Thesis until now. Chris REALLY overestimates his popularity in the WP community.
Just a side note, Chris doesn’t have any composure when it comes to public speaking. That is a turn off by itself.
Chris: “I want to help people make money”
Chris: “I don’t want people to make money off my good name..” ” that’s a poor business decision”
Matt: “You are very lucky the developers of WordPress don’t feel the same way as you”
Chris: “I choose WordPress because it’s the largest platform and the least resistance to me …” (right here you can just add) “me making money”.
Bottom line; Matt’s philosophy in life and business is why WordPress is so successful. Leaches like Chris come along (so called good name) would never understand that.
Greed. Good bye Thesis.
Chris: “Thesis has around 27,000 users”
Chris: “Thesis is responsible for introducing a great number of people to wordpress”
Errr……okay…..lets say then…..that 100% of Thesis users never heard of WordPress before and started using WordPress because they bought Thesis.
This would mean that Thesis’s significance to WordPress would be around 0.002% seeing that WordPress has had 11 Million downloads so far FOR VERSION 3 at July 30th 2010.
No more Thesis for me and I will also be recommending to other people not to use Thesis.
Would it be fair to say those naysayers of Thesis here hasn’t used Thesis (and it’s hooks) before?
I’m all for it to be freely distributed (cheapo me here) but I’m all for any creative individual to be remunerated for their efforts.
I’m torn in between here, and the lack of resolution amplifies that.
You are not the only cheapo :) Hello Me! Still, I pay for good things at times (not all, e.g. Trac, my preferred toy). The point is not that Chris didn’t a good job. He may have.. What are these hooks, by the way? :)
The point is that if he wants to keep full, exclusive ownership and reselling rights (which he may not have wanted initially) for his good work, he should use a platform that permits this. Other CMS do. Otherwise, he should adopt GPL.
People who travel a lot know that rules, laws, vary widely around the Earth, with the land you step on. For instance, one may drink at 18 but only drive at 21 in France; And it’s the opposite in the US. Would Chris say “well, but in my conscience, I feel this is a bad law”? Whatever a person decides to do, they should make sure it is legal where they tread… If you don’t like the law, pick another land.
The GPL license requires everyone who takes the original code and modifies it to license it as the same GPL license that it came form. Chris is not modifying WordPress itself. He is developing his own piece of software that is compatible with WordPress.
In this interview, Matt mentions that the GPL license is very old. I think that’s an important thing to consider in this debate.
While Matt may have every right to uphold the GPL license, as it applies to WordPress; I think Matt should consider a few ways that “he” might be able to continue his innovation in terms of licensing; for the benefit of everyone that uses WordPress, and the software designed to work with WordPress.
In other words, maybe what the WordPress community needs, is a new license. I can understand the importance of keeping things open source; but the best developers out there, need to be compensated as well. This day in age, you can’t ask a company that is developing a high-end application on top of WordPress to release everything as GPL; they would be crazy to do so. They’d be better off developing on top of something else, besides WordPress.
I don’t think it’s a good idea to ask developers to create on top of a different platform. There needs to be a more modern license that can be applied to both open source, and still leave room for commercial software applications too.
I think the point Chris Pearson made; with respect to a gaming console; is a very good analogy. Instead of arguing, why not try to come up with a license that works for everyone. After all, the GPL is all about freedom. I don’t think Chris Pearson, and others like him.. feel all that free right now.
Maybe the main problem is not Chris’ disregard for GPL and its terms.
Maybe the problem is the fact that GPL allows mere resellers (and other plain content/original work thieves) who don’t add value, nor contribute positively in any way, to make money off the work of good developers who contribute, expand, enhance faithfully community efforts. That said, it seems there is a tacit agreement that it’s a minor issue, otherwise it would have been modified by now.
Great interview, thanks Andrew
Never bite the hand that feeds you.
This was painful to listen to. 95% of Chris’ logic (and analogies) are flawed. Great job Matt.
There’s a lot of love on these columns for Matt, and rightly so. However, as a developer who is currently building a premium theme, I have sympathy for Chris.
How can I protect my theme if I use GPL? Would there be anything stopping another developer from taking what I have built and selling it under a different name?
Awesome interview Andrew!
I was on the verge of buying Thesis and looking for reviews when I found this. No way am I buying a product from a developer with this kind of attitude… if there’s a problem that he “feels” is your fault, you’re going to be treated like Matt!
Chris Pearson’s arguments are irrational & totally flawed, WordPress does not need Thesis to work. However, take away WordPress and Thesis is just a load of worthless code… Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!
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