“Sponsored” themes

April 9th, 2007
Blogging News, WordPress

The following is a quote from a post on a theme blog:

Hello, I plan on posting a thread about this on digitalpoint, but I thought I would put the information here as well. I am selling two sponsor links to this theme which will appear in the footer where it says “Sponsor One” and “Sponsor Two”. I will be selling each link for a BIN price of $120 and a starting bid of $20! (BIN for both links together is $180).You may say, why would I pay this price for one link at the bottom of a theme?!Your answer: This theme will be promoted on many wordpress theme sites (I’ll list them below) and will be seen by many wordpress bloggers who will hopefully choose to use it on their blog. Each person that chooses to use the theme is another link that you have to your site, which helps for both traffic, and page rank.Sites that This theme will be Promoted on:


The winners will also get a link on my homepage

I will also submit it to smaller sites and sites that require it to be approved before appearing on the site. I will update the winner of what sites I submit it to.

The license for the script is Creative Commons 3.0 which will allow distribution of the theme, but the person using it is required to leave your link in the theme. Creative Commons License

Any questions, you can leave a comment or email me at ******@******.com or the same address for MSN messenger

I’ll leave you with the theme screenshot, Happy Bidding!!

This post, not linked of course, brings in a new perspective for me. I have been largely silent about the the whole “sponsored theme” controversy going on in the WordPress theme world. However, the post above left a really, really bad taste in my mouth.

It should serve as an educational tool for unaware WordPress theme users who use sponsored themes for their blogs. When you download a sponsored theme and install it on your WordPress blog, the sponsor is not only enjoying the increased visual exposure through the link at the bottom of your blog, they are also leeching off the Google Pagerank of your blog. However, you as a theme user may choose to use a sponsored theme and choose to leave the link at the bottom of your page alone since that completely depends on personal tastes and choices. I choose to promote the developer of the theme for this blog and have chosen to leave a link to his blog intact at the footer of this page.

Sponsored themes are here to stay. Many people download them and do not remove the links from the bottom of their WordPress pages. There are many advertisers looking to purchase such links and some theme authors are regularly creating themes just for the sponsorship money. I had felt in the past that they were a necessary evil which at the least, helped development of new themes for WordPress users and if there were appropriate disclosure, they might have been tolerated. However, I was thinking about changing a few of the disclosure rules for sponsored themes on and the post above strengthened my desire.

I will not be the theme/sponsorship police. I do not intend to chastise sponsored theme developers nor do I intend to attack their form of income. All I want to have happen is for WordPress users to have a steady flow of new, cool and useful themes and plugins and for theme authors to have a steady stream of WordPress users. That is my primary goal. We intend to try and bring the community together.

However, I want to educate the users and readers of this blog and let them decide what is best for their needs and suits their opinions. In that spirit, all themes with sponsorship links will be labelled as such when they are published, non-sponsored themes will be published first and we require sponsorship disclosure to be made to us when authors make us aware of their new themes. If this disclosure is not provided and the theme has sponsored links, the author will be barred from being able to post their new themes on until further notice.

In addition, any postings such as the one above, is a surefire way of never getting your news published on again.




  1. jez (56 comments.) says:

    sponsored themes are really pissing me off,
    I wrote an article about that topic some weeks ago.
    Maybe you want to read my article as well at and also check out the comments by lisa and gary.

    I really appreciate you taking steps AGAINST sponsored themes. it is being a plague at the moment.

    Best regards,

  2. jez (56 comments.) says:

    bah the link is broken, it has to do with the wp_texturize() function of wordpress that turns every (diget)x(diget) into this nifty small x.

    Can you please fix that link? cheerio!

  3. Trevor (1 comments.) says:

    Wow, you scared me for a minute. I was reading this through my RSS reader, so it wasn’t clear that the first section was a quote. It sounded like you were selling these links, which surprised me!

  4. Aaron (33 comments.) says:

    I personally have no problem with theme authors adding a link to their own website and requiring that it remains–they did do the work.

    However, I think it is inappropriate to sell links in a theme. I think it just screams “abuse me”.

  5. ttancm (34 comments.) says:

    I don’t mind sponsored themes or them being here or on any of the other sites noted. I do prefer to know what they are before downloading them however, so good decision I think.


  6. Guy R. Vestal (10 comments.) says:

    I too am not a fan of “Sponsored Themes”… My problem with it is that having a “Christian Weblog”, I must be quite selective of what links I have on there in the first place. My audience is not the type that will look kindly on the possibilty of a link leading to a website that has, or links to “objectionable content”. It is just too risky to let in unknown links. In fact, I have been trying to find someone to make me a “custom theme”, but have been unsuccessful. (I think folks are a little weary of religious weblogs maybe?) But I welcome putting the theme authors link on mine! In fact, he had his link on the footer, and I moved it half way up the page where it was much more visible!

  7. adam (39 comments.) says:

    +1 for disclosure. CC-attribution is what it is. it’s advertising for the person who made the theme. i don’t see a big difference between promoting your own site (which may have ads, NSFP content, or could be sold to an advertiser at some point in the future. not to mention, some theme authors seem to be releasing themes as advertisement for paid design work, which i don’t think is any less objectionable).
    perhaps in addition to noting whether the theme contains advertising, you should note what license the theme is under, since GPL themes can’t require attribution, and some CC licenses prohibit commercial use. the more information you provide, the better a service you provide.

  8. Suburban Oblivion (1 comments.) says:

    Thank you so much for this post!! I’ve heard about this type of thing but not yet seen it in action.

    I’m kind of on the fence here, because I think people should get paid for their work. At the same time I think that kind of theme/link integration is just plain tacky. Wouldn’t a better compromise be to post on the download site that “This theme has been sponsored by (insert name)”?

  9. Andreas says:

    I’ve seen this debate for quite some time, and I’ve been waiting for someone to take the big step into abusing the whole idea of sponsored links in the way you have described here. It is sad, but extremely expected.

    I had a sponsored link in my themes before, and it was handled in a good way that gave me the possibility to work for free – basically providing free theme support to people who were using my themes (and WordPress in general). I donated a percentage every month to different open source projects, and I spent 4-6 hours per day answering e-mails, helping out with customizations and answering support requests on different forums. I know that a lot of people appreciated it. I explained many times that I could do this because of the link in the footer of my themes, and none of the people I helped expressed any negative opinions about that.

    But suddenly the sponsor cancelled the deal, after a long story that involved the WordPress dev team themselves. Not much to do about that, I respect Matt’s wish to not see sponsored links – and I moved back to making a living from my template design instead of the sponsored links. I can’t spend the same amount of time on helping people, but I still do my best to provide support when requested. It has also been OK to make any changes wanted to my themes, including removing both my credits and the sponsored link. I consider it to be a decision of the site owner, not the theme designer, and I always felt that there was an obvious difference between allowing credits and sponsored link to be removed and requiring the theme user to keep it.

    Today I have a link back to my site and to a website belonging to a colleague who has helped me with various projects (including the themes of course). I get approximately 30-40 offers for theme sponsorshipg on a regular week, often ranging between $2.000 per month and up to $5.000 per month for a single link in the footer of my themes. It is of course hard to turn that down, but I’m building themes to help people. Not to end up being a bad-guy who just abuse the popularity of WordPress for my own profit. If people would see me as a bad-guy when I’m really trying to do something good to help them, I would be happy to spend my energy on something else.

    But I hope and trust that the majority of the WordPress community can see the difference between direct abuse of theme popularity and good use of it. There are many examples of both sides, and the forum post above is of course one such example.

    My two cents. :)

  10. Thomas (14 comments.) says:

    I don’t feel anything wrong about putting sponor-links into my themes. They are CC-By-SA and users can removed them. I won’t hunt anyone just cuz he removed the link. Until now I didn’t see anyone who removed them anyways.

    I fear the market is already overload just when it started to get off ground. Only a few themes are really getting used (not downloaded!) a hundert (or let it be dozen) times like some sellers claim so the buyer will sooner or later concentrate on asking well-established designers to put links into their well-established themes. I guess that’s the future and my future way. Of course sponsors miss some users when they jump in late but they have more success and it’s less scam as it’s now. The other future I see is that themes are sold completly. Some designer might not care about the backlinks for themself so the sponsor publish the whole thing.

    PS: Guy if you still need a theme then mail me. I’m happy about every theme I sell without sponsorlinks

  11. António (3 comments.) says:

    I too, like Trevor, thought you were selling links… :)
    This is a topic I have been thinking for a while, I see some themes that have as much as 7 links in their credit line – links anchored with as little as a single character. Not to mention those that do it in bold and in a bigger than usual font. I am all for crediting the person whose work I am using but sometimes it’s a bit (way) too much.
    Could someone shed some light as for the general terms of this software – general rules, links?

  12. Soccer Dad (6 comments.) says:

    I think there is a major difference between a ‘Theme designed by’ link (just like the ‘Powered by WordPress’ link so many of us leave) and a theme that sells footer links. If a theme author wants to leverage his/her theme page’s high PR with text link ads on THEIR site – absolutely. Nothing wrong with a little reward for hard work. But dynamic linking like that? No way – too risky. You lose control over a part of your site, etc.

  13. LiewCF (8 comments.) says:

    It is important to disclose sponsor links. Not every bloggers know HOW TO remove the link, even they have the source files. Also, a theme developer may insert a PHP call to dynamically change the links on ALL the blogs using the theme. This is dangerous. :/

  14. ceejayoz (3 comments.) says:

    I’d hope that such sponsored themes would include a wp-admin page checkbox to turn the links off easily.

  15. Jordan (7 comments.) says:

    As a theme user, if I come across a theme that was obviously created for monetization reasons (eg: seeing the same theme, in different colors, with different sponsored links) I will not look at it, use it, or refer it.

    If there is a theme I absolutely have to use, I don’t even bother with whatever CC applied to it. I remove the links. Or I just won’t use the theme.

    This is one of the more annoying things I’ve come across. Especially when the theme looks like absolute trash (majority of the ones being posted to the WordPress themes directory.) As far as Blogflux goes, I don’t see too many shoddy sponsored themes. Majority of the ones posted are actually aesthetically pleasing.

  16. Jeff (2 comments.) says:

    Wow… I’m always surprised when someone finds a new way to pollute my user experience with even more commercialism. Maybe I should start cranking out tacky themes with a paypal tip jar on every page? :/

  17. Amanda (18 comments.) says:

    I hate them to I get sick and tired of them and I dont want their ads on my site. I give props to just the designer.

  18. Andreas (19 comments.) says:

    While we are at this topic, why not also discuss all the threats that theme designers get, because theme users are using their themes on sites with stolen (or in other ways offensive) content? I’ve got death threats just because people don’t understand that “theme design by” is something completely different from “blog content by”. Sponsored links is a fairly small problem if you compare it with the number of threats and misunderstandings most designers of well-known themes see every day.

  19. Thomas Silkjær (1 comments.) says:

    Honestly, I don’t have a problem with sponsored themes – somehow theme authors should be allowed get some money for their work, as well as blog writers who serves ads on their blog etc.

    Theme sponsoring can, in my eyes, be a problem if:

    if the end user isn’t allowed to remove the link
    if people mass-produces low-quality themes in order to earn more money from theme sponsors, and this way flood the community with useless themes.
    if the theme author is putting affiliate links/adsense or otherwise earn directly from the end-users visitors.

  20. Jenny (10 comments.) says:

    I PERSONALLY think that if I were to use a sponsored theme (and I never will) that this “sponsor” should pay ME to have his link there since he’s getting all his linky love off my site. But that’s just me.

  21. Thomas (14 comments.) says:

    Then Jenny you should pay the designer for the theme you are using… expect for (semi-)professional bloggers no one wants to pay for the themes he uses.

  22. Jordan (7 comments.) says:

    Thomas – If you’re going with that mentality, then the theme artist should have to pay the user for using his theme which display the text link ad. Essentially it is the user’s use of the theme that will increase the linked sites ranking, etc.

    With that being said, that logic for either party is useless and not even to be considered.

  23. Thomas (14 comments.) says:

    Oh yeah and crappy-car-company pays me for showing their logo to the world…

    Jordan, please remember that the web (just like television, news papers and magazins, all the media) still operates due to revenue from advertising.

  24. TW (6 comments.) says:

    I think I agree with Thomas here. At the end of the day, no one forces you to use a theme which has a sponsored link. For me, as long as the theme looks like I want it to look and is free, I don’t care what “sponsorship” type links hide in the bottom.

    If I really objected, I could learn how to write my own theme. Until that point though, the theme designer should get some “reward” other than the nice feeling and lots of backlinks.

  25. adam (1 comments.) says:


    i’d agree that the only scrupulous way to do this is to allow the user to turn it off easily. obviously the post mark’s referencing doesn’t allow that, but i don’t see why

    if you respect your users, odds are, they’ll return the favor. advertisers will still get the boost from the first day or so before the user turns off the link.

  26. António (3 comments.) says:

    Thomas, don’t forget you must also pay for the software. After all, someone did an incredible good job with this WordPress thing and keeps on running the machine.

    People often forget that because free has a price of its own: it costs 0$, but as a designer or software producer you get something from thousands people using your work, leverage. If you want to charge for it you’re free to do so but respect people and let them know in advance how you’re doing, even if doesn’t cost them a dime or the PR leach is minimal. My guess is that even you have bare talent with their words can get people to understand their position.

    And from what I hear and see most bloggers have no idea of what they can do or not with their footers.

  27. Lisa Sabin-Wilson (3 comments.) says:

    In regards to sponsored themes, I’ve received the following requests from sponsors and ‘theme authors':

    1. Sponsors who want to purchase space in the footer of my free themes

    2. Sponsors who want me to design a theme for them that has an open license so that they can release it as theirs and fill the footer with their site links

    So, quite a few ‘theme authors’ are not really theme authors at all – but rather they are people who have paid to have a theme made for them that they then can release as their own.

    I have also experienced many of these ‘theme authors’ take themes already done and do something subtle to id..change background colors or header images, etc – and release it as a brand new theme with their sponsored links in the footer.

    In an upcoming book I’m writing, to be released this summer: “WordPress for Dummies” I make similar statements about theme sponsoring as this post does – – in a ‘theme user beware’ type of statement. I don’t tell readers NOT to use the themes, but, rather – to beware of the new sponsored themes and pay particular attention to the links in the footers or sidebars of the theme they choose to use. Theme users could end up sending links to sites they don’t support, or wish to support.

    I’ve seen sponsored links ranging anywhere from Credit Card Finance scams to viagra/pharm…. sites that bloggers delete from their comment spam bin daily.

    Personally, I have zero problems giving links and credits to theme designer – but, for me, that is where it ends. I wouldn’t use a sponsored theme on any of my sites – – and when I see sponsored themes, I click the ‘X’ in the top upper right.

  28. Lisa Sabin-Wilson (3 comments.) says:

    Oh, as a follow-up – – I have declined every offer I have received to get paid for sponsored links on my themes. I also will not create themes for release under anyone’s name buy my own. The whole practice leaves a bad taste.

  29. John Pozadzides (8 comments.) says:

    First of all, I’m extremely glad that you brought this up and I’m happy that you will be notating new theme’s which do this.

    I’m concerned about a trend among both theme and plugin providers who seem to believe it is acceptable to put commercial links into their code. An even worse example is the Spamdexing built into the Secure & Accessible PHP Contact Form. Even if you choose the option to remove the author reference links, it merely “hides” them using CSS trickery.

    What makes these links, hidden or otherwise, so bad is that they can do harm to the blog they are installed on. For example the previously mentioned plugin can get a site banned from Google altogether. And links to sites with a bad “link neighborhood” can damage PageRank, thereby decreasing your results in a search engine and consequently your traffic flow.

    See the “Pitfalls” section on an SEO article I wrote on


  30. miklb (1 comments.) says:

    The issue with this as I see it, is that the “theme developer” (I use that term loosely, as the dozens of new themes released on a daily basis, are, IMO, bad hacks to kubrick, often using almost the exact same code) is using a guarantee that sites like weblogtools, themes.wordpress, etc are going to be advertising these. He’s using them as a marketing tool. That should not be the purpose of themes.wordpress, the codex or any other WP related site. I rarely see sponsored themes I find worthy of mentioning on my WP related site, and certainly would note if it was a sponsored theme.

    Someone else mentioned the fact that #of downloads doesn’t translate to #of used, so they are leveraging the “advertising” value vs the quality of the work, which is really what should determine if the sponsorship translated into real links.

    Sure, that’s for the sponsor to determine the value, but certainly WP community should not be blanket marketing (particularly the codex).

  31. John (1 comments.) says:

    @ Lisa Sabin-Wilson

    We all know what you are really up to, you are the one who faked aliases and downgraded other users themes, and now you are here playing a moral police? Shame. Judge not, lest ye be judged thy self.

  32. John (1 comments.) says:

    @ Lisa Sabin-Wilson

    We all know what you are really up to, you are the one who faked aliases and downgraded other users themes, and now you are here playing a moral police? Shame. Judge not, lest ye be judged thy self. People, click my name and it will take to you a confession.

  33. Jonathan (83 comments.) says:

    I for one have mixed feelings about this topic. I do feel that the designer should be rewarded for their efforts more than just the linkback — with the purchase of the “sponsorship” through advertisers. But at the same time, it’s open source and anyone can remove the link if they wish so there’s no real way to enforce it to stay on that theme’s page if someone wishes to use it.

    I don’t endorse nor condemn the actions of these kinds of sponsorships…

  34. Lisa Sabin-Wilson (3 comments.) says:

    John – I am aware of what you are referring to and I believe I’ve explained it in that very same post you reference. I also had one comment I left at the WP themes site where my Safari browser added a rating to one of my comments it was either the browser or my clumsy fingers with the mousepad I wasn’t used to…either way, I acknowledged my mistake in that very same comment thread and asked for the rating to be removed. (which it wasn’t – though it happend quite awhile ago and I haven’t checked it lately)

    Regardless of what you believe is fine, really. You misunderstand, John – I’m not playing ‘moral police’ at all. I merely have my own opinions of the practice.. just like anyone else. I think warning theme users about the sponsorships is a good idea.

  35. Donna says:

    Snort… 95% of WordPress themes are utter crap anyway.

    Really, can we have a serious post about theme aesthetics sometime?

  36. Alejandro (5 comments.) says:

    I’m wondering… themes are linked to WordPress. Actually, WordPress can’t work without a theme (any theme). So, isn’t releasing themes under a non GPL-compatible license (like most CC licenses) a GPL violation?

    I normally leave links pointing towards designer’s websites (I consider that to be a way of recognizing their work), but I’ll never advertise for someone who’s lying to people, telling them that CC-attribution means they can’t edit links.

  37. Len says:

    I have no problem with someone wanting to make a little money. As usual in a free market society if one doesn’t like ‘sponsored themes’ then one doesn’t have to use them.

  38. Aaron (33 comments.) says:

    Most times you can create a closed source application that sits on top of an open source application. That is, if you don’t reuse the code.

    If this wasn’t the case you couldn’t have commercial PHP scripts.

  39. Friedbeef (1 comments.) says:

    Agree! Disclosure is essential

  40. Alejandro (4 comments.) says:


    That’s not a good example. PHP is distributed under the non-copyleft PHP license. You could take PHP code and make your own proprietary language, and it’d be completely legal. The GPL (used by WP) is a copyleft license, which specifically forbids redistribution under a different license (not just a closed one, but also a more permissive one).

    Which leads me to think that if themes use WP code, then they can’t be released under a license which isn’t GPL compatible.

  41. Matt (1 comments.) says:

    While I understand the need that many people feel to get paid in some form for their hard work, bills don’t pay themselves after all, it would be nice to have the option to pay a small fee to remove the sponsor link. Sometimes the sponsor is just in the same industry that you are, and to have a competitors link on your site in a
    “sponsored” fashion is just bad business sense.

  42. pizdin_dim says:

    “I’m wondering… themes are linked to WordPress. Actually, WordPress can’t work without a theme (any theme)”

    That’s not true, see this post at the WP forums.

  43. Xander says:

    How many themes do we need anyway? A “steady stream” you figure? Frankly most WP themes are useless… this sponsored stuff is garbage as well. Sell a theme if you like but embedding any form of advertising seems finky to me.

  44. Thomas (14 comments.) says:

    @António: I guess my karma is good enough to use WordPress. I’ve done enough volunteer work for Wikipedia, from adminship to the first regular (free!) PDF-magazine with Wikipedia-content. Open source (and content like wikipedia) wouldn’t be that sucessfull if commercial use would not be allowed.

  45. Michael Visser (4 comments.) says:

    Casting the SEM/SEO wand on this sponsored link practice…

    You need to be wary of any SERP (Search Engine Result Page) penalties that may be incurred by providing irrevelant links to other sites. If you do link to another site and don’t want to pass on the link love (this is a good case of one) then use a link condom (eg. Domain Link anchor text).

  46. ttancm (34 comments.) says:

    I am always amazed at how much people feel they are entitled to everything for free.

    If a theme author makes a theme and says you may only use it if you leave those links at the bottom intact, then you are not within your rights to remove the links and use anyway just because you don’t agree with the designer.

    Yes, WordPress is free, but the people who created it chose to make it that way (and actually do make money off of it anyway), the theme designers in question are not choosing to make there product free of charge with no caveats.

    It’s pretty simple when they say “you may use this theme as long as the links stay in tact”, you can either do that or go and pay for a theme elsewhere or use one of the many, many non-sponsored themes available for free, but just using the theme and deleting the links is really not a good option, and if the designer has actually licensed their theme correctly (which many do not) could even possibly make you legally liable.

    I can understand people not wanting sponsored links in the themes they use, but the obvious choice is to not use those themes, not get all morally outraged that someone has made something that you find appealing enough to want to use, but they won’t let you use it for free and with no benefit to themselves.

    Mind you, this is only relevant for people who fully disclose the sponsorship of the theme, not for people who try to sneak things in, or put in cloaked (display: none) links etc.

    Making themes isn’t easy (assuming the designer is actually making a theme and not just modifying something slightly) and can take a hell of a lot of time, if people don’t want to do that for free, then who are any of us to piss about it?

    Seriously, how can some cry their moral outrage about theme links and then advocate what is essentially stealing the theme for your own use by removing the links the theme designer requires stay in place and using it anyway? Seems like less a problem of morals/ethics than it is a problem with people wanting other people’s work for free.

    Seriously, if you don’t like it, then don’t use sponsored themes where the author requires the link to stay in. Simple.

  47. ttancm (34 comments.) says:

    Just to clarify, the above is in response to some of the comments here, and not to the decision to fully disclose when a theme is sponsored.

    In summary;
    Disclosure is good. Sponsored themes, personal preference. Stealing someone’s work, bad.

  48. Thomas (14 comments.) says:

    @Michael Visser: I think the link relevancy doesn’t count that much for blogs. Blogs have too many outgoing links, just think of blogrolls which seldomly have something to do with page content.

    And about the Google TOS I say those are rules you can expect from a dictator in a totalitarian country. They are making a fortune with adsense and that’s the only reason they don’t want people to sell links.

  49. Graeme (4 comments.) says:

    Before this whole thing of sponsored themes started, I took to putting links to both my blog and at least one of my other websites at the bottom of my themes. Do these count as sponsored links? I have not sold links, but I am using them to promote a site.

    Incidentally, I am not doing this at the moment, because the existence of sponsored themes makes doing anything similar look spammy.

    Also, John Pozadzides point about damaging your Google rankings by linking to spammy sites is important. If you do use a sponsored theme

  50. Graeme (4 comments.) says:

    Do links to your own sites count as sponsored links? No money changes hands but it is an attempt to improve ranking.

    I used to do this, until the spread of sponsored links make it look spammy.

    Also, I think it important to emphasise that anyone who does use a sponsored theme should be careful about what sites it links to. Linking to spammy sites will kill your Google (and other SE) ranking.

  51. jez (56 comments.) says:

    thanks for fixing my link up there. when I commented at first I didn’t think such a storm of comments would follow.
    I would like to point out one thing, that thomas (undersigned) said:
    if people mass-produces low-quality themes in order to earn more money from theme sponsors, and this way flood the community with useless themes.
    if the theme author is putting affiliate links/adsense or otherwise earn directly from the end-users visitors.

    This does apply to almost all sponsored themes. Low quality, or stolen design or based on a free css design – in those cases, I find it hard to not delete the credits in the footer. Leave alone the original author of course.

    I am really glad that this many people (and also prominent bloggers) take some time to read this post and leave their 5cent.
    Sponsoring wordpress themes is really taking the piss, and I am glad that weblogtoolscollection is among one of the first instances to take measures, may that only be exposing the nature behind a theme that is submitted here.

  52. Thomas (14 comments.) says:

    @Graeme: I wouldn’t care about google, there are always two good arguments on a issue and they are always opposite. Put links in your themes otherwise it would be hard for everybody to find the theme and use it. no?

    About the whole issue: For myself I’ll stop selling sponsorlinks on new themes. It wasn’t that much money anyways so I’ll wait for my themes to be really successfull and give them a sponsor-link afterwards that can be opt-out very easy. Basically it’s “getting famous first then getting rich” ;-)

  53. Graeme (4 comments.) says:

    Thomas, I think I need to clarify what I said.

    Of course I put in a link to the site (my blog) from where the theme can be downloaded.

    I also used to put in a link to my commericial site as well. That is what I have stopped doing.

  54. Thomas (14 comments.) says:

    @Graeme: You could put the theme to your commercial site ;-) that’s what I fear to come and will be hard to argue against. Maybe you should put an image of yourself on every site you have. did you learn that in blogger-school? doh, forgot it on my own blog. ;-)

    I think if you make clear in the theme’s source that it’s not spam then it should be ok and no one will remove it. I gonna do the same for my second weblog too, now that I don’t sell sponsor-links anymore.

  55. jez (56 comments.) says:

    have you checked out todays theme post on the weblog tools collection?

    6 out of 12 themes today contain sponsored links. bah

  56. milo says:

    Sponsor links can only damage the developer’s reputation if sold for some (low) bucks, but those -designers- also damage the ranking and pr of their theme users, so it should be clear sponsor links are not the right way. It looks like the WP themeviewer is going right now the blogger way. Do we want that?

  57. Michel says:

    Just a question–if a theme is released as GPL, can the theme author insist that their link in footer.php NOT be removed?

  58. jez (56 comments.) says:

    according to the gpl you can do whatever you like with the link as far as I know.
    it is different to the Creative commons license though.

  59. Alejandro (4 comments.) says:

    Michel: A GPLed theme can be modified in any way, as long as you release your changes under the GPL too (if you choose to redistribute your modified version).

    Jez: There isn’t ONE CC license. Many of them allow for derivative works. In any case, I don’t know if any forbid modifications as long as you don’t redistribute them.

  60. that girl again (3 comments.) says:

    if a theme is released as GPL, can the theme author insist that their link in footer.php NOT be removed?

    No, they cannot. You cannot stipulate any kind of attribution link and remain in compliance with the GPL. And WP devs have argued in the past that ALL themes must be GPL because they rely on GPL code.

    I wouldn’t sell sponsored links on my own themes because it’s a little tacky for my taste, but I can’t get too upset about sponsored themes because, in practice, end users pay very little attention to licence requirements. If they don’t want spammy links in their footer, they will either remove them or choose another theme. If they’re happy keeping the links as a form of payment for their theme, it’s their blog and I’m not about to dictate who they’re allowed to link to. I hear a lot of wailing from designers for and against, but I don’t hear much from the actual users, which suggests to me that they are quietly making their own decisions on the subject.

  61. Alejandro (4 comments.) says:

    I just checked this thread at the WP support forums, and Matt (THAT Matt) chimed in. He’s with me in that all themes use WP code, so they’re all supposed to be GPLed.

    (I’m Rebanyo there)

  62. milo says:

    More interesting words on
    WP support forum.

  63. ttancm (34 comments.) says:

    if a theme is released as GPL, can the theme author insist that their link in footer.php NOT be removed?

    Like everyone above said, no they can’t, and neither can themes which are based on GPL licensed themes (like Sandbox) because you are not allowed to apply additional restrictions on the use (like requiring a sponsorship link to stay intact) of a derivative work.

    Whether all WP themes HAVE to be GPL like Matt says, is debatable at best I think.

  64. Sassy says:

    The sponsored theme I’m currently using on my personal blog has the following in the footer:

    “Do not delete the credits,
    this theme is released for free under the GNU General Public License (GPL) requiring that the credits will stay intact.
    I’d appreciate the credit being left in unmodified, thanks in advance”

    From reading the above comments, I guess his statement isn’t true?

  65. adam (39 comments.) says:

    absolutely. you can change your footer as you please.

    that’s true of GPL themes. CC-by themes, however, removing a link in the footer puts you in violation of their license. if you don’t like the ad in the footer of a CC-by theme, you should find a different theme.

  66. ceejayoz (3 comments.) says:

    Well, adam, that’s not entirely true. Under the CC license, the author’s attribution must stay (i.e. the actual designer), but sponsored links aren’t attribution – they can go even under CC.

  67. jez (56 comments.) says:

    You guys should really checkout the vote on, where your comments are highly appreciated. login and select either 1 star if you want sponsored themes to remain on wordpress or 5 stars to ban them from further presence. ->

  68. Ayush says:

    According to me till the time sponsored link does not point to a spammy site they should be allowed. There are theme mnakers who just make wordpress themes and that too good quality themes. If they get few bucks by selling a link on theme, I don’t think its wrong.

    Yeah author should disclose that its a sponsored theme. And regarding the license I think sponsored themes should also be released under GPL license.

    Not all sponsored themes are bad or contain links to bad sponsors.

  69. Marcel (2 comments.) says:

    well it it helps we will be offering free WP themes on Sponsored Themes .
    These themes will be obviously sponsored and not in a abusive way

  70. jez (3 comments.) says:

    why bother commenting when your website is not even up?
    I put your comment on my website to spam. because it is.

  71. Ophelia Nicholson (1 comments.) says:

    While I get both sides of the arguement- Let me make this statement. Everything even the things you don’t like work in harmony for the greater good. Meaning you may not like bees but they work in harmony for us to live, you may not like bugs but they are a great part of the food chain. It is the same with sponsored links. People spend time and effort working on these things so everyone else can get a great looking site outside of the crappy one that comes with wordpress.
    If you went to work everyday and your boss told you that you wouldn’t get paid there because it is something you love to do- eventually you would stop doing it or get resentful- Creating wordpress themes is a job whether part time or creative sitll a job.
    Now the sponspored link help make the creator of the theme feel that he has enough energy and money to continue doing what he loves, The sponsor gets some ad space, the end user gets a nice blog and the cycle continues.
    Even the blog user at some point will change the blog if it doesn’t allow him/her to make some form of money whether adsense,kontera or whatever- So therefore the blogger feels they should be compensated for writing thoughtful blogs but the person who spent time creating the theme should only get the praise of a link back..
    If anyone who objects to sponsored links actually had to spend day and night creating themes without compensation eventually they would go broke- and go get a 9-5.
    Write blog posts for free with any ads then see how it feels

  72. Eliza says:

    I am a theme designer, and I have to admit that I am producing some themes which are sponsored. However, every single sponsor is vetted thoroughly – I do not take sponsorship deals from spam sites or anything that could be rated “adult” in any way, shape or form. This sponsorship allows me to focus on creating quality themes and offering a level of support that I would not normally be able to offer. More importantly I only allow one sponsor per theme, and it is a small link in the footer – which can be removed if the person wishes to by paying a very small token fee.

    I realise that this will probably catch me a lot of criticism, but I like to believe my sponsorship is managed with ethical and business sense – quite often I am sponsored by other blogs such as “A Green Life” [an eco friendly, green living site]. At least my policy is better than most, it was either that or ask for a membership fee for people to be able to access my themes. I love designing them, but sadly would not be able to provide so many if it wasn’t for the revenue which enables me to do it successfully.


  73. Shabu Anower (2 comments.) says:

    90% sponsored templates does not offer any update for newer version.

    I like the turn :)

  74. Marcel says:

    @Ophelia Nicholson

    Well said.

    The something for nothing attitude can be found in very strange places.

  75. Nick (1 comments.) says:

    I think everyone has the right to come up with creative ways to make money online and others have the right to criticize. Life goes on.

  76. Jayson says:

    You guys are a bunch of fucking cry babies. Everyone makes their money some way or another. To say that “They’re stealing PageRank Juice” from your site is just stupid.

    If someone has like 3 or more links at the bottom of the blog, then I could understand. But honestly, what the hell is a couple links at the bottom of the blog going to hurt? Whoever spent the time to do the design obviously didn’t ask for money to do it. So to help them pay for their time, they add a few links. Big FUCKING deal.

    Alot of you people act like a bunch of children, complaining about something that you would have no idea how to do on your own.

    If you want something that is “Up to your Standards”, then design the shit yourself, and see how time consuming it is.

    • Faysal (1 comments.) says:

      you are absolutely right Jayson, if somebody is giving you anything free which he has created after a lot of hard work and spending weeks, at least we should credit him for his hard work.

  77. ceejayoz (3 comments.) says:

    Jayson wins the “didn’t read the thread” award.

    Yes, it’s a big deal. Google has removed sites from their index for having paid links. Not being able to be found in searches is a very big deal.

    I’m theme author myself, too.

  78. Sriraj (27 comments.) says:

    In appropriate place to sell links..
    Link back to author is ok crediting their hard work but not selling..and as many said above, Google doesn’t like paid links


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