WordPress

Next Phase of the WordPress Theme Review Overhaul: Open Meeting and Call for Feedback – WP Tavern

Summary

The WordPress.org Themes Team announced an open discussion and date for a Zoom meeting with theme authors. The team is proposing a new set of guidelines that reduces and simplifies what is currently in place. Comments on the proposal are open through July 26, and the meeting is set for July 28, 2 pm CET.

This is the next step in an ongoing plan to revamp the review system and make it easier for the WordPress community to submit themes. It comes after months …….

The WordPress.org Themes Team announced an open discussion and date for a Zoom meeting with theme authors. The team is proposing a new set of guidelines that reduces and simplifies what is currently in place. Comments on the proposal are open through July 26, and the meeting is set for July 28, 2 pm CET.

This is the next step in an ongoing plan to revamp the review system and make it easier for the WordPress community to submit themes. It comes after months of waiting to see the results of earlier discussions unfold.

In January, the state of the theme review system seemed to have reached a crossroads. The Themes Team, a group of gatekeepers that oversees submissions to the official WordPress.org theme directory, had been making strides in the previous couple of years. Its members had cleaned up most of the submissions backlog, but they still had a lot of work ahead to smooth out the review process. On the whole, a series of incremental improvements seemed to be working at the time, albeit slowly.

Then, WordPress project lead Matt Mullenweg dropped a bombshell via the Post Status Slack:

The .org theme directory is particularly bad when you compare it to any half-decent commercial theme marketing page, or the designs available on other site building services or Themeforest directories. The .org theme directory rules and update mechanism have driven out creative contributions, it’s largely crowded out by upsell motived contributions.

It was an age-old discussion of whether the theme review guidelines were too high of a barrier for entry into the directory.

Were WordPress users missing out on the best themes because the most innovative theme authors were not playing in the .ORG sandbox? If so, were the rules driving them away?

No one can know if a more lenient, free-for-all atmosphere would have unleashed a mountain of creativity paralleling or besting commercial theme producers. But, perhaps if the team opened things up, it would test the theory.

That initial post led to a series of discussions and a decision to overhaul the system. However, the Themes Team would need some help from the Meta Team to implement more automation of its grunt work, such as security and other code checks. Behind the scenes, pieces of that system have been put into place in the months since.

Guidelines Proposal and Questions

Themes Team representative Carolina Nymark listed a set of 13 overarching guidelines, each with sub-guidelines of their own. The proposal significantly simplifies the current rules for submission into the directory.

She asks that theme authors review the proposal and answer the following questions in the comments ahead of the meeting: