July was a hot month.
And I’m not talking about the temperature our side of the globe.
It’s the WordPress community that’s been on fire for weeks in a row, as Matt Mullenweg and Chris Pearson had a “small” conflict that turned into a very controversial and popular topic among the WordPress people.
It’s even got its own hashtag – #wpdrama.
And we’ve been paying attention just like the rest of the community. So:
What you’re reading here is a special edition of our series – This Month in WordPress w/ CodeinWP – the monthly roundup of news related to WordPress. This month, we’re making the report 100% #wpdrama exclusive.See the most important articles, comments, and tweets that tell the story of this year’s Mullenweg vs. Pearson battle.
The news that started the fire
Automattic wins the fight over the Thesis.com domain, which started in late 2014, and has turned into a process somewhat like the Cold War. Summing up:
- In late 2014, Chris Pearson wanted (or rather, was considering) to buy the domain name from a third-party, but Automattic made the final step and snatched it for $100k.
- Pearson didn’t accept losing the domain and right after the incident asked for a case review to transfer the domain from Automattic to himself.
- Last month, a three-member panel was appointed to review the case and declared that Pearson had no sufficient submissions and also couldn’t prove that Automattic used the domain name in bad faith.
And this is how #wpdrama begins. On June 16th 2015, Automattic advanced a petition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademarks owned by Pearson: DIYTHEMES, THESIS THEME, and THESIS.
Things gained weight quickly, didn’t they?
Pearson tells his side of the story
The way things were unfolding compelled Chris Pearson to write a rather long post on his blog, where he discussed the entire story, along with some aspects of it that were not common knowledge up to that point.
In the post, Pearson talks about his motives and his reasoning behind the decisions he’s made along Thesis’ lifespan.
He also tells the story of releasing Thesis for a fee, and as a result seeing Mullenweg disagreeing and pointing out that big portions of Pearson’s work hold code copied from WordPress, which therefore makes the whole project GPL by definition (as it derives from WordPress).
Pearson also discusses the story of the Thesis.com domain’s acquisition in great detail and how it all played out on a timeline (who did what and when).
Mullenweg didn’t miss the opportunity to reply to Pearson’s article, and a long and fierce debate started.
Some of Mullenweg’s interesting comment responses:
- Thesis, Automattic, and WordPress
Brian Krogsgard of PostStatus published a really in-depth take on the whole dispute, starting from the very beginning, right up to the situation we have today. Certainly worth a read if you have some free time (10,000 words).
- Why All The #wpdrama ??
Josh Pollock of JoshPress.net presented an interesting take on the drama. Focusing more on the things that remain in the background and the realities of doing business on the web and in the WordPress space.
- My strategy for navigating the WordPress world
Another interesting take on the whole matter, this time coming from Chris Lema. No direct #wpdrama commentary here, though. Instead, Lema focuses on the art of being part of the WordPress community, navigating the WordPress world and how to spend our time more productively.
Twitter turned into a battlefield
Tons of comments and conversations sprouted from this controversy (it’s actually where the hashtag #wpdrama was born):
— Tom Harrigan (@TomHarrigan) July 28, 2015
#wpdrama is fun. but I'm not good at it yet. it's very similar to trolling right?
— david chandra (@turtlepod) July 25, 2015
Well said. Completely agree.
— Cate DeRosia (@mysweetcate) July 21, 2015
— Mason James (@masonjames) July 19, 2015
Larry is the only winner #wpdrama
— Christopher Skillicorn (@skllcrn) July 19, 2015
If a fraction of the energy spent by people on #wpdrama was spent on testing WordPress trunk, we would have better software.
— Aaron Jorbin (@aaronjorbin) July 18, 2015
— Jamie Marsland (@JamiePootle) July 17, 2015
This might be the first time I’ve legitimately doubted the inherent goodness of the WordPress “powers that be”. #wpdrama
— Mannie Schumpert (@mannieschumpert) July 17, 2015
The early beginnings of the rivalry
Matt Mullenweg and Chris Pearson first clashed directly back in 2010 as part of an interview conducted by Andrew Warner of Mixergy.
TL;DR: Mullenweg points out that what Pearson is doing violates the license and is disrespectful to thousands of people who built WordPress, while Pearson insists Thesis theme is his personal protected work and he doesn’t want to cede this right by going GPL.
Watch this interview if you’re into thrilling discussions and have some popcorn ready.
And how was your #wpdrama experience?