These last few days I noticed things were going sour between Matt Mullenweg (WordPress) and Chris Pearson (Thesis) over licensing issues. I don’t write much code, and licensing looks like a big jungle to me, but things heating up did made me recall a few things I’d vaguely seen fly by over the last years about WordPress themes having to be GPL and Thesis not being GPL.
Anyway, I read Twitter streams from both Matt and Chris the other day and decided I was going to stay away from the topic.
I’ve used WordPress for years and know (and appreciate) Matt personally, and I’ve been happy so far with Thesis, which I paid a developper license for way back when during the launch.
I had a small issue early 2009 around the change of terms in the developper license (which went from allowing unlimited use to unlimited use on one’s own sites) but a quick e-mail with Chris cleared things up and he assured me that I could stick with the terms of the license as they were when I signed up. So, no beef. I’ve also regularly recommended Thesis around me.
A bit by chance this morning, I saw Philip Oakley‘s tweet about an interview he’d done with Matt on this topic. In the introduction text, he recommended that we first listen to this debate between Matt and Chris, moderated by Andrew Warner. I loaded it onto my iPhone, turned up the sound, and hopped on my exercise bike for my daily half-hour of sweaty indoor pedaling (TMI? ;-)).
I’d like to state that I started listening to the interview with no preconceived idea of who may be “right” or “wrong” over the issue (knowing, too, that I have in the past disagreed with a stand or two of Matt’s). I was hoping to learn a bit more about the rational arguments on both sides.
Ten minutes in, I felt like leaving the room (I couldn’t, remember, I was stuck pedaling on my indoor bike). At least, if I had been the one talking with Chris, I would have stopped trying to reason with him. Twenty minutes later, I got off my bike, turned off the podcast, and decided I’d had enough.
I like to think I have a pretty good grasp of conversation mechanics, and if this one was going nowhere, it’s pretty clear to me that it was largely Chris’s doing. I was appalled at how emotional (vs. rational) his responses were. At how he systematically didn’t respond to questions asked, falling back on “they’re out to get me” and “it’s my creation so I have a right to control it” arguments. This honestly didn’t give me the impression that Chris fully understood the licensing issue at hand, and that this was mainly about “me, me, me, my stuff, my work, me” (a vibe I had already got and didn’t like from his sites and marketing communication, the hyperbolic “I’m the best“, but I didn’t think it would translate that strongly into actual conversation.)
So, as you can guess — and whether the licensing issue actually stands or not — I’m looking for a new theme for Climb to the Stars. I think the one thing I really like about the Thesis layout is the multimedia box upper right, where I can randomly showcase my photos. I’m sure there are other themes out there doing that, or plugins.