This tempest in a teapot has been brewing for a few days now. The issue, at WordPress Theme Repository, is sponsored links. There’s currently a witch hunt afoot to ban sponsored themes from the theme repository. Matt Mullenweg, a co-founder of WordPress, has called for their removal and has posted this.
I find this:
… people participating in unethical advertising….
particularly galling. But it appears there’s a moral crisis going on there since the handful of featured themes that have been there for oh so many years is now gone as well. I’m not sure what to make of all this, except that it seems to me to be much ado about nothing and a feeble attempt to protect the dumb end user from his own folly. The original post stated that the presence of sponsored themes at the theme repository “confuses users.” Everything confuses the WP user. Just take a look at the Support Forum.
It’s also interesting to me as a web designer and someone who has created over a dozen free themes released on the theme repository that those same users who pretend to be so dumb that they cannot figure out how to change link colors have no problem whatsoever editing my “Designed by…” links right out of the footer.
Bottom line: I’m not really opposed or unopposed to sponsored links. If there is full disclosure, no one is hurt. If there is no full disclosure, whether it be sponsored links on a theme repository or hidden links on a CMS web site (cough), then I have a problem with it. Otherwise, just as with everything else in life, caveat emptor.