Web Amateur tries to damage my Reputation

[info_box style=”notice”]The content of this article is outdated. Meanwhile I´m the owner of the branfordmagazine.com domain. This article remains just for information.[/info_box]

It takes a while to make me angry. Normally I´m a straight guy who keeps cool blood. But I am getting angry if someone with obviously very little knowledge of web development first takes my work for her own benefit and then starts trying to damage my reputation such as Aisling D´Art tries to do with her website she formerly called “The UN-Official BranfordMagazine Website”.

Facts and Fictions

Some years ago when I released the first version of BranfordMagazine Mrs. D´Art was a big fan of it and started to write and sell an ebook that was kind of a “how-to” for my theme. That was OK and I promoted her book on my website as an affiliate partner. But I didn´t stopp my continuous development and released new and better versions.

Then came the day when Mrs. D´Art didn´t want to continue updating her ebook anymore. She started to provide old versions of my theme on her website which was ok with me as well (although she never asked or at least informed me). But she also started to run a campaign against me telling people only the old versions of my themes are stable ones and the newer ones are buggy and cause errors. This is obviously driven by missing knowledge and a lack of information because it´s simply not true.

In one of her articles she tells people why she wouldn´t buy a PRO version of my theme. She claims it uses faulty code but she…

  • Never tried a PRO theme (so how can she judge?)
  • Compares an older (non PRO) version again (4.x)
  • Gets error messages that are based on her own mistakes when installing the theme

Since a few days her site quit using the old BranfordMagazine version since it doesn´t seem to be compatible with WordPress 3.0. This is also not true. I tested several versions from 2.0 to 2.6 (the latest version Mrs. D´Art reccommends) and they all work without any issues. In fact she really reccommends not to upgrade to WordPress 3.0!

[…] ignore the “Update to WordPress 3.0 now” messages. Unless WordPress comes out with a patch for the problem affecting Branford and several other themes, updating means breaking your theme.

In this article she really blames WordPress for not working with some (potentially old) themes and expects a “patch for the problem”. I just can´t believe this. How can she dare to claim the issue is up to WordPress? Come on Mrs. D´Art…times are changing and the web is not a static place. It continues developing and sometimes old stuff needs to be deprecated. You don´t use an Internet Explorer 5 or Netscape Navigator 4 anymore, don´t you? And if, at least you don´t complaint about it does not support CSS3.

Final Thoughts

Well to me it´s an incredibly cheeky and unreasonable attitude if somone never has developed something on her own, benefits from the work of others and then starts to trash them. When I first released BranfordMagazine I took “Mimbo” by Darren Hoyt as a coding basis. I also took elements from the former “Revolution” Theme by Brian Gardner and combined them to one new theme. I never made a secret out of it. I also mentioned that always in the themes footer and credited Darren and Brian. That´s the least I can do. And the least I expect if someone who benefits from the work of another.

The fact that she seems to have issues with the old themes versions and the new WordPress (and potentially some of her users as well although the themes did not cause issues on my testsite) is another good example why you should always check out the original source of a theme or plugin to avoid trouble. Only at the original authors website you can be sure to get the original stuff and professional support. Even if it might cost some money, at the end it´s less expensive then dealing with issues and unexperienced supporters.

And as I already mentioned in a comment on Mrs. D´Arts Site: “You do your job and I do mine”. But please Mrs. D´Art, stopp telling things that are based on ignorance and a huge lack of knowledge…and are simply not true!

Further reading

  • Downloading a Premium Theme from the Wrong Site can be Expensive

Downloading a Premium Theme from the Wrong Site can be Expensive

When you goolge for “WordPress Themes”, “Premium WordPress Themes” or even “Free Premium WordPress Themes” you will get a huge result list with hundreds of websites. Because WordPress is such a popular plattform with a huge community there are so many people providing Themes and plugins for free or even paid. There are also some sites that provide premium themes you normally have to pay for for free…but beware of the shadows.

Worst Case: Malicious Code can Kill your Site

Most people are unaware of the dangers in using sites that provide pirated software (a theme or a plugin is also a piece of software). An example from Intego, an internet security firm, reported alerts about Trojan horses in pirated copies of both Apple iWork-09 (Jan 22, 2009) and Adobe Photoshop CS4 (Jan 26, 2009). Trojans and other viruses can seriously damage your system. But we don´t talk about iWork and Photoshop, we are talking about WordPress themes. Who would infect a theme with a virus? To be honest: I don´t know but it´s the cruel truth that such things do happen. Your home PC might be secured by an anti-virus software (which is never 100% save) but what about your webspace?

If it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t…

I have seen WordPress sites crashing because there was malicious code in a footer or header file. It was encrypted and an unexperienced user would never recognize it as malicious code. Sometimes it “just” displays “buy Viagra” Links all over your site and sometimes it saves lots of data to your server and exceeds your quota. Your site will go down.

Missing Functions and no Support

These examples are really the worst case and although they happen they don´t happen too often. What is much more annoying and may be more expensive at the end is missing functions and support. Imagine BranfordMagazine. This theme used to be available as a free theme for some years. But when I developed it further and it became more and more professional and popular it simply was not possible anymore to provide a theme and an outstanding support…all for free.

Well I could have continue providing the theme for free and stopp providing support but I feel that´s bad practice and I like to support people with the advanced functions and features of my themes. I´m always proud when someone was able to launch a great looking website based on my themes and I´m happy when my customers are happy. In order to keep the good support (or even make it better) and contiue development I decided to charge money for my themes.

Also very important is continuous development. The web is no static place. It´s moving all the time. Recently WordPress 3.0 was released and it comes up with a whole bunch of fantastic new features. If the development wouldn´t continue, my themes were still usable with the new WordPress version but they wouldn´t make use of the new features.

You still might find places where you can Download copies of my themes, especially BranfordMagazine, for free. But be aware that these are older versions that are missing great functionalities and are not supported by me.

Support the Authors because they support You

Theme and plugin authors – no matter if paid or free – contribute their piece of the cake to the WordPress community and that´s an important piece. Authors of premium (paid) themes and plugins usually put more effort into the design and development of their product. And they usually provide a much better support via email, comments or support forums.

Free themes are absolutely OK and there are many good ones out there. But if you find a premium theme for free that is usally a paid theme, you should be on your guard.

If you are a private blogger you might use a free theme and customize it by yourself because your requirements are not so high and you like to customize it on your own because you have time to do it. But if your requirements begin to grow – maybe because you are running a business – you may ask for seomething that stands out of the crowd and is well supported because you can´t wait for weeks until a problem is solved. If you then have downloaded a “premium” theme from a source that was not the original author because you wanted to save a few Euros or Dollars (or Shekel or Yen…) you might find yourself in a situation that can become much more expensive because you need to hire someone to help you.

Final Thoughts

I think it´s just fine to pay a fair ammount to get a great product and support. So you always should make sure you get a premium product form the original source to avoid issues. When you decide for a free theme or plugin you should always pick them up at the WordPress theme directory or plugin repository. Always think twice before downloading software, themes or plugins from a source that is not the author or WordPress.org and always remember:

If it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t…

Further Readings

  • Article at Themelab
  • Web Amateur tries to damage my Reputation