[theme-reviewers] Public Redress of Theme Reviewers

Chip Bennett chip at chipbennett.net
Wed Sep 1 19:58:31 UTC 2010

On Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 2:27 PM, esmi at quirm dot net <esmi at quirm.net>wrote:

> on 01/09/2010 17:03 Chip Bennett said the following:
>  On Wed, Sep 1, 2010 at 10:39 AM, Otto <otto at ottodestruct.com> wrote:
> <snip>
>  This is acceptable to you? You want the process to turn people away
>>>  from our site?
>  If such people are utterly unwilling to support the community's
>> efforts to ensure high-quality, supported Themes are available in the
>> official Theme repository, what does that say about their willingness
>> to be contributing members of the community?
> I'm going to interject here to point out that it would appear that this
entire response is predicated by an out-of-context quote. Bear in mind: the
"such people" to whom I was referring is a specific subset of Theme
developers, and by no means can be construed to imply that it applies to
*all* Theme developers.

> I rarely bother to read this list - although I'm still obviously
> subscribed in case I need it when I pluck up my remaining enthusiasm to
> submit another theme. However, much of what I have read over the past few
> weeks is strikingly redolent of one thing - an apparent total lack of any
> respect for theme authors.
> Apparently we're all submitting "appalling quality" themes, using the Theme
> Review process to quality control our themes because we are unwilling to do
> so ourselves and attempting to buck the system if we try to bring up
> legitimate issues.

Have you reviewed any Themes? Have you read the comments of those who have
done so?

Until such a time as the vast majority of Themes are not failing
predominantly for major problems regarding code obsolescence, proper support
and implementation of WordPress core features, functions, template tags, and
hooks, licensing, and the like, this argument is mostly specious.

Yes - you had a quite legitimate concern. In fact, your concern *was*
addressed, and is reflected in both the Guidelines and our general review
practices. Bear in mind that we, too, are only human; and that the Theme
reviewers need a learning curve for performing quality reviews. We've only
been at this for a couple of months. We're getting better, though, as with
everything, we recognize that we have room for improvement.

> How on earth can you directly equate serious concerns about the current
> review process with an unwillingness to be contributing members of the
> community? And what does this say about your estimation of those who do
> raise valid arguments - whether you agree with them or not?

This is a straw-man argument. You are conflating *your* issue with what Otto
and I were discussing above. In fact, I was the one who drove the
implementation of changes based on *your* issue - so I know first-hand that
the Theme Review team considered your valid arguments and feedback, and
changed as a result.

> I speak as one who does contribute where I can - albeit peripherally - and
> as one who tried to use this very list to raise a valid concern about the
> (then) Theme Review Guidelines. Even citing the Codex in support of my
> concerns. I was quite clearly told to ignore the Codex and to add something
> to my theme (that was totally incorrect) if I wanted it to pass the Review.
> At *no* point was there any "discussion" of the issue I raised. In fact, the
> only reason the issue was corrected was that a member of the core
> development team came in a week later and specifically said that it *had* to
> be removed from the Guidelines.

Again: yes, the Review Team was wrong in that instance. We have changed our
Guidelines accordingly.

But still: discussing *your* specific issue does not address the greater
issue at hand, nor does it address the matter Otto and I were discussing.

> So why did no one listen to me? Because, it seems to me, that you have very
> little or no respect for most theme authors.

You could choose to make that assumption. Or, you could choose to assume
that we, too, are merely human, and are capable of making mistakes; that
we've only been doing this for a couple months (the vast majority of the
early weeks of which were spent just clarifying the Guidelines so we could
even *hope* to perform consistent, objective Theme reviews) and are still in
the Theme-review learning curve ourselves; that we are only volunteers,
trying to contribute our time and effort to the WordPress community.

Further, everyone performing reviews *is a Theme developer*. And you know
what? I've made VAST improvements to my own Themes, based on my involvement
in the review process. I learned a crapload of things I was doing wrong or
that could simply done better.

> And, gentlemen, without MUTUAL respect, there will never be ANY meaningful
> discussion or progress.

I could very easily turn the tables, and lament the lack of apparent respect
for the people tasked with actually performing the Theme reviews, but I
won't. I understand that this change naturally introduces frustration, as
everyone adjusts.

> And, please don't tell me to go and do a few reviews.

Sorry, but that's a cop-out.

If you do not understand our point of view, how can you admonish *us*
regarding a lack of respect? It is rather easy to criticize. The Theme
Review process is a classic Pareto example: over 80% of tickets are closed
by four people. An average of 10 Themes are submitted per day. We have a
system and tools in place that currently are less than ideal for processing
Themes in the most efficient and effective manner. We started out with NO
clear, concise review guidelines - we had to consolidate redundant and
conflicting information spread across two dozen Codex pages before we could
even really start reviewing Themes effectively.

I'm sorry that we're not yet able to meet our goal of having every Theme
reviewed within one day of submission. I'm equally sorry that we're still
not to the best level of consistency and correctness with our reviews. All I
can tell you is that we're doing our best to get there, and that we truly
*do* welcome all feedback and criticism.

> I've been reviewing designs, sites and themes for years. And, yes, 7 out of
> 10 of the sites that I review will probably fail at the first hurdle. But
> even with the most severe failures, I would never, ever, communicate with
> the developer with anything other than respect and thanks. And, wherever
> possible, I will always try to point them in the right direction - in some
> case working with them for a few weeks to address the issues I found.
> If someone doesn't respect their submitters and isn't willing to work
> *with* them  - and in some cases, educate them - then I personally question
> whether they should be doing the job at all. Reviewing someone else's work
> is far more than just going through a list of tick boxes and laying down the
> law.

As long as you are operating under the assumption that we do not respect
Theme developers, then there is little I can say. It is simply a false

The best thing to do is to try your own hand at reviewing some Themes. If
you choose not to do so, perhaps you'll try submitting another Theme, and
offer honest and sincere feedback.

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