[theme-reviewers] How are derivative works identified?

Chip Bennett chip at chipbennett.net
Tue Oct 4 19:35:45 UTC 2011

Here's where the Review process gets incredibly subjective. Code can be
derivative, just as design can be derivative. I see at least three reasons
to consider the derivative nature of a work:

1) To preserve rightful copyright (and license freedoms)
2) To ensure that the Repository does not become flooded with what amount to
different "skins" of the same Theme
3) To ensure code is used purposefully, rather than merely copy-pasta. Code
that is copied just because it was "there" in the original Theme is less
likely to be understood, and therefore more likely to be implemented
incorrectly (or needlessly), and also more likely to become a risk to
security or robustness of the Theme.

So: working from each other's best practices, and not re-inventing wheels:
definitely a good thing! But we still have to consider the above caveats
(and there may be others).


On Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 2:26 PM, Ian Stewart <ian at iandanielstewart.com>wrote:

> On 2011-10-04, at 1:57 PM, Chip Bennett wrote:
> > Well, in an ideal world, we would be able to tell via the
> Copyright/License attribution trail. Unfortunately, we don't live in that
> ideal world. :)
> >
> > The derivatives of Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven are generally pretty easy
> to spot, once you've spent some time in the code for both (likewise with
> past default Themes, such as Kubrick and Default). With others, it's more a
> matter of just eyeballing a ton of Themes, and starting to recognize
> patterns. (Code in functions.php is usually fairly telling, as is the markup
> for the Loop and for comments.)
> Are "derivative" themes just themes that use mostly the same code? Not
> counting the design? I thought the idea of keeping out derivative themes was
> to keep out re-colored default themes. I say this as someone who thinks it'd
> be awesome if more themes used 99% of the code in every default theme
> template. It'd make the review process better for all involved and make it
> easier for awesome designers to distribute awesome themes without having to
> be the awesomest coders.
> Also, I'm pretty sure every theme I've ever made or worked on is largely
> derivative code-wise. Thankfully.
> Ian
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