[theme-reviewers] Grandfather Themes?

Bruce Wampler weavertheme at gmail.com
Tue Jun 25 16:16:47 UTC 2013

I just submitted a revision for my theme, Weaver II. This theme has been in
the repository for several years, and met all the theme recommendations
when it was first submitted. It has since become one of the more popular
themes available from the repository and has, as far as I can track, many
thousands of users.

I am certain there are many other themes that are in the same category -
originally approved long ago, but containing features or other aspects that
would not meet the current theme standards. In my case, the theme contains
very minimal SEO support, as well as a number of shortcodes to support the
presentation of content in various ways. At the time my theme was
developed, it was not uncommon for themes to have integrated shortcodes.

Now, I think I am being asked to remove the shortcode/SEO support, and I
think it was by Chip.

"Pushing this version live. Please look to remove Plugin territory features
(SEO, post-content shortcodes, etc. as applicable) in the next revision."

This seems to me a radical change in how existing themes have been treated,
and is extremely disturbing. While I understand and even agree with the new
"plugin" territory guidelines, I am quite taken aback at the consequences
of such a new requirement on what I had understood to be a grandfathered

Here are the issues:

1. It is important to keep up with new WP features (e.g., 3.6 post types),
fix bugs, and even add new features to keep the theme up to date and modern.

2. It is essential to keep these grandfather themes backward compatible.
Imagine the total disaster it would be for the user base (and it just as
important to a small user base or a user base in the thousands or more) if
they update their site's theme only to have the site totally break because
all the plugin territory features of the theme had been removed?

3. The alternative is to allow the existing theme to become static and out
of date. Not reasonable, either.

I just don't understand how it is reasonable, fair, or even good for the
reputation of WordPress to force thousands and thousands of end users to
suffer a radical disturbance to their site, or go through some conversion
process to keep their site from breaking. (And yes, I know it is that exact
issue that removing all plugin territory stuff from a theme prevents - but
that was not a requirement or even a recommendation 2 years ago.)

So, if it is going to be the new official policy to force previously
grandfathered themes to undergo possibly radical surgery to meet current
guidelines, then this needs to be done is a more formal and well planned
out way. Time frames for conversion. Possible exceptions to some rules to
ease transition (e.g., allowing auto load and inclusion of a theme
accessory plugin at least for a significant transition period).

But personally, I just can't see how one can reasonably avoid
grandfathering themes. Certainly there are some standards that don't really
affect how a theme works that could be required to be updated (e.g.,
security issues), but there are also many (and plugin territory is
certainly an obvious example) that would create major theme breakage for
the end user.

But whatever, being told to totally change a theme's operation before being
allowed to submit a new revision is not the way to handle grandfathered

Bruce Wampler
Weaver II theme
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