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Thread: Free Themes? Why?

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    robjones's Avatar
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    Free Themes? Why?

    We have regulars that offer free WordPess themes. Some make them, others distribute them.

    Obviously people prefer to be compensated for their time and effort.

    So this raises the question... what benefit accrues to the maker of free WP themes?
    1. Is it a free link in the footer?
    2. Is it a foot in the door to provide paid themes that have more functionality?
    3. Is it the ability to forcefeed something into the code that the user didn't agree to?


    So my question is... are free WP themes safe? Ever? Like to hear your thoughts.
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    Free WP themes safe?
    From good designers, etc.
    Yes.

    But I avoid any and all that have any part encrypted.
    Some encrypt the footer to make sure their links stay.
    But still....

    The free link counts not as much really as they used to.
    Again, most people delete those links, and the links to wordpress itself.

    And yes, I believe it gives a way for the designers to sell premium themes.
    Why not?
    Free is always a good way to sell something.

    Force feed?
    Yes, see above in the encrypted ones.
    Most people who use free learn to check each single file and folder.
    At least I do.

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    robjones's Avatar
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    Not being critical. Just curious if there was a reason I was missing.
    -- Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup. --

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    iowadawg's Avatar
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    There is still on the internet a whole bunch of people who like free, who build free, who give away free.
    Harks back to the simpler days of the internet.
    See wordpress, drupal and so much more.
    All free.
    And people work on them all the time to make them better.

    Then take VB like used here.
    It costs, true.
    But again, a lot of people work on mods and templates and give them away.

    It amazes me that people will with wordpress come up with great plugins, and sell them only.
    And bam! Someone comes back with basically the same plugin, but for free.
    Or vice versa.

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    It amazes me that people will with wordpress come up with great plugins, and sell them only.
    And bam! Someone comes back with basically the same plugin, but for free.
    I always have that sneaking suspicion the second guy didnt make it himself.
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    Mike Dammann's Avatar
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    A few years ago some people I worked with paid some designers for making a theme they can distribute for free and from what I have been told, they were getting a lot of traffic from the link in the footer when the site was about hosting, design and anything related to webmastering.
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    I think there was value from backlinks to the designer's site in the past. In a post-Panda world, you would have to be out of your mind for putting a dofollow link back to your site in a theme footer with no control over where the theme is used. I have read about some designers who are frantically trying to identify all of the sites using their theme so that they can neuter the footer link with a nofollow. There is still promotional value when someone follows a link back to the designer's site. A good theme can drive business that way, especially if they develop custom themes.

    I would never consider using any theme with an encoded footer or one containing links that led anywhere except the designer's site.

    Almost every free theme that I have tested was horribly coded and lacked commonly used features found in the WordPress team's TwentyTen or TwentyEleven themes. When someone brings me a theme that they like, I typically convert it using TwentyTen and HTML 5, rather than struggle with the problems I see with so many free themes.

    I frequently remind people that there are no qualifications for anyone who develops a WordPress theme or plugin.
    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote." -- Benjamin Franklin


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    Mike Dammann's Avatar
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    I co sponsored one once with someone else and I remember getting probably 200 hits a day from it, but the traffic was not very targeted.

    But again: If you are in the design business, I would probably recommend giving it a try. And if you are worried about Google, I would say just register a separate domain, throw up a small site with a few examples of your work and see if it works.
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    I think that an obvious benefit to providing free themes for a designer is to be able to prove how popular their work is to potential employers/clients.

    Like with programmers who provide free code to codeproject.com, they can then demonstrate the great response that they had to their code contribution.

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    Mike Dammann's Avatar
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    Some of those themes are also very niche, e.g. casino themes or real estate themes.

    So having 1,000s of users and using a niche related website in the footer should get some targeted traffic directly.
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