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Old 01-13-2011, 01:51 PM   #1
Corrosive
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Default 'Free' Wordpress Themes - Read Me!

Very interesting article to explain to customers why 'free' website themes may be more than they seem; http://wpmu.org/why-you-should-never...anywhere-else/
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:22 PM   #2
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Another example of why free isn't always free.
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:25 PM   #3
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Just a side note. WordPress could take action against some of these site based upon the use of the term WordPress in their domain names. Unfortunately they haven't done that.
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:35 PM   #4
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True, but it's not like they're hiding the fact that they encode their links in there. One way of viewing that article is that it's using scare tactics to get people to pay for commercial templates.
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by domedia View Post
One way of viewing that article is that it's using scare tactics to get people to pay for commercial templates.
I didn't want to go there but it's more likely that they are trying to promote WordPress.org as the only legitimate site for WordPress themes. WordPress hasn't been particularly friendly to developers of commercial templates. (or for that matter for critics of WordPress practices).
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Old 01-13-2011, 05:00 PM   #6
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I just thought the whole article smelled a little..
It's not very well written and conclusions are really shady.

I don't make free wordpress templates, I don't know anyone that does and I'm not affiliated with wordpress creations in any way (apart from the few I make for clients). But I do understand that a free template might come with a price, and that price might be a sponsored link. And in order to make sure there's no freeloaders, they might want to encode that link.

So the author creates this hysteria about encoded links.
They can be used for malicious actions, but she fails to show even one example. It's like saying kitchens knifes are the biggest threat to families because you can use them to kill each other. Not very good analogy but you catch my drift

For all I know, it's absolutely possible that the majority of those encrypted codes in fact is malicious, but the article does a really poor job of proving it.

I guess if I would have written an article about this, I would have taken a completely different approach.

Kudos to the author for putting the spotlight on this though. I'll make sure I scrutinize the template before I use a free one again.
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Old 01-13-2011, 06:24 PM   #7
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Actually, I don't disagree with the gist of the post. In most cases where you see stuff like encoded links the sites are offering themes which were created by someone else and modified to add the links. I recently read another article with indication of more malicious additions, I'll try to see if I can find it.

A few years back, I did offer some premium WP themes and I found people were willing to pay $50-$75 for a nice theme with a bit of support. Of course the bar is a bit higher now for what constitutes a "nice" theme.

Another issue is how much "free" really costs. Personally I find a bit of support helpful even with a prepackaged them.

Also people need to be aware that WordPress isn't low maintenance. They have a regular update about every 3 months and issue a lot of security updates on a more frequent basis. And there are no patches for old versions. If there's a security issue you have no choice but to update to the latest version and hope your themes, plug-ins and widgets are compatible.

And, in spite of what this might sound like, I really like WordPress and use it for a lot of projects/
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Old 01-13-2011, 06:42 PM   #8
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I think my view, on reading it a couple of times and based on what I learned in school, is divided.

Absolutely you should review the source of an article to determine any potential bias. Everyone has an ulterior motive whether they are aware they are doing it or not. You only have to look at some very reputable doctors publishing research saying that smoking isn't bad for you all the way into the early 90s simply because they were in the pay of the tobacco industry.

What I think the article does offer is a 'heads up' to what might be a potential problem with some free templates (and quite possibly even paid ones) when you don't know what you are looking at.

Absolutely nothing in life is actually free but there is risk and reward and that is how humans work. You know when you search for something on Google that you are having your preferences tracked...But you get your search result so the reward is worth the risk.

If you have the knowledge that there may be some surreptitious back links in your website, possibly pointing to something or somone you may not be entirely happy about or that you could potentially be handling and distributing malicious code then you make an informed decision. Is the risk (as stated) worth the reward of a 'free' layout? I think the article poses the question quite well.

Anyhoo, glad I posted it because we've not had a proper debate going here for ages! It's an actual forum post rather than a help desk post
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Old 01-13-2011, 07:15 PM   #9
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She might be perfectly right, but I just can't get over the quality of the article. Just an example:
Quote:
2nd site on Google and we’re getting more base64. I downloaded a few other themes which contained static links and no base64. I guess that this site is a bit hit and miss. However, with the previous site I could get it decoded and this, no go. A search on some forums for the pieces of code in the footer indicate that it may be encrypted code used for hacking I ain’t techie enough to know and I suspect that most WordPress users aren’t either. In that case….

My Suggestion
Avoid!
-base64 is not inheritable evil or bad. But it's the argument that is repeated over and over. "OMGZ - This site is using base64!#$%". It's a *long* time since I studied Logic, but this is false
A uses B. B can be used for Evil. Ergo A is doing something Evil.

-So other sites don't have base64.. wow. Again this is an argument for why the templates in question are bad. Again it fails in logic:
A is a good site. B is not A. Ergo B is a bad site.

-And then the fact that she's not a 'techie' . (Oh btw, isn't this the first red light before you write an article about something inherently technical?). The argument is that she is not a techie to find out if there is malicious code, so therefore it probably is. Logically false again:
I cannot determine if A is good or bad, ergo A is bad.

</rant>
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Old 01-13-2011, 07:20 PM   #10
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Excellent rant dude! I'd love to see some research from someone more technical to see what they have to say about it.
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