Over the last year I have had to work on several commercial themes for clients, and in most cases they were so poorly coded it ended up costing money to re-engineer, it has been frustrating to say the least for both me and the clients.

I wanted to create a resource on what commercial themes (mainly theme shops) to avoid and why, or possibly good/bad experiences.

Would such a question be appropriate, I don't want to really toss anyone under the bus but it might be helpful and improve the situation.


ps. I do understand creating a theme from scratch is best, but sometimes this is just a reality.

2 Answers 2


I can't remember any do/don't do this rules of network about such, so mostly my personal take.

On the outside this seems like simple flip of best of X community wiki concept, that I am fond of. However I think there are major nuances that make negative approach much less viable.

It's inflammatory

While it's little impact in praising someone for something, criticizing comes with much larger responsibility. There is no value to collection of simplistic rants, such write-ups must be bullet-proof and up-to-date.

What if it's been a year and everything got fixed? Who is going to follow up and clean up answers? What if site gets sued for badmouthing some business (unlikely but not impossible)?

It's inefficient

Simply put that would be enumerating badness, which is poor approach to anything. Starting with small selection of good choices is vastly more safe and productive than trying to downsize all possibilities by subtracting known bad picks.

Ten best themes (not happening objectively, for the sake of example) is immensely useful list. Ten worst themes is useless drop in a sea of sub-par products.


Where such content could work is in site's blog. Credible top users taking apart themes to provide excruciating honest feedback is an interesting form and some blogs around do dabble with it.

Only we still don't have a blog. :( A lot of top users seem either highly busy or discouraged with site in recent months. And frankly I'd prefer to see us deal with dangerously growing pile of unanswered questions first.

  • I should start (or search for) a separate question about unanswered questions, but I suspect that the number correlates fairly strongly with the number of migrated questions, that the original asker never actually follows here. There are so many that I have to fight the urge just to ignore them out of hand. Oct 1, 2011 at 20:39
  • @Chip there had been more migrations in since we went out of beta... But still dynamic of unanswered pile is extremely worrying. We don't have enough people who pay attention to it and by nature of site a lot of questions seem to be unlikely to get answer ("how do I do this extremely specific thing in that obscure plugin?").
    – Rarst
    Oct 1, 2011 at 20:50
  • then perhaps we as a community should decide whether we need to tighten our scope. If we are implicitly choosing not to answer "how do I do this extremely specific thing in that obscure plugin?" questions, then we should make that determination explicit in our scope. Oct 1, 2011 at 20:59
  • @Chip the problem is I am strongly against rejecting questions that are unlikely but not impossible to answer. Many times I thought heck, this is another dead question to be amused by someone coming up with perfect answer from their experience. The questions are not the problem (and those that are - are to be dealt with by moderators). Not enough people actively answering is (as I see it).
    – Rarst
    Oct 1, 2011 at 21:04
  • so the question becomes one of which is the preferred detriment: questions remaining unanswered because of implicit community scope, or narrowing the explicit scope. Personally, I think the active WPSE community should set its scope. If we implicitly aren't going to answer certain questions, why waste users' time to write questions that we - but that they don't - know aren't going to get answered? Oct 1, 2011 at 21:23
  • @Chip there is nothing wrong with our scope. We are growing site with growing issues (which are tough because we are not paid staff here, everyone is sacrificing their time to answer questions). The goal is to provide more answers, not receive less questions.
    – Rarst
    Oct 1, 2011 at 21:35
  • Having become, recently, somewhat of a top user, I'm a bit concerned about your 'discouraged with the site' comment. Probably this question isn't the place to have that discussion -- but I'd very much like to understand what you're seeing and what your understanding of why that is. Perhaps let's that that discussion back to the '% unanswered questions' question.
    – marfarma
    Oct 3, 2011 at 13:49
  • @marfarma in early days there was mostly development crowd - few active users, proportionally more challenging questions. Now that we have much more traffic it's not to everyones taste to dig in loads of more basic questions. It's not bad, just a process of going from very few heavily involved experts to larger and more stable core of less involved people. We are no longer new site, but still young.
    – Rarst
    Oct 3, 2011 at 14:00

I agree with Rarst on several points, but I just want to drive one home all the more.


StackExchange sites are valuable because much of their content is timeless. Meaning you can find an answer in Google results 6 months from now and it will still be relevant. This is also why users are encouraged to return and offer updated answers to old questions as technology/practices continue to evolve.

An "avoid X retailer because of Y" thread falls on its face in this paradigm because the company can change. A bad developer today might get better and become the standard against which all are measured tomorrow. Likewise, a company with shady practices now might turn over a new leaf and become legitimate in the future.

So I would advice strongly against this kind of question. Instead, take one of two approaches:

  • Rather than asking who people should avoid, ask who they should look to for quality work
  • Curate your own - private - list of avoidance-worthy shops on your own - private - blog
  • I agree, in particular because I expect that, in about a year, the unnamed theme marketplace with perhaps the worst reputation will have quality requirements and a strong review process. It's largely in reaction to a well deserved public shaming - but ... as @EAMann says, ...
    – marfarma
    Oct 3, 2011 at 14:13
  • Very classy way to approach the issue.
    – Devise
    Oct 19, 2011 at 15:40

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