A long time ago I commented about how open source projects were fodder for covert embedded “SEO” content. Back then, a few WordPress themes included back links, but the opportunity suggested it could get much worse. It has.
I just upgraded my WordPress to 2.0.6 because of some stupid pirate. I would have preferred to wait until the 22nd when the new WordPress comes out, but whatever. So as always I started looking at available themes and sure enough, tons of backlinks embedded into them. Like my theme? Take it, use it, it’s free! (Oh, and if you look real close you might notice a few back links in there to my diet plan page, or my mortgage page, or my hosting affiliate page. No bother…pay no attention to that, move along and be happy). Sometimes the back links are mentioned in the comments., like “if you want to use my theme, you have to leave my links in place”. Well, actually, no I don’t.
The only sad part is that WordPress.org distributes these themes as they are, in the WordPress distribution. Those people understand the web. They know that off-topic embedded back links distributed in Open-Source contributed themes are LINK SPAM. Yet they still permit them and include them in the distribution. Tsk tsk tsk. Hel, why not include a trojan as well?
I’ve been hacking the NewZen theme for a while. It’s not very good. It’s a theme, yes, and it does ajaxy things with the sidebar, but it’s incomplete, not robust, and the code is not mantainable. Back links to the author? Nope. But if they actually want credit, I’d be happy to post a review of the theme.