In doing my daily write-ups for “WLTC”:http://weblogtoolscollection.com, I’ve become even more aware of just how many WordPress themes out there contain sponsored links – and believe me, there are a lot of them. I can also understand folks wanting to make a little money of their work. Theme design does take a lot of time and effort, which is why I haven’t done more than the one WordPress theme and the one bbPress theme of my own – I simply haven’t had the time. And it’s always cool to get paid for doing something you love.
But I myself will probably never use a sponsored theme. I shy away from them for the same reason why I have decided against using any form of adsense modules on my site. I think advertising of any form embedded on a site I’m reading is annoying and distracting, and I think that most people feel much the same way. The last thing I want my site to turn into is an advertisement for someone else. Granted, I’ve tossed banner ads up once or twice for something I truly believed was worthwhile, but always those ads came down within several days or a couple of weeks once the promotion period itself was passed. And I likely will never put up ads again – I just don’t like the added clutter. Sponsored links, while they usually take up hardly any space at all and since as simple text links in the footer, are still advertising that clutter things up too much.
The thing of it is, WordPress is free software and what’s more, it’s open source. It’s a community project of sorts, one that a lot of people contribute their work toward improving with themes, plugins, bug fixes, and much more. And a lot of this work is excellent, top-notch stuff. I’ve stumbled across a lot of sharp-looking themes and plenty of plugins that make life so much easier and better. So I guess I feel a little bit insulted when someone else comes along with a theme or plugin, one that has _probably_ already been seen in some form somewhere else (for free), and wants the rest of us to billboards their ads and sponsored links on our sites. Aside from the objections I’ve already raised, the thing I object to is that by allowing such things on my site, I’m implying my support for whatever businesses lie on the other end of those links, most of which I know nothing about and cannot, therefore, provide any sort of endorsement for.
With so many free, unsponsored themes out there, plus the ability to make my own, there’s no reason for me to ever use a sponsored theme. Besides, with the “WordPress Theme Generator”:http://www.yvoschaap.com/wpthemegen/ and “Canvas”:http://freshpursuits.com/canvas/, I don’t know why even the least HTML-savvy individual can’t create their own theme to their preferred specifications.