Everyone, Please understand that this not about WordPress the software, or WordPress developers, or even WordPress Inc. It is about Matt Mullenweg allowing someone else to game Google’s search engine on the WordPress.org site.
I feel I have to comment on the current WordPress story building over the ‘discovery’ that Matt has been using the wordpress.org domain to host thousands of specially-written articles designed to attract high paying Google Adsense adverts, and their outgoing links gaining high page rank from WordPress.org’s own page rank.
Dougal Campbell has written a reasoned response to the story breaking. It is most unfortunate that Matt is currently on vacation in Europe, but Jonas has replied quite reasonable. Jonas is also saying he will answer anyone’s questions 24×7 which is most generous of him.
I will also quote Andrew’s opening disclaimer:
Disclaimer. I’m hesitant to even write about this, knowing the web’s fondness for angry mob justice, but I feel like it’s an important issue that needs to be addressed. My one request: please be calm and rational. WordPress is a great project, and Matt is a good guy. Think before piling on the hatemail and flames.
I suspect that Matt is now aware of the situation as the pages seemed to have disappeared, or else someone trusted has taken them down.
It’s worth noting that Matt already responded to a query on the support forums about this
in February saying:
The content in /articles is essentially advertising by a third party that we host for a flat fee. I’m not sure if we’re going to continue it much longer, but we’re committed to this month at least, it was basically an experiment. However around the beginning of February donations were going down as expenses were ramping up, so it seemed like a good way to cover everything. The Adsense on those pages is not ours and I have no idea what they get on it, we just get a flat fee. The money is used just like donations but more specifically it’s been going to the business/trademark expenses so it’s not entirely out of my pocket anymore.
My opinion? I say, let’s not make a mountain out of a mole hill till we have all the facts. It sounds very much like Matt has made dubious decision for all the right reasons. But I believe the only thing one can consider Matt may have done wrong here is hosting these articles on wordpress.org. Hosting them at all I don’t have a problem with: It is one way that could be used to help pay for the enormous hosting costs he must have. There are articles out there explaining exactly how to do this on your own site.
Matt has my support, he has done a huge amount for this project. Far, far more than I have. I hope he can sort this one without to much fallout. The fact that he has already been open about it stands in his favour.
update:As Dr Dave pointed out in the comments, Matt didn’t respond to the forum post until Andy said he was going public with the story. I will still support Matt, but I think he really has been very silly to get involved in this and to tie it in to wordpress.org