Wordpress.com copies Drupal theme
I just found out that Wordpress.com has launched a port of the Drupal Garland theme for their users. It didn't take long for some questions to rise up, so I'd like to clear up my side of the story.
I received a mail about a month ago by Bryan Veloso at Automattic where he praised the theme and was asking for permission to port it to Wordpress for Wordpress.com.
I replied with the clear fact that the theme is technically GPL'd and thus only subject to the restrictions in that license, but that there were a variety of other factors to consider:
The Garland theme is the result of a concentrated effort of a few dedicated Drupal folks to make a new default theme for the upcoming Drupal 5. Drupal has always been better on the technical side than the design side, and this is an important step to get rid of our 'clunky geek software' image.
We'd also like to use it to establish a better Drupal branding. The default Garland look is very blue and matches our visual identity. However, the recoloring feature of Garland ensures that people aren't stuck with all blues, and can change everything to match their tastes. So, more Drupal sites will now stick to using the default (Garland) theme. If website visitors keep seeing the same design on multiple sites, they might start to wonder why that is and what CMS is running behind it. This is especially important because, unlike Wordpress, our themes are typically built to be used both for the front-end and back-end (there really is no hard distinction).
From this point of view, if Wordpress or Wordpress.com were to make the Garland theme available, it would be a direct hit to our goals, especially because it's going to take us a couple of weeks to get our final Drupal 5.0 release out the door and really get the buzz flowing. And then, weeks or even months to see the spread of Garland-themed Drupal sites. (emphasis added for clarity)
I never got a reply or any sort of news about it, until Gerhard pasted me the link to the Wordpress.com announcement. My immediate reaction was disappointment. If Wordpress.com serves up Garland before we do, all hope of promoting it as an original Drupal style is pretty much flushed down the drain.
I'm also disappointed that they did such a poor job: Elements are missing or badly styled, the positioning and spacing is off too and they didn't even credit Stefan Nagtegaal in the footer.
Of course, technically, Wordpress.com didn't do anything wrong. But the fact that they asked first, and then still copied it and released it early feels like a stab in the back for me.