For some time the Theme Review team was doing fairly good when it came to keeping the ticket count down. Part of that was because those that got more reviews done for the month would get rewarded.

A reward?

Why yes. A reward for reviewing themes. A lot. I figured why not? Sounds like a great idea. Gamify theme reviews. Might work. Let the winner(s) choose a theme so it can be featured.

Here is where I think most people went wrong. They could feature their own. Don’t get me wrong I would almost fall into that category.

My initial thought was that the chosen theme would be one that was reviewed that month. Clearly it wasn’t the case. Many chose their own. Repeatedly. Over. And over again. Month, after month, after month and, you get the idea.

The issue

The biggest issue I noticed was that most were rushing the reviews. I am by no means the greatest reviewer on the team but do feel like I know my way around most frameworks now. At least I should by now. I say this only because I don’t always assign myself for a review. What I often do is actually look over what most people write, respond and change in some themes.

There are some things that are always missed. I admit I miss a few things as well. I feel bad when that happens but I am human. I don’t expect to catch every single error that one theme has let alone five.

Yeah, you read that right: five. There are some that will review multiple themes at once. I can’t do it. Part of that reason is the code from one theme will be on my mind as I look over another. Or I will forget what tab I’m in and put the wrong required issue on the wrong theme. It can get messy.

More trouble brewing

Those who chose their own themes I feel hurt the community.

Let me elaborate on that. In order to do that I have to really break things down a bit. I have to ask a few questions:

  • What is feature worthy?
  • What sets it apart?
  • Who designed it?

So, what makes a theme feature worthy? I feel that the design as well as the code have a huge impact on that. I’ve seen a few themes that use frameworks and often feel bloated.

A good example would be option frameworks that are included in a few themes. Often times they include so many files for such a simple thing like the ability to change text color. I feel that we should make decisions not give options. If they want to change it then they should be able to but it shouldn’t be expected. Just like I don’t expect to walk in to a restaurant and have the server ask me what kind of cup I would like to use for my water.

What would set themes apart then, right? If they all just followed the earlier rule then it would all be conformity and bland. Very uninspiring. But here is the kicker: creativity. What really sets a featured theme apart is in the creative way it leverages WordPress.

Twenty Fourteen is a fairly good example of what I mean. From the navigation used to the templates that are included the theme stands out more than the others. Looking through the code you can see both the complexity and simplicity of it all. Basic core template tags pushed and manipulated to create a symphony of design and code.

Do keep in mind that several people had input in the release of the theme.

So, a group of people working on a single theme should be featured? No, that’s not what I mean. To a certain extent there really is more than one person working on a theme. The developer/designer and the theme reviewer. Both are working together to get that theme approved and out to the world.

So what’s the beef?

The last month has brought on a few changes. The program has been put on hold until a decision has been made. Some people are upset, some are happy and I’m just thinking of a better way to review themes so that not only reviewers benefit but everybody does as well. I mean what good is contributing if it only benefits oneself? It would be like tickling a bear. Sure you can get him to laugh and you’ll laugh but in the end he will bite your head off. Okay, maybe not the greatest example but you get the idea.

I think what I find most troubling is that now that the program has been suspended many have stopped reviewing themes. Did we really need an incentive? Yes and no. Honestly is a little hard to justify either one I guess. I never really needed one; partially true.

My incentive: being a part of something bigger than myself.