WordPress Takes a Negative Position

WordPress lead developer Matt Mullenweg has been quietly trading on the site's high Google PageRank, hosting more than 150,000 junk articles created solely to draw ad clicks on high-dollar keywords like asbestos and debt consolidation.

WordPress.org hides links to the junk pages using a negative positioning trick in CSS:

<div style="text-indent: -9000px; overflow: hidden;"> <p>Sponsored <a href="/articles/articles.xml">Articles</a> on <a href="/articles/credit.htm">Credit</a>, <a href="/articles/home-buying.htm">Home Buying</a> and <a href="/articles/web-hosting.htm">Web Hosting</a></p> </div>

People are reluctant to criticize Mullenweg, a well-respected (and young) developer who has turned WordPress into a critically acclaimed open source blogging tool. I've corresponded with him a few times and been impressed with his work.

As I read about this, I couldn't help but recall his stridency in calling for a boycott of a web site a year ago:

I care about the health of the web, the long-term viability of the sites and pages and documents that are shaping our culture and society. On a deeper level I hold a number of principles that the web should be efficient, standards-based, and accessible. No site is perfect, but some try and some don’t.

Lockergnome regressing from the standards-based is more than just a bad business decision, it is essentially giving the middle finger to the community around the world that cares about these things. ...

I'm not just unsubscribing, I'm boycotting. There comes a point when you see blatant disrespect for things you care about and you can either sit back and pretend it doesn't bother you or you can speak out. It's two different types of people, and if you're one of the former then you should examine the effects of your apathy.

Mullenweg's wrath was provoked by the site's conversion from a CSS- to table-based web design.

It was a huge blunder for him to cash out on the credibility bestowed on WordPress with this shady, intentionally hidden advertising scam. He's already paying a price -- Google dropped the site's home page from PageRank 8 to PageRank 0 and removed all of the junk pages.

If I were a WordPress devotee, I'd give him a chance to apologize and make up for this. Everybody makes mistakes. However, let's not pretend it wasn't a middle finger to the community around the world that cares about these things.


yes i agree that he should get another chance as well

The Page Rank is still 8 as far as I can see.

I posted a response to things on my blog, sorry I couldn't earlier, I got it up as fast as I could.

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