I’ve read through every posting on this thread and it strikes me that the spirit in which WordPress was created is all but extinguished on a lot of TF authors. It doesn’t behoove us to open the GPL > commerce discussion here after riding the repeatedly buried and exhumed dead horse of functionality placement in themes or plugins. However, I do see a connection here with the GPL and some TF authors.
On this thread there are several stalwart advocates for isolationism within their own micro theme ecosystem. Keeping everything proprietary and giving users a take-it-or-leave-it presentation seems to be security for them. The heavens forbid that an abstracted plugin might be forked and decrease revenues. The masses shutter at the very thought that a user would ever ever ever desire to install, let alone activate another theme. If we think our products are irreplaceable, we fool ourselves.
My manifesto is: build it right and they will come. When someone is passionate about building great things, their finger prints are all over their products. A fork rarely translates the author’s original passion and intent for the product. If someone forks your work, there’s a profoundly great chance they won’t make it better than you can make it because they don’t ‘own’ it and probably won’t support it. If a TF author keeps building great USABLE products that scale well for future growth, USERS will come and come back and won’t mind rewarding with revenues.
Instead of discounting the value of a user and their sanity simply to embolden a stance on securing revenues, build loyalty with freedom of choice. At the end of the day, users do have a choice. If a product restricts them and creates nightmarish migration scenarios, an author shouldn’t expect a repeat customer.
One thing I’ve learned about the WordPress community (users and developers alike) is that we rally around great products and promote them whether commercial or not. We don’t take kindly to someone forking code for the explicit purpose of financial gain without setting a new course for the codebase.
WordPress is not an off-the-shelf product, it’s a community. Instead of building cinderblock walls around your micro theme ecosystem, start engaging the macro community by using accepted best practices. Give the user not only what they want, but what they NEED and it might even increase revenues. Users need scalability and consistency across the board of WP products.
That’s my two cents.
—-Burying the horse again now—-