Call for a better GPL WordPress Theme Showcase/Market Place on Installations

This post is a response to a simple question I asked myself when compiling the recent 2011 WordPress theme list: where do self-hosted WordPress newcomers go to get high quality, trustworthy themes?

First of all, let’s give credit where credit’s due. Automattic and the wider WordPress community put in a huge amount of time to maintain the excellent WordPress Codex and the WordPress support Forums, Themes and Plugins lists. Combined, this is a formidable resource for anyone serious about WordPress.

But when it comes to WordPress themes; faced with an increasingly dominant premium theme market, the official free WordPress theme list seems at best, amateurish and old hat by comparison. And so the question must be asked: what can be done to change this? What can be done to give newcomers more choice?

Is it possible to offer a “premium experience” to WordPress newcomers, at a GPL, Open Source price? The answer is yes, because actually it’s already at work on Automattic’s sister site, users benefit from a cherry-picked, professionally coded selection of themes accessible via the WP dashboard’s “Appearance” section. I don’t understand why the Theme Showcase model is not being used for the tiresome Theme Showcase.It makes no sense.

The showcase is a brilliant way of getting professional designers to give back to the WP community, all the while offering them a space to sell some of their premium themes and attract new customers. Surely, everyone would benefit from the same standard across both WP properties?

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