Most of us think that if we purchase a Premium Plugin from a reputable dealer like Themeforest that the theme will be better supported than the free themes we get through wordpress.org. The developer of the theme would have a support page for the theme at Themeforest, and would be informing his customers of regular updates.
So can’t help but wonder how many of us actually check up on whether our premium themes are being actively supported. When last have we been to the developer’s support forum to see whether queries are being answered? Or do most of us assume that no news is good news. The Premium Theme is going to last forever without any updates needed. Shouldn’t the fact that there hasn’t been an update in two to three years be a warning signal though? This theme is no longer supported and vulnerable for exploits? And whose responsibility is it to check whether the theme is still supported?
A few days ago someone’s Website from another host had to be shut down because of a timthumb exploit. The datacentre alerted the web host of the infection, and the Website had to be immediately suspended without the option of a backup.
So here’s a story that all of us should take note off. After investigation of what could have gone wrong with the WordPress Website the only possibility was the theme, which had not been updated since its purchase in 2013. Next step was to locate the support forum for the theme to check whether updates were available and whether this problem could have happened to others as well. And here is where a shocking discovery was made. The theme had been removed by ThemeForest. And worse, the developer was not supporting the theme any longer either. I found this discussion dated 12 August 2015 in the support forum of the child theme (the support forum of the parent theme had been removed by ThemeForest as well):
The name of the theme is Automotiv by BuchmannDesign (bundled in with its equivalent real estate theme Openhouse). It was (and still is) a very popular car dealership theme that for a long time during 2012/2013 had been one of the top selling themes at ThemeForest. I’m almost certain though that quite a large number of those who purchased the Automotiv theme are unaware that it is no longer supported by the developer.
Since it had been such a popular theme though it was very surprising to find the following page at Themeforest, particularly since there had been no notification or communication that the theme is no longer supported by the developer. I’d have at the minimum expected there to be some explanation from ThemeForest, particularly since ThemeForest gives the impression with all of its marketing that all themes are supported. What Themeforest neglects to mention is that there is an “end of life” expectancy of the themes that they sell to us and that they don’t feel it necessary to inform us when themes have been discontinued and are no longer supported with updates. Worse however was the complete deletion of the theme details and support forum. It is as though the theme never existed before. At least at WordPress.org we can check up on an old theme, but not at Themeforest when it has decided to let go of a theme. This is what you get instead:
What also gets me is that the new theme is not really a “new” theme. It’s an upgraded theme. Check this blog article where the developer asks people to try out his “new” OpenDoor Responsive Theme. It was published on 1 Dec 2013:
The theme is an improvement over the Automotiv theme with many more features and emphasis on responsiveness and very soon became another top seller at ThemeForest in its class. What tickles me though is that this is being classed as a brand-new theme and being marketed as a new theme whereas strictly speaking it is really an upgrade:
Given what has happened with the parent theme, one can’t help but think for how long the “new” theme is going to be supported. This is what the developer said on 14 Aug 2015:
Wonder how many owners and prospective owners of the OpenDoor theme know about this. I get it that it is our responsibility to check whether our premium themes are still being supported. However I think there should at least be some accountability when updates of a theme are discontinued. At the minimum there should be a notification on the Website when one searches for the theme. There should still be access to the Support Forum (locked) with a concluding post by the developer that says: “This theme has been removed by Themeforest and is no longer supported by the developer. Last update is 3.3 dated …”. Thank goodness though that in this case the developer was still around to answer inquiries.