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WordPress Slowdown and a Challenge

Warning Rant Below
skip to My Challenge for You for details on the end of June Challenge
After what I consider to be a relatively unsuccessul series of theme contests, and the lackluster response to other people trying to strike up creativity in the WordPress community, I am a bit worried about the future of the WordPress theme and plugin communities.
Theme Recycling
Theme releases lately, all seem to be small changes on already released themes. People are releasing “flavors” of their favourite themes, with a link back to their site in the credits. This is not only a bit shady, but also very boring. While some make perfect sense, like totally shifting a theme from being a black theme, to a white theme, others are silly, like replacing a header graphic, changing a few link and header colors and re-releasing it.
The amount of really new themes being added to the pool, seems to be shrinking every day as people rehash old ideas. Those rehashed themes lacking the same creativity and originality of the original theme creator. Are designers feeling paralyzed by something, making them hold back their ideas? I know the reward that you can get by giving to the WordPress community is insignificant looking at it from a money in your pocket perspective, but imagine seeing your design, or a variation of your design being used by thousands of websites? Seeing that, is definetly its own reward, and it is a very fulfilling experience.
I was really excited when Phu Ly had his theme a day self-imposed challenge, as I hoped it would inspire others to run similar challenges, even if it was more in the theme a week or month realm. Phu’s themes showed that a theme does not have to be overly complex, or rely heavily on dozens of crazy graphics, and actually, I have found that graphically light themes that are easy to edit and modify actually do the best in the WordPress community.
Does everyone feel like they have to re-invent the Kubrick experience? That is honestly not the case. You have to design a theme for a niche that you feel you can fit. Are you good at doing grunge websites? Do a grunge WordPress theme. If you are interested in a certain type of design, no doubt there are atleast one hundred others out there looking for the same type of theme, but without the design or coding talents required to make it happen.
Plugins Not Worth Downloading
Plugins are also hurting lately. It honestly feels like the amount of really revolutionary plugins have dropped considerably over the last four to six months.
Sure, I could be missing many of the great plugins, but I don’t think so. It is at the point where the plugins area of the WordPress.org support forum is filled with support on plugins rather than new plugin releases, where half a year ago, there were new plugins coming out every day.
Plugins are also an area where people are just rehashing old ideas or mixing two plugins together. While many times this produces a better plugin than the originator had, there is almost no new plugins where I think to myself “I have to have that plugin!”
Many of the great things coming out for WordPress mostly seem to be coming from a small circle of people, and many of them are part of Automattic, the company that is WordPress as they continue to add new features to their hosted WordPress service, WordPress.com.
My Challenge to You
My challenge to you, the WordPress community, is this.
Create a theme or a plugin. Ignore what you have seen before. Don’t worry about similar themes or plugins. Just sit down in your image editing program or your coding application and hash out something new over this week.
Link to this post in your release, or contact me at junechallenge@gmail.com and let me know about your new development. I want to see what kind of originality you can come up with. Then on the 30th of June, I will feature the five best plugins and the five best themes, and they will each get a post on Blogging Pro. On top of the post the ten “winners” will also get a link in the links area of this site for all of July. That is over 30,000 unique visitors that will see a link to your plugin or theme.
If even 1% of them use what you create, that is 300 people using your theme or plugin. If you don’t think that is rewarding, then you are probably not the type of person I am looking for to take part in this challenge, as this is only supposed to spur on those that are holding back, not line your pockets with money.
For those of you that are not in the top five in each category, I will also have a list of all of the plugins and themes submitted to the challenge in its own post, so you can discover everything that was created in the last week of June for the challenge.