There are some amazingly high quality themes on Themeforest but for every quality theme there appears to be 10 bad themes. I am not entirely sure how Themeforest reviews a WordPress theme; are claims of responsiveness tested, are test installs performed in different environments, do the reviewers truly use the themes before approving them?
I always check the homepage of Themeforest to see what great new themes there are. Funidfy a crowd-sourcing theme in the vain of Kickstarter for WordPress is an amazingly coded theme (not to mention it looks phenonimal). A lot of work has obviously gone into the theme and it deserves every ounce of support and success.
Recently I noticed that a new WordPress theme on Themeforest by the name of Hexic made it’s way onto the homepage. It looks phenomenal and for the most part it works well, however something alarming came to my attention. A Themeforest user pointed out some serious issues with the theme in the comments section, it was generous and unbiased feedback (the commenter even provided some potential CSS fixes) but shortly after seeing the comment at work and coming home to take another look at the theme (I considered it for a client because of the amazing slideshow) the comment had been flagged for staff review.
Firstly, any author should be grateful that someone else spent the time looking through their theme in the first place. Secondly, the author should be grateful another fellow Themeforest user felt compelled to bring these issues to the attention of the author and even go as far as providing some potential fixes for the issues (this commenter did something AVAThemes seemingly could not do during their testing phase. Bugs in a demo could hamper sales, yet this stranger took the time and was flagged as inappropriate.
What the fuck? Since when is pointing out issues that the review process should have found (some pretty serious issues) considered a comment that needs to be flagged? Has Themeforest become Communistforest? I posted a comment on the theme giving praise for the theme and asked why they had flagged the comment asking for some clarification and for the issues to be publicly addressed, expressing concern the author was putting money ahead of quality. At $40 a pop, a theme with serious issues in terms of responsiveness is big for a theme that claims to be, “Optimised For Amazing Mobile Experience” — but long behold my comment too, was flagged for inappropriate.
Angered by this I created a support ticket, buyers seem to have no rights on Themeforest and it’s worrying. As someone who has been using Themeforest for 4 years now and has bought a lot of themes, not to mention scripts off of Codecanyon if Envato can’t provide adequate protection for buyers (the ones that keep the site alive), what’s the point? There is no obvious way to flag a theme as broken, creating a forum post on Themeforest has revealed others have bought broken themes and have had to fight to get them fixed.
I have had nothing but great experiences with Themeforest, but it seems the review process is still somewhat flawed. Would you buy a car that claimed to have millions of useful features, but some of those said features don’t work correctly because they weren’t tested? I have no doubt these issues will be fixed, but the fact that people only seem to be able to post positive feedback on a theme and not bring serious issues to the attention of the author is like not being able to give negative feedback to sellers on eBay.
Really there are two core issues here: authors selling buggy themes and consumers buying buggy themes. The issues in this theme were spotted when theme sales were at zero, 4 copies of the theme have been sold and those 4 purchasers are going to be shocked when they discover their theme isn’t even truly responsive.
How do we fix it?
There really needs to be two ways of reporting broken themes. One of those being the ability to report a broken theme regardless of whether or not you bought it, a simple matter of a button that triggers an alert email to Envato staff to reconsider reviewing the theme. And the other is the ability to report a theme you bought as broken, Envato currently make it the responsibility of the consumer to chase the theme author for support when it comes to bugs that should have been found in the first place.
I know Envato have made leaps and bounds of progress over the years raising the quality of their themes. Compared to Themeforest 4 years ago, the site is in a great place and it’s getting better. The transparency issues however remained the same, everything feels secretive and there is no protect for buyers (something that needs to be addressed).