Pissed Off

I am phenomenally pissed off right now with a guy called Larry Ayers. He has proposed, in the WP forums, that he write a book about WordPress. This will be a book he wants people to buy so that he makes money. Remember that bit. It matters. He said

I wouldn’t have any copyright worries because I would write everything from scratch. I’m just thinking that non-technically-inclined users might appreciate a user-friendly guide to making the most of WordPress. A chapter of such a book which I would have greatly appreciated when I was starting out would have been one on Mysql installation and administration. Until I stumbled upon phpmyadmin I was having a heck of a time making WordPress install correctly.

Note that he says he will write everything from scratch. He says the wants to make a guide for the non-tech user. Right then Larry – nothing like that must exist then eh ? He then says that he was struggling until he found out about phpmyadmin – but he does not mention his source does he ? Not wanting to give credit where it is due.

Ideally my book would come out just after the release of non-gamma WP 1.5, and I think once 1.5 is out it will be in general use for a substantial period of time.

But Larry .. that could be next Tuesday, and you did say you would write everything from scratch I criticise his idea, and his general response is

I was the target of some vehement criticism from certain GNU zealots and idealists, who thought that I should have contributed to the freely-available Emacs documentation rather than making money.

Larry – if you are going to have a go at me, at least do it properly. Now….he mentions another book and says

I wrote a six-hundred page book for them in about three months

yet, in the very next paragraph states that

The fact of the matter is that I have contributed to open-source documentation in the past but the need to make a living mitigates against just sitting down and doing so for three months full-time.

[My emphasis]
So he is saying that he will do this from scratch, it’ll be all his own work and he’ll do it fast enough to be just ahead of 1.5.

The fact that you have had a damn good look around my site matters not Larry ?
The fact that you have seen my copyright notice matters not Larry ?
The fact that you have probably scoured Codex matter not Larry ?

Make all the money you want, but not off my back.

17 thoughts on “Pissed Off

  1. You have misunderstood a part of a post at the WordPress support forums, the post which seems to have so upset you. When I referred to “GNU zealots” I was referring not to you, but to critics in the Emacs community who objected to my Emacs book. I wasn’t “digging” at you.

    In reference to one of my posts there mentioning my discovery of phpmyadmin and the help it gave me in getting WordPress working properly: it is possible I learned about the application from your site. It’s also possible I learned about it elsewhere. The net is a big place and there are many WordPress sites.

    I’m sorry to have aroused your ire; I just like WordPress a lot and would like to do my part to spread the word!


  2. How does he plan on spreading this book? Selling it on his site? Amazon? eBay? And how much is he looking to charge? I am not convinced that someone would spend $10-$30 on a book, when they could do some research themselves for free; remember the web is a big place.
    How does he plan on advertising and promoting this book?

    My point being, he may spend all that time writing this book to help wordpress users, but the reality is, they can post on numerous forums including the WordPress.org one and get the help for free.

  3. Simple, if you’re a digital user and you want to publish your idea, all you need is Cafepress. Nothing else. That and a website to promote it. With proper search optimisation, people looking for answers might stumble on his site. I’m sure if Larry does a good job then he could come up with a book. The question of course is whether or not he’s going to be taking Mark’s stuff or not.

    The thing is something like this will take MONTHS, if to be done properly for anyone to give two shits about. I’ve seen Mark’s guide grow over the past year, and I know how much effort he and other have put into these.

    Would a collaboration be in order, or should Mark go down that route and just compile everything as a pdf and CafePress is? Hell dude I’ll happily design the cover for you and even help you set up the word file design. You’ve done most of the work anyway….This is me thinking aloud. But a WP user manual is not outside the realms of possibility, not by a long shot, just for everyone thinking otherwise.

  4. I’ve had a look Khaled, and I’d need some help. Not just with the Cafepress thing per se, but also being sure about content – we are our own worst critics.

    Profit is not the point here. Not being screwed while being silently observed IS.

  5. Larry: you wonder why Mark is so pissed off with you? Youre claiming to be thinking of writing a book on the ins and outs of WordPress, yet you dont profess to know all there is about the platform yourself. Therefore, you must be getting youre info from somewhere else. And, as probably 90% (if not more) of the guides that are available online were written by, researched and tested by Mark, whats the odds that the majority of your info is going to be coming from one of them? Sure, you can change the way things are written, lay it all out in a different way etc, but the fact remains, youre profiting from someone elses hard work. Speaking as someone whos had a similar thing happen to me (photos I took appeared on a commercial website a while back, they were duly removed and replaced later with proper credit given to myself as the photographer) I can see Marks point on this. Hes worked damn hard on the stuff hes done, and he has every right to be pissed off at you. Im sure youd feel the same if someone took your work and did the same thing. Think about it from the other side.

  6. As -slh- stated above, I think the real problem with this whole thing, is that most of feel that there are individuals more qualified to write a book about WordPress. And, out of those individuals, Mark is probably the most qualified. Mark cranks out tons of WordPress tutorials and is constantly contributing to both the forums and the Codex, but I’ve never heard of Larry Ayers until he made that forum post about his book plans. In fact, that post was the first topic he’s ever made. Since then, he’s added several replies to that topic and posted one reply to another topic in which he recommended Emacs for composing your WordPress posts. My personal opinion is that a book should be written as a co-venture between the chief developers of WordPress, Mark, NuclearMoose, and anyone else who wishes to contribute a page or two. IOW, it should be a paper version of the Codex.

  7. Listen, while I understand that it’s a major project it’s one that I honestly wouldn’t mind getting involved in. Soo if you actually choose to go down that route, I’m more than willing to build the pdf, and do the design of the book.

    The setup of the cafepress site shouldn’t be too much hassle, and as for the content, well I’ll leave the conversations between you and the rest of the dev team to see what you want to do, and whether this should be an official thing or whatever. That way what you do with the money is your issue. You could use it for paying towards the bandwidth on this site etc.

    I don’t think anyone would begrudge you getting paid to run your site by the guides you provide. It’s something you’ve obviously spent a lot of time on, so getting something back to continue to give something isn’t really unreasonable.

    I know it’s not about the money, but this is the situation, either get a book by Larry, OR get a book by one of the dev team that has actually made a contribution and continues to do so on the forums every day. Just a thought. You know how reach me 🙂

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  9. ahem. hello?

    has anyone seen all of the Linux books one can buy? Do you not think that the various scripts and whatnot within them were all magically gleamed out of air? Very few are original, and while a “chunk” of code might belong to someone, php like perl, bash, etc.. is opensource.

    Furthermore, WordPress is released under the GPL, and the GPL is clear…

    Using one little function that is contained within WordPress makes
    your own code subject to the GPL, and requires that it be distributed the same way.

    The GPL also allows the sale of an item that’s been GPL’d,



    Though you might not like the idea Mark for any number of reasons, anyone that wanted could write a book about WordPress and use any number of scripts, and would prolly be within their legal right to do so, Furthermore, if O’Reilly, for instance were to take up such an idea, I am sure they would be quite clear from the outset on where they stood legally.

    As for who would buy such a book, theres no telling. Linux books go over well and there is clearly a metric ton of Linux stuff on the net for free. People like books, theyre tangible, There are other examples– HTML books, Perl books, you name it, its there. Hell, look at all the books that have been made on Windows.

  10. See you’ve missed the point COMPLETELY. In fact from your post I can tell you’re not a regular reader, which is fine, but if you’d actually read a few weeks back, loads was said about GPLs etc and Mark was clear on this point, in the exact same way you’re talking now. So yes thank you but you’re not saying anything new here.

    What Mark and this is about is the fact that I will go write a book, taking all my information from someone who’s written it all out online. So it’s not about the code, it’s about how to manipulate the code to do what you want. It’s the way you backup stuff, how you tweak the quicktags, that sort of thing. These are GUIDES, not the code that we’re talking about here.

    He wants to write about it? Go for it, however chances are if he’s interested in doing it for WordPress he’d be checking out someone who’s spent the better part of 8 months building and compiling this information.

  11. In case anyone’s keeping score, mark me down as squarely on the side of capitalism. Let Larry write whatever he wants – so long as he doesn’t violate copyright, I could care less about how “fair” it is to Mark. If anyone is suggesting Mark should have the monopoly on WordPress knowledge because he’s created most of the information, I’d ask them to consider if they’d feel the same were he (Mark) to sell that information and expect that no one else could create similar, but free, information (copyright respecting, of course).

    As a disinterested third party, it seems Mark has his proverbial panties in a bunch.

  12. I completely agree with Scott.

    Furthermore, just because y’all are skeptical that he can do it doesn’t mean he can’t write it from scratch. No, it doesn’t matter if he looked at your guides. No, it doesn’t matter that those guides are copyrighted. Regardless of whether he writes it from scratch or not (notwithstanding actual copying), he has every right to create the book.

    Who cares if people in the WordPress community think someone else is better qualified? Last time I checked, the best qualified does not have the only right to do something.

    If there is no market, it will flop. If your copyrighted works are copied, then you have remedies.

  13. I don’t really understand what’s wrong with writing a book about something GNU/OS. I myself wrote a book about PHP5. I sure used a lot of resources found on tons of internet sites but that doesn’t make it plagiarism in my opinion. And as far as money is concerned: Writing books like this is less profitable than riding on a garbage truck on a per-hour basis. I simply did it to dive deeply into the matters myself and because it looks awesome on my CV. If you put information on the internet you know someone could read it and maybe do something with it like writing a book. If they literally copy your texts it’s an entirely different story of couse. As long as someone uses various internet resources and aggregates the information found into an easy to read book for those who want it I really don’t see anything wrong with that.

    A friend of mine wrote a book about a collection of well known open source php applications. In each chapter he discusses one and explains what one can do with it and how to install it. It’s a very popular title. Bad? I really don’t think so.

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