WordPress says no to Sponsored Links in Themes but gets caught adding them into their own sites

Yep, it’s yet another post on the topic of Sponsored links found within WordPress themes.  Now, before I begin, let me state my opinion on the matter:  Personally, I don’t care.  I can see why some folks consider such links to be “evil” and I can understand why some folks consider them to be a “necessary evil.”  If I really wanted to use a theme that had such links, I’ve got to admit that I would take a look at the site that’s being linked to and make a choice to leave them in or remove them.  That’s up to me.  I still think my idea of doing a tag labeled “Sponsored Links” within the main WordPress theme site would have been a better idea than removing them.  Let the “purchaser” decide with the best information made available in front of them. But what bothers me about all this though is what occurred recently on the BrowseHappy.com site.  You know the one.  Where a number of Automattic staff, volunteers,  developers, and others had that discussion and Matt Mullenweg goes out of his way to show how he listens to his endusers try to explain to him how a website that hasn’t been updated in years, contains outdated information, and even he finds to no longer apply really shouldn’t be linked to from the WordPress backend, totally ignores them, and we still have the link on the backend. (Quick aside: Instructions on how to remove said link.  Not sure if they apply on the latest 2.3.2 version of WordPress but you should get the idea.) So imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I was reading a thread over on the wordpress.org forums on browsehappy.  I decided to take a look at the site as I remembered that site having Adsense affiliate code links on it and I wanted to see if they were still there.   Imagine my complete surprise (I’m going link happy on the post, I know) to discover that there was actually a hidden link to freecookingrecipes.net in the footer of that site.  As well as a hosted image. Hmm, well that was strange. I saved some quick screen captures to cover my ass in case anyone doubted me, reported it to that thread on wordpress.org and fired off an email to the WordPress Security email address.  The links disappeared within a few minutes but my comment on the wp.org forums went unanswered and the email to security went unanswered as well.  Again, someone must have heard because those links were gone within 15 minutes. OK, let’s think about this for a second and cover some history.  The folks at WordPress have done the hidden links previously and appear to not really be willing to talk about it.  Matt says on his blog (I can’t find it right off.  I guess you don’t get that link tonight.) that he made a mistake and/or the linkage was placed without his own personally knowledge. (Again I can’t find it right off so that may not be 100%.  Please forgive me if it’s not.) edit: Here it is. So anyway, let’s give some thought about this link and what it is doing there.  I’ve been thinking about it for quite sometime and I can think of three methods of how it got there.  Let me list them and explain the reasons why they shouldn’t be the cause. (Please note that I said “shouldn’t” instead of actually proving them not to be the cause.  Keep reading.  You’ll understand shortly.) The link was placed there by a well meaning Automattic...

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