The Role as WP Theme-reviewer

Anthropological field study II: experiences from the role as a theme-reviewer on

It’s the next logical step

To me the next logical step is to engage in themes. Since 2010 or so I have dabbled with themes. Testing themes is a challenge. Doing so will give valuable skills. That’s why I try out this role. The standards for WordPress themes are well defined. Working with review gives:

  • Knowledge about WordPress coding standards.
  • Experience with the role as reviewer and giving feedback to developers.
  • Experience with code validation. Not just the good old W3 validation services. It’s codesniffing with automation tools, such as phpcs.

Here bash commands, such as grep, is a great help too. It’s relatively easy to find lines, styles, classes, get_header, and so on. Testing themes is more than:

phpcs --standard=WordPress /wp-content/themes/themeName

Knowing the role

I guess that anyone starting out in a new role is bound to make errors here and there. Trying to engage in the open source community isn’t easy at all. By now I see two classes of theme-reviewers:

  • Theme reviewers: they determin whether a theme is mature for publication.
  • When the theme is approved, it’s passed to key-theme-reviewers.
  • They give the final judgement.

There are two layers of control here.


The theme reviewers meet on Slack.  Here they chat and help each others with day-to-day problems.

The themes are reviewed on Trac. Getting into the WordPress repositories is not easy at all. I saw one theme, that tried to get in for 5 months or so.

Impact on classes

This knowledge is valuable for the business academies. We need knowledge about the coding standards in the business. But we also have to be pragmatic.

I guess that sometimes it’s important to get the feeling of “IT WORKS!”. Validating the code according to the stern standards of professional WordPress developers would be a didactic suicide in the classroom.

At least I think that’s the case where I teach.

Our students should be able to code a child theme or a theme from scratch. You can say that they work with frontend.

Linux Mint

I use Linux Mint on Virtual Box as the theme-review platform. Doing a total review is somewhat time consuming. Even with codesniffers. I developed a template in markdown for the review, and went trough the list of theme requirements.

Here’s the list of requirements:



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