Brian Krogsgard of Poststat.us has raised an issue that I never considered concerning the demo content displayed within themes on the theme repository. While commercial theme demos do a great job showing off what a theme is capable of doing, for at least some themes on the repository, the demo content ruins the look of a theme. As Brian pointed out, look at Pinboard as an example. Looks great in the screenshot but is terrible using the WP.org demo content. The Pinboard theme needs to be configured with featured images and such before it can look the way it does in the screenshot. The blog demo content doesn’t suit Pinboard out of the box.
This got me thinking. How many themes on WordPress.org are considered to look bad simply because of the demo content? Quite a discussion was had on Brian’s post on what could be done to solve the problem with Otto responding within the comments that this issue was discussed at last years WordPress Community Summit. Because of the issues involved with monitoring and such, theme authors will most likely never be able to add a custom demo link to their theme page. It’s also likely that theme authors will not be given control over the demo content displayed within the theme. However, Otto has suggested the following for theme authors that want better default demo data:
So, theme authors: Get together, make a site somewhere, start to put some demo data on it. Work together to create it. Argue about it. Pick fights. Whatever. ;)
Come up with a good community-made set of demo data, and I assure you that I, for one, will certainly pay attention. This is something that can be easily community-driven and created. Once we have a site with the data, then it’s a simple matter of an export/import to get it onto the previewer. Well, not quite that simple, but still pretty simple.
So if anyone puts together an area to start working on this project, get in touch with me so I can pass the word.