An Open Apology Letter…

An Open Apology Letter…

Dear Astra Community,

On August 07, 2020, the Astra theme was delisted temporarily from the official WordPress.org theme directory as a result of a guideline violation. 

We believe in high technical and community standards. Once we were notified of the violation, we immediately fixed the code and submitted an updated version

I am sorry to our users and the broader WordPress community for the whole incident. We clearly made a mistake

Your trust is very important to us and so we are actively working on internal procedures to ensure such an issue never happens again in the future. I assure you that this incident has made our team’s commitment to providing quality and reliability even stronger.

We are committed to the WordPress community and sincerely apologize for our actions.

We aim to do better and will do better, that’s my personal promise to you. I look forward to bringing more awesome design features to the larger WordPress community.

The last 48 hours have been one of the hardest of my life, and I’ve learned a lot. 🙏 

Sincerely,

Sujay & Astra Team

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48 comments

  1. Hi team,

    As a customer of yours and user of the Astra theme, I find your theme secure, lightweight, and easy to use for my clients, so I will stay an Astra user of course.

    Thank you for taking your responsabilities in this post, I must admit I could have inadvertantly done the same mistake…

    Also thank you for commiting to contribute to a WordPress make team and sponsorship (thx for the past as well, as you have already been a sponsor in WordCamps), and for the 5%, I suppose as part of the https://wordpress.org/five-for-the-future/

    Kudos again for your response to the situation, keep up the good work and looking forward to see Astra back in the official repository.

    From a happy customer

  2. When you admit your mistake that will make you even more valuable to me personally. I love anyone who accepts their mistakes rather than arguments.

    I know your theme is a good theme but not yet perfect. I am waiting for the feature to see in the coming updates such as virtually header more icons for mobile menu toggle and more pre made design thanks

    1. Thank you for understanding Noor!

      And, we will definitely take a look at the suggestions you have for us. Thank you once again!

  3. You say “Once we were notified of the violation, we immediately fixed the code and submitted an updated version.”. Well, that doesn’t sound right because you’ve been warned months ago by the Plugins team. What is the actual truth here? This is a concerned customer here.

  4. “We believe in high technical and community standards. Once we were notified of the violation, we immediately fixed the code and submitted an updated version.

    I am sorry to our users and the broader WordPress community for the whole incident. We clearly made a mistake.”

    I like how you don’t take any responsibility for the financial impact you had on individuals. You, without their knowledge (if they didn’t inspect your suspicious code) nor consent, inserted referral links. Are you going to disclose how much money you made from these referrals, and return it to the sites’ owners? My guess, probably not after reading that poor excuse for an apology you typed. If any of these links were considered black hat by Google, then congratulations for negatively impacting a lot of sites.

    I’d like to see you donate all revenue generated to a charity, but judging by what you actually did, how you denied it, and your apology letter I’d be suspicious of the charity having connections to you, Sujay.

    1. John,

      1. What they did had no financial impact on the individuals that may have clicked on links. If those individuals made a purchase, Brainstorm Force received a commission, but the individuals paid the exact same price, regardless.

      2. The site’s owners don’t want the money back. In some cases, they even approached Astra with the idea to do this.

      3. All of these links were in the backend of WordPress, protected by a login. Google has no way of crawling those pages, so there would be absolutely no impact on SEO.

      Question the apology all you want. Question the responsibility taken, or lack thereof. But let’s get the facts straight about what happened please.

  5. Susanna Whitford

    Everyone makes mistakes, you’re learning from it and will do better in the future. Thank you for the open apology – happy to continue using your theme! Let’s make the rest of 2020 better! <3

  6. Team,

    Mistakes are nature, We can learn more things from mistakes. Looking forward to your presence on the WordPress theme directory.

    All the very best.

  7. Hi. I am a long-time WordPress user and also developing a plugin I hope to sell soon, so I try to stay on top of the ever shifting world or WordPress procedures and rules… I hope to get my project up there under the “freemium” model as well. When I heard the news story about Astra’s situation involving the repository, it brings home the dual nature of any business based on WordPress… we need to be profitable but also part of a community. Obviously, with so many users you have been doing a lot right. I have no idea what the violation was specifically, but your response here shows to me that you are really committed to doing right by the WP community. Good response 🙂 True leadership = acknowledging mistakes and then moving forward.

    I am curious, so I can avoid my own issues when I put my plugin on WP, if you think that is still a viable way to market a paid version, or do you advise new people to just go straight to a premium model? I want to be able to put something up as a help to those with limited or no funds, but I still need to make some $. I also get very bad vibes when I look at some of the commercial selling platforms that take such a huge percentage. It just seems like WP is the only way to reach so many people with something that could help them. Yes, I want to make money but I also spent 8 months programming this in order to help people reach their own personal and business goals as well.

    Again, well written response and I feel you will come out stronger.
    Peace, Jamie

    1. Hello Jamie, please feel free to get in touch with me on Twitter @sujaypawar. I will be happy to answer any questions you should have.

  8. I started to use this Astra Theme after reading a lot of reviews about it. They said this is one of the best, not perfect of course, themes available today. I was planning to upgrade to Astra Pro for one project.
    That’s way I hope to see your theme very soon, in the wordpress repository.
    Thanks for your letter and your apologies. I hope you and your team can resolve this issue very very soon.

    1. You’re welcome German!

      Thank you for your kind words and support!

      I’d also like to mention that things are fixed and the latest version of the theme is out already. You can get in touch with us if you have any further questions. 🙂

  9. Hey Sujay & Team,

    Your office is just a kilometer or two away from my house. I’ve always been proud of Brainstorm Force providing such a popular theme and services from my city. Good to see you agreeing to what went wrong, and promptly fixing the issues. Would love to drop by sometime and meet the team once this Corona debacle is dealt with. 🙂

    Cheers!
    Vinay

    1. Glad to hear from you Vinay!

      Thank you for your kind words and we’d definitely love catching up with you soon. 🙂

      You are most welcome!

  10. Hey mate,
    I wouldnt lose any sleep over it. I wasnt even aware of it lol

    Glad to see you got it all sorted. Be curious to know what the issue was?

  11. Excellent words! We are happy for you guys to be back on the road, I personally love Astra, I use it in all my sites.

    1. Hello Ismail,

      You need not change the theme. Astra is still functional and we are working on updates and new features for it.

      The issue is fixed and a couple of updates have been sent already. However, this in no way would have or will affect your search engine rankings.

  12. The first time I’ve read the open letter, I was like: okay, nice. The second time I was like: wait a minute: something really important is missing here.

    An open letter would be really “open” by transparently explaining what Astra really did wrong for 18 months. What, why, and the benefits. Because the majority of non-WP Community members don’t have any clue when they read this post. Although they probably clicked those links the most. They deserve more explanation than this.

    I’m also against the ban of 5 weeks – mainly because it’s just before the 5.5 release. Although it is tested on 5.5, there are too many moving parts in WordPress; and the luck on Astra’s side: too many (non-tech) Astra users to drop in potential insecurity.

    By the way: still happy Astra user. Just conquer the storm, swallow some pride, and move on.

    1. Hi Dave, As there was a lot of chatter on social media, dozens of articles and videos published, I tried to keep the apology post short and straight to the point.

      But you might have noticed, a detailed article is published on WPTavern has been published. It has my responses well.

  13. Hi from Spain,

    I’m a user of Astra for some time now and upgraded to Pro. This is, by far, one of the best themes I’ve been using for all my WordPress projects and I’m changing to it for all of them.

    It’s sure this has been a mistake, a huge mistake, and I’m sure is not being an easy period for all of you at Brainstorm. It is really difficult to gain confidence from customers, but this is one thing you have achieved with hard work.

    I’m sure too that such a radical decision from WordPress has been taken after some time for you to correct the mistake. So, I’m sure nobody is 100% right.

    But what I think is really appreciated is your letter, your words, and your apologies. It’s not easy to do it.

    This will be a positive point in your history. Being humble and being ready to admit mistakes is always the best way.

    My really sincere congrats. I will continue, without any doubt, being your customer.

    And I am sure and I really hope we will see great things coming from you.

  14. I’ve been a Astra (Pro) user (and a lot of the other Brainstorm Force plugins for that matter) since 2017. I use Astra on all my sites and I’m happy with it. This bump in the road is a “whole lot ado about nothing”. I will keep using Astra… I can’t find any reason not to.

    I understand that there have to be rules to keep everything neat and within limits. It’s just unfortunate that those rules are not applied everywhere in the same way and with the same intensity. I hope the whole team comes back in full force and this “incident” motivates Brainstorm Force to do even better in the time to come.

    Lessons have been learned, let this be a new start. Don’t lean back, come up with fresh ideas and all this will be forgotten in a couple of months.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support Dirk!

      Yes, we take this as a stepping stone and a new beginning. There is a lot that we’ve learned and we are overwhelmed by the love we’ve been receiving these days.

      Thank you again! It means a lot. 🙂

  15. I’m with you Sujay. I’m with Brainstorm Force team. Don’t worry, the incidence is for learning for you and this will benefit you in the long run. Stay strong.

    Thanks
    Mohsin

  16. Hi from Brazil!
    Astra is amazing!
    Thank you for the honesty and respect!
    It is already in the repository again!!!

  17. Am a big fan of Astra and have been using them for years – used them on blogs, portfolio websites, agency and etc. I know this is a big blow but there’s sure to be a come back..

    I think now is the time your Content Writer will need to work by updating your Social Media pages, groups and blogs section on what Users should expect from this update.

    Astra users are panicking but you can educate them – what it is affected and what will not be affected. Currently working on a web project but hoping to write an article on that too soon. But i think your team would be in the best position to give full details

    1. Hello Tunde,

      We understand what our users might be going through. But, the facts were already discussed on the Trac.

      We agree it was a mistake and regret doing that. In the meanwhile, you can read this detailed article that explains what exactly happened.
      
      Please feel free to write to us if you have any further doubts.

  18. It’s good that you realised you made a mistake but how can you add your own affiliate links without any of users consent? To be honest I won’t trust Astra themes in future.

    1. We agree we made a mistake and apologize for the same.

      But, I’d like to mention that this hasn’t affected the security of your website and we didn’t intend to cheat anyone. I’d recommend you to read this article to know more about what exactly happened.

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