5 Jun 2008 11 am eastern

Return of the Son of Moto

Q. i have been using your son of moto [blogger template] to build my blogspots. why do i have to have two empty, wide, side fields? pls take a look at the above reference blog. i have to put all the content in the middle, rather narrow field.

A. We regret that we cannot provide technical support for templates we designed in 2004. Please check Blogger’s Help pages and see if they answer your concerns.

Bastardized, corrupted versions of these templates—versions we did not design, based on our work but not done by us—show up all over the web. We don’t know if these bastardized, corrupted versions are authorized (i.e. we don’t know if the republishers paid a licensing fee to Google, who commissioned the templates in the first place). Millions of people use these templates, or unauthorized hacks of these templates. If you need help changing the templates to suit your needs, kindly contact your service provider.

The original templates are part of the 2004 standards-based redesign of Blogger on which we and others toiled. Google paid the least money any of us had ever received on a web design job. But we would have done the work for free. It was all about creating web-standards-based templates—about getting standards out there in a big way: a way only a product with as many users as Blogger, and an owner as powerfully influential as Google, could assure. Finances were beside the point. The reward was making standards-based stuff for millions of people to use and enjoy.

Four years on, we still get a warm feeling out of having worked on the project. But that’s not all we get. Several times a week, we get e-mails from people who want to alter our templates but lack technical know-how. We regret that we cannot debug the style sheets of the universe.

[tags]moto, son of moto, blogger, templates[/tags]

Filed under: blogger, Blogs and Blogging, Google

19 Responses to “Return of the Son of Moto”

  1. Dave S. said on

    Amen. You know how many times I’ve been tempted to preface any contact form directed at an email address of mine with “I’m (not all that) sorry, but I can’t help you fix a layout problem you probably caused yourself on work I did four years ago now for a company that has more money than god that paid very little at the time”?

    A lot of times, that’s how many.

  2. Daniel Stout said on

    Wait, are you’re saying that buying a copy of Designing With Web Standards doesn’t come with 90-days free telephone support? Wasn’t that why you bought your iPhone in the first place — to do tech support in style?

    One very real problem for developers that I’ve experienced myself is being asked to support, add new features to and fix bugs in other people’s code, long after they’ve left the organization. In those situations, one hopes that the code will be well documented and not, simply put, a mess.

  3. John said on

    I like the barrage of emails after a site has gone live. Its a great design but can we get a flash intro page? Or, the emails stating they have no money, and telling me I can make their site a case history for payment, or add it to my portfolio.

    I have recieved a few of the emails, You worked on this site 7 years ago, and we need you to fix it. They seem shocked that they have to pay for a full redesign and content management system.

  4. Erik V. said on

    @Dave S., If you had a nickel for every request, I’d bet you’d have recouped a good chunk of that Google “discount”!

  5. Steven Clark said on

    The permission question is interesting in all of this, too. If you put up a web design and these commercial templates get illegally (or immorally) onsold as free templates…

    Most of us would never know that they’d been filched without being informed or just stumbling onto them. I wonder how many people discover theft simply from inadvertent enquiries. In this case you intended the templates to be widely available but there must be many examples of the same emails coming in to design agencies from people who weren’t clients at all.

  6. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Steven: I didn’t know they’d been filched. I discovered it when I went looking for them (to create a link to them in this post). I intended my work to be widely available but I didn’t intend ugly hacks of my work to be stupidly available. :)

  7. Martin said on
  8. Don Ulrich said on

    WOW those bastardized versions took me back circa 1955, good times. Jeffrey, you and others who have inspired so many should get together and do insight pieces about the way you write CSS. Perhaps offer a brief proof. Shawn Inman comes to mind along with so many others.

  9. Bahoot? Kersplat! said on

    [...] 03:34PM Quote:Google paid the least money any of us had ever received on a web design job. http://www.zeldman.com/2008/06/05/return-of-the-son-of-moto/ What was that about not being evil? Reply Quote Page 28 of [...]

  10. Douglas Bowman said on

    I didn’t intend ugly hacks of my work to be stupidly available.

    You mean you don’t recognize my handiwork? ;-)

    Well, seriously. I haven’t seen anything this bad yet. I’ve seen ports of our templates to WordPress, LiveJournal, and others. And just last week, I saw an identical copy of Dominey’s Scribe used for a corporate non-blog site. They weren’t even using a CMS that I could tell. But I haven’t seen riffs on any of our template designs that look as bad as this.

    Support emails? Still get ‘em in spades. “Why is my text disappearing?” “How do I make the right column wider?” “Where do I change my profile?”

    But the emails that always pique my interest are the ones that threaten to sue Douglas Bowman and take every penny he owns because “Stopdesign” is supposedly publishing plagiarized or slanderous or harassing content. Yes, Mr. Gonnasuemyass, that’s what I do now with all the time I’m not writing on Stopdesign anymore: I register thousands of Blogger accounts with fake names, choose from any number of free templates designed by God-knows-who, then repost content without any sense of morality. Sounds like a perfectly good use of my time.

    Sigh. I often I wish we had asked Blogger not to include our names and URLs in the template credits.

  11. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Sigh. I often I wish we had asked Blogger not to include our names and URLs in the template credits.

    The good news is, the hacked and ripped-off versions don’t credit us. So we’re only getting support mails from people who use Blogger (I think).

  12. The Daily Report said on

    [...] Return of the Son of Moto We regret that we cannot debug the style sheets of the universe. [...]

  13. krystyn said on

    I know this girl, and she makes templates for a similar CMS, and even though she nicely states on her contact form that she doesn’t offer support for said templates or CMS through her website… EVERYONE EMAILS HER ANYWAY.

    Not that I would know anything about that. It’s just this girl that I know. You don’t know her.

  14. Noel Jackson said on

    It’s the price we all pay as web designers; to see our work bastardized with inquisition. ;)

  15. Mads Pedersen .net - We regret that we cannot debug the style sheets of... said on

    [...] Jun 10th Tue We regret that we cannot debug the style sheets of the universe. — Jeffrey Zeldman: Return of the Son of Moto Powered by [...]

  16. Andy said on

    As an outsider looking in, this post and the ensuing comments dont give me a warm fuzzy feeling. Sounds like I cant even pay you to solve an issue with an original theme you wrote, because it is old and Google only paid you a token amount to promote a sample of your groundbreaking work?

    I understand that we all want to move on and not be tied to the past when we perhaps now consider we weren’t at our best. I can also see what you are saying about not supporting bastardized versions, (I wouldn’t put right any disastrous work that another painter did in the name of making one of my jobs look better) – but there is a nice and not so nice way of saying that, a smart marketing/customer relations way of saying that. Just saying.

  17. HRC said on

    Hi Zeldman,

    I just want to sincerely ‘thank you’ to be able to use your template, thats all.
    I’m glad I am allowed to modify your templates as per my liking, though I haven’t modified it at all. I’d love to replace the apples image in the header with something more appropriate to the theme of the site but I know you don’t help out in that matter.

    I just wrote to say THANK YOU….

    HRC

  18. Jeffrey Zeldman said on

    Dear HRC:

    Thank you very kindly! I appreciate it. :)

  19. Katherine said on

    Hey Zeldman -

    I also wanted to thank you for creating a template that has served my blog well over the last couple of years. I have absolutely no knowledge of creating templates (or even modifying them) – and I haven’t needed to, thanks to the fantastic design you created with Ms Moto.

    I don’t know why people stupidily complain – HELLO, the template is FREE. If you don’t like it, pay someone to make one to your specifications. If you don’t have the money – or are just simply cheap – then deal. But don’t complain to Zeldman (or anyone else) for problems you encounter with their FREE templates. You didn’t design it, you didn’t pay for it, so get over it.

    And thanks again – you’ve done a major service for the blogging community on Blogger. Without you – and your awesome Ms Moto – I would never have been able to publish a blog. So I thank you – and so do my 3 readers. :)

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