Looks like the official site for WordPress got caught gaming search engines, specifically Google. Not illegal — despite some talk about violating Google’s Terms of Service — but annoying.

The situation has now turned to questions of great ethical import, such as “How open do open source projects need to be about their funding” and “What responsibility does an open source community have in this situation?” You know, the kinds of questions open source folks agonize about every few weeks.

I understand the Open Source movement has a set of beliefs that go along with it, but how do these discussions turn into the Serious Questions every time something happens? Isn’t the whole point that if you don’t like the way a project runs, you can a) not contribute to it, b) harass it in open forums, or c) fork it? Do we expect every open source project that produces a tool we like to be run according to saintly values, or do we acknowledge that the people who run them may not always do so to our satisfaction? (If you want to see a good example, hang out on the Mozillazine boards and watch as random folks complain about Mozilla projects.)

For now, I like WordPress as a tool, and I hope the latest hubbub won’t hurt development. I may not be appreciative of what they were doing — “Hey, I use those search engines!” — but then again , since they don’t claim it as far as I know, I’m not going to hold them to a higher standard than, say, Toyota. (The Corolla version of which I like to drive.) So, On WordPress, On Firefox, On all of you other argumentative Open Source programs that just plain work better!

Update: Matt Mullenweg responds briefly, stuck on wi-fi at an airport in Florence, Italy. Lousy thing to have happen on your vacation.

Update, again: Matt responds at length.