Beware Padd Solutions

If you stopped by here yesterday (and a record number of you did, just my luck), you may have noticed that the place looked a mess. Here's what happened.

I was using a theme called Rhodiumite, from a company called Padd Solutions. I chose Rhodiumite because I liked the look, and it seemed to be above-board. Alas, it was not.

Padd Solutions includes creepy encrypted code in their themes, which will add hidden links to dating sites and other spammy things to your site. They're skeezy skeezoids who skeeze (hence the rel=nofollow in that first link).

But their themes are really nice. So many users who discover their seedy underbelly choose to just rip out the skeezy code and go on with their business. I contemplated that option myself. Even after the code was removed, however, I was still seeing massive performance issues. Tweeting a single site link to my extremely modest list of twitter followers was enough to put the server 25x over capacity and crash the site.

I'm fairly new to wordpress and even newer to PHP, so it took me a bit to cotton on to the notion that the theme could be responsible. My performance diagnostic tools were telling me that actual download times were normal, and silly me the Django developer, I'm used to a Model-Template-View setup where my site's templates don't do the heavy lifting. After more than a little cussing and some serious thoughts about switching to Django's Mezzanine because then at least I could figure out what was going on under the hood, my friend and partner-in-server-space suggested I try switching themes.

And the problem disappeared immediately.

Or the backend problem did; the front-end problem, which is that I am really choosy and missed my theme, was still around. You know how people say not to grocery-shop while hungry? Don't try to find a new WordPress theme while cranky. Especially not when you like the theme you've got now and want one just like it. So the site looked a mess for several hours while I tried and discarded a dozen or more themes.

For the time being, I'm sticking with this one (WP-Creativix), but this incident has convinced me to go learn PHP. I'll be customizing and editing it as my time and skills permit.

First lesson learned: stay the heck away from Padd Solutions.

Second lesson learned: if your free theme isn't available through WordPress.Org, it may contain malicious code, violate relevant licenses, or be otherwise skeezy. Proceed with caution.

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Posted on October 17, 2012 .