If you’ve been following the latest WordPress theme news lately, you may have heard of two WordPress themes and the controversy between them: Kadence theme vs Blocksy theme.
In case you haven’t heard of either of these themes, they’re two incredible Gutenberg-ready themes that are loaded with customization options that each have loyal fanbases.
What’s the drama between Kadence and Blocksy? Well, a particular YouTuber in the WordPress space made allegations that the Kadence theme completely copied the Blocksy theme and that users should stop supporting the Kadence team and instead support the Blocksy team.
The can of worms was opened when the main developer of the Blocksy theme claimed that Kadence copied Blocksy in a public statement within the Blocksy Facebook Community.
Since then, multiple people have begun pointing fingers at each other and chaos has ensued (welcome to 2021).
Keep in mind that when you point a finger, you have three fingers pointing back at you. 😉
So, did the Kadence theme copy the Blocksy theme, or is it the other way around? I’m here to tell you the real truth between these two themes and let you decide for yourself.
Follow the Kadence vs Blocksy controversy guide below to jump around as you need:
Start Blogging 101 is reader-supported. If you purchase through a link on my site, I may earn a commission. Disclosure Policy
Who are you to speak on the Kadence vs Blocksy controversy?
First and foremost, I want to explain who I am and why I’m more qualified to speak on the Kadence and Blocksy issue than nearly everyone else (other than the developers of both themes and a few select others).
My name is Jake and I am the founder of this blog, Start Blogging 101.
I am an affiliate for both of the WordPress themes mentioned in this article, Kadence and Blocksy.
I have written very in-depth reviews for both themes: Kadence Theme Review and Blocksy Theme Review.
I have used both themes extensively for many months to learn the intricacies between both themes.
Meaning, I haven’t watched a 15-minute YouTube video and instantly believed that I knew everything there is to know about the similarities or differences between Blocksy vs Kadence.
I’ve actually used the themes for months on sites and projects.
I have over 8 years of experience as a software test engineer.
I have been in multiple talks with both of the lead developers for each theme: Ben who is the creator of the Kadence theme and Sergiu who is the creator of the Blocksy theme (along with Andrei).
I am featured on the main Kadence theme website and I was asked to write documentation for the Blocksy theme due to the knowledge I have of the theme (although it never happened).
With all of that said, I hope that you’ll agree that I have extensive knowledge of both the Kadence and Blocksy themes.
Also, I hope that you’ll agree that the information above means I come from an unbiased point of view as I have zero exclusive ties with either theme.
In fact, I have recommended both the Kadence theme and the Blocksy theme to individuals based on their needs.
Why? Because if you actually spent any amount of time looking into what each theme offers, you’ll find that the Kadence and Blocksy themes are quite different in how they implement features for the future of what’s to come in WordPress.
Did you catch that? The Kadence theme and Blocksy theme are actually quite different when you dig underneath the surface (more on that later).
Both the Kadence and Blocksy themes are fantastic WordPress themes and you should do your own research on what you feel is best suited for you.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Did Kadence copy Blocksy?
The main reason I’m writing this article to share the truth with you about whether Kadence copied Blocksy or not is because of a YouTube video that was released by a more well-known person in the WordPress space.
In the video, the creator shows side-by-side comparisons between the Kadence and Blocksy themes and shows example after example of how Kadence looks “identical” to Blocksy.
He repeatedly insinuates that Kadence copied Blocksy.
Now, I won’t be linking to the video because I personally don’t believe in sharing content that blatantly misleads people or content that hasn’t been well-researched beforehand.
**Update: The video has been taken down after only being up for about 24 hours due to its inaccuracies, which was the right thing to do.
There’s a reason that the term “fake news” became so big over the past few years. It’s because fake news is everywhere, even in the WordPress world. 😉
So, is the YouTube video true? Did Kadence copy Blocksy?
NO. The Kadence theme did not copy Blocksy.
But you’re here for proof, right?
Let me list out a number of truths between the Blocksy vs Kadence controversy:
1. Kadence and Blocksy’s codebases are completely different
I understand that the vast majority of people reading this don’t understand code or know how to dig down and that’s fine.
As I said prior, I have over 8 years of experience as a software test engineer where I have exhaustively tested software applications and analyzed code.
The truth of the matter is, the codebases used to create both the Kadence theme and the Blocksy theme are completely different.
So different, in fact, that the Kadence theme doesn’t have a single line of code that is identical to Blocksy.
Yes, you heard that correctly.
There is zero shared code between the Kadence and Blocksy themes.
In other words, that’s like a company building an airplane and then another company coming along and building an airplane, but they can’t use a single identical material as the first company.
When you looked at those two completed airplanes, would they look similar? Sure, they’re both airplanes.
They both have wings, they both have engines or propellors, and the shape of the airplanes would look similar.
But if you dug into how the airplanes were built, you would find that both airplanes used completely different materials to build them.
Would you sit there and claim that airplane #2 is an exact copy of airplane #1? No sensible person would.
2. Kadence and Blocksy are both licensed under the GPL
This is a very important point to make.
In order to develop WordPress themes that are used by the public, you must understand the GNU General Public License (GPL).
Kadence, Blocksy, and any theme that is offered in the wordpress.org repository must be 100% GPL compliant, including CSS and image files.
For anyone wanting to learn more about “copying” within WordPress, you should search “WordPress GPL.”
For a quick overview, the GPL acts as a “Bill of Rights” for software and establishes the following four freedoms which are spelled out on this page:
- Freedom to run the program for any purpose.
- Freedom to study how the program works and to change it, so it performs computing as you wish.
- Freedom to redistribute copies, so you can help your neighbor.
- Freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions, giving the community a chance to benefit from your changes.
What does this mean?
This means that if Kadence had taken Blocksy’s code or received inspiration from Blocksy (or if Blocksy got inspiration from Kadence), it would be 100% legal to do through the GPL.
Have you taken a hard look at some of the top WordPress themes such as Kadence, Blocksy, Astra, Neve, or GeneratePress?
They all more or less look the same and have very similar looking controls.
Many of the features from each of those themes were inspired by previous WordPress themes, and yes, that even includes Kadence and Blocksy.
One more thing… Have you ever heard of WordPress themes offering a white label option?
When a theme offers a white label option, it basically allows individuals or agencies to take the theme as their own and put their own “branding” on it to make it look like the individual or agency is the one that created the theme.
Isn’t that the very definition of “copying” a theme? You’re taking a theme, changing all of the branding to your own, and then claiming it as your own.
If it weren’t for the open nature of WordPress, white labeling wouldn’t even be possible.
With all of this being said, as I mentioned in #1, there is no shared code between Kadence and Blocksy, so GPL doesn’t even need to be talked about in this situation.
3. Concepts aren’t original, but how you implement them can be
Some other arguments that people are making are along the lines of “Kadence copied Blocksy’s global color palette” or “Kadence’s layout options look similar” or “Kadence has alignment buttons just like Blocksy does.”
Let me first say something.
The “concepts” of all these these features are not original ideas.
Do you think the Blocksy developers were the first people in the world to think of the concept of a global color palette? No.
Do you think the developer of Kadence, Ben, was the first person to think about adding custom title backgrounds for archive pages? No.
Do you think the Blocksy developers were the first people to think up the idea of a drag and drop header builder on a website? Not at all. Other WordPress themes had it before Blocksy.
Not to mention, other website building solutions such as Wix have had this for years. And someone long before that had the idea for it.
The point I’m trying to make is that the actual concepts of basically any feature within the Kadence or Blocksy themes are not original at all.
They’re merely ideas that someone else had in the past turned into reality with some code.
That being said, as a coder, the way you decide to implement a certain feature can be original.
So, the way that the Blocksy developers created their global color palette with five colors and how they coded it, that’s something you would know (by analyzing code) if someone copied.
Or, the way that Kadence decided to implement hooks in their theme. All the code involved with that was Ben’s way of implementing it.
But, as I mentioned in #1, the codebases between Kadence and Blocksy are completely different and, therefore, you can’t say that Kadence copied Blocksy just because there are some similar features within each WordPress theme.
Kadence is built using many of the Gutenberg controls that are native to WordPress and many other themes are doing the same thing, hence why many popular WordPress themes have similar looking customizers.
4. “Inspiration” is found within business every day
For this section, I ask that you all take your blinders off for a minute as I try to put things into perspective here.
I’ve certainly been guilty in the past of having blinders on in many situations and not seeing a situation for what it is.
I know many reading this will say “but Blocksy had this feature, this feature, and this feature before Kadence and then Kadence added it so they’re just copying.”
And, for every one who says that, I can name just as many features that Kadence had months before Blocksy did.
The point of the matter is… WHO CARES?
It doesn’t matter which theme had which feature first because many of the features were in other WordPress themes well before Blocksy and Kadence were even released.
Speaking of that, you remember that YouTube video where the creator called Kadence a copycat and a fraud?
He spent a good 5 minutes of his video naming off every single Kadence Pro feature and how almost all of them were exact replicas of Blocksy’s Pro features.
My favorite part was the Mega Menu settings of both Kadence and Blocksy. He showed a side-by-side comparison of the Mega Menu settings and claimed that the only difference that Kadence did was add an extra column so Kadence must have blatantly copied Blocksy.
Kadence Mega Menu Settings:
Blocksy Mega Menu Settings:
Want to know the funniest part of all of that?
Kadence released all of those Pro features 2.5 months before Blocksy did.
Blocksy didn’t release their Pro features until Black Friday of 2020 and Kadence had all of those Pro features released within their theme 2.5 months prior.
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that it would be literally impossible for Kadence to “copy” something that came out in the future.
So the whole time he was sitting there slandering Kadence for ripping off of Blocksy’s mega menu and Pro features, he should have been talking about how Blocksy got their inspiration from Kadence.
Oh, the irony.
However, am I going to sit here and say that Blocksy “copied” Kadence? No, because I’m a mature adult. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
And, Kadence hasn’t once called any theme out for “copying” any of their innovative features.
Be like Kadence. Take the high road always.
Thus, before you go believing everything you see on the internet, please do your own research and make decisions for yourself.
That includes my own writing and content. If I say something that is inaccurate, please let me know (in a nice manner please!). I always want to make sure I’m portraying the most accurate information that I can.
So, when others are bickering about whether Kadence copied Blocksy or Blocksy copied Kadence, who’s right?
Well, no one is.
The fact of the matter is, “inspiration” is found within business every single day.
If you live in the US, consumers benefit from the free market in which we reside.
That’s the absolute beauty of capitalism.
Do you think there are new business models created every single day that work 100% of the time? Nope, not at all.
You take something that’s working, you put your own spin on it and make it original to you, and make it even better than it was before.
When this happens, we (the consumers) win because it forces continuous improvements and better products to be pushed out each month.
This is what has happened between Apple and Google for years. If you look at iPhones vs Android phones, you’ll see “inspiration” that both sides got with every single release.
The same holds true for Blocksy or Kadence or Astra or GeneratePress or basically any popular WordPress theme out there.
I have very comprehensive comparison posts between Astra vs Kadence and Kadence vs GeneratePress for anyone looking to learn more.
Astra 3.0 was just released with a new header builder and, by code standards, that is actually a very close replica to Blocksy’s header builder.
Yet, I don’t see anyone making a scene about Astra copying Blocksy. (Please don’t do that, I’m just trying to make a point.)
5. Kadence vs Blocksy Drama Analogy
I believe that, in order to see something from a more unbiased point of view, it many times helps to create a real-life analogy to compare it to.
When people ask, “Did Blocksy copy Kadence?” or “Did Kadence copy Blocksy?”, let’s swap WordPress themes with pickup trucks.
Imagine, for a second, that there are two pickup trucks sitting there before you, a Ford F-150 and a Chevy Silverado.
They’re both pearl white, parked there, with the sun glaring off of them.
You’re sitting there in a lawn chair sipping on a beverage with sunglasses on peering at the Ford, then the Chevy, and back to the Ford again.
Now the question is, “Did Ford copy Chevrolet?”
If you asked a bunch of die-hard Chevrolet fans this, they may get out their pitchforks and say, “Ford copied everything from the Silverado and put it into their F-150!”
However, say the question is, “Did Chevrolet copy Ford?”
If you asked a bunch of die-hard Ford fans this, they may get out their pitchforks and say, “Chevy copied everything from the F-150 and put it into their Chevrolet!”
But the truth of the matter is, no one would be right.
Why? Because from an outsider’s perspective with very little knowledge of the two pickup trucks, they may say the trucks are copies of each other.
They’re both pickup trucks, they both look similar, they’re both pearl white, they both drive, they both have engines, and so much more.
However, if you had actually used both the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado, you would realize that they both adhere to a specific set of users.
As you went beyond the surface of the trucks, you would begin making some crazy discoveries.
Both of the engines (the codebase of both the Blocksy and Kadence theme) are completely different in how they’re built.
One of the trucks (Kadence) is more lightweight than the other truck (Blocksy), so users may find that as a perk.
Or, the truck that isn’t as lightweight may have more towing capacity and lots of features (Blocksy) that certain users love.
The most important part is that both these trucks (themes) have pros and cons that pertains to certain users and you, as the user, have to decide which truck (theme) is best for you.
If both trucks were actually identical replicas, there wouldn’t be two successful businesses creating each one. What would be the point?
One thing I will say is that the companies and the people who are the most successful are the ones who put their heads down, eliminate distractions, and mind their own business.
The successful ones are too busy working on innovating and improving their products as best as they can.
The successful ones are NOT the ones making false claims trying to degrade another person or company to bring them down.
Kadence (Ben, specifically) has remained a class act throughout this entire fiasco and I tip my hat to him.
All in all, let’s take a look at some lessons we can all take away from this Kadence vs Blocksy drama situation:
- If you open a can of worms, you have to be the one to put them back in.
- You shouldn’t trust everything you see or read on the internet. Do your own research first.
- The Kadence theme did not copy the Blocksy theme.
- If you’re going to claim the Kadence theme DID copy Blocksy, you must also acknowledge features that Kadence had first that later came to Blocksy.
- Concepts aren’t original, but how you implement them can be.
- “Inspiration” is found within business every day.
- If you want to be successful, take the high road always.
- WordPress themes are like pickup trucks. (kinda)
Until next time,
Join the Community
Join the completely free WordPress Without Page Builders by StartBlogging101 Facebook Group and connect with an awesome community of rockstar individuals who are passionate about building fast, profitable WordPress sites to grow their businesses. Come say hi! 👋
Thank you for a positive contribution to our WordPress community. I appreciate the detailed and timely article. Nicely done.
Scott coming in clutch with the first comment! Haha thanks much, I really appreciate you stopping by. The WordPress community has always been an extremely supportive and positive community and I want it to stay that way by dispelling any lies.
Extremely well stated. As a lead developer of over 30 years, including web development since 1998 and WordPress since 2006, I can verify what you are saying and wholeheartedly agree with it. I used to like the maker of the original hatchet job, but as a result of his video, I have unsubscribed from his web site and his youtube channel and will never watch another of his videos. I think my 2 main problems with his kadence vs. blocksy video is that he is flat out lying on many of his comparisons, but to make it worse, he doesn’t even have the integrity to let people know up front that he is a blocksy affiliate. I am not one to advocate for legal solutions, but in this case, I hope Kadence sues the pants off him for slander. The gentleman who made the rebuttal video I have known for a while and have followed for a while. He always lets people know how he is affiliated with a product he reviews and he is definitely not above criticizing a product he generally likes, if he thinks something about the product can be improved. Either that or he creates his own plugin. lol. Software development is a field I love and I have been programming since 1980, when I was 14. I programmed on some of the original Apples, as well as the Wang 2200 PC (the truly first PC), and the TRS-80, Commodore, and others. While others were playing games, I was writing them. Look at some of the games back in the early 1980’s. A perfect example are the games Defender, and Stargate. Extremely similar, with a few additional features. Nobody whined or sued. It is how you get better software, by improving on the older models. Again, excellent blog post.
Wow, you have quite the résumé, Russ! That’s so awesome that you have programmed on some of the original Apples and so many other machines. It’s honestly really nice to be able to have a developer such as yourself understand the situation. Speaking of the original YouTube video, it has already been taken down which was the correct thing for him to do, so that’s good news for everyone. Plus, as you mentioned, we could list “similarities” found in nearly every niche of products out there. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!
Jake, I believe that you copied my analogy of Apple and Google, which I brought up in a conversation on the topic in one of the FB groups. Or should I check who was the first to do it? 😉
Thank you for the balanced write-up. Some good points in there. It would be interesting to read (or watch) your comparison of the two themes and what use cases you think they are best suited for if you had to choose one of them for a project. Cheers!
Michael, did I? I didn’t even see your analogy in one of the FB groups. 😂 In all seriousness, I started writing about Apple and Android phones back in 2014 on my tech blog, so that’s another topic I’m pretty passionate about.
I do agree that an in-depth comparison between Blocksy vs Kadence features would be good to make at some point so others can know all the pros and cons of each theme. Although I have a ton of work planned and in progress for this site and my channel, so we’ll see 🙂 I appreciate you leaving a comment. Cheers!
Great commentary well presented. I didn’t see the said video but can come to the same conclusion based on your analysis.
Thanks for the comment, John! Glad you enjoyed it.
Jake, can you comment on what seems to be the hidden heart of this issue — the large and often hidden or only partially disclosed financial relationships between high-profile WordPress influencers and the products they aggressively recommend?
And the ways these influencers may sometimes put pressure for special deals on developers. while using their clout to favour products based in part on what they personally profit from?
I’m not quite understanding what you’re asking. Are you talking about affiliate sales? Disclosure policies are in place on any website that uses affiliate links and most people, myself included, make it well known that they are affiliates (as I did in this article at the beginning). If you want to discuss this further, feel free to use the contact page to get in touch.
Awesome blog post! Thank you for this deep explanation.
And thank YOU for the awesome comment, Rina!
You forgot to mention an important point IMHO. Even if Ben had taken the full code base, renamed the theme and started to develop on top of it, he had 100% the right to do it. People need to be educated about the GPL.
Hey Zizou. This, 100%. I already did write about GPL in the article, although it was only a couple of lines and so I added a whole section for it. I even mentioned that there is no shared code between Kadence and Blocksy, so GPL doesn’t even need to be discussed. But yes, the vast majority of people following this issue don’t understand the GPL and what it means.
For anyone reading this comment, here is information about GPL themes directly from WordPress:
“The spirit of openness and sharing has thrived within the WordPress community because of fundamental principles that form the core of its license. One way to think of the GPL is as a “Bill of Rights” for software. The GPL establishes the following four freedoms:
This means that you or I could take 100% of the code from any GPL theme, redistribute it, or redistribute copies of your own modified versions 100% legally. It’s the whole core of WordPress and why so many WordPress themes progressively get better.
Hey Jake ! Amazing article. Very well written. Much better than both the controversial videos. Would request you to do a comprehensive comparison of both these themes in an article as well.
Hey there! Thanks much, I appreciate the compliments. I have it on my list of potential posts to write in the future.
Hi Jake, this is a great explanation to a question many have been asking lately, including myself. I would love to see a full comparison between Kadence and Blocksy.
You seem to be very Kadence heavy in your content. Are you affiliated with them by any chance?
Hi Tim! Thanks for stopping by. I’ll add another vote to the request for a full comparison between Kadence and Blocksy. 🙂 As far as being affiliated, I’m just a regular affiliate for both Blocksy and Kadence which I mentioned near the beginning of the article. Basically, anyone who has a website can become a regular affiliate for either of them and many other WordPress themes.
Awesome, Sometime i get confused between both of them.
Well hopefully this helped clear some of the confusion 🙂
How did you put shadows around your images? Can you share a guide to do that? I’m using kadence theme too.
Yes, I posted it in the Start Blogging 101 Facebook Group for you 🙂