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I had a colleague create a new theme and while doing so he copied an old theme and made the changes necessary. Now, in many of the files, there are functions that contain the old theme name in the function call instead of the new theme name. Is this parameter used in WordPress for anything and I should therefore change it, or is it OK to leave it with the old theme name?

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You can leave it or change it, it doesn't matter as long as the theme files use the correct handle for the function. I would choose one name and convert the second version so all use the same name to keep it simple.

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I believe you're referring to the text domain used for internationalization. It should be safe to leave as-is.

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