Paul Scrivens and I agree on something (or the coming end of Movable Type)

Filed as News on July 15, 2006 4:41 pm

I’m not sure that Paul Scrivens and I have ever agreed on much of anything – until I read his post at Wisdump about Six Apart’s release of Movable Type 3.3.

Wisdump was actually the first place I saw any news about the Movable Type release until much later, when I finally saw Six Apart’s blog post about the release.

I’ve been a long time user of Movable Type. I was using it for my personal blog way back in the day. When we decided to rename our company to BlogMedia and focus our efforts on the blogging world, Movable Type was our first choice of platform. To this day, it powers some of our main sites, including Blog Network Watch and BloggerJobs. We’ll probably even move up to v3.31 once it’s out in the public long enough for bugs to be identified.

But I think that Six Apart has lost the blog software wars to WordPress.

Sure, maybe WordPress doesn’t have the enterprise features that Movable Type has. And perhaps it’s not quite as integrated into some other applications that could appeal to businesses.

But, where else can you find as many readymade themes and plugins as you can for WordPress. And designing on it is as simple as pie.

So much so that the last two blogs that we launched – Gadget Bloggers and Mobility Watch are powered by WordPress. And I’m not so sure that we won’t convert some of our Movable Type sites over to WordPress in the days to come either.

And why in the world hasn’t Mena updated her blog?

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  1. By David Krug posted on July 15, 2006 at 4:56 pm
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    I’m actually going to play devils advocate here. I love Vox.

  2. By Jay Allen posted on July 15, 2006 at 7:50 pm
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    OK, I’ll bite. Let’s just say, strictly for the sake of argument, that WordPress has 100% market share in the blog software market.

    Got that?

    That would mean that less than 1/1000 of %1 of people in the world are using WordPress.

    If the “weblog wars” (who makes this crap up?) exist at all — other than in the minds of a few who have a dog in that fight yet are too far removed to understand the realities of the market and ecosystem — they are far far from over.

    Honestly, I’m not sure why anyone would WANT such a thing to be over. Competition is extremely healthy for the consumer. Plus, what in the hell would you people write about?

  3. By Haasim posted on July 15, 2006 at 8:15 pm
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    Jay, you seem kind of bitter.

    A lot of people felt betrayed by MT when they became a REAL company. There is a certain amount of fun in speculating about the demise of MT since the company fucked themselves so throughly. But I don’t have any loyalty for anyone who makes a piece of software. And if/when someone releases a free blog platform that is better than WordPress I will switch.

    The “blog software wars” may involve thousands rather than millions, but that doesn’t make it any less newsworthy—especially for a site that is about blogging.

  4. By Jay Allen posted on July 15, 2006 at 9:09 pm
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    “Jay, you seem kind of bitter.”

    No. Just tired of the silliness. I’m Movable Type product manager and yet I’m friends with Matt Mullenweg. I cheer his successes and he cheers ours. I like the Blogger guys too, or at least whoever is still left. This is a tight knit community of people who are professional, passionate, creative and have mutual respect for each others work.

    What I’m trying to say is that the “weblog wars” is very much in the mind of the followers.

  5. By mrG posted on July 15, 2006 at 10:03 pm
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    I’m with Jay’s original line: This is a ‘war’ amongs such a teenie sliver of people that a good bar-room brawl is far more likely to have more global repercussions. Besides, people shouldn’t need to know what blogwear they have any more than they need to know whether their notebook is Hilroy or Blueline, or whether the last subway they rode was a Bombarier or a Mitsubushi. Who friggin’ cares, so long as it gets you where you’re going?

    fwiw, Firefox now ‘commands’ 16% of another microscopic sliver of humanity with more idle time than sense about their world.

  6. By Matt posted on July 16, 2006 at 7:12 am
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    A War? I never used those terms – and I’m really not trying to provoke a fight here.

    However, I think Movable Type has lost its way. And, it’s completely lost the innovation war to WordPress.

    And nothing showed that more than the complete lack of response in the blogosphere to the release of Movable Type 3.3 Hell, no one’s even talking about it. Except to point out that no one is talking about it.

    Matt

  7. By Su posted on July 16, 2006 at 12:52 pm
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    Is this the same Matt who said “But I think that Six Apart has lost the blog software wars to WordPress.” in the fourth paragraph?

    But, anyway: “A War? I never used those terms […] lost the innovation war to WordPress

    *blink*

    I thought it had been fairly well established that nobody ever talks about MT. Of course, your mileage may vary. Numbers are fun! Especially when you don’t actually see the numbers.

    Never mind that, because you don’t actually define what “nobody talking” represents. Is it Technorati, maybe? This way, or this way? Or is it Google? That’s kind of a lot of not talking.
    I’m sure you can come up with some resource that says, “MT what?” besides the one I’ve already given you, but first ask yourself who’s point you’d really be proving.

    It also kinda sucks that we have no way of indexing who’s “not” talking, huh? I mean, I was personally responsible for four 3.31 installs/upgrades within an hour of it being released. What about Krug, Haasim and MRG above? If someone doesn’t post to their site, but does comment on others’, how do we count them as another (no)body talking? It’s an interesting problem, no?

    Also, what is this Way I keeps hearing about? It seems terribly important.

  8. By Michael Martine posted on July 16, 2006 at 12:55 pm
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    There are bloggers who have pretty good technical chops that end right at the point of becoming programmers or don’t know as much as others about setting up their servers. I am one of those. Years ago I looked into what was needed to install MT and I totally paled at the task and went with something easier. Perhaps now I could do it, but I’m so down with WP and there doesn’t seem to be anything so compelling from MT that I should switch.

    And yeah, there is no “war.” Just people shoring up their own insecurities by insulting the choices of others. Especially irksome to me are the anti-blogspot snobs. I have seen many excellent blogs that are blogspot-hosted on Blogger, like BLDGBLOG and Bubble Generation Strategies to name two.

  9. By Aaron posted on July 16, 2006 at 1:29 pm
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    “What I’m trying to say is that the “weblog warsâ€? is very much in the mind of the followers.”

    Isn’t that the point. And isn’t that the power of the blog – communication from the grassroots. I’m sorry if MT thinks that it’s an irrelevant conversation, but I as a blogger and follower find it very relevant – which makes it…wait for it… relevant.

    See, the companies don’t get to define relevance. They can try to shape popular opinion, but in the end popular opinion is what counts because, as MT knows from their abysmal licensing move, the populous vote with their feet.

    So, Jay, please keep playing these silly games with yourself. It’s making MT more irrelevant which is a good thing for the blog world.

  10. By Matt posted on July 16, 2006 at 2:31 pm
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    Su,

    Nice of you to show up. I figured you’d be here sooner or later.

    Sure, let’s use Technorati, which is showing a whole 14 links to the press release.

    Here’s the technorati search for WordPress 2.03. 559 total links, including 18 in the last 9 days.

    And yes, I guess I did say wars. Sorry about that – it’s not a war. It’s a business conflict. And Six Apart is losing it.

    Matt

  11. By Su posted on July 16, 2006 at 4:26 pm
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    So nice to be expected.

    The gaping hole in your example(one of them, anyway) is that you’re assuming everybody is going to link the press release. You know, that thing for the press and not the users. The one that’s linked from the about page and nowhere else. But that doesn’t matter, right? Because only 17 people are pointing at the announcement in the news blog, as I linked in my previous comment. No, actually the problem is that you’re assuming everybody is going to link, period. This completely discounts every single person out there who has simply said “3.3x is out,” not to mention those who didn’t say anything at all, but simply went on with their lives(and not in the “I don’t care,” way you want to come back with right now). Which is completely asinine, and you know it.
    You also conveniently ignore the Google link in my comment, which essentially handles this situation. But let’s play the game. Here’s an equivalent Google search for WordPress 2.03. Who’s losing now?
    You even more conveniently ignore my further question about people not posting to their own sites at all. Don’t assume that buzz, or lack thereof, among these blog “reportage” sites is particularly indicative of anything more than the navel-gazing of people who actually use the word blogosphere. Most users simply want to download their software, have it work, and feel absolutely no need to say that a new version’s come out(and link the press release, of course) and tell everyone they’ve upgraded.

    Some random number facts: Removing wordpress .org and .com from a plain search for WordPress cancels out 60million hits. What a difference a wiki makes. Another million go to automattic.com, and another to wordpress.net(which I’m not sure is official.) Just over another million to Technorati(since they’re not actually content producers.)
    Stripping sixapart.com from a Movable Type search results in a drop from 71.8 to 63.4 million. They have other domains that could be removed, also, but when I did that, the results got erratic, even increasing at times, so I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. Like I said: numbers are fun. You can make them do so many things.

  12. By Jay Allen posted on July 16, 2006 at 4:34 pm
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    Sure, let’s use Technorati, which is showing a whole 14 links to the press release. Here’s the technorati search for WordPress 2.03. 559 total links, including 18 in the last 9 days.

    And I would say that counting mentions on the web doesn’t give one a true indication of a products market share or satisfaction level among customers. Movable Type is a mature and stable blogging platform. WordPress is much newer and more rapidly changing. It’s natural for the users of the latter to talk more about the software. Over the last few years, Movable Type users have stopped talking about the software they used because it just works and allows them to do what they are actually online to do.

    What’s more, WordPress’ user base skews far more on the techie side, which is naturally going to draw more posts about the technology.

    And yes, I guess I did say wars. Sorry about that – it’s not a war. It’s a business conflict. And Six Apart is losing it.

    Our interactions with our customers and general health of our business would absolutely indicate otherwise. Movable Type is on a serious upswing. That is not, of course, to the detriment of any other blogging platform because it’s not a zero-sum game.

    That’s the part I’m trying to get across. “Blogging” is small enough that Movable Type, WordPress, TypePad, TextPattern, Vox, LiveJournal, Blogger, etc could ALL wildly succeed, without ever impacting the other…

    There is no spoon. :-)

  13. duncanriley.com » MT isn’t going to die, you’re just not going to see the MT brand as muchJuly 16, 2006 at 10:05 pm
  14. By Duncan posted on July 16, 2006 at 10:18 pm
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    Haasim amd others,
    I guess I’ve moved on from the biterness from the MT 3.0 charging days..although I’d note that no one I was aware of was against the founding of SixApart…indeed if you go through the archive here at the Blog Herald you’ll find it was widely supported…but I digress, I think in part that SixApart gave up on it’s “grassroots” support a long time ago, so to me this is old news, but I would note that the SA team has done a lot over time to mend the damage then caused..but I think in all this debate we are missing the fundamentals of the marketplace that SA is chasing: they have long moved on from being a (basically) free DIY blogging platform in pursuit of profit (and I’d note that I’m not saying this is a bad thing) and in what they focus on now (corporate…Typepad and now Vox) they are going gangbusters. WordPress has already won the so-called “wars”…but only at a personal DIY blogger stage…and at the end of the day, how does a for profit compamy like SA compete with the free WordPress? they can’t, so they focus on their strengths. MT was great code in it’s time and introduced to many of us DIY blogging…it’s just moved on from there and you won’t see it as much anymore in the DIY field…you’ll just seeing it powering TypePad and (most likely) Vox.

  15. By Jay Allen posted on July 17, 2006 at 11:06 am
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    Duncan, much of what you say is true. Six Apart does have a different focus than it did two or three years ago, as does Movable Type. The DIY “hobbyist/prosumer” blogging software market is small right now compared to the need for easy to use hosted services and powerful software. This is why we bought LiveJournal, why we invested in TypePad and created Vox. Each of those three focus on a different type of blogger and all do so very well.

    The focus for Movable Type has indeed shifted from the bloggers like you and I and, I daresay, most other people commenting here. It’s new focus is on what is today a much larger market: small businesses and Enterprises. This is partly an adjustment made company-wide to differentiate our products and tailor them to suit the needs of each type of customer. It’s also obviously a matter of striking while the iron is hot.

    However, this doesn’t mean that we’ve thrown in the towel on trying to delight prosumer DIY bloggers because, again, a large percentage of us who work at Six Apart fit into that category. In fact, as we said in our latest release announcement, the success we’re having in the corporate/enterprise space allows us to offer even more to our prosumer customers: both in terms of development resources, better documentation and even free software (did you see? MT 3.31 is free for personal use).

    As a company, we’re dedicated to making blogging/publishing software for ANYONE who wants to use it. If you feel that Movable Type has shifted focus, it’s only to make sure that we have adequate coverage between the products across those markets. In any case, Movable Type is doing better than ever as a product and as a business and Six Apart is moving forward, as always, in making a long-lasting blogging business which makes products people love.

    The only thing that I would correct in what you wrote is the last sentence. Movable Type doesn’t power TypePad, Vox or LiveJournal. At this point, all three hosted products have extremely scalable, highly tuned codebases that could only be achieved by tightly controlling their environments (servers, webservers, supporting software, etc). With Movable Type, it’s necessary to spend much more time on compatibility than ultimate optimizing in a single envionment because Movable Type can be installed on tens of thousands of different environments. With Movable Type, the tuning is left up to the user (and their consultants) by design. We’ll be offering more advice on this sort of thing in the future to help out.