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WordPress plugging a commercial product?

WordPress plugging a commercial product?

The official post announcing the launch of WP 2.0 has been posted by Matt Mullenweg at the WordPress Blog, but there is something that should be noted, and before I say what I’m about to say I really, really do hope Matt and the team go really well with Automattic and I can think of no better people more deserving that to make some money from the blogosphere, but here we go:

Is it right that an essentially commercial service: the Askimet anti-spam plugin, is bundled with WordPress.

Sure, its got a GPL license and is free for personal use, but for anyone else its a paid service in which Automattic profits, and Automattic is committed to assisting in the development and management of WordPress itself, but it’s still going to make a profit right? If WordPress is so famed for the fact it is a free blogging tool, is this not a change from the past? it it a good change? Sure, its not as harsh as the MT 3.0 changes were, but its still a move in a commercial direction that SixApart came under fire for, and if I’m to be fair it’s only fair that we now ask the same thing about WordPress.

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  • I certainly don’t see anything malicious in Matt’s actions. However, I do think Matt should be a bit more transparent about the nature of Akismet / Automattic.

  • And I suppose Sim that’s the point I was trying to make, in a long winded, rambling fashion :-) Matt’s one of the good guys, but its certainly a change that is worth noting and perhaps discussing.

  • Hey Duncan,

    I’m only 42, so I don’t quite go back far enough to remember the true hippies and communes, but I haven’t heard such an outcry against profit since then.

    I don’t mean just you or just this post, but a portion of bloggers seem to think that the world should never charge for anything, nobody should ever make a profit and the exchange of dollars for info or service is a bad thing.

    Here’s the $64,000 question….

    Why is that ?

  • I am not sure about the whole Akismet thing yet. It might be worth just setting up an advertising supported version of it. The client is GPL and server software to do spam classification already exists in the open domain.

  • Mike
    this is probably why it was so hard to write this post, because I’m not one against anyone making money, I can even remember arguning with people 3 years ago when all these people where jumping up and down over advertising on blogs (remember when ppl where saying they’d stop reading blogs if they included ads?), and I know where you are coming from in relation to the no-money fiends.

    I’m not in this case saying that the Askimet thing is particularly a bad thing…indeed I’ve heard its a fine service, but its being presented in an Open source, community supported blogging platform, potentially this is a change in tone from the WordPress team. Again, whether this is bad or not is open for discussion, but it is still a change.

    I noticed Elliots comment as well, you’ll note the WP-Hashcash link just below the comments :-) it certainly does the job for me

  • Wasn’t trying to be critical of you, Duncan, I just don’t get why a lot of bloggers are so anti-profit.

    Seems to be a trait that I see and hear in a lot of them.

    Non-existant in football players, baseball players, etc. But comes out in bloggers.

    I’m just trying to find out what disease they have caught so I can get an immunization for it. Don’t ever want to catch that nasty bug !

    I’m going to devote 2006 to making money from my efforts and save the volunteerism for after I have retired from the rat race.

    I want to go on record as having said I love WP and if I have to pay for a few add-ons, I’ll still be far ahead of what it was worth.

    I’ll even say this, if I have to pay for add-ons along with paying for WP, I’m still in and happy with what they give me and allow me to do.

  • You can’t really compare WP/Automattic to MT/6A. WordPress is licensed in GNU General Public License, whereas MT’s source was never released with an open source license.

    Even if Matt and co decided to go commercial, anyone can pick up a recent release of WordPress and *fork*. WP itself is not that complicated (less than 40k lines of PHP for WP2). If Matt can fork b2 to turn into WP, any knowledgeable PHP developer can do the same (provided that there’s enough community support).

    However, as it has already been mentioned previously, there’s nothing wrong profiting from even open source projects. If they have a way for it — good for them!

  • WordPress is a good blogging platform, but I see it taking a direction similar to Movable Type / Six Apart. It’ll remain free, but I see them getting more and more involved with commercial enterprises.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, as long as it doesn’t mean a slow decay in the quality of their product.

  • I’ve learned to love WP too, but I get it via Fantastico, so I pay for it through my host. Is then Matt’s former work at CNET wrong (by implication)? Or did it facilitate his public-spirited stuff at WP? Was his off-page CSS “prank” justified in that it brought us WP 2.0? Is Google a benefactor of mankind, or a giant profit-making machine?

    There are usually at least two answers to these questions, but the bottom line is that everyone has to eat. Dave Winer just sold for 2 million bucks. There’s no such thing as a saint in this business. The business of the Internet is business. Let’s not get theological ideas about it.

  • not to fan the flames, but isn’t this really just spyware? a bundled application that phones home to a commercial server (that hopefully doesn’t still give write access to link spammers) in exchange for use of the application? lots of people choose to do this with kazaa, looks like wordpress is just the same thing. at least typekey didn’t read your visitor’s comments without telling them.

    i hope automattic knows what they’re doing.

  • It’s not spyware by any means – The Akismet plugin isn’t activated by default in WP 2.0, and you have to sign up for a key to use it at all. Nobody uses it without knowingly doing so.

    I’m happy to see anti-comment-spam tools getting serious, although I personally am sticking with Elliot’s WP-Hashcash until the spammers defeat it…

  • Just to clarify here, TypeKey can’t “read” anybody’s comments — it’s just an authentication system, so no content goes through it.

    And any system that’s not enabled by default and requires a token to run seems like, well, a convenience for most people without having to alarm the small percentage of people who like to fret about such things. I’d like to see the legal translation of the privacy policy, but Matt and team say that’s coming shortly, which seems good enough for now.

  • If you don’t want to use Akismet, just remove the plugin after you install. And for that matter, if you do make money on your blog, use it and skip the coffee and muffin at Starbucks one day a month.

  • The issue truly at question here is whether it’s ethical for the lead developer of WordPress to package with this user/developer-supported software a plugin that can generate profit for himself or his company.

    I ask what the chance is for any other plugin developer to have a plugin for their commercial service incorporated with WordPress; software to which any other developer’s direct contribution has been without pay.

  • On the other hand, a lot of this is just jealousy. If I had to resources to start a little web service like this and make people pay me for, I’d be thrilled. So people who see Matt able to make quick bucks are naturally jealous. Personally, I think this is quite reasonable.

  • Elliot
    It might be jealousy for some, but I can say that it isn’t for me because I really think Matt deserves to make a quid, its just the change of tone in offering what is in part a commercial service in WordPress. Matt has explained a fair bit of it in his post and I’m happy with that, although Owen makes a good point with this
    “I ask what the chance is for any other plugin developer to have a plugin for their commercial service incorporated with WordPress; software to which any other developer’s direct contribution has been without pay”

    Lots of people have contributed to WordPress, is it then opened up to others? a reasonable question I would have thought.

  • Matt might not have had the resources to provide Akismet if not for the work that everyone has contributed to WordPress.

    Sure, I can unbundle the plugin from WordPress and offer me own archvie, or I could create my own version of the plugin with my own paid service, but it’s not the version that will be downlosded 500k times because it’s attached to the WordPress name.

  • Just a question for clarification… if you earn money on your WP site, do you have to pay for a commercial license to use the akismet plugin?

  • Yes – whereas if you use Spam Karma 2 (which is better in my opinion) you don’t, AND you won’t have to let a commercial service (which has a disturbing level of attachment to human-rights-abusing Yahoo) read all your comments either!

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