WordPress creator reckons it’d be ‘nice’ for us to go bust

So, as you may know we’re running a WordPress MU and BuddyPress plugin contest this year – like we did last year – and for which we’re stumping up $1000, just like we are for the corresponding regular WordPress plugin contest in 2009 (as we also did in 2008).

All plugins have to be freely available, have to be 100% GPL compatible and – in short – be completely sweet with the WP rules.

But, apparently that’s just no good – according to WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg – he’d like it if our support and sponsorship of these events actually led to our core business WPMU DEV Premium failing:

twattcommentYou see, in case you didn’t already know WPMU DEV Premium is a paid membership site where we release plugins, themes and other stuff for WordPress MU, BuddyPress and bbPress… in fact, a lot of them are compatible with regular WordPress too but we don’t make a big hoohaw out of that.

Now, I could go on about how it started (and continues) as a completely free site at WPMUDEV.org – or I could go on about how everything we do is 100% GPL, or I could go on about WordCamps we’ve arranged and put on or any of the other ‘giving back’ things we’ve done.

But I won’t, because evidently Matt doesn’t give a fuck.

And anyway, that’s not the reason why I think we run a legitimate, quality, business that most companies would be happy to have running alongside their core offerings.

At WPMU DEV Premium we provide people with hugely complicated plugins and massively functional themes… all of which we constantly maintain, and most of which have actually come out of members requests!

We work our arses off ourselves and employ multiple WP developers and theme designers to bring our members not just ‘what I can spare you in my free time’ but genuine, high quality and massively supported functionality.

We do all of this at an absolute fraction of the cost it’d be to hire someone to do it (believe me, if you wanted Incsub to develop something like a Supporter plugin for you from scratch we’d probably start at USD25k and up from there), and we sustain that through membership fees.

We enhance, drive forward and enable WordPress MU and BuddyPress sites… if you don’t believe us ask our members.

We’re providing a valuable service… when was the last time your saw the founders or CEOs of Apple or Microsoft wishing that a company that sells software that runs on PCs or Macs… would fail!

But I guess, at the end of the day, I shouldn’t give a fuck either as  what Matt wants isn’t actually going to happen, because it takes multiple people working full-time to provide what we do.

If people really want to put in years of work, to spite us or to conform to some screwed up idea of how open source software should work, then I guess they can.

But I don’t think that’s ‘possible’… let alone ‘nice’.

Comments (67)

  1. Matt is getting a little full of himself lately with this and is going overboard. Many people benefit from contests like this as new and interesting plugins are developed. He needs to just chill a little and understand the entire community is what makes WP successful and some people need to make a little money ot continue their support.

  2. Wow! I guess I’m used to rants, but this is interesting. I agree with all the points about running a business, but I don’t know why (based on the short excerpt I read) that you assume Matt wants your business to fail.

    I agree, it sounds as if he wants an open source alternative for most (all stuff), but there are different models where people pay for support and customization without the business failing. Frankly, given the complexity of most of this stuff, that’s not a bad model.

    “Fail” is a bit strong for my money, but I understand the visceral reaction. I would love free, but I’d prefer quality if I had to choose. Not to mention, paid software has the promise of updates, bug fixes and support. None of which is stable in the vast majority of plugins that are GPL. Kindness of the heart projects run by one or two developers tend to have an untimely death that is not worth it for someone trying to create a ongoing business/project with that software.

    I’ve gladly paid for support or actual software if it’s core to my application. Paying for ancillary stuff is a pain and is probably better off through donations and such.

    My 2 cents

  3. I don’t know if enough of the politics and the contests to comment on that, but I do know that without WPMU DEV Premium my business model won’t exist.

    If only I found WPMU DEV Premium 5 months ago instead of 6 weeks ago, I would have saved myself several thousands of dollars of software development costs.

    IMHO, WPMU and Buddypress is only half complete without WPMU Dev Premium.

  4. I can understand James defensivness, WPMU is no doubt one of his more profitable businesses, but I think Matt has a valid point in wanting to see more open (and free) alternatives to the functionality available via any paid outlet, wpmu-premium included.

    Microsoft Office does just fine even though there are plenty of free alternatives out there… but the fact remains there ARE free alternatives. In the case of WPMU-Premium in a lot of instances this isn’t the case.

    Obviously there is a market for this “premium” outlet as evidenced by that fact that their seems to be an active community here but I know I for one find the cost of entry extremely prohibative.

    A great deal of WPMU ventures tend to be low budget/low return, with the exception of the GigaOm’s and EduBlog’s of the world, which is a huge factor in peoples decision to use WPMU in the first place.

    The walled garden approach at WPMU-Premium just doesn’t feel particularly well atuned to the open nature of WordPress and if, as you say, the plugins are “hugely complicated” and “massively functional” then perhaps paid support would be a more justifiable and equally profitable approach.

    Just my two cents… now here’s hoping this doesn’t degenerate into too much of a flame war! (Duck and Cover!!!)

  5. It seems that in Matt’s perfect world, services such as WPMUdev would be unnecessary. Mine too, actually.

    However, I live in a world of compromise. For me, paying a few hundred bucks/yr is a very fair trade for what is essentially membership in a technology co-op: A bunch of us pool our funds to hire top-notch programmers to build timely solutions to challenges we share — for much less than any of us could afford individually. Additionally, we get the benefit of each other’s experiences putting these solutions into action in varied, yet similar, environments — and, of course, we also share in the fixes, tweaks, and advice that result.

    Finally, the resulting code is released GPL. Those outside the co-op eventually can share in the solutions, though they will miss the opportunity for input before and during development. Oh, and the developers get paid reasonably for their time, attention, and talent.

    Count me among those who is very happy with the arrangement.

    Christopher Price
    ChristopherPrice.com

  6. On the other side of things, you have to understand that the WordPress community, and one core WordPress values is open GL. I sometimes get frustrated when plugins that I need are not free, but, developers want to get paid so I understand. I’m big a fan of what WPMU and Incsub have done, so keep it up.

  7. It would be a sad day should WPMU dev premium cease to exist. Because it would would be the end of my service offerings to a number of online communities. Communities which thoroughly enjoy the functionality’s and addons that the plugins which WPMU dev premium create.

    “Matt – you’ve created a great thing, its called WordPress and the derivatives thereof. Now let the world run with it because who knows where it will end up!”

  8. “WPMU and Buddypress is only half complete without WPMU Dev Premium”

    Therein lies the problem. WordPress is not half-complete without subscribing to something for hundreds of dollars primarily because the people in its community (including Automattic) push improvements, fixes, and crucial features into the core software or existing plugins. When that development is instead channeled behind a paywall, regardless of license, the community suffers, as MU has.

    I would like for MU and BuddyPress to be fully complete.

    Tanya, I was a little confused of being called “full of myself” by someone with 113 photos of themselves taken in a mirror in various states of undress on their homepage. Talk about understatement! Each of your photos is a cloaked affiliate link to a dating site called “Fling.” Are you a new type of spambot?

  9. I think that for the sake of this discussion and for the success of WordPress (MU) it could help to make a separation between emotions/feelings/.. and added value. The reactions and opinions are quite understandable when on relates them to these two aspects.

    For me, the very nature of WordPress allows for a competitive environment. We should allow everyone to do what they think is best. And allow the community to decide. A bottom up approach.

    I am a member of this community and because the free components can’t provide the value that I need, I turned to those that can. That isn’t wrong, or good, it is just how it works.

    Last but not least: I would hate to see WordPress community members doing to each other what they are doing now. In stead we should focus on our own core competences and ask ourselves what we can do to enhance our own added value.

    Cheers, Friso.

  10. Matt,

    How exactly you believe someone (or something) suffers?

    Regarding ‘development is instead channeled behind a paywall, regardless of license’ – can’t agree with this statement at all.
    GPL doesn’t mean free, does it? In Preamble we see:
    “When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for them if you wish)”

    So where’s the problem?
    Some people write the code and contribute it. I’m pretty sure that 99% of the code is written in their free time – holidays, weekends, after-work time.
    And people like guys at WPMUDEV Premium write LOTS of code, implement LOTS of solutions, offer plenty of stuff we need.
    Don’t you think they should be rewarded? Not because their names are James and Andrew, but ’cause they dedicate a LOT of time to create amazing stuff and provide valuable support.

    I haven’t seen anyone else providing that amount of work and support for free, have you? How do you think, why?
    Simply because people need to pay their bills, right? So, they need cash, right?
    Do I have to continue? :)

    Besides that, nobody forces people to purchase premium memberships.
    Go ahead, write your own Supporter plugin, save your 100/200/whatever bucks. Or save your week/month/whatever of time and come get it for $.
    No, you can’t save both – time and $ – just in case you wanted to ask ;)

    Just my opinion, of course… But I dare to be pretty sure I can judge what business IS and what is ISN’T.

    Oh, and I liked Tanya’s photos :))

  11. I’ll let you duke it out with Tanya yourself… maybe she’s some sort of punishment for Akismet… who knows. If she is a spambot though… those guys have sure got AI down to pat wouldn’t you say.

    More importantly though I simply don’t agree with you regarding WP / WPMU / BuddyPress development – but that’s another post for another time – today it’s just refreshing to hear you clearly admit that you think we’re the reason that MU (and BuddyPress) – in your view – sucks… and that you intend to do something about it.

    I’d be interested to know how you intend to go about that and what improvements you think will come out of it that will, as you say, ‘complete’ it.

    In my view what we offer are plugins – in the most literal sense – virtually none of which would ever be considered for core development in WPMU.

    And WPMU seems to have pretty much all the hooks and functionality that we could want from it…

    … so what’s the problem?

    Maybe it’s your fundamentalist (dare I say dictatorial) viewpoint that the only people who should profit by WordPress development are consultants… while you swan about feeling holier than thou sitting on an 9 figure company that relies on the software… acting like you have no commercial interest.

    ‘Barely for profit’… kiss my arse, that’s not what you told me.

  12. James, Friso suggested avoiding the personal attacks (fundamentalist, dictatorial, full of himself) and I’d agree. Also please don’t extrapolate out my views to polarizing positions I’d never take, like that WPMU.org should fail, that I have no commercial interests, or that I want you to go bust.

    I think there have been things that would have been good contributions. Leveraging HyperDB instead of redoing it for Multi-DB, or contribute to Plugin Commander (or sitewide plugins!) instead of doing your own thing. You guys did a plugin for changing default site description, something Donncha had to redo and committed a few days ago, same for setting default theme or first comment. (It’s obviously valid for core.) You wrote a proprietary manual instead of contributing to the Codex. An avatars system that had to be written from scratch for BuddyPress. A friend system instead of contributing to BuddyPress. You forked “who sees ads” into your own version behind the paywall instead of sending the improvements for MU to Ozh.

    Nothing here is illegal, or unethical, or wrong — it’s all completely valid and within your rights.

    But try to understand my point of view from the community side — several of MU’s most active users’ livelihoods are now dependent on their work and improvements not being shared or available to the general public. MU already suffers from a paucity of outside contribution, it’s been a tragedy of the commons. MU runs just as many blogs as regular WordPress does, but doesn’t even get a tenth of the contribution from outside folks, which is why it’s being discontinued. (My huge thanks to people who have contributed!)

    Please note I’m not saying these things as an attack or a personal judgment on you, just an observation of how a particular business model has played out in our mini-OS ecosystem.

  13. I usually stay out of these types of conversations but I think that it is worth mentioning that I have benefited tremendously from the offerings of WPMUDEV.ORG and without the products they have made available, I would not have been able to deploy solutions as quickly and effectively as I have been able to recently.

    As a business owner, I understand that not everything in life is free. though I wish everything related to WordPress in any way, shape or form were free (or donation based, etc.) I know that a ton of time, talent and love goes into producing the, frankly, awesome plug-ins, themes and tutorials that WPMUDEV.ORG produce, and feel that those individuals should be compensated.

    To play devil’s advocate, I can understand Ma.tt’s perspective. These projects are open source, and free to use, and it makes sense that they desire for the add-ons and extensions to be likewise. But we are in a free market internet society here, and if someone can turn a profit, offering enhancements to something that is already as awesome as WordPress MU – I say go for it. Surly Ma.tt does not object to offerings by Theme Forest and Studio Press, which primaryly offer design, not core modifications.

  14. “Surly Ma.tt does not object to offerings by Theme Forest and Studio Press, which primaryly offer design, not core modifications”

    The difference that should be kept in mind here is that “Premium” themes are equeled or far exceeded by freely available themes. There are currently 6,703 predominantly free plugins (I say predominently as some are hooked into paid or subscription based services) in the WordPress extend repository… how many WPMU plugin’s are there?

    Also as I said above I fully understand James defending his business model but I have not seen any reference from Matt or anybody else actually stating the desire for anybody’s paid/premium WordPress related business to fail. He is simply stating a desire for there to be community supported, widely available alternatives to premium features that in many cases simply aren’t affordable (or justifiable) to everyone.

    Matt has always been a strong advocate in the WordPress community and I don’t think it is at all productive to start name calling or playing he said she said. Lets all be friends!

    We live in a world where, even when software is not, speech remains free and everyone is entitled to their opinion, Matt and James (and me) included.

  15. @Sarah The talk is of the merge possibly happening as part of the 3.0 release but I’m pretty sure nothing has actually been cast in stone. There are no doubt a lot of un-known variables to contend with!

  16. Matt, I preferred it when you were being snide… at least that was more honest.

    As for dictatorial – that’s what you get called when you decide, without consultation or information, to dramatically alter or change something.

    And as regards ‘full of yourself’… you travel the world keynoting wordcamps, basking in adulation and hypothesizing about starting banks… ahem.

    Likewise though feel free to call me divisive, over the top, dramatic or polarizing (oh… you did)… ‘cos hands up, I guess I kinda am. I can be a right pain in the arse, so can you, let’s not pretend that there’s no personal animosity here or try to claim the high ground morally… it’s much more boring that way.

    Anyway, on a meatier front out of 100 offerings you’ve found about 4 that relate – possibly – to core and others, like MultiDB, where you are just making stuff up… it was developed way before HyperDB and does a different thing… what can we do?

    As for our friends plugin, it’s a valid alternative and Andy wasn’t interested when we contacted him in working with us on BuddyPress, and as for the codex, all I can say is that I offered!

    http://mu.wordpress.org/blog/

    You personally flat out ignored me :/

    Also I don’t agree with you from a community side… as per the comments on this post I don’t think the community is with you on this one (Toni isn’t ‘the community’ btw ;) and as regards contributions to MU… how do you explain a similar lack of contribution to bbpress and BuddyPress?

    Let me have a succinct go at it… WordPress worked initially because it was of such significant value to individuals, it carried on working as people started to do independent commercial work with it and it continues to blossom today because Automattic makes a heap out of it and can sponsor and support that development.

    MU, bbPress and BuddyPress are all much less focused on individual betterment, they don’t have that direct ‘need’ and their uses are more in commercial (rather than personal) spaces.

    Maybe there are also reasons regarding how the development structure was set up from the start that have negatively impacted them too – I’ve got nothing but respect for Donncha (wish I could say the same about Sam and Andy) but he was kinda left out in the cold on his own… by you… in my opinion.

    And, on a purely empirical front, MU had literally years to be contributed to prior to Premium – and it didn’t happen – and there’s no equivalent to Premium for bbPress or BuddyPress… and yet they suffer from similar issues.

    I don’t think MU will be hurt by being merged with WP (calling it ‘discontinued’ is such an ahole thing to say, subtle, not) but I also don’t think that you’ll suddenly see a blossoming of contributions to it, plugins available for it or ‘completeness’.

  17. Two dictators walk into a bar.
    One says let’s work together and we can prosper from various things.
    The other says I don’t like your vision of how this will play out. I’m going to do it my way.
    The two dictators hang out in the same bar, drink together and need each other.

    How will they leave the bar?

  18. OK, ladies and gentlemen

    I feel that emotions calmed down a bit here, maybe it’s time for constructive discussion?

    Not 100% sure if I fully follow Matt’s point of view, but looks like the main stumbling stone here is differentiation between freely contributed and commercial stuff.

    Indeed, it may feel like contributors and ‘premiums’ have chosen slightly different routes. And yes, this isn’t what we’d like to see in the future.
    But I disagree with Matt’s comparisons: friends/messaging/communities bulk of plugins *isn’t* a competitor of BuddyPress.
    I personally use both, and I use friends/messaging/communities when I simply don’t need BP’s bells and whistles.

    Avatars – can’t judge ‘coz I don’t use that plugin :)

    HyperDB vs MultiDB – being all honest, I don’t follow. Where’s the ‘stumbling stone’ here?

    Plugin Commander (or sitewide plugins) – emm, is there a premium plugin I’m not aware of? Or are we talking about Upgrades/Supporter/Pay-to-blog premium plugins here?
    If yes – I disagree again, they are *not* alternatives. And again, yes, I used Plugin Commander and I used Upgrades/Supporter/Pay-to-blog where it had sense to. These are *different* things serving different needs.

    Now, I mentioned constructive discussion, didn’t I?
    I’m pretty sure I already saw this idea posted somewhere, but still: why can’t we have a single roadmap, development plan and codebase for WP and WPMU? Yes, we can :)
    Now, roadmap mainly pertains the core, codebase pertains existing plugins and their compatibility with both WP and WPMU, and development plan is a playground.
    What I mean by the latter – we use development plan to discuss and create features we’d like to have (plugins, themes, whatever else outside the core). Anyone can post to ‘wishlist’, anyone can pick anything from wishlist and create it – either for free, or for money.
    The only limitation (and bear of responsibility): if John picks a feature and releases it for free – Bill (and others) *do not* release a commercial alternative but contribute to John’s code if they want/are able to.
    And if Jack picks a feature and makes it commercial – the rest of us don’t rush making free alternatives :)

    Yes, Jack will be responsible for qualitative support, up-to-date versions of his plugin, etc. Yes, we’ll have to work out public agreements and regulations for all that. But I’d say that such a way is the only one focused on results.
    What do you guys think?

  19. “The only limitation (and bear of responsibility): if John picks a feature and releases it for free – Bill (and others) *do not* release a commercial alternative but contribute to John’s code if they want/are able to.”

    Interesting, but is actually illegal, in the US and Europe anyway (Google Competition policy, barriers to entry and Control of resources.

  20. I’m not a lawyer, so my opinion isn’t going to be an expert one on this issue.

    What I read about competition policy/competition law (in case I’m right treating both as the same thing) is: ‘… protecting the interests of consumers (consumer welfare) and ensuring that entrepreneurs have an opportunity to compete in the market economy…’

    So, if we take my scheme, what prevents competition?
    A rule that tells you not to monkey someone’s else work? Try to thing of this as of copyright (or patent, or whatever else element of intellectual property).
    Go ahead and compete – create another theme, pick another feature and code it (and then sell it if you want), why not?

    IMHO, competition is good only when regulated, otherwise it turns into absolute abuse of intellectual property and drives itself far away from business ethics.

    OK, so now we get competition vs intellectual property? No, I don’t think so. This market is free to enter if you will… But the work that others did is protected. That’s simply it.

    A bit off-topic. Maybe you guys know what CRE Loaded osCommerce is. Google for it :) Yup, you’ll see a free version and a few commercial options. And yes, osCommerce, all its modules and stuff are GPL.
    Now, some time ago there appeared 273loaded – a 99.9% copy of all CRE’s versions, but all absolutely free. The only thing changed was the name…
    Can’t find CRE’s reaction posted on the forums, but I clearly remember the statement about ‘respecting competition’ but ‘distributing without any added value’.

  21. If your rules say “If john creates a plugin that implements this feature (free or not) so if anyone else wants to create a plugin that implements this feature (free or not) then they can’t and have to contribute to john’s instead” then that is preventing “mike” from entering the market with a competing plugin that implements the same feature.

    Copyright and patents don’t apply here. Copyright will protect “John’s” code so “mike” can’t steal it, a patent will prevent “mike” from implementing the feature in exactly the same way. But if “mike” is prevented from even creating a competing feature plugin (free or not) then I’m afraid that is fundamentally wrong (and a barrier to mikes entry into the market).

    What if I don’t like someones implementation of a feature but don’t want to work with them? What If I think their code is messy and want to start from scratch? What if I want / need a feature and the original author doesn’t want to let me include that code in “their” plugin?

    The idea is not only bad and unworkable, it will stagnate development around a system. I mean, why would I bother trying to get in on a project when I can go elsewhere and implement my feature on a platform with less restrictive rules? Where, as a developer, I will be welcomed by the “community” not judged because I dared to re-implement “john’s” feature.

    Apologies if I sound a bit “ranty”, but these type of approaches were things are supposedly done for the “good of the community” really annoy me.

    The “community” benefits from a free market system. The breadth of theme and plugins available for WordPress are a prime example of this. Anyone can create a theme or plugin that implements any feature / look for WordPress and the “community” benefits from having such a wide range to choose from.

    Don’t like that twitter plugin? Try this one, or this one or that one. Not too fussed on that magazine theme, well here are 10 more to pick from.

    It’s just a pity that some people are now doing their best to try to kill that community because they don’t like people being able to feed themselves.

    If a particular plugin / theme was important enough to someone and they didn’t want to have to buy an already existing paid one (or an existing free one didn’t do everything they wanted), then let them create one or ask someone to do it for them and then release it for free. Let the market decide which will survive, don’t try to force people to work to your ideals and release everything for free “because that’s for the good of the community” whilst you sit around and charge 10 times as much just for support.

    If people are not willing to pay for the premium plugins and suport then they wouldn’t exist. The fact that they are willing to do so should highlight that there is a need for this type of service that isn’t being fulfilled elsewhere. So either compete or be quiet (I originally had some other phrase here, but toned it down).

  22. There is so much discussion about “Contribution”. Isn’t that, by definition of Open Source, supposed to be voluntary?

    Its a symbiotic relationship. WPmu core gets contributions, user community gets enhancements, Automattic leverages it with investors.
    Besides, some make money off of Paid Support: Premium WPmu, Automattic…Some others via plugin development. If you are contributing or working on code, it becomes part of your skill set. What’s wrong in making a living out of it if it doesn’t violate anything. In fact, most open source folks do it, and some have turned it into great companies.

    There are some outliers in every situation. In this case, WPmu premium is being called so. But whats preventing Automattic from subscribing to Premium and distributing their code on the WordPress.org site? Its after all GPL, isn’t it? This is where paid support comes in. Folks are willing to pay for intelligent support without having to endure a discussion board.

    When mu is merged into WP, WP will end up becoming WPmu of sorts. But I doubt whether the mu part will get much more contribution (when it becomes a part of plain WP) than what it is already getting now. Maybe mu just doesn’t have the need or critical mass that we have been assuming all along, and maybe Automattic should analyze that aspect.

  23. wpmudev is a thorn in the side of wordpress.

    Firstly, what you make works and the service you provide is affordable and valuable. I’m writing this in reaction to my exposure to premium. over the past month, and to this thread.

    Whatever benefits we all receive by ‘pooling’ resources to pay for the development and support of plugins is lost in the fragmented duplication of solutions. “what can we do?” – commit code to wordpress.com where it is easy to find, where bugs are more likely to be found and discussed, and adopt an issue tracking system for the community as a whole. Code should be committed especially if it is an update to an *existing module* (wsa, domain, etc), there is no excuse for not doing this.

    The sense of entitlement, misplaced privileges found in the legalities of open source, and the insistence that what is going on is ok and your/our ‘right’ just baffles me. There is simply little respect for the non-paying wordpress forums, and quite frankly the community as whole outside of the walled garden. This what comes as the biggest surprise to me – if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were planning all along to fork the code and start your own distribution. No trademark search in TESS by the way, so go ahead.. you’ve got the domain(s).

    Heres one of many comments that show this, though often its the lack of comment, or the curt ‘our way’ response that best shows this point: http://premium.wpmudev.org/forums/topic/migrating-500-blogs-100000-user-accounts-from-mu-to-buddypress#post-12454 – its a tone thing, for lack of a specific example. Possibly why matt’s point gets lost in the code/gnu, it just feels ‘inappropriate’.

    The official forums are a mess because of fragmentation and avoidance, not the other way around.

    On top of that, the non-existent support for summer of code also brings up concerns as to how much of a pillar you are from a development standpoint (as in respected by your peers): http://codex.wordpress.org/GSoC2009#Mentors

    Why do a contest at the same time as SoC and not closely integrate it?
    Why do a contest during a codesprint for wordpress 2.9 and not set clear goals that mirror those existing needs?
    http://wordpress.org/extend/ideas/?show=popular
    (yes, there should be smaller verticals taken into consideration when doing feature requests – how about starting that as a working group on codex?)

    If the dev team at WPMUDEV were able to fund involvement in the support forums at wordpress.org through the money made using gpl code, or by charging per-ticket fees, or just Yoast-style… if the wpmu forums (both official and premium) were folded into the main wordpress forum… and if wpmudev were made actually free, in every sense of the word – yes, that would be BETTER.

    The collective attitudes at wpmudev, snide public remarks, and the refusal to provide GPL code in a manner thats free *and* _free_ **and** central (ie wordpress.org) simply reinforces the point matt rightly makes.

    Shut it down.

    Begrudgingly dealing with a necessary evil for now. Wondering why this took so long..

    -n

    ps. I propose that ma.tt create a premium service offering on wordpress.org. He should create a list of preferred service providers, pair them with module developers who need help, and let the community at large pay for support where all code is committed back to the plugin directly. Managed fixes and improvements, as well as a ‘certified’ list of ‘good’ plugins. Effectively, merge guru/elance/odesk with the popular list and an issue tracker.

  24. I am a complete newbie to open source code and now open source project politics. My concern and point of view is that WPMU end up going the way of Mambo & Joomla which based in the energy and negativity from both James and Matt seems to the direction this discussion is heading.

    I choose WordPress for it’s ease of use and speed of development from the community. (I have no php coding experience). I chose WPMU because it was the only solution that would work for my site. This was about 9 months ago.

    I choose to become a WPMUDEV.org member out of necessity. The necessity was due to many of the core features used at WordPress.com not being available to me as a WPMU user. Lacking the capability to develop them on my own, I turned to the only place that offered me solutions to my problems – WPMUDEV.ORG which at the time had direct links as the plugin repository from mu.wordpress.org – as a newbie I thought both were the same organization…

    Here’s the rub, Matt seems to want to discontinue WPMU – siting the community’s lack of contribution. James on the other hand has a business model that was not, IMO purely open-source model, but is getting the job done and provides me with time saving plugins that work.

    We are all developing businesses and business models that work and provide us with a profit. Businesses that work find and fill the need of a specific market niche. WordPress offers a brilliant core that works and is easy to use (after the learning curve). WPMU.org / WPMUDEV.org has solving the problems of a very small niche of the WP community and it seems that we are happy that this resource is available.

    My request is this: Keep WPMU and WP in the same community and not allow a splintering into a separate. This serves and honors the community that has chosen WordPress as or CMS/Blogging Platform.

    Work out the differences and keep WordPress and WPMU as a wordpress project. Otherwise I feel that the community suffers.

  25. Simon comments brought up a point that stuck in my mind and pardon my ignorance on this topic…

    It’s my understanding that WordPress.com runs a modified version of WPMU. Hence it’s presence in wordpress.org. To the best of my knowledge, the plugins, features and options that have developed for wordpress.com are not available to the WPMU community.

    Is this accurate or have I missed something?

  26. Oh boy. Another one of those, lets spend our valuable time working for free. For the greater good discussions.

    This is not how the world works. Find an opportunity, exploit it, make money.
    Food aint going to magically appear on the dinner table.
    Kids school fund isnt going to just appear.
    Car wont pay itself.

  27. To the best of my knowledge, the plugins, features and options that have developed for wordpress.com are not available to the WPMU community.

    Is this accurate or have I missed something?

    That’s correct and has been pointed out to Matt on a number of occasions. Matt has a habit of criticizing others for what they do while he and the other employees of Automattic the one who’s doing it.

    A perfect example of this is Matt’s “no personal attacks” while it’s his corporate policy to allow them and other such things like racist slurs and the like. He has said on a number of occasions that he’s had no problems with such but as soon as you make a poor comment about him, he has a problem with it.

    Matt doesn’t need to get off his high horse. He needs to go away.

  28. After all this back and forth, it appears the end result is that WPMU will merge with WP.org and WPMU will benefit from greater integration, simplicity and development. Paid plugins/themes will continue to proliferate and the GPL world will continue to thrive.

    Is there anyone against that? Are we circle-jerking here?

  29. I’d like to make two public requests:

    * Could you please not use the theme on wpmudev.org that looks exactly like the official site, it’s confusing to people. Your plugin directory looks exactly like the real one.

    * Could you (or your employees) please stop spamming the main forums with links the paywall plugins, some examples:

    http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/topic/14661#post-84586
    http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/topic/14607#post-84322

    People have been complaining that you’re not contributing anything to the discussion beyond a link to your paid product or service, which is not allowed on the wordpress.org forums. You may want to try the wp-pro mailing list, though.

  30. Hey Matt

    Any objection to these posts?:

    http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/topic/14397?replies=6
    http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/topic/14391?replies=7
    http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/topic/14254?replies=4
    http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/topic/14135?replies=2
    http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/topic/13340?replies=4

    Hell, just go here http://mu.wordpress.org/forums/profile/86225 and view the 21 pages of posts to the mu forums I, as an individual, have made in support of YOUR software.

    Oh, and BTW the theme used on WPMUDEV is based on a publicly available GPL WordPress theme (i will track down the URL for you if you so wish), so you may want to go after the theme author rather than the user.

    You really are, in my eyes, making yourself look more and more like a petulant child.

  31. Barry, I don’t see anything wrong with those posts. Why do you ask?

    “Oh, and BTW the theme used on WPMUDEV is based on a publicly available GPL WordPress theme (i will track down the URL for you if you so wish), so you may want to go after the theme author rather than the user.”

    I didn’t realize that and I’m happy to contact the theme author too, but the wpmudev.org guys should know better regardless of who designed it or whether it’s a theme or not.

  32. “I didn’t realize that and I’m happy to contact the theme author too, but the wpmudev.org guys should know better regardless of who designed it or whether it’s a theme or not.”

    Hmm, well maybe you should have done some research before bitching? Hey?

    “Barry, I don’t see anything wrong with those posts. Why do you ask?”

    Because in the comment above you’ve just accused me of using YOUR forum solely for promoting things.

  33. Barry, my request was for the site, not against the theme. Regardless of who designed the theme, it’s confusing to users that wpmudev.org is using it. For the forum threads, it’s not my personal forum, in fact I’m almost never on it, but it belongs to the community and several folks from it contacted me, one of the threads was even tagged modlook.

    James, my request stands. I’m requesting on behalf of WordPress.org, the site whose design it resembles, not anything Automattic owns or runs.

  34. Hi Matt, makes me wonder why Toni was contacting me about it then – being as he’s CEO of Automattic and hasn’t to my knowledge contributed anything per se to the codebase / community.

    But regardless of that we’ll consider both your requests and make our decisions in due course.

  35. @Matt, tell you what, why not just remove all my posts to your forum. It’s not as if I’m ever going to go back there again, so just wipe me off.

    I know you are not there that often, in fact I have called you out on that on the forum when you’ve turned up, bitched about something, and then disappeared without justifying your comments.

    In fact the word “Illegal” was used in one of your comments, but when called on it you mysteriously disappeared. Hmmm.

  36. wordpress.org and it’s free platform taught me how to code php, I knew nothing of php before it and by taking it apart to make it do what I wanted, I learned a little about how a function works. The plugins on wordpress.org taught me some more on how to code so I could write my own. It took 2 years but I got a good grounding in php albeit based on ‘contributed’ plugins that cost nothing and dare I say it, full of code that had no responsibility to make money and therefore not A grade material (not all of them!, just some).

    I love wordpress because it opened a door to a whole new world where I can lose 8 hours in a blink of an eye in front of the keyboard seeing if I can “just make this tag look like this” or “wonder if I could use that hook to…”

    I love wpmu.org too because it gave me the sources to write ‘better’ code, I remember taking apart a few plugins on wpmu.org to learn how to use a class instead of a hodgepodge of functions. I still get that big head feeling when I think of how much I have learned for php programming since discovering wpmu.org, so much so that I entered the contest.

    I won it! (the peoples choice section) and it got me a premium.wpmudev.org account which got me a platform with specific plugins like supporter, premium themes, premium plugins and forums populated with premium members which allowed me to improve my plugin code even more and finally have a site that could act as a portal to the tens of thousands of registered users, hundreds of thousands of blogs that use the plugin (freely) and the (literally) millions of bloggers that benefit from a link back to their site when they comment.

    Now, I have something that just might make a little money. Not enough to pay back the hours I put in over the past years developing it I’m sure but enough to keep me at the keyboard and keep me releasing improvements to my free plugins and dreaming of a time when I could say, “yes, I am a company who makes money providing free stuff for free and even better stuff for a little bit of money” (um, like wordpress.com?)

    Having premium plugins to take apart that are made by people that are held accountable to the throngs of paid subscribers has done more for my code than any night school or big fat books that cost many pounds (the money £ and weight lbs). I can honestly say that I couldn’t have got the education and ‘real’ coding insights like that from the wordpress.org forums. They’re useful for questions and the like but kudos can only go so far to motivate a volunteer, cash on the other hand keeps the answers flowing even when I’m too stupid to check a setting properly (yes, I too suffer from dumb setting blindess)

    to me:

    Volunteer = “I’ll answer when I can, if I get time”
    paid = “here’s your answer, can I help more?”

    There’s a place for me in both free and premium, the free for the masses. The people that just want to blog and share their experiences with the other masses and premium for those that want to take a little bit further and maybe make a little money for their efforts.

    Anyone (IMHO) who has need for the premium quality plugins are pretty much going to be charging someone somewhere for what they’re using them for, it’s only fair that some of that money goes to the people that made them in the first place.

    As far as I can see, just about all the plugins I use can be found for free, they’re all GPL. It’s the service, updates and responsibility to do something if they go wrong that I would be paying for. When/if mu gets merged with WP I’m sure there’ll still be plenty of scope for premium services, I’m quite happy to help pay the bills of a team that continues to churn out premium quality code and then take responsibility for it and support it, properly and professionally.

    I donated to plugin authors, I bought premium themes using the developer license even for single site installs all on the wordpress.org platform. I made sites for free for friends who then told their boss so I made sites for them in exchange for money using all of the above so I support free software and also get paid with premium software.

    You could say my heart is with .org and my wallet with dev. :)

    in summary, if I didn’t have a premium account, I would have had to spend thousands and thousands on custom code and consultancy fees just to provide the free service at ComLuv (my site) which probably would have meant that it wouldn’t exist right now (or I’d be charging hundreds a year per user for it).

    I can understand the ‘sting’ of seeing someone making money on something you created to be free, I feel it when I see bloggers selling lists of commentluv enabled sites but instead of crying about it, I made my code and site better to allow users a choice. In essence, the competition made me/my code/my site better and I think it’s the same with WordPress +- Mu

  37. I really think that all this discussion about making money with something that’s free will go nowhere.

    Linux is free software and a lot of people and some big companies are making real money out of it.
    Also, Redhat enterprise is not a free operating system but you have the free alternatives like CentOS and Fedora because someone just forked the code.

    This is Open source.
    This is why it was “invented”, for people to do whatever they want with the software: use it for personal projects, use for commercial projects, build something on top of it, fork it and make it your own, rebrand it, and even sell it.

    You just have to release the code, for free or not!

    This is Freedom, this is what Open Source is!

    So, I see no problems here and no fundamentals for all this discussion!

  38. Could someone explain how MultiDB and HyperDB are different?

    Obviously I assume they’re coded differently and MultiDB appeared first, but could you explain how it “does a different thing?”

    Trying to decide between the two for a new wpmu installation.

    Thanks.

  39. Just an FYI that I think supports Matt’s argument. I came to MU with a need looking for a solution-wanting to run a half dozen blogs from the same UI. Because WPMUDEV is so prevalent in the search engines etc. I kept running into WPMUDEV thinking it WAS WPMU. So I’d hunt around looking for the information I needed, but keep bumping my head up against all this stuff you have to pay for. It didn’t FEEL like WP! So I went away, confused. I think you guys would have a much BETTER business model by branding yourself AWAY from WP.

  40. Interesting that I didn’t even know their url was mu.WordPress.org. Like I said when I first found wpmu.org I thought it WAS mu.WordPress.org. But yeah, maybe they should establish some branding by getting their own theme and domain name!

  41. I would love, love, love for you guys to have distinctive branding and naming that wasn’t so derivative of WordPress and didn’t confuse consumers. I’ve met a number of people who have told me they’ve even bought things from you guys because they thought it was us or an official thing.

  42. So, to cut to the chase …

    Should we stop working on developing WPMU sites, and use WP instead?

    Will there be a way to convert a WPMU site to:

    a) a similar type site, with multiple blogs; or
    b) a regular wordpress site?

    thanks a zill.

    cruth

Participate