14 Comments


  1. Thanks Jeff, excellent post, I just backed the campaign too, the benefits of this initiative are eruditely communicated by yourself and the VersionControl Team. I would hope the enlightened guys at ManageWP would be very interested in this as well? It can be a fantastic SaaS possibility as well or just a healthy competitor. I wish them every success and will be sharing with the wider community because it is such a well thought through concept. Their web page contains the detail so well worth a look. WP Tavern is a great place for pickup little gems like this, so keep-up the great work :) The GPL is key of course!

    Reply

  2. I always thought post and page revisions in core were adding extra weight to WordPress that wasn’t needed on all sites. I think all revision management should be a plugin like Akismet, where it is officially supported, but not part of core.

    Reply

    1. Right, one of the first things I do for every new site – disable Post Revisions through wp-config.php. For “normal” sites with only few users who write their own content Post Revisions is not worth, knowing how much it will inflate database.

      Reply

      1. I think that’s dumb to disable post revisions. They’ve saved my bacon a few times. Why not just limit the amount to 3 or 5 instead of unlimited by default?

        Reply

        1. I’m not sure why anyone would bother limiting it. Even if you make thousands of revisions to a huge post, we’re still only talking MB of disk space being used. Even with millions of post revisions stored in the database, all core queries are lightning fast.

          Reply

          1. Well, obviously the decision over option was to leave them unlimited since they didn’t bog down a site as much as some people would have you believe. At least that’s why I think they are unlimited out of the box.


  3. Since publishing this article, I’ve come under fire for using the popularity of WP Tavern to force VersionPress to use the GPL. First of all, this is not true. I didn’t force anything. The licensing decision was in their hands all along. I explained to Borek Bernard that they would be shooting themselves in the foot in the WordPress community if they chose not to use the GPL or a compatible license. I also told him influential members of the WordPress community would likely ignore the project and not publicly talk about it.

    I suggested in order to make it easy on everyone, to license it under the GPL or a compatible license but at no point did I use language that was threatening or would force their hand. The email was more a less an explanation of what I’ve observed in the WP community over the past 7 years. Had VersionPress decided to not use GPL or a compatible license, I likely would have deleted the post and that’s the last time I’d publicly promote the project. Myself and several others would have been pretty disappointed since it’s a great project but that was THEIR CHOICE to make.

    I wrote about, witnessed, and participated in many GPL debates, including the infamous Thesis debacle where the threats of lawsuits sprang up. The bottom line is, if you are entering the WordPress product market and don’t use the GPL or a compatible license, then good luck to you because you’ll need it. Matt Mullenweg is a very strong advocate of open source and in particular the GPL and the freedoms it provides.

    His influence spreads far and wide. A great example of this is when ThemeForest authors were banned from speaking, organizing, sponsoring or volunteering in WordCamps which ultimately lead Envato to allow authors the choice to GPL license their themes. What happened to Jake Caputo could happen to anyone else or a business for that matter. It’s interesting to note that was accomplished without any legal threats.

    Basically, you significantly increase your chances of success in the WordPress community by aligning with the GPL or a compatible license. Some would argue that you have no choice but I beg to differ. I can’t force any software developer to decide one way or another but there are a lot of external pressures that point towards going a particular direction. I explained those pressures and influences in the WP community to VersionPress and they ultimately decided it would be in their best interest to be GPL licensed and would give them their best shot at being funded and supported by an influential part of the community.

    Reply

    1. Any conversation/discussion with someone well versed in the WordPress ecosystem would have pointed out the friction a non-gpl compatible license could cause. It makes more commercial sense to adopt something compatible so it’s a good thing to bring awareness to this early in the game. I don’t think they really had put a lot of thought into it yet, as far as the licensing goes. And they got some extra exposure out of this. You’ve done them a favour:)

      Reply

    2. (Merely challenging the status quo of, “we’ve been doing it like this for 10 years so let’s keep doing it.” — and Jeff, don’t be mad.)

      “influential members of the WordPress community would likely ignore the project and not publicly talk about it.”

      So? Celebrity endorsement shouldn’t be leverage for a decision. Plus, I would think anyone who thought something was great would talk about it, because it is was…great.

      “if you are entering the WordPress product market and don’t use the GPL or a compatible license, then good luck to you because you’ll need it.”

      In terms of? Community adoption or being a successful business? I know of 7 figure TF authors. Success comes in all shapes and sizes, but in what context are you advising?

      “A great example …what happened to Jake Caputo could happen to anyone else or a business for that matter.”

      I could be reading this wrong, but, I don’t think that this “victory” should be celebrated? I thought blacklisting smart, hard working people was foolish and counter productive to growth/community.

      “I likely would have deleted the post and that’s the last time I’d publicly promote the project.”

      Is this the official stance of WP Tavern? Filtering to GPL WP news only?

      “Basically, you significantly increase your chances of success in the WordPress community by aligning with the GPL or a compatible license.”

      Again, what is success? Can this be proven? Says who?

      “a lot of external pressures that point towards going a particular direction.”

      Like? Am I getting black balled just for questioning this? Big Brother?

      I’m not picking a side to GPL or not to GPL. All the products we release and continue to release are licensed under GPL.

      My only issue is “falling in line with the norm.” Advising someone or an organization that you have to do it this way or else. I don’t just do things because everyone else is or that’s the way it’s been for a decade.

      I think everything can be poked and prodded.

      Sure, you may end up back in line with everyone else — but at least you tried.

      Reply

      1. There’s a long history around GPL in WordPress and this pressure to conform has come up many times but I don’t think this is about conforming or subjecting one’s business to what a small group of people want / or else. The reason so much importance is put on the GPL is because it is an important component to what protects the freedoms that has made WordPress such a success. Just like you wouldn’t want a bill of rights to be violated, you wouldn’t want to have all kinds of WordPress-based businesses placing their own restrictions, affecting the ecosystem and its userbase in a negative way.

        Besides, as has been said by many people before me, businesses have always had total freedom to create products with their own licensing. Businesses aren’t constrained to using WordPress. If you are going to build for this platform, it’s not a big ask to work in congruency with the platform. If your ideology doesn’t align with that, might as well pick a different platform, what is the point otherwise.

        The reason prominent voices like the Tavern put a strong preference for GPL compliant products is simple, it’s just more productive to put energy into companies that think in a WP-aligned way, because the overarching goal is to make WP and the community even better.

        Reply

        1. Yup, I’ve been around long enough to see it. Again, not questioning the validity or success one might (or might not) get aligning goals with WordPress and GPL. Everything my team produces is under GPL.

          I’m questioning this belief of “powers that be” and if you don’t align — you won’t be heard, talked about or taken seriously.

          Reply

      2. Ok, before I answer some of the points you’ve made and additional questions, let’s go over what happens if you decide to promote, encourage, write about, link to, sell, build into client work, non GPL or GPL compatible WordPress products.

        You can’t organize, speak, or volunteer at WordCamps.

        Businesses or WordPress developer shops that use or implement non GPL or compatible products into their clients sites can not be listed on http://directory.codepoet.com/ (yes I know they are no longer adding to the directory) or any other official WordPress directory showcasing development agencies.

        Any site that has articles published in the WordPress dashboard feed can not actively promote, link to, review, or encourage people towards non GPL or compatible products. However, if a non-GPL plugin or theme is making headlines because of its license, chances are I’ll write about it but without linking to the product in question. The rules of the dashboard have been around for a long time and ever since the Tavern was added a few years ago, the site has operated under those guidelines.

        A commercial theme business with just one product that is not GPL or compatible licensed will not be advertised on the WordPress.org commercial theme directory.

        Let’s say you upload a plugin or theme to the directory and the author URL points to your website. On that website are banner ads or an affiliate link to a product that’s not GPL licensed or compatible. The plugin wouldn’t be allowed on the repo, that’s how far of a reach these guidelines go.

        Let’s also keep in mind that we’re not just talking about black and white GPLv2 or compatible licensing, but 100% GPL Licensing. I jokingly like to refer to it as MattGPL because despite split-licensing being a legit form of GPL, it’s not Matt Mullenweg compatible. To him, 100% GPL is the only true way to be GPLv2 licensed.

        Now, a few years ago you might have gotten away with being successful with a non-GPL or compatible licensed product. Thesis is a good example. But if you try it today, the deck of cards is stacked against you, not only online in the community, but at social events such as WordCamps which are excellent places to do on the ground marketing and meet with potential new clients although that should never be the primary reason for going to a WordCamp.

        With regards to ThemeForest and some authors making 7 figures, that’s a great point. There are probably plenty of moneymakers on CodeCanyon as well. Both with authors selling products not GPL or compatible licensed. That is an interesting dynamic and what’s more, they are proving to be financially successful without sites like the Tavern reviewing or mentioning their products.

        This is food for thought. I think what it proves is that those marketplaces have become so large both in developers and customers, they are able to be insulated to a degree from the community. They can just make products, sell them, live their life.

        “I could be reading this wrong, but, I don’t think that this “victory” should be celebrated? I thought blacklisting smart, hard working people was foolish and counter productive to growth/community.”

        But you see, Jack Caputo was not targeted but rather collateral damage. At the time, Themeforest only allowed for split licensing of themes which was not ok by the WordCamp guidelines, as Caputo eloquently put it, “I Am A Casualty In A War Between Giants”. So while his themes may have been awesome, his contributions to the WP community equally so and a dedicated WordCamp volunteer and speaker, not selling his themes as 100% GPL on Themeforest trumped everything else.

        When I say “significantly increase your chances of success in the WordPress community by aligning with the GPL or a compatible license.” That means myself, this site, and on Twitter and other means can talk about and promote the product or business. Getting it in front of not only influential members of the WordPress community but the general public as well. But you know, I’m in this Tavern bubble and the word success is relative. But if you look back in time, if you go ahead and release a product that’s not compatible with the GPL, and it becomes a great success, I think it’s only a matter of time before Matt does what he can to either convince the business owner to go 100% GPL, pressure them into it, or threaten legal action as he did with Thesis. Just based on observations, it really disappoints and ticks Matt off to see businesses built on top of WordPress denying customers the same freedoms they themselves are afforded through WordPress. Why even risk going through all of that trouble if you don’t have to?

        I’ve convinced a few other developers to go 100% GPL not through force, but by education. Pros and cons of each side. If you don’t “fall in line with the norm” in the beginning with a WordPress product business and the norm being 100% GPL or compatible, I think it’s only a matter of time before it happens anyways.

        I look at it this way. There’s a line in the sand. On one side, there is 100% GPL and compatible which Matt wants and fully supports, so does every other WordPress.org asset, including WordCamps. It’s filled with successful commercial theme and plugin businesses doing their thing, proving it can be done while licensing their products 100% GPL. On the other side is no support from .org and who knows, Matt at a desk waiting to push a big red button that changes the business owners mind and switches them to 100% GPL or compatible. I figure, why allow a business owner with a new product to go down a path that in the end, may lead to nowhere with regards to licensing when I can educate them about all of the benefits of just outright going 100% GPL or compatible and maybe having a better go at it.

        I’m going to guess I answered none of your questions :)

        Reply

  4. This is nice to see, because from what I could tell, their initial hesitation on GPL was due to a misunderstanding of the license rather than a desire to use an alternate one.

    Hopefully they now have some clarification on what the GPL actually means.

    (If not, I’d be more than happy to explain further! :) https://twitter.com/Japh )

    Reply

  5. I’m glad that this debate surrounding VersionPress came up. It helped us understand what the GPL means to the WordPress community and I’m sure it will probably help other newbies as well. I hadn’t even heard of the Matt vs. Thesis issue until your posts prompted me to start doing some research. Thanks!

    Reply

Leave a Reply