How Important is Jetpack on WordPress’ Road to 50% Market Share?

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This past weekend, 250 professionals gathered in Phoenix, Arizona for Pressnomics, a three-day event focused on entrepreneurship in the WordPress economy. During the last day, attendees had the opportunity to watch Pagely CEO Joshua Strebel interview Matt Mullenweg. Although the session wasn’t recorded, the audience tweeted out the highlights of the interview, and discussion continued on Twitter.

Strebel pressed Mullenweg on Automattic’s agenda behind Jetpack.

This resulted in one of the most controversial statements to come out of the event:

Mullenweg further clarified his statement on Twitter, essentially identifying Jetpack as a tool to bolster the platform against competition. Jetpack allows users to gain access to professionally-supported third party integrations without WordPress being forced to dump all of these features into the core software.

Jetpack-enabled blogs have more features available to them on the WordPress mobile apps, which are wholly sponsored by Automattic. Many self-hosted WordPress users don’t appreciate the fact that the mobile apps are packed full of WordPress.com features, but, at the moment, there are no superior alternatives. In our most recent interview with Mullenweg, he deftly addressed the friction caused by the preeminence of WordPress.com’s Reader in the app, which he sees as a gateway that simplifies the onboarding process for new users.

I see it as a gateway drug and it gives people more options down the road. If we don’t do anything on mobile, five years from now, when everyone is only using mobile devices, they will all have Squarespace’s or Weebly’s. WordPress is still around but it just doesn’t matter. This allows us to matter five years from now.

With both Jetpack and the mobile apps, Mullenweg sees an opportunity for Automattic to provide functionality that goes beyond the core publishing experience to offer mobile access and connect users with readers and commenters via social networks.

The Road to 50% Market Share

In a recent interview with Adam Silver on the KitchensinkWP podcast, Mullenweg gave a better overall picture of his next goal for WordPress and how he sees the platform reaching more users in the future. The software is currently used on 23.3% of websites worldwide and is on track to reaching 25% before the end of the year. Mullenweg hopes to grow that number to 50%:

The next goal is the majority of websites. We want to get to 50%+ and there’s a lot of work between now and then. As the percentage increases, it gets harder and harder to grow the market share, and we have to grow the market share by doing things we haven’t done in the past – really thinking about the onboarding process, really thinking about the integration with social networks, and with how WordPress works on touch devices, which is going to be the predominant computing platform of the future. These things are going to be really important.

What got us here isn’t going to get us there. Once we get to 50%, we can decide something new we want to do.

With a focus on the onboarding process, integration with social networks, and mobile publishing, Mullenweg is outlining how he sees the mobile apps and Jetpack entering the picture to grow the market share and prevent the decline of the platform.

For Mullenweg, a 50% market share with a growing international user base isn’t a purely business goal, but rather ties back in with WordPress’ mission to democratize publishing with open source software. In response to Silver’s question on whether or not the recent focus on the mission is connected to an increase in non-English downloads, Mullenweg replied:

The big assumption in what we’re doing is that there’s an inherent goodness to the transparency and the ability for people to publish. Of course people use WordPress to publish things I personally disagree with or might find morally odious. But it’s very important that we provide the people the opportunity to have that voice.

By giving everyone equal ability and access to reach the web, you’re a click away from several billion people. But you’re not if you don’t have the tools to really reach them. It’s not hunger or clean water or any of the big problems that society has, climate change, but at least for our little part in it, I think we can make a pretty big dent in it.

Mullenweg knew that WordPress had the potential to have an enormous impact on the world of publishing, even when the software was still batting in the minor leagues. WordPress.com was originally created to help users set up blogs while bypassing what used to be a complicated hosting and installation process. Over the years, as WordPress.com adapted more sophisticated ways of supporting the average WordPress user, the idea of Jetpack was born to connect self-hosted blogs with the same features.

The question is whether or not Jetpack and the mobile apps are the missing link for helping users get connected to billions of people. While Jetpack’s features aren’t necessarily unique, they are professionally-supported and users feel safe banking on the plugin for the foreseeable future.

Mullenweg’s controversial statement about WordPress being in decline without Jetpack was phrased as conjecture, because there’s no objective way to prove this unless you remove Jetpack from the picture entirely. As he further explained in his Twitter reply, the notion is based on witnessing the decline of other publishing systems that aren’t innovating with social or mobile features.

Those who disagree with the statement object to the idea of hinging the success of WordPress’ market share on a plugin produced by a commercial entity. This is especially provocative when it comes to mobile, as Automattic’s agenda to promote WordPress.com features goes unrivaled. Nevertheless, WordPress wouldn’t have a mobile publishing platform without the company’s subsidy of the open source apps.

If WordPress is dependent on Jetpack to continue building its market share to 50%, then the software’s future is inextricably tied to Automattic’s continued success. The company is one of a small few that have the capital to invest in a major plugin like Jetpack along with the ongoing improvement of the mobile apps.

“Last year, Automattic raised a bit more funding than we have in the past,” Mullenweg told Silver in his interview. “It’s actually bigger than most IPO’s. We raised $160 million and that gives us a lot of capital to invest into the community. We’re able to make bigger bets, longer term bets, and it also solidifies us as an independent entity for many years to come.”

The WordPress open source project can still be considered a success in terms of its mission, even if it doesn’t achieve a dominant market share. Tying its growth to Jetpack is a bold statement that eclipses some of WordPress’ best qualities, such as its rigid adherence to protecting user freedoms with the GPL, the strong community of contributors, and the massive ecosystem of products and services surrounding it. The availability of Jetpack may be one factor responsible for WordPress’ growing market share, but I don’t think it’s the sole tool saving WordPress from decline.

106 Comments


  1. “…five years from now, when everyone is only using mobile devices…” – See Jeff: I told you! Lol

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  2. 50% market share?

    From my understanding the metric used for generating the current 23% is actually based on just the top 1 million websites on the Internet. If that’s the case, the odds of 50% of the top 1 million websites running WordPress is pretty unrealistic and a strange goal. The focus of WordPress should be to increase user base, not focusing on the top websites on the Internet. Especially when you consider many major top 1 million websites run on proprietary systems and serve a wide range of purposes most of which have nothing to do with publishing or have any use for WordPress.

    Meanwhile, according to Alexa, Quancast, and others WordPress.com’s user base has declined already ( http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/wordpress.com https://www.quantcast.com/wordpress.com?qcLocale=en_US ). WordPress.org is doing even worse in rankings compared to .com (http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/wordpress.org https://www.quantcast.com/wordpress.org?qcLocale=en_US). We are no longer in a growth phase anymore, and WordPress’s growth has plateaued from a user adoption standpoint. One could make the argument that WordPress is in decline right now, and that 23% of the Internet number is a poor indicator of actual users.

    Now I suppose you could argue WordPress as an app platform could accomplish increased market share like this, but the fact is WordPress as it stands today is nowhere near being useful as an app platform for an enterprise corporation. It also means some significant investment needs to go into expanding WordPress beyond a publishing platform, and turn it more into a content and user management platform which will take years.

    As for Jetpack being the deciding factor keeping people on WordPress, I don’t buy it. Almost everything in Jetpack was provided by existing plugins or services and simply combined into a single plugin. Is it convenient for new users who know nothing about WordPress? Sure. However, I doubt Jetpack is keeping anyone on WordPress over a competitor. Don’t get me wrong, Jetpack has a purpose and is a useful plugin for millions, but I don’t think it is a deciding factor. A user already spent money on hosting and time installing WordPress and made the decision to try WordPress long before they ever installed Jetpack or had it preinstalled with their hosting.

    The community of theme and plugin developers, and agencies are the ones actually on-boarding new users. It is the ecosystem that is keeping WordPress relevant, not a plugin.

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    1. I’m no Alexa Rank expert but I thought Alexa ranks are all relative. I.e. If a site’s rank decreases it doesn’t necessarily mean the traffic to said site has decreased — it may mean instead that other sites have gained more traffic (that’s what it says in their FAQ anyway). Also – I’m also not sure that it’s fair to say something is in decline simply because its site’s Alexa rank has decreased…

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    2. The 23.3% figure is based on the top 10 million sites (not top million). As far the WP.com stats decline, I don’t know fully, but it is likely related to WordPress.com no longer using the Quantcast tracking code. The Quantcast data used to be actually from real visits per their tracking, but is now estimated.

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      1. Top million or top 10 million it doesn’t really matter. It is not an indication of user base, it’s merely a stat on number of deployments. While impressive in its own right, we still need an active user base building themes and plugins, and contributing to core.

        Even with the removal of the Quantcast tracking code, I’m not sure why they removed it, the estimation still clearly a significant downward trend. Alexa rank is also slipping. Not good signs.

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      2. Agreed that we need an active user base. Just clarifying the stat’s data source.

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      3. Quantcast was removed from WPCOM sites as it wasn’t useful enough to justify an external request and third-party cookie on all visitors.

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      4. The Alexa rank also dropped in a big way when we went fully https. Not sure I’d completely trust all those metrics.

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  3. I was about to write a long comment expressing my opinion, but then I thought that I could resume it quite easily: I hate Jetpack. And we know I’m not the only one how thinks that way. If Automattic is going to spend (or waste) dev time in Jetpack, I hope at least they try to get to that 50%+ by doing “better”, not “more”. If it is useful for someone out there, I guess it’s ok it exist; but I can’t see it as anything but a waste of resources.

    I hate Jetpack. I hate it so much that I usually forget it is made but the same people how made the amazing piece of software that WordPress is.

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  4. I don’t understand why Automattic doesn’t do away with JetPack altogether by putting some of it into core and breaking the rest of its modules up into separate plugins? I don’t understand why it has been allowed to grow so big… And just how big is going to get anyway? It’s already a monster! It feels like WordPress.com is trying to takeover/envelop the .org project with the thing… I just don’t get it at all…

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    1. The core of what Jetpack does is tied into the authentication to external servers, and leveraging WordPress.com servers. Photon, Publicize, Comment Authentication, Uptime Monitoring — these aren’t things that are feasible to do in core.

      Also, it’s not up to Automattic to decide what does and doesn’t get into core. Core is welcome to anything we have, but it’s up to core devs to pull things in. Automattic doesn’t run Core — we just contribute a lot of people and effort, just as many other groups and individuals do.

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      1. Fair enough (and thanks for explaining) – I honestly hadn’t realized that it wasn’t feasible to do those things in core. They could be done via individual plugins though no?

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      2. It’s all bundled into one plugin for maintainability, upgradeability, and to make folks lives easier.

        Do you have any idea how much less we’d be able to get done if instead of managing Jetpack as one plugin, we were managing thirty-some odd release cycles because we split everything up into standalone plugins?

        Then compound that with the fact that well over half of the features in Jetpack are dependent on the connection to WordPress.com, and the fact that there is no good way to handle dependency management in WordPress plugins — we’d basically wind up repackaging the Jetpack core functionality and connection libraries with twenty-some odd plugins that do require the connection — all of which may be running different versions of it, because they’re not updated as one unit, and some could be running old releases.

        Then there’s the translation management, which we currently can share strings between features and get them translated more cost effectively and quickly in one fell swoop, as opposed to shipping out twenty strings here, a hundred and eighty strings there, with more dispersed release cycles.

        Let alone the support burden caused by each feature being split off and running potentially different versions.

        Long story short, there’s lots of very good reasons that we maintain them as a single unit. All of which I’m delighted to talk about at length — so next time, ask? I’ll be at WordCamp London this year, happy to chat over a pint.

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      3. If I’d asked you personally then nobody else would have been able to view the (very good) answer. I don’t regret asking the question here (although I will admit I may have been getting a little carried away – which I do regret a little) because at least now anyone who may have been thinking similar things to me can also learn your reasoning.

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      4. If I’d asked you personally then nobody else would have been able to view the (very good) answer.

        I’m glad you asked, for that very reason. :)

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      5. The reasons i hate JetPack are 1) the forced WPCOM connection, how about developing a plugin that handles exclusively the WPCOM connection, that way if you split JetPack you would not need to add that code to each plugin, 2) the swiss army knife mentality of including a myriad unrelated functions into one plugin, it goes against the modular approach we learned as developers 3) The force activation of new features (i don´t know if this still occurring), 4) The feeling you get that auttomatic is not being honest every time you here a statement about jetpack, i always get a feeling that the person i am listening to is a publicist, or worst a politician, instead of a representative of the open source community.

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      6. I’m also going to WordCamp London and this fascinates me so I’d be more than happy to join in a discussion around a pint

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      7. Thanks for explaining why Jetpack is delivered the way that it is. Every bit of software is a compromise between different priorities and I understand that everyone is making decisions with the best intentions. What you’re saying, if I understood correctly, is that you can get more done by building Jetpack as a monolith.

        What I understood Brin to mean, and where I agree with him if he does, is that a monolith is not what I want and the trade-off of delivering more by making development easier is, for me, the wrong emphasis.

        Every time I’ve worked with Jetpack I’ve had (different) problems and in general it’s made life harder, not easier – much more so than almost any other plugin I’ve used.

        The reason is that Jetpack works around one dependency problem and creates a whole bunch of different ones instead. I’d rather live with the original problem.

        Why did my thumbnail image URLs fail yesterday? Because a bit of Jetpack I don’t want, don’t need and didn’t know existed changed them.

        Why did I have to tell a customer I couldn’t design the social sharing part of the blog pages until we’d already gone live? Because dev mode wouldn’t allow me to switch it on and we couldn’t break their IT dept’s policy by putting the dev site on the public internet.

        How stupid did I feel when I told their IT dept that their web server needed to maintain a permanent link to, and dependency on, a bunch of servers they don’t maintain in order to provide infinite scrolling?

        I appreciate that the developers who work on Jetpack are producing something that many, many people find useful and that decisions are taken by smarter people than me for the very best of reasons.

        I don’t have insight in to all the discussions that take place or compromises that need to be made so this is me simply saying, selfishly, that for this one user Jetpack solves problems that I have but because of the way it solves them I feel compelled to find other solutions.

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  5. Are wix, weebly and squarespace on the decline or are they on the up? If they are on the up whilst WordPress is on the decline then why is that? That’s the REAL question to address here… surely!!!

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    1. Do wix, weebly and squarespace have a ‘Jetpack’? No, they don’t! If WordPress needs to be better than it is to stay in the game then make it better via the core! Don’t just bolt something on the side! “How important is Jetpack to achieving 50%?” – maybe very important… because maybe JetPack is holding WordPress back?! Maybe in order to grow, JetPack has to go! :)

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      1. There are many things that hosted platforms can do, with centralized api keys and a large economy-of-scale infrastructure that distributed codebases can’t. Jetpack’s point is to provide that cloud infrastructure to sites that are running on low-cost shared hosts, and give them a reliable, maintained codebase.

        How often do you hear people griping about “Plugin X was so useful, but the author never releases updates or bug fixes anymore” stuff? Or that the plugin doesn’t have any sort of support crew helping users? That’s what we’re working to solve.

        If you don’t like it? If you don’t trust us? That’s fine! Don’t use Jetpack. :) The code is GPL, so you’re welcome to do as you like with it!

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    2. As Wix is a public company, you can read quite a bit about their numbers and financials online. You’ll also see them in the Super Bowl this Sunday. Collectively the organizations you mention are going to spend more than a hundred million dollars this year advertising to gain new sites, grow their brand and marketshare.

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  6. Wow. WordPress on the decline *without* the features of Jetpack? That’s a slap in the face to the 100’s of high-quality plugin authors and companies that build great software to make the experience of WordPress better for users.

    Wouldn’t a better approach be to solve the exposure of independent plugins to WP users? The ability to find better single solutions from companies focused on a particular problem, rather than tossing the end-user a swiss army knife? Really, I’m just reading this as, “Thanks for the years of effort, but we’ll take it from here.”

    We all know Jetpack leads to upsells of services like VaultPress, Akismet, and whatever’s next. Heck, it keeps telling me to activate site management when I’m perfectly happy with my iThemes Sync account. It’s not even a Trojan Horse anymore, it’s more connections, more services, more data given for an eventual play. End of story.

    There’s nothing wrong with admitting that it’s a freemium plugin, I mean, don’t we plugin product devs all do it? There is pride in this, nothing to shy away from.

    I think dancing around the subject just makes it worse for all of us.

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    1. I personally don’t agree with Matt’s assessment that WordPress would be on the decline without Jetpack, but I do know that everything Jetpack does, our goal really is to drive the platform and the ecosystem forward.

      There’s two minor things in Jetpack that could be considered ‘upselling’ — one a minor advert for VaultPress, and a second module that lets you interface with a VideoPress subscription that you’ve got on a WordPress.com blog.

      Do you honestly believe that the gains from those ‘upsells’ in any way covers the time investment that we make into building, maintaining, and supporting Jetpack?

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      1. “Do you honestly believe that the gains from those ‘upsells’ in any way covers the time investment that we make into building, maintaining, and supporting Jetpack?”

        Numbers would be interesting to know. :)

        I also don’t think it’s all about the money. I’m sure data collected by Stats and the new Site manager flow sideways and upstream to improve “customer experience” which gets reinvested as intelligence to build the next feature of Jetpack because the data predicted it. Or at least, that’s my Facebookian point of view on it. ;)

        This all has a compounding effect. As WP matures, Jetpack gets easier to install, it gets promoted more (after all, if it weren’t for Jetpack…) and solves more user problems, the less users research 3rd party solutions. Then 3rd party ecosystem begins to dry up. Not now, not tomorrow, not next year, but eventually.

        The flip side of the coin, no one ever promised us we could make a living on WP products forever. :)

        Again, nothing against Jetpack or the contributors or even the plugin itself.

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      2. Honestly, all I can give you is my word that we’re really not chasing things down with ulterior motives.

        Our first aim — as Jetpack, and as Automattic is to drive the platform forward and to help democratize publishing. Heck, the reason that the company was founded and even had revenue streams was to cover our bases so the first hires could contribute back to core.

        If my word isn’t good enough for you, then no facts I can present will be good enough either, as you’ll not be able to trust them and — let’s face it, it’s turtles all the way down.

        Cheers.

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      3. It went unnoticed, but Matt did slip in “sure there is/may be $100-$200 Million in revenue there” in the context of JetPack making money for Automattic while we were discussing it.

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      4. Josh- Thanks for info – that brings another interesting factor into the discussion. I wasn’t in attendance – wish the session had been recorded.

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    2. It’s worth repeating what I said above: “Naked WordPress (without plugins) is not competitive to Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, etc.”

      Which is the direct opposite of “That’s a slap in the face to the 100’s of high-quality plugin authors and companies that build great software to make the experience of WordPress better for users.”

      I’m saying that plugins are crucial to WordPress being competitive — it’s the only reason we’re even in the game right now.

      “I’m perfectly happy with my iThemes Sync account”

      iThemes Sync provides a lot of good functionality, however if that goodness is behind a paywall most users will never see it and will choose a platform where things like updates, security, and backups are included.

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      1. BTW, happy to come on your podcast to debate Jetpack more in-depth.

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      2. I love Jetpack. I recommend it heartily to friends and put it on nearly every site I’ve built. It’s convenient, has a compelling list of features, and a great team of people behind it. But I don’t think it’s even possible to conjecture about WordPress in its absence without the use of a time machine.

        In Jetpack’s absence many things could potentially be different. Multiple companies/individuals could have offered some of those features as freemium plugins and maybe even done a better job. In fact, some are still attempting to compete with Jetpack on certain features and there’s nothing stopping them.

        Automattic does many things well but it is not in possession of a golden wand or a crystal ball. Jetpack is a great success but there’s no way to tell what might have grown in its absence. As it is, with Jetpack’s continual promotion from WordPress’ creator and the pressure placed on hosts to include it on new 1-click installs by default, any competitor will have an uphill battle at breaking into that space. It’s possible that more diverse options could have grown in its absence.

        The support, maintenance, and server resources required for a plugin like Jetpack is a massive investment that truly benefits the community. Matt has uniquely been able to shape is development towards the betterment of WordPress users as a whole. But there’s no telling what alternative social and mobile solutions could have grown out of this plucky, innovative, hard-working WordPress community in the absence of Jetpack.

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      3. But I don’t think it’s even possible to conjecture about WordPress in its absence without the use of a time machine.

        Conjecture and opinions are definitely possible — that’s what this is all about — definitive statements aren’t.

        [/pedantism]

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      4. Thank you dear pedant ;) I guess what I meant is that it seems odd to conjecture with so many unknowns. Some folks find that kind of public conjecture bewildering, but I think it has provided some excellent discussion.

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      5. The closest thing we have to a crystal ball are the lessons learned by running the service that hosts about half of the WordPress sites in the world, WordPress.com, and the information we get from the 50k+ signups we get every day still. Jetpack brings the features we know makes WordPress much more compelling for a mainstream audience to the .org side of things so people can have the best of both worlds — the complete freedom of running your own code wherever you want to host it and the functionality of a world-class cloud service.

        It’s entirely possible, as you suggest, that in a world without Jetpack alternative solutions would have been created, but I think the examples in other OS communities like Drupal and Joomla suggest otherwise, and also that everything similar in the WP world has been paid (rightly so, some of it is expensive to run). You’re correct that we’ll never know for sure because we haven’t figured out how to surf the multiverse yet.

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      6. > we’ll never know for sure because we haven’t figured out how to surf the multiverse yet.

        Okay, I’ll look into it. Sidenote: I may be charging for some more equipment. I think I can source some particle accelerators on the cheap…

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      7. I am always blown away by the sheer amount of WP plugins. You think of a feature you need… there is a plug-in for it.

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  7. Exactly: it’s not even a fair slap in the face! It’s a slap in the face from an absolutely giant hand! Rather than helping it, it hurts the .org project (or at least seems to).

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    1. My entire life is WordPress, and my intention in talking above the above (please re-read my words and try to really understand them!) isn’t to hurt the project, it’s that we have a critical self-awareness of our strengths and weaknesses in the market.

      My #1 goal is to grow the pie, meaning WordPress’ market share, which means everyone in the broader WordPress ecosystem, including plugin authors, agencies, themers, bloggers, podcasters, and consultants will benefit.

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      1. Matt, I know your intention is pure, and you are trying to grow WordPress but I just don’t understand some of the decisions your various organizations and company make.

        WordPress.org is an incubator for developers, and opportunities. But instead of buying or partnering with the top plugin and theme developers you had your company create products and services that compete with the ecosystem rather then support the ecosystem. What’s the point in building an ecosystem if you’re not going to work with those who rise to the top?

        For example, I’m your biggest theme author on .org with 4.6 million downloads. I can’t even track how many people are using my themes. Let alone build in my own API, analytics, or services. We aren’t allowed to, yet Jetpack can. Why is it only Automattic can build cloud services for WordPress and collect analytic data? Automattic has a clear advantage to track trends, and know what users are doing. Meanwhile I’m flying dataless and unable to predict what’s happening to the point where I’m nearly unable to support my freemium products anymore because I don’t know who my users are or what they’re doing.

        Let’s also not forget Automattic pretty much went on a theme author hiring spree over the past 2-3 years and hired most of the top theme developers from around the world. Automattic then launched its own initially closed theme market place on .com, then opened it but by doing so overwhelmed the theme team making it difficult to get new themes up. Not only did this limit the available developers a startup like mine could hire, it also forced us to devert significant resources to developing themes on .com that are taking 6 months+ to launch. The delays have destroyed any hope for a return on our investment at this point. By launching a theme market place Automattic helped saturate the market, and prevented companies like mine from being able to enter with our most popular products despite massive traction on .org.

        Meanwhile on .org the admins instructed to add more themes flooded the repo with poorly coded themes to the point where it takes 3-5 months to get a new theme up. Meanwhile I can’t even get my themes featured anymore because now it’s an algorithm, and there’s no way to highlight my new releases. It is basically no longer sustainable to build new themes for .org. Meanwhile the best themes will fail because there’s no way to support that many users without some form of monetization.

        I’ve spent hundreds of thousand of dollars on-boarding over a million+ new WordPress users through my themes, and what do I have to show for it? I can’t even attend the community summit, or get a reply to my emails for reasons I don’t understand.

        It is behavior like this which is why I’m trying to exit the WordPress ecosystem, and I won’t be the last major designer/developer to do so if this kind of behavior continues. From my perspective you guys and gals have made a lot of mistakes lately, and you aren’t learning from them.

        You should be building kick ass tools and services for developers to build better sustainable user facing products that fit specific niche markets, not trying to do everything yourself with your own products and services. Automattic should be building a market place, and an economy for developers to compete and thrive in, not compete with them.

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      2. I can’t even track how many people are using my themes. Let alone build in my own API, analytics, or services. We aren’t allowed to, yet Jetpack can. Why is it only Automattic can build cloud services for WordPress and collect analytic data? Automattic has a clear advantage to track trends, and know what users are doing. Meanwhile I’m flying dataless and unable to predict what’s happening to the point where I’m nearly unable to support my freemium products anymore because I don’t know who my users are or what they’re doing.

        Okay, so a couple things there — the WordPress.org repo guidelines say that code can’t ‘phone home’ to third-party services without the user’s informed consent. Everyone plays by that rule, Jetpack included.

        Jetpack just needs to be connected to WordPress.com to function — there is literally no other way for the majority of our functionality — WP.com JSON API, Publicize, Related Posts, etc — to function without secure two-way communication to our own servers. So the user connects to WordPress.com and then as a side-effect of that, we get some rough data back about how often people connect and the like.

        It feels more like you’re talking about the WordPress.org mothership data about how many active sites are running a given theme or a given plugin. That’s data that we (as Automattic) don’t have direct access to, but folks on the .org side of things have been actively working to open that data up — I believe there’s actually going to be a launch on some of that data very very soon, but again — that’s WordPress.org, not Automattic, so I don’t really know for certain.

        Let’s also not forget Automattic pretty much went on a theme author hiring spree over the past 2-3 years and hired most of the top theme developers from around the world.

        You make it sound like Automattic went out on safari with an elephant gun and returned with a bunch of theme dev heads mounted in a trophy room. We hire the best applicants that apply to us — I’m really confused why you’re trying to phrase that as a bad thing.

        […] also forced us to devert significant resources to developing themes on .com that are taking 6 months+ to launch.

        Automattic ‘forcing’ a third-party to develop themes for WordPress.com? That’s certainly an initiative that I’ve never heard of, and I’d be interested to know what you mean by that.

        By launching a theme market place Automattic helped saturate the market, and prevented companies like mine from being able to enter with our most popular products despite massive traction on .org.

        That seems very contradictory to your later remark of —

        Automattic should be building a market place, and an economy for developers to compete and thrive in, not compete with them.

        — so we should launch a theme marketplace, but then not release any of the GPL themes that we build on it?

        Meanwhile I can’t even get my themes featured anymore because now it’s an algorithm, and there’s no way to highlight my new releases.

        It sounds like you’re talking about the changeover about eight months ago of the Theme Review Incentive Program — for those not familiar, what was meant to be a lightweight thank-you “Hey, if you review a bunch of themes, you can pick some you like to be featured” that turned into basically pay-for-play where theme devs couldn’t get featured unless they paid the piper by reviewing themes. Totally not how it was intended, so it got overhauled — details here: https://make.wordpress.org/themes/2014/04/18/theme-review-incentive-program/

        I can’t even attend the community summit […]

        Sadly a lot of people couldn’t — it could only accommodate the … 150 folks (?) that attended. It wound up being first come first serve, and there were some brilliant folks that I would have loved to see there that couldn’t make it either due to lack of room.

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      3. On Jetpack, it absolutely phones home. It has to connect with Automattic servers to provide the experience it provides. As a theme and plugin developer, I’m not allowed to do that. Jetpack has a distinct advantage over everyone else because of this. What if I wanted to build a theme with access to a library of child themes on my server? I can’t. There is no way to build cloud services for WordPress themes or plugins on the repo because the only company who is currently allowed to do so is Automattic.

        As for .org data, I don’t have access to that data either. I’ve pretty much given up hope I’ll ever get it either.

        Let me explain on the theme front, Automattic hired most of the best theme developers and hasn’t done much with them in my opinion. If I was in charge of that team, we’d be producing the best themes in the world on a regular basis working with the top UI and designer from around the world putting every other theme company to shame. Instead the theme team mostly works with getting 3rd party themes up on .com now, building the default themes every year, and producing well coded but overly simplistic designed themes. They’re not even remotely comparable to what is on ThemeForrest. It is because a lot them are amazing coders (who I have a ton of respect for, I tried to hire many of them), but not the worlds best designers.

        If you’re going to hire that level of talent, and compete with the theme market then compete with the theme market and produce amazing products. Or if you’re going to hire a team like that, and make it their job to find the best themes for the .com market place, then accept the top themes on .org based on numbers and traction instead of making decisions based on someone’s opinion at Automattic. Clearly if I have 4.6 million downloads on .org I’m doing something right, but no one at Automattic cares about what is happening on .org.

        So yeah it is weird when you lock up the best talent in the industry, and don’t use them effectively. That has a negative impact on the entire industry because now the talent pool is dry, and the people who do get hired by Automattic get put on things that don’t help them or WordPress improve the theming experience.

        As for the theme market, it is a joke. We’ve been trying to get our themes up for years now, we’ve only successfully gotten one of our worst designs up as it was the only design they would accept at the time, and of course it didn’t sell. We’re trying to get some of our better designs up, but the review process is taking 6+ months, and is beyond inefficient. I can’t even begin to explain the ridiculous challenges we’ve experienced.

        As for the theme review contest, it was worse then that. We were forced to do reviews by .org admins who told us to pay our developers to do theme reviews. It was pay-to-play extortion, not a “thank you”. Now with the newest implementation there is no way to launch new themes and get traction to get them off the ground. All they did was mismanage the entire contest, extort a bunch of developers, and then do whatever they wanted with the featured themes in the end anyway screwing over all the top theme developers.

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      4. Trent: Comments don’t nest far enough to reply to you threaded, so I’m posting down here a reply to your comment above

        On Jetpack, it absolutely phones home. It has to connect with Automattic servers to provide the experience it provides. As a theme and plugin developer, I’m not allowed to do that. Jetpack has a distinct advantage over everyone else because of this. What if I wanted to build a theme with access to a library of child themes on my server? I can’t. There is no way to build cloud services for WordPress themes or plugins on the repo because the only company who is currently allowed to do so is Automattic.

        Okay, so I feel that I must have misphrased something up above, because that’s actually the opposite of the truth.

        Here’s what the plugin guidelines state ( https://wordpress.org/plugins/about/guidelines/ ) :

        “Serviceware” plugins are defined as plugins that merely act as an interface to some external third party service (eg. a video hosting site). Serviceware plugins ARE allowed in the repository, as long as the code in the plugin meets all other conditions.

        No “phoning home” without user’s informed consent.

        By the user connecting their WordPress.org site to their WordPress.com account, they’ve expressed their informed consent for the two to communicate with each other. It has nothing to do with the fact that we are Automattic, and everything to do with the fact that the user is aware of what’s going on and okay with it happening.

        Let me explain on the theme front, Automattic hired most of the best theme developers and hasn’t done much with them in my opinion […]

        You seem to be making two very contradictory arguments. First, that Automattic is unfairly competing with you buy hiring people, and secondly that we’re squandering the people we’ve hired by having them review third party themes and not using them to properly compete with you. Do you want us to use the resources we have at our disposal to compete with you or not? Are we putting too many resources into providing theme reviews and working with third-party providers or too few resources?

        So yeah it is weird when you lock up the best talent in the industry, and don’t use them effectively.

        And now we’re back to the disrespect you seem to have for aforementioned talent. First you’re making it sound like we’re unfairly hiring people against their will, and now that we’re locking them in so they can’t leave Automattic. Honestly, I’d really like to understand how you come to these conclusions.

        As for the theme review contest, it was worse then that. We were forced to do reviews by .org admins who told us to pay our developers to do theme reviews. It was pay-to-play extortion, not a “thank you”.

        I fear some of your language is bordering on the melodramatic. Could you please explain how someone could ‘force’ you to volunteer? I get that you’ve had a business dropoff after you no longer could name your own theme to the ‘featured’ list, but you’re either misunderstanding or misrepresenting both the spirit and intent of it.

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      5. So you’re telling me I can submit a plugin or theme that “phones home” as long as I use the same process Jetpack uses for connecting users to Automattics servers? That is considered asking permission according to the guidelines?

        I’ve asked .org admins and other core contributors about this in the past, and never once was that option mentioned by any of them. I was always told I can’t do that, and there is no way around it. I wanted to build a theme market place years ago, but because of this rule was unable to as it would have required an API to handle payment processing and delivery of Pro versions of themes. If I could have had a button to connect them to my server then I would have built this two years ago, but again everyone told me I couldn’t so I didn’t. So either you’re wrong, or the .org admins and core contributors I spoke to were incorrect which is a problem in and of its self. The fact this rule even exists is nonsense actually, there is nothing wrong with collecting usage analytics or building cloud services for WordPress.

        On the point of Automattic and theme team / theme market place, if you’re confused you should be. My point is I’m confused. They seem to be trying a lot of different ideas, but executing poorly on a lot of them.

        The theme team could be competing with the rest of the industry, but isn’t, which is why I’m confused as to the purpose of a theme team? If you’re going to spend the money to assemble a theme dream team, then why aren’t they developing a new generation theme framework for all future WordPress themes? Or you know, improving how themes, and child themes are handled by WordPress? How about a CSS framework for the entire WordPress project? Template builders? Page builders? At the very least why aren’t they regularly producing ThemeForrest quality designs and staying on top of design trends? Themes are fashionable, yet their offerings aren’t.

        Again, I mean absolutely no disrespect to anyone on the theme team, I just don’t understand their purpose, and the direction they’ve been provided by whoever is telling them what to do. Again, if I had that amazing team at my disposal I could move mountains.

        The market place is also confusing because initially it was closed, and it took us years to petition them to get a theme up, then they opened it up and now they’re so slammed the review process has become disorganized and chaotic. We literally used the first theme we submitted as our code base for the 2nd theme, and the new reviewer we were assigned disagreed with what the pervious reviewer had us do, and made us rewrite just about everything. There isn’t any oversight, and everyone has a different opinion on how to accomplish the same goals. I’ve never dealt with this level of disorganization before. What is the point of a market place that takes 6 months to get a theme up that is now about to be flooded with other themes all competing for the same audience?

        So yeah, I’m very confused with how they’re handling things. They want to compete, but don’t want to compete, they’re willing to hire the best theme developers, then have them work on other peoples themes instead of building their own. I just don’t get it.

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      6. As for the theme review contest, I’m not being melodramatic. I was told to pay developers to do theme reviews to win the theme review contest in order for my themes to remain featured on a monthly basis. They would not allow new or most popular themes to be featured any longer unless you won the contest every month. Once this rule was made, it become a pay-to-play system, and was no longer volunteering. If we did not participate in the contest our themes would no longer be featured, and we would no longer be able to support our products.

        I don’t really care what the spirit or intent of the contest was, the reality was extortion. I was forced to do something that use to be volunteering (which we had been doing regularly for 3 years anyway long before the contest), and was then forced to do it to keep my themes relevant. This then meant other theme shops started paying developers to do theme reviews, and some of them even began to cheat to win the contest. It was a mess, and it damaged CyberChimps in unforeseeable ways as it cut us off from new users which then severely affected our downloads, ability to remain the top 15, and revenue. We then tried to make the jump to WordPress.com but couldn’t because all of our themes are still pending review 6-7 months later. Theres even more to this story, but I can’t post it publicly like this.

        Please understand I am not telling you this because it will help me, the damage is already done and I can no longer afford to support CyberChimps because of it. I am putting this here so maybe someone at Automattic or the WordPress Foundation sees it and does something next time when a top theme or plugin developer reaches the level of success I did and then decides to cut them off from new users without reason.

        We have on boarded well over a million WordPress users, and have some of the most popular themes ever created. You’d think that would mean something.

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      7. So you’re telling me I can submit a plugin or theme that “phones home” as long as I use the same process Jetpack uses for connecting users to Automattics servers? That is considered asking permission according to the guidelines?

        Yes. Informed Consent. Did you even read the linked guidelines?

        If I could have had a button to connect them to my server then I would have built this two years ago, but again everyone told me I couldn’t so I didn’t. So either you’re wrong, or the .org admins and core contributors I spoke to were incorrect which is a problem in and of its self.

        I’m not wrong, and the .org admins and core contribs aren’t wrong either. It is prohibited, just not under the rule I’d been referring to — that’s actually prohibited under Rule 8 — https://wordpress.org/plugins/about/guidelines/

        No sending executable code via third-party systems. Use of third-party systems is acceptable in a service-client type of model, but sending actual PHP or other executable code over the network is considered a security risk. Executing outside code like this is not allowed except for specific and very carefully considered cases (such as during upgrades, for example).

        So you can’t use code in the repository to install code that is not in the repository — be it from GitHub or a private commercial server. It’s a security precaution.

        RE: theme wranglers — it’s clear you’re confused. So perhaps get things straight in your own head before making accusations.

        If you’re going to spend the money to assemble a theme dream team, then why aren’t they developing a new generation theme framework for all future WordPress themes?

        Because there is already a theme framework — it’s called the WordPress Theme API. Or did you mean a base theme framework more akin to Underscores?

        Or you know, improving how themes, and child themes are handled by WordPress?

        I’m pretty sure some of our folks are regular core contributors and work on that sort of thing.

        How about a CSS framework for the entire WordPress project?

        Are you just throwing out buzzwords now?

        At the very least why aren’t they regularly producing ThemeForrest quality designs and staying on top of design trends?

        I’d put the code quality of any Automattic theme up against any ThemeForest theme, any day of the week. And I think we’re doing okay design wise.

        Finally, regarding the featured themes on .org, again you seem to be conflicted. You’re arguing both that what you’re reading as ‘pay to play’ was bad, and then in the same breath that taking it away was bad and killed your business. Honestly, wtf^^? Which way do you want it?

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      8. I’m beginning to think (thanks to these comments) that I may have miss-understood a few things about the Jetpack project. I see now that I probably also shouldn’t have been so vocal about it and shall not do so again. I May not yet be positive about it, but having read yours and George’s above defence of it, I’ve at least moved towards a more neutral position. Apologies for my earlier outburst. Sorry.

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      9. OK, then if you want to make something REALLY useful that contributes to that goal, either create a module for Jetpack, or create a new plugin entirely, and call it “WordPress Plugin Shop”, then build a Codecanyon/Themeforest killer. Make it be everything the suppository is not ~ except for all the plugins and themes, that is ~ and make spread happiness, kill frustration, provide answers and grow WordPress virally. Either do that, or watch over a dwindling resource and wait for the developers to start jumping ship, when they see you’ve reached the tipping point.

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      10. I don’t understand, what’s the big deal if the plugin directory continues to allow free plugins only instead of a mix between commercial and free? You make it sound like all the answers to end user problems and frustrations are commercial themes and plugins.

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      11. I think the “big deal” is that authors find it hard to support a successful plugin {or theme for that matter} without some financial return, and this might be a more honest and straightforward way of providing it, rather than the current enforced freemium model.

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  8. The truth of the matter is that core WordPress out of the box simply will never be able to do some things as well as its competitors. Take for example the common desire of wanting new posts to be shared to Facebook or Twitter. There’s tons of great plugins out there that will help you do this but you’re still required to create an API application, enter the secret key, etc. I don’t see my mom being able to do that without my help. It’s complicated and a poor user experience.

    Plugins like Jetpack that rely on external infrastructure allow a more Squarespace/Wix/etc.-style experience where all of the complicated stuff is taken care of behind the scenes.

    It’s the bridge between the easier to use managed hosts like WordPress.com and and the increased flexibility of self-hosting. I self-host because I want that flexibility but I also want the bonus enhanced features of WP.com.

    Jetpack isn’t for everyone and I personally have many of Jetpack’s modules disabled but as a whole it’s a one-stop solution to many of WordPress’s common weaknesses. It allows the average WordPress user to get the functionality they want quickly and easily.

    Remember that if you’re savvy enough to be reading WordPress Tavern, then you probably aren’t the average WordPress user.

    Disclaimer: I work for Automattic, but I’m not involved with Jetpack and these opinions are entirely mine. I’m not a paid shill. :P

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    1. Disclaimer: I work for Automattic, and I’m Team Lead for the Jetpack Pit Crew. While I may be paid, my opinions are my own, and I take great offense at anyone that suggests I’m a shill.

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  9. I don’t know where the negativity with Jetpack is coming from. I myself didn’t like it before, but now I really embrace it. In fact, we’re releasing a theme soon that handles all of Jetpack’s modules and blends them well in there.

    I just find it so helpful. A lot of features previously baked into themes exist within Jetpack, so now we didn’t have to implement and do our own code since they’re already there. We didn’t also have to recommend 5 or more plugins, since all the functionality is packaged into a single plugin.

    Never mind that it upsells VaultPress and other stuff, if I need VaultPress in the future, then I’m glad I have it as an option there.

    If I may suggest, it’s not Jetpack that will help pave the way to 50% market share. But it will be because of the community and their contributions (themes & plugins). The core is fine. Jetpack is fine. One way Automattic can empower the community more is by fixing up the themes & plugins pages in wordpress.org.

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  10. I see no reason to say any well-made plugin, Jetpack included, hurts the WP ecosystem. Go make Rocketpack or whatever, offering most, or more, of what Jetpack offers, using another cloud service. And do it better, as a bundle of plugins or integrated into a single one.

    Does All-in-one SEO pack, as an example, hurt the ecosystem because it has modules for XML sitemaps, social meta and others?

    Jetpack is the most important thing that have happened in the WordPress community the last years.

    Matt Mullenweg sees the overall picture, and the future of WordPress. I totally agree on his view. I have had this opinion on the Jetpack’s importance for WordPress for at least two years, andat last. Matt just said it.

    9 out of 10 plugins in the repository is either crap, mostly crap, short lived or inteferes with other plugins. It’s a pain. And still there are hundreds of quality plugins that either does some of the things Jetpack do, or completely different things. Jetpack doesn’t nearly cover everything possible or desirable to do with a plugin.

    Users love Jetpack. Some, a few, develpers hate Jetpack, probably because they are unable to make something better. They should learn form Jetpack. It’s open source.

    Very few, but some, has demonstrated such a simple way to automatically publish posts to Facebook and Twitter as Jetpack. Other solutions, but not all, are just too complicated for most users.

    Jetpack makes WordPress grow in popularity worldwide, offering necessary functionality the core team can’t, and should not, include. The ecosystem and our community benefits in the long run.

    In wouldn’t have had the time and skills to set up such feature rich sites I have without Jetpack. Too many plugins from different authors or vendors tend to interfere and confusingly different UIs, and those thing are very complicated to fix or simplify. The introduction of Jetpack made me my living, developing sites with WordPress in my local area. I fully respect the others have different views on Jetpack, even hate it, but feel accusations against Jetpack as “harmful” to the ecosystem is quite narrow sighted and inward looking.

    Jetpack is exensible and controllable for developers. As a fine developer, interact with Jetpack as you do with core, using plugins, to the best experience for the users. Users is what WordPress is primarily made for. Bashing Jetpack is like makers of competing CMS’es bashing WordPress to have too manye features users love, and making it hard for them to compete.

    I simply love Jetpack. Jetpack is here to stay, anyway. WordPress with Jetpack is the future of WordPress, as WordPress core gradually will become more and more invisible as an engine or “web OS” with a complete web API, not only for plugins and themes, but for partially or complete content creation and admin solutions.Start making them!

    Bundle it with core and integrate Akismet.

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    1. “9 out of 10 plugins in the repository is either crap, mostly crap, short lived or inteferes with other plugins. It’s a pain.”

      I have tried on and off for years to write convincingly and compellingly about that totally wasted resource, this boneyard they call “the plugin repository”. Even the name makes it sound more like somewhere you go to dump dead stuff. Not the kind of lively, forward-looking, user-friendly inviting and efficient user experience it could and should be.

      And why don’t they see it and do something about it? Like give it a name-change, a REAL facelift, and make it searchable with boolean logic ~ like, gimme all the plugins including this term but only if compatible with the latest version?

      The answer is simple. Developer humility. They all see themselves as important contributors, and would rather be making ‘important’ changes to core, or creating a cutting edge plugin like Jetpack (ha!). I have had development teams work for me in the past, and not one individual ever offered to refactor code or do bug tracking or remedial work. Its just the way developers see themselves, their ‘self-image’, but I blame Matt for letting them get away with it for so long.

      And in that way the ship was lost.

      The one major resource and the incredible strength which is the developer and plugin ecosystem, which the Wixes, Weeblys and Squarespaces of this world don’t have, lies there, dead in the water, doing about 10% of what it could achieve. What a waste of resource. How expensive is that? How stupid?

      Not only that, but every new Website owner who visits the ‘suppository’ is faced with maybe 20 or 30 pages of total ‘crap’ he has to dig his way through, in amongst which are maybe one or two real nuggets. But every time he goes there, he has to scrape through all this irrelevant, outdated, poorly supported, unrecommended, negatively reviewed ~ ‘crap’. No other word for it.

      And what about the frustration it creates and all the hours wasted? Multiply that by the number of sites, and what a river of misery that creates. Not the positive experience you would want to force users to subject themselves to, every time they need to solve an additional resource problem, or enhance development.

      No wonder Envato makes so much money from WordPress plugins and themes. WordPress has really dropped the ball on this one. How, from what appears to be a totally unassailable position could they not see it, let them in, and arguably win the game, is beyond me.

      Take a long hard look at yourselves guys, put away the self-image based on being a ‘lead developer’ on an important codebase, and do something REALLY important. Stop rearranging the deckchairs with distractions like Jetpack. The answer to future development and growth is in your hands already. And its been there for years, if only you couldn’t see it. The viral effect of making the next big push to create the “WordPress Plugin Store”, where you can get free AND paid pro version plugins is just around the corner.

      If only you have enough humility, and smarts, to see it.

      Which one of you has the cajones to stand up and say ~ Matt, let me do it!

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      1. There’s a lot of fair criticism in your comment, and it is true that the attention paid to the core software far outstrips what we’ve been able to muster so far on feature plugins, canonical plugins, handbooks, Glotpress, and (perhaps most importantly) the plugin and theme directories.

        There is some good work underway, and I hope that what happens in 2015 will help shift the balance here a bit more. You can see the beginnings of it in the plugin and theme directory improvements in wp-admin in the past few releases.

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      2. Last summer this was supposed to be one of the beneficiaries of a big clean up.

        It never happened.

        Then WordPress actually did something about the interface.

        Incredibly, they made it worse.

        A few pretty pictures is not what it needs.

        When oh when are you going to change the name from suppository and brand it properly, get an up-and-coming young-gun UX designer guy/gal, and let them become famous by designing a WordPress interface, that wins friends and influences people?

        Instead of one that frustrates everybody who comes into contact with it!

        You can turn it into an open-source project to be proud of.

        And if you start it off the right way, there are more than enough developers who will contribute good ideas, from their perspective, and help you.

        All you have do do is put your name to it.

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      3. Could you clarify what you thought got worse last summer?

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      4. Fully agree with Terence. WordPress.org is a mess. I know because I tried to help work on it, but it is truly the most disorganized website I’ve ever seen. It’s literally multiple WordPress installs hacked together with static code.

        The whole thing needs to be rebuilt from the ground up if you ask me. Adding new layers on top of a depreciating infrastructure isn’t a solution. We should be building a new community with modern technology and methodologies.

        What I don’t understand is why not hire one of the many amazing WordPress development agencies or companies to work on stuff like this? Why does everything have to be either in-house or not at all? It’s a huge undertaking that is going to require leadership that just isn’t present with the current organizational structure.

        There is a real opportunity to rebuild .org and turn it into something great to help developers build successful businesses around their products, but it needs to be an actual mission statement of .org to do this. Right now .org is trying to do too much, and it is doing everything poorly.

        For example, if a plugin developer releases an awesome new plugin and gets 5 million downloads in its first 6 months. Then what? A single developer is forced to support millions of users with no monetization and is expected to do this all for free? This is why the repo is full of abandoned plugins. It isn’t sustainable. The same applies to themes.

        Success is a lot more work then failure, and right now .org is setup to reward failure, and hinder success. It makes no sense. If a plugin or theme succeeds how is that developer expected to continue development without the resources to do so? This is what’s happening to CyberChimps and dozens of other WordPress companies right now.

        If you need to spin up another company or reorganize .org under Automattic to be able to build a market place with revenue sharing then so be it. It will be worth it. You can build an economy around WordPress and help yourself as well as every developer in the community.

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      5. [quote]If you need to spin up another company or reorganize .org under Automattic to be able to build a market place with revenue sharing then so be it. It will be worth it. You can build an economy around WordPress and help yourself as well as every developer in the community.[/quote]

        Sounds like a very good idea and worth exploring.

        Anybody grow a pair lately? ;-)

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      6. Sure.

        When I select the latest WordPress interface, now called “Add Plugins”, I am immediately presented with “Featured”, “Popular”, “Recommended”, “Favorites” or “Search Plugins”, which is not a million miles from no improvement i.e what went before, as far as I can remember.

        Then for some unknown reason, I am forced to use this new unwieldy grid system, with no list alternative, and a search interface with no search button. Not exactly cutting-edge UX now is it?

        But supposing, I want to find a “Custom Post Type” intended for selling “books” ~ how do I find that with this interface? If I search for [books] I get 570 plugins which I now have to try and evaluate. So what tools do I have to do that?

        None! I have to eyeball them all individually.

        Honestly. How much business do you think Amazon would lose if all it did was give their customers that choice, rather than letting them sort and select those 570 by “New Arrivals”, “Subject”, “Category”, “Author”, “Avg Customer Review” and many more different criteria?

        So why am I treated so differently when I try to find the right plugin on WordPress?

        Better yet; go take a look at the way Envato is doing it at CodeCanyon or ThemeForest. There I can search by WordPress version, compatibility with WooCommerce/WPML, rating etc. In fact, I can even filter within each of these searches.

        But to return to the suppository for a moment. Maybe I should try to search for [Custom Post Types]. Oops! That gives me 2,010 to search my way through. Maybe I should try [“Custom Post Types” books]. That’s better, only 90 to eyeball individually, sort manually, figure out if they are well supported, compatible with my WP version etc.

        Matt, this is not intended as some kind of argument as to whether Amazon or Envato provides a better {more user friendly|more usable} user interface. It’s a criticism of the fact that the WordPress plugin repository is so bad, and so outdated in its thinking, it always has been and it still is. A few pretty pictures doesn’t change that, and oddly enough it just makes the problem stand out all the more, as the majority of plugins have not been updated.

        First step is think up a new inviting name for it, leave all the crap behind and ban everyone, from ever again referring to it as the suppository ~ otherwise the kitten gets it!

        What’s needed is a modern, data driven interface, that lets us select and finalise a candidate plugin list based on the criteria that matter to us, BEFORE we eyeball the few remaining plugins.

        Another way of looking at it might be this; if you take your user’s point of view. Your today’s user doesn’t want to see X million pieces of neglected, unloved, failed and useless outdated code ~ with or without image headers. He/she wants to see just the most likely candidates, that are compatible with their version of WordPress, are well supported and recommended, and which do exactly what they want them to do.

        Matt, the times have changed and you are no longer trying to convince the world you have arrived ~ just look at all the developers that support us! Now is the time for WordPress/you to get out of the way of thinking ‘more is better’. In this case, ‘less is better’. Much better!

        But what I don’t understand is this.

        Why can’t you see that for yourself already?

        And how hard can it be to deliver?

        Terence.

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      7. The only time that I’ve ever heard someone refer to it as the “suppository” has been in this comment thread. It’s hard to take an argument seriously when a method of debate is glorified name-calling.

        I am genuinely curious, however: how many people would actually support Automattic taking control of the .org side and the non-profit. I don’t think that it would put an end to the criticism, but instead make new criticisms.

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  11. I hate to rain on Matt’s parade, but WordPress will never achieve 50% market share. It’s a nice, arbitrary, even percentage, but it won’t happen, all things being equal.

    Jetpack is the plugin everyone loves to hate. The bottom line is it does provide a lot of great functionality, is updated by a great team, and if you don’t want to use features of it, turn them off. I use Postmatic instead of Jetpack comments for instance. And while it’s a huge plugin, most users aren’t going to notice a lag in performance. If they do, then they’re probably advanced enough to contend with them.

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    1. It’s okay, no one thought we could make it to 10% either.

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      1. @Matt- 10% market share makes sense, especially when and where WP was at the time. 50% sounds more like a number pulled out of thin air, and 50% market share, in any market, much less the one you compete in is, let’s say, idealistic. I try my hardest to stay abreast of which way WP is heading with regards to code, design, trends, internal politics, and, as someone with quite a bit of marketing experience, the business side of things, as much as is offered. I haven’t come across any plans for WP attaining a larger market share, or see any reason internally or across the competitive landscape that would or could happen. I have seen and know many sound reasons it shouldn’t, however.

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      2. I’d say 33.33333%, it’s a nice fraction. And you can say one third of the entire web is WordPress.

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      3. In the extremely narrow but deep waters of CMS’s, no surprise. But that 61.5% green field is dynamic, fast-movng and the form it takes is becoming increasingly elusive. What’s the time frame for that market growth? If you have a spider and fly strategy, I suppose you could (theoretically) eventually acquire your way to 50%, anti-trust issue-free. But I will say, without significant and more apparent investment in actual innovation, opportunities are going to be tough to come by to saturate anywhere even close to that degree.

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      4. Way to show them Matt! We wouldn’t have a site for the singing dogs without WP.

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  12. I figured I’d just say that 4/5 of my sites run WordPress, the only one that doesn’t is my personal site (nathanpinno.me) because it’s just two pages in size and WordPress would be stupid to use for it, besides my blog is fine on it’s own domain.

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    1. For simple sites I prefer Get Simple. I love WP but it can be overkill.

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  13. I tryed Wix and Weebly and definitely i can say that WordPress (without JetPack) outperforms both services.

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  14. “Naked WordPress (without plugins) is not competitive to Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, etc.”

    Platforms such as Wix, Weebly or Squarespace are not blog-centric, unlike WordPress. That’s why they have gained a lot of traction in recent years. Judging by the official WordPress survey results, blogs are no longer the next big thing and yet core developers seem completely obsessed with them. The good news are that WordPress has lots of possibilities of being a great CMS or application framework (will the JSON API ever make it into core?) if core developers decide to shift their focus.

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  15. One step towards 50% is becoming a full fledged CMS. To me a CMS natively supports multiple content blocks, giving the user control of every section of one post or page. Something like ACF needs to be core, not plugin.

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  16. I don’t use Jetpack, and to me the question is: Should I?

    Am I lost if I don’t? I don’t think so. It works perfectly well without, have done for years. And more than 20 sites, I maintain, do the same.

    If there is any decline in growth of the userbase, it could be related to the fact, that a selfhosted or personally website, isn’t the only way to have a online presence.

    Before the rise of social platforms, if you wanted to be present online, the only option was a website, and WordPress was, and is, a popular choice.

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  17. I don’t use Jetpack much but I find the idea of Jetpack’s importance uncontroversial. WordPress does need to compete with other platforms that can offer certain things quicker and with more convenience because they have fewer constraints.

    I am glad that there is a company that is growing the pie as big as it possibly can, especially when that company is run based on a philosophy that fits the ethos of WordPress (OSS & democratization etc). That’s only good news for plugin and theme developers. We’re extremely lucky to have Automattic playing the role it does.

    That’s not to say they’re not intimidating if you are competing with them in some vertical inside the WordPress commercial market now or in the future, but the pie is big enough and hopefully it continues to grow.

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  18. It is good if we still keep in mind, that while Jetpack and similar plugins/services – for many of us – can looks ”bloated” or too big … for many users these are the best and the easiest solution for their needs. Thanks to these kind of products many users can just click here, click there and everything works well and allow them to build websites from their dreams, websites what they need.
    Not everybody just count every request, every ms on load, every unused line of code :) huge group of users wants beautiful picture in header, working contact form, place for some text, colored background …
    I see free space on both sides, to make and use simple single-purpose lightweight plugins/themes/services but also complete rich-featured solutions.
    Its amazing, that WordPress actually allow to fit all our needs, not matter of level or knowledge we have. That is something what few years ago did not exist.

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    1. Hi Peter – I just wanted to drop a note that while Jetpack is a large plugin, it’s modular. So, you can disable the features that you don’t want to use, and they won’t contribute to your site’s loading time. If you’re interested in more information, we recently published benchmark results which address some of the concerns about bloat.

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      1. How come so many Web hosting companies discourage it’s use?

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      2. I’m not actually aware of any hosts that discourage the use of Jetpack. Do you happen to have any examples? If so, I’d be happy to reach out to them to discuss the issue.

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      3. EIG hosts usually. Most of the time if there is “excessive resource usage” they’ll say to disable it.

        I don’t use EIG but clients have issues often.

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      4. @Adam: Thanks for clarifying! I haven’t heard that myself. But please don’t hesitate to give us a shout when it does come up, and we can help troubleshoot the issue together. Excessive resource usage suggests to me that there may be a plugin conflict of sorts responsible for the trouble. Jetpack itself should actually cut down on resource usage, since it uses WordPress.com’s servers to do some of the heavy lifting.

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      5. Adam, many EIG hosts actually install Jetpack by default. I’m not sure how that counts as discouraging its use.

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    1. Yes! Definitely, cheers, Sarah!

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  19. I feel that Jetpack to WordPress is Google to Android. If you don’t want Google’s services on your phone, you’ll get the AOSP “plain Jane” version. Of course, someone like Amazon can come along and make a fork of Android that was awesome too, but nobody is stepping up to fill that role in the WordPress community yet.

    I’m an iOS guy but sadly or fortunately (depending on which camp you’re in), WordPress is more like Android than iOS.

    Also, I don’t know that growing WordPress to 50% market share is the best goal. What’s the point of market share alone? Maybe initiatives like WordPress for enterprise would be better? The benefits would trickle down to the consumer level too, like F1 racing.

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    1. F1? Few F1 technologies make there way to regular cars these days. Regen braking actually worked the opposite way.

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  20. @George Stephanis:

    This is in response to [this comment](https://wptavern.com/how-important-is-jetpack-on-wordpress-road-to-50-market-share#comment-63403) and a few previous remarks by @trentlapinski who expressed his concern with not being able to run a theme marketplace through wordpress.org repo plugin/theme.

    > So you can’t use code in the repository to install code that is not in the repository — be it from GitHub or a private commercial server. It’s a security precaution.

    I know that you do not make WordPress.org policies, but you seem to agree with them and I am going to ask this as a developer to developer, and a WordPress user to a WordPress user.

    The justification for the [guideline](https://wordpress.org/plugins/about/guidelines/) in question (#8) should in an ideal world be that every plugin that comes from the repository is secure, and that is why you do not want to allow them to install 3rd party code that is not coming from the repository. Being in the repository equals being secure and we want to keep things tight and secure.

    However this isn’t ideal world. I recently [estimated](http://managewp.com/solve-wordpress-security) that around 800 plugins in the WordPress.org repo are a ticking bomb from the security standpoint.

    Statistically even, you might be better off installing third party code through a reputable plugin, then installing one from the WordPress.org repository itself.

    Note also that WordPress code itself allows you to install code that is not in the repository – simply by using the upload plugin/theme functionality.

    So if WordPress core is allowed to do that why a plugin wouldn’t be?

    > By the user connecting their WordPress.org site to their WordPress.com account, they’ve expressed their informed consent for the two to communicate with each other.

    I think that is really the key. Guideline #8 should be simply changed to indicate ‘unless the user expressed informed consent’. That would allow for marketplaces to be run from .org repo. And if I want to install a third party plugin/theme through a marketplace, that should be my personal matter as I am expressing my own direct will to do so, exactly the same as when I am uploading a plugin through the WordPress core functionality.

    Let the free market rules then take care of any marketplaces that are ‘bad’ ‘misbehaving’ or whatever. Otherwise this seems to be an artificial ban that is among other things (and I just noted this) advantageous to Jetpack and its philosophy of bundling all code within one plugin then turning mre and more features into a paid service etc. Btw Jetpack ‘s code is already larger than entire WordPress, and purely from a developer standpoint this is somehow wrong.

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  21. That 50% goal can be achieved by just adjusting what you want to reach 50% of.

    As far as real active deployments of WordPress go, I suspect we’re currently somewhere near the peak. Other systems are going to catch up, especially the hosted platforms who are already chasing down the WordPress userbase pretty well IMO. WordPress is a behemoth though, and I don’t think any of us need to worry about changing platforms any time soon.

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  22. How many Jetpack modules activated justifies me installing a plugin already larger than the host platform?

    I have to believe that the logic for Jetpack doesn’t hold up {not unless it can be refactored and maintained in machine code}.

    That just doesn’t make sense to me.

    And far from being the way to get to the magic 50%, it looks like the way to miss it by a country mile.

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    1. Keep in mind that the languages folder in the Jetpack takes up 4 of the 7 MB in the ZIP file. The plugin is not actually larger than WP. The large file size is a WordPress issue, not a Jetpack issue. Pretty soon, that’ll be a problem of the past because WordPress.org will allow translations to be downloaded directly from the site rather than plugin authors having to package them in their plugins.

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      1. OK, thanks for the heads-up Justin.

        However, that doesn’t remove the fact I need to download dozens of average, me-to modules, which I don’t need, and don’t want, in order to get to the one or two I might find useful.

        What would make much more sense from the end-user viewpoint is that, if JetPack was a framework, and each module was released as an individual plugin module, I could download separately, everyone’s Jetpack could be smaller, just what they wanted and contain different modules to everyone elses installation.

        In fact, as a successful framework, Jetpack would almost certainly attract other authors to create even better replacement modules for it, using the Jetpack framework/infrastructure model.

        Then we’d find out what’s really wanted, what’s needed and what’s good or bad, instead of mashing it all together. I suspect that won’t ever get done though, because most of the modules just aren’t capable of making it on their own.

        Bundling loads of average plugins together doesn’t make them better, it just makes it a bigger download.

        I think Jetpack a wrong-headed and inelegant solution to a WordPress problem, not an end-user problem. Hopefully, by version 4 or 5 Jetpack will morph into this framework version I am imagining.

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      2. I dislike Frankenplugins such as Jetpack. I simply don’t use them and move on.

        I just wanted to point out that the plugin isn’t really larger than core WP.

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      3. I really don’t understand the negativity here.

        If you have a plugin that has 30+ modules, then you only activate 5 of them, then only 5 are doing something. The rest shouldn’t have any impact on your site’s performance. Although I haven’t checked Jetpack’s source, I would think that they would have coded it this way.

        If you split Jetpack into 30 or so modules, that would just be a hassle. Imagine you’ll have to install & activate multiple plugins instead of one. Assuming my earlier statement is correct, the resulting performance would still be the same. Those unused modules would now just become uninstalled plugins. The only difference now is that you’re hassled with multiple plugins.

        A bigger download versus installing a lot of little plugins sounds better for me. In addition, download size for me really doesn’t matter, as long as the performance and loading times are good.

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  23. Dang it, 99 comments, why not make that 100 :)

    – Share our similarities, celebrate our differences.

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    1. Just curious, did you hear bells and sirens going off with balloons and confetti dropping out of the ceiling when you hit the submit button? If not, it means it’s broken :P

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  24. Jetpack is rubbish. Hate it to bits. I find activating just a few modules can mean the different between a fast performing website and a slow one. installed once, never again.
    Now I purchase plugins from smaller developers that are usually developed much better and cleaner than the Jetpack bloat.

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  25. I love jetpack and I agree with everything Matt said.

    1- Jetpack has amazing features, which are very difficult to set up in the traditional way, like photon, etc.

    In fact, I would use jetpack on all my sites even if I´d only need photon.

    Publicize is has the the simplest interface I´ve seen for publishing to social networks.

    2- I think it´s fine that Automattic gets some revenue from Jetpack and I¨m glad they doing it. I don´t understand why some people say Auttomatic is competing against them launching services / tools that could be developed by the community.

    For God´s sake, they´re the developers of the platform, it´s their right to develop tools for their platform for generating some revenue.

    3- In order to wp continue gaining more users and competing against other platforms, it needs serious improvements, better admin interface, a front-end page builder like visual composer, and a lot of highly difficult things.

    The only way wp can get those improvements is through Auttomatic, a serious company that has the money and resources.

    Then why would I be against that? Sure, visual composer sales would drop but Auttomatic would be improving the platform, not doing it to hurt visual composer developers.

    The same goes to theme developers, which have complained a lot after the algorithm implementation on the theme directory, they´re improving the directory. Sure, it affected revenue but this is a process where we all are learning and I think the theme directory will continue changing until they found the right balance.

    So instead of being critizing, let´s propose some ideas to find the right balance between the right theme suggestions and giving some recognition to theme developers.

    Finally I just wish the best to Auttomatic (and Matt) and I´m really thankful for what they´ve done until now.

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  26. Im just doing some research on Jetpack and came across this article. I never used it or looked at till today. Im such a WordPress geek and I cannot believe I haven’t looked sooner… Im still weighing the options.

    I have no dog in this ‘fight’. Ha ha. Ive been a WordPress user for about five years myself, and design a handful of sites a year. I Love it, there isnt anything I cant do with a code tweak or plugin.

    Personally, I find many of the other building platforms limiting and not as cost effective as WordPress bare bones with a great theme. Certainly for a small mom and pop type business like mine. I cannot stand Wix. Many platforms a business will outgrow and have to migrate. With WordPress you grow into it and just update, no out growing it for most.

    How I look at it anyways. This was quiet an interesting read for me!! Interesting enough for me to comment! ha ha.

    Thanks for doing this write up and the commenters. I always find the comments interesting on good articles.

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