Sitepoint Interview With Matt Mullenweg

sitepointlogo The folks over at have released episode 25 of their podcast which features an interview with Matt Mullenweg. The interview contains news and tidbits related to WordPress development, some hints as to what we can look forward to in WordPress 2.9, three major issues that are bouncing around Matts head and more. In fact, Brad even asked Matt a question dealing with Commercial plugins and the repository, something I wrote about yesterday and continues to be talked about. The following is from the Sitepoint Transcript of the interview. I apologize for the large quote but this covers this specific point in the interview.

Brad: Yeah, actually I have been getting involved in WordPress. I would say I guess I’m one of the people I’m talking about. I work more on the WordPress side than I do MU but you’re right, I probably should be more MU involved.

I want to talk about a little bit, the actual web site. Now I know recently you released or you launched the commercial themes page. It got a lot of press, a lot of buzz, a lot of people talking and I think it’s a great feature, and I think that was kind of the general consensus. Are there any plans to do the same for plug-ins and have a commercial plug-in section that essentially just kind of promotes those commercial plug-ins that are GPL compliant?

Matt: Probably not in the near term. Honestly, there’s not that many people asking for it. It’s really just been like one or two people and they’re asking a lot but it’s not that many in terms of number of folks versus the themes page where there is a ton of folks… I think themes are a little bit different from plug-ins in terms that… a theme is more like the basis for designing your web site and it’s kind of the building block, where a plug-in is often just one smaller part of it. So honestly I feel like there’s a better commercial case for themes than there is for plug-ins.

Brad: Yeah, I would agree. That was actually the follow up I had to that is it feels like that’s kind of the mindset of everyone, that commercial themes are accepted and kind of understood by the community; whereas commercial plug-ins are almost frowned upon. If I were to release a plug-in and charge for it, more people would almost probably tell me that I shouldn’t do that, even if it’s still GPL compliant.

Matt: And it would also be more likely that someone would create a good free alternative, where with design that’s less likely to happen.

Brad: That’s exactly right. Maybe I’m the same way, I come across a plug-in that costs money and chances are you’re right, there is a free alternative out there that’s going to do something similar or very close to that functionality.

Matt: Most features for WordPress start as plug-ins first. So if all plug-ins were to be commercial, that would seriously inhibit because even though they’d be GPL, the guys obviously would want us to put functionality in WordPress and that would seriously inhibit, I think, the growth of WordPress.

Brad: Some plug-ins warrant a price tag, some of the more complex e-commerce forms, things like that… those plug-ins if you look at the source behind them, there’s a lot of work that has been put into plug-ins.

Matt: It’s not a function though of the amount of work because obviously there’s a lot of amount of work put into WordPress.

Brad: True. That’s a very good point and ultimately, it’s everyone’s decision on how they want to release that. I’m a big…

Matt: I like to say that best things in life are free.

Brad: Hey, WordPress is a great example of that. I’m a big fan of GPL and I like to see things that released GPL. I really don’t have a problem if people pay or ask for money for certain things.

Matt: Also, if you look at the direction of the commercial theme page, they’re not really charging for the downloads, less and less; they’re more charging for the support and the customization and work around it. I think plug-ins totally can go that direction as well.

Brad: Yeah, that’s actually a great business model and I know a few plug-ins like that that go that way. I think the e-commerce plug-in is one of them. The download is completely free and then if you want support, you pay for that. I think that’s probably a good business model for plug-in developers to look towards.

Overall, a good interview conducted by Brad Williams.

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