31 Comments

  1. Michael

    Now that Automattic has opened up WordPress.com for custom themes and plugins it definitely starts to become a real WordPress hosting company.

    If they would have made this move years ago, the WordPress hosting ecosystem probably would be different today. Probably their biggest advantage over the competition is having “WordPress” in their domain name.

    Even before they opened up WordPress.com it was already very confusing for users thinking that WordPress.com is “WordPress”, until they realized how many restrictions there are on WordPress.com while learning more about WordPress at the same time and then possibly moving their site to the self-hosted alternative.

    But now after WordPress.com has partially opened up (I expect they will open up even more in the future), the lines are becoming really blurry. If you want to start a WordPress site and are looking for a host, which hosting company will you choose as unexperienced user? Hosting companies you’ve never heard about (because it’s your first website) or the WordPress hosting company that is called “WordPress”? Seems the WordPress.com domain name is now really paying off after all.

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    • Anonymous

      The lines are only as blurry as Chrome and Chromium. You can bake Chromium into your app, but you can’t call it Chrome.

      Matt played a long game and intentionally handicapped WordPress.com so that an ecosystem would build around it – hosting companies and solutions that could do something different and essential to the ecosystem.

      Now that ecosystem is here to stay, so WordPress.com is going for low hanging fruit.

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    • Jeff Chandler

      Indeed, the confusion between WordPress.org and WordPress.com will be muddied even more. But as a user, being able to upgrade from a free, basic, WordPress.com account to something that allows me to use any plugin or theme I want without having to move anywhere is an incredible convenience.

      It does make me sad somewhat to realize how many people will potentially see WordPress.com as THE WordPress, even though it happens already, it will probably increase.

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  2. Guido

    It’s worth mentioning that WordPress.com business plan costs about $25 per month, which is much more expensive than the average hosting solution for a small to medium website. I guess this is the silver lining for hosting companies competing with WordPress.com :-)

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  3. Anonymous

    The third party plugins on WordPress.com is not as much of an error as you might think.

    Matt may have his principles, but Automattic has an obligation to its shareholders. If customers want non-GPL plugins on WordPress.com – and it is in Automattic’s economic interest to offer it, Matt doesn’t get to say no. Not without approval of the board.

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  4. Jesse

    > Pushes Calypso/React/JS that nobody wants
    > Pushes Gutenberg/React/JS that nobody wants
    > Pushes Jetpack on WP.com and WP.org that nobody wants

    Glimpse of 2020:

    The “featured plugins” section of WP.org now consists entirely of Jetpack, WooCommerce, VaultPress, Gutenberg Themes, Gutenberg Plugins, Calypso Themes, and the Calypso client. In order to download any of these, you need to have Jetpack installed, but in order to communicate with the Jetpack API, you’ll have to use a Calypso client, which you login to via the WP.com SSO page.

    “wplite” is now the most popular fork of what was formerly known as WordPress software. It is compatible with any theme or plugin built for the pre-5.0 version of WordPress, and still uses PHP, despite the religious obsession over JS continuing at WP.com…

    Speaking of the devil, WP.com has fully bought out WP Engine’s shareholders and intellectual property (and blackhat SEO) and is gobbling up the WordPress hosting world. It continues to “follow” and emulate other industry players like Shopify, with WooCommerce heavily investing into better Amazon.com integration, since Amazon capital is invested into Shopify, although WP.com is still suffering from an identity crisis due to having for years tried to simultaneously copy both Wix and Medium. Because Automattic’s investors don’t know a thing about web hosting, and because Mullenweg’s paranoia and desperation to be recognized as a “disrupter” on par with Zuckerberg drive most decisions, the company continues to come out with new React-based features, completely unaware that most high-end publishers (and Core contributors) like the New York Times have already switched over to “wplite”…

    Or, hire this man as a strategic consultant?

    https://john.onolan.org/calypso/

    https://wptavern.com/what-wordpress-can-learn-from-the-ghost-project

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  5. Vitor Madeira

    How much does Automattic pays to be able to use the brand “WordPress”?

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  6. Carl Hancock

    “I believe the feature is an oversight and will be removed in the immediate future ensuring that only themes and plugins from the official directories are allowed to be used.“

    It’s WordPress for Business not WordPress for Blogs. If Business customers don’t have the ability to upload and activate the plugins they want to use, be they commercial plugins they purchased outside the WordPress.org repository OR custom plugins they developed themselves or paid to have developed to accomplish what they want to do, it’s not a viable business solution.

    Uploading themes and plugins and not forcing users to only use what is in the WordPress.org repository isn’t an oversight. It’s a necessary feature from a business standpoint.

    Do you think self-hosted would remove the ability to upload your own themes and plugins? Then why would you think a Business class hosting solution for WordPress would do so?

    It’s simple: WordPress.com wants to compete with the other WordPress hosting companies and to do so it needs to allow those business customers to upload themes and plugins. Otherwise they’d stand no chance at competing with the GoDaddy and Pagely’s of the WordPress world.

    “But… But… But GPL… Someone might upload a non-GPL plugin to their own business web site ” OH THE HORROR!!! Most themes and plugins adhere to the GPL. Can we stop making this some sort of controversy or topic of discussion? It’s time to move on. Anyone that matters in WordPress is already GPL compliant. Quit worrying about bottom feeders.

    Also… custom plugins developed for a site don’t have to be released as GPL because they don’t have to be released publicly to begin with. So you can say they inherit the GPL but it’s moot because they don’t have to be released and distributed at all if they were developed for use on a specific site.

    This wasn’t an oversight. It’s a necessity for doing business focused WordPress hosting.

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    • Jeff Chandler

      I get what you’re saying about the business aspects of it all. It makes sense and the features allows customers to do what they can do at other managed hosts.

      Having such a hardcore stance on 100% GPL through the years and allowing subscribers to have the ability to upload Themes or Plugins that are not 100% GPL on a platform he controls baffles me.

      Does the $25 a month per Business plan customer trump that detail? It appears so and it’s not a detail that needs to be swept under the rug but rather, something to keep in mind.

      Running Thesis on WordPress.com, what a world I live in today.

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  7. mark k.

    LOL, this is just another reminder that GPL is there so big companies can take advantage of small players. How are the theme and plugin authors are supposed to be able to monetize the development if they can not offer an upgrade path?

    Seems like I am going to invest some time into detecting a wordpress.com enviroment and make my plugins fail when it is detected. If @matt wants to abuse my efforts, he will at least need to go with the effort of forking and maintaining it.

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    • Jeff Chandler

      I don’t understand what you’re saying here and why would you create an unnecessary negative experience for your users? How is Matt abusing your efforts by allowing customers to use your plugin on their hosting platform?

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      • mark k.

        Jeff, as described in the article, it will be hard if not impossible to install a plugin from non official source. It might be totally due to not having enough coffee, late hour or whatever which is to be blamed in me misinterpreting things, but in the real life, the only way software exists is by someone paying for it. If you do not get paid for the development of a software you are more likely to just stop developing it.

        As for people using a plugin from wordpress.org being the plugin author’s user, this is just false. They have downloaded the software from wordpress.org, they should ask that distributor to support them. With wordpress.org no plugin author can connect with the plugin’s users therefor I am not sure in what way are they exactly “users”.
        This is actually a practical and not a philosophical problem, in the next version I want to make a big UI change and I have no way to communicate that people should test before upgrade.

        wordpress.com want to get 25$ a month (which is probably double of industry standard) from users? good for them, but if they intent to use my software as a way to promote the service, the honest thing is to pay royalties, and if they don’t I do not have to play their game. Less non paying installs means less support calls from people that didn’t pay for support.

        I am unlikely to actually follow on what I said, but if plugins are what make wordpress special, the disregard to the health of the plugin economy is annoying.

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      • Peter

        Royalties using GPL?

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  8. Brad Griffin

    Months (and months and months ago), when it was still “experimental”, I spun up a .com Business Plan site.

    Now, I know from history that folks seem to get a good deal of keyboard courage when they belly up to the Tavern, but here’s a few thoughts (and, please folks: Try to stay focused) ;-)

    All my sites are running WooCommerce. So, I was additionally thrilled to see that one could install WooCommerce Extensions as well. Not just WooCommerce core, but also Memberships, Variation Swatches, Social Login, and more……

    Awesome, right? So, Business Plan users are getting to completely and totally extend WooCommerce!?!?! Now we can get into some real functionality, better conversions, and higher sales via additional WooCommerce Extensions! Note, I did not use or test any extensions found in a canyon. Only official WooCommerce Extensions.

    So SkyVerge doesn’t have to really worry about support requests which are derived from or as a result of sh!tty hosting companies. Same with Brent and the folks at Prospress!

    The good thing about a standardized hosting environment is that the support tickets now have the “potential” of being decreased (to what degree is to-be-determined, but it’s still “one less” line item – hopefully) & we all know how costly support staff can be.

    So, that’s a plus!

    What stunk was when I tried to find, test, switch, and change themes.

    Over in the “.org world”, I’m up to child theme #5 for Storefront. It works. It’s ugly. It’s raw. However, it’s incredibly easy to add styles & re-prioritize the functions. Most importantly though, WooCommerce Extensions are tested against Storefront compatibility to make sure they all (pretty much) play quite efficiently together.

    Now, let’s forget about the (somewhat) longstanding {cough} “concerns” about navigating and maneuvering around the .com dashboard. What I found was a much more concerning problem was the lack of WooCommerce compatible themes in the .com arena.

    I’m not just talking about “yeah, we declared support for WooCommerce” (….so that we can tout that it’s WooCommerce compatible) type of sub-par themes. We’re looking at themes which have accounted for Memberships CSS, Variation Swatches, ….things like that!

    What they need are themes which have the similar capacity and longevity of Storefront and it’s integrations with WooCommerce Extensions.

    This news might be awesome for the crunchy mom blogger, the affiliate marketer, or someone looking for a lead generation type of site.

    When the word “Business” is used to describe a “Plan”, then ….rock on! Let’s conduct some business!

    Does tapping into the “third party ecosystem” really do much for WooCommerce Business Owners: The people who make something, ship things, rely on financial transactions, process customer service for orders, need reviews as ranking factors, product layout extensions as sales boosters, and/ or tight order integration with customer’s social accounts….?

    It does no Business owner any good to have only one (or a substantially minimal number) of WooCommerce compatible themes to {drum roll} conduct Business!

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  9. Astute Observer

    You left out a big downside to these new business plans. You STILL can’t run your own ads on the site. No Google adsense income. You have to use the stupid WordAds from Matt. LET US RUN OUR OWN ADS.

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    • Gary

      You left out a big downside to these new business plans. You STILL can’t run your own ads on the site.

      Hi Astute Observer,

      You can run your own ads on the Business plan according to WP.com’s documentation:

      If you’d like to use third-party ad networks like Google AdSense, OpenX, Lijit, BuySellAds, and Vibrant Media, those options are available on the WordPress.com Business Plan

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    • Peter

      What a cool business model do you have in mind with Google Adsense? ;)

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  10. Zi Yang

    I’ve asked about this a few times before but never got a proper answer.

    Do we get FTP and database access? If not, will a plugin like Adminer be allowed?

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  11. tarjiem

    As WordPress beginner user, this is an interesting plan for WordPress user who do not want to use self host and prefer to use WordPress.com service. This is a good option for the beginner who do not want to dealing with hosting choice that sometimes always asked from WordPress.org first user.

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  12. Samuel

    Seems like a good option for new users and SMBs starting off on WordPress. And keeping them in the WP ecosystem long term if they transition to self-hosted.

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  13. Brian

    I wonder if that means third party theme/plugin shops, can now market their product as being compatible with WordPress business plan?

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