why did MT lose and WP win?

ma.tt responds to Anil Dash by pointing out that WordPress is fully open source:

WordPress is 100% open source, GPL.

All plugins in the official directory are GPL or compatible, 100% open source.

bbPress is 100% GPL.

WordPress MU is 100% open source, GPL, and if you wanted you could take it and build your own hosted platform like WordPress.com, like edublogs.org has with over 100,000 blogs.

There is more GPL stuff on the way, as well. 🙂

Could you build Typepad or Vox with Movable Type? Probably not, especially since people with more than a few blogs or posts say it grinds to a halt, as Metblogs found before they switched to WordPress.

Automattic (and other people) can provide full support for GPL software, which is the single license everything we support is under. Movable Type has 8 different licenses and the “open source” one doesn’t allow any support. The community around WordPress is amazing and most people find it more than adequate for their support needs.

Movable Type, which is Six Apart’s only Open Source product line now that they’ve dumped Livejournal, doesn’t even have a public bug tracker, even though they announced it going OS over 9 months ago!

I think that this gets to the heart of why WP is so successful. WP vs MT is almost a case study of the Cathedral vs the Bazaar. Were Six Apart to fully embrace the open source model, as WP has done, they would of course lose the revenue stream from licensing, but the absence of that stream hasn’t exactly inhibited Automattic ($29.5 million in the latest round…). Matt alludes to the MT3 debacle, which really was a betrayal of MT’s until-then loyal userbase. It came down to simply money; in an era where the best things in (computing) life are free, Six Apart seems determined to charge. And that’s been the thing holding them back. Technology alone isn’t enough, you have to address the user model. That is what MT has failed and seems to continue to fail to do.

blog CMS infrastructure

Moveable Type is making a play for WordPress users to “upgrade”, with Anil Dash firing a broadshot across Automattic’s port side. Dash makes some good points but fails to articulate a compelling reason to switch, primarily because the basic premise is flawed, that WordPress is hard to upgrade and that its architecture is an impediment to ordinary users who seek to extend its functionality or implement their own style and design.

Probably the single biggest reason for WP’s success is the one-click install and one-click upgrade offered by Dreamhost and other web host companies. I can literally setup a WP blog for anyone in less than 3 minutes. Most of that time is post-install customization, as well. The plugin ecosystem is far more vibrant on the WP side than MT, and the proliferation of styles and themes means that the end user need only choose from a bounty of available options if they don’t want to tinker on their own – but tinkering is also very, very easy since the various files can be edited directly from within the online administration pages.

Where MT should focus its poaching efforts is as a competitor to WordPress MU. Thus far, WP-MU remains a complex and daunting installation and maintenance is not simple. However, MU is still attractive, especially because of the new Buddypress functionality that will turn all MU users on a given install into an instant social network. What MT needs to do to grow is not to try and convince the end users with their own WP blogs, but try to create a full fledged blog ecosystem like WordPress.com, and attract users to their platform there. Typepad, built on the previous iteration of MT3, is simply inadequate as a competitor to WordPress.com-hosted free blogs. By providing a new umbrella site for free blogs, MT can build the user base to the critical mass required for increased power user adoption. As things stand, I simply have no incentive to try MT4, and Anil’s PR attempt falls flat since frankly he’s attacking a straw man of WordPress rather than the reality which I deal with every day.

In a few days, I will log into my Dreamhost panel and upgrade my blogs to WordPress 2.5. WP is a moving target. MT4 needs to catch up and then stay abreast. Until it’s as easy for me to install and upgrade MT as it is WP, they aren’t even close.