As you probably know, WordPress 2.5 is about to be released. It was supposed to be live already, but the development team decided to delay it by one week or so. So far so good, except that the guys from Movable Type, a competing blogging platform, decided to play smart and published a post encouraging WordPress users to switch to their software instead of upgrading. Here is how they started the post:
As you might know, WordPress 2.5 is about to be released, and we wanted to encourage WordPress users to upgrade. To Movable Type.
The truth is, there are lots of good blogging tools out there, and they’re all good at different things. But since upgrading from older versions to WP 2.5 can mean changes to your themes, plugins (”print your plugins list”!), and site, we thought we’d take a minute to explain why it may make sense to make those changes in Movable Type instead. For those people in the blogging community who’ve never taken a look, or who haven’t seen MT in a while, you might just find some surprises.
After reading the post, Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, got a little upset and posted the following message on Twitter:
six apart is getting desperate, and dirty.
In response, Anil Dash, author of the polemic post and vice-president of Six Apart (the company behind Movable Type), posted the following message:
desperation is resorting to name-calling and slander instead of substance — if there’s a factual error, i’m glad to fix it.
Finally, Matt posted a more structured answer to the whole deal on his blog, titled WordPress is Open Source. Here is a quote with the main argument:
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 had held off criticizing them after they went OS and before they decided to start an all-out confrontation because that’s not generally what OS projects do to each other.
What to think about all of it? You decide on your own.
Michael Arrington at TechCrunch said that “it’s generally fair game to target your competitors.” I think it depends on how you do that.
Personally, if I was Anil Dash or a member of the Movable Type team, I would focus my energies on improving the product, to the point where the users themselves would love it and want to talk about it deliberately. That is pretty much how WordPress got so popular after all, right?
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