Moving to WordPress.com
I have long said that the open web is something I feel strongly about, and that in order for you to truly own something on the internet it has to be on your personal website. You can’t expect companies like Twitter, Facebook, Medium, or other big name social media platforms to care about that stuff. They should, but we all know that it is in their best nature to keep that stuff in their home turf and make it as difficult as possible to get it elsewhere.
To save time, my argument for the open web boils down to this: Would you rather have all of your work in the hands of someone else, or in your own hands?
I bring this up because Automattic, the company that owns WordPress.com, recently bought Tumblr for a reportedly $3 million steal (don’t forget Tumblr sold just a few years ago for $1.1 billion). If you want to know why I am excited about this, and why it caused me to think about the open web, I think Aja Romano said it best in their Vox article:
WordPress has succeeded thus far by not rocking the boat, catering to its community, and essentially doing one thing — blogging — extremely well. This would seem to make it an ideal parent for Tumblr’s more unruly, unwieldy blog format, which gave the world the “reblog” and made use of universalized tagging systems to connect its noisy user base. WordPress, with no reblogs, has a much less streamlined tagging system, and its “blogroll” approach to connecting users feels hopelessly outdated. In essence, each company has things to teach the other about blogging.
“I don’t think there’s any organic connection between the two platforms,” Dash told me, “though I do hope Automattic updates WordPress’s feature for reading blogs to be as good as Tumblr’s timeline.”
Where WordPress excels over Tumblr, however, is in respecting and following its community’s lead on things like site design. One of the foundations of its success is its commitment to open source web design, meaning anyone can make and customize their own WordPress website theme. We might say Tumblr is something of an open source community too, with the ecosystem flourishing and growing most when it’s able to be artistically inventive and essentially bend Tumblr’s format in new and interesting directions. (For instance, the site was initially intended to be a “microblog,” closer in spirit to Twitter’s original 180-character limit; instead, Tumblr users made the platform well-known for long, image-heavy posts, subcultural artistic movements, and animated GIF storytelling.) Tumblr’s corporate overlords have had significant trouble with this notion in the past, but supporting a more hands-off community is not something that should give Automattic much trouble.
For further information on the deal, there’s a recent Vergecast where they interviewed Automattic’s CEO, Matt Mullenweg, I left that podcast wanting to directly support WordPress; so I did. I moved my website from EasyWP on NameCheap to WordPress hosting through WordPress.com. To be honest I thought about checking out Tumblr, but as someone who has never tried it, I thought diving in now for my personal site would be overkill.
The cost to move to WordPress.com was a bit more than what I was paying previous (almost double), and the functionality isn’t as flexible as the self-hosted websites are, but with the bad comes a lot of good. For one, I no longer have to worry about my website being optimized properly, and if I have any issues I can contact one of WordPress’ Happiness Engineers (which is a great job title if you ask me) for assistance. So far the response time has been much less than it would have taken services like Squarespace or NameCheap to help me with technical support. The move was simple, thanks to already having a WordPress website, and when I needed clarification it was handled in hours, not days.
I personally feel like this move is better for me in the long run. I get to worry less about making my website “perfect” every 6 weeks and instead start working on what should matter the most: writing; which I hope to do more of going forward.