Tag Archives: Six Apart

Friends Using Typepad?

Michael Krotscheck has an interesting post called Friends don’t let Friends use TypePad, which apparently ruffled some feathers and elicited a pretty venomous response from a Six Apart Vice President. I guess is part of their new plan to “compete” but statements like “TypePad simply blows WordPress.com away on SEO” and “On WordPress.com, you’re kind of moving into a bad neighborhood — by their own admission, one-third of the blogs on WordPress.com are spam” don’t exactly lend credibility. Michael responded eloquently in a comment and then again in a follow-up post. Lloyd has jumped in with some specific facts on Typepad’s (lack of) SEO. In the meantime we just turned on sitemaps for everybody on WordPress.com, a popular user request.

WordPress is Open Source

Six Apart has recently decided that the best way to win back customers fleeing their platforms is to target WordPress, which is a new strategy they call competing. (What have they been doing the past 7 years?) A good example is this exchange between a commenter on Valleywag and Byrne Reese, the lead developer of Movable Type:

Sundown: “@anildash: what part of WordPress is not open source?”

byrnereese: “@Sunnduwn – I think that is a question better asked of Automattic. Anil, and certainly not Six Apart, has never been briefed, nor has anyone for that matter been presented with an accounting of what is open and closed source at Automattic.”

Okay, here’s some accounting:

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.

For as long as I can remember the WordPress about page has linked and thanked Movable Type for ideas and inspiration.

Movable Type once led the market, it had over 90% marketshare in the self-hosted market. Now they call “pages” and “dynamic publishing”, features WordPress has had for 4+ years, innovation and you still can’t do basic things like click “next posts” at the bottom of home page.

For the record, I’m glad they’ve taken the license of MT in a positive direction that prevents them from betraying their customers like they did with MT3, but they have a long way to go before the project could be considered a community.

WordPress did 3 major releases last year, we’ll do 3 major releases this year. Along the way thousands of people will contribute, as well as every employee of Automattic. What we build will be greater than the sum of its parts because we’ve been a community and open source from the beginning, and always will be.

Comscore Numbers

This snippet from the Wall Street Journal shows the Comscore numbers for the top social media sites, show us about 22 million ahead of Flickr and “Six Apart Sites” (which I think is Livejournal/Typepad/Vox combined) but about 9 million behind Facebook. I think the reason they say N/A for our growth is because a year ago we weren’t even tracked by Comscore. We’re too cheap for a subscription though, maybe someone with one can check that?

MovableType 4 vs. WordPress 2.2

Mashable compared MovableType 4 and WordPress 2.2. I wouldn’t agree with Byrne that “Movable Type 4.0 is light years ahead of its predecessor not to mention any other blogging tool on the market” but they have caught up to a lot of basic features — pages, WYSIWYG, pagination, user registration — that have been lacking in the platform for a while. That, plus the fact that they support WordPress imports and cloned our pages API does show that they’re gunning for some switchers regardless of what they may say in public. (I’m cool with both of those by the way, it was good of them to adopt existing standards instead of invent new ones. In fact it’d be nice if they could export to WXR as well as it’s pretty semantically rich and the current MT export format leaves a lot of important stuff out, like slugs.)

Typepad Pages

Typepad now has Pages. “If you’re a TypePad blogger, we know you’re serious about making a great blog. But what about the parts of your site that don’t fit into your blog? […] And you can even set a Page to be the home page for your blog, so it’s the first thing readers see when they go to your URL.”

Podsession Responses

There have been two interesting responses to the podcast I did with Om and Niall the other week. The first was Scott Johnson who responded in a podcast. As I expected, most people are taken aback by my statement to “let the engineers pick” what language and enviroment you use for your product. I think there is one important assumption that wasn’t articulated in that statement: you have brilliant engineers and you trust them. As a psuedo-engineer, I find it insulting when people suggest engineers are unable to factor anything other than their selfish language preferences, things like loaded costs, hardware costs, platforms, long-term viability, hiring, etc are simple variables that can be considered by any intelligent person. If anybody in Automattic came to me that was writing a tool in Python, C, Perl (it’s happened) or whatever, I might ask a question or two but at the end of the day I know they’re able to weigh the costs and benefits just like I would. If you’ve hired an engineer that isn’t able to make these decisions as well or better than you, then you’ve already lost the battle and over time more and more of your time will be spent plugging holes in a descent to mediocrity.

The second response was on the Pronet blog which in an amazing feat of blogging acrobatics managed to mention and link every single person tangentially associated with the podcast except me, even though I’m quoted in every heading. The Google Pages example is brought up again to illustrate that all the hardware in the world sometimes solve a scalability problem, but I still think that’s faulty because none of us had any idea why Pages was slow when it launched, it could have been a faulty router for all we know. Pronet responds to “Go with what your happiest working with” with a set of points to consider for a language, but again with the right people none of that matters. Happiness, in all things not just the language, should be the number goal and metric for everything in an early-stage startup. Happy engineers work smarter, longer, more efficient, attract better candidates, and have a better quality of life. (A corollary is that if you’re already set on a language path, don’t hire anyone who isn’t thrilled with working in that language.) For an example of how this can work in a really extreme case, I suggest everyone read the story of Viaweb and Lisp. (Another talk.)In my mind Lisp is a ridiculous language to build a web application in, but to them and their engineers it was heaven and they had better products earlier than their competition as a result of their unusual choice.

(As an aside, I wonder how many people said the same thing about Ruby for web apps before David Heinemeier Hansson, Rails, and 37signals, or even about PHP before Yahoo and Wikipedia? An example (and a little bit of promotion) is better than a thousand whitepapers.)


About 98% of Trackbacks are spam. Obviously that can’t be addressed with a new spec without breaking backward compatibility. (For added humor, see the front page of the Trackback Development Blog.) The charter of the new trackback abandons the only thing that made Trackback interesting, and incidentally one of the things it was created for, content aggregation and category aggregation and other applications that don’t require a link at all. (Essentially a push application of what everyone uses tags for now, it was way ahead of its time.) In the meantime, they’re re-inventing Pingback with XML-RPC replaced by Atom/REST.

Better Trackback?

There is talk of pushing for Trackback to become a standard. A few of the problems with Trackback are immediately apparent: horrible internationization support, bad auto-discovery, proclivity for spamming, no verification, historical baggae of category junk, bad spec. Fix all these and you get… pingback. Pingback is big enough now to make a blip in Google’s markup survey, and is supported by a wide range of platforms. The question is whether people are going to want to support an existing and robust standard or want to put their name on something new, the global “not invented here” syndrome where everyone wants their 15 standards of fame. (As someone who has been involved in several standards myself, I admit the draw is strong.) What Pingback does need is a better advocacy site, like atom has.

Red Herring Alert

I just got a Google alert for a Red Herring article on Six Apart set to publish in a few days. They mention us here: “Critics of Six Apart say that WordPress, a blog publishing platform developed by a grassroots team, is more robust than Movable Type. WordPress is also open source and free. But things are different in Six Apart’s cash-crop enterprise space, where support and security are at the top of the list. Half of Movable Type servers sit behind a firewall, says Mr. Berkowitz.”