Is WordPress.com now a Social-Networking/Micro-Blogging Platform?
Pursuant to my earlier thoughts on the latest news by WordPress.com to introduce Like and Reblog feature, here I would like to extend the dialog a little further. I think it is becoming obvious by now that Automattic Inc (the parent company of WordPress blogging software) is pushing really hard to get into the “social-networking” and “micro-blogging” business.
How, you may ask?
Just look at what Tumblr is offering: Reblog and Like (Tumblr Help pages). Yes, this is exactly what Wordppress.com users recently got. Tumblr is getting ahead (Mashable story). You know what else Tumblr got? Themes, lots of ’em with features rich for customization of background images and colors. Along the way, Tumblr also introduced premium themes. WordPress.com have always had various premium features. Ask any regular user of WordPress.com what they’ve been getting lately? Yes, themes (WordPress.com’s news page link), lots of ’em with customization option for background images and colors.
And this is not just about Tumblr, Posterous, another micro-blogging – read quick and easy – contender, who is making waves (Techcrunch story). Yes, WordPress.com also introduced Post by Email after Posterous. There is also support available for Publicize to Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo (Yahoo? Who goes there?). Anyways, the point is, that WordPress.com is consistently becoming a solid contender in the micro-blogging, social-networking business.
Was it always like that, you may ask?
WordPress.com is a multi-user hosted platform. Unlike WordPress.org which you install on your own after finding a hosting service and a domain name for yourself – read extra cost and hassle – WordPress.com takes the hassle away from you of hosting/installing anything. The original intent of both hosted and self-hosting platform was Blogging in its original sense, i.e, you compose a blog post and invite interaction (through comments).
Somewhere earlier I commented that the pre-blogging days of Internet were mainly reserved as a parking-lot of static html pages (remember Geocities?). Blogging changed all that. Blogging provided layman with the electronic diary or journal to gather thoughts, comments, observation and opinion. I know because I’ve been WordPress.com’s user for long time (back when I could get 4 letter user-name). The rest is history as we know it.
My argument here is to identify WordPress.org and WordPress.com’s original intention (some would call it a business plan). However, what we now consistently see is a “change” in the direction. Here are few of my questions in this regard:
- If WordPress.org is still considered a true blogging and content management system, than why Automattic is interfering with the original idea of the WordPress.com?
- Why can’t WordPress.com still remain a true blogging platform? Why do we need convenient, quick posting mechanism, or put it differently, why does WordPress.com need social-networking, micro-blogging features?
- If we do need such features, than why not provide them on top of the original platform as opt-in? *
- What gives Automattic Inc the directive to change their model of operation for WordPress.com, where as, the WordPress.org self-install remains free from any forced changes?
I LOVE WORDPRESS.COM. I absolutely like the environment here as well. I am also not anti-social networking, anti-micro-blogging zealot. I think the trend is to micro-blog and network. The Facebook and Twitter phenomenon along with the success of Tumblr/Posterous is no joke. But at the same time, I also think there is a place for original writing and lengthy thought processes and sharing, i.e, the original electronic open diary/journal. I feel the decision by Automattic Inc to use WordPress.com as a playground for introducing these latest trends is absolutely misguided. If they wanted to get into the social-networking/micro-blogging field, they should have introduced a separate product. By interfering with the long standing blogging platform and by innovating the latest trends into it, they’re causing lots of grief for those who may not be into these trends.
That’s it for now. I have my fingers crossed and I am hoping that WordPress.com would not isolate many of its loyal users for the sake of new trends.
I welcome your thoughts if you think I’m wrong. Well, I welcome your thoughts anyway because that’s what blogging is all about!
* Many of the recently released features are forced upon WordPress.com instead of opt-in/opt-out choices. Aside from the recent Reblog and Like button (which caused the whole uproar, see here, and here, and comments on my earlier post), the subscription email feature is ridiculously painful. Your blog post will instantly go out to your subscribers the second you click Publish button, you have no choice even if you back-date a post for archiving purposes. There are various other such minor changes (or lack of any changes) which are inconvenient.