Is now a Social-Networking/Micro-Blogging Platform?

Pursuant to my earlier thoughts on the latest news by 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 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. have always had various premium features.  Ask any regular user of what they’ve been getting lately? Yes, themes (’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, 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 is consistently becoming a solid contender in the micro-blogging, social-networking business.

Was it always like that, you may ask?

No. is a multi-user hosted platform. Unlike which you install on your own after finding a hosting service and a domain name for yourself – read extra cost and hassle – 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’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 and’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 is still considered a true blogging and content management system, than why Automattic is interfering with the original idea of the
  • Why can’t still remain a true blogging platform? Why do we need convenient, quick posting mechanism, or put it differently, why does 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, where as, the 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 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 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 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.

Posted on June 2, 2010, in Bad and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. “If they wanted to get into the social-networking/micro-blogging field, they should have introduced a separate product”

    This is what I was thinking last hours about “reblogging” and most of the latest new features on

    Even the title in blog is insulting: “We all like to reblog”.
    … As Phoxis has said right now.

  2. Great posting, and i totally agree with what you are saying. This reblogging has affected me, personally, so much that i have not added a posting for 2 days.

  3. The original vision of WordPress (and wasn’t to freeze blogging at a moment in time and never evolve and listen to our customers, it was to constantly iterate and adapt based on features our users ask for, or we like.

    Sometimes competitors introduce something first, sometimes we do, it doesn’t really matter or influence us too much. (Tumblr launched 4 years ago, and our first version of likes was written a year ago and not launched.)

    Since these are user and not blog features, I’m not sure how or why opt-out would work. The admin bar belongs to the user — could I like a post on every site powered by except yours? That would be confusing.

    • I’m all for moving forward and giving people more features. For a while it seemed like .COM was just languishing and not going much of anywhere. Let me give a big thank you to the team for all the new themes and features you are adding.

      I’m still in favor of an opt in/opt out on this. I will say though that it may be that with this feature in place vs people doing copy and paste, that it could lessen the amount of times that people do not include links when they copy and paste an excerpt from out blogs. It may also be that this will lessen the number of times that someone copies and pastes the entire post either due to ignorance of copyright laws or because they simply do not care. Only time will tell I guess whether this feature is a blessing or a curse.

    • Matt, thanks for your comments.

      WRT your last point, I think the consensus is that it is not as much about Like as it is about making contents easier to copy. If I like someone’s post, I can make a comment or I can click a star/thumbs-up. Both of these features have been around here for a while. If I really really like someone’s post, I should be able to make my own post highlighting the original post with my own comments suggesting why I like so and so post.

      But why provide an ability to quickly copy the content at the same time when I’m liking it? Isn’t this akin to Retweet? A retweet of 140 char makes sense, but a retweet of a blog post? I don’t know. Again, if you’re turning into social environment, than yes it makes sense. But what about those who do not wish to get into social features? Aren’t you then asking many of the users to come up with hosting/domain cost for

      WRT your first point, I think there are no issues when a product evolves with time, but it shouldn’t significantly change to a point that a product which was supposed to be author’s writing pad, is now going to be a reality

    • If you want a static environment that is never going to evolve you should probably host your blog yourself. Same if you don’t think we have good judgement for how to evolve the platform.

      This feature does not change one iota the ability for people to take things from your blog. But where before they did it with Press This if you were lucky or copy/paste if you weren’t, it’s not in a structured way that gives proper credit to the author.

      It a user feature which is why it’s in the admin bar, not your template. Just like Press This, it is at the discretion to opt in to using the feature or not. You can opt-out by never clicking the button. You can’t stop other people from clicking it any more than you can stop them from looking at your site, right clicking, or using copy and paste.

      • I really don’t think not liking a couple features your staff has introduced over the past four years (for myself it’s certain aspects of the “Like” button and how the “related posts” was introduced) should be cause for a “trust our judgment or self-host” kind of ultimatum.

        This feature is two features in one. Someone shouldn’t have to “Like” something before they “Reblog” it, and there should be an “opt out” option available to everyone, not just the people with a CSS upgrade. Seems fair to me.

        Personally, if someone “Reblogs” my content, I expect an incoming link will appear on my Stats Page, or something in my Referrer Stats, so I’ll be able to ask them to remove my work from their page — if it bothers me. No biggie.

        “You can’t stop other people from…”

        That’s been the prevailing wisdom regarding content provided by bloggers, like WP users, for a long, long time, and maybe there are ways to plagiarize that can’t be prevented, but I’d love to know how much R&D actually goes into protecting content, or giving us the means to find content-thieves, by TypePad, Blogger, LiveJournal and WordPress.

        A “Copyscape” type of feature, for example, would be something I’d love to see introduced by WordPress. So would the return of the Next / Random Blog button.

    • Keeping your base happy by simply adding an ability to “opt-in / opt-out” for new non-critical features would probably be a good idea…

      I know a lot of people have been clamouring for this feature but having to “Like” something before “Sharing” seems like you’re missing the exact feature most people want over on “other” social media… the “Dislike” button — more importantly this new feature lacks the ability to share something without being forced to give positive or negative feedback.

      IMO “Like” needs to be changed to “Share / Reblog”. Or else the “Share / Reblog” function has to operate separately from the “Like” function.

      …I also have to say, this feature takes a little more control away from the blogger as to where their material ends up. I’d really, really like to see some WP features introduced that better protects our content without our having to resort to a password protected blog.

  4. I agree with TheSacredPath, for the first few months I was on WP… Nothing ever happened. Lately we have bombarded with new themes, features, and WP happenings. I love it.
    I also love the ‘Like’ and ‘reblog’ feature. Sure, it may get your content nicked and reblogged some where else. BUT, if you are taking care of what you are writing enough, it won’t kill you. I promise. My view is that if someone really wants your piece, they will just copy and paste it. Sure, reblogging it makes it a bit simpler. But come on, as long as it has appeared on YOUR blog first, where is the problem?
    I also do not believe that WP is turning them self in to a social networking site, such as FB. I mean, they are already a bit of a social networking site. We all network with each other here, right? But it will never be like Facebook. That would be SO much of a jump and leave WP userless.

  5. I don’t like or want the reblog feature. This doesn’t make me stagnant, non evolved, anti-social, etc. It simply means I wish to opt out of reblogging. Telling me to make my blog private if I don’t want it smacks strongly of ‘Put up or shut up’. This isn’t right.

  6. WordPress is so great!
    Great posting!
    like it very much!

  7. nice posting…………

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