Back in late October when I decided to move us over to WordPress – no, I haven’t gotten that done yet thanks to all the travel – James posted a comment that I thought was interesting. He said in part:
Lets not forget your bias to using OSS products either Stephen, which is surely a factor in the decision.
It was interesting because while I do indeed have a bias, it’s not actually towards open source – at least, not in a direct sense.
My bias is rather towards solutions that have the most vibrant communities behind them. Back when we chose Movable Type, in fact, I did consider WordPress and went instead with MT because at the time I felt it had the best community around it. I picked, in other words, community over open source. And honestly, I have very few regrets about that decision, despite our pending migration.
It was fascinating, in the context of this discussion, to hear WordPress’ Matt Mullenweg trace the arc of WordPress back at Startup Camp. From a small project competing against the 800 lb gorilla of the blogging platform market to one of the more popular open source projects around, WordPress’ growth has been phenomenal and is many respects a case study for how to build communities.
Because ultimately, that’s why we’re leaving MT. Not solely because of the problems we’ve had with Six Apart’s product – every application is going to run into issues – but because WordPress has done a far better job of growing their community. There are more themes, more plugins, and as a result more and more sites running WordPress.
Has open source played a role in this ascension? Undoubtedly. Does every open source project get community building right? Hardly. Can closed source foster communities? Of course. But when I sit back and consider my biases from a purchasing and deployment standpoint, I believe that my bias towards community is going to lead me to open source solutions more often than not, simply because they seem far more adept at building and sustaining communities than their closed source competitors. So while I may indeed have a bias towards open source, it’s indirect.