My main complaint about WordPress.com

This is probably going to sound trivial — and it is — but my main complaint about WordPress.com is its name. It is tremendously confusing to people, including WordPress users, WordPress.com users, and outsiders. The WordPress.com forums are full of people asking things about WordPress, and the WordPress project gets “collateral damage” flak for WordPress.com policies. It also hasn’t helped the issue of people thinking of WordPress as a creation of Automattic, instead of the other way around. “WordPress” is entered into web award competitions, but it often is clear whether they mean the WordPress project or the WordPress.com service. I can’t help but think that both entities would be better served had the WordPress.com service used a different name/domain: [FooName] — powered by WordPress.

I’ll now open the floor to Lloyd Budd for a counterpoint. :-)

Update: Automattic’s upcoming hosted BBPress-powered forum service will be called TalkPress… not BBPress.com — though that may have more to do with bbpress.com being taken and “BBPress” being quite a clumsy name for a commercial offering.

100 thoughts on “My main complaint about WordPress.com

  1. I agree. I spend hours helping some people only to find out they have a .com account. I hate having to explain the difference with .org and .com….

    It has damaged the name, but what can we do now? Nothing. We can only sit here and moan about it…

  2. heliologue says:

    Much as I might agree with you, bifurcating the two now would be a long and brutal surgery. I think it would have made more since to call it the “Automattic” blog service or something since the very beginning.

  3. Now is not the time for a name change. WordPress is a brand, as much as it is a blogging platform or CMS. I didn’t know about WordPress.com until long after I had begun using the install version, but now I keep up with both. It may take some time for new users to get acquainted, but people are catching on. For many, it’s now the other way around – they learn about .org after starting a .com blog. I think it’s a subtle, but “strong enough” distinction.

  4. @Lee yes i know how you feel about “being asked help with WordPress only to find it’s the .com” as many people “know” that “wordpress is free” and they “think” they got the right one when they find wordpress.com as they thought they could setup the blog there as “part” of their company’s website (just some computer literacy problem actually).

  5. I just wrote on my Norwegian blog that people have to remember the .com ending when it’s the service WordPress.com and not the software WordPress they are writing about, because it’s two completely different worlds of problem solving and features.

    Many people are not aware of that “WordPress.com” is a name, had it been called something else people would. But it’s too late now doing anything about it other than saying things like “Oh, yes, you can install themes on WordPress, but on WordPress.com you can’t”.

  6. I really agree with your complaint Mark. A perfect example is the Crunchie awards held by Techcrunch. They stated that WordPress was a nominee, not WordPress.com which is what really won the prize. As an end user, I thought the WordPress software was what was nominated for the prize.

    Although it’s easy to say WordPress.com and WordPress.org and be able to tell the difference between the two, there still seems to be a major problem of confusion in the community as to which is what. Half the battle is trying to figure out which one someone is talking about.

  7. Spot on point Mark. The number of times I’ve typed in codex.wordpress.com only to get an error page.

    But hindsight is a truly wonderful thing – if I could go back and change things on some of my blogs, I would. It’s probably too late to change the identity to something else for either product.

  8. I agree, we at wordpress italy, often get request in our support forum from italian people having a wp.com account, and this is increasing so much i’m thinking to ask Matt to send some thousands dollars for having an italian support team for wp.com :)

  9. It would appear to be a question of clarity, I have walked the same path many others have to find I am on the wrong dot something site, for most people .com and .org mean .naff all!

    Maybe if we could have WORDPRESS BLOG SERVICE and WORDPRESS SOFTWARE clearly written on the web sites the confusion would be solved?

  10. Completely agree, Mark: I remember being completely confused as a new user who didn’t even know that .com and .org were different, about the things I was being told I couldn’t do with WordPress. I remember feeling completely incensed that they were apparently telling me that I couldn’t host ads on my own server.

    The longer the names remain the same, the worse the confusion will get. There will never be a ‘right time’ to change things, so it seems to me they should just make the change and let everyone deal with it.

  11. Thinking about the logistics of this makes my head hurt, but I agree that there should be greater differentiation between the two offerings. The best time might be with a major feature upgrade… but which project gets the new moniker?

  12. Well … yes, it’s confusing to the new & partially-informed … but so are many of the finer things in Life! ;-)

    Importantly, the dichotomy isn’t (I’m sure) just an incidental artifact that should be tidied-up & away.

    No. That WordPress.com runs 2 million in full view of every boardroom and head-of-state on the planet … and has the same name as the Open Source script, is an essential part of the success of both. Certainly.

    It is an obvious source of confusion, which is no doubt an irritant to those who must respond to it repeatedly. But it is not just an incidental boo-boo that someone should straighten out.

    Instead, we should put a bit more of our resources to anticipating that newcomers will be ‘trapped’ by the ambiguity … have some extra-big ‘n bright billboards on the landscape to warn … those who actually look up & notice. Etc.

    The correspondence of the names, though, is now doubtless a key to the level of success which WordPress is capable of attaining. … A global powerhouse of the first rank.

  13. Hello! This has nothing to do with the topic. But suddenly, my stats page won’t let me in! It keeps telling me I have the wrong password. But it is the same password as for my dashboard and the rest of the site. I can get into everything except the stats. Can someone please help me? I have already tried resetting my password.

  14. Eventually they will have to centralise everything at wordpress.com. The software will be marketed as the upgrade path for .com users wanting plugins and an unlimited choice of themes but unable to afford the VIP package, .org support will come here and be handled by paid support staff and approved volunteers, and Codex will be deprecated and replaced by Amazon affiliate links to WordPress For Dummies. ;)

    This will happen within the next year or two. The current situation is such a mess that if the widespread confusion isn’t resolved the brand will start to suffer.

  15. @thatgirlagain – Agree
    Can’t understand all the gnashing: one is .com, other .org.
    Give it time, it will all sink in.

    Not wild about calling .com – ‘WORDPRESS BLOG’ .
    The cachet is in the ‘brand name’ WordPress on both accounts.
    Learning curves are fun, and only time wasters if you’ve ‘been there done that’. So, again, let’em learn. We’re all goin’ UP, no?

  16. i think you might be right, they are two very different things, one changes with the flavour of the month, a carrier of sorts, inclucing the front page content, however the other is a much more viable project for the web awards.

  17. Right at this moment, this issue feels trivial to me. Probably because I’ve been battling really disruptive cpu overload problems that originate (someplace) in the dark depths of my wp installation.

  18. Much as I might agree with you, bifurcating the two now would be a long and brutal surgery.

    Now is not the time for a name change.

    I agree. I’m definitely not advocating a change. This is merely hindsight. Which, I realize (and noted), makes this post quite petty. If there’s something I’m advocating here, it is this: be clear what you are talking about, and correct other people when they blur the line and suggest that Automattic == WordPress or (Automattic (WordPress) ) (that’s a Venn diagram of sorts).

  19. And I should also be clear that this is in no way a criticism of Automattic or a dismissal of all the ways that Automattic has advanced WordPress and continues to support it.

  20. tmulcahy says:

    Although this branches off the discussion, has anyone ever had trouble telling people to go to WordPress, and they hear and try World Press? I used to read World Press in high school many years ago, and they, of course, have a website now. Perhaps it is only in my mispronunciation of the name, or I am unconsciously saying World Press instead of WordPress?

  21. Maybe one “Word Press” could become:
    “Term Squeeze”
    “Bulletin Bear Down”
    “Concept Crush”
    “Saying Squish”
    “Idiom Flatten”
    or my favorite:
    “Message Mash”

    There are many options that could help.
    : )

  22. 1. I don’t even know what you’re talking about, but I felt compelled to comment anyway. I hope you are having a nice day. Bye.
    Swineshead – January 23, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Thanks Swineshead. You typed my thoughts. And I’d like to mention that I feel comforted when I read:

    1. Now is not the time for a name change.
    I agree. I’m definitely not advocating a change…
    Mark Jaquith – January 23, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    This is like the “don’t mention the war” from Fawlty Towers. Because it´s been a nightmare to translate to Spanish the spelling of wordpress. A name change would mean starting all over again. And we’ve just learnt how to handle the spelling and the pronunciation –spanglish?

  23. PB says:

    when you all get older, you will realize that life is short enough. Take advantage of what is good in life . You have wordpress.com, a marvelous tool unimaginable to the world just a few short years ago. Bitching about minor details shows a lack of perspective. I run a software company which has survived and made money since 1985. It would be a great business if it weren’t for the customers…but on the other hand, most of them are very loyal and appreciative. Who do you think gets the best service—those who bitch and complain? Hardly. Creating wordpress was a labor of love, now go make your blog a labor of love and people will find it.

  24. I tend to live in the land of confusion so I just go around knowing that I’ll likely get confused and hopefully someone will unconfuse me.

  25. $29M in funding can buy a lot of solutions to any confusion out there.

    So can a sticky labeled “Please read me first before posting” but yet it’s mostly ignored.

    Of cource adding to the confusion was the crunchies banner being run across the top of the wp.org site. Automattic’s ethics have been called into question before.

  26. all I can say is “huh???” I am sooo totally clueless about anything and everything you are all talking about. I just write my little blog, share my little thoughts, which to most are probably boring blatherings of a middle aged woman, and move on to the next thing. So, I’m feel really badly for those of you who are frustrated by wordpress.com or whatever else. Sometimes it pays to be clueless! LOL

  27. i like the name, is so hard to make the difference between .com and .org ? this is a automatic decision

    changing the name of wordpress is like deleting it

  28. It’s not long since I managed to overcome the differences, though I had fooled myself into thinking I had “crossed over” sooner than I thought. Endless confusion was caused, even after I thought I had become enlightened, when I was asked for an API key to activate Akismet. Running WordPress(.org) blog on my own Domain, http://AddIncomeOnline.com , I was then asked to log into a previous WordPress(.com) account to view my API key, launching Akismet for my seperately hosted (.org)Blog…

    Is anyone still with me?

    Happy days!

  29. The same name for two different things[1] was always going to cause confusion, as both support forums demonstrate. Is it possible to fix this? At this point, probably not. The wordpress.com domain is well-established, with a huge user base, so changing that isn’t an option. And renaming such a well-established open source project as wordpress.org would only lead to Holy Wars, Forks, and probably a great deal of weeping, wailing and indeed gnashing of teeth.

    If I get my time machine[2] working, I’ll pop back and tell Matt to use a different name for the hosted service. Any other changes to reality as a result of this can be ignored…

    [1] And for anyone who doubts it, the distinction between .org and .com is not at all obvious to people who are not as tuned into all matters internet as some of us are…
    [2] Not the one on my Mac, that works just fine..

  30. rioholly says:

    I agree with you about the issue. I can’t tell you how often I have tried a plug in which doesn’t work on the .com version.

    But I am surprised that so many bloggers are opposed to change. The internet is always changing and growing. There’s no reason to bemoan mistakes made earlier on. It’s much better to admit issues and fix them. Names change all the time in the world.

    I really don’t think it would be that big of a deal. And the benefits in the long run would be worth it. It should be changed for the free accounts, I think. That way those who pay can keep it the same.

    As little ole’ broke me, a rose by any other name will still run my blog and still make me happy with my free hobby!

  31. I always felt that it was a good name because it calls up images of the old Gutenberg printing press. But at the same time, it does come off a bit utilitarian sounding. No real sense of elan, and to me Automattic sounds a bit mechanistic.

    The best names usually adapt very human ideas or at least have some kind of human referent–e.g. Apple, iPod.

    Still, it’s a great service and I’m enjoying it thoroughly.

  32. The last two years as a member of wp deutschland I can’t say that there are a bunch of people who don’t know the difference between .com and .org.

    But I know why I have my private blog here at wordpress.com- it’s the name.

    monika.automattic.com -never ever …. I’m addicted to the *wordpress community* –

    this community is wordpress – to be a member of xyzbddf.com says nothing.

    “wordpress” the name has made this community so big and now change the name – your brand.

    Maybe the new *money* would like to have a new name ;);) than do it –

    kindly regards
    Monika

  33. i hav a wordpress.com blog and a blogspot… not much of confusing anyway coz i know the different. but i hav prob when helping other bloggers who want to open a wordpress blog..

    i think i agree wif u..maybe we cud use another nice name…

  34. hahaha. yes it got me confused too. o c’mon, not all bloggers are web-techie. the only time i knew abt the diff was when i got interested with paid opps.

  35. now that you can register a full domain name at worpress.com, I never know if i’m looking at someones self hosted wordpress site, or a wordpress.com subdomain.

  36. akusuka says:

    until reading this, I didn’t realize there was a difference. Time to go investigate!

    Kevin M. Scarbrough – January 23, 2008 at 4:48 am

    ha ha ha ….. that’s so funny. it is so wordpress humor.

    to avoid misunderstanding of greenhorn/newbie user, matt should put sentence “Google Adsense (etc) is Not Allowed Here” in WordPress.com front page

    see my post about adsense in forum : http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic.php?id=20464

  37. My only complaint about wordpress.com — and is rather off topic, in a way — is not being able to properly increase or decrease the size of the text normally. The preformated stuff and all those other options just don’t make any sense to me. It would only be so simple to do it the aforementioned way.

  38. Luigi says:

    WordPress is very simple for me to explain to others.
    I call it a creative way to have a website with words and images, then you need the application call wordpress to do it. Publishing words like in the press: wordpress. Can’t it be simple than that to get it!?
    Maybe I am a simple man?
    LAF

  39. i like the name, is so hard to make the difference between .com and .org ? this is a automatic decision

    changing the name of wordpress is like deleting it

    Apparently it is so hard — you did it two quasi-sentences later! :-)

  40. Actually, many companies have changed names to their benefit from all the publicity, so if you all wanted to make a change, I’m sure it would be old news fast, but also be a big publicity gig.

    Having battled this like you from the beginning, I’d vote for BlogPress.

    But then, since when has anyone WordPressy ever listened to me about naming things, you bad namers, you! :D

  41. When I first started a blog online, it was with Blogspot. Then I heard about all of these fantastic things you could do with WordPress, so I changed over to WP.com. I then spent about two weeks beating my head against a wall, trying to download plugins and themes and not understanding why I couldn’t get something to work that other people seemed to figure out with such ease.

    I was kvetching about this on a forum, when someone kindly pointed out to me that my blog was a WP.com blog, not a WP.org blog, and that was the problem. Up until that point, I had no clue there was a difference. I eventually switched my blog (yet again!) to WP.org so I could have more control over it.

    If I had had any clue, I would have gone with WP.org in the first place. Live and learn, I s’pose….

    Havs

    http://www.votemittforpresident.com

  42. @Chris Masse, “Merge MU with .org”. One name, then?

    Well, yes, it would solve the 2-names problem. However, MU is “Multi-User”. Presently runs over 2 million accounts on WordPress.com. Special features must be incorporated to that, all of which are inappropriate for the vast majority of single-user installations. So it solves a trivial problem, by creating a big one.

    And, I doubt it would amount to a ‘merge': instead, the present single-user, open source version would simply be ‘submerged’ – would not longer exist.

  43. The biggest problem with all this is when people are first hearing about WordPress and are told things like “you can’t install your own plugins/themes in WordPress”. Huh? What? I thought you could. Screw that — I’ll use something else.

    Then there are the people on .com beating their heads against a wall trying to figure out how to install a plugin. (Some of the commenters above, for example….)

    The best solution would be a name separation, but of course this would damage the headway either of the two has in entering into the public consciousness….

    Beyond, that, a firm stand on distinguisihing between “WordPress” and “WordPress.com”, _any_ time one of them is named. (Trying to push the distinction between .com and .org will only confuse most people — I think the best is to push “.com” or lack thereof, as most people strongly associate “.com” as meaning “a web site”.)

    Also… forget a “read this first” blurb on the forums… how about a “There is a difference between WordPress software and WordPress.com — read more before posting”

  44. Whenever someone asks me about helping them with WordPress, my first question is “Did you download it or sign up for an account and poof, your blog was set up?” Then I start helping them. Usually if it’s a WordPress.com account, there’s nothing I can do because whatever it is isn’t allowed on WordPress.com.

  45. Would it help if the WordPress MU software and the WordPress software were to merge?

    No. It’s not about the similarity of the software, but about the similarity of the names of WordPress and the WordPress.com service.

    they are both great products, but i think the real distinction is in the primary user base – don’t you think the kind of people that use one are quite different to those using the other?

    There’s some bleed-over. Some people outgrow a hosted solution because they have need for more customized setups. But yeah, I think there are two fairly well-defined groups being targeted. All the more reason for differentiation in the names of the solutions.

  46. Just think of WordPress as a swimming pool.

    If you go to WordPress.org, you can get your own swimming pool (WordPress blog) to take home and install it in your own backyard (web server). You can do all kinds of cool things with your own pool (WordPress blog) in your own backyard (web server).

    However, if you don’t have a backyard (server) of your own, you can go to WordPress.com, and they will give you your own pool (WordPress blog) in their backyard (server). Of course, you have less control, because your pool is on their property.

    Happy swimming!

  47. Is my experience the norm? Is WordPress actually encouraging users to upgrade to their latest version by fouling everyone’s blog if they don’t. That is, once I heard that they had released this latest upgrade, my blog suddenly started displaying it’s entries oldest first, instead of LIFO, last in first out.

    Now, for someone who is technically challenged, their instrux to make the upgrade–mine is hosted on the server that hosts my site, not wordpress.com–does not seem to spell out exactly what to put exactly where. This has become a huge and scary undertaking which I have put off indefinitely, as I do not have the time to parse their instrux and be 100% sure of them before I begin.

    This would be my number one beef with WordPress, the entity AND the software.

    Is there in fact, a plain English/non-techie set of instrux somewhere that any of you know of, or a swimming pool repair company that won’t charge an arm and a leg to quickly make the upgrade.

  48. To say that the .com/.org thing is your main complaint about WordPress is quite a compliment.
    Andrew, who moved main blog to wp.com from another wp host about a year ago.

  49. rtdrury says:

    WordPress is being used for discussion over at Common Dreams and I’m sick and tired of the mile-long links that people post in the discussion pushing the page width out to a mile so that you have to drag the horizontal scroller back and forth for each line. Wonderful! How about limiting the length of strings entered there?

  50. Maybe it´s just because I´m new to all this stuff, but I´m really fascinated by and thankful for things like wordpress. It´s a simple way to express yourself via a blog.

  51. It’s the first time I commented here and I must say you share us genuine, and quality information for bloggers! Good job.
    p.s. You have a very good template for your blog. Where did you find it?

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  53. 幸福 says:

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    一、联合推广的意义
    联合推广是指两个或两个以上的企业或品牌进行的联合市场推广的活动。这种方式的优点是企业花费很少的费用会取得很大的效果,从而演绎1+1>2的传奇。随着网络技术的飞速发展和互联网在我国地迅速普及,上网人数每年也在呈几何倍数的增长。据了解现中国上网人群达到4.04亿,据中国互联网络信息中心统计,截至3月15日,全球通用顶级域名注册总量为1.1亿个。截至2月25日,我国IPv4地址数量约为2.35亿个,居全球第二位。网络现已成为生活中不可缺少的一部分。那么企业为了企业品牌形象和品牌效益选择联合推广是最根本的选择。
    二、品牌联合推广的意义是:
    保护企业品牌环境:达誉盛的广告形式通过发布一些品牌正面信息,正面报道,减少或者消
    除品牌的负面消息,负面影响。
    成本低廉:不增加消耗,所以不产生额外成本,顺风营销,挑战广告成本最低极限。
    极其精准:商品本身可以分辨人们的消费能力,还可以了解使用同一商品的消费者的共同需求,把握需求就是把握机会,需求就是现金。

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    发布及时:由于快速消费品都有比较短的有效期,所以达誉盛联合推广所有在有效期范围之内,所携带的广告就会及时找到它的潜在消费者。

    效果明显:达誉盛联合推广广告方式独特,有非常出众的广告效果和社会效应。
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  54. laoyaoguai says:

    网站建设包括:网站策划、网页设计、网站功能、网站内容整理、网站推广、网站评估、网站运营、网站整体优化,网站建设的目的是通过网站达到开展网上营销,实现电子商务的目的。
    网站建设的实现有以下几个基本的步骤:
    第一步:网站建设第一步肯定是租用虚拟主机,域名注册。
    第二步:定位网站,分析网站功能和需求。
    第三步:网站建设风格设计,网站程序开发。
    第四步:网站建设测试,FTP上传。
    网推广的几个方法:
    第一:最辛苦,也是见效最快的推广办法,论坛推广
      
    首先整理几十个人气最旺的论坛,要是不知怎么找,我告诉你,直接在搜索引擎搜论坛,排在前面的绝对是最火的,还有就是分行业搜索,比如网站推广论坛,肯定是推广论坛中人气最火的。然后注册几个账号,为什么要注册几个呢?留作备用,还有个因素就是有时可以帮顶下帖子。然后就开始发帖、顶贴吧?坚持住就会有很好的效果。还有就是注意方法,不明白的可以去林振军的网站推广技术看看。
      
    第二:博客群推广
      
    这个办法也是很累的,但是效果很好,如果想长期干这行,那一定要试试,见效不是很快,但是一旦见效,那你就厉害了。。
      
    第三:软文推广
     
     这个办法处在论坛推广和博客推广的中间,我最喜欢了,效果非常好,有的时候能在一天内给我带来几十个外部链接和几K的流量,当然和大网站没法比了,但是对于我们来说很好了,方法也很简单,学会写软文,学会找内容、写标题,这些我的林振军推广技术网站都有,可以看看。
     
    第四:百度知道推广
      
    这个办法做好了,流量确实无法猜测,我看这招影视累的网站经常用,方法也不难,就是提前去做,抓住时机,自问自答。
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