Eating My Words – WordPress GPL

Ryan Hellyer direct messaged me on Twitter recently to link me to something I wrote over four years ago about GPL and what it was doing to the WordPress community.

I have to admit that back then I was sometimes contrary just to be contrary, and enjoyed debating the anti-WordPress side here and there on podcasts and blogs. Sometimes, I brought up good points, and other times I was just plain wrong.

Here is part of what I said:

The fact is that there has not been a good business model put forth regarding community efforts, and Automattic tries to destroy any models that do come up.

I think the GPL is eventually going to be the death of WordPress rather than its saving grace.

I have no doubt that in five years, systems like Habari will get more attention because businesses will have a clear method of monetization. Strong developers will realize that “if I make the plugins that the community wants, I don’t have to work in an office slaving away for someone else’s bottom line.”

Show me a successfully monetized GPL theme or plugin *with proof that it is successful under that model* and I’ll eat my words.

Read the rest on WPTavern

At this point, I have to eat my words. GPL didn’t kill WordPress, other systems like Habari haven’t taken the world by storm, and Automattic isn’t trying to destroy every business model that comes along. In fact, the premium themes on have most likely helped some theme developers (now if only they’d do the same with plugin authors).

Add to that my career with rocketgenuis working with them on Gravity Forms, a premium plugin, and you have a double whammy against what I had said. And of course rocketgenius isn’t alone, as there are dozens of super successful companies creating WordPress products and employing sometimes dozens of people thanks the community support.

Also, while some people do just take, the community does have people willing to pay for good products and services, and it is also self policing for the most part, as I can think of a few times I’ve received an e-mail letting me know of sites trying to re-sell Gravity Forms.

Thanks for pointing it out Ryan (@ryanhellyer), it was nice to look back at some of the crazier things that I said, and in this instance, I’m definitely glad I’m wrong, or I’d be unemployed.

2 responses to “Eating My Words – WordPress GPL”

    • No doubt. And there are probably many contrary things I said during my podcasting days that didn’t hold up. I never thought that WordPress would get mass market appeal if it couldn’t court developers, and I was sure the petty fighting over GPL was going to cause the community to split off and work on different platforms.

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