The Butterfly Effect

What a week!

So last Friday afternoon I wrote a blog post, and this Friday afternoon it’s had over 100,000 hits, and apparently ruffled a few feathers. I’ve not been on hand to see the full extent of the carnage as I’ve been travelling, but it does seem that some form of “wrap up” post is required.

A bit of Background

First, I really want to give a small bit of background. We “officially” went back to work on Monday, but we’ve a tradition where on the Friday before we start back after New Year, we come into the office for pizza/beer and spend a few hours chatting about the good/bad points from the previous year and what we hope to do this year. It has an added bonus of allowing people to appreciate the final weekend.

As I’m sure you know already, this year WordPress wasn’t talked about with much fondness, and we decided that we wouldn’t promote WordPress as our go-to CMS anymore.

I was happy that everyone felt good about our conversations, Pizza was had, Beer was drank, I wrote a blog post, and headed for the airport for a week in the US.

Some things you know

So for some unknown reason, that blog post went viral. #1 news story on HackerNews, front-page of reddit, over 400 pingbacks, over 1000 comments across multiple sites (i’m not going to attempt to answer them sorry), almost 500 e-mails and about 100 tweets (thank God, as I’m crap at twitter) – and 100,000 hits.

And, I have no idea why. There’s nothing in the post that’s new, there’s no argument to be had, in my opinion it’s absolutely un-interesting. It’s a personal blog post, that I didn’t circulate to anyone, because there’s nothing to it. I just wanted it written down for a point of reference later on.

So, I’m shocked at the amount of anger that it’s generated? Why on earth would anyone care that we’re no longer using WordPress as our go-to CMS? I don’t really see how or why it affects so many of the people who are angry.

Worse, that angers taken on a life of it’s own. I don’t agree with many things written out there about my blog post, but wow – some folks have just went overboard in an insane way by posting outright lies.

It also managed to illicit a flame-war / love-in for the WordPress community that could only parody the transition of colour of the Wizard of Oz; such was the coming together of like-minded people to pat themselves on the back that they’d managed to excommunicate someone with a different opinion.



“Ding Dong, the witch is dead… “

On top of that, the e-mails have been flowing in. The usual hate-mail / threats from the WordPress community for not sacrificing my first-born to their Golden Cow; but this time a few more people asking questions. Funnily enough, I recommended WordPress to many of them, as it absolutely meets their needs.

Use the software that works best for you.

I don’t hate WordPress. I really like it. But even if I didn’t like it, i’m an adult, there are very few things I actually “hate”. It’s such a strong word, that the MTV-without-music generation have managed to dilute somewhat, without ever grasping the strength of it’s meaning : “h8rs gonna h8″ – (but not finish school apparently).

Bluntly, my small company are no longer going to use WordPress as our go-to CMS. Thats a positive thing; for us, our clients, and WordPress. There is no drama. This is just a sensible course of action.

My staff no longer feel that the positives out weigh the negative – for us – in what we’re trying to do. Not for you. You should decide on your own. If WordPress works for you and what you want to do, then awesome, and enjoy – I certainly did. But for us WordPress is Duplo; WordPress is Crayola; WordPress is FisherPrice… we loved working with WordPress for the most part, but we’ve outgrown it.

There’s no bad feeling here. It’ll always have a special place in my heart; but it’s simply not in a position to deal with the non-blogging world that my clients now live in. WordPress has identified it’s market, it’s blogging. Actually, it’s “blogging+”, sadly thats no longer our market. When it was our market, WordPress was awesome. And thats ok, it’s a good time to go our own way .

No doubt there’ll be people that don’t understand, thats ok, they will if/when they get to where we are. Until then, they should enjoy it. I know I’m going to continue using WordPress on my personal website; and I’m going to love it.

But… But… But…

The real surprise is that people think I’m throwing WordPress under the bus on my way out the door (if thats not mixing too many metaphors).

Many people have e-mailed, tweeted, and written blog posts on how I should have raised all these points before, or that I should engage the Core Team, or that I should do something to give back to the community. The thing that surprises me is that, I’ve done all of that.

I sponsor the upcoming WordUpGlasgow twice (once personally and professionally). I’m also speaking at it.

I’m responsible for the running of Open Source Scotland, one of the largest Open Source conference/festivals in Europe. This year, that event poised to lose roughly £25,000. I actually opted to run the event instead of hiring another developer; such was my desire to give back. I’ve been transparent before, if the event loses £50,000, I lose my house. Thats just a margin of 40 tickets folks. 40!

(Our speakers include WordPress legends Andrew Nacin, Joost De Valk and Mike Little – as well as Dries Buytaert, Brian Teeman and Rasmus Lerdorf, the creators of Drupal/Joomla/PHP respectively)

I’m not a Saint by any stretch of the imagination, but I think putting the roof above my families head on the line counts as giving back to the Open Source community. I dont see many others doing it, and I wouldn’t ask them to.

But the real kicker is that every point I’ve mentioned in my personal blog post on my personal site has already been openly discussed with the core team. Andrew Nacin even posted on his blog that people should read our conversation on my ’15 points’ (my post > andrew’s reply > my reply)

Apparently, no-one in the community really cared about the issues I raised last year, when there had been public and constructive conversations with Core Devs. I’m not sure why people suddenly care about these issues now; or worse, why they presume that this is the first time I’ve raised them simply because they didn’t see the previous conversations.

For my part, I’m only human, and I’m very open to being wrong – according to my better half I’ve not been right in 3 years ;) But regardless of my love for WordPress, I know in my heart that I’m doing the right thing in listening to my staff and my clients. And they want a different CMS.

What CMS is next?

For some reason people seem really offended and upset that I didn’t also comment on which CMS we believe will 100% meet our needs and overtake WordPress.

The answer is, we don’t know.

We’ve always built our products on the CMS or platform that best suited our clients needs. Sometimes thats Drupal, Joomla, Umbraco; sometimes it’s on custom Rails code. We currently have sites live using PHP, Ruby, Java, and .Net. There is no magic CMS that achieves everything we want in any way we want – there never will be.

So this month we’ll be running a few PoCs to compare and whittle down our options. For all I know we might never have a “go-to” CMS again; or we might have one in Q2.

Good News on the horizon

What I can say is this. A great number of the CMSs on the market have really started to grasp that WordPress gained traction based on simplicity and a good UI.

Day, SiteMash, Joomla2.5, Drupal7/Gardens, Expression Engine, EZpublish, Concrete5 have all made strides in this area. I’m making a prediction, that in 18 months, WordPress won’t be able to claim that it’s AdminUI is lightyears ahead of its competitors anymore; but the opposite will be true of it’s competitors talking about WordPress and architecture. This image below from a WordPress core contributor is the issue, getting the UI of any product right is exceptionally hard; but getting the architecture right is so much harder – something the WP community hasn’t grasped at all.



These are not equal

I have spent this week going from company to company in 8 cities in America from the North East to the South West; with more than half of those people contacting me since reading the blog post. Although I reached out prior to the blog post, and again before it went viral, only 1 CMS vendor didn’t want to talk through their roadmap. I’ll let you guess which one.

It’s a great time for Open Source and CMSs, I just hope some of the threats against me and my family from WordPress fans weren’t real, so I can be here to enjoy it.