Never kick a sleeping giant

Recovered from the Wayback machine.

Mark Pilgrim has also made the move to WordPress saying what the rest of us have been saying, that it’s not about the money (i.e. we’re not whining, cheap, spoiled free blogging shits). He wrote:

WordPress is Free Software. Its rules will never change. In the event that the WordPress community disbands and development stops, a new community can form around the orphaned code. It’s happened once already. In the extremely unlikely event that every single contributor (including every contributor to the original b2) agrees to relicense the code under a more restrictive license, I can still fork the current GPL-licensed code and start a new community around it. There is always a path forward. There are no dead ends.

No doubt this is going to encourage more people to make the move to WordPress. I can only hope that the people making this move be a bit patient at first–the tools are different. It will take time. Make sure you know what you’re doing before you hop.

As much of an impact as it is to see the first Technorati 100 make the jump from MT to WordPress because of the 3.0 upgrade, I think the more significant jump could be Scriptygoddess, an important member of the community providing tools and tricks and coding goodness to MT users. Jennifer is seriously considering moving to a PHP-based CMS , based in part on MT 3.0 and in part because she, like myself and others, likes to work with PHP.

Finally, if you’re hosted in Hosting Matters, as I am, and others of you are, don’t count on running the free version of Movable Type 3.0, as you can see in this thread. With that foolish and totally unexplainable single CPU restriction, very few hosts will allow the installation of MT 3.0 free on their sites.

However, and this is important: don’t count on staying with the old version of MT 2.6x either. Without corporate or even third party support, MT will soon become a security risk, as mentioned on the thread. If it does, the host will boot it.


As Rogi noted in my oomments, and I spotted over at Michael Hanscome’s (with a snazzy new look, Michael being one of the first of the new Men In Pink), Six Apart has listened to the ‘constructive’ feedback the last few days and has updated their pricing and licenses.

(An update that already has 30+ trackback links, will be curious to see reactions.)

The single most important update was removing the single CPU restriction. This was critical: once companies like HM weighed in against the license because of it, others would soon follow, and this effectively shut people out of using the 3.0 upgrade. However, like Michael, I am left with a question:

Admittedly, I’m very curious about this one. If it wasn’t intended to be in the license, how did it get in there in the first place? And then stay there up to the point where it was posted to the website? Didn’t anyone (their lawyers, for example) go over this stuff with a fine-toothed comb first? This is the sole point that still really has my eyebrows raised.

The company has clarified that this new pricing is not retroactive to older versions of the product, which I didn’t think was an issue. However, there is still that concern of hosting companies about old versions of MT–just as no longer supported versions of Windows are prime targets for viruses (I have to wipe my roommate’s machine next week due to nasty bug in his Windows 98 install), a bunch of old, non-supported versions of MT can provide a risk to an ISP.

Six Apart has also changed the policy on multi-author, multi-weblog installations. The number of authors has been increased in the lowest personal purchased license, and the expanded licenses have increased counts. With this, my installation would have fit within the Personal Edition II license, with an intro offer of $149.95 (regularly $189.95). If I needed additional author/weblog pairs, I could purchase them at $9.95 each.

This is an improvement, but, frankly, if I were paying that much money, I would purchase ExpressionEngine, instead, which I looked at a couple of months ago. (Note: the products are no longer installed, and as a clarification, EE now has a Movable Type import utilitiy.) I found it to be a superior product to MT, and there is no limitation on authors/weblogs.

Still, I think that Six Apart made an important step with these clarifications, and by listening to what others have said. I also think it’s good that many of the people who are thinking of moving because of pricing won’t need to–for their sake and the sake of the tools such as WordPress, which may have been overwhelmed if the exodus became too extreme.

However, I had already planned on moving before the licensing issue, primarily because I felt that Six Apart was not communicating with its customers, and was keeping too many things close to the vest, as ‘corporate secrets’. This is a company that makes weblogging software, for personal and corporate use; yet weeks, even months would go by without a peep (including during the time when many of us were being overrun with comment spam). I also don’t care for the concept of using a tool that’s a ‘publishing platform’–as if our writing roots are like parents we don’t want to introduce to our hip new friends because they’re such hicks.

In addition, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the benefits of the paid versus free upgrades. I notice that the order page still lists the following for the paid version, but not the free:

# Application updates and fixes (not including major upgrades)
# A guaranteed path to future versions
# Access to fee-based services such as installation, advanced support, other services

The implication here still is that MT 3.0 is the last free version. There’s also that restriction requiring MT upgraders to sign up for TypeKey to download the product, when we were assured that TypeKey would not be required for MT. This is a complete reversal from an earlier Six Apart communication. Why a MT upgrader must have TypeKey makes no sense.

More than past unhappiness with Six Apart, though, I really do want to provide more support for open source efforts. And I like WordPress, it’s so fun to tweak! So time to stop focusing on Movable Type and it’s upgrade, and face forward into a new environment, and new adventures.

But I respect Six Apart coming out with this clarification, and the new licensing, not to mention removing that bizarre single CPU restriction. And I wish the company and its employees continued success in the path of its choosing.

Second Update

I guess I can’t move on just yet. Not while I’m reading the makings of a growing misunderstanding.

From reading through the trackbacks to the Six Apart license update, I wanted to add my own clarification about the discussion of what is a ‘weblog’. The definition at Six Apart states:

In our licenses, we now address this with this language: “Weblog” means a single Web site viewable at a single URL (Uniform Resource Locator), consisting of one or more weblogs as generated by the Software via the “Create New Weblog” function of the Software.

People are making the leap that this means separate weblogs within the same domain are now considered one weblog; this is not what the new license is stating.

The license states that weblogs that are used as lists and embedded within another page are not separate weblogs; however, weblogs that can be viewed distinctive from another page, and have their own URL, are considered separate weblogs.

For instance, at a maximum, I had the following weblogs:

And well, the list goes on. Each of these is a distinctive sub-domain with its own URL, but a URL is not synonymous with domain.

None of these weblogs are used as ‘lists’ or included as content in another weblog page, as some people do for book lists or quick links. Under the license definition, these are separate weblogs– many of which are under one domain name, but still separate weblogs.

Technically, if one is feeling particularly pedantic, one could say that each page in a MT weblog has its own unique URL, and therefore the company can charge for each page–but splitting semantics this far is counter productive.

For additional reading on the issue of domains and URLs, in an ideal world, I would point you to the book, “Internet for Poets”, but, well, this is a book that hasn’t a home. Yet.

Third Update

This is the last update, I promise, but I don’t like FUD.

Tim Appnel comes out with another post on the MT license thing. That’s great who cares, except that he is deliberately misquoting, or quoting out of context, and I feel that clarifications are in order.

Appnel takes on Mark Pilgrim, writing:

Not everyone gets a regular pay check to bankroll their million dollar code projects. I don’t begrudge anyone who wants to use free software or develop it. (Why would I? I do both.) But I don’t think its fair to pounce on them for not doing so. Conversation is fine and freedom is great, but it doesn’t mean we all have free license to say rude and hurtful things with impunity – especially to people you claim to like.

I had to go back to Mark’s post to see the rude and hurtful things. What I read was a pretty objective statement, giving the reasoning behind Mark’s move to WordPress: Movable Type never was open source; it stagnated while Six Apart started TypePad (even the Trotts admitted this); TypeKey has attracted spammers already (nyah, nyah, told you so); the 3.0 development release is buggy; and he provided a pretty damn good explanation about why many of us like GPL. Oh, and the Trotts are nice people, and we all have a right to make money.

If these are ‘rude’ and ‘hurtful’ comments, then please, may I have so more rude and hurtful comments from folks? Especially when I talk about tech? Please, please?

As for implying that I was suggesting a ‘conspiracy’ because I, like others, was curious about how the single CPU restriction entered into the license, that’s just about the gummiest FUD I’ve seen on this whole Event. I agree with Appnel that the license probably was a copy from another product. However, I would assume that it would be looked over by the Trotts to ensure that this type of confusion doesn’t happen, because Hosting Matters was at a point of not allowing the product because of this ‘mistake’.

Mistakes in licenses are serious things. Folks are right to question these. People who plan on using Movable Type in the future should continue to question confusing language in the licenses.

What’s sad about this though, is that the ‘baby squirrel’ phenomena is still in effect for Movable Type and the Trotts and Six Apart, when I thought we’d grown beyond that.

What do I mean by the ‘kicking the baby squirrel’ phenomena? When we address technical issues or question pricing, and you perceive it as an attack on the people, that’s accusing us of kicking the baby squirrels. If you perceive any criticism of a company or a technology or a person’s writing or opinions, as an act of overt hostility, and respond with personal insults in return, that’s playing the kicking the baby squirrel card.

I hope those of us moving to other tools, don’t bring this “can’t kick the baby squirrels” phenomena along with us–I’d hate to see a weblogging tool like WordPress reverenced by a league of obsessed followers. I’d have to move tools, again, then.

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