Ever hear that saying, “All good things must come to an end“? Good things are like all things. WordPress is still the most popular blogging platform on the internet today. However, one day it will need to be replaced by another. So with that in mind on this Friday the 13th, I’ll take a look at some of the things I believe would need to happen for WordPress to fall off its pedestal. This is also the topic of tonight’s episode on WordPress Weekly . If you have any questions or suggestions, please call in tonight to join the discussion.
Third Party Support Disappears
Ask anyone why they use WordPress, and they will tell you that third-party support in the form plugins or themes is a top reason. It is one of the main reasons I use WordPress. Although the software is not perfect, plugins and themes allow end users to modify or remove functionality from their initial software package. You can change the look and feel easily of your blog with so many themes.
If you remove themes and plugins, WordPress will no longer be the best choice for your needs.
Change In License
If you take a look back at the history of WordPress, you’ll discover that in 2004, Movable Type, a competing publishing platform created by Six Apart changed their licensing terms for their software. A mass exodus of WordPress users migrated from MT to WordPress.org/.com. This was the greatest thing that happened to WordPress. At the time, WordPress was experiencing a steady but slow growth rate. WordPress was able to take advantage of the MT situation and open up new possibilities.
As it stands, the WordPress.org stand alone software is licensed under the GPL. This license allows you to modify, copy, and redistribute code. This is one of the main reasons there are so many plugins for the software. If the license is made more restrictive or less beneficial for end users/developers in the future, it could lead to a repeat of the past with a mass exodus from WordPress to another platform.
Just a Pile of Bloat
As with all software, a project or idea begins small. However, as the development process progresses, additional features are added to the packages, which makes the software more complicated and larger. This can lead to it being considered bloat by most users. WordPress’s WordPress Ideas section can help to reduce bloat at this stage. It will allow users to share their ideas and see the most requested features. There is always the debate about whether a plugin is better than WordPress’ core.
It is inevitable that software will evolve over time and include so many new features and enhancements that they are considered bloatware. Although everyone’s definition of bloat may differ, the general consensus is that software that is full of unnecessary features or core plugins will be considered bloatware. These users will likely look for software that solves their specific problems or is in a different stage of development.
If WordPress makes more mistakes than right when it is adding features to its core, then we could see WordPress being called bloatware by the majority of users. This would be a huge disaster.
Someone Else Does it Better
While WordPress development is 24/7, there are other open source alternatives that are making headway such as Habari (That ones for you Andrew). WordPress has a large user base. Every small change or addition to the core can have exponential effects. WordPress may eventually become less useful because there are better alternatives. WordPress publishing information could become more difficult than it is now. The installation process can also become difficult. Open source alternatives that do things in a better way than WordPress have a chance to erode its market share.
In its current state, WordPress is not too small for the purposes it was intended. WordPress is constantly being improved and could eventually become too complex for people’s needs. If WordPress plugins are developed that reverse the original feature set of core developers, it will be obvious.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed any recent news about major hacks on WordPress-powered websites. It’s been a while since that happened. Although I don’t want to call WordPress lucky, I am happy to see that WordPress itself has a good security record.
If WordPress is subject to a series of serious security flaws that lead to major websites being hacked, it will severely damage the software’s reputation. Security flaws are a great reason to consider using a publishing software that is less popular than WordPress, and has better security.
Leadership Heads South
While my time in the WordPress community is not as extensive as others, I have seen a lot of the archived content on WordPress.org and it seems that Matt has done an amazing job leading this massive project. While he made mistakes in the past they didn’t seem have any effect on the success of the current software. In the interview that I conducted with Matt, he stated that he considers the community when making decisions regarding WordPress.org. This is exactly what I was looking for.
While I might not agree with every decision Matt makes, it is better for the community if he makes that type of decision than following his own agenda. I see a lot of backlash if Matt, the leader of WordPress.com, makes decisions based on Automattic.com’s commercial entity or the needs of the community. There will be lots of negative publicity, and this could lead to thousands or hundreds of users migrating to other places.
I love WordPress and the community it creates. It is foolish, I believe, to not anticipate what might happen no matter how bizarre these events may sound. With the exception of reason #3, I believe most of the above has a low chance of happening. Matt is very proud of keeping WordPress bloat-free and keeping files small as possible. However, there are so many users that it might be easy for some to convince others that WordPress is a cumbersome piece of software. It will be interesting to see how many plugins end-up as core features. If not done correctly, this alone could cause a downswing in the software. But WordPress is not so fragile that one little thing can cause an avalanche. This is unless WordPress changes its license, which was exactly what happened with MT.
I believe WordPress will continue to be the preferred platform for a long time. Although I could give you a time frame, the pace of things is so rapid that it’s impossible to predict. However, I will admit that I believe there are other publishing platforms that will eventually challenge WordPress. To be honest, it’s something I look forward to. I will be content with the moment and try to influence WordPress’s direction so it doesn’t take any dark paths.