Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic (the folks behind WordPress.org among others), posted a response to the recent attack ad campaign from Wix in which they personify the open source software WordPress as an annoying, neglectful, glitchy father and complain about their problems in a confrontational therapy session.
From Matt’s post, Wix and Their Dirty Tricks:
I have a lot of empathy for whoever was forced to work on these ads, including the actors, it must have felt bad working on something that’s like Encyclopedia Britannica attacking Wikipedia. WordPress is a global movement of hundreds of thousands of volunteers and community members, coming together to make the web a better place. The code, and everything you put into it, belongs to you, and its open source license ensures that you’re in complete control, now and forever. WordPress is free, and also gives you freedom.
He goes on to explain that Wix itself is more fitting to be personified as an abuser. Their investor presentation explicitly outlines their business model of making it difficult to leave by not allowing users to export their data and consumers complain it’s difficult to get a refund. The for profit company knows that once they’ve got you locked in they can continue to charge more each year.
So if we’re comparing website builders to abusive relationships, Wix is one that locks you in the basement and doesn’t let you leave. I’m surprised consumer protection agencies haven’t gone after them.
Is this simply a difference in opinion between the value of open source versus paid software? He continues:
Philosophically, I believe in open source, and if WordPress isn’t a good fit for you there are other great open source communities like Drupal, Joomla, Jekyll, and Typo3. We also have a great relationship with some of our proprietary competitors, and I have huge respect for the teams at Shopify and Squarespace, and even though we compete I’ve always seen them operate with integrity and I’d recommend them without hesitation.
Here is one of the ads in question it feels like a cheap ripoff of Apple’s 2006 Mac vs PC Campaign. You be the judge.
1. It’s ironic that they would want to point out WordPress as a father figure considering they’re the ones that copied WordPress’s code but didn’t follow the GPL terms that one must abide if you’re going to reuse said code legally. They’ve since removed the code in question.