May 14, 2004

Line in the Sand

Ok, so Movable Type 3.0 has a pay structure now. It’s nothing to start whining about. Six Apart is a business. Good for them! They turn out a quality product that they have devoted their talents and energies to; they should be able to make a living from it if they can. Look past your wallet for two seconds and think. The good people at Six Apart have never made any promises other than there will always be a free version. And guess what? There is still a full, free version.

People feel like they have been betrayed… with all this talk of people jumping ship. Half of you would still fall into the free release category! Doesn’t anyone realize what MT will be turning into? If these people are making MT their livelihood, judging by their great track record, you can count on a quality product that will have a devoted team working to constantly make it better.

“So”, you say. “I have a site with 8 authors and I don’t want to pay”. You are telling me that you and your site-mates can’t scrounge up $19 each to run your site? How do you pay for hosting? How the hell do you pay for your internet connection?

I bought a key with my first version of MT because I believed in it. I still believe its a great piece of software that makes maintaining a site like mine a snap. It allows me to spend more time on the things I really want to do with my site and my time. If you use MT and like it, please realize that supporting them helps ensure MT stays every bit as good as it is now. MT’s new structure basically throws the doors open to the community and plug-in developers. Within a year’s time, due to the ongoing support of its dedicated user-base, MT will be so feature-rich you’ll have a headache just looking at all of the possibilities.

Isn’t there anything better to get all up in arms about? Too many of you are acting alarmed because you feel like you have to, this hive-mentality is ridiculous! If you have such a huge site, with so many authors, so many blogs and can’t find the funds, then just simply don’t upgrade right now. Hell, the latest version of MT is light on new features and more of a setup for greater things anyway. That will give you plenty of time to hold a bake sale or a community car wash to raise your funds. But if you are so appalled and if it bothers you that much, then jump ship. There are many more options out there. Mark my words though, the same thing will happen for them. If they become at all successful, they will need to move to a business plan. Such is the nature of the free product model. In order to develop things further and maintain your customers you will need to expand your product, and inevitably, your operation. The whole world was built on progress people.

How many of you can say you make a living doing what you love? I am sure Six Apart truly believes in their product and loves their users. They’ve done right by their efforts and deserve to reap the rewards. More power to them, which in turn will be more power to us. As for me, I am staying right where I am.

* Update * More good opinions on the matter at Kottke.org

* Updated Again * Six Apart announces some clarifications and revisions

Weblog issue is clarified.

If your weblog site is constructed from 4 “Weblogs” in Movable Type — one for the main weblog text, one for a link list, one for a music list, and one for a book list — this should count as only 1 weblog towards the number of weblogs you’re allowed according to the license.

Blog and author numbers given a little boost.

  • For the Personal Edition, we’re increasing the number of allowed authors from 3 to 5. The number of allowed weblogs will still be 5.
  • Personal Edition Volume License I: 10 authors, 10 weblogs
  • Personal Edition Volume License II: 13 authors, 13 weblogs

Flexibility to plans added. Now you can add yours friend’s, after you have exceeded the author limits, at $10 a pop. It could be your membership fee!

We’re adding a new “Personal Edition Add-On” package that gives someone who has purchased a Personal Edition license the ability to buy 1 new weblog and 1 new author for $10. You can purchase as many additional author/weblog packs as you want, each for $10.

Commentary (31):

1. ACJ says… may 14, 2004 | 1:07 am

Good to hear another sound, finally. The rants and bashing I’ve seen on the matter thusfar has been of some personal disturbance.
By the way, don’t people realize you can still use 2.661?

2. Danny Cohen says… may 14, 2004 | 1:53 am

what if you were a group of students? There are great commenting features in the new version of MT that would be great for a blog community, no spam and nobody posing as somebody else.

cocaineinmotion.com/blog/

3. Andrei Herasimchuk says… may 14, 2004 | 2:20 am

”…what if you were a group of students?”

Like Jason, go hold a bake sale.

Bottom line: People pay for their internet connection (and students, whether they realize it or not do so as well via their tuitions), they pay for hosting, and they pay for their computers.

Intellectual property like software needs to be paid for as well if the creator asks to be compensated for their work. If you are not willing to pay when asked, you’re option is to not use the work of others. (And for the creators that don’t want compensation, more power to them.)

Anyone who has the money to purchase a computer has the money, or can find a way to make it, to purchase MT3.

4. Keith says… may 14, 2004 | 3:13 am

Heck video games cost almost fifty bucks. Get off the PS2.

;)

In all seriousness, I’ve been reading this stuff about MT 3.0 all night and I’ve gone back and forth. I think the vast majority of people who are mad are blowing this way out of proportion.

There are people who’ve got a right to be mad or worried, but give it a few days. I think Six Apart needs to clarify a few things (such as licensing for students) and my guess is they will do that.

You can’t deny they messed this up from a PR and communication stand point.

But what really gets to me is this whole attitude of expecting something for nothing. That is out there and it’s something that I’m frankly sick of. This issue just throws a bigger problem into the spotlight.

There are lots of people providing content, services and products on the Web for free (or very cheap) and whenever they try to make a fair buck on their own hard work people jump all over them.

That, my friends, is bullshit.

5. Lee says… may 14, 2004 | 3:47 am

I am curious to see how this pans out. I just started to use MT and really like it, I am curious to see the difference in the pay and free editions

6. RMCox says… may 14, 2004 | 9:10 am

To begin: You can’t deny they messed this up from a PR and communication stand point.

Word.

Just as an aside: I coded my entire site and from basic authentication, sql connections, form validation and submission, site administration, searching, security, interface, archiving, etc took a long, long time. Not to mention that a fair amount of technical ability is required to pull the whole thing off.

And my Kool-Aid doesn’t do a fraction of what MT can.

All of that time and energy I spent on the a|p framework cost a lot more than $150.

7. Scott Boms says… may 14, 2004 | 9:17 am

I think a lot of folks have been making really good and worthwhile observations on this matter (here anyway). Yes there is a free version still and perhaps Six Apart kind of blew it in the way they’ve started marketing 3.0 - they really should have put more of an emphasis on the fact that there is still a free version where people will see it (if nothing else to avoid all the flaming and rants on them “selling out”).

If the people ranting about the changes would have read a little more then prehaps all this bad press would not have appeared. Will Six Apart address the concerns? I’m sure they will, people will chill and life will go back to normal and folks can find something better to blog about than switching to Blogger or another free blog/CMS tool.

Keith used the example of video games and the PS2. Think about how much you pay for a copy of Photoshop or Dreamweaver? It’s a heck of a lot more than $99 for a personal edition license of MT.

If we expect Ben and Mena to be able to keep developing and supporting MT, then I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask for something to (a) encourage them to do so and (b) to allow them to be able to afford to do so.

8. Scott Johnson says… may 14, 2004 | 11:42 am

If you can’t afford MT3, there are other (free) alternatives. Sure, they may not be as refined, but hey, you get what you pay for. Many people swear by Wordpress. Textpattern is only just now out in a gamma release (whatever that means), but it’s looking like a nice tool. There are many others—I only mention these because they seem to be the most popular amongst MT emigrants.

I have a feeling that I’ll be purchasing one of these new releases very soon. I like the way that MT works, and I don’t really want to switch to any other software. Plus, most of the others out there are PHP-based, and I really dig perl.

Whatever you choose, Six Apart has not done a Bad Thing by charging for their time and efforts spent developing this software. And likewise, they have not locked you in. If you don’t like this, go elsewhere. But if you’re like me, you’ll stick with the best.

9. Phil says… may 14, 2004 | 1:10 pm

Thank you, Jason. I agree with everything you said on this situation.

It is interesting to me the sense of entitlement people feel when receiving something for free, as if the provider owes them something even though they are giving nothing in exchange for it. They complain about PBS having too many pledge drives. They complain that NPR doesn’t have enough variety. They complain that people who have paid the subscription fee to a game get the Sword of Da MastaKillah when they have a free account and have to be content with the Butterknife of Doom.

It seems like your right to complain about something should be in direct proportion to how much you are giving up to have it.

I wonder if all this flak will discourage other developers from initially offering their product for free and just start charging from the get-go. I’ll bet if Six had started with this pricing model, nobody would have batted an eye.

10. PeterSantaMaria says… may 14, 2004 | 1:50 pm

What’s next, paying for downloaded music?!?!?! : P

11. Anton says… may 14, 2004 | 5:03 pm
What’s next, paying for downloaded music?!?!?!
LOL!!!! damn skippy, that line sums it up real nice and tidy!

Someday, I might like to “roll my own” blog CMS.
Why, when there are already some good ones out there (such as what I’m currently using - WordPress)?
*shrug*
I have no idea. It’s just what I do.

:)

12. Lea says… may 15, 2004 | 12:13 am

I think the misconception of defenders of 6A and MT3 at this point is that the angry people just don’t want to pay. When quite the opposite is true. A lot of people didn’t expect MT to be free forever. A lot of people donated chunks of money into it.

The main problem is the confusing pricing structure and restrictive licensing agreements, plus 6A’s inability, apparently, to properly communicate to their end users. They even failed to inform their Alpha and Beta MT3 testers about these developments!

They’ve been horrible at PR and they continue to do so. The point of the matter also, is that 6A has promised several times in the past that MT3 is NOT the fabled “MTPro” and will not have a charge or restrictions to it. Perhaps if this was the MTPro, then maybe there would be less heat towards it.

People feel lied to, Jason. It’s not because we’re “cheap.” 6A, frankly, said something and then revoked their words with their actions.

Meanwhile, I do think it’s almost a veiled attempt at promoting the cheaper TypePad service for their bloggers, while catering to their corporate users with MT. Unfortunately, that ignores the power non-profit users like http://web-graphics.com/

My personal site is restricted even with the “Free” version because I host a blog for my sister, a blog for me, and a separate blog for my static content. Almost hits all the targets for the free install except for me having two authors. Where do I fit in? How about the people who fit exactly the same in the “free” requirements except—gasp!—their hosting solution runs TWO CPUs! Sacre bleu!

I believe that 6A should get more aggressive with their pricing structures, and I do believe in supporting a great system (which really is based on their great developer support), but not when 6A does this in such a confusing and unprofessional manner.

Also, I understand you can still use 2.611 etc… but what is the point of staying on an undeveloped system? Do you guys remember when Noah Grey initially stopped development of Greymatter? Or when b2 stopped development? Though there are stragglers here and there, hardly anyone uses b2 or Greymatter anymore, even if they have the same or similar functionality as MT.

Everyone decided to move to MT largely because it was being supported and further developed! And why not, right?

I suppose time will tell. For now, I am sticking with my current installation of MT and playing things by ear. I still love the program, since I invested over two years learning and using it, but I am going to seriously consider other publishing systems from now on.

13. Jason Santa Maria says… may 15, 2004 | 10:11 am

Well, now you can all breathe a sigh of relief. Especially you, Lea :D

Six Apart just made some adjustments, clarifications and corrections to the information about MT 3.0.

No more 1 CPU usage. They have addressed not letting their testers in on the info by giving them a hefty discount.

While they could have handled the initial announcemnet better, 6A is a business now. They are not your close friend. What’s more they are a small business, so they do not have the resources that a large company would in terms of PR. 6A was not trying to be malicious or to cheat people in the way they announced this. Please stop taking it personally.

Announcements like this always put people out though. When Apple announced OSX, people were upset because none of their OS9 software was going to run natively anymore. But, people have upgraded. People moved forward. OSX is great now and people are happy about it.

14. Shaun Inman says… may 15, 2004 | 10:54 am

Hell, I’m still pissed that my “guaranteed free for life” .mac email address would cost me $100 a year to keep. I still have two boxes of business cards with that email address on them. Even with my own domain I’d gladly sport my affinity for Apple products but there’s no way in hell I’m paying $100 a year for hosting and an additional $100 for a single email address and a piddling amount of webspace I’d never use.

Why isn’t anyone blogging about this?!

15. Lea says… may 15, 2004 | 1:20 pm

OK, whew. Breathing returned to normal. ;-)

I’ve never taken this personally (haha, I do have a life beyond websites), but I think the reason why others have been taking it personally is this—Six Apart has always been marketed as “Ben and Mena Trott.” (read my comment for further clarification—it’s #21) So it’s hardly a surprise when people feel betrayed.

At any rate, hiring someone temporarily as a PR person shouldn’t be too much of an expense. The company I work for did when we had a fire in our main office. It’s just acknowledging there are people trained to speak to the public about business matters.

Also, 6A isn’t necessarily poor. They could be making more money, but still. They have 20K to give away, financial backers, at even $0.50/download that would give ‘em $500,000 off the bat, and if they’re able to employ around 26 staff members (including themselves), they’re not necessarily dying. Paying someone a couple of weeks wage to be able to successfully launch their new pricing structure without much flack I think is worth the investment.

I don’t believe it was 6A’s intention at all to be malicious or cheating—they just came off that way because of poor communication skills.

But now, I’m happy with their clarifications. So on to our regularly scheduled programming…

16. Jason Santa Maria says… may 15, 2004 | 1:27 pm

Agreed Lea, I am glad you are happier now :D

Be careful not to make too many financial assumptions though, I am sure there is more going on there than we could account for.

17. Lea says… may 15, 2004 | 1:36 pm

Definitely. Don’t wanna make an “ass” of “u” and “me.”

OK, sorry, I just couldn’t resist. ;-)

18. ceejayoz says… may 15, 2004 | 8:01 pm

What about those of us who, as beta testers, upgraded our blogs? We were not told the license was changing, so we’re now stuck with downgrading (painful) or paying.

It feels like a classic bait-and-switch from my perspective.

19. girlwonder says… may 15, 2004 | 9:19 pm
If you have such a huge site, with so many authors, so many blogs and can’t find the funds, then just simply don’t upgrade right now. Hell, the latest version of MT is light on new features and more of a setup for greater things anyway.
To me, this statement alone is what befuddles me about the whole thing. If it’s so light on features why now of all times? If there’s nothing really to upgrade (besides typekey WOOHOO! and comment moderation) then why didn’t they wait until they had something REALLY worth talking about before going this route?

I do believe that SA is going somewhere, and that they’re talented folks but let’s be honest - most of the really exciting things that have happened within movabletype have been community spurred and not even at the hands of SA. I think the beauty of it all was the community aspect of it all since scant was ever heard from the SA camp.

essentially, SA wants to grow as a company - and i understand and respect that - but a company (i would hope) would have thought this through a little better :)

20. luke says… may 15, 2004 | 10:41 pm

I commented properly here, but this whole saga has highlighted one thing for me:

There are two kinds of bloggers, the smart kind who are smart enough to know people will be interested in their thoughts, and the dumb kind who are dumb enough to believe people will be interested in thoughts.

The later outnumber the former 1000:1

21. Jason Santa Maria says… may 16, 2004 | 12:55 am

Yow, was that directed at me? I can only assume you are putting me into that 1000… since it seems silly to come to my site to put yourself down. If that’s the case, thanks! I have long thought I was dumb.

What’s done is done people. Complain all you want about how much SA dropped the ball with the release. I will still be here and side with SA. There isn’t much point in sitting and debating this any more. If you can deal with the way MT is going to be from now on, hang around the party, have a few drinks. If not, you know where the door is.

22. Lea says… may 16, 2004 | 1:43 am

Yipes. I don’t think Luke meant any insult. I think he was talking a general statement.

I think he meant you were in the “smart” category, and the “dumb” include the 1000+ whiny Slashdotters… :-P

23. Lea says… may 16, 2004 | 1:49 am

Miscommunication.

Funnily enough, Jason, your immediate negative reaction is reflective of the blogosphere vs. 6A.

Whether or not Luke aimed that barb at you, he didn’t make it clear, so you were beffudled and decided to take the negative connotation, anyway.That’s how 6A was like. Malice or not, 6A made unclear statements that had to be backtracked, but it was too late because insult had already been felt.

24. luke says… may 16, 2004 | 1:53 am

Sorry!!! Jason the comment was most definitely not directed at you, I was picking up on the “Isnít there anything better to get all up in arms about?” comment (for most people, apparently not), and the fact that it seems for every 1 sensible comment I read (like your post) I see 1000 moronic ones, and others seem to feel the same way (eg Jay Allen’s comments on his MTblacklist blog).

Sorry again for not being clearer!

25. Jason Santa Maria says… may 16, 2004 | 1:59 am

Nah, I don’t care if people want to tear into me or not. That first part was for Luke because he didn’t clarify. But even so, if it was meant for me, he was entitled to his own opinion as well, as is everyone else. Thanks for the clarification though, Luke. Even before you wrote it there were no hard feelings here.

The second part is just for this discussion at large. I am just tired of hearing people talking about betrayal and how they need to tell everyone that they are done with MT forever and what they are going to use now. It’s all done. Time to move on and see what fun stuff we can do with MT 3.0 (for those still using). I hope to find some time to upgrade soon.

Thanks to all for the opinions and insights. This site’s comments have been getting more and more intelligently posed and written as of late. Wow… nearing legitimacy!

26. Jay Allen says… may 16, 2004 | 4:28 pm

I see 1000 moronic ones, and others seem to feel the same way (eg Jay Allen’s comments on his MTblacklist blog)

Uhhh, hey Luke. So are you calling ME dumb now? :-)

27. Jason Santa Maria says… may 16, 2004 | 5:07 pm

haha! I sincerely doubt it. I would take great offense to that considering you have almost single-handedly blocked over 30 spam comments from my site in the past 3 days, Jay.

I must admit, this is my one sticking point with upgrading to 3.0. I really don’t want to give up BlackList. Comment registration is nice, in theory, but people are going to be on the fence with using it for quite some time. And even so, I have heard of people still getting a few comment spams with TypeKey in action! Can’t MT just buy you out and implement it like your fantastic search? :D

28. Jay Allen says… may 16, 2004 | 8:55 pm

They could have have at any point but didn’t. You can read more about it here.

And, don’t you worry about Blacklist. Within the month it will be MT 3.0 compatible… I just need to get some other stuff off of my plate first.

29. luke says… may 17, 2004 | 2:46 am
Uhhh, hey Luke. So are you calling ME dumb now? :-)

Especially you Jay ;-)

30. Heath says… may 18, 2004 | 6:01 am

I think that a lot of the hissy feedback in regards to SixAparts decision comes from an interesting cultural revolution within the computer community.

Within the ideals of community back in the day (youth be gone) ‘free’ meant freedom. For example, in the 60’s with the sharing of ideas (and bodily fluids) and other examples through the ages.

These ideas have resurfaced within the strong communities that are built on the web.

It is something of a miracle that so many open source projects flourish; Linux, of course, Mozilla, & etc. It is a noble something for people to make a serious contribution to the betterment of a community.

I am not for or against the SixApart, it is just that MT seemed to be something that falls into this contribution arena, and now it has been taken back (people have to eat).

There is logic to both sides and as always: Something lost and something gained.

But, if they took my GNU I’d start a revolution.

StS::StS

Free as in Freedom :: Share the Software, Sell the Support

-Heath Weaver

31. Lanny Heidbreder says… may 19, 2004 | 11:38 pm

One random point: The “clarification” about the definition of ‘weblog’ was not a clarification; it was a CHANGE. On release day, the license explicitly said that a license-’weblog’ was an MT-weblog, not a URL-website.

They changed the original license not by adding a clarification, but by changing a (ridiculously stupid) rule. “Clarification” is a spin they put on it in Six Log.