This site covers WordPress technology, with specific help for small non-profits, and smart-home with general Internet-of-things technology. I also use it to host my travel blog. (Which is really just a collection of notes for myself and others traveling with me; I have no illusions of Instagram fame). I may obtain an affiliate referral fee when you buy using links to certain merchants shown here. Any affiliate commissions do not increase your purchase price nor do potential affiliate commissions influence my product recommendations. Rather, I decide on the best products to recommend and then may eventually get around to seeing if there is an affiliate system. Being retired, I donate any profits from ads and commissions to various secular charities. Please ignore the ads knowing I pick charities that maximize long-term impacts and minimize costs not associated with delivering their charity services.

I tried WordPress multisite to essentially share hosting (since it’s not as if I get lots of web traffic) between different collection of topics, but found multisite had various limitations and not really what I wanted. In my opinion, the design of multisite could have been better to allow hosting to be shared across low-traffic ideas and multisite (released in 2010) itself is a technology relict. I think there are now better ways to create a shared hosting solution (I like docker containers) and to solve managing multiple WordPress sites. wpmudev has a good discussion of the pros/cons of multisite if you are interested.

Multisite wasn’t useful for me since it is basically designed for Automattic’s web hosting business and not for hosting of different ideas of a single author. I can’t complain because a vast majority of the funding for WordPress development at the time came from Automattic and so having their hosting requirements drive multisite seems only reasonable. Automattic is trying to increase funding for development (and other necessary things such as documentation and testing) (see the Five for the Future campaign) from companies and individuals that make money off of WordPress.

Having dedicated staff is much better than volunteers, but it is difficult to accurately measure all non-Automattic contributions but they are growing. Much of the learning material and how-to help is provided by others in the WordPress community. Honestly though, if Automattic went under, I doubt WordPress would survive since they provide technical guidance to WordPress development; but maybe a different company would take over stewardship. As far as I know, Linux is the only example of long-term self-sustaining Open Source development that doesn’t have a clear business model directly supporting it. I saw a recent announce from Cognitect have they and Nubank are sponsoring the Clojure ecosystem. But perhaps the biggest worry for devs should be support for open-source JavaScript libraries because they are used in so many places.

As a technology person (BSEE from Stanford, and worked at SRI International, Apple Computer and Motorola/Motorola Solutions) I very much like the concept of Open Source software and community development, but I also worry about whether the benefits of community contributions outweigh the negatives of Open Source licensing. WordPress itself is based on another Open Source project (see the early history in wpbeginner for details) that Automattic managed to build a business around (in 2019, they raised $300M at a $3B valuation). I know the great benefits of being “inside the tent” of closed development and Open Source allows everyone to be “inside the tent” if they want.

But I also cynically consider Open Source many times primarily a PR stunt when you look at all the software packages that have gone Open Source but failed to attract other contributors. But the allure of “free” software is great. So for now, I play the game knowing I may be contributing in a minuscule way to the financial success of the company(ies) behind any Open Source project, but for WordPress activities, it is benefitting many worthy small non-profits. I see that first-hand in the African charity (PAAJAF.ORG) for which I write WordPress plugins.

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