WordPress: Phenomenal Growth

In late 2005 Matt Mullenweg founded Automattic, the business behind WordPress.com an adaptation of the open source WordPress.org project. Other key people in Automatic and WordPress include Toni Schneider (CEO) Ryan Boren (Lead Developer). The site was initially launched as an invitation-only service, although at one stage, accounts were also available to users of the Flock web browser.

In 2005 I was at Blogger and when I joined WordPress.com in 2006, there was only 1 Staff member in Support, 1 Moderator, and 1 FAQs thread at the head of the single support forum (no support documentation). The core contributing developers include Ryan Boren, Mark Jaquith, Matt Mullenweg, Andrew Ozz, and Peter Westwood. However, WordPress is also developed by its community, including WP testers, a group of volunteers who test each release.

WordPress.com is the choice of those who want sites they can learn to master on their own without too much trouble. WordPress.org is a powerful yet easy to use content management system. Initially it was designed as a blogging platform but it can customized to become a powerful CMS with plugin use.

Automattic Inc. is a startup from a handful of people passionate about making the web a better place. We are strong believers in Open Source and the vast majority of our work is available under licenses like the GPL. We work from places all around the world. ” 

Everyone at Automattic is organized into a team of 5-10 people, each team focused on different areas. On a daily basis, everyone works with high autonomy, since we’re distributed by time as well as distance. Each team works differently, but each developer, working with a team lead and a designer, decides what changes to make and when to release them. Here at Automattic we implement, test, and release changes to WordPress.com dozens of times a day. via How is WordPress.com made?

Last year WordPress carried out a global survey, asking basic questions about what people are doing with WordPress. Over 18,000 people responded from all over the world, making it a good indicator of how people are faring in the WordPress economy. Here’s the global map of the respondents. via Smashing Special: What’s Going On In The WordPress Economy?

Looking at the top 100 blogs in Technorati’s index, a new Pingdom website monitoring study found that 49% of the top 100 blogs now use WordPress. That’s up from 32% in 2009. No other platform even comes close. Besides WordPress’ total domination in this space though, what’s most interesting about these new statistics is the rise of the custom blogging platforms. via Study: Half Of The Top 100 Blogs Now Use WordPress

Google Trends is more a tool for tracking buzz than practical popularity. For example. If you compare Tumblr to Pinterest, it seems that Pinterest has about half of the popularity as Tumblr but, when you look at the statistics, Tumblr has many times more users and visitors. Likewise, it appears that Tumblr is many times more popular than WordPress but, in truth, WordPress powers approximately 40% more blogs when you compare their numbers to Tumblr’s. via Why T-Day Probably Doesn’t Matter

Last year saw the launch of the first college course dedicated to WordPress. It was taught at Clark College by Lorelle VanFossen. As of 2011, estimates are that 25% of all websites are published with WordPress. As of March 2012, WordPress is on 72.4 million sites in the world. hosts about half of them. via WordPress Stats and Numbers: Breaking Their Own Records.

Using some of the stats from Lorelle’s recent article on WordPress Stats, Yoast did some more research and created a new WordPress Stats Infographic to feature the statistical information on WordPress visually. via WordPress Stats Infographic of WordPress World

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” — Benjamin Franklin


When I first began blogging at WordPress.com the software was simple and easy to use. In 2012 the software is more sophisticated and not as easy to use. WordPress.com is on continuous roll-out. Changes to the code are being made many times daily and new features are being introduced, while existing functions and features are being improved and upgraded. In many cases we WordPress.com bloggers experience changes that aren’t preceded by any announcement in the official WordPress.com community blog.

Changes are inevitable and this free hosting business model is not a democracy. I accept that. However, being a free hosted WordPress.com blogger has become synonymous with being stressed out by both the surprise introduction of new features and functions and changes to old ones, without any prior notice. In the final analyis, we WordPress bloggers have to make the personal choice to either remain on free hosting as a guinea pig or move elsewhere. Which decison will you make?

30 thoughts on “WordPress: Phenomenal Growth

  1. I think what has really surprised me is that wordpress is almost completely free of “flamers”. It is one of the first online communities where people seem like mature internet users. But maybe I haven’t been here long enough.

    1. Oh they are out there. Make no mistake about that.

  2. This makes fascinating reading for me, as I’m in the process of researching the possibility of moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress. To the person who is getting stressed by WP, I’d say what I read in the WP forums doesn’t seem a patch on the stress being experienced on Blogger at the moment, as the new interface gets close to final implementation! It’s a big step moving platform, but I have a feeling that reading your excellent blog may make the final decision easier. :-)

    1. Exporting your blog content out of your blogspot blog and and importing it into a WordPress blog is possible and many people do this every day. See http://support.google.com/blogger/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=97416 and http://en.support.wordpress.com/import/
      Best wishes to you, no matter what you decide to do.

      1. Many thanks for taking the trouble to post helpful links. Much appreciated.

  3. There are features about WordPress.com that I don’t like, but on the whole I am happy here. I bought the CSS upgrade and that has been an excellent choice. I love having the ability to change the things that are important to me, while still being able to use all the features that make WordPress an attractive blogging platform.

    1. Hi there,
      Thanks for your comment. I’ve seen what you have been doing with CSS on your blog. It’s looking great.

  4. I have to come back when I’m not so tired and re-read this post as there’s a lot in it. But for now, let me say that WordPress.com drives me bananas! I get stressed, then angry, then whine, then I calm down and go back to how I was before – til it happens all over again. If my concentration and memory were as good as they used to be years ago, I’d probably have left ages ago. I’d still like to go, but as you say, the community here is great. It’s mainly that (and my rubbish brain-functioning) that keeps me here. Will I go? Will I stay? I don’t know. Time will tell.

    One thing for sure, my long-suffering husband is bored witless hearing from me about WordPress- the bad and the good – and he isn’t even a blogger! ;)

    1. Hi Val,
      I know what you mean. There are times that I feel the same way. I remind myself that there is no better free hosting available and the community here is great when that happens. So far those two factors keep me here.

  5. I <3 WordPress, and a lot of it is the community. It's grown by leaps and bounds since I first started blogging, but it's never lost that down-to-earth, approachable feel. Such great people, you included.

    1. Hi Moonbeam,
      You’re right as are the others who point out that it’s the community factor that counts for so much.

      P.S. Thanks for the compliment. I think you are a great person too. :)

  6. I’ve been here just over two years now, and like most beginners hardly notice most changes. It is about the community and making links all around the world net. At the moment I don’t have a problem with being the guinea pig to get a free service. Maybe If my site grew massive it would make a difference, but not now. Perhaps paying customers should get a heads up to changes?


    1. I think many WordPress.com bloggers would agree with what you have said. Most changes made are unoticed and those who do experience problems take them to the support forum for resolution. Thanks for commenting.

  7. I’m a lazy bum, I’ll be sticking to WordPress. I don’t have time to check out other blogware. I just want to pump out blog posts and pretty pics.

    I read the linked article about the growth of WordPress. I didn’t realize they were doing very well financially. Interesting that they have loyal employees –so far. I wonder how many servers they have to host all the wordpress.com blogs..

    1. Hi Jean,
      I have checked out other free hosted sites and none are up to the stanadards we have here. I’m not inlicned to self host an install again. I prefer to be a part of the community here so I guess you could say that settles it for me.

  8. While Minor issue fixes may not be noticed, if feature change maybe the group could get beta tester volunteers if they don’t already have any. Certainly noticeable changes should get a notification before the fact to all. It is only proper courtesy.

    1. Hello there,
      There is a BETA testers group and we are welcome to set up a self hosted WordPress.org install and join in. http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2012/04/13/wordpress-3-4-in-the-works/

  9. I am not unhappy with WordPress, although I have no basis of comparison to other sites. On more than one occasion I have had problems with paragraph spacing when writing a post – I think its a timeout issue, but my technical knowledge is extremely limited.

    My (primitive) solution is either to copy/paste the content to a new post directly or via the “word” insert.

    When I’m feeling brave, I try to solve the problem through the HTML menu – and sometimes I succeed.

    The main problem is the one you pointed out – revisions without prior notice. This I don’t understand; is it too difficult to give, say, 24 hours heads up?

    1. Hello there,
      The changes made to themes re: infinite scroll and to commenting were not announced and many users had issues with them. I have come to think that as we are on continuous roll-out, it’s unlikely that there will ever be prior notice of these changes.

  10. Luckily, the majority of “upgrades” to WordPress.com are rarely noticed by the individual users. When I get frustrated that things are different, I stop and remind myself that WordPress.com no longer supports a couple hundred bloggers and their finicky natures. It supports millions, millions of people who put their trust in having a safe and effective publishing platform. That’s a huge responsibility. And isn’t it amazing that so much of this started with volunteers, and continues to be maintained by enthusiastic and passionate folks, like yourself, committed to something that honestly doesn’t pay the mortgage. A lot to be said for that. And a lot of the credit goes to you, my friend.

    I have been so privileged to be a small part of this whole endeavor, from beginning to thriving. It’s been a thrill ride watching it from the inside out and outside in. And it has so much further to go.

    WordPress.com could have become what Facebook has become but it has stayed community oriented, quiet yet powerful, and incredibly influential in the lives of so many people – many who take it for granted as I sometimes do.

    Thank you for being such a powerful part of its growth and its past and future. Just remember, it’s not battling dragons that gets us down, it’s stepping in gum. :D

    1. Dear Lorelle,
      There’s no place like home and no other blogging place like WordPress.com — home to over 35 millions of us now and sustained by a Staff of only 110 people. It’s remarkable that so few Staff get so much done.

      As I erad all the infromation I linked to I recognized that answering questions on the support forum can lead to myopia as everyone there is looking for help. Truth be told, most changes made go smoothly. Unless they are major changes to the dashboard or changes like moving dashboard items to the WordPress.com home page there aren’t may issues arising from them.

      Your contribution to WordPress has been huge and mine is small. I want to become one of your students but I can’t possibly steal enough time to do that in.

      step in gum (hehehe – who? not me). ;)

  11. I like WordPress. I have invested a lot of time and energy in learning how to use it. I just moved in and finally meeting friends. It takes time to build friendship.

    1. You’ve been doing a fine job on your blog. :) It takes time to build a blog in terms of content and it takes time to build a blog centered community around your own blog. The rewards are many though, because friends help us grow in many ways and how we grow is reflected in our blogs.

      1. I’m trying to figure out the content without getting too personal. I enjoy machine knitting, computers, exercising.

        1. Finding your way in the blogosphere and making friends is challenging and I wish you well with that.

  12. The community on dot.com is a big attraction. At the same time I like the power of dot.org. But it doesn’t have to be an either-or decision. I keep both and I find the two flavours of WordPress are complimentary.

    1. Hi David,
      It’s good to hear from you. Thanks for reminding us that this isn’t an either or situation. I don’t have enough time to create content and increase traffic on my personal blog, so paying for hosting and moving the content into an install again isn’t appealing at this point in time.

  13. I’m not planning to leave WP anytime soon. I love it here and have even actually met three of my WP blogging buddies in the past 6 months.

    1. Hi Kathryn,
      Like you and David I love the community here too. You also raise a good point as it’s the friends we make (like you two) that keep our passion for blogging alive. It’s natural to want to be where your friends are.

Comments are closed.

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close