Back when we first built this site, we used Blogger, which was free, but not Free (also known as “free an in beer, not Free as in speech“), and which eventually got too slow and silly to use (they’re better now). We switched to a Free (or at least Free-er) tool called Greymatter, which worked for a while despite being an orphan, until it, too, stopped working so well for us (basically, it doesn’t scale all that well, and Heathen has a couple thousand posts now).
Last year, we looked around quite a lot before jumping to Blosxom, which is both free and Free. At the time, the also-ran tool was the ever-popular Moveable Type, which was free for noncommercial use, but definitely not Free. We figured that was probably not a direction we wanted to go, and the simplicity of Mr Dornfest’s tool appealed to us, so Blosxom it was.
We’re very glad we’re using Blosxom now, as Six Apart has announced a new Moveable Type release, but with limited new features — and a rather steep pricing model that’s all-the-buzz in the blogging world this weekend. Put simply, they’re now charging for use beyond a very limited installation, and the charges can mount quickly. This has met with no small amount of griping, and at least one prominent blogger has already switched to a Free system, WordPress (licensed under the GPL, so it’s Free forever).
Now: of course Six Apart can charge for their software. No one disputes that. The question is really that of choice from the consumer end of things. With blogging and content management systems like WordPress, Blosxom, Plone, Bricolage, Drupal, and others available — all open source — why would someone choose to pay for Six Apart’s product? What does that get you, really, besides a lighter wallet and potential vendor lock-in? It’s question worth asking for any software purchase, and it’s being asked more and more often these days. The answer, as Mr Pilgram pointed out, isn’t one that suggests a great future for commodity software vendors.