Well, why not? It’s free, it’s highly customizable and it is in active development. So, my choice, for now, is WordPress. But how I ended up using WordPress is not a simple story.
The early days
The first content management system I used doesn’t exist anymore. I can’t even remember its name. That was before PHP (no, that’s not Philippine peso) and Linux servers became popular. At the height of Microsoft’s popularity, there was ASP and my first CMS had .asp at the end of the pages. The program was very limited. I tried Blogger and it was even more limited. Heck, Blogger couldn’t even create categories in those days. Plus, I never did like the idea of a CMS that I could not install in my own webhosting account.
In early 2003, there was a war in Iraq, blogging was gaining ground in the U.S., I liked the way many of the rah-rah war blogs looked (even though I was rolling my eyes at their pro-Bush posturing) and I found Movable Type. It was free, ran on CGI, customizable and there was a growing MT (as it was popularly known) community of coders and web designers. One installation of MT and I could create as many blogs as I wanted in a single domain. So cool. It was while using MT that comment spam became rampant and the first anti-spam plugin, called MT-Blacklist, was written by Jay Allen.
It was a wonderful time for blogs and bloggers. There were no such things as paid posts, sponsored posts and paid themes. We were all rolling on free everything and we all kinda knew one another. Pingbacks truly meant having interconnected discussions and conversations, and MT users found one another that way.
Then, MT announced that it would no longer be free. And the exodus began. EllisLab, creators of another free CMS called pMachine which I had tried and liked (now no longer in development) had a new product called Expression Engine and were giving away free but limited number of copies to those who wanted to ditch MT. I signed up, got chosen and, in no time, I was running EE.
The free license I got, however, was only good for a year. After that, I had to pay something like 20 dollars per year. Not a bad price, really, because EE was an exceptionally good CMS. It could create kickass image galleries when no other CMS could. It had a built-in anti-spam module too.
Then, in late 2005, I had a database accident. In a nutshell, I lost my blog. Blogs. My webhost wasn’t familiar with EE and, in the reconstruction process, he recommended that I switch to WordPress. He said that should any accident happen again, he’d be in a better position to help because he knew WordPress. And that was how I ended up with WordPress. I was scared of having to deal with too technical issues alone so I made the switch.
Truth be told, I wasn’t happy with the switch. Unlike MT and EE, I could have only one blog with WordPress. If I wanted more, it meant separate installations. Sure, WP installation was super easy. But I missed the convenience of administering everything from a single dashboard. Plus, WP’s dashboard in those early days sucked. And the available themes? Oh, no imagination at all.
It is seven years later. It is now possible to have unlimited number of blogs with a single install of WP. Been that way for a while, actually. And the available themes? Free or paid, the choices are staggering. In short, WP progressed well. The dashboard went from ugly to decent to quite cool.
Still WordPress but not as a default
So, I still use WP. But that is now an informed choice. While running my blogs on WP, I have tried Drupal, Joomla and Squarespace on the side. Typepad is by the same people behind MT so I figured there would not be much difference except that Typepad isn’t free.
I still use WordPress not because it is the only thing that’s free. MT eventually released a free version and so did EE. And I am still using WordPress. Does that mean I am now a WP evangelist and loyalist? Not really. It just means that, right now, WP has everything that I need and want. Should that change in the future, then, I will reassess my choice.
Why should anything change in the future? A CMS is a CMS, right? And WP is open source. You never know. Despite bring free and open source, WordPress is now a multi-million dollar business that has spawned a lot of other million dollar businesses. Where everything goes from here, no one knows. Right now, I’m a happy WordPress user. How long it stays that way, we’ll see.