WordPress Will Outlast its Competition – Here’s Why

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There are plenty of WordPress alternatives in the market, and recently, some have begun to question whether it’s time for WordPress to “stand down”, so to speak. They point to a number of issues with the platform, including an aging codebase, lots of relics for extended backward compatibility, and opaque documentation.

A lot of these criticisms are valid. WordPress has become so ubiquitous over the years, that the developers spend a lot of effort making it backward compatible for everyone. But despite all this, my prediction is that WordPress is going to outlast all its competitors in the market.

Neomania – New Isn’t Always Better

I’ve had occasion to mention my fondness for Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s ideas on “Antifragile” systems. One of the concepts is the fallacy of thinking “What’s new is better”. Whereas in many ways, the opposite is true. This is called the “Lindy” effect, where the longer an entity exists, the higher the probability that it will continue to exist.

Systems that survive longer in competitive environments are more likely to survive even longer. Examples are classic literature, evolution, and all kinds of habits and customs that have stood the test of time.

Based on this insight, I foresee that WordPress stands the highest chance of outliving its competition. It’s been around for an eternity in a fast-paced time frame, has withstood the attacks of many new technological developments, and has thrived in a word where web design is fluid, and where trends are constantly in flux.

Here are a few reasons why I think WordPress is here to stay.

1. It’s Backed by a Profitable Parent Company

WordPress’s parent company Automattic is in charge of coordinating the project’s direction and growth. While WordPress itself is free, Automattic earns revenue in many different ways – via the premium services of the JetPack plugin for instance.

Open source projects that are backed by profitable entities are much more likely to thrive compared to those which are purely volunteer-driven. Take CentOS derived from RedHat, or MySQL led by Oracle (and previously by Sun Microsystems). These are all hugely popular and successful open source projects, guided by profitable companies.

Contrast this with other open-source projects like Joomla! – a competitor to WordPress. Unlike the latter, Joomla! is a purely volunteer-driven enterprise, which means they lack the resources to invest as much care and effort into their CMS. And it shows. I have only a little experience with Joomla!, but from what I saw, it’s nowhere near as easy to use and streamlined as WordPress.

2. WordPress Isn’t Afraid to Shake Things Ups

One of the hallmarks of a long-term, viable project, is the willingness to experiment and make bold new changes. WordPress’s Gutenberg update completely revamped the editor. A lot of people didn’t like it at first. Heck, I didn’t like it at first! But since then, I’ve come to see its value, and they’ve ironed out a lot of the wrinkles that plagued it when it was released. It’s not much more polished and delivers a cleaner editing experience compared to the older TinyMCE editor.

Examples like this give me hope that WordPress is here to stay, and that they’re willing to re-invent themselves if necessary, to stay relevant.

3. It’s Open Source

Many of WordPress’s competitors like Wix are closed services. I’d written earlier about why it’s a bad idea to use Wix with your website, and the fact that they don’t disclose the code is a major reason. No one can audit it for security purposes, and if the parent company shuts down, there’s no way to carry it forward, since the codebase is hidden.

The real world has shown us that large open-source community projects spearheaded by a profitable parent company are a sustainable business model. And if the parent company is profitable, there’s good reason to place bets on the long-term survivability of the projects under its wing.

For these reasons, I predict that WordPress is going to stick around far longer than any of its competitors. Yes, you can complain that the code is messy, and that they try too hard for backward compatibility. But it works, and works well. In Taleb’s words, it’s Antifragile.

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!

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