In the Days of MovableType

I promise I’ll move on from the tempest-in-a-template after this, but Mena asked for trackbacks on how people use MT and if I can’t forgive like Phil Ringnalda at least I can explain. So, in return for years of blogging pleasure, here is my story:

I used to have a single MT installation with three blogs, two users accounts, and one user. I used my real username on my main blog, and a fake user to create two demo blogs. The demos of my old MT styleswitcher and adaption to MT of a color rotating template are still running at my previous host. I’m not sure whether the fake user approach would violate the one-user rule, but in any event the real me is no longer active at that installation.

My main blog moved with me to my new host, and I also started a second blog here for updates on the ficml project. That second blog has two users, but for convenience I decided we would both post using my user account and with the username removed from the templates - making our posts the anonymous declarations of FicML. So am I one user with two blogs, or two users with two blogs?

But that is only the beginning of my accounting problems. As explained in a previous post, my free, non-commercial host runs a single MT installation for all resident bloggers. I have no idea how many of us there are. So the unbelievably nice guy who provides not just our MT installation but PHP, MySQL, bandwidth and other goodies for free might have to pay hundreds of dollars to upgrade to MT 3.0. He may be all the way off the pricing chart for all I know, yet with no income from us leeches to pay for MT.

I admit that at the time of my move I had doubts about putting my blog into someone else’s hands, but it turned out fine. I got MT (currently 2.661) and MT-Blacklist with no installation or upkeep hassles. I worried about backups, not about a sudden change in licensing that would make my two little blogs into a $700 commercial enterprise. Of course each blogger here at could run his own MT installation (since every one of us is a non-commercial user) - so what’s the difference, really, in having us all joined up into one big installation? The answer would appear to be $700 - the price for being an unbelievably nice web hosting service.

The folks at SixApart must find it hard to have made such a popular piece of software and yet have no income to speak of from it, but there’s not much money to be had in blogging to begin with. The application service providers (TypePad, Blogger, LiveJournal) get money out of only a portion of their bloggers - we MT users being the free end of the TypePad pricing spectrum - and those who pay for it are generally the more popular bloggers who have the ad income or the LJ fanbase to support their higher service levels.

Charging big bucks for MT, however, is not selling a high-end blogging service - it’s selling the right to be an MT application service provider. That’s a job most people do for love, not that they have a choice in the matter. What end-user will give their money to some upstart ASP who paid SixApart $700 when they could use TypePad instead? How do you attract paying customers from a non-paying user base? That’s the problem SixApart is trying to pass on to MT users.

I’m just not seeing the revenue stream here.

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