WordPress is a Copy-Cat Business

I know what you’re thinking. He doesn’t have the decency to save his rant until the weekends. How rude! On top of that, it’s a rant without images and links. I’m testing your patience. I know. On with the rant…

Now that WordPress copied Tumblr’s way of publishing with the addition of post format UI in the upcoming 3.6 release, we can all breathe a sigh of relief and kick originality out the freakin’ door. I’m not saying this is the beginning of a trend. It’s more like the last straw for innovative thinkers in the WordPress market.

Since the beginning of the WordPress economy back in… 2008-ish, WordPress and its community have been absorbing the best ideas from each other, other CMS, markets, and what have you into their own projects and into WordPress core. If your plugin is any good, it’ll show up in core and you can kiss your business goodbye. If your theme design is any good, a bigger theme company will copy and sell it to their own customers. It’s the nature of GPL.

By itself, the post format UI isn’t a big deal but considering the copy-cat trend since 2008, it’s the most shameless. Shame on me as I’m a WordPress developer myself. Sorry for picking on WordPress core but it’s the most influential entity to use as an example without consequence. Had I picked on another company, the comment thread for this rant would turn into a war due to sensitive hypocrites.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with this trend and neither did Steve Jobs when he cherry picked ideas for Apple. I’m just saying innovation by 2013 is a hobbyist game in the WordPress world. Innovation is done by people with no stake in the WordPress market and that’s the real shame.

Our arms are wide open to innovation. We always need new stuff to sell. However, we don’t nurture innovative thinkers. A good idea published/sold on Monday will show up in another company’s products the next Monday. Of course, big companies sometimes innovate too and nothing stops you from forking them back, but the problem is ubiquity.

Here’s what this rant really comes down to. In 2013, the rich gets richer. To win on the back of new ideas, strike fast and don’t stop until you become one of the bigger companies. Then, you know what to do. Absorb other people’s ideas into your company and repeat the cycle!

About Tung Do

Watermelon and fried-food loving theme designer from Dalat, Vietnam. I love designing themes. I heard the key to happiness with what you do for a living is to find the one thing you'd do for free. Designing themes is my thing. I know this because I've done it for free.

8 Responses

  1. We need both innovative thinkers and copy-cat people. How can you develop without innovation? Innovation will happen when some people are tired of “Dolly sheep” and they want to make something different. To the point, innovation matters.

  2. I like the idea what we can do with post formats now as a design point of view. I don’t care that much about how they look in admin or are they copied from somewhere else. It’s easy enough to use them. For client work it’s definitely useful that we can hide them with one line of code.

    But was this post about Post Formats…? Don’t think so. I just might copy this article in to my own blog:)

  3. FxB

    Be fast, be a leader, try to stay on top, niches are small, competition is getting stronger and stronger, but remain who you are, that’s the key.

  4. Nick Goodenough

    You said: “we don’t nurture innovative thinkers.” That’s where I see things changing, and needing to change.

    I’d love to see more people looking for funds before they try creating an innovation.

    It could look something like this: A freelance designer with a great idea goes on Kickstarter and pitches his solution to problem X (say the need for a innovative new wordpress UI). He also offers to release the innovation with an open license and full documentation if he get’s enough funding. The result: if he doesn’t get funded—good deal—he probably didn’t have a compelling idea, an audience willing to pay, or maybe his skill was in question to pull off the idea. Now, if he does get funded, he’s (1) getting paid for his expertise and labor to create an innovation, and (2) might be able to afford releasing his innovation to the whole world openly without fear of not having food on the table.

    My point is, we need more social and economic innovations to help people get paid for their innovative work, and—this is a big one—get people comfortable with releasing their innovations publicly if they earn a reasonable amount during the creation process.

    If I think of a solution, you can find me on Kickstarter. :-)

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