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Bloggers Assail Movable Type's New Pricing Scheme 391

Posted by michael
from the slash-still-free dept.
cioxx writes "An immensely popular weblog publishing tool, Movable Type, has announced a new pricing model based on "support level, number of authors permitted, and the number of weblogs permitted per license". MT3D (Developer Edition) for non-commercial users has drifted away from its full-featured, free predecessor and managed to upset many blog authors whose entry summaries can be seen via the trackback feature originating from the initial MT3D announcement. Is this a case of bait-n-switch, or simply a company trying to capitalize on its dominant market share? WordPress (GPL), which is an equally powerful CMS, seems like a perfect candidate for those who are considering a switch to a non-crippled, free alternative."
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Bloggers Assail Movable Type's New Pricing Scheme

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:40AM (#9151249)
    I've been hit by this kind of thing before. Now I really look hard at the license. If you use proprietary stuff, you are at the mercy of the owner. It's not just a Microsoft thing, folks.
  • by MrIrwin (761231) on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:42AM (#9151273) Journal
    ....but what everybody is really interested in is free beer!
  • How dare they! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psiren (6145) on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:43AM (#9151281)
    WordPress (GPL), which is an equally powerful CMS, seems like a perfect candidate for those who are considering a switch to a non-crippled, free alternative.

    Presumably you believe it's crippled because you have to pay for it, which I have to say I find a poor argument. Pay for the stuff if you think it's worth the money, use something else if you don't. It's not a hard choice.
  • Not Bait-n-Switch (Score:3, Insightful)

    by goldspider (445116) <{ardrake79} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:44AM (#9151297) Homepage
    Now I'm admittedly unfamiliar with MovableType, so please correct me if I'm wrong. But I don't recall anything saying that their blogging services was going to be free indefinitely.

    Given MobableType's popularity, this really shouldn't come as a surprise. The more people they have using their service, the more it costs to maintain a quality level of service. That's the price they pay to give blog space to anyone who wants it.

    So as with any business in a capitalist society, if you don't want to go along with this pricing plan, do as the submitter suggests and go to another service.

  • From their website (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lazuli42 (219080) on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:50AM (#9151388) Homepage Journal
    Reprinted from their website:

    Not willing to pay for Movable Type yet? This fully-functional version of the application is available free of charge. Important limitations of this license include:

    * No support from Six Apart
    * No access to paid installation service
    * No access to fee-based services
    * No promotion of your weblogs through the Recently Updated list
    * No commercial usage
    * No more than one author and three weblogs


    So let me interpret these points...

    * No mooching.
    * No mooching.
    * No mooching.
    * No commercial use.
    * Limited (yet otherwise fully functional) personal use.

    Why is this so bad? I've paid a lot more than $70 for software that I've really liked. This is pretty cheap.

    Corinna
  • Yeah, Income Sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dawang (611122) on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:52AM (#9151408)
    I hate getting paid for work I do.

    I especially don't ever want to continue to give away a free version, but charge people who are using it in a business environment. That would suck even more if people who are using my software to make money themselves.

    PEOPLE! You can still use MT for free with one or two authors, personal blog, etc. If you're using it for more industrial stuff, then don't expect it to be free forever, especially since you GET SUPPORT FROM THE DEVELOPER.

    I'm not talking about the typical "RTFM, l0s3r" support you get from certain GPL apps, I'm talking about actually ask-a-question-get-a-polite-and-helpful-answer kind of support.

    Just because they need to make money (who doesn't?), doesn't mean you should dump them completely.

  • by donnyspi (701349) <junk5@donnysCHICAGOpi.com minus city> on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:58AM (#9151458) Homepage
    and overrated anyway. Everyone's freakin blogs look the same with MT. Boring. It's like what Powerpoint has done to the art of giving a presentation.
  • Re:Just Switched (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ArbitraryConstant (763964) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:03AM (#9151523) Homepage
    I wrote my own software... This is slashdot... surely a good chunk of the people here can do the same.
  • by Short Circuit (52384) <mikemol@gmail.com> on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:10AM (#9151588) Homepage Journal
    With a car, it's easy to switch to a different brand. There's not much new to learn; if you can drive one car, you can drive another. And if you can drive a stick, you can drive damn near anything on the road. Maybe not to the best of the car's abilities, but you can still get from point A to point B.

    With software, it's generally much more difficult to switch vendors. System requirements and means of configuration, not to mention configuration options, are often vastly different.

    Granted, proficiency with the underlying principles (Component functions in a car, protocols in software) go a long way in easing change. However, while many people aren't familiar with cars beyond filling the tank and checking the oil, most people aren't familiar with the workings of databases and HTTP.
  • Re:How dare they! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by meringuoid (568297) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:12AM (#9151623)
    Presumably you believe it's crippled because you have to pay for it, which I have to say I find a poor argument.

    Not necessarily.

    Product A (commercial) is non-crippled, and non-free.
    Product B (shareware) is crippled, and free (gratis).
    Product C (GPL) is non-crippled, and free (both ways).

    Product C is hence a non-crippled, free alternative to A. Non-crippled is not redundant, as there are other free alternatives to product A which are crippled: C's advantage over them is that it is non-crippled and free.

  • No ill intention (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ViceClown (39698) * on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:13AM (#9151625) Homepage Journal
    I've been reading ALOT of the track backs over the last 24 hours linked from Mena's post on the SixApart web site. Clearly there are some angry users... and their anger isnt' entirely unfounded. I don't think Six Apart's intentions were to screw anyone or to try and capitalize on a dominent market position via bait and switch. That said, I do think the new pricing schedule is a bit ornerous and it doesnt' seem to have much of a migration strategy for people who are hosting multiple blogs on a shoestring budget. Hopefully SA will add one or two more pricing schedules that will accomodate the grass roots community they helped build. At the very least I think folks would like to see more blogs / authors available at the lower cost teers of the pricing schedule. Just my $0.02
  • by y0bhgu0d (168149) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:17AM (#9151681)
    If you are one of the people who is confused as to why this is such a big deal, the Metafilter [metafilter.com] post on this subject (mainly the comments on the post) should help clarify.

    Personally, I use LiveJournal (i keep it friends only, and use it so my friends who have scattered across the states can keep up, and so i can keep up with them).
  • by Paulrothrock (685079) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:31AM (#9151881) Homepage Journal
    I'm sick of people always saying that blogs are annoying or stupid. I have family and friends all over the country. Email isn't efficient because A) their email addresses change and B)I don't have the time to write a long email every week. Blogging provides me with an efficient communications medium that lets them stay up with what I'm doing in my life. This, combined with Gallery [sourceforge.net] has made it easier for me to keep in touch with people I care about.

    The development of a meta tag that stopped Google from indexing a blog (or any site, really) would keep them from interfering with people who don't care about it, but could be removed for applications like political blogs or news sites. (Most of the people who blog couldn't tell the difference between a meta tag and a meat tag, so including it by default wouldn't be a bad idea.)

    Blogging has genuinely useful features, the least of which is the recording of the human experience in a way unprecedented in the history of the world.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:36AM (#9151945) Homepage Journal
    It's not bad because it's unreasonable, it's bad because it's stupid. There are so many other blogging packages out there that I fail to see how they can possibly manage to make money selling one, especially for more than just a couple bucks. As far as I can tell, the majority of their income will be from people too stupid to be able to switch to another software package, and when all your customers are idiots, your business becomes hard to manage unless it's a monopoly. You know, like government.
  • by scrm (185355) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:40AM (#9152003) Homepage
    AFAI understand, the main reason why there's a lot of bitching going on against the MT authors is that they were using their loyal users to beta-test their new MT release (3.0) while keeping them under the mistaken impression it was going to remain free. I quote from one blog [drunkenmonkeys.org]:

    No business ethics problems? How about this.

    You ready a beta release of a piece of software, and ask people to beta test it. Mention nothing about paying, or even that you are considering changing the license. Being the loyal folks they are, lots say "OK" and you give them the software. They upgrade to it, and there's no way to downgrade.

    Then, about 5 weeks later, you say, "Oh, by the way, most of you will have to pay to upgrade out of beta". Keeping in mind that most of the people who are the most loyal to MT, and therefore the most likely to have signed up for the beta program, are the ones who take MT to its' limits by using multiple blogs for things like link sidebars, book reviews, photoblogs, etc., and a lot of them no longer qualify for the free version because of the three blog limit.

    You've just stranded a whole bunch of people on a beta version of your software, and you're basically extorting them to allow them to upgrade to a non-beta release.

    It does look like SixApart [sixapart.com] have shot themselves in the foot and alienated themselves from their fanbase. They have violated the golden role of starting to charge for something that was previously free. In the world of tech where everyone wants the latest and greatest (and MT users are particularly tech-savvy given the requirements to install and maintain the software), this was always going to be an unpopular decision. How could they not have foreseen this?

    The launch of their TypePad [typepad.com] service last year (which is basically a fully commercial, hosted MT package with bells and whistles like photo gallery management) was a smart business move; make a service out of your product, and keep the original product free. This latest move, though, is beyond comprehension and will only hurt them. It will sure be interesting to see how they backpedal from this.
  • YAWN (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2 AT earthshod DOT co DOT uk> on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:41AM (#9152019)
    I am sick of hearing how some company that used to give away software for "free" suddenly starts charging money or imposing adverts or whatever.

    My software procurement policy is "no source, no sale" and I have never had cause to complain. I don't get spyware. I don't get adware. I don't get browser hijacks. I don't get banner adverts {they are blocked at the proxy}. I don't get viruses. I don't have to reboot my computer for unexplained reasons {I have had to do so for explained reasons ..... like when I was trying my hand at a bit of C programming in a spare 15 minutes, got a bit adventurous, and forgot I was logged in as root. That's not a mistake you make twice}.

    Purveyors of closed-source software are really just after something they can get from you -- whether it be money, or information about you that they can sell to other people for money. You get what you deserve for using it.

  • I think the problem with MovableTYpe isn't that they're charging $$, but rather their pricing architecture is too restrictive to the 3rd party programmers that made it happen ... ... and too much based upon the success of TypePad ...

    More on this at:
    What we can learn from MovableType's new pricing schedule ... [healyourch...ebsite.com]

  • by Phillup (317168) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:44AM (#9152061)
    With software, it's generally much more difficult to switch vendors.

    In the general case, yes. In the case of MoveableType... well, you have the code... it is written in Perl... and all your data is safely stored away in a format that is easily retrievable.

    At the end of the day, MT is just an interface into and out of a database. An open source database at that.

    It has really cool features for puttting and getting the data... but, it doesn't "trap" the data.
  • Re:How dare they! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MilenCent (219397) * <(johnwh) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:44AM (#9152064) Homepage
    Pay for the stuff if you think it's worth the money, use something else if you don't. It's not a hard choice.

    It doesn't quite work like that. In practice, I find it's more like: "Find the product with the best feature set. Then look for second best, and so on down until features start lacking or you run out. Be mindful of ties. Consider crippled payware as two products, one with registration and one without. Then, check prices, and download/buy the one with the best features for the lowest price."

    The important distinction I'm trying to make is that, if two products offer identical features, and one costs and the other is free, the free one is obviously the correct choice, and that's what seems to be the case here.
  • by zangdesign (462534) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:49AM (#9152127) Journal
    The only thing I can think of to say to you and your parent post is: call the fscking wahmbulance.

    Seriously.

    The internet is supposed to be many things to many people and one of those is a forum for expression of ideas and thought. Who appointed you the gatekeeper? Do you really have the gall to think that just because someone posts something of no interest to you, that it is somehow not worthy?

    More elitist crap from the geek contingent is all I'm seeing.
  • by scrm (185355) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:54AM (#9152204) Homepage
    I quote from Techdirt Mike [techdirt.com]'s analysis:

    It seems that they've screwed up one of the most basic rules in pricing: never take away features and charge for them. You can charge for new features - but taking away features that were included for free before always pisses off your most loyal customers. They feel suckered. They feel like you've pulled a bait and switch on them. In this case, many MT users set up multiple blogs with multiple authors. That's what the software encouraged them to do. Now, they're looking at the pricing and realizing to continue doing so on the new platform would cost them around $600. "Costs more for doing less" isn't a way to make users happy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2004 @12:29PM (#9152631)
    If you use it, and like it, why shouldn't the authors be able to make a living selling it?

    What's this morbid fascination that software should be free (as in beer)? If all software is free, then all programmers are worthless. If you cannot create a product that someone is willing to pay for, then you are a total loser.
  • Re:hack it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EdMcMan (70171) <moo.slashdot2.z.edmcman@xoxy.net> on Friday May 14, 2004 @12:37PM (#9152723) Homepage Journal
    That's just as bad as companies "stealing" open source software as their own.

    You don't have a license to modify and distribute it.
  • Re:Pass the crack (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BizidyDizidy (689383) on Friday May 14, 2004 @12:40PM (#9152746)
    Great fucking point. Imagine how great all of these things would still be without big companies! Nothing could be better than reading an article about the one guy in Pennsylvania who has electricity, or the neighbors in New Jersey who can call each other. Brilliant!
  • Nonsense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by joshsnow (551754) on Friday May 14, 2004 @12:44PM (#9152814) Journal
    I think everyone really wants free as in speech

    That just isn't true. I, like every other slashdotter, don't want to pay for my cool software tools. That's the plain truth of the matter.

    But "people have to eat"
  • by mabu (178417) on Friday May 14, 2004 @12:47PM (#9152862)
    As a Shareware author in the late 80s and early 90s, I have some specific opinions on these issues. I wouldn't be as successful as I am today if it weren't for the jump start Shareware provided, but I often wonder whether or not I could do the same thing in today's industry. I doubt it.

    I can see both sides of the issue. On one side you have people and companies whoring themselves out, giving away free software and services in order to compensate for not having resources to advertise, but at some point they need to see some return or else they can't sustain the development of their products.

    On the other hand, you have have users who have become spoiled and selfish and expect everything to be free, and eveything to be super-cheap.

    On yet another front, you have both commercial and shareware companies flooding the market with buggy and inferior products with little or no tech support. And then you have mafia like Quicken, forcing users to pay more and more each year to simply maintain the functionality of their software once they hoodwink users into converting over.

    The whole industry is a mess. The one shining star in all of this is Open Source. There is a clear delineation between the for-profit and for-development arms of most of these projects and that's a refreshing change.

    It used to be a gamble relying on shareware. You never knew if the company was going to be around or there'd ever be an update, or whether things would just suddenly stop working or break. Now you have the same thing with most of the commercial companies. I don't blame the users for being cautious about which products to support, but the bottom line is that people work hard to create these systems and if they don't get compensated one way or another, they can't keep up the work.

    In the end, you get what you pay for, literally and figuratively. If you've never given a dime to the developers of systems you use on a regular basis, then shut your trap when they close up shop or are forced to adopt the new industry-standard of strong arming users into paying.

  • by zeromemory (742402) on Friday May 14, 2004 @01:01PM (#9153117) Homepage
    What many of the posts here have failed to mention is the restriction Six Apart has carefully hidden in their Terms of Service:

    "You may install the Software on only one (1) computer or server having a single CPU."

    This presents a problem for many people who purchase webhosting; if their webhost using servers with more than one CPU (very likely), they legally cannot install/use Movable Type.

    Oh, and to address the people who say to stay with version 2.6: holding back on the upgrade is only a temporary solution. The next time a Movable Type bug or security hole is discovered, I'm willing to bet that Six Apart is only going to patch the 3.0 tree.

    I have a much longer rant about the license change here [evilcoder.com].
  • by xtermz (234073) on Friday May 14, 2004 @01:27PM (#9153507) Homepage Journal
    Ben & Mena Trott, created MT while both of them were unemployed from the dotboom. While wondering how they were goingt to pay for their bills, they continued to work on this awesome program that thousands of people got to use for free. So now they want to get paid for all the work they did....i say good for them. If somebody is cool enough to still have the motivation to develop a product while under great stres, they deserve sucess....
  • by prockcore (543967) on Friday May 14, 2004 @01:40PM (#9153700)
    Couldn't agree more that if this leads to fewer blogs, it's a Good Thing. They should raise the price even more.

    You know that Slashdot is a blog, right?
  • by nicodaemos (454358) on Friday May 14, 2004 @05:30PM (#9156976) Homepage Journal
    Not exactly. We don't really hear about what Cmdr Taco had for breakfast or how Timmy's dog is chasing the neighbor's cat. Slashdot is really just a set of discussion boards that periodically post some story to talk about.

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