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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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  • Pass the crack (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Stumbles (602007) on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:41AM (#9151265)
    Gotta love the proprietary world. Dole the juice, cajole the users and then when some event horizon is met, flip the tables and stick it to your users. Yeh haw I love it.
  • old version link (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rayde (738949) on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:42AM (#9151277) Homepage
    note that download.com still has version 2.661 [com.com]... this might be the version people should start mirroring.
  • Just Switched (Score:5, Interesting)

    by metalhed77 (250273) <andrewvc@@@gmail...com> on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:43AM (#9151289) Homepage
    I just switched from Movable Type to Text Pattern [textpattern.com] and I couldn't be happier. It's more CMS like AND easier to use (granted MT was easy to use but Txp feels much smoother). It makes a good separation of content and display and has a few goodies that make this feel natural. It's got a few minor bugs that'll be fixed before release; but it's worked great for my blog [andrewvc.com].

    Oh, and it imports movable type files. Seriously, with the wide variety of free, quality, blogging software out there, Six Apart has their work cut out for them.
  • Harsh! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by levell (538346) on Friday May 14, 2004 @10:44AM (#9151302) Homepage

    While I use Wordpress for both my blogs, I think that everyone is being rather harsh on these people who are just trying to make a living.

  • Re:How dare they! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by scrm (185355) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:01AM (#9151500) Homepage
    No, it's crippled because (from the site [sixapart.com]):

    # No promotion of your weblogs through the Recently Updated list

    # No commercial usage

    # No more than one author and three weblogs

    AFAIK these were part of the old MT package before this pricing scheme was launched. Hence, crippled.
  • Re:Just Switched (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JLyle (267134) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:02AM (#9151508) Homepage
    I am not seriously into blogging, but so far I've been using Blogger [blogger.com]'s free service to edit Blog posts on-line and then publish them to my free web storage at my ISP. This works well for me because I have limited storage space (about 10 Mb) at my ISP and I'm not able to upload software to run on their server. I could of course pay some other business for web site hosting, but hey, this is still just a hobby for me at this point.

    So my question for the Slashdot community is, do any of these free and open source blogging packages (like WordPress) let you edit posts, etc. on your PC and then publish the (static) pages to a remote web site? I understand that this isn't the ideal setup, that one would prefer that the blogging system would be running on the web site, but that's not really an option for me.
  • Re:Just Switched (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rtmyers (414559) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:09AM (#9151579)
    Textpattern is a good blogging system and I have several blogs running on it including my own [myers.name]. There's a problem, though; it's a one-man development team, with a spotty track record for new versions and support. If I were choosing blogging software today, I'd have to go with something with more momentum.
  • Standard Practice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:13AM (#9151629) Homepage Journal
    Get you to rely on an application it so that its costly to look at alternatives, then slowly raise the price.

  • Multiple CPU clause? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by primetyme (22415) <djc_slash@@@djc...f2o...org> on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:14AM (#9151654) Homepage
    I can't believe there's not more uproar about the license restriction on multi-CPU machines. [movabletype.org]

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

    Who came up with that one?? I'd wager that the vast vast majority of hosting clients have no clue how many CPU's the server their website is running on has, while a very large number of hosting providers use multi-CPU servers.

    That clause is basically setting up thousands and thousands of people to break the license agreement they agreed to without even knowing it.

    The only reason I can see for that clause, other than pure oversight on the behalf of Six Apart, is they want to push people using MT to their own hosting service(TypePad).

  • Free _is_ better (Score:5, Interesting)

    by superultra (670002) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:19AM (#9151705) Homepage
    I'm not a cheapskate. I believe in paying for good software.

    But I won't pay for Movable Type. Here's why.

    On SixApart's behalf, they made several big mistakes in launching their pricing structure. Since they announced MT3 and that they were going to charge for it, they also promised a free non-crippled version of MT3. Blogging is generally a communual experience. I blog casually, and I have a couple of friends who write posts on my blog from time to time, and a wife who keeps her own blog. The free version of MT3 is crippled, because it limits the users and number of blogs. Limiting user base is bad thing to do when blogging is still relatively new.

    Secondly, the pricing structure is much higher than what people anticipated. Those in the beta test for MT3 had absolutely no idea that it was going to cost this much, and many who did participate have publically stated they wouldn't have if they did know. Why the hostility?

    Two reasons. It's the community that made MT what it is now. There's not really that much new functionality in MT3 that makes it worth paying $100 for (the $70 is a temporary discount remember?). Many of the features that made MT2x worth using were coded by non-SixApart people. Users - with no profit motive whatsoever - coded hundreds of MT plugins that exceeded the coding ability of SixApart. Others wrote far more detailed tutorials and instructions than SixApart provided for their own software. So, SixApart is compensating them by running a contest for the best plugin? That's insulting, honestly.

    Secondly, there are blogging apps that do as good a job as MT3, if not better. And, they're [textpattern.com] free [wordpress.org]. Others have similar pricing structures as MT3 but do more. So, why MT3? And let's get this straight: using something for free isn't necessarily being a cheapass. If maintaining my blogs as they are will cost me upwards $150, why shouldn't I migrate to a free solution? Imagine if Windows had the same stability and security as Linux, but cost the same as it does now for a company to run. Why wouldn't a company move to Linux? Are companies being the durgatory form of cheapskates by moving to a lower priced product? No. It's common market sense, and because of its love for linux and open source, slashdot should be aware of this better than anyone. Some MT users probably are cheapass, and will warez the MT software if they can or do whatever they can to avoid paying.

    But a larger portion are paying for accounts on livejournal and blogger. They are paying for internet access and webhosting. They're not cheapskates. Instead, like me, they just don't want to pay $150-200 for what is basically a hobby, and a hobby that can continue for free if we switch software. Why should we support a company that doesn't announce its pricing structure beforehand, and keeps it as close to their chest as possible? Why did SixApart do that? Why didn't they announce it before time? Because they knew people would be pissed. This reaction is no surprise to anyone.
  • Re:Pass the crack (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chris_mahan (256577) <chris.mahan@gmail.com> on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:20AM (#9151725) Homepage
    Just so you know, the corporate necessity out there is greed... Oh, I have to be PC. It's maximizing shareholder return on investment.
    Anything else and they have a NPO, or a group of hobbyists.

    Lest folks rag on hobbyists, they are the ones who brought you:

    -Airplane
    -Car
    -Phone
    -Electricity
    It's a long list, you know.

    How much do you want to bet that whoever came up with fire was a geek? How about the wheel? How about writing. Dang, I don't see a bunch of grunting jocks inventing writing, even today.

    By the way, once people understand that about companies, it's not that hard to figure out why the world runs the way it does.

    Well, that and religion.

    On an aside: my solution for Iraq: flood the country with 100 billion in small bills. This will really get rid of the bad guys. They'll be too busy killing each other amassing their fortunes, and then whisking themselves off to a chalet in Lausanne. Then the rest of the people can have normal lives again. The only other thing thy need is a small and deadly military. Why are we trying to hire 200,000 of them for a pittance with AKs and old uniforms when what you really need is 20,000 of them with 1500/mo salaries, tanks, helicopters, and kick ass officers. Then you make them into a shock and rapid deployment force. Also, you need to make sure that they are NOT under US command, but have their own command. Like the Kurds. Kurds fight well in the Kurdish armies because they fight with Kurds, for Kurds.
    Ah, I feel better now... Back to work.
  • by Sethb (9355) <bokelman@gmail.com> on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:30AM (#9151863) Homepage
    I like MT, and I use it for my blog, but I think their new pricing is just set too high. I'd be glad to pay a lower price, but at $70, it's a bit outside what I'm willing to pay. Give me a $35 version, with no installation support, and 10 blogs and 10 authors, and I'd be happy, it gives me the freedom to do what I want in the future, and still puts coins in SixApart's coffers.

    There's nothing I hate more than overpriced software, especially from vendors who make things which are handy, but not critical. I'm not a hard-core Mac user, I just have my first PowerBook shipping to me now, so I've been shopping about for Mac software the last few days. Here's a case in point, the Netware client for Mac OS X [prosoftengineering.com]. It's $159 per seat. Uh, that's more than I've ever paid for an Operating System, and you want me to pay that for a piece of client software? No thanks.

    Howabout ADmitMac [thursby.com]? $119 to join my Mac to an ActiveDirectory? No thanks, I'll live without.

    Both of these would be handy pieces of software to have, but not at the prices they charge, I'll use FTP to connect to the Netware box before I'll shell out that kind of cash. I can't help but wonder if these companies wouldn't make more money by selling a downloadable copy for $29. That's low enough that a Mac user who can't get their boss to buy it for them will consider buying it out of their own pocket, just to make their lives easier. But once you're over the $50-$75 range, you're outside what most people want to spend on their box, just to enable a "handy" feature.

    NetNewsWire Pro [ranchero.com], on the other hand, is $39. For an App that I'd use all day, every day, that's quite a reasonable price, and as soon as my new PowerBook arrives, Brent will see some of my cash. But, if that price were doubled, I probably wouldn't be paying for it, and I'd either stick to a free lite version, or use a competing product of lesser quality.

    And don't get me wrong, I know that software authors need to make a living, but I wonder if they're being counter-productive in terms of what they make. You make a lot more money selling 10,000 copies of a $29 product than you do selling 1000 copies of a $100 product. And yes, I know that support costs something, so make it an option to purchase it without on-line support, if necessary. I generally don't find support, even from our large vendors to be all that helpful anyhow, just give me an online knowledgebase, and I'll fix it myself. :)
  • Bad development ... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by orangeguru (411012) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:40AM (#9152001) Homepage
    Many alpha bloggers have been waiting for MT3 a long time - SixApart has been dragging it's feet, since they were very busy developing their big purely commercial version TypePad.

    TypePad has many features many MT users have been waiting for a long time - especially since many MT users paid some money to use their tool. Some of that money kept SixApart alife and financed the developement of TypePad.

    MT3 hardly offers ANY new features - none of those we can see in TypePad, like list management, gallery etc.

    MT was for many people the only real alternative to Blogger, but MT2.x or even MT3.x now lags behind in terms of features and most of all performance.

    There has been a long time announcement for a MT3 Pro version - which never surfaced.

    MT3 is still based on static pages, so if you change your layout (CSS or templates) you have to rebuild all pages - which can take down many shared servers. There have been reports that some ISPs won't allow MT installs on their severs, because those rebuilds eat all cpu power. MT is also very slow when it comes to comments.

    Many long time MT bloggers with hundreds or thousands of postings and comments are sick and tired about the rebuild issue. Many of the other weblog systems are dynamic since they are based on PHP.

    One of the main points for MT2.x have been it's active plugin developer scene - which was mostly born out of the lack of features. Many people hoped that MT3 would include many of these plugins as regular features ... especially since TypePad has all those goodies!

    SixApart has a bad reputation in terms of licenses and communication. They behave a bit like Apple: we are sooo cool therefore you have to pay more. This may work if you have a product like the iPod, which is really outstanding - but MT3 is not really far ahead of the competition.

    Many MT users will switch, because they are disappointed, because they are sick and tired of waiting for better features and constantly putting up with bad communcation.

    The pricing schemes is confusing and not very useful for neither private nor business users. A good CMS/blog is worth some money, but not several hundred dollars/euro.

    Another point certainly are those many more dynamic weblog systems based on PHP - they are easier to hack for most people and less bitchy about server performance. They should have released a home (around $30) and a business version (around $75) - PLUS different kind of support contracts - like so many other companies do. Let's say a MT3 Gold service contract will cost you $500 a year, but you will hava a three hour response time etc.

    MT/SixApart once hat the lead and they had the buzz. The negative wave has been building up for at least six months now. I am sure SixApart won't disppear over night, but it will take them a long time or a very bold business move to get rid of that bad vibe and earn the trust of their users again.

    Meanwhile I personally will go for WordPress some day (my weblog [orangeguru.net]).
  • by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:53AM (#9152181)
    ....it would be CAPITALISM, savior of the common man and the greatest force for freedom ever known.

    Perheaps you would care to explain it in more detail to the 90% of the planet's population, livng in places where dog-eat-dog capitalizm is the religion de jeur but it is curiously coupled with unspeakable misery and poverty of the "common man", freedom is unheard of and outright slavery common. What is your solution? More capitalism? More US-based pan-national megacorporations owning more of everything? Less governent restrictions on "investment"?

    My imagination is too feable to understand how could one have less restrictions for the capitalists in some of the African and Latin American bannana republics then they have now. Most even come with a friendly dictator who would promptly kill/maim/torture anyone who would object to a capitalist investment. So, please, by all means, do enlighten me how does capitalizm further freedom. I for one was under this irrational impression that capitalizm is a religion of money and the only thing it is concerned with is multiplication of "wealth" with no regards as to its distribution and human costs. We in the west are just lucky that our history and culture resulted in other, completely unrelated ideas like "democracy", "representative governemt", "free press" etc to colaborate with some of the more palatable capitalist ideas to form our present, somewhat successful social systems.

  • i've always wondered why peopel insist on using free for non commercial use but proprietry web apps, for instance, why use Invision when phpBB2 is available and you know exactly where you stand with it?

    the people obviously want Free software, but struggle to understand the important differences in usage of such a word.

    maybe Software Freedom Day [softwarefreedomday.org] can help educate them.
  • Re:Just Switched (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EchoMirage (29419) * on Friday May 14, 2004 @12:19PM (#9152498)
    Sounds like you've already got a solution, but others should really consider Blosxom - it's truly free (not just GPL), and in additoin to being really easy to use, has a bunch of advantages, the bidggest of which is that it understands the concept of using a heirarchical file system to organize posts.

    I'll second or third that. Blosxom is a very powerful, very simple tool (the upcoming version 3.0, which has grown significant in size, is a scandalously large 15KiB in size! :-)

    Blosxom allows an extension of its features via Plugins [blosxom.com], which allows you to get the features you want without also getting loaded up on the ones you don't. I didn't care for MT's CMS with its various logins, complex scripts, etc.

    The other feature that I really enjoy in Blosxom is the easy easy easy syndication; all you do is add /index.rss to your blog's URL, and you have an RSS 0.91 feed. And since Blosxom is heirarchical, people can choose to read an RSS feed of only a specific portion of you blog if they want with no additional work on your part.

    So yeah, ditch MT and go Blosxom. You won't regret it!
  • by phpcoder21 (589609) on Friday May 14, 2004 @12:32PM (#9152658) Homepage
    There is nothing at all wrong with developers "charging" for their services. What I have a problem with is when a community develops the majority of the features of the product, then someone else grabs them, sticks a price tag on it and sells it. MT would be nothing like it is now if it werent for the MT community.
  • by digitalmuse (147154) on Friday May 14, 2004 @01:32PM (#9153576)
    Could you PLEASE publicly (as in, post it in a blog, and then e-mail a copy) challenge M&B about this! I remember this as well and I find this kind of about-face to be a real kick in the teeth.
    Yes, I understand that they're trying to run a company and keep a roof over their heads, but this new license is really not suitable for a LOT of the folks who use and love MT. I mean, c'mon, I'm running MT on a dual-CPU PII, a half-dozen blogs (only 2 public) and 20+ authors (my friends and a couple of accounts that are just for automated postings & such). Do they seriously think that I'm going to cough up $600+ out of brand loyalty?
    I appreciate their effort, and I've donated to them in the past, but they're putting themselves in competition with several free (speech & beer) alternatives.
    While I can see MT becoming the tool of choice for ISP/ASP markets who want to provide weblog services to their clients, I think that the 'hobby' and 'lightweight' marketshare will either freeze at MT 2.6x or go elsewhere and take their marketshare to other blogging tools.
    I also imagine that all those folks writing MT 2.x plug-ins will quickly start duplicating the 'new' features that MT3 is hawking.
    Remember what happened when Kazaa sold out and a raft of other free P2P clients turned up the heat and started giving them a real run for the corporate money?
    I'm sure that this won't be the last we hear of it, and I wouldn't be suprised if MT rethinks it's licensing policy, but I'm almost positive that I'm going to move my MT blogs over to something else in the next 3-6 months.
    Best of luck to Mena & Ben in the wild woolly world of corporate software, but I hope you've got your mittens; a lot of folks are going to start giving you the cold shoulder over this.
  • What I liked... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sirgoran (221190) on Friday May 14, 2004 @02:17PM (#9154330) Homepage Journal
    ...Was the bit at the end of the licensing statement, that you may only install one copy on a single processor server.

    Didn't Oracle try something like this and it blew up in their face?

    Why not price it in the realm of sanity, More then one author and/or three blogs you owe us $50.00US.

    If you only use it for yourself, one author and/or 3 blogs then it's still free.

    Simple, fair, and a lot more people would be willing to pay. As it is you're chasing your customer base away.

    My grandfather asways said it's easier selling 100 items for a buck than 1 item for 100 bucks.

    -Goran
  • by DeadlyBattleRobot (130509) on Friday May 14, 2004 @08:04PM (#9158169)
    Is there any other blog software out there with the template flexibility of MT? My main index template and other templates for MT2.661 are actually aspx pages, with aspx extensions. I use MT for the blogging and maintenance of the static pages. But the page templates can be anything you like, in my case they are part of an asp.net website. One big appeal of MT is that you can use it as a defacto CMS system for your entire site.
  • Re:Free _is_ better (Score:2, Interesting)

    by TechStuff.ca (588157) on Friday May 14, 2004 @11:34PM (#9159269) Homepage

    Here's a thought: maybe Six Apart doesn't want you to pay for MT. If it was me, I would much rather sell a volume license to your ISP, or to your Web hosting company, and take their thousands of dollars instead of your hundreds. (But if you're willing to buy MT yourself, why would your host or ISP buy it?)

    If you really really want MT, but you're not willing to pay for it, would you switch to a host that offered it as part of their monthly fee, as long as it cost less than TypePad?

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