WordPress – The Only Content Management System With A Bill Of Rights

By | April 18, 2012

Although the following may not mean a great deal to most business owners or individuals who are looking at WordPress to build an inexpensive, easy, good-looking web presence, it’s good information to know, no matter what. Most WordPress users are not techies, but they are busy people who simply desire to look good online and attract the attention of customers or other visitors . These are the core WordPress users for whom the popular content management system is ultimately designed, because they are the people who are going to use it the most. They want software that’s easy to set-up and to edit and maintain. They want to be up and running in less than ten minutes, tops. They don’t want sophistication that provides more headaches than differentiation.

WordPress is licensed under the General Public License (GPLv2 or later). Again, this may not make too much sense to non-techie users, but the reality is that any user who respects the stated terms and conditions may modify WordPress, including copying and redistributing the individual’s own work and any derivative versions. Users are allowed to charge a fee for their work, or provide it free of charge, which fact distinguishes the GPL from other software licenses that do not allow commercial redistribution. The GPL , then, provides four basic freedoms, now known as the WordPress Bill Of Rights:

1) The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.

2) The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.

3) The freedom to redistribute.

4) The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others.

It should be obvious from one reading that this list is not the mission statement of a private or corporate entity with a profit motive. WordPress is not built to make a profit for the people who originally developed the software or the many, many people who have contributed and are still contributing to software enhancements. Needless to say, some people don’t have such altruistic motives, and may try to circumvent these ideals in various ways. Restricting its use in any way frustrates the intention of WordPress licensing, which is all about freedom of use. Wise use of WordPress community resources includes encouragement for any and all users to contribute to it and to share it, while at the same time keeping it simple enough for anyone to use and enjoy.

For dedicated techies, sometimes WordPress seems a little slow to adopt new innovations. There’s a good reason for this, and it is not going away. The developers subscribe to the philosophy that the base of WordPress users must be likely to adopt a new feature or it will simply not be added to the software. Since most WordPress users are not techie, that is why it is not ever going to become cutting-edge software, because that would defeat its purpose. Customization of each individual site is accomplished by means of themes and plug-ins, and each user builds a unique space on the web by selecting exactly what he or she needs, no more and no less.

Basically, it is a balancing act between making WordPress simpler and easier to use with every upgrade in the software. Giant steps in simplicity are quite obvious to anybody who experimented with early versions of WordPress, as they were much more cumbersome than the present version available today. For example, updating the software and also themes and plug-ins was formerly a somewhat complex, manual task. It was beyond the skill level of many WordPress users. Now upgrades can be achieved with a single click, making it possible for the least techie among us to upgrade his or her own WordPress site in a snap. The goal is for the software to get easier and easier, not harder and harder to use. Developers learned the hard way that frequent and regular upgrade releases work out better than holding out for the next big innovation, which WordPress users may or may not appreciate, being, or the most part, non-techie types.

WordPress responds to public comment, and while feedback on forums is definitely read and appreciated, comments reflect the opinion of a very, very small percentage of end users. So, efforts are constantly being made to reach out to the somewhat silent majority of users to obtain their opinions and suggestions. This is one of the things that really sets WordPress apart from other content management platforms, and it is a perfect example of the “user-friendliness” for which WordPress has become famous. It would really be fair to say that keeping WordPress as simple and easy as possible, and keeping it free of any constraints on use and on sharing are the greatest motivating factors for the future of WordPress.