Duncan Riley> I’m pleased to report that Anil Dash of Six Apart is back commenting on posts at The Blog Herald here and I’d note in a reasonable way as well. Now I won’t rehash the past yet again but one thing I’ll say about Anil, is that he is (nearly) always a gentleman in his comments, and also has the amazing ability to pop up absolutely anywhere SixApart products are mentioned, indeed I’ve often wondered if there is actually a team of people calling themselves Anil Dash sitting at SixApart headquarters monitoring blogs 24/7 and looking for opportunities to defend the company line under the pseudonym of Anil Dash.
But lets look at the common ground: Anil writes that SixApart (SA) is the leader in the business blogging field, and on that one we agree. SA, rightly or wrongly went aggressively after the business market from MT 3 onwards and I’d be guessing to say that they probably own 50-60% of this market, if not more. It wasn’t MT alone of course, TypePad, which leveraged the experience and script of MT into a hosted blogging product was literally the gold at the end of the VC rainbow.
Now I don’t know whether SA is profitable or not, but I do know that they are certainly bringing in some serious money, particularly off the back of TypePad.
Sure, Mena has never actually apologised for MT 3 because she thinks that they did no wrong, but surely someone in SA has noticed a difference since those days.
Sure, they are making money, but the good will and community support has contracted (note I didn’t say dried up, there are still SA die-hards out there). Imagine if SA could deliver the same profits, or increasing profits, and start building some good will again amongst their old disciples, myself included, and most of the people supporting WordPress today?
So here is my proposal, or challenge to Six Apart. Open Source MT. No, it doesn’t have to even be on the GNU Public License. The BSD (I think this is right) Licence allows Open Sourcing without the ability for anyone to profit from the sale of the open script. I’m sure you could do a variation on the theme that would allow Six Apart to use the script for profit with TypePad but still allow anyone to use the MT script with their blogs, whether that be for profit or not.
I ask SixApart staff that were on board 2 years, or even 18 months ago: don’t you miss the days where you had a huge, supportive community that would willingly promote everything you did and even help debug and write extensions and plugins for your code? I’m not saying that you can fix this overnight, but Open Sourcing MT would start to bring back some of the people you’d lost over time, plus new people who’d rather use Open Source than buy. Seriously, even I’d go back to at least trying to use your products if you did this, and I’d reckon a whole lot of people I know in the blogosphere would give you a shot again as well. This is not to disparage WordPress, but competition is a great thing, and unfortunately on pure Open Source blogging only plays there’s no beating WordPress at the moment. (please dont flame me, there are lots of good CMS packages out there, Nucleus in particular, but Nucleus is not blog only). If Red Hat can build a business off Open Source and paid support, surely SA has got a better chance with Open Source Script and a hosted blogging solution.
So to Anil, Joi Ito, Ben, and others at Six Apart, think about it. You made your money off the good will of many in the blogosphere. Why don’t you give something back. Open sourcing MT is a win/ win for the company and bloggers alike. Be brave, lead the pack, and care about your heartland again. SixApart can win the battle of the hearts of the blogosphere, and this could be the key to your redemption.