WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

by Jeremy on August 31, 2009

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Creative Commons License photo credit: doug88888

As I have described before, WordPress is a fantastic tool.  I would recommend it to anyone.  There is some considerable confusion though (which is completely understandable) when we talk about WordPress because of a very unfortunate decision to name the free, hosted instance of WordPress… WordPress.com.  With the community site named WordPress.org and representing the open source software many people get confused as to how to best set it up.


The WordPress.org site is the community site for the open source software.  It is here that you can download the WP engine, engage in forums about WP, download extensions (themes, plugin, etc.).  This environment was really designed to support people who are hosting WordPress on their own hosting accounts or their own machines.  You can not host a site at this URL.


WordPress.com is a site that was created to give people a free blog based on the WordPress engine (albeit a more limited instance).  Basically this group set up some servers and installed the open source software.  They then allow people to setup accounts and host blogs on their servers for free.  This instance has quite a few limitations compared to hosting the WP engine yourself.  They include:

  • Free version does not allow editing of theme’s CSS templates (Premium Add-On allows this)
  • Free version does not allow your own domain, everything is *.wordpress.com (Premium Add-On allows redirection of a Custom URL)
  • Limited number of themes (currently around 70)
  • Can not run custom themes
  • Does not allow for editing of PHP files for customization
  • Does not allow Plugins to be installed
  • Does not allow JavaScript code to be added from within Widgets
  • More explanation from WordPress.com: WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

So you’ll see that you lose quite a bit of ability to customize your blog.  I can completely understand and appreciate why WordPress.com has decided to limit this type of functionality but I think that if you really want the power of WordPress you need to choose a self-hosted instance of the product.  Refocusing Technology started as a WordPress.com site and I quickly started to run into the limitations in that solution so I decided to move to a self-hosted site.

Hosting WordPress

No… it’s not free to do it this way.  Still the costs are pretty low.  They are really just the cost of hosting services.  In my opinion, the cost is well worth the flexibility you are provided with the ability to use the entire set of WordPress tools. 

Our recommended host is the provider we use: DreamHost.com (they host RefocusingWP.com and RefocusingTechnology.com):

How to start with WordPress.org?

Are you interested in figuring out how to launch a WordPress.org (self-hosted) blog or website? On our RefocusingWP.com site we created a list of steps that you need to take to get your site up and running. It’s called Where to Start?

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  • http://www.anywhereman.com Dave Yankowiak

    Great clarification for folks here, Jeremy. I agree with you that hosting your own WordPress installation is the best way to go. I’ve got mine hosted by 1and1 for something like $3/month with a free domain (plus about 10 other blogs I am setting up), so the cost is practically nothing.

  • http://www.refocusingtechnology.com Jeremy Lattimore


    Thanks for your feedback. I definitely agree that the cost is very small. Depending on your provider it can be next to nothing (as you describe). I think that the benefits far outweigh the cost. Thanks for stopping by!

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