WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org vs. WordPress MU

by Jeremy on March 18, 2010

When someone first journeys into the WordPress arena it can be truly confusing.  Many aren’t even sure what they’re looking for they just know they want a blog.  So, someone tells them how great WordPress is.

What’s the first thing they do?  Hit Google. When they start reading about WordPress they read about how Blogger is better than WordPress or why WordPress is so great.  A key point that is usually missing is the differences between the WordPress versions or platforms.  I wrote an post last fall called WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com but I realized that I should have expanded the topic a little bit because there is also WordPress MU.  I don’t want to completely rehash the previous article but I at least want to give a brief description of WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com vs. WordPress MU.

UPDATE: As of the release of WordPress 3.0, WordPress MU was merged in the base WordPress.org product.  It is no longer supported as it’s own system.  This makes WordPress.org an even more impressive system by supporting multiple blogs from the same administration tool.


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WordPress.org (Self-Hosted)

WordPress.org (http://www.wordpress.org/) is an open-source community site that is dedicated to building/supporting/improving the WordPress platform.  This is where you can download the WordPress software and install it wherever you would like to.  You can also get support, download extensions (plug-ins and themes), learn how to customize it, etc.  WordPress.org is really the home of WordPress.

They don’t host blogs here.  You must have a system to host this on.  Please see the previous article for more details on hosting (WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com).

WordPress.com is the base for the multi-user version called WordPress MU.  (As of WordPress version 3.0, WordPress.org supports the use of multiple blog sites from a single administration screen.  They did this by merging WordPress MU back into the base project.  Very nice addition.)

WordPress MU (Multi User)

UPDATE: As of the release of WordPress 3.0, WordPress MU was merged in the base WordPress.org product.  It is no longer supported as it’s own system. This makes WordPress.org an even more impressive system by supporting multiple blogs from the same administration tool.

WordPress MU (http://mu.wordpress.org/) is a multi user version of WordPress.  This software was expanded to allow hosts to support multiple WordPress blogs.  It is mostly the same product but it does have some differences that help support the multiple blog environment.  The people on WordPress MU’s website claim a 95-99% similarity with WordPress.org base product.

A company named Automattic installed WordPress MU and offers blogs through it as WordPress.com.

WordPress.com

WordPress.com is a site that was created to support providing free blogs to people.  It is an implementation of the WordPress MU platform by Automattic, Inc.  It is a very popular option because it is hosted in a free environment.  That said it is limited in functionality.

Some of the limitations:

  • 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)
  • Does not allow Plugins to be installed
  • Does not allow JavaScript code to be added from within Widgets

For more details on WordPress.com limitations take a look at the previous article  (WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com).

Which one do I use?

You should use WordPress.org in a self-hosted environment.  It is infinitely more configurable than WordPress.com.  You will actually be able to completely control the look and feel of your website/blog.  Self-hosted WordPress also gives you the ability to utilize the wealth of plug-ins, customizations, and themes that are available from the community.  You simply need to get hosting space somewhere and start building your WordPress site.

How to start with WordPress.org

Curious about how to get started with WordPress.org? On our RefocusingWP.com site we wrote up the steps to take to bring up a WordPress.org (self-hosted) site. Don’t worry, it’s a free outline. Come see it.

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