After my last blog post on WordPress.com’s bizarre paid-plans rejig, which stayed on top of Hacker News for a few hours and eventually caught the attention of the CEOs of WordPress.com and Automattic, the former, Dave Martin, said the company was listening to bloggers’ feedback and would incorporate it into the new options. I also suggested on the same day, Sunday, that they publish a post on the WP.com blog allaying many fears about the new Pro plan’s adjustments for “just there to blog” bloggers and for those in non-Western markets, including India.
This post appeared on the WP.com blog yesterday but, disappointingly, it only repeated what Dave had said on the HN forum; in fact, 75% of it is advertisement for the new Pro plan, and the remaining 25% rephrases Dave’s words – that the adjustments in question are coming soon.
Both Dave and Matt Mullenweg, the CEO of Automattic, which owns WP.com, have said that it’s customary for them to roll out the changes first before issuing any kind of statement formally announcing them, so that they have time to fix any bugs in production. I suppose this makes sense for technological fixes, but it doesn’t for one that will ultimately determine whether a person is able to WP.com at all.
I like that the statement has increased the free plan’s storage limit to 1 GB and has removed the ill-conceived traffic limit from both the free and the Pro plans. To me these changes also indicate a deeper possibility: if these settings (more storage, no traffic limit) are feasible now, why weren’t they feasible earlier? They must have been. So why weren’t they implemented at that stage? WP.com says in its statement, as Dave Martin did as well, that the Pro plan was the product of listening to users’ feedback. I doubt this bit – or at least, WP.com only incorporated feedback that was in line with its own sensibilities, sensibilities that I suspect continue to ignore the needs of those for whom paying $5-8 a month is more feasible than to pay $180 a year. Second, the post promises: (quoted verbatim)
- Additional storage will be available for purchase at a very reasonable price, very soon.
- As-you-need them add-ons for both plans, to give you a la carte upgrades. Coming soon.
Considering one of the stated reasons for introducing the Pro plan is to reduce the number of options and enable users to make easier descisions, wouldn’t the availability of “a la carte” options reintroduce the same ‘complexity’? I realise these options won’t be available for all features but depending on which ones they are, WP.com might as well retain the personal and premium plans of old (the ones, along with the business plan, that the Pro plan has replaced).
Second, how will these “a la carte upgrades” be priced? A related issue here is that WP.com recently started allowing users to attach images to their posts without leaving the WP.com editor, through the Pexels and Openverse integrated photo libraries. When you select an image to add to your post, WP.com imports it into your blog’s media gallery. Most of the photos on my blog were imported this way. If WP.com isn’t going to compress these images in any way, then they will hasten the user’s consumption of the 1 GB of free space. If WP.com is going to charge more for storage (it did earlier as well but then the personal and premium plans existed), it should also provide image compression or downsizing measures.
And third, the post doesn’t even mention if WP.com plans to tweak its prices for the India market. This was and is a big thorn in my side, because the India rates differ significantly from the rates in the US. The business plan, which the new Pro plan is by and large, cost Rs 7,680 a year in India – or 101.80, whereas the Pro plan costs $80, or Rs 6,033, more. These aren’t small sums of money in India. Dave had said in his HN post that his team had missed out on adjusting the Pro rates for India (and Brazil) and would do so. But the statement doesn’t mention anything about this, even as superficially as it has touched on the other issues.
While Dave’s, and Mullenweg’s, words in response to my blog post seemed reassuring at the time, I’m yet to be convinced that WP.com still cares about its “just there to blog” bloggers. We still need more clarity and information.