As a beginner WordPress developer, you must be tired of hearing this word nowadays, “free! Free!! Free!!!”; it feels like a casual cheap tv commercial trying to attract the customer for selling their products. But first, let me assure you that, in the WordPress world, “free” doesn’t mean it’s cheap or something, but the opposite. In the WordPress world or WordPress community, the word “free” is as a literal meaning of charity, donation, or for the betterment of the community.
WordPress is free and, in this article, we are going to discuss why and how it became free, the limitation of this ‘free’ and to see what the fuss is all about.
WordPress is free: why and how
In a word, the only reason WordPress as in WordPress software which is available in WordPress.org, is free is because WordPress is not owned by an individual person or company. A load of contributors and developers worked very hard year after year to bring WordPress to the highest peak of popularity it has now today. To understand it better, let me tell you the history of WordPress briefly.
At the very beginning, a guy named Michel Valdrighi launched b2 cafelog in 2001. In 2003, Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little fork (cut it open and create something new) b2 and created WordPress. After that, year by year hundreds and thousands of developers from different corners of the world worked very hard to create a grand position of popularity for WordPress. Altogether, they created it from scratch under the GNU public license GPLv2 from Free Software Foundation. That means anyone can use it for free, and can moderate the software as their own will. That’s why it is free.
And for a lot of contributors who worked for it, that’s how WordPress is not owned or controlled by a person or company. Rather the WordPress Foundation controls it and the WordPress Foundation runs by developers, and bloggers from around the globe. And that is also the reason, nobody can ever sell WordPress as software. Now, WordPress is the most popular CMS existing on the planet Earth and it covers 34.1% of the Internet. Which means, one-third of the web is using WordPress.
On the other hand, WordPress.com is owned by Automattic which was founded by one of the authors of WordPress software Matt Mullenweg. He named Automattic by his first name. WordPress.com is also free in some limited context. To know more and not to get confused with WordPress.org and WordPress.com please read our previous article “WordPress.org vs WordPress.com: explained easily”
The limitation of “free” in WordPress: what are the things that are actually free in WordPress
Free to download – WordPress is free to download. You can download it direct from WordPress.org as many times as you like.
Free to use – after you downloaded it from WordPress.org, you are also free to use it wherever and whenever you want. You can create as many as websites using the WordPress CMS. WordPress is under GNU Global Public License which is GPLv2 more accurately saying. That means anyone can use it, modify it, study it, and share it at their own will. No one going to question him. That’s the freedom of using WordPress. And That is why it is called Open Source Software.
Copyright free– WordPress in not copyright free. As I discussed just earlier, WordPress is under GPL license, so you can study, modify and use the software as your will but you cannot modify its core code. Even the themes and plugins are under GPL license too.
WordPress Trademark – though WordPress software / CMS is under GPL license, the word WordPress and WordCamp and the logo of WordPress is the registered trademarks owned by the WordPress Foundation.
Domain and Hosting– building a website using WordPress is free but you have to buy your own domain name and buy space for your web server to host; there is no escaping it.
So, WordPress is free, and it’s too vague to put a price on it. And nobody can sell WordPress as software because nobody owns it. WordPress is free to download, and free to use. Always has been and always will be. So, gathering all these “free” things in WordPress you must be wondering how possibly can someone make money out of it. Yeah, That’s a great question. In the next article, we will talk about it. Stay tuned!