Wix and WordPress have been in a public feud that is only getting uglier with each response. Wix’s latest response appears to be lowering the conflict’s temperature.
A series of polarizing video ads created by Wix sparked the latest round of open letters between WordPress and Wix.
In the web development and search marketing communities, the ads were generally panned. Others, on the other hand, found the ads amusing.
The most common complaint seemed to be that the advertisements were unfairly critical of WordPress, a popular and well-liked open source content management system. Some people wished Wix had taken a more ethical approach to their advertisements.
Matt Mullenweg Retort
Matt Mullenweg is the creator of WordPress and the CEO of Automattic, a company that produces a number of popular web and WordPress-related products.
He has founded the WordPress Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the open-source WordPress content management system.
Matt’s reaction was understandably fiery.
He set the tone by portraying Wix as criminals in an essay titled Wix and Their Dirty Tricks.
And he starts by reminding readers that Wix was accused of “stealing WordPress code and lying about it,” as he puts it.
He goes on to accuse Wix of attempting to gain relevance by targeting the open source WordPress culture, and he expresses sympathy for the actors and staff who were “forced” to create the Wix attack ads.
That’s just the first couple of paragraphs.
Matt then criticizes Wix’s business model, claiming that it is focused on trapping clients by making it impossible to switch to another system, likening Wix to a vermin trap.
“They are so insecure that they are also the only website creator I’m aware of that doesn’t allow you to export your content, so they’re like a roach motel where you can check in but never check out. “
Next, he portrays Wix as an oppressive spouse who confines their clients to a basement and expresses surprise that consumer protection authorities have not yet pursued Wix for their business practices.
Wix is accused of being weird and manipulative about how they want to portray themselves at the end of the article.
Given the gleefully negative and outrageous nature of the Wix attack ads, Wix CEO Avishai Abrahami’s response was refreshingly sober and fact-based.
I asked a friend who has worked in the search marketing industry for 25 years to read the Wix answer, and he said it was “sweet and sane.”
The open letter from Wix to WordPress starts by pointing out the essay’s high level of frustration and “half-truths,” and then asks,
“Why are you so angry?”
The Wix CEO sets the tone by portraying Matt Mullenweg as irate and not telling the truth, while portraying Wix as fair and truthful.
He mentions the following WordPress issues:
- High maintenance costs
- Plugin issues
- Memory issues
Friendly competition and hypocrisy
Avishai accuses Matt Mullenweg of hypocrisy for criticizing Wix for negativity, claiming that it was Matt who started the squabbles by being the first to go negative.
He portrayed WordPress as the aggressor at first, with Wix simply reacting to WordPress’s negativity.
He links to two WordPress.com web pages to prove his point that WordPress is negative:
Following that, he portrayed Wix as someone who is open to criticism and eager to learn from it.
He expressed himself as follows:
“I believe in friendly competition. Competitors push each other by competing. When you guys wrote about issues with Wix, like SEO and performance, we didn’t complain, we owned it and worked hard to fix it. Now we have great SEO, and performance is almost where it should be – so thank you WordPress for pushing us to be better.”
Then he asks WordPress why they don’t take ownership of their problems and work to fix them.
That question could be considered unfair because issues with security and plugins are beyond WordPress’s direct control.
Third-party developers create problematic plugins, which are not under WordPress’ direct control. As a result, it’s difficult for WordPress to claim ownership of something it doesn’t actually own.
Is it possible that Wix stole WordPress’ code?
Wix responds to the claim that they stole WordPress code by stating that they did not steal “General Public License” code and that they had previously addressed the issue five years ago.
“I’d like to remind you that the code wasn’t developed by WordPress – it was General Public License (GPL).
As a reminder, here’s my reply to you about it from 5 years ago.”
Is Wix a platform that binds its users?
Wix CEO Avishai Abrahami refutes the claim that Wix locks users in. And links to a WordPress.com tool for importing content from Wix to WordPress.
Aviashai linked to a WordPress tool for importing Wix websites.
According to the WordPress Wix site import tool:
“Import » Import from Wix
Our Wix Importer is a quick way to move your content. All you have to do is provide your site’s web address (called a URL).
When the import is complete, you’ll have a site that’s pre-filled with your content and ready to be your new home on the web.”
Referencing WordPress’ tool for importing Wix content, Avishai asks:
“Do you remember this? So why did you write that we lock our users in the basement?”
Wix Offers Apology
Later, the CEO reiterates his belief in “friendly competition” and the value of businesses challenging one another to be better.
He claims that highlighting WordPress’s “problems” was done in the spirit of friendly competition. But he also extends an olive branch in the form of an apology.
“We tried to make the ads funny, and I think you can also admit that the problems we talk about are real. However, if it offended you, I’m sorry.”
The open letter then concludes by recounting how, over the years, he has unsuccessfully invited Matt to coffee.
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