MT3

Spent much of the day upgrading the J-School’s MT installation to 3.0d, and experimenting with comment moderation + TypeKey. Since my bitter MT3 Sting post a few weeks ago, Six Apart has released an educational pricing model that turned out to be perfect for us. We ended up purchasing a site license that will cover as many blogs as we need (the previous pricing model looked prohibitive for our 17 blogs and 270 users).

My first attempt to get up and running with MT3’s comment control features on birdhouse was a bust, but I know realize that A) I needed deeper changes to comment templates than I had made and B) TypeKey was having indigestion that night, causing authentication to fail. Today’s experiments were smooth as glass, and I was once again impressed at how clean Six Apart’s code and methodologies are. No, we didn’t get the raft of features we were looking forward to, but they’ve done an amazing job on what they did release.

I’m flip-flopping re: questions of true open source (WordPad, etc.) vs. “free enough.” The diveintomark piece makes an excellent case for why hitching your wagon to a commercial entity leaves you vulnerable to tectonic licensing shifts. But yesterday I read Jay Allen’s Collective Deep Breath, which makes the counter-argument just as convincingly — exceptional software is worth paying for. Great developers are hard to find, their efforts deserve reward, and users benefit by supporting them.

The parallel for me of course is to how BeOS users saw the world when both BeOS and Linux looked like universes of equal potential. Those of us who used both systems knew that Linux on the desktop was a miserable joke compared to BeOS. But that was an impossible point to make to the open source advocates. In the end, they were right in one sense — we hitched our horses to a commercial wagon, and eventually all the wheels fell off. But in another sense, we were right — we were using a system that was in many ways better on the desktop than Linux is even today. Be’s commercial backing brought BeOS a level of cohesion and vision the open source community just hasn’t been able to muster (and of course the excellence of Mac OS X on the desktop compared to Linux reinforces this point).

That’s how some of my WordPress experiments felt – Hey, wow, this is cool, and free to boot. But some of the edges were so rough that I was put off (for example, the image upload + thumbnailing + popup window) features were just pathetic compared to Movable Type’s. Part of me wants to rewrite WP’s image upload functions and give my changes to the community. The other part of me is saying, “With what time? Just pay Six Apart their small bounty and get on with your life.”

At this point I’m leaning more toward sticking with MT on birdhouse as well (though I am still interested in WP to eliminate rebuilds, though that question is separate from licensing and philosophical aspects).

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