Movable Type 3.0

May 19th, 2004 | by aobaoill |

Blogs being blogs there has been widespread coverage of the release of MT 3.0. Now Mena Trott has asked for feedback on their proposed packages and pricing plans. Specifically, she has asked people to outline how they are using MT at the moment, with the implication that this will demonstrate how the pricing would impact on current users. So that’s what I’ve done below.Currently I have three authors and two weblogs set up on my system. One of the weblogs is a sand-bed, used for trying out some things, and demonstrating MT to friends – the two other author accounts are associated with it. In this regard, I could delete the extra authors and weblog without difficulties.However, this description gives an inaccurate sense of my situation, given the interpretation of ‘weblog’ by Six Apart. Unlike others, who seem to be using several MT weblogs to create a single site, I’m using a single weblog to create several ‘front pages.’ I’ve used the categories in MT to force different entries to different pages.These include the funferal front page, the Media page (which includes all media related posts, and some other material, such as reviews and profiles, that don’t necessarily appear on the front page), the At What Cost?/e-voting page, the Flirt FM Alumni page, and now the Participatory Media reading group page.Of course, all of these are stored on the same server, and are under the domain name (though the At What Cost? page also has the domain name pointing at it). There would be no technical means of knowing that the various templates are operating as largely separate weblogs. However, the interpretation of a weblog as “a single Web site viewable at a single URL (Uniform Resource Locator), consisting of one or more weblogs as generated by the Software via the “Create New Weblog” function of the Software” would could put me in a questionable area.Next, Six Apart says a Commercial licence is needed for any weblog used by an organization. So, would I need a commercial licence to run a weblog for the Flirt FM alumni group, or the reading group, or indeed At What Cost? All of these are informal groups that have little or no assets (the reading group’s grant of $250 for the coming year makes it by far the richest of the three), and are largely run by me in my spare time. I’m guessing Six Apart are trying to catch large NGOs, but my small organizations are being caught by their language. Why not say if you’re running it from a single installation of MT it counts as a single weblog (and put limits on numbers of weblogs into the software – see below for price points)? Also, specify that non-commercial organizations with no paid staff are eligible for the personal/non-commercial license [or with a budget of under $x a year, your choice].Also, currently Sabryna Cornish occasionally writes reviews and articles, as a ‘guest columnist.’ To date I haven’t created an author account for her, posting them myself and giving her credit within the article (though it is an option in the future). However, the licence language says sharing of author accounts is forbidden. Does my situation constitute account sharing?I was also considering creating ‘guest’ accounts that various people could use as needed. Rather than an individual account for each person who I want to give access for a particular project, there might be a ‘guest’ account for that project (with the individual probably identifying themselves in their post. Again, that would seem to be forbidden.Now, if the technical issues above (small informal organizations, guest authors) were dealt with/clarified, I could fit most of my stuff into the basic personal licence. I am willing to look at a paid licence, but the price point seems wrong for a number of reasons (some of which others have addressed already):

  • My total budget for the weblog is currently under $150 a year, covering server space ($10.95 a month), and domain name(s). An up-front cost of $70, or $100 if Six Apart revert to their original pricing, is not feasible – indeed I am continually trying to find ways to cut my current costs, given my limited (student) budget. 
  • This is (essentially) a feature-free release. There is no guarantee that purchasing now will give me access to future releases. Why should I not wait and see?
  • The (revised) pricing is broken in how it scales – it is (slightly) cheaper to buy a personal edition add-ons (10 authors, $119.70) than to buy a 10 author license ($119.95). A minor issue, but it should be fixed. Just the ex-Price Analyst in me coming out….

Something in the $30-$50 range would be a reasonable entry price point for me. There should be a clear policy about access to future releases – such as that buying gives you all updates in the next x months (12 would be good), and/or cut prices for upgrades to the next major release. Perhaps saying that if you buy now you will not pay more than $x for the next major release, which will incorporate this or that feature.So why not introduce an entry-level product: $35 for a 3 author, 3 weblog version. Promise access to updates for the next 12 months. $15 for each additional author. $110 for the 10 author edition, and $10 for each author added to this package. Yes, this does mean that at lower levels the additional authors are more expensive than the initial authors* – trust me, it’s the right approach (and not just because it suits me – it feels like a better pricing model).One final thing – the changes announced (only active authors count etc.) don’t sound like they can be easily implemented in the software. Are you asking people to pay what they think they should, or will the software be able to police the limits? And how will this work – when someone comes back after a delay will they get an error ‘too many authors: come back in 3 days and you might be OK’?*The prices work out as cheaper than the current ones up to 5 authors ($65). It is only more expensive for 7 authors ($95 instead of $90). Dropping the 10 author package by $10 brings more people into this ‘mid-range’ package – all those who would buy 8 or 9 author packages now – and gives them a sense they are getting a reasonable discount.

  1. One Response to “Movable Type 3.0”

  2. By zwichenzug on May 21, 2004 | Reply

    At what price point would you abandon MT for an open source solution? The new Bellman site uses Drupal, and it seems to be coming along nicely. I’m not involved in the day to day administration, so I don’t know how much of a headache it is, but when I’ve noted a hiccough the administrator has usually been able to fix it within a few hours.
    I do know that the main motivation for deciding to go open source was economic. The old site used pMachine, which was a powerful tool but was, as a result, expensive.

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