Listening to the WordPress Podcast today (good to hear you’re back again Charles), Charles mentioned that he didn’t see why people would want to use wordress.com to host a blog when they could host it themselves. I can see that self hosting offers a wealth of options for creating a highly personalised place, but using wordpress.com means that you can just concentrate on the content without worrying about how it all works underneath.
You can use the analogy of the swan, looking like it glides gently around, when you don’t see the legs making all the real effort under the water. The estate is spread across multiple datacentres, with your data distributed and backed up in Amazon S3. You don’t have to worry about any system upgrades, monitoring, intrusion detection or hardware failures. That’s all taken care of by the WordPress team. OK, so many hosting companies provide some of these features for the hardware and backup your data, but if your installation breaks, it can take some time and effort to put it all back together. To me that’s pretty impressive for a free service.
As Charles points out, it’s also great that WordPress is open source and you can run it yourself. The self hosting option certainly offers greater flexibility, as you can decide on your advertising and content policies. It would also provide a lot more insight into how it all fits together. If you really feel adventurous and want to run a multi blog site or blog network then look at WordPress MU, but if you just want to talk to the world then having someone else carry the soapbox for you is easier.
This isn’t a WordPress advert, although reading it back it starts to sound like it 😉 I just know what it takes to run such an infrastructure and I think the WordPress team really deserve a note of praise.