For you that are starting with WordPress and you are trying this on your own, let me help you on clarifying this:
WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS) that is built on PHP (one of the most popular programming languages, see php.net for more info) and using MySQL as the database to store your user info, settings, posts and other information.
The company that developed WordPress is Automatic, they are the ones that coordinate the development of WordPress. And have made (and acquired) other popular WordPress plugins such as bbPress, BuddyPress, Jetpack, etc.
As many open software companies, they created a community version of WordPress which is open source and whose source code is hosted on GitHub and they made a commercial service that provides a hosted WordPress service that has both FREE and PAID plans.
WordPress.com: The service
For novice (n00b) users, I strongly suggest that they start experimenting with wordpress.com which already comes with many of the features someone would need to start a blog or website. You would get familiarized with the setting and would probably fall in love with Calypso which is wordpress.com backend GUI. Since the service is free and already comes with SSL, you would not have to worry about hacks, or performance, or security like you would do when you are using the open source version.
Sites like CNN, Time, UPS, Chrysler and NBC run on WordPress VIP, which is a paid version of WordPress that is made to provide the highest quality of service, no wonder why the pricing starts at USD 5,000 a month (Five Thousand US Dollars).
The FREE version of WordPress.com is limited. Well if it’s free it has to have some limits don’t you think? Well, at least I do. So what are the limits:
The limitations of wordpress.com
- Limited availability of plugins. Only a small list of preapproved plugins.
- Limited availability of themes.
- You can’t edit the themes much.
- You can’t run or place Ads on any site you create here.
The awesomeness of wordpress.com
- Works straight up. No much setup needed.
- It comes with FREE SSL (Wildcard SSL * .wordpress.com)
- No SysAdmin work needed: security, upgrade, performance, everything is managed by them.
- Callypso is so much cooler.
- Built In stats
- Social Media syndication
What’s the ideal usage for wordpress.com?
If you want to run a blog and only want to care about writing contents, with limited features and you do not want to worry about server & software maintenance. Or big companies with lots of cash, who need dedicated and professional hosting and support for their highly visited websites.
WordPress.org: The software
WordPress.org is where the software that is the core of wordpress.com lives. The difference is that WordPress.com is not an integrated platform, but a software that you can install on any server as long as it can interpret PHP nad have a MySQL database.
WordPress is pretty extendable and is sitting on 25% of all websites in the world. People have build business websites, helpdesks, knowledge bases, ecommerce stores and even social networking sites with it. Since it’s FREE, and you have thousands and thousands of both themes and plugins, is pretty popular amongst developers and non-IT folks.
The limitations of wordpress.org
- It requires a lot of things and concepts to be learned: php, mysql, etc.
- It does not come with a good security protection from scratch
- It requires constant upgrading and sometimes this results on broken themes and plugins.
- Has a lot of XSS Cross site Scripting exploits
- Common target of hackers and script kiddies
The awesomeness of wordpress.org
- Since its open source, you can use it however you like & customize it
- It has thousands and thousands of plugins and themes available
- Its easier to get assistance on wordpress.org than wordpress.com
- It can be used to build almost every type of website.
What’s the ideal usage for wordpress.org?
A web designer or business owner that wants a tool for his business to use for sales (ecommerce, product catalog, services showdown, etc), marketing or other things like CRM and even social media. Someone looking for incredible flexibility and easy to change.
If you basically want an easy way to publish your stuff online, then go with wordpress.com. But if you have a vision and would like way more flexibility, and be able to upload custom plugins, then I definitely suggest you go with wordpress.org
What about you guys ? What is another difference between them?