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The Wonderful World of WordPress Products

By now, most of you should know that there are three versions of WordPress available and one awesome forum software program, bbPress, which works seamlessly integrated with two versions of WordPress. Let’s look at your WordPress options and see which one is right for your blogging needs.

WordPress.com

is the free but limited version of WordPress created by the multi-user version of . I think of WordPress.com as WordPress for beginners.

WordPress.com is simple and easy to use. It’s free to all who want to blog, and features the state-of-the-art developing technology behind the full version of WordPress.

What limits WordPress.com is the lack of access or use of WordPress Plugins, Javascript, and limited web design customization. Recently, WordPress.com started offering the ability to customize the look of your web page design for USD $15 as an additional service. Still, there are many different WordPress Theme designs and layouts you can choose from, with new ones being added all the time. Many of these WordPress Themes offer customization features such as header art and sidebar widgets.

What isn’t limiting about WordPress.com is the fact that it is the test site for all things official WordPress. You get to play with the new Write Panel features like image uploading and browsing. The amazingly powerful comment spam fighting tool is included, protecting your blog against the vast majority of evil comment spammers.

You also have direct access to finding out who is saying what and what are the most popular topics in the WordPress.com community by following tags, comments, top posts, and top blogs.

Blog in a non-English language? No problem. Dozens of languages are easily supported by WordPress.com, and more are being added all the time.

If you are just getting started blogging, or you want to test drive WordPress, is your answer.

The Full Version of WordPress

If you are technically inclined and aspiring, if you want to get your hands virtually dirty with web page design, development, coding, programming, and messing under the hood, then the full version of is the answer to your dreams.

The original source for all things WordPress, WordPress continues to be free and open source. So you can dig into the code from every angle, inside, outside, and in between, to customize your blog website any way you want.

Want a static front page? Can do. Want various features on your front page that are not seen on other page views? Can do. Want total control over comment spam and comment filtering? Can do. Want no sidebars? Can do. Want 6 sidebars? Can do. Want to have more than one user, blogger, administrator, or editor have access to your blog? Can do. Want a forum integrated? Can do. Want polling, surveys, questionnaires, instant messaging, and other interactive communication between you and your readers? Can do.

Want to blog in a language other than English? WordPress can easily do that, too.

Whatever it is you want to do with your website or blog, it may take some work and jumping through hoops, but typically, if you want it, it can be done as long as you have the tools and skills to figure it out. If not, there are plenty of helpful WordPress Plugins that help you add a wide variety of features, and WordPress Themes to change the look of your blog with only a few clicks.

There is also an excellent to help you find and answer your WordPress questions. But I recommend that you start with the , the online manual for WordPress users written by fellow WordPress users who found the solutions to many of the questions you have.

WordPressMU

While the full version of WordPress allows more than one blogger to blog on one blog, and allows easy installation of multiple blogs within one website, allows more than one thousand bloggers to blog independently on their own WordPress blogs administrated by one blogging program.

The “MU” in WordPressMU stands for multi-user. It’s not for the timid and not even for those who want to manage two or four blogs. It’s for the corporate network and membership groups and associations who want to offer blogs to their members while maintaining some control over all the blogs. is the main test site and proof of WordPressMU’s capabilities, hosting more than 430,000 blogs (as of October 2006) and still growing.

Like all WordPress products, there is also a helpful WordPressMU Support Forums to get you on the right track installing and setting up this powerful blogging platform.

With WordPressMU, blogging communities can be developed. is one such example I highlighted recently, featuring free blogs to teachers. It’s now grown to include several other educational groups like students and university students, creating a huge network of bloggers blogging on related topics and a community from which to learn and study from and with.

Harvard Law School also uses WordPressMU, offering students and students of Harvard, Radcliffe, and the Harvard Business School involved with Harvard Law studies free blogs to share their studies, thoughts, and opinions on the legal world and industry.

As more “groups” are formed on the Internet, such as genealogy and family history membership groups, worker’s unions, hobbyists, businesses and industries, and science and medical specialists, a need for an easy to use and manage blogging tool is much in demand and WordPressMU is ready for the task.

bbPress

The , WordPress.com Forums, WordPressMU Support Forums, and 9rules Notes are all run with bbPress forum software. There are many WordPress full version blogs also taking advantage of the power of bbPress forum software to handle their customer support services as well as adding more interactive communication between members, fans, and readers.

Like WordPress, bbPress is open source and the programming focuses on simplicity and speed. It is highly customizable and can handle heavy traffic loads, as seen on the various WordPress forums which host more than 200,000 registered users between them.

bbPress integrates easily into a full version WordPress blog and WordPressMU. It features a simple clean interface, customizable templates, designs, and layouts, and even includes feeds and spam protection with , fighting comment spam even within the forums and discussion areas. You can easily add different sub-forums within the main forum, segregating discussion areas.

The forum can be open to the public, require registration, or secure, restricted, and private. It’s up to you.

There are also a variety of bbPress Plugins to extend the forum software’s capabilities.

Many WordPress bloggers want more interaction with their blogs outside of just comments on posts. Integrating bbPress adds that extra interactivity that takes your blog into the world of Web 2.0.

Oh, and there is also a bbPress Support Forum which uses bbPress, so you can see how it works while learning how to work with it.

Which WordPress to Choose?

The question of which WordPress version to choose is up to you. Free is cheap and easy with WordPress.com. Spending money on hosting your own site, the full version of WordPress opens up a wide range of possibilities, including adding bbPress forums.

If you are a small business and you want the ease of a Content Management System (CMS) that is simple and easy to use, but you want the power to control various aspects of your website, even including a customer service oriented forum, then the full version of WordPress and bbPress forum software are ideal.

For businesses, associations, and community oriented groups who want to offer their employees or members the opportunity to express themselves and share their ideas and projects with each other, WordPressMU is an excellent choice.

Whichever WordPress version you choose, know that it comes with a backing and support of hundreds of thousands of happy users, who not only use WordPress but abuse WordPress, reporting their results or lack of results in the support forums and testing discussion groups. They also write many articles on their blogs and for the WordPress Codex on how WordPress works and how to make it work the way you want your blog to work. They all support WordPress for free, thriving on the passion and development energy of open source software. You’ve got an army of serious WordPress supporters making WordPress the hottest and most active blogging software around.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

4 Comments

  1. Posted October 25, 2006 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    I started off by self-hosting my own Blog, I don’t like limits and wanted to learn a bit about WP anyhow. For those that require a ‘space’, wordpress.com is ideal for them.

  2. Posted October 25, 2006 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    I use wordpress.com to host my blog, but I reached into my pockets to have my own url, lol.

  3. Posted October 25, 2006 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    I saw this in my dashboard and thought “products” == “paid services” and said to my self, OMG, Lorelle has turned propagandist?!?!

    But of course, I rest thoroughly corrected. Relle’s still keepin’ it real :p

  4. Posted October 26, 2006 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    In case anyone wants to have their own domain name, but doesn’t want to be spending money just yet, check out the .TK domain sometime. I’m posting this info to help others, I’m not in an affiliate scheme or anything, I just found it useful when I first started playing around, and you can turn off the advertising (despite what their site states!)
    If you’re interested, either google it for more info, or head straight to http://www.dot.tk/en/
    (Personally speaking, if you either have low traffic (less than 25 visits per 90 days) or intend to use your site for commercial purposes, I’d steer clear, but for personal projects, where you don’t want to have to type or give out long URLs to people, it is worth looking into)


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  1. [...] Lorelle has posted a guide on choosing the right WordPress installation for you! “By now, most of you should know that there are three versions of WordPress available and one awesome forum software program, bbPress, which works seamlessly integrated with two versions of WordPress. Let’s look at your WordPress options and see which one is right for your blogging needs.” [...]

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