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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Mon, 25 Jul 2011

BoingBoing drops Movable Type for WordPress

The recent BoingBoing post about the busy/huge web site's changes focuses on the move to Disqus comments, but the bigger news is that it's dumping Movable Type for WordPress. Even Matt Mullenweg of Auttomatic fame mentioned it.

A few years ago, BoingBoing, which does something like 1 million views per day, made the move to Movable Type from whatever it is they used until that point. The reason behind the move to MT, as I remember it, anyway, was the high availability of a statically built Movable Type site and its ability to handle the kind of traffic BoingBoing was drawing.

Well fast-forward to now, and BoingBoing's Movable Type days are over. It's still plenty popular but is now running on WordPress. I guess this means that WP is more than able to function in extremely high-traffic environments like that of BoingBoing.


I'd sure like to know more about why BoingBoing made the move and what they're doing in terms of customization to make WordPress work for them.

I work on a relatively huge (300+ blogs, maybe 50 of them active) Movable Type system, and while it has just about as much flexibility as you could ever want, to tap it you need to invest many hours of development work, have the skill to do said work, and you must suffer with poor documentation. (Not that WordPress' own documentation is much better, because it's not, but the millions of WP users have filled in the gap with their own tutorials, tips and fixes.)

From the beginning I figured that BoingBoing had enough development muscle to make Movable Type do exactly what it wanted. Maybe the change was a combination of development fatigue (and relative lack of return for the effort), gains in or understanding of WordPress' ability to handle heavy traffic, and the acknowledgment that WordPress is where almost all of the "heat" is in blogging software. WP's growing multi-site capability might also have something to do with it (multi-site has long been a core function of MT and is a recent adoption into the WordPress "core"; I've since done a successful WP multi-site installation, though it was a bit too geeky for prime time).

Again, I'm speculating big time. I'd love for someone to fill in the blanks. BoingBoing's own post is short and lacking information on the topic of switching their CMS.

That aside, BoingBoing's adoption of Disqus for the comments on its now-WP site is no small thing either. It just shows how well Disqus is gaining acceptance in the increasingly competitive world of third-party comments providers, what with 6,000-pound gorilla Facebook making a major move with its Comments service.

For a variety of reasons, most geek-seeking web sites would never use Facebook Commenting, so Disqus has a built-in advantage in those situations. I could never seen BoingBoing going the Facebook route.

And key to Disqus adoption is its close integration with WordPress, including the ability to take the Disqus comments "native" into a site's WordPress database.

But back to BoingBoing's switch from Movable Type to WordPress. Most say that MT's shark-jumping moment came years ago when its determination to charge just about everybody for its software gave WordPress a huge opening to pretty much take the blogging-software market. That's true.

But when any high-profile site that purposefully chooses Movable Type, then a few years later moves to WordPress, it's a big deal. I can't imagine that Movable Type-maker SixApart can do much of anything about it, either.