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WordPress

Term Confusion: WordPress vs. WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

Have you ever said or heard someone say “WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com”? If so, we need to talk.

What is the difference between WordPress, WordPress.org, and WordPress.com? Many things, but most importantly that these three terms refer to three entirely different entities. Let me explain.

Though I now work as a web designer, developer, and educator, my formal education is in philosophy with a speciality in philosophy of science and philosophy of language. One of the main focuses of philosophy in general is to find a way for people to communicate without confusion, ambiguity or misunderstanding.

What I’m seeing around me is a confusion and often misuse of the three terms “WordPress”, “WordPress.org” and “WordPress.com” that keeps being perpetuated and causes more confusion. So allow me to clarify the terms and hopefully put an end to this mess:

Here are the three terms, what they refer, and how they should be used correctly:

WordPress

Reference: A PHP based Open Source application used to publish websites and blogs on the web. WordPress powers millions of sites world wide.
Suggested use: “My website runs WordPress.

WordPress.org

Reference: The official website from which you can download WordPress and find themes, plugins, support forums and other information.
Suggested use: “If you want to download WordPress, go to WordPress.org.

WordPress.com

Reference: An online service running WordPress that offers free and paid solutions for building your own website or blog in a network.
Suggested use: “I used to have a WordPress.com site, but I’ve migrated to a self-hosted WordPress site for more control.

So what’s the big issue you ask?

Why am I bringing this up? Simple answer: I keep seeing people make the following comparison: “WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com”. What they mean is “WordPress as a self-hosted solution vs. WordPress.com”. Instead they say “The website where you can find information about and download WordPress vs. WordPress.com”. This is incorrect and confusing. Don’t believe me? Just go to the WordPress forums and search for “WordPress.org”. What you’ll find is a wild mix of people (incorrectly) referring to self-hosted WordPress sites and people (correctly) referring to features on WordPress.org itself.

OK. Give me a solution I can work with then.

The solution is simple: When referring to WordPress (the application), say “WordPress”. When referring to a self-hosted site running WordPress, say “WordPress self-hosted” or “self-hosted WordPress” or some variant. When referring to WordPress.com, say “WordPress.com”.

The biggest culprits here are authors, educators, and conference speakers, and I must admit when I started out I used to make the same mistake. So if we all just step up and start using the correct references, this whole mess will be sorted out in no time at all.

That is all.