As might have been implied by my last post detailing an evening’s work tweaking templates and installing plugins, I’ve decided to stay with Movable Type for my weblog. There are a few reasons for this, but it boils down primarily to two things: familiarity and loyalty.
This isn’t at all a slight against WordPress (which I was actively poking at), Expression Engine, or any other weblogging system, for that matter. I’m actually quite impressed with WordPress, and if I were starting a project from the ground up, I’d definitely include it in the list of strong contenders to run the back end. For this site, though, I decided that it was better to stick with what I knew and spend some time tweaking things than to jump ship entirely.
Right now I have a little over three years worth of experience with Movable Type (I switched over to MT from a similar but far simpler package called NewsPro on Dec. 21, 2001). While I certainly wouldn’t rate myself terribly high in the pantheon of expert MT users out there, after this much time fiddling and tweaking, I don’t think I’m any slouch, either. While I’m sure I could learn the ins and outs of a new system easily enough, in this case I’d rather use and build upon the knowledge I have rather than starting over from scratch.
Besides, in the time I’ve been using MT, the software itself has worked quite well for me. My battles over the past weeks have been with the comment spammers and their abuse of the limited resources of my server, not MT. Moving to another system might have worked temporarily, but it would only be a matter of time (and likely not very much time, at that) before the attacks started hitting that system — and I’m still not convinced that a PHP solution is the best choice for my webserver. Better for me to make a few concessions (disabling comments after 30 days, for instance) than put my server through the effort of serving up an entirely dynamically-generated website.
There’s one more big reason why I wanted to stay with MT, though — and that’s Six Apart.
As I mentioned above, I started using MT back in its version 1.something days, back when there was no Six Apart, just Ben and Mena in their apartment. Back then, I was one of many people occasionally popping up on the Movable Type Support Forums, and as often as not, it would be either Ben or Mena personally answering the pleas for help when one stumbling block or another was found. It’s things like that that add a more personal touch to software — and one of the reasons I’m fond of shareware programs like NetNewsWire, ecto, or many other programs where the developers are still personally involved with their user base — there’s the feeling of a real, breathing person behind the software, rather than a faceless corporation.
Obviously, as Six Apart has grown, Ben and Mena aren’t always as personally involved with their user base as they used to be. However, in my experience, Six Apart has yet to lose that personal, “real person” feeling, and that’s in no small part due to the excellent people they’ve been hiring, many of whom have been loyal users of MT for longer than I have.
When I got Slashdotted after news of my departure from Microsoft broke across the ‘net, I was using Six Apart’s TypePad service. As it turns out, I had the unenviable position of being their first Slashdotting, and those next few days became something of an experience (for both myself and Six Apart, I believe) in how to handle such an event. I’d already spent much of the day waging a losing battle with my inbox as comments, TrackBack pings, and e-mail missives deluged me, when suddenly iChat popped up with a friendly hello from Mena herself. I was a bit taken aback — it’s not every day I get an IM from the President of a software company, after all — but again, it’s things like that that impress me. Rather than assigning my case to one of the tech support crew, she and I spent the next few minutes working out ways for me to tweak the code on my pages to ease the load on the TypePad servers.
A few weeks ago, I realized that due to my own absentmindedness, I’d accidentally paid for a year of TypePad that I wasn’t going to be using, as I’d moved back onto my own server. It was a little frustrating, but I had noone to blame but myself, and said as much when I grumbled about it here. Imagine my surprise, then, when I got an e-mail from Brad Choate, who’d come across my post, pointed it out to someone at Six Apart, and had made arrangements with Brenna to refund me that yearly fee. I hadn’t asked for this, and there was absolutely no reason for Six Apart to do this for me — but they decided that it would be a nice thing to do.
Then, just a few days ago, Anil Dash noticed that with my battles against the spammers I’d started looking at WordPress, and he sent me a friendly little note asking if there was anything they could do to help me with my MT installation. I let him know that my limitations weren’t with MT, but with my webserver (and was barely able to keep from mentioning how nice it would be to find an
Xserve PowerMac Mac mini on my doorstep one day — it wouldn’t have been at all serious, but I don’t know if Anil stops by my page often enough to catch my sense of humor), and thanked him for his note. Again, this is the kind of thing that impresses me — sure, on the one hand, he’s “just another blogger”, but he’s also the Vice President of the Six Apart Professional Network.
What it boils down to is that over the years, time and time again, I’ve gotten incredibly friendly and personal service from the crew at Six Apart. I can’t think of a better way to build and maintain customer loyalty than that.
So, to Ben, Mena, Brad, Brenna, Anil, and all the rest of the crew at Six Apart — thanks, folks. Keep on rockin’. :)