WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org

The following is from the support.wordpress.com site.  I have added a few comments as necessary.


The distinction between WordPress.com and WordPress.org can cause some confusion for people. Let’s clear it up.  WordPress.com is brought to you by some of the same folks who work on WordPress, the Open Source blogging software.  WordPress.com utilizes the same WordPress software which you can download at WordPress.org.  With WordPress.com the hosting and managing of the software is taken care of by the team here at Automattic.  With WordPress.org you need to install the software on your own server or with a 3rd party provider.

WordPress.com Benefits

  • It’s free and much easier to setup
  • Everything is taken care of: setup, upgrades, spam, backups, security, etc
  • Your blog is on hundreds of servers, so it’s highly unlikely it will go down due to traffic
  • Your posts are backed up automatically
  • You get extra traffic from blogs of the day and tags
  • You can find like-minded bloggers using tag and friend surfer
  • Your login is secure (SSL) so no one can get into your account if you use wifi

WordPress.com Cons

  • We provide 100+ themes (and adding more every day) which you can modify and edit the CSS, but you cannot run a custom theme*
  • You can’t hack the PHP code behind your blog*
  • You can’t upload plugins

* The VIP program on WordPress.com for high-traffic and high-profile sites allows you to run custom themes, custom PHP code, ad code, and WordPress plugins.

WordPress.org Benefits

  • Ability to upload themes
  • Ability to upload plugins
  • Great community
  • Complete control to change code if you’re technically minded

WordPress.org Cons

  • You need a good web host, which generally costs $7-12 a month, or thousands of dollars per month for a high traffic site
  • Requires more technical knowledge to set up and run
  • You’re responsible for stopping spam
  • You have to handle backups
  • You must upgrade the software manually when a new version comes out
  • If you get a huge spike in traffic (like Digg or Slashdot) your site will probably go down unless you have a robust hosting setup

WordPress.org is free blogging software. With WordPress.org, you can install themes and plugins, run advertisements, edit the database and even modify the PHP source code. WordPress.org is the home of this software. Anyone can download the software for free but it must be installed on a web server before it will work. Web servers are generally not free. Hosting your own WordPress software can be fun and rewarding; it also places full responsibility on the blogger. If you mismanage your web server, you can lose your entire blog.

For no charge, WordPress.org provides downloadable blog software, community mailing lists, community support forums, documentation, and free themes and plugins.

WordPress.com is different. You do not have to download software, pay for hosting or manage a web server. When you sign up for a WordPress.com blog, you will get a URL like “andy.wordpress.com” or you can map a domain so your blog is available at “example.com” without the “.wordpress.com” portion.  You do not control the software or the database; FTP and shell access are not included. WordPress.com is based on a multi-site version of the WordPress software which does not permit uploading of PHP themes or plugins (although many popular plugins are built into WordPress.com ).  Popular JavaScript embeds such as YouTube are supported, but for security reasons some of the lesser known embed codes will be stripped out.  CSS is also restricted by default for security reasons, but you can purchase a paid upgrade to gain the ability for full CSS editing.  What you can do on WordPress.com is blog for free.


So in summary, wordpress.com is less expensive, but if you want it to look more like a conventional website and not a blog, there are paid upgrades.  You can map a domain in wordpress.com but there is a cost.  This upgrade I believe is essential to present a cleaner and more professional site.   The user interfaces between the two options is fairly identical.  The learning curve for both is about the same.  The bottom line is how flexible do you want your site to be.  How important is it to be able to upgrade your site with other tools and options to maximize your content?  If you go with wordpress.com and find that there are more things you want to do so that migration to wordpress.org is needed, that migration path could be difficult and painful.  Personally, the flexibility of wordpress.org would take precedence over the lower cost of wordpress.com.

However, if you want to go with wordpress.com, here is a posting by the Rev. Bosco Peters, Anglican priest in New Zealand on how to do an entire church website in one hour.