One of the most common questions on WordPress forums and blogs is, what’s the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress com? And, it’s often not answered very well.
Many people get it completely wrong. Let’s make this easy for everyone – the definition is crystal clear.
First, you have to understand that the term ‘WordPress’ refers to software. More specifically, an open-source content management system.
WordPress.org is the community site for all things WordPress. You can download the WordPress software here.
The site also acts as a repository for themes (to style your website), plugins (to extend the power of WordPress), and documentation, all available free of charge.
WordPress.com is the website that hosts a proprietary blogging environment operated by Automattic. WordPress (the software) runs on the platform, but some features are restricted (depending on your plan), and you won’t necessarily be able to install plugins or themes of your choice.
Let’s add another definition to help clear these muddy waters:
Self-hosted WordPress is where you take the WordPress Software from WordPress.org and install it on a server under your control.
In practice, this is much easier than it sounds. WordPress hosting providers like WPEngine, SiteGround, Bluehost, Dreamhost, etc., do the heavy lifting with just a couple of button clicks. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
Alternatively, you download WordPress and set up a local development environment on your own machine. This kind of setup is obviously not recommended for a live website.
So, when people refer to WordPress.org v WordPress.com, they are actually comparing the self-hosted version (usually on a commercial web hosting account) against a trimmed down more restrictive version on WordPress.com.
So, when people refer to WordPress.org v WordPress.com, they are actually comparing the self-hosted version (usually on a commercial web hosting account) against a version (with certain feature restrictions) on wordpress.com.
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