WordPress has long been the platform of choice for the Internet’s (and my) new pastime: Blogging. In many ways, WordPress has been an influence for equality across much of the developed world, allowing anyone with a computer and some free time to share their thoughts and opinions with the world, making each of us a journalist in our own right. This is one feature that WordPress and Bitcoin have always shared – enterprise-level Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) has a very democratizing effect on the world, placing the exact same capabilities in the hands of the few, poor or disenfranchised as is held by huge corporations and governments. Today, WordPress.com took another big step toward that goal: They are not only accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, but actively speaking out against the draconian restrictions of traditional payment processors that led them to this decision.
There are a lot of reasons a given company would choose to accept Bitcoin as a payment method, quite often boiling down to the simple fact that the fees and fraud risk are dramatically reduced, which costs them less money to do business. While this is almost certainly a factor in WordPress.com’s decision, there’s another important factor at play that meshes very nicely with WordPress’ mission of “making publishing democratic” – no one can say who does and does not get to use Bitcoin.
From the WordPress article:
PayPal alone blocks access from over 60 countries, and many credit card companies have similar restrictions. Some are blocked for political reasons, some because of higher fraud rates, and some for other financial reasons. Whatever the reason, we don’t think an individual blogger from Haiti, Ethiopia, or Kenya should have diminished access to the blogosphere because of payment issues they can’t control. Our goal is to enable people, not block them.
If I’m being honest, this is the kind of adoption I love to see. I’m glad that such a large Internet presence is actively promoting Bitcoin and I’d be happy regardless of their motivations, but to see a big name like WordPress actively promoting the ideals over the economics makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside. The inability of any government, business or other entity to block economic participation was a large part of the ideals that drew me to Bitcoin in the first place, and many will recall the WikiLeaks financial blockade as a high point in Bitcoin history – a day when we actively stood up and told the establishment that we would support whoever we damn well pleased with our money and there’s not a thing they can do about it. It’s difficult to express the joy in seeing that sentiment mirrored by so important a group.
Like anyone with an active stake in the Bitcoin project, the investor in me sees dollar signs so I won’t make any attempt to deny my bias, but I’m also invested emotionally. Bitcoin is a project that I’ve always imagined would do great things for the world and this, in my eyes, is one of the first big steps toward doing so. WordPress is almost certainly the biggest company to accept Bitcoin yet, but in many ways it’s the alignment of their goals and ours that truly make this newsworthy.
While I’ve always touted its capabilities as a platform, today I can truly say for the first time that I’m proud this site is powered by WordPress.
(InB4 the comments: Yes, I know self-hosted WordPress have little to do with WordPress.com’s hosting, but I’d at least like to imagine that the two entities have enough to do with one another that I can at least maintain the illusion of pride)