The WordPress swag store — or more accurately perhaps, the Automattic swag store with WordPress stuff in it — has finally been revamped, and now runs WooCommerce.
Now under the domain mercantile.wordpress.org, the new store looks nice, and has some new merchandise available in time for WCUS. Formerly, the store was a Hello Merch store, which was embarrassing for years.
Many people made comments, for a long time, that they’d love to see the store move to WordPress, and I don’t doubt I was one of those people. Seeing it now though, I’m not sure why, but part of it bothers me a little.
It’s not that I’m not happy the swag store is in WordPress. Of course I am! It’s more that it is a symbol that well highlights the muddied waters of Matt Mullenweg’s three-legged rule of the greater WordPress ecosystem: WordPress, as its co-founder and lead; Automattic, as its founder and CEO; and the WordPress Foundation, as its alpha and omega.
It is little wonder that 99.99% of WordPress non-professionals and like 80% of WordPress professionals can’t well describe the differences between WordPress and WordPress.com. The swag store is emblematic of not helping the problem.
While there is not currently Automattic swag in the store, there has been in the past. And the current store does have Jetpack swag. I think the store is run by someone at Automattic, but I don’t really know. Maybe someone from Audrey (Matt’s person non-Automattic staff, who work across borders, sorta) handles it. Either way, assuming no profits are derived — and I think it’s safe to say it probably runs at a loss — then the cost comes from Matt or Automattic’s pockets. That’s the way it is with a lot of things, and I probably take those costs for granted.
It doesn’t change the fact that the waters are muddy, and I just wish there were some clarity, even if it just means truly addressing the fact that the lack of transparency is an issue.
So take all these identity issues, wrap them up in the new WordPress swag store, and note that the switch to WordPress finally comes, and it’s here months after Automattic acquired WooCommerce, and it all just ends up making me feel a bit… deflated.
So… now it’s a priority, when the most likely tool to replace the swag store is now an Automattic property? Combine it all with the confusing rules about anyone else (like me or you) using the WordPress logo in other commercial swag, and it just makes me sigh, and be a bit cranky about it all.
This post, depending how you look at it, just makes me look like a petulant baby, and I’m sorry about that. I would’ve left it alone if I wasn’t working toward something more… But I actually think, maybe in the longer term, there might be a solution that works for Automattic and the broader WordPress ecosystem. I brought it up to Matt in our interview, after significant hesitation, because it involves changing the name of WordPress.com to Jetpack.
It’s not April 1st. It’s something I’ve been thinking about. I have an editorial outline I’ve been thinking about in regard to why it could be a good idea for both organizations. All I asked him was whether he’d read it if I wrote it, and he said he would. Maybe you will too? Then you can all stone me with stuffed Wapuus.