What is the Difference Between WordPress.com and WordPress?

What is the difference between WordPress.com and the WordPress content management system? Why are they both called WordPress? Good questions! The WordPress.com website and WordPress as a CMS often get confused. You’re not alone!

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What is WordPress?

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that helps you set up and manage a website easily, without needing to know any code. You can install WordPress on virtually any website hosting platform there is, and many hosting companies even promote this fact. WordPress can be downloaded for free from WordPress.org, a website run by the WordPress foundation, a non-profit organization.

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What is WordPress.com?

On the other hand, WordPress.com is the for-profit hosting service owned by Automattic, Inc. Here you can pay for a hosting plan (or use the free plan) to host a simplified WordPress CMS installation of your own. Automattic likely uses the WordPress.com domain name as a way to attract potential customers who want to set up a WordPress website. That sounds really smart to me! If they didn’t claim that domain, someone else would have!

Which WordPress is the Original?

So which one is the “real” WordPress? Most WordPress professionals will gladly tell you that “WordPress” is a CMS, not a service. In fact, Matt Mullenweg, one of the original developers of the WordPress CMS, says that WordPress existed (since 2003) as a CMS before he formed Automattic, Inc. in 2005. The WordPress foundation agrees, suggesting we use “WordPress” for the content management system, and WordPress.com for the for-profit hosting provider. That makes sense to me!

WordPress.com isn’t the only hosting company you can use to set up a WordPress website. Many hosting companies allow you to easily set up a WordPress website on their servers, including DreamHost and Kinsta. So whenever I talk about WordPress websites, please don’t assume I am referring to a website hosted by WordPress.com. WordPress.com is essentially just one of many WordPress hosting competitors, and you get to choose which one you want to use.

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