When people talk about WordPress, it’s important to recognize the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. Both provide popular free services that help people to easily post text and images on the Internet:
WordPress.org offers an online publishing system that website operators can download and install on their own websites. Its predecessor was b2/cafelog, a less sophisticated blogging system. Development of the scripts started in 2001 and WP first became available to the public in 2003, according to WordPress.org. It eventually emerged as the most popular website-based blogging system, obtaining millions of users.
The system uses MySQL databases and the PHP programming language. It is free and open source. WordPress.org indicates that its features include member registration, support for multiple authors, and tools to prevent spam. Bloggers can download themes (see free WordPress themes) and extensions from WP’s website and other sources. Themes adjust the colors, text formats and stock images used by WP. They accomplish the same general task as website templates.
On the other hand, extensions add to the functionality of WP. Among other things, WordPress.org indicates that different extensions interface with external websites, allow visitors to subscribe to email newsletters, prevent users from copying images, and so on. This helps to make WordPress highly versatile. As with themes, many extensions download for free. With adequate skill, website operators may develop their own extensions and themes as well.
WordPress.com uses the above-mentioned blogging system to host blogs for free. It appeared after WordPress.org and is operated by a company established in 2005, Automattic Inc. It provides an easier way to set up a WP blog, with no domain name or hosting account required. Major companies like CNN, Flickr and People Magazine use WordPress.com, along with many individuals.
The free ad-supported service includes a subdomain URL, three gigabytes worth of space, and public/private options. WordPress.com also offers a number of premium paid services. They include additional storage space, top-level domain names, video hosting, advertisement removal, and extra customization. Bloggers must pay annual fees to take advantage of these additional features.
While WordPress.com generally serves the needs of bloggers alone, the WordPress.org system can be used to manage other types of content or to operate an entire website. Users may refer to WP email lists and message boards for help using either service.