Freemium mashes up free and premium:you can use a freemium service, such as WordPress.com, at zero cost; you can pay for premium features. I pay to add two such features for this blog. One of the features maps the domain changingway.org to changingway.wordpress.com.
The other paid feature I use is custom CSS (see one of this blog’s first posts for an account of how I use it).
The fence between zero and any positive cost is perceived as high. So some users of freemium services seek means of effectively getting a premium feature without paying the price for it: these “loophole-lookers” seek holes in the fence.
The WordPress.com custom CSS upgrade seems particularly prone to attract loophole-lookers. I base this mainly on posts in the WordPress.com support forums, some of which include arguments such as: some other hosted blogging services don’t charge for CSS; I only want a little bit of CSS, so why should I be hit with the full charge?
One particular forum thread started about a week ago with a question about changing the background color of a theme. Responses so far include:
- You need custom CSS to change the background color.
- No you don’t. Here’s some code you can include in a text widget to style the background color of the whole blog.
- That loophole is going away soon.
The 3rd response is particularly interesting because it’s by Matt Mullenweg. He does use the word loophole.
This raises the question of how WordPress.com will change with respect to inline styling. And indeed, that question has its own forum thread.
I hope that WordPress.com will not, as one response in the thread suggests, use the blunt instrument of stripping out all inline style attributes. I think it would be reasonable to allow the occasional use of inline styling for things like using a font or image positioning appropriate to a particular post.
It would also be interesting to watch. The fence between free of charge and paying for custom CSS would see a fencing match. WordPress.com will plug the loophole of style code in a widget to style the whole blog. The riposte might involve putting similar code in a sticky post.
What do you think WordPress.com will do? What do you think it should do? I’d welcome comments addressing either or both of those different questions.