WordPress Hosting is a tricky business. I’ve never been employed at a web host but I do have a lot of background working with systems that need to be online and available all the time. It’s hard enough when you have complete control over your environment, so throwing millions of sites into the mix that take full advantages of all the resources you have to offer can be a real strain. I understand all of that completely. Hosting ain’t no kids game.
I’ve talked about WordPress hosting reviews at length before, and I want to bring that same topic up again, but this time in a very specific context. After years of WordPress.org endorsing Bluehost, I believe it’s time they stop.
This is actually tough for me to write because I know people personally who work at Bluehost and this no fault of theirs. Many great techs and developers have no control over business decisions that have been hurting Bluehost’s reputation. They do their best to provide a great service, but they’re playing against a stacked deck and their service, performance, and uptime have tanked over the last year.
Things have gotten so bad that WPMU just awarded Bluehost with a wooden spoon for being the bottom feeder in an unbiased review of 5 different web hosts. Now I don’t know about you, but winning a wooden spoon doesn’t sound like a very awesome prize for a company that should be leading in a high tech industry. Maybe a Blendtec would be a better modern-day kitchen-inspired prize? I digress.
Unfortunately our experience with Bluehost over the past 6-9 months has been similar to what was represented in the WPMU post. Slower servers, poor technical support, and more frequent outages have become the norm, and not the exception.
And even after all of this, Bluehost still has a glowing endorsement from WordPress.org. Granted, this hosting recommendations page hasn’t changed in years, but that’s all the more reason to take time and carefully review who’s listed there. That’s what ended up happening with the theme and plugin marketplaces, right? Why not hosting?
In WordPress’ own words:
We’ve dealt with more hosts than you can imagine; in our opinion, the hosts below represent some of the best and brightest of the hosting world. If you do decide to go with one of the hosts below and click through from this page, some will donate a portion of your fee back—so you can have a great host and support WordPress.org at the same time.
So what’s WordPress.org’s motivation to continue to endorse Bluehost? Is it the good affiliate program that helps support the operation of the site and the community? Is it Bluehost’s frequent high-level sponsorship of WordCamps? Or is it simply a gentleman’s handshake that continues to stand?
It’s probably a combination of all three. I honestly have no problem with WordPress listing a host on the .org site with an affiliate link. It takes money to power an open source community like this one. Probably way more than I even know. The bigger issue to me is that they outright say that Bluehost is the “best and brightest of the hosting world” and unfortunately that’s no longer the case. I hope Bluehost does get things figured out, but until then, the WordPress foundation should probably ease off on the leg humping.
I’d honestly much rather see companies pay for space on the .org site than have new users getting bad recommendations. At least if .org was selling the space for $25,000 a month, everyone would know that was the situation and would be on their own for research. It would be transparent and people would know that “Daddy D’s Wacky WordPress Hosting” just had deep pockets, didn’t necessarily provide the best service.
What do YOU think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.