Paypal sucks, as everyone knows. It has one benefit for the consumer (those buying with paypal) and that is their dispute resolution, which I've used perhaps ten times and have never lost. Dispute resolution with credit cards and banks is much, much more difficult and harder to win.
For the seller, however, Paypal is horrible. Their rates are higher, their exchange rates typically add on 5%, and they also have fees for transfer to one's bank (in Thailand that is now 50 THB, though it used to be free for transfers over a certain (small) amount.
Stripe - A knight in shining armor
Stripe is the great competitor. It is available in far fewer countries than Paypal, but where it matters such as places like Vietnam, India, and the Philippines, Paypal is still largely unavailable for use. Stripe is avialable in India but only Malaysia and Singapore in terms of Southeast Asia. That said, Stripe has a way to enable those operating in countries without support to be fully functional, and that is by setting up a US corporation and enabling ease of banking setup. This service is called Stripe Atlas, and is in fact so much better than anything Estonia is marketing under their misguided and mischaracterized e-residency, which is neither a residency nor any kind of incorporation or accounting infrastructure (basically a chip on pin ID that works poorly, if at all).
If we look at fees for an organization working out of Thailand (that repatriates funds in Thai Baht), here are some numbers:
Example: 3 transactions of $33 USD/month
$ 5.25 transaction fees
$ 5.00 currency conversion fee
฿ 50.00 bank transfer fee (~ $ 1.75)
Total: $ 12.00 USD = 12 %
Stripe + Transferwise fees
$ 3.78 transaction fees
$ 0.24 currency conversion fee (mid-market rate)
฿ 69.00 bank transfer fee (~ $ 2.20)
Total: $ 6.22 USD = 6.22 %
Note that the Stripe transactions scale much better as the currency conversion fee is fixed unlike the Paypal currency conversion. In addition, as we see the Stripe fees are lower for any given transaction.
Other reasons Paypal is worse than Stripe
Paypal transfer payments take a long time. Of course for no good reason other than that Paypal wants the use of other people's money for longer (4-7 business days in Thailand).
Paypal doesn't deal with Transferwise or Payoneer banks, and refuses to send/receive money to them. No good reason here, other than seeing these fintech companies as competition and making their customers suffer for using them.
Paypal technical support/customer service is notoriously poor.
Updated July 2019 - I no longer use Paypal, as it is roughly twice as expensive as Stripe when looking at $100 USD/month in transactions (more than 10% with transaction fees and currency conversion), and without currency conversion it is still 30% more when only looking at transaction fees (usually because of the international transaction fees which are higher). If one is not a US national or without a US company, then use Stripe Atlas to incorporate and get banking set up.
There are several areas within the Paypal site and Woocommerce settings tabs that need to be configured to get everything working properly, including auto-return, IPN notifications, etc.
Telegram is a great chat app, but there is more, and less to it, than say Twitter and Facebook. The first thing is that a lot of this gamification of likes/thumbsup is gone. Want to know if someone read your post? That has to be done either via direct message, or in a group (and the person has to respond). Recently there are new apis that help enable discussions on posts, as well as connecting channel posts as annoucements in groups.
Types of Accounts in Telegram
There is a single namespace in telegram for all entities: users, channels, groups, and bots. Users are individual accounts tied to a phone number (I think that is mandatory). Telegram Channels are one-way broadcast accounts, which can have multiple admins (but messages are signed by the channel. Membership in channels is unlimited. Telegram Groups can include up to 200,000 users, and everyone can post.
Using Bots for Commenting and Discussion
Note that for feedback on channel posts one can add a like botor other such simple feedback, or add a discussion group and put that information in the channel description. A third new option is to have a comment system using an app which would also be available on the web as a preview (without logging into Telegram). The preview bot that does this works nicely and shows off what kind of api/developer support Telegram.
No Manipulation or Advertising
Instead of the constant intrusion of 99% annoyance in terms of timeline distortion and advertising as found in Facebook and Instagram (and to some extent Twitter, which is going down that same path).
Essentially, the use of channels with comments can replace any given social network (other limitations apply), such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. While those platforms still have the lion's share of engagement and users, moving over to the Telegram way of things makes sense.
Telegra.ph for Longform
Telegra.ph is a longform microblog platform which is very simple and also has zero advertising. There is a nice Telegraph App in the Google Play store.
Podcasting is growing (slowly) and offers a great opportunity for brand engagement. Generally free, the idea is to be where the audience already is, and have a reliable host for content and the rss feed.
Build a website first (before an app), some forgotten article but the point is: faster, and desktop users expect applications to work (and to pay for them). Plus if done correctly, this can work on all platforms (and then build the app for the appstore).
Stick with what we know in the marketing channels we know. Expand products, and channels for those products.
I've written about WordPress at various points. I've been using this cms for 13-14 years, and for me it is well-known, though a bit worn out. The breakage it has has not improved much, and the resources needed are not up to the modern task.
Automattic is the organization behind WordPress the content management system, wordpress.com, and a number of smaller entities. With some estimates, WordPress has ~30% market share of the web. It has taken on in excess of $300m in funding](https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/automattic) over the years. After 2–3 years of development of WordPress, Automattic was founded in 2005 to receive an initial funding round of $1.1m.
Competition and Growth
Competition is seen as foremost coming from the lower-end, simpler website design companies such as Wix and Medium. Basic usability and ease-of-use of the WordPress editor is seen as a stumbling block to growth, especially with investors who seek a return.
Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder CEO, is not shy to demonstrate the user problems, as seen in his most recent State of the Word presentation from 10 December 2018:
State of the Word — Matt Mullenweg — 10 December 2018
While there is an interesting solution provided in terms of Project Gutenberg and blocks to replace the wysiwig/code view editor, it in no way is an answer to novice users creating pages that have complex visuals (other than possibly copy-paste from Word or Google Docs).
More importantly, by removing the current wysiwyg/code view editing interface that all intermediate and advanced users have mastered, everyone is forced into a learning curve regarding these less-than-intuitive blocks. Certainly it is a mental model, as Mullenweg suggests, just not an intuitive one, or one that the interface makes readily apparent.
To allow for a transition period (aka Phase 2) the old editor will be available by means of a plugin, and has promised support until 2021.
The incipient integration of Gutenberg into Core caused quite a bit of disgruntlement, and induced action on the part of a group to do what is always possible with open source software, and to create a new release from the old source code.
ClassicPress, calmPress Forks of WordPress 4.9
Strengths can be weaknesses, and the open source software strength of WordPress has now been used against it in the form of hard forks of the project.
ClassicPress released its first version which is a fork of WordPress 4.9. Work began on this hard fork on 30 August, with alpha and beta releases on 24 October and 21 November.
calmPress, another fork of WordPress 4.9 is the effort of a single developer. calmPress 0.9.9 a fork of 4.9 was released on 29 November 2018, with alpha and beta versions starting back in September.
There was discussion about collaboration on a shared plugin directory between calmPress and ClassicPress, but that has not progressed.
ClassicPress Organizational Development
ClassicPress calls itself a business-focused release. That is, professional, stable, reliable performance. Already ClassicPress is undergoing some performance tuning and a focus on security. The main point is to dodge the bullet of Gutenberg, as with WordPress 5.0 that becomes integrated into Core.
Building a successful software project includes proper, effective guidance as well as resources (programming and money). From the ClassicPress forum and Slack channel, these discussions appear to be taking place, and developers are indeed doing the necessary, day-to-day, block-and-tackle efforts.
WordPress 5 Released
WordPress 5.0 was released on 06 December 2018. On 12 December WordPress 5.0.1 was released to include some security bug fixes. However, this also began to introduce breakage.
This is a Waterloo
The Battle at Waterloo has become a metaphor for something difficult to overcome, or recover from. With novices unable to easily adopt the new interface, and with a good swath of intermediate and advanced users in open rebellion against the change, there are now opportunities for sharpened knives. The forces arrayed against Automattic are as follows:
- Those who will defect to a hard fork (ClassicPress, etc., see above)
- Those who will defect to an alternate platform (Grav, etc., see below)
The main forces for Automattic are:
- User base inertia,
- Community that will censor defectors to a hard fork, and
- The WooCommerce and subsidiary plugins which make finding a replacement a more complex and time consuming task. (This is akin to trying to supplant Windows without having an alternative to Office.)
Troop Strength and Depth
While this might seem like a less difficult challenge than the fated Waterloo, the strength of Automattic's development ranks is thin and ragged. The ability to create quality code and a quality experience should be seriously questioned. For example:
- Two plugins remain in Core that cannot be touched (for the obviously irrelevant political reason that they were created more than a decade ago by the CEO), and lead developers have to resort to lying about it in the bug tracker. In ClassicPress, those two plugins were removed in the first Alpha release.
- The infamous WordPress plugin repository redesign fiasco of 2015–2017.
- Last but not least, the hostility to and distaste for Gutenberg to date.
If it were a matter of executing and providing a speedy and pleasent experience, then the rather steep learning curve could be mastered. Instead, the very same puzzling experiences found in user testing with novices using the current editor will be found writ large with not only novices, but intermediate and advanced users of the previous platform. As one reviewer put it I'm tripping over my own feet.
Again, it will take more than evangelism to win this battle because the quality of the WordPress package, including the ridiculous redesign of the Plugin directory and its functionality. This is not to mention, the antiquated development tools and processes that continue to cause WordPress, like an old jalopy, to rattle and shimmy down the backroads and washed out valleys of bloatland.
It is important to view another issue with WordPress which adds complexity and resource requirements, which for many sites is unnecessary: the requirement for a database. Flat file content management systems are increasingly functional and reliable and have significant advantages over the use of a database.
Databases are generally opaque, more difficult to inspect, require their own backup and restore procedures, have their own security, use more resources (specifically ram, but also processor) and with advanced caching readily available, do not have much in the way of benefit. For special uses such as shopping carts and session management, a database can be used as a supplement to a Flat File CMS, but for serving most content, it makes little sense.
Grav CMS, a maturing Flat File CMS, is a viable alternative to WordPress for certain use cases, perhaps even the majority (and has shopping cart plugins available).
For those developers, administrators, and endusers, like me, who have spent more than a decade with WordPress are are looking for a platform for the next 10 years, Grav looks quite promising, as does ClassicPress. WordPress? Not so much.
Content Management Systems come in all shapes and sizes, and it is unfair to evaluate their maturity based on their functionality. However, to some degree this is still a useful metric, depending on the fucntionality. Below are hallmarks of functional maturity. Again, certain CMS's will not receive an accurate score based on specific niche uses or unique aspects.
- CLI / command line interaction
- Various caching options available
- Ecommerce-friendly/Ecommerce package(s) available
- SEO metadata friendly
- Email/Form management
- Effective templating system
The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them.