Following Louis Reingold’s response to the year-long drama on the Oxygen and Breakdance dispute, he recently shed even more insight on the seemingly never-ending backlash from the WordPress community.
The sudden launch of Breakdance last summer made Oxygen users feel neglected, the community really thought the project was getting abandoned.
Many popular third-party developers completely abandoned their tools, further contributing to the community’s negative reactions and ultimately left a sour taste. The WordPress community is quite powerful – and they seem to stick together.
Over a year later the drama is still ongoing, and it probably won’t ever disappear from the WordPress community. Regardless, Louis (founder of Soflyy) decided to address the issue once again to hopefully speed up an end to the persisting drama.
Recently, David McCan, an admin of Dynamic WordPress and founder of WebTNG voiced out his thoughts and suggestions on Louis' sentiments involving the drama. In response to this, Louis posted his thoughts on the Facebook group (private FB community) to further address the issue.
He acknowledged David’s suggestions in dealing with the drama, saying that he has learned a valuable lesson, emphasizing the importance of marketing, communications and public perception.
“The onus is on us for this. We take responsibility for it.” he added.
He once again admitted the lapses on their lack of money and time to spend much on marketing and communications, and rather focused on spending their resources on their product and support services.
“I am not a marketer and I have never wanted to be a marketer. The only thing I’ve ever wanted to do is build great products,” he further explained.
He seemed kind of determined to set the record straight to clear out the lapses and provide information on the comment section – hoping that it will be informative to the community.
He responded to the common “objections” of people on the Oxygen-Breakdance saga raised in the community. To elaborate, here are some of his (direct) thoughts and response per objection;
Objection #1 - "I don’t trust them [Soflyy]"
- “One of the most common comments we see is some variant of "I don't trust them". Usually, the reason given is something along the lines of "they let us think Oxygen was getting rewritten, but instead they built Breakdance instead"
- “We've committed to maintaining backwards compatibility publicly. Many times.”
- “Here's a link to an AMA thread I did ~8 month before we announced Breakdance: https://www.facebook.com/.../1626.../posts/4412364185524309/”
- “In this thread we publicly stated: we were not rewriting Oxygen, we were not breaking backwards compatibility, and I was working on another, separate project in Vue.”
- “If you believed something different about our roadmap, it wasn't because of what we said - it was because you ignored what we said, in public, on many occasions.”
- “Now why won't we break backwards compat?”
- “Well, a long time ago, we broke backwards compatibility going from 1.0 to 2.0. We wanted to do a rewrite. An overhaul. And we did. But it caused us a serious PR problem. You can watch details of that here: https://www.facebook.com/.../16266.../posts/1961525143941571”
- “Here's a short video with today's perspective and more details: https://www.loom.com/share/c5d817db444f48ce8f30c640e585b83f”
- “We were able to overcome the bad PR from this, and I'd also like to preface this by saying I have nothing but respect for Adam Preiser at this stage.”
- “He removed the outdated video from the review a long time ago, and over the last few years treated us very fairly.”
- “He's now turned into a product creator making some great products for WordPress.”
- “So I only have good things to say. My only beef was with an old review, and honestly, I should blame Google's incentive structure and search algorithm more than I blame him (details on that in the video below).”
- “Ultimately, it was this review that made us VERY VERY VERY scared to break backwards compatibility ever again.”
- “If you want proof we only want a fair shake and nothing more - read this FB post and watch the associated video - https://www.facebook.com/.../16266.../posts/1961525143941571 - it's from 2018.”
- “We've ALWAYS been this way. We haven't changed! Today, to break backwards compatibility for 130,000+ sites sounds like a nightmare: https://trends.builtwith.com/widgets/Oxygen-Builder”
- “That's why we don't want to do it, and that's why we've publicly said we don't plan to do it. Could plans change? Obviously in the ever-changing software landscape, nothing is ever set in stone, but I hope the above clarifies our current position on the matter.”
Objection #2 - “We [Customers] Should Get Everything For Free”
- “Many are still saying we should offer a discount to Oxygen users or offer some form of temporary free license. But we already did that!”
- “We gave a free year of Breakdance, an opportunity to lock-in the low price - which has been raised, but not for anyone who locked it in. But still, some don’t even realize we did this and believe they are offering as a helpful suggestion by telling us we should do so.”
- “Others say doing this wasn’t enough, and that actually we must give everyone Breakdance free, forever. We can’t afford this. We are not a charity - we are a business.”
- “Breakdance took nearly 4 years of development work to get to this point. Oxygen has been and continues to be actively developed in the exact same timespan. We are supposed to give two products for the price of one now?”
- “The only way we could have done this from a financial standpoint would have been to stop development of Oxygen in 2019 when we started development of Breakdance, make everyone wait 4 years, and then ship Breakdance as Oxygen 4.0”
- “I'm sure it's pretty obvious to everyone what a terrible move that would have been for everyone involved. It also leads me to the question of why anyone is entitled to free stuff.”
- “Oxygen has never had a roadmap, always been sold as-is, and on a regular basis I made public statements.”
- “When asked for a roadmap I would respond saying things along the lines of "Apple doesn't tell you what they are working on either", and certain reviewers absolutely hosed us for this - understandably so. A comment like that is arrogant, right?”
- “But the reason we wouldn't share one is because we never wanted anyone to buy Oxygen for the expectation of what it might be in the future.”
- “We only want people to buy for what it does today. Our position is "If you don't like what it does today, don't buy it." And that's always been our position and our messaging.”
- “Some can find the occasional comment where we hint at something or offer a sneak peak, but that is the exception, not the rule.”
- “Anyway, to sum it up: we are a business, not a charity, we gave everyone a free 1 year license and opportunity to lock-in a discount indefinitely. We also continue to update Oxygen.”
- “I hope those reading expect the same treatments from their clients that we expect from our customers, which as follows: they should pay you for your works and they shouldn’t demand free work beyond what was agreed upon and advertised by you in the initial spec.”
Objection #3 - “Breakdance Is The Same as Oxygen”
- “Some users say "Breakdance should be an Oxygen replacement, it's cannibalizing all of Oxygen's features."
- “Then 5 minutes later the same users say "Breakdance isn't a div/class based builder, I can't work in it. I need a div/class-based workflow. That's why I use a builder that provides that, not Breakdance."
- “You can't have it both ways.”
In the comment, he also replied saying “Here’s a user who says they are the same product, then 15 hours later says he’s never actually looked at breakdance,” then posted a video emphasizing a user’s unhinged comment.
David McCan expressed his concern saying that he ought to avoid commenting on individual responses with a video targeting the commenter.
Objection #4 - Ad Hominem Attacks
- “This isn't objection. It's just social media drama. The same small number of people have been following us around Facebook commenting on all our paid ads basically lobbing the same insults for the last year.”
He also added a link to a short video explaining his thoughts on the social media attacks following the drama.
Objection #5 - “Oxygen was Abandoned”
- “This one is quite easy to disprove. Here is a history of Oxygen's releases since 3.0: https://oxygenbuilder.com/releases/”
- “Here is our official feature requests board, sorted by votes and listing all the closed features that people requested that we built - with dates showing all this took place during Breakdance's initial development, and also after the initial release of Breakdance: https://github.com/soflyy/oxygen-bugs-and-features/issues”
More so, he added a new discussion on the perverse incentives created by social media algorithms/google. He also said the following;
- “A lot of the misinformation was fueled by a social media firestorm and rumor mill. We mismanaged the launch of Breakdance. We should have never let the discussion in the Oxygen community get out of control. Initially we thought we could just have open discussion and not delete comments, ban trolls, etc.”
- “But that was clearly a huge mistake, because many people (including key influencers, reviewers, etc. were very misled).”
He provided an example through a video recording, and emphasized that he has many more in store.
- “Here's a review from WP Johnny on Breakdance: https://www.loom.com/.../4077064f271243ebbe081b627ef76690…”
- “I want to preface this by saying I appreciate the review, I actually love the review because it says great things about Breakdance, and I totally forgive the reviewer for believing what he wrote - it looked like it was true based on all the comments on Facebook.”
- “We didn't make it easy for him to fact check and find out the truth without combing through pages nested deep in our blog. I take responsibility for that.”
- “So WP Johnny, if you're reading this, thanks for the review, no hard feelings, and I appreciate you taking a look at our offerings!
- But it is important to note that the comments about Oxygen in that review are not accurate.”
Yet again, he shared another video example.
- “I'm gonna give one more here from Adam Andrews who commented in the other thread:
- “Again, I don't fault Adam Andrews for believing what he believed - although I wish he didn't have an opinion on Breakdance (as a product) without actually trying - the rest of what he wrote was based on a phony narrative shared on social media.”
- “Not anything that we actually did or didn't do. I tried to argue this point... but, alas, he stated it wasn't a discussion he wanted to have, so I left it at that.”
In the same Facebook post, he also responded to a few comments:
Louis losing people’s trust
Comment: “To be fair I don’t [think] it’s a “we didn’t do x - I think most of the problems are leveled squarely at you Louis. Kinda feel bad for the rest of your team. You lost people’s trust by being untrustworthy. Trust is earned in drops but lost in buckets. That’s the lesson you’re learning here”
Response: “The circular reasoning fallacy is an argument that assumes the very thing it is trying to prove is true. Instead of offering evidence, it simply repeats the conclusion, rendering the argument logically incoherent. That's what you've done above. I suggest you read this post: https://www.facebook.com/.../posts/1323349075287240/…. If you have a valid point to make that isn't addressed by that post, please do so. Please be specific. I'm all ears.
External marketer – marketing costs (Louis responded back and forth with one user).
Comment: If only you had $42k for an external marketer!
Response: If you only knew how much proper marketing costs!
Comment: Now imagine if you'd got one the oxygen content creators on board!
Response: I never should have done it! You're 100% right.
Comment: I'm pretty sure $42k would've got you a better start than doing it urself! I mean come on, u absolutely nailed the launch! and yes, fully aware of costs but ur spend initially was clearly 0! Ur live with JJ f'd u for a lot of users who would never give u a chance from that point forward!
Response: You actually make a REALLY great point here. I'll give them some more time to come around, but at some point, if they won't give me a chance from this point forward, I guess I have no choice but to not care about them at all - what they think, what they want, etc. I have to run the company and roadmap the product based on what the people who do buy it actually want. That goes for both Oxygen and Breakdance.
Despite his continuous defense on the issue, he still managed to respectfully thank David McCan for his helpful and candid feedback. In addition, he said that the feedback of the commenters in the discussion “has been extremely helpful” and he plans on making a series of videos airing out his thoughts and further response to objections.
It is also possible that people in the community could still find loopholes in his thorough explanation debunking the preconceived objections from users. I think this puts everyone in a better situation than things were even a week ago. Louis clearly has a commitment to the products that he runs and is trying to bridge the gap between the greater community and his very own company. What are your thoughts?