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Tony Mobily [opinions]

Drigg (the pligg alternative) vs. Pligg: why should people switch? [community] [pligg] [drigg]

As some of you already know, I am the main developer for Drigg. I donated probably more than 1000 hours of my life to the Drigg project, because I believed in it. After reviewing existing CMSs out there, I believe that Drigg is the best system available today for people who want to create Digg-like sites (but, in fact, when people deploy Drigg they get fully functional Drupal sites...!). You can see my contributions to Drigg daily. One more programmer has joined Drigg, which is going right ahead.

However, Drigg's community is still smaller than Pligg, its main competitor. Why?

I am not sure about the answer. If you look at the raw number, if you search for "Drigg" in Google you get 86000 pages; if you search for Pligg, you get nearly 6 million pages. Mind you, Pligg is a very unique name, whereas Drigg's results are helped by the town of Drigg. A lot of pages pointing to Pligg are people looking for Pligg experts, able to solve quirks and otherwise inexplicable issues. Drigg, on the other hand, is extremely stable and well engineered. Sometimes, I wonder if I should add quirks and random problems just to give users a reason to get together and work on something?

Drigg's forums are sort-of active, whereas Pligg's are... well, incredibly active. There is a strong community behind Pligg, which are effectively pushing the project and getting it to do the unimaginable. There are threads of people trying to get Pligg to share its user base with Wordpress, managing spam properly, and many other features that Pligg is lacking. Again, Drigg comes with Drupal, which also comes with fantastic (and integrated) blogging and forum systems. Extra Drupal modules can do pretty much anything you might possibly want--and more. This makes me wonder if Drigg's lack of limitations is... ironically limiting it.

Also, Drigg came late. There was big news about Pligg coming out; people described it as the "Digg killer" (Kevin Rose would have been quite amused by that). Drigg came out quietly. I began serious development on the 1st of October; it was then released "properly" on the 1st of January (that's out of tons of hard work, rather than me being a genius, if you must know!). There has been no "bombshell" when it was released. People are quietly discovering it, and migrating from Pligg. Now, in April 2008, it's reaching what I feel could be "version 1.0"--again, no bit announcement nor fanfare. Maybe, people just didn't notice.

The other issue is that the "Drupal" crowd seems to be very different to the "Pligg crowd". Pligg users seem to be more prone to applying "mods"--small hacks to the code to accomplish specific tasks. Drupal users are very, very resistant to changing Drupal's core, or even running patched versions of contributed modules. There are good reasons for this; the main one is that running software with "mods" makes upgrades nightmare-ish, and can create security issues. So, I guess Drigg will attract a different crowd--maybe a minority?

Should people migrate from Pligg to Drigg? Well, I would--and in fact, I did: that's why I wrote Drigg! FSDaily, "the" free software news hub where people decide what goes to the front page, used to be based on Pligg before Drigg came into existence. However, I am Drigg's author after all--of course I'd migrate. More rationally, I am sure there are a lot of people out there who have build their sites around Pligg, and who wouldn't find it beneficial--in terms of the amount of work required--to switch to Drigg. It would be another CMS to learn from scratch (and Drupal is rather big), another theme to create, and so on. Here are the reasons why I think migration is a good idea:

  • Drigg's development has been steady.
  • Drigg has a top-notch bug management system.
  • Drigg's codebase is extremely good. The most recent version was all about rearranging Drigg's code in smaller, more manageable submodules.
  • Drigg is based on Drupal, which comes with tons of free user-contributed modules.
  • Drigg's vitality is guaranteed even if its main developer (myself) left the project.
  • Theming for Drigg is easy, and themes are completely separate from the codebase.
  • Drigg's database is well thought-out.
  • Drigg will always, always remain free. It's released under the GPL, and will always be.

However, as I said, these reasons might not be enough to convince people out there to switch. For example, people switching to Pligg will have to:

  • Rewrite their themes.
  • Learn Drupal.
  • Cross their fingers with the Drupal-To-Pligg import.
  • Find themselves in a different community, where "mods" are frowned upon.
  • Find themselves in a much smaller community.

Will Drigg manage to gain substantial market share? I don't know. However, the real answer is "It doesn't matter". Drigg has reached the critical point where a large number of people are using it, and are reporting bugs, quirks and problems (which are very quickly fixed).

Plus, choice is good in free software. Right?


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