The problem with content management systems in three tweet storms

Exhibit A: a 2019 series of tweets by Gideon Lichfield, editor of MIT Technology Review and formerly of Quarz, who asked:

Hey journalism folks. I want to speak (in confidence) to

1) people who went with a proprietary CMS and wish they’d gone with WordPress 2) people who went with WordPress and wish they’d gone with a proprietary CMS

To be more specific, we’re weighing the flexibility of WP versus the out-of-the-box nature of proprietary, so I want to know about cases in which publishers have felt they sacrificed too much of one or the other

I should probably clarify: by “proprietary” I don’t mean “customized built in-house”, I mean “off the shelf from a third-party provider”

Exhibit B: five years before Gideon went asking, Anil Dash, formerly of web CMS/blog pioneer Six Apart, addressed the question about off-the-shelf vs. flexibility:

Fourth rule of CMS: Using an off-the-shelf tool is usually the best choice. But no off-the-shelf tool survives contact with editorial staff.

Exhibit C: but what’s the CMS for, anyway? Anil reminds them it’s not a metaphorical printing press:

It’s odd that media companies spend millions on content management systems yet don’t understand they are the embodiment of revenue strategy.

The challenges of developing and publishing content online aren’t nearly as complex and demanding as the challenges of building a business around that content.