What do you do? How many customers do you have? What’s your member count? Is that last one anyone’s business?
As a promotional tool, showing that you have a huge number of users or a high member count can be incredibly effective. WordPress itself plays that game, both by touting its goal of one day running fifty percent of the entire Internet, and by stating the obvious: with so many people using WordPress, you can’t afford to make any other choice.
One of the many places you can turn to get WordPress help is WPMUDEV. We’ve mentioned WPMUDEV here a couple of times, when their writer Daniel Pataki held forth on plugin bloat, and again when he said, quite intelligently, that WordPress Ain’t Perfect. And while they’re pretty much the most expensive WordPress resource we know of and the least flexible, WPMUDEV also does some pretty great work.
At The WordPress Helpers we’ve had a piece on WordPress Sitebuilders in the works for a while. We’ve examined Qards, plowed our way through Layers, and recommend Elegant Themes’ Divi highly. We use a custom version of WPBakery’s Site Builder to make a few pages here do their magic. We’ve requested a copy of UpFront from WPMUDEV and not been responded to, so we won’t be examining UpFront in any detail.
But in doing research on UpFront we noticed something troubling about WPMUDEV: Their member count seems to be a fabrication.
The element you see in this video is from the page you see listed in the code snippet below. WPMUDEV’s member base starts at the obviously fake 123,456 before spinning up to 368,875. That would be an impressive number of members if it was real, and in WPMUDEV’s most economical membership plan 368,875 members would make WPMUDEV a $108 million company. Wow!
But look at the code. 368,875 is embedded, not real. It’s smoke. It’s marketing:
Nobody’s more pragmatic that we are at The WordPress Helpers—we need to be. So there’s no moral judgement about this marketing trick. And as we said above, your member count isn’t really anyone’s business.
But wouldn’t it be nice if people were a little more honest?
We’re not so much picking on WPMUDEV for the trumped up membership claim as we’re looking at what SiteBuilders do and giving you a preview: things aren’t always as they seem. And again, WPMUDEV has ignored our requests for a review copy of theirs.
Be careful how you see smoke; when it gets in your eyes, the crying starts. Our WordPress Sitebuilder piece is here; see what we mean.