It’s been a couple of months since Flywheel was fortunate to find ourselves listed on the WordPress.org hosting recommendations page. Since then, we’ve had a bunch of questions about how it came to be, so I thought it’d be nice to address those.
For those not familiar, this page lists WordPress’ officially recommended hosts, which for years was dominated by 1–3 of the major shared hosting providers.
In March of this year, we were alerted that the page would take submissions, and jumped at the chance to be included. The application asked questions about our size and customer base, and asked for screenshots of various user flows. We submitted the application and shared the information they were asking, thinking there was a ZERO percent chance of being accepted.
We found out the same day everyone else did, via an email from Matt. Needless to say we internally celebrated what was a huuuuuuge accomplishment for our little company.
Externally however, we’ve been mostly quiet on the matter. Specifically as it related to the flurry of speculation and comments that were made in the wake of the announcement about the process and reasons for selection. I was quoted that day on WPTavern.com:
We’re obviously excited to be included, and think it really reflects on the work we’ve done to create a great experience for WordPress users. I’m sure it will undoubtedly send a good deal of traffic, but honestly we’re just humbled and excited to be recognized.
To be completely honest, we were as surprised as everyone else that we were included. Obviously we believe we have a remarkable product which deserved to be included. But we didn’t think in a million years that we would out-rank the myriad other hosting companies vying for a spot.
That said, lots of other people were frustrated by the process, and were upset at the lack of transparency surrounding the companies selected. They then gravitated towards thinking there was some quid pro quo situation happening.
Though at the time we had no idea what the selection criteria were, we definitely knew that we hadn’t paid or otherwise influenced anything. We simply filled out our application (and have a quality product).
So in a way, I’d like to go on the record as saying that Flywheel never paid to be a part of the page in any way. We sponsor WordCamps like lots of other hosting companies, but with regards to this page there has been no payment exchanged. A simple application, and then a simple email notification that we had been accepted.
That said we can understand the sentiment of the community to be skeptical of the process. Early on in the Flywheel days, we believed (along with many many others in the WordPress community) the WordPress.org hosting page to be rigged.
In fact, it was recently brought to our attention that an E-book that we published several years ago even contained the following quote:
Another example is WordPress.org’s “Recommended Hosts” page. These hosts are not there by merit, but rather pay millions of dollars to be listed. Do a quick search on the internet for experiences with those hosts and you’ll quickly discover the advice of real users.
Note: That paragraph has since been removed.
This E-book, written sometime in 2014, definitely represented the prevailing sentiment of the time regarding the WordPress.org hosting page. In fact, I’m pretty sure I wrote the E-book myself, at a time early in Flywheel’s life when the CEO still wrote marketing materials.
Suffice it to say this no longer represents our understanding of how the WordPress.org hosting page works, and honestly I’m sorry we helped perpetuate any misconceptions around its inner workings.
I’ve been in the WordPress hosting world long enough now to know that any attempt to pick “top WordPress hosts” will be met with a frenzy of fans and detractors. To that end, I don’t envy in any way the position that Matt and the fine folks of WordPress are in with respect to the WordPress.org hosting page.
I’m just humbled and grateful to be included, and am excited to keep building something special and remarkable in the WordPress ecosystem.