I want to know if we can link WordPress.org with Jetpack? You mentioned in the video about linking Jetpack with WordPress.com. What would be the difference?
Great question. And you’re not alone in wondering why Jetpack requires you to connect it with a WordPress.com account, when you’re using WordPress.org to power your website.
You’re a member of this site, so you’re not completely new to WordPress. But when someone is new to WordPress, they may not be aware that there are actually two different versions of the WordPress content management system: WordPress.com and WordPress.org
Around this site, when we use the word “WordPress,” we’re most often talking about WordPress.org — the “self-hosted” content management system.
There is often a great deal of confusion surrounding these two sites, the versions of WordPress that they offer, and what makes them different. It can become even more confusing when you’re installing Jetpack on a self-hosted WordPress site, but are then prompted to create a WordPress.com account to use it.
As you know, WordPress.org is the home of the open source WordPress project. This is where you can download WordPress, as well as open source plugins and themes that have been contributed by the community. Once you download the software, you can then install it on whatever hosting provider you’d like.
(Better yet, if you sign up for Managed WordPress hosting from any number of companies, they’ll install and maintain WordPress for you, eliminating the need to download and install WordPress yourself.)
WordPress.com, on the other hand, is a blogging and website service owned by a company called Automattic. WordPress.com uses the open source WordPress software, so it offers the same core experience, but with some key differences.
The first difference: instead of picking out your own host and setting up a website yourself, WordPress.com provides hosting for you. You can create a site for free on WordPress.com, but free sites are branded with a WordPress hosting label and also include WordPress.com ads. You can pay for upgrades (like extra storage space or themes), that will also enable you to remove the WordPress.com branding and ads.
Second: WordPress.com offers some features and functionalities that are unique to its hosted platform. But you can get these features on your own self-hosted site… and we’ll come back to that in just a second.
The confusion between WordPress.org and WordPress.com is at least in part due to the similar names.
But it also gets muddy because the co-founder of WordPress.org is also the founder and CEO of Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, Jetpack, WooCommerce, and many other products.
You also may have seen articles on popular tech sites refer to Automattic as the “owner of WordPress.” But it’s really just the owner of WordPress.com.
WordPress.org, as an open source platform, isn’t owned by a single entity. It is open source software, that is contributed to by thousands of volunteers all around the world.
With that as background, let’s get to your question… “Since I’m hosting my own site, using the free WordPress.org software, why do I need a WordPress.com account in order to activate Jetpack?”
You already know that Jetpack is a plugin created by Automattic to bring dozens of features to your WordPress site. These features were originally created for use on WordPress.com. But the Jetpack plugin enables you to use many of those same features on your WordPress.org powered site.
As an example, the Photon content delivery network (CDN) is one of the features you can enable in Jetpack. It makes your images load faster because it hosts your images on the WordPress.com servers. They already have the servers and infrastructure in place to use Automattic’s servers for this feature, whether you enable the feature from a WordPress.com site or your self-hosted site with Jetpack.
But you still need a WordPress.com account in order to access that infrastructure in the same way that WordPress.com users do. That’s why they ask you to create a WordPress.com account when you start using the Jetpack plugin.
With a WordPress.com account, you can get many of the same features originally built for WordPress.com — but for use on your self-hosted WordPress.org site. You get features that use Automattic’s servers, like their content delivery network, backups, video hosting, and more.
Once you create your free WordPress.com account, you can activate Jetpack, and then continue using your self-hosted WordPress.org website as you intended to. Just because you create a WordPress.com account does not mean you must then use WordPress.com to host your website.
I hope this helps explain why Jetpack requires a WordPress.com account, and also clears upside of the confusion between these two entities.