Organizations use them. For instance, Harvard Law uses a blog network to offer blogs to professors and students, and Best Buy uses a blog network to run its local store blogs. You can also have a network of blogs in the same or similar niche and host them in one location (check out Animation Blogspot).
If you are interested in starting a WordPress blog network, it used to be that you needed to use WordPress MU as one of your options. This project is similar to WordPress but it is different because of the multi-site features. Now that WordPress 3.0 is here, the two projects are now merged. Now you can turn your WordPress site into a network of sites.
Step One: Upgrade Your Site To WordPress 3.0
Upgrading your WordPress site should be as easy as usual. You do need to make sure you make a backup of your files and databases (check out this article for a few WordPress backup tips). If you use the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plugin, it actually allows you to download both the files and the databases in the upgrade process. Either way, before you make any kind of upgrade to your WordPress site, you really ought to have it backed up in case something goes awry.
Step Two: Modify A Little Bit Of Code
For some reason, the networking abilities of WordPress 3.0 are hidden behind a small edit to the wp-config.php file. Don’t worry because if you know how to use FileZilla (or some other FTP program) you can easily download the file, edit it, and re-upload it to replace the original file.
What I actually did was download the file, rename it a little bit, and then download the file again. This way I kept a backup file in case I messed something up.
Open the file in a text editor like NotePad or gedit and add this code:
directly before this:
/* That’s all, stop editing! Happy blogging. */:
Once you have made the necessary changes, save the file and upload it replacing the original file.
Step 3: Preliminary Settings To Set
There are a few things we need to set before going ahead with the installation process. First you will need to make sure the site URL is not set to show “www” in the name. To change this, simply visit the “General Settings” section and delete the “www.” from both the “WordPress address (URL)” and the “Site address (URL)” boxes.
Once that is done, head to Tools–>Network to begin the installation process. Since my WordPress installation is not new, my permalink structure is already in use only leaving the sub-domain option for me to use for the WordPress blog network (ie. xxx.bloggerdoggie.com). If your installation is brand new, you’ll probably get to choose to either use the sub-domain option or the sub-directory option (ie. bloggerdoggie.com/xxx).
Then you are free to click “install.”
Note: if you choose to use the subdomain installation option, you must add a wildcard subdomain in your DNS records. In cpanel you need to go to Domains –> Subdomains
From there create a subdomain called “*” (keyboard character for wildcard). Point this to the directory holding the main installation of WordPress and WordPress will know what subdomain visitors are coming from and take care of the rest. I understand that you may not be using cpanel but the idea should be similar.
Step 4: Create A New Directory & Play With More Code
When you click “install” you will be faced with some more chores to do. First thing you need to do is add a sub-directory into your wp-content folder called “blogs.dir” which will hold files uploaded to your other sites.
Now for more code! You are going to want to backup both the current wp-config.php file and .htaccess files. Once done, add the code where the page tells you to.
Once you’re done with all of that, the network functions should be enabled. You’ll only be asked to sign back in and you’re all set.
You will now notice that there is another option in the left-hand sidebar menu called “Super Admin.” Don’t you feel special? You’re now super! Anyway, that is where you go to handle the network. You can add sites and users and even handle which themes are enabled for the network.
There you have it. Isn’t it nice that they finally brought the functionality of MU into WordPress? Now, I wonder if they will ever cut out the annoying modifications enabling the features. Maybe they can put some sort of switch in the dashboard converting it so we don’t have to modify core PHP files? Maybe even a plugin?
What are your thoughts? Do you like how WordPress 3.0 has blended MU’s networking abilities into its functionality?