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Is WPMU right for me? (12 posts)

  1. LynneLiL
    Posted 17 years ago #

    Hi...I'm a long time WP (1.5) user and I'm looking to go to the next level of blogging: namely, to have a community blog somewhat modeled on Scoop-based or Soapblox-like systems, with user posts, ratings systems, front-page promotion to a submitted user post, and a few dedicated, invited "front page writers" like myself (I currently have two co-bloggers and may add another as well). I've been researching what software to upgrade to, played with Drupal a bit, but keep coming back to the functionality, ease, and flexibility of WP. I am a more-than-beginning website developer, but still somewhat a newbie. I've tweaked my own blog ( in a few ways, I can mess with templates (I'm a CSS wiz), and understand the templating system a bit.

    I've been perusing this forum and searching bits and pieces I wanted to know about MU and WP 2.x for a week or two but I need specific answers to what I need all in one place. I see that others have done "requirements lists" and they get nice detailed responses, and that you have some very patient and knowledgeable people here. I apologize in advance if any of these questions have been asked elsewhere, or are really long-winded. So here goes...

    1. The fundimental difference I see between Scoop-like blogs and WP2/MU1 (OOTB) is emphasis. In sites like, the emphasis is on the front page (those with front-page writing privledges or those whose posts get promoted), with sidebar short lists of recent user diaries and recommended diaries. With WPMU, it's that each user gets a blog, quite seperate from one another. In the case of an entity which just wants to offer free blogs to a community that's great. I want more of the former. This means a couple things...
    a) universal categories are key, OR the use of freeflowing tagging (keywords seperated by commas) such as on dKos. Or both. I don't however want users to add categories willy nilly to the system...for their own use in their blog, or for any universal use.
    b) Not allowing users other than myself to play with the title, subtitle, template, or other aspects of their blog. Their blog should look like the main blog. So for instance, on dKos, it IS the case that each user sort of gets their own "blog" in principle, but it really looks like a dKos page, listing all the posts a user has created in reverse chronological order.

    2. I'd like to use a calendar system so that all registered users can submit a calendar event (which sort of looks like a post, but perhaps with calendar fields like start time, etc - though "repeat event" is not a requirement, only a nice bonus). I've been using EventCal up til now, which has seriously limited functionality (fine for me, since I understand how WP works). Is there a way to seperate the entity "calendar" from a "user post" and make it a simple thing for users to do? (For instance, Eventcal uses the timestamp field for the time/date of the event, meaning you have to Advance Edit, then change the timestamp, and then make sure no category except Eventcal is selected...this will not work for Average User Joe. And would different users submitting calendar events from their respective blog backends be able to submit their event to the universal calendar which I can display automatically somehow on the main page?

    3. I'm quite sure there's a way to have or tweak to have "most recent users' post" titles from all "blogs" inside the system to be listed in the sidebar, but I want to be sure to ask. Also, is there a way to use the ratings systems plugins I've seen mentioned to make a "recommended" list? And is there a way for me to give permission for "front page writing" to my few writers and "promote user post to front page" for something we want to put on the front page?

    The bottom line is that obviously, I should be thinking about using Scoop. But this blog makes me barely any money, and sucks up enough time for development/writing as it is. I don't have time for a steep learning curve unless forced to. I'd be willing to compromise my requirements a bit if it means using WP, a system I like, trust, know, and for which I see lots of potential to expand via plugins. (For instance, I just installed podPress on my WP1.5 blog, and I couldn't believe the ease of use, etc, for this total podcast newbie...I loved it!)

    Needless to say, in exchange for help determining if all this is possible and maybe even how, I will document in detail how I do it (where I change the template, what plugins I use, etc) and give it to you guys (via this forum or elsewhere) to use for others who are looking for a Scoop alternative but would prefer to use WordPress. I have been a true believer for a while now, and the reviews and research of the past couple weeks have clinched it - if I can find a way to stay within WordPress for LiL 2.0, I'll be in good hands.

  2. andrewbillits
    Posted 17 years ago #

    I think you just qualified for the longest post of the month award.

    Seriously though, everything you described *can* be done with WPMU. However it will take several custom plugins and modifications.

    The problem is that this is pretty much a self-service community. In other words, if you need/want a plugin you have to either convince/pay someone to code it or code it yourself.

    I guess the bottom line is that WPMU can be made to do what you want but it's not going to be as easy as dropping in a few plugins (because most of them don't exist yet).

  3. drmike
    Posted 17 years ago #

    Agreed. I can think of a method for the posts on the front page of the main blog being sitewide and the wpmu-feed plugin. That's easy. Not being able to add categories except for certain people. That's a bit tougher and I'd have to dig through the defaults to see if that can be done without modifying the code. (Access levels maybe?)

    The other items come to mind as doable items but would require work.

  4. LynneLiL
    Posted 17 years ago #

    I guess that's my biggest problem - I am not really a developer. I can PHP if forced to...but it takes me forever to accomplish what others can do in an hour. And I can tweak existing PHP/templates, but it takes a while for me to find all the revelant bits (finding the right variables, how to mess with them, etc).

    But then again, drupal felt stiff and had what seemed a higher learning curve for creating the site I really want, as does Scoop. IF I could even do it in Drupal in the first place, which would take hours and hours just to research.

    I guess the main functionality I need is the front page writers/user post designation, and being able to control the other users' templates so that they have the site's main title, subtitle and template (which it seems there's some control over but might not be complete).

    Actually, the main concept there is designating a "primary" blog. As in, the Master Blog is the one at the root, and all other blogs are slave to template, etc. And using a hidden category (you can designate a category to be hidden right?) you could have one named "frontpage" and as a moderator admin of the main blog, I can add that category to a user post [to promote it to the main page]. The front page of the blog could be set to show all posts where the category list includes "frontpage"...

    Anyway, no one has yet thought of MU this way? (Perish the idea I might have had an original thought!)

  5. drmike
    Posted 17 years ago #

    Drupal is still. I can't stand it. i used it on my own sites for about 30 minutes a few months back last time I was pulling my hair out over at the forums.

    As I read your post, most of the issue is with assigning access levels. That's doable but it means sitting down with teh codex and editing the wp-admin/upgrade-s(whatever it's called).php file to what levels you want.

    The front page of blog 1 can be created with a page template pulling a modify WPMu-feed plugin while only allowing it to pull from certain blogs.

    I know of a couple rating plugins that work with WPMu. You could add in code to compile all of the ratings into one large array.

    Again, it's doable. It is a task though.

    I'm running an hour late. That's why I'm not taking this apart tonight. :)

  6. LynneLiL
    Posted 17 years ago #

    Geez, drmike, I'm flattered you even replied if that's the case. :) See, I told you I observed friendly patient people on this forum!

    I hope you have time to get more detailed later, I look forward to it!

  7. andrea_r
    Posted 17 years ago #

    After reading all this, I still think it can be done a whole lot easier with just regualr ol' WP. The user levels and submitted posts is what tips it for me.

    Still work, like people already stated, but MU I think is different enough, and has that extra layer of "add another seperate blog" that it add a whole layer of frustration, IMNSHO. :D

    I can get further details if you like.

  8. LynneLiL
    Posted 17 years ago #

    So, forcing all users (even just commenters) to register, can you default those new people to being able to submit posts as well (I'm not sure I really want to administer every person who registers to elevate them to post)?

    And is there something between "submitted but not published" posts by users, and "front page" posts, using WP2+plugins? I mean, I want new posts to show up on the front page in the sidebar, with just their titles and the username and maybe a timestamp, for readers to peruse through, and in most blogs of that type, there's a page where you can read all the non-promoted user posts on one page as well. (I suppose you could do that <i>if</i> you could force a single default category on every submitted user post for users who are not front pagers, and only moderators can take that category off and allow that post on the front page...I suppose that would take code changes though, to exclude user-submitted posts from the front page, if they have a certain category attached).

    And one of the aspects of scoop is the idea that each person has their own "blog" - I think at dKos, they even do the subdomain thing (ie is where you would find all my posts) and other iterations of scoop-like blogs do the other sort ( so I'm not really against that, I just need to emphasize the front page over the individual blog thing.

    And of course, there's the whole other idea I want...that if enough users uprate a post it gets into a recommended list...I'm unsure there's a solution for that using WP...because if there's nothing that does that or something similar, it's going to take quite some tweaking of the code to accomplish, and I doubt I'm up to that task. I believe most algorithms for "recommended lists" on other systems take into account how many users "recommend", how old those recommendations are, etc.

    I'll try to check back on this thread today, but I pulled a muscle in my neck this morning, so I doubt I'm being very coherant...

  9. andrea_r
    Posted 17 years ago #

    I am thinking out loud here, so I shall contradict myself by the end. :)

    "So, forcing all users (even just commenters) to register, can you default those new people to being able to submit posts as well (I'm not sure I really want to administer every person who registers to elevate them to post)?"

    Yeah, hack the regualr WP code. Not sure where exactly off the top of my head, but it's in there somewhere. OH! I think in the backend you can tell it to assing a default role to new users.

    "And is there something between "submitted but not published" posts by users,"
    At a certain userlevel, their sumitted posts are automatically on draft and the admin needs to publish it.

    For front page posts, you could get it to show just certain authors on the main page, using a static page.

    If you still want the users to have their own subdomain, the MU for sure. Actually the more I think about this, the more I'm figuring out how this could be done. New users who sign up get their own blog, and you can hack (minor) the code to add them as an author to the main blog as well. how you want the front presented is moderately easy, I think.

    As far as rating, I've seen many ratings plugins out there, and I would go with modifying one of those before I hacked MU too much.

    But not that I see more of your idea fleshed out, it coudl easily be done (with some work) in MU.

    Also? I'd suggest installing a newer version of WP somewhere just so you could get a feel for it. Big difference from 1.5.

    But yeah. Most of what you want is alreayd included in the functionality of the program, you'll just need to change the theme of the main page. A LOT.

  10. LynneLiL
    Posted 17 years ago #

    Well, I've installed MU in a subfolder to play around with it a bit. I've couldn't go with subdomains, because I host on Dreamhost and the subdomain thing would take getting the host to set up the * permissions...but I am not married to using subdomains for the other users' blogs, so I didn't bother with that.

    From what I have read, MU has the latest core files of WP, so I assume user accounts act the same way, so playing with my new MU install should let me learn 2.x right?

    I'm almost at the point I just want to hire someone else to do all the tweaks. LOL. Or maybe that's just my stiff neck talking.

  11. andrea_r
    Posted 17 years ago #

    Yep. :)

    (darn it, I'm busy this week too)

  12. Ovidiu
    Posted 17 years ago #

    regarding users being able to submit posts here is a plugin:

    which has some functionality like you want, maybe yo ucan modify it to do what you need it to do. good luck.

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