Switching to a New Platform: WordPress MU

By | August 9, 2008

As some of you have been following the blog, InvestorBlogger is in the throes of becoming a multi-blog. This is a great thing for InvestorBlogger because I’ve always found that the blog had a fuzzy focus on topics: covering a wide range of topics from Taiwan to Making Money to Blogging Issues and much more.

I’d been thinking about it for quite some time before I made the jump. And jump it has been. On the surface, WordPress MU looks surprisingly familiar to WordPress 2.5 but once you scratch the surface you begin to realize that somethings that were surprising simply in WP 2.5 are surprisingly difficult in MU:

1). sitemaps – I can create sitemaps for readers but not for Google. All of the MU plugins that were touted to work just DON’T! So, I’ll be writing a sitemap by hand for the time being. This shouldn’t be hard to do as most of the posts are already in the sitemap for the old space. It is certainly going to be easier than the three hours I’ve spent trying to tweak plugins.

2). javascript – Javascript just doesn’t work in posts or sidebars meaning that if you want to include YouTube Videos and Ads, you have to find work arounds that will allow you to achieve the same result. Apparently, this is done because of security issues with Multi-User blogs as Javascript might render the entire site hackable. However on a single user install, this can be a pain.

3). Database – a lot of plugins are integrated with the database, therefore are unsuited to MU installs because they archive the data in the DB. Individual blog settings are typically overridden by each blog: so if you set up the data in the plugin for Blog 1, when you finish the same steps for Blog 2, you will typically find that the data for Blog 1 has been overwritten. I spent hours with several plugins trying to figure out the problem.

These are three issues that I’ve faced: I don’t have more than a partial solution for each.

A bigger issue, though, is the much smaller testing community for MU meaning that bugs are less likely to be found, plugins aren’t tested in as wide a range of settings, and the active community really is full of people with REAL computing skills. This means that I will likely have to spend a lot more time tweaking this install than I ever spent before. What’s worse: WordPress Plugin Authors are increasingly frustrated with the speed of WP updates. We’ve already gone from version 2.3.2 in January to version 2.6.1 in August. Each of the versions has had niggles and issues that haven’t been dealt with properly, and yet new editions are still coming out!

But the options for a multi-site blog are quite limited anyway. b2Evolution, a couple of plugins for WP, one or two paid plugins, MU, or a life resigned to perpetually upgrading plugins, managing numerous installs, and fragmented sites. I guess that’s why I chose MU: I decided to live with the limitations of the system. I love the fact that I can set up a new blog in about 15 minutes, which if I were to do on a regular install would take closer to one hour. I also like the way I can control the over ‘look’ of the website, choosing either to retain the ‘corporate’ look (like this blog) or drop it in favor of a different one altogether: see Taiwan.

Until there’s another solution, I’ll be using MU. I just hope I don’t find a solution within a couple of months!