I’ve been doing a little research (and I do mean a little) but thought I would throw this out there to the masses. I’m always giving, now it’s time to take a little.
One note about how I do things, I build sites as cheaply as possible, perferably using open-source software, and free themes, and if a site takes off then I consider custom development and themes and the such.
It’s a lot cheaper to do that in the long run then to spend a ton of money on a site that may or may not ever take off IMHO.
So I’ve been thinking hyperlocal lately, many small sites building a hyperlocal network (yes, others are doing the same thing with millions in venture cap but blah, I want a kick at that can too). So, being cheap and wanting to use free software as much as possible, I’ve been leaning towards WordPress as the starting platform.
Wordpress can do just about everything that I want it to, but the technical problem that arises is what happens when I want to upgrade? I certainly don’t want to be manually upgrading dozens or even hundreds of WP installs everytime I feel the need to upgrade so I’m looking to do a single-install of WP that would be used by all these sites. The installed plugins and functionality would be the same regardless of the site. The themes and content would be different depending on the site.
So can I do this? Fairly easily? Am I looking at WP MU? Something else? Does WP MU support most standard WP plugins?
Not sure whether Wordpress can do this, but Drupal can with its Multisite functionality build in, also Drupal is a lot more flexible than Wordpress, though you’re looking at a far longer development process (not even speaking about learning Drupal) and thus probably would rule out your as cheap as possible solution.
Nevertheless, I’d still think Drupal is the better option for this.
I was thinking Drupal would be better as well in the long run but like you mentioned Drupal is not an inexpensive solution to implement. If the concept took off then I could see using Drupal as the backend for future solutions.
I identified a need for such a network about 4 years ago and couldn’t find anything. So I had to build from scratch.
The benefits include knowing the program inside out so I can tweak or add to it relatively soon, even if I need help around here in doing so. And, also, I can provide for my clients all their IT for no cost. (css sub contracted).
Doing it all again - well had I known how big it would have been and how much of my life I would have lost, I would probably run away. Having got most way through it, I am glad I did it and just worry about such a time investment and whether it was worth it.
food for thought perhaps rather than any real advice/suggestion.
Thanks Bazz, your comments are greatly appreciated.
I can’t see any single hyperlocal site making a lot of money, so as usual, the money is in the network. As such as soon as you start doing things manually (update software, source content) it quickly becomes a money losing proposition. I have some thoughts as to how to handle content and the such to avoid that issue.
I’ll probably roll out a few dozen or so of these sites manually and see how it goes before making a decision on how to proceed. At the end of the day, rolling them out is a bit of a pain in the ***, but it’ll get my toe in the water all the quicker and I can outsource that cheaply. I already have several monetization strategies in mind that don’t reply on crap like Adsense.
I love WordPress as a quick site platform… It’s so easy to throw up a site… There are soooooo many widgets out there for WP that do most anything you can think of. Need a contact form? Grab a widget that does it and use it on your contact us page.
The only place I would differ in your approach is the theme. There are thousands of free WP themes out there, but most are cheap looking (as are most free themes for other open source platforms). The CSS is decent, but never professional. There is always something about free themes that seem a bit buggy (CSS) or looks cheap (fonts and styling) to me. So I would seriously consider buying a premium theme.
And upgrading WP to new versions of WP as they come out is a piece of cake as long as you are not using tons of crappy 3rd party widgets. I’ve never had a problem. You log into wp-admin and your dashboard will tell you there is a new version of WP out… You click on the links to upgrade… bam… 30secs later it’s done.
That is a good description of what the OP is trying to find a way to automate. That manual process is fine for one or two sites but not when there are thousands or tens of thousands of such sites. For example 10,000 sites times the 30 seconds you mention is over two weeks work just running upgrades each time anything changes. If anything changes more frequently than at two week intervals you would be working overtime just keeping up with the upgrades.
It might be possible to set up a single WordPress install to run multiple sites where the table prefix as defined in individual config files is all that needs to differ outside of the database. That would give you only one copy of WordPress to upgrade. I haven’t tried to set WordPress up that way though (but then I only have a couple of copies installed at present so I don’t need that type of setup yet).
Almost all the upgrades are to plug security holes that someone has discovered and started using. If they left the upgrades to the end of the month then a huge number of WordPress installs would be trashed using those security holes before the fix became available.
In some instances the update process is too slow. WordPress 2.9 actually introduced a bug that stops scheduled posts from going live in some instances. Instead of releasing an immediate fix for this so that they can solve the problem for everyone at once they have released a patch for one of the files instead so only those who know how to edit PHP can actually get the scheduling working properly again.
Is there a free WordPress plug in available online that you may possibly know if that offers automated social bookmarking to the top social bookmarking sites, like del.ic.io.us, tumblr, and more? I’m trying to increase backlinks, and not sure how to setup triggers in Ping.fm
You can control all your updates with WordpressMU so you won’t have to manually update all your blogs and with the plugins you can add a domain to a sub-directory blog. So instead of your blog being http://example.myblogs.com it would be http://www.example.com