Motherblog test post

Hello mother!

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Syndication Made Easy for WordPress MultiSite

Nostromo’s boot sequence of “Mother” computer in Alien

Tim Owens and I went down to Virginia Commonwealth University’s ALT Lab to catch up with Tom Woodward, Jon Becker, and a recent, most impressive addition Mark Luetke. They have been doing some great work with their WordPress Multisite (WPMS) instance Rampages. They have brought on more than 7,000 users in just over a year, which is pretty astonishing. One of the things we talked about is the cool work Mark has been doing over the last couple of months for their blogging platform, namely writing awesome plugins. One that hit close to my own heart is the “Mother Blogs Made Easier” plugin that works in conjunction with FeedWordPress and allows faculty to specify a category that will syndicate into their course site.

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The shortcode for the plugin with a category you specify

This is a bit of shortcode that a faculty can add to a page or post. Once they do it becomes a straightforward form that a student fills out and then the category a faculty member added is seamlessly created on the student’s site as well as added to FeedWordPress on the Mother Blog (the course site that aggregates in all the students posts).

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Abive is the post or page with the shortcode, as you can see it is a simple yes or no to whether you have a blog on the ssytem. After that you choose the site for this course, you’ll notice it slickly includes all the sites one has on a given WPMS instance. After that you are all set.

If you don’t have a site, the form branches and asks you if you want one, and then sends you to create a site.

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If you don’t want a site, it will ask you if you have your own and let you provide the feed:

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If you answer no again, well then what the hell are you doing here :)

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Once you select a site on the WPMS instance (which will be 99% of the cases for VCU students) the plugin automatically creates the appropriate category on your blogAfter that, you just need to use that category to syndicate to the motherblog, and the plugin tells you as much once you finish the form:

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On the other side, this plugin not only creates the category on the student’s blog, but also adds it to FeedWordpress with the proper category feed. So, when I added to the form, this plugin automatically added -how awesome is that?

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And that’s just one of the several cool plugins Mark Luetke has created in his short career at ALT Lab, but I’ll let this magic sink in a bit before I blog the next one :) Where has he been for the past 7 or 8 years again? :)

Posted in , aggregation, altlab, feed, motherblogs, plugins, syndication, Wordpress, wpms, wpmu, wpmu development | Leave a comment

ALT Lab Mother Blog

[altlab-motherblog category=”ds106″]

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Domain of One’s Own and WordPress Networks

I’ve had a pretty jam-packed semester, and now that it’s almost over I feel the need to capture at least some of it. We ran our third Domain of One’s Own Faculty Initiative with 23 participants across at least ten disciplines and two colleges. This brings the total number of faculty who’ve gone through this program at right about 80. That’s a third of our faculty. The intentional and consistent development of faculty, and by extension students, over time is the approach that makes this initiative more than just a numbers game to tout we have “full saturation.” We’re committed to scaling intelligently, while rolling out and developing a community around the immediate possibilities web hosting and a personal domain offers— and that gets more compelling every year.

Case in point, this year my cohort, made up of seven of UMW’s finest faculty (there were 3 other cohorts with 16 more faculty), got interested in setting up WordPress multisite installs so they could create a network of sites for their personal portfolios, course spaces, research sites, etc. The idea makes a lot of sense, but when we started this a few years ago I steered away from this option because getting your own domain and web hosting seemed enough overhead. This year that all changed.  Everyone in the cohort was comfortable with WordPress (a remarkable fact in and of itself), so we could take the time to explore the abstraction of what a managing a Network of WordPress sites entails. Dealing with questions like: How do you manage themes and plugins differently? What are subdomains versus subdirectories? How can you syndicate between sites? etc.

The process reinforces the longitudinal impact of so much of the work DTLT has done over the last decade from the Bluehost experiment to UMW Blogs to UMW Domains. It also points to a progression in what’s possible thanks to how much we have invested as a community and how much easier things have gotten since 2005. With the application installer Installatron we can have folks do a one-click install of multisite. After just minutes they can be up and running with dynamic, wildcard subdomains. That struck me hard yesterday while I was taking a faculty member through the process. I spent a couple of years of my life on this very blog struggling through that very thing back n 2006 and 2007, now it’s a checkbox on an installation form.

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Easy doesn’t suck in this instance because we can spend our time examining what it means to manage a network of sites. For example, the benefits of various sites pulling from the same fleet of plugins and themes but only needing to run updates in one place. I felt like the discussions around the application(s) helped us work through managing online presence, creating an online scholarly identity, and taking a hands on approach to controlling, owning, and archiving the work they do online. I’ve been at it so long with WordPress that I sometimes forget how crazy the arch of faculty development at UMW has been. Just about any faculty member with 20 minutes to spare can create an infrastructure that defined my career path just 8 short years ago. Nutty.

Anyway, enough of that. Below is a quick rundown of how you can create wildcard subdomains within CPanel. Even that seems easier than it was back in the day of editing vhost files. I’m stealing the majority of this tutorial from Namecheap because they do a better job on it than I could. I just add my own 2 cents here and there, as usual.

This assumes you have already setup WordPress as multisite, as easy as the click of a button on UMW Domains and Reclaim Hosting.You will need to copy a line of code to your wp-config.php and then access Tools–>Setup Network to choose subdomains. After that, you’ll be given  code to copy into both the wp-config and .htaccess files. You can see a good tutorial on that process here. In order to create a wildcard subdomains in CPanel, you do the following:

1) Log into your cPanel

2) Navigate to the menu ‘Subdomains’ under ‘Domains’ section


3) Create a subdomain‘*’ pointing it to the necessary folder ( you will need to specify the path in the field ‘Document Root’ ).


4) Go to the menu ‘Advanced DNS Zone Editor’


5) Make sure that there is an A record for * created and pointed to the server IP address ( it could coincide with the IP address of your main domain or is pointed to).


6) Now you will need to wait until the propagation is over ( it should take N seconds, where N – isTTL for this A record; you can edit it manually and reduce the number to speed up the process ) and then the wildcard subdomain will work correctly.

The final step I needed to do for the folks on UWM Domains at the server level in WHM is to reset the DNS Zone for the particular account that is installing a WordPress multisite with wildcard subdomains. This was the bit I got hung up on, but my server admin skills are getting better and better with every passing day. Soon I may even be competent.

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Posted in , Domain of One's Own, Faculty Initiaitve, Faculty Initiative, uwmdomains, Wordpress, wpmu, wpmu development, wpmued | Leave a comment

Testing Invention

This is just a test.

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Blogging is better than flogging-

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Go to UMW Blogs

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This is a test to Jim’s Site

Did it work?

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PostSecret in Chicago

I had this postsecret….


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This is HP Lovecraft….


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