Multi-Site Is Just A Feature Set

As we’ve geared up towards the merge between WordPress MU and WordPress, the word multi-site has popped up a number of times thus giving the impression that WordPress MU would be called multi-site after the merge. I’m one of the few who ended up spreading information that this would be happening but after more discussion, I’ve come to realize that multi-site is not a separate product as WordPress MU was. Instead, it will just be a set of features in WordPress after the merge is completed. This became especially apparent from the discussion revolving around someone in the community registering domains tied to the multi-site features in WordPress. So I just want to say for the record that in due time, WordPress will be known for having a feature that enables multi-site functionality. Jane sums it up pretty well in her forum post in the linked discussion.

Frankly, I’d rather it didn’t have a name at all. It should just be “WordPress.” As in, “I run my 6 sites on WordPress.” Administrative permissions for multiple sites should not drive an artificial product name, IMO. Using ms_ to delineate functions shouldn’t influence how we refer to the application in the wild. I vote we all just call it WordPress, and the stuff that is specific to administration privileges (super admin) not muddy up the product naming.

Think about it. Someone using WP after 3.0 who never knew MU existed will not even think about a separate name for the MU functionality. Movable Type has supported multiple sites forever, as has Blogger. We’re making a big deal out of naming something that should be seamless and not require a name at all. No one talks about “the multisite function” on MT or Blogger, do they? The ability to have multiple blogs is just part of the software, and that’s what it will be like for WP too, after we get used to it.

At the end of the day, it will simply be WordPress with multi-site capabilities.

12 Comments


  1. There’s even more confusion. I would almost guarantee that the “I run my 6 sites on WordPress.” commenter was thinking of 6 blogs, and not a single mu install with six mu “sites” each running a single “blog”.

    In mu a site and a blog are two different things. Each blog is under the control of a specific site. Each Site can control many many blogs. A user can be an admin on a blog, several blogs or a site admin for one or more of the sites in the mu install.

    That’s gonna help keep the confusion level high. Especially when you consider tossing the word Domain in there which is a completely independent topic.

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  2. @Brian Layman – Sigh. I didn’t think of that either. But you are right. How are users requesting support going to clearly delineate from WordPress and WordPress multi-site features. This would mean that there has to be some sort of unique identifier for that information and if so, this makes the second post in a row I’ve written about the multi-site name that has no merit lol.

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  3. I think the vast majority of users that will utilize the multi-blog features will never want/need multi-site. However, I can see the room for confusion. Since multi-site would fall pretty clearly under advanced usage I’m not sure that it should influence how WordPress proper is named.

    Most of the people that I work with will simply want a single back-end to house the various blogs they write. Usually there are quite a few and generally all with a single user.

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  4. I always assumed that would be the case to be honest Jeff. It is just another feature of WordPress, just as it is just another feature of Habari.

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  5. WIll be interesting to see how the multi-site capabilities will be included in the admin interface.

    Imo, keeping these functions quite hidden per default could be a good idea for the gui to not make it too cluttered for the majority of WP users who will not be interested in the multi-site capabilities. E.g. activating all these functions with radiobuttons with “Activate multi-site capabilities? Yes/No” from Settings –> General with “no” per default could be a start? Or are there advantages from WPMU that standalone WP could benefit from that I miss?

    Anyone have a clue about thinking in this area?

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  6. Jane and Andrew are right, multi-site is just a capability, one that WordPress should have had from the start.

    The domains thing is funny, and reveals the true intentions of some towards WordPress, despite their strident claims to be “part of the community”. I hope that people will now stop listening to the self-interested propaganda of businesses whose only interest in the community is to milk it. Cows should always be wary of Farmers.

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  7. @Andreas Nurbo – No, cows existed long before man, superbly adapted over millions of years to an eco-system without farmers.

    Farmers did not create cows, they merely domesticated and adapted them to suit their own needs. Cows got hijacked. There are more cows than ever but they have no destiny of their own and today’s Frankencows could not survive in their original eco-system, could not in fact survive anywhere now without being pumped full of antibiotics. It’s not a great deal for the cow.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love a good steak, I just recognize a heist when I see one.

    In the same way, James Farmer is cherry-picking the most popular WordPress plugins and actively persuading their creators to remove them from the WordPress eco-system and place them behind a pay-wall of up to $189 per month per plugin. Tough luck if you run a website for your school in Africa.

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  8. @Brian Layman – For the record, the assumption you make here:

    I would almost guarantee that the “I run my 6 sites on WordPress.” commenter was thinking of 6 blogs, and not a single mu install with six mu “sites” each running a single “blog”.

    …is incorrect. I use the word blog at all only because it is still the common parlance. If you look back through the IRC logs you’ll see me lobbying for changing Blog to Site and Site to Network in the parlance of MU. Since most of my job right now is in making WP core sturdier as a CMS, I can guarantee that I’m not just thinking of online journals, but of full-fledged sites in a network of sites on one WP install.

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  9. I’ve had a tool called WPMultiSite for quite awhile now which let’s you use a single installation of WordPress to server multiple domains. It’s more focused on the use of multiple domain. The primary use is for consultants that create and maintain many WordPress sites. It really take the misery out of updating WordPress site. With WPMultiSite you update once and all the site are updated.

    The new use of the multi site term has really muddied the waters around that this means. WordPress 3.0 might make things easier to do what I need to do but so far it just seems to be causing confusion.

    Also there’s the issue where some host that currently don’t allow users to install WPMU will in turn not allow WordPress to be installed just because it has the same capability.

    Thanks
    Glenn

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