The Importance of Community
I’m a dedicated WordPress supporter. The fact that this particular blogging software exists as an open source offering is, indirectly, paying my bills. You see, most of my income is from designing WordPress themes (and leeching The Blog Herald of course), and that would be pretty hard if WordPress wasn’t free. Still possible, but I sincerely doubt that the system would be this widespread, hence I would have a harder time finding clients that needs to prettify their blogs and sites.
When I was getting started with WordPress quite some time ago, pre-1.5, the community was a great help. The WordPress support forum answered my questions when I needed it to, although most of them was actually already out there, on the forum or in the WordPress wiki, called Codex nowadays, a great resource.
This was possible because of the supporting community.
Now I’m trying out WordPress MU for a Swedish blog network (it’s at pakten.se if you want to take a peak, the front page is temporary though, so hit the links in the top right), and I really understand why community is so important.
You see, WordPress MU isn’t as polished as WordPress. It may look like it, when you log into WordPress.com, but that’s not exactly what you get with your basic WordPress MU install. Read all about my MU adventures in yesterday’s Devlounge post, a must for anyone contemplating using MU for powering multiple blogs.
Quite a few problems arose on the way to actually have WordPress MU setup and working in a manner that I felt I could commit to a public site – or blog network in this case. Most of them were easy enough to solve, others forced me to search the MU support forum. There’s almost no documentation, although it is supposed to be a work in progress, as Lorelle noted recently. I can’t wait, seriously.
The lack of a large, living community around WordPress MU makes it hard to get into. I know, I know, I’m spoiled with WordPress, but this is a serious issue. The fact that I wouldn’t recommend WordPress MU to anyone who doesn’t know his or her way around WordPress, and isn’t afraid to hack some PHP files, speaks volumes to me.
I’m running WordPress MU for pakten.se. All problems aren’t solved, but it’s working, and I’m hoping to take care of the last things within a number of days. I can do that, because I know enough PHP. This would, however, not have been a problem with WordPress – then someone would have told me where to look already, or perhaps even supplied a solution.
The community around an open source system is just as important as the developer core. When one is working and the other’s not, then the whole project is lagging behind.
Support your community, do your part if you can, by helping others. I intend to do just that over at the WordPress MU forums, at least as much as I can, since I expect the same favor to be returned to me. Although it hasn’t yet.
Thord Daniel Hedengren is a designer, writer, and blogger, and also the former editor of The Blog Herald. He used to be a hotshot in the gaming industry in Sweden, but sold everything and went International. Most recently he wrote a book called Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, and does loads of kickass design.
Supporting a community is of course the ideal and moral way of giving back. But it isn’t that easy. When you have (lets say just one) blog, hosted by wordpress, which you run on linux and you daily read slashdot news, it sounds like a full time job to support your community. Simply because online you are not part of one community, but many. The 80/20 Rule in full application.
I too am trying to use WordPress MU for a new site, albeit not a blog network. The lack of documentation is a real struggle for someone like me who’s proficient in small modifications of PHP, but not creating new code from scratch.
A resource I did find that was helpful, however, was http://www.wmpudev.org — unfortunately, it seems like the only place that has MU support.
Has anyone else used MU for launching a site? I’d love to hear about it!
The WordPressMU official site has a very good forum with a lot of helpful information and a community to rely upon.
Also, using WordPressMu as a single site is NOT advised. It is not even advised for those who want to run multiple blogs. It is a single blog for multiple users. Take care that you aren’t making your blogging life much more difficult than it has to be.