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University Web Developers

We currently are running about 30 blogs on WordPress MU. As we contemplate expanding this service, does anyone have experience with Using WordPress MU in much larger numbers?

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The key to WordpressMU is that for each user, it creates new tables for their blogs (8 new tables). This can potentially be limiting on certain file systems beyond around 32,000 blogs. More than that, and you have to start splitting things up in the database, which will begin to look very cludgy. But, according to WPMU docs, they have found that to be the most efficient way to handle data and provide for plugin functionality. Really, it comes down to the difference between a system with a lot of rows, or one with a lot of tables. Some people consider Drupal to be superior for large scale growth, but more than likely it's a preference issue, and you probably won't push WPMU to its breaking point. And with separate tables, there's less chance of something bad in one blog poisoning others.

WPMU is designed for growth, so odds are you wouldn't see any problems. At least you certainly shouldn't. If the server's got a little horse power, you shouldn't notice any difference between 30 or 300 or even 3000, assuming they aren't all super high traffic generators.

http://mostrey.be/mu_blogging_wordpress_drupal
Isnt wordpress.com run with MU? Also eduweb blogs? Those are both pretty large install I would assume.
Yes. Though Wordpress.com doesn't run it as it is out of the box (nor would I assume eduweb blogs). They are doing enormous database clustering and replication, along side additional database slave servers, something not available by default. In reality their claim that you can "[run] hundreds of thousands of blogs with a single install of WordPress" is not entirely true, because of the physical limitations of file systems.

But yes, they are using WPMU, they just have some big iron to back it up and meet the enormous demand they have. I can't imagine a college coming remotely close to that kind of need, unless they give a blog to every student, whether they use it or not.
Which brings me back to the purpose of my original my original question. I'm curious of the pro's and con's of using WordPress MU as a campus-wide blogging platform for students, faculty and staff. For me, that would mean making it available for 27,000 + students, although I am sure only a fraction of that would actually use it.
Regardless of use, if the blogs are created, you're looking at file count bloat because every new user results in something like 24 new files for database table handling. So you're going to have to dump quite a lot of money into hardware to handle it all to balance things out, probably a minimum of four servers (two for balancing, two for redundancy). That scales up the longer you offer the service.

I would argue that there isn't necessarily a need to meet there. Kids, especially today, come to college with things like blogs already in place. Why offer them yet another? What problem or need is that answering? Beyond that, you are then locking yourself into support and perpetuation of that. Do you still want to be maintaining and offering blogs for people 10 years down the road (at which time you'll be way beyond your initial 27,000)? Are you prepared to handle backlash in the event that you can no longer host them? At most, I would just make the service available IF people wanted it. Let them sign up if so, and not if they don't, and prune inactive accounts yearly or something.

You might be better off investing in something like Ning, or Facebook. Create a social network where people are that are using blogs, and create a hub there for people. They have the big iron in place to handle everything seamlessly, and it lifts the support burden off of you. You can also leverage their tools, rather than trying to compete against them.
I agree with Michael. A campus install of WordPress MU makes sense for managing Web sites for formal departments, offices, and organizations, but as to personal blogs, does the institution need to replicate external services?

That said, BuddyPress is a set of plug-ins for WPMU that provides a Ning-like experience (including "blog" posts, friends, etc.) for local hosting.

Haven't prototyped it yet (still in beta), but it's interesting ... and it's supported by Automattic. Anyone working with it?
I'm curious about the BuddyPress plug-in also. This may have just changed a future project I was looking to work on.
From: http://cuwebd.ning.com/forum/topics/structure-for-scalabilty-of?pag...

We are under planning stage on the development of a multi blogging system using WordPress MU. I found a slide from Joseph Scott http://joseph.randomnetworks.com/archives/2008/09/01/slides-from-wo... on slide 48. Is there any other setup that can be done? Anybody can share some best practices on the scaling up and setting a redundant server for WordPress MU?

As planned, we want to maximized the the number of blogs and optimized the resources as possible, because we want to anticipate the number of bloggers for future comings.

Anybody had some ideas regarding the pros and cons for the types caching in maximizing the speed? that was discussed on slide 38. And what are the best practices in handling a multi blogging system on WordPress MU?


Mark Greenfield - How many blogs are you planning? There was a similar discussion on this topic last December:
I was looking for some methods on how to mirror 3 web servers to synchronized it in real time or near real time?
If you're looking to do mirroring/load balancing type stuff, you might look into Squid. It's like a proxy caching system, that does load balancing, and the whole shbang. No idea how nice it would play with a Wordpress MU environment.
Agreed, legacy support for this stuff can be a deal killer. I also like the hub methodology, where you provide a space for people to show their public spaces of all types.

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