Creating a Network of Sites

Creating a New Multisite Network from Scratch

The easiest way to create a multisite network is to create a new WordPress site from
scratch, using an autoinstaller that supports the multisite feature. For example, if you
use Softaculous, the installation process is almost exactly the same as the one you
used in Chapter 3 (page 55). The difference is that somewhere in your autoinstaller,
you need to find a setting named something like “Enable Multisite” and switch it
on.

If you don’t have an autoinstaller that supports the multisite feature, you’ll need to
install a normal WordPress site first and then go through the somewhat awkward
conversion process.

NOTE The multisite feature works well if you have a community of people who need to work independently,
keep their content separate from everyone else’s, and have complete control over the way their content is organized
and presented. For example, the Canton School site might use the multisite feature to give each teacher her own
site. Teachers could then use their sites to post assignments and answer student questions. The multisite feature
isn’t very useful if you want people to team up on the same project, share ideas, or blog together—in all these
cases, a single site with multiple users makes more sense.

NOTE There are two ways to create addresses for the sites in a network. You can give each site its own
subfolder (as in http://OrilliaBaseballTeams.com/madcats), or you can give each site its own subdomain (as in
http://madcats.OrilliaBaseballTeams.com). The latter is the way WordPress.com works. It’s slightly more complicated,
because it requires some additional settings on your web host. In this chapter, you’ll stick to the subfolder
approach.

Converting an Existing Site to a Multisite Network

Converting an existing WordPress site into a multisite network is trickier than creating
a new network from scratch. If you use subfolders (rather than subdomains) in your
network, the conversion process will break any links within posts (see the Note near
the bottom of this page to learn why). For that reason, it’s best to convert a newly
created WordPress site, rather than one you’ve been using (and that other people
have been reading) for some time.

But if you know how to use an FTP program and you’re undaunted by the challenge,
it is possible to transition from an ordinary site to a multisite network. WordPress has
the full and rather technical step-by-step instructions at http://tinyurl.com/2835suo.
The process involves modifying two files in your site—wp-config.php and .htaccess—
and changing a few related settings in the dashboard. But because you can’t
directly edit the files on your site, you need to download them to your computer
(that’s where the FTP program comes in), make your changes in a text editor, and
then upload the new, modified files. If you’ve never fiddled with a WordPress installation
before, it’s a bit tedious.
WARNING Make sure you really want a multisite network before you forge ahead, because there’s no
easy way to change a multisite network back to a single site after you make the jump.

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Creating a Network of Sites

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