Blog Pile

WordPress Alchemy- Blog in a Blog

In the vein of last February’s WordPress Dissection where I detailed the ripping apart and patching together of a WP template, here’s another bit if funny business I recently did in my favorite technology tool.

More or less, I have a main WP site, with a nested second complete WP site sitting inside of it, yet they are themed and connected to each other in away to make them work as one.

For the last two years, I have been running the NMC Campus Observer, a site that documents the projects and events of the NMC’s activity in Second Life. The design of this site is a blow apart of one of the more basic templates, Blix, as described back in May 2006 as WordPress Theme Philosophy.

In 2006 there was not a great deal of things happening in education, and I spent a lot of time and energy writing, researching, interviewing, setting up events. The nice thing about the continued interest among educators is that there are many more events and things going on that would be if interest to them. And I am seeing less of a need for me to be writing about them all; over the years I did recruit some guest writers, but most volunteers waned after a few posts.

Lets put it this way- I just peeked at the users page of the dashboard, and I have 350 posts credited to me; the next person after that has 18.

I’m tired of blogging there.

But the ideal thing has happened, with the expansion of NMC owned property in SL and many of it leased to other educators, they are now more frequently running their own events. I’ve been interesting in finding ways for them to announce/post their events; using a shared Google Calender was not all that successful. I was looking for a tool that people in the NMC sl community could use to post their events and would generate an RSS feed we could display on other web sites, or in SL using some of the RSS display systems that are out there.

A blog software is ideal for generating the feeds, IMHO. But I dont want to give access to the main blog site. So that’s when a tiny light bulb lit up- what if I set up a second WP inside a subdirectory of the primary site? this way, it could have a different set of users, and they could only edit their own calendar posts.

I themed it using the same template, it it even draws random banner images from the same directory the main site uses. The top navigation needed to be hard coded to link to the same sites as the main one. So while the main WP powered site is at http://sl.nmc.org/ there is an entire second WP install in /calendar so this site, the NMC Campus Community Events Calendar, is accessed via http://sl.nmc.org/calendar/:

I simplified the right sidebar and had to hard code the top green links since they are not generate by pages in the new blog. The other subtle thing I did was to create two custom fields; one contains the slurl for the event location, and the second one is a date/time in Pacific Time (aka linden Time) for the event.

custom fields

Then in my templates, it uses the custom fields to display the SLURL as a hyperlink and convert the time to a nicer display format and also link it back to a World Time clock to provide local times for an event. See the authoring guide I provide for our calendar blog users.

I had all of this working a few weeks back, but there was a major missing piece. If people posted their events in the interior blog, how would the info get widely shared? it’s buried. I did not want to copy the post and paste it in as a new entry. I could embed an RSS feed in a sidebar of the main blog.

And then I had a Jim Groom lightning idea flash — use one of those plug-ins he raves about to post form one blog to another. It was easy to find on of Jim’s favorite plugins — WP-o-matic, a tool that regularly checks an RSS feed for new content, and if found, it inserts it as republished content.

So now the main Campus Observer blog has WP-o-matic installed, and if it finds a new feed from the Campus Community Events blog, it posts anew entry to the main site. I have it configured so the title published in the main site links to the full entry in the Calendar site.

As an example, this post on Metanomics Season 2 was posted into the calendar site, and automatically republished to the main blog, with its title linked to the full story in the calendar blog.

Blog in a blog– I cannot vouch that anyone else might need to set up something like this, and likely there is some other way I could have rigged it in one blog, but hey, I was curious if this would work, and so far it looks good.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. Brilliant!

    I love the idea of a blog within a blog, and the next step is pop it up to a WPMu site, and gie people their own space and have them share a feed based on a category or tag (WordPress –my favoriet technology tool too :) ) does this well. That way, you let people post on their own space and feed it out through a tag or category so that they can post to your site without having to have to go through the motions of logging on to another space more than once. The while idea is add the filtered feed once, and allow them to post to the space without any overhead. I sure this would be overkill for this project, but that is what is behind the Reading Capital site I am working on. How do we use these tools to create a framework around some of these open resources that have everything but a community that can effectively discus them and share their ideas.

    Glad to see you finally joined the ranks of the WP spammers ;)

  2. Actually, even better than that. Andre Malan’s BDP RSS Add RSS feed widget for BDP RSS (the aggregated feed of which is fed the FeedWordPress plugin) will allow people to quickly add their feed to your blog, and allow them to post from their own space to another blog. In short, however we do it, allowing folks to post from their own space into a communal space captures the power of both the individual and the community. Long live spamming plugins!

  3. The good reverend wins the quickest ping and comment back award ;-)

    I love the stuff you are doing there with WPMu, and I do have a version set of for our CommenrPress publications, but I am not providing a blog service to a large (or small) group- this was really a single use… but if I get the drift, if we have people publishing events to their own blog, I could possible rig something up to pull those things into the calendar.

    Hmmmm. Spam…. the smell of burning spam in the morning….

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