For the first part of this semester I was in over my head with UMW Blogs. We had come up with the idea (through covert communication with other schools not to be named 😉 ) to use FeedWordPress as a syndicating engine. Quite simply, that students create their own blogs and tag posts for their respective courses, which would automatically republish them in an aggregating course blog.
For example, Sue Fernsebner’s History 299 course would tag relevant posts 08fern299, and those posts would be automatically re-posted in the course blog. How are they re-posted automatically? Well, Donncha’s Sitewide Tags Pages plugin collects all posts, tags and categories into one blog (http://tags.umwblogs.org), that by extension gives a single feed for all tags through the WPMu environment. You can see all of professor Fernsebner’s class blog posts one that blog here: http://tags.umwblogs.org/tag/08fern299/
And if you just smack the term “feed” at the end of the above URL you then have an RSS feed for every post in UMW Blogs that has the tag 08fern299: http://tags.umwblogs.org/tag/08fern299/feed
Now, FeedWordPress just consumes this feed and republishes all the distributed posts in one blog and allows the permalink to point back to the students original blog post on their blog. Perfect, right?
Well, almost. Fact is that the .2.x version of the Sitewide Tags was not actually working with FeedWordPress that well. What was happening was that FeedWordPress was not updating correctly and the permalinks would only point to the post on the course blog, effectively erasing the link back to the student blog. The only way to fix this was to go into the course blog and delete the posts that didn’t link back to the student blog, and update the feed again which works when you manually pull the feed but not when it is automatically pulled in (which was the root of the problem). Well, this issue is no more, the latest version of Donncha’s Sitewide Tags Pages plugin 0.3.1 fixes the issue with FeedWordPress and has put UMW Blogs back in the Syndicating cloud (I was worried there for a second, and I don’t miss all the duct tape fixes at all).
The moral of the story? It didn’t take long for the WPMu community to make things right, and it didn’t cost UMW anything but a little bit of experimentation, patience, and sharing. I mean who’s afraid of the open source wolf? These times demand many things, and one of them is cooperation and sharing, not fear and closing down. Open source is not proprietary 🙂