Syndication Made Easy for WordPress MultiSite

Nostromo’s boot sequence of “Mother” computer in Alien

Tim Owens and I went down to Virginia Commonwealth University’s ALT Lab to catch up with Tom Woodward, Jon Becker, and a recent, most impressive addition Mark Luetke. They have been doing some great work with their WordPress Multisite (WPMS) instance Rampages. They have brought on more than 7,000 users in just over a year, which is pretty astonishing. One of the things we talked about is the cool work Mark has been doing over the last couple of months for their blogging platform, namely writing awesome plugins. One that hit close to my own heart is the “Mother Blogs Made Easier” plugin that works in conjunction with FeedWordPress and allows faculty to specify a category that will syndicate into their course site.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 11.50.11 PM

The shortcode for the plugin with a category you specify

This is a bit of shortcode that a faculty can add to a page or post. Once they do it becomes a straightforward form that a student fills out and then the category a faculty member added is seamlessly created on the student’s site as well as added to FeedWordPress on the Mother Blog (the course site that aggregates in all the students posts).

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 11.53.52 PM

Above is the post or page with the shortcode, as you can see it is a simple yes or no to whether you have a blog on the system. After that you choose the site for this course, you’ll notice it slickly includes all the sites one has on a given WPMS instance. After that you are all set.

If you don’t have a site, the form branches and asks you if you want one, and then sends you to create a site.

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 12.08.11 AM

If you don’t want a site, it will ask you if you have your own and let you provide the feed:

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 12.08.24 AM

If you answer no again, well then what the hell are you doing here 🙂

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 12.08.32 AM

Once you select a site on the WPMS instance (which will be 99% of the cases for VCU students) the plugin automatically creates the appropriate category on your blogAfter that, you just need to use that category to syndicate to the motherblog, and the plugin tells you as much once you finish the form:

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 11.54.23 PM

On the other side, this plugin not only creates the category on the student’s blog, but also adds it to FeedWordpress with the proper category feed. So, when I added to the form, this plugin automatically added -how awesome is that?

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 11.55.17 PM


And that’s just one of the several cool plugins Mark Luetke has created in his short career at ALT Lab, but I’ll let this magic sink in a bit before I blog the next one 🙂 Where has he been for the past 7 or 8 years again? 🙂

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9 Responses to Syndication Made Easy for WordPress MultiSite

  1. Jaimie says:

    OMG this has users enter their own blog info, adds it to feedwordpress syndication AND categorizes feeds??!?! This would have saved me a million (ok, maybe not that many) hours. Will share with the CI faculty group! 🙂

    • Reverend says:

      Yeah, this is a pretty awesome plugin, and it works solid. However, this doesn;t necessarily work for a domains setup because in order to create a category on their site they need to be within a common WordPress Multisite (or a network of sites on your own domain). So, in other words, student most have blogs on a multisite, not their own blogs, for the proper categories to be created for them. I think this plugin could be abstracted out pretty easily to work better with domains, and if Mark is feeling charitable, maybe he will play with that.

  2. prisoner106 says:

    Hey, Jim!

    Thanks for this post! I gave it a quick read and then linked out to check out Mark Luetke’s site. The next think I know, I’m following a link from his site back to Martha Burtis’ site to download her remote comments plugin. And now we have some comment counts showing up on


  3. prisoner106 says:

    Getting remote comments working led me towards another modification which was to explore some of @cogdog‘s Feed WordPress 101 writings around the use of the Feedwordpress Advanced Filters plugin, the Auto Post Thumbnail plugin, and the FWP+: Add Attribution plugin. I had to go back and manually re-syndicate most of the posts to get the images downloaded so that they would be available locally for use as Thumbnails. Even after that, I’ve had to attach a few of them manually. However, it seems to work automatically for new posts.

  4. luetkemj says:

    Thanks for the write up Jim! It was great to meet you the other day, looking forward to many more collaborations 🙂

  5. John Burk says:

    This plugin sounds awesome, but I’ve encountered a small error. I just set up a clean wp multisite install using Bitnami on a mac mini server, installed feedwordpress and then tried installing Motherblog, and got this error:

    Warning: require(/Applications/wordpress-4.2.3-0/apps/wordpress/htdocs/wp-content/plugins/includes/class-altlab-motherblog.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /Applications/wordpress-4.2.3-0/apps/wordpress/htdocs/wp-content/plugins/altlab-motherblog.php on line 58

    Fatal error: require(): Failed opening required '/Applications/wordpress-4.2.3-0/apps/wordpress/htdocs/wp-content/plugins/includes/class-altlab-motherblog.php' (include_path='.:/Applications/wordpress-4.2.3-0/php/lib/php') in /Applications/wordpress-4.2.3-0/apps/wordpress/htdocs/wp-content/plugins/altlab-motherblog.php on line 58

    Right now, there’s only one 1 user and 1 blog in the site.

    Sorry for posting a help request here, but if you have any quick insights into how to resolve this, I’d be grateful.

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