USF using WordPress

Mark Jaquith wrote in to say “The University of South Florida in Tampa is using WordPress to run student blogs. The blogs are available to each of the school’s 42,000 students! The blogs have some pretty slick features like an included Gallery photo album, a unified login system, integration, Flickr integration, and pre-installed CSS varieties. They even provide unified RSS/Atom feeds for all of the blogs.” I don’t know what to add to that, except that this is fantastic. I wonder how long before other universities start to follow in their footsteps?

19 thoughts on “USF using WordPress

  1. I study at Warwick University (UK), which offers free blogs to students and staff. Unfortunately, the blogs are based on a bespoke system that works well enough, but is inflexible and badly designed. It would have been far better and easier to do like USF build around open source software. Ah well.

    Still, it’s been an enormous success so far. People tend to use their blogs for trivia and chit chat but there’s a fair amount of serious academic use too. I expect to see many more universities follow suit. The blogs are at

  2. The only thing about efforts like this is the necessary to have continuity in the post-graduation years. Things like this would attract a strong affinity from alumni, but not enough universities like to do that kind of thing…

  3. What is the difference between these two features:”digital photo album manager based on Gallery” and “Flickr, an online digital photo management system”. Seems a bit confusing.

  4. The difference is that one is integrated into the blog – the other other is a integrated interface to a third party product.

    I’ve yet to actually use flickr, I get the feeling I’m missing out, but I’m not entirely sure on what…

  5. This looks really interesting. According to a post in one of the USF blogs, it is based on WordPress 1.2.2. But might anyone be able to get screenshots of the interface? I’m really curious to see how exactly they’ve put together a unified interface for so many features.

  6. Hm… good question Elliott, but it appears that they do not have to:

    Does the GPL require that source code of modified versions be posted to the public?
    The GPL does not require you to release your modified version. You are free to make modifications and use them privately, without ever releasing them. This applies to organizations (including companies), too; an organization can make a modified version and use it internally without ever releasing it outside the organization.

    So apparently, because they only offer it to students at that university, it constitutes a private use, and they aren’t required to release the modified version.

  7. But it’s got a public interface, which makes it a public use, right? For instance, and all the other blogs are public… even though we can’t sign up for one, we’re still reading them. Hmmm:

    It is essential for people to have the freedom to make modifications and use them privately, without ever publishing those modifications. However, putting the program on a server machine for the public to talk to is hardly “private” use, so it would be legitimate to require release of the source code in that special case. We are thinking about doing something like this in GPL version 3, but we don’t have precise wording in mind yet.

    Guess not!

  8. I’m the developer/administrator for blog@USF. Thanks for all the comments.

    We are using the standard version WordPress 1.2.2. I wanted to keep everyone’s blog installation seperate so I can keep track of filesystem quotas with standard tools. 1.5 came out while I was developing blog@USF, so instead of starting over with 1.5, I finished up with 1.2.2. I’m going to start on blog@USF 2.0 soon and that will be based on WordPress 1.5.

    The code for blog@USF is available at (BTW, I think we should be considered as distributing the code under the GPL because my blog creation script copies an entire WordPress install into the user’s home directory, if we were using mu-wordpress, it would be a “private” use). I wasn’t thinking about the possibility that other people would want to see it when I started putting blog@USF together, so its not very pretty. You have been warned. 🙂

  9. If I wasn’t proud of my school before, I would be now. (I’m a CS/EE major at USF, running two blogs, here and here. The latter is part of blog@USF.)

    And just to satisfy my glory-hog side… I’m the one who let Mark know about blog@USF. (Specifically, I pinged something he wrote from my USF blog.)