I’ve decided regretfully that WordPress MU is not suitable for our application. It apparently does what it is designed for well. Unfortunately what it does is not what I want done.
WPMU is a wrapper around WordPress that allows a single WP installation to support ridiculous numbers of blogs in a single DNS tree. That is Fredsblog.example.com and Gailsblog.example.com and on and on. What I want is a cms to help me run mackhillfarm.com and textualforests.com and therichards.org and several others. The WPMU FAQ and puffery implies that this is easy. It is not.
There are howtos and even a plugin. The plugin randomly drops ‘.’s when creating read-only strings. The howtos list every setting the writer had to change. (95% of the time by editing the database in phpMyAdmin or the like.) Of course my setup always needed something else as well. And the WPMU dev team, despite being the source of the puffery, is snooty rather than helpful.
I’ve googled around, and all of the CMS suitable for sites with a few thousand hits a day are in roughly equivalent states. eg Drupal seems to have the multi-site thing working, but its’ blog capabilities are not quite mediocre, and the dev team is planning to get around to upgrading them first thing in 2012.
So I’ll be going back to installing WordPress once per site. Boring, but safe.