Blogging:,, WPMU, VIP

Originally posted on 2011-06-04T13:07:00Z at

While Wordpress is a household name in the blogging community, different versions of Wordpress often confuse a lot of people. This post will look at and draw a line between,, WPMU and VIP.
Wordpress logo

The difference between Wordpress .org,, WPMU, and VIP

In order to understand all the versions of Wordpress, you need to know what is. is a free open source software that runs loads of big sites across the web, which doesn't really explain it. is a software which you install in a server to manage your website/blog.
It is a content management system (software) with thousands of plugins, themes and customizations available, that runs blogs. However, in order to use, you need to have a domain and have it hosted. This means that it needs a server to be stored in, hence for, you need to buy/register a domain name plus buy hosting services [in Kenya, you can get a domain+hosting at about Kshs. 3500 (around $40) per year, though I'd recommend use more reliable hosts like Hostgator]. And yes, it's actually that cheap. However, you'll need technical knowledge/help to properly set it up, and customize to your liking. is, basically, the core of everything Wordpress. It is a free software available for download and setup on any server.

With, the site is hosted at Wordpress. Automattic, the guys behind Wordpress, have thousands of servers and a tech team that host and manage all the sites. Hence, uses the software, hosted at Automattic. Since they provide the hosting, they give you the plugins you can use, themes you can choose, hence you can NOT download and install any other themes and plugins. There is an option of upgrading which gives you a more freedom to customize your CSS. The best thing about is that everything is free, and the worst thing is that you'll have to use their domain name. Though they also provide domain mapping, (pointing it to your own domain), it's at a price. is the easiest and fastest version for starting a blog. It's standard version is free and hosted at Automattic's servers.

Wordpress MU - Multi User

Wordpress MU, aka Wordpress Multi-User, aka WPMU, then aka Wordpress MultiSite, aka WP MS, aka MS, and that's a lot of aka's. Wordpress was started for 1 blog per installation, WPMU was started in order to allow multiple blogs in one WP installation. Not only does it allow sub-domain installs, but also the running of various domains with one WP install. WPMU started out as an independent project but eventually joined up with Wordpress and is integrated into the core install of, you just have to install the latest - has built-in support for WP MS.
Wordpress Multi-User

Multi-Blogging with WP MU

Once you've created a network, with WP Multi-Site, you can be able to set plugins, themes, customizations, and privilege for the different blog sites that you'll be hosting. Hence you'll create a environment where users can sign up for a blog and everything's all set up, but instead of using the Wordpress domain, they'll be using your domain. VIP VIP is, as the name suggests, a big deal. VIP runs very big sites like Techcrunch, TED Blog, CBS New York, GigaOm e.t.c. With VIP, you admin your site, but with Wordpress developers and servers as your resources. This is ultimately the best Wordpress package (also available for WPMU sites). It provides both hosting and support for your site. VIP

An Analogy: Assume that your blog is a computer...

Let's assume that our blog is a computer. In order to manage, and use it, we need to install an operating system, like Windows 7. I shall explain,, WPMU and VIP with operating systems in mind. [I hope the analogy is less geeky that the actual explanation :) ] As Windows 7 - Admin/Owner

Assume the Windows 7 in your computer and that you are the Admin/owner of the computer. allows you to install new programs/software, remove others, customize display, personalize wallpaper e.t.c. Meaning that with the operating system, you are the Boss of the entire system. However, you need to buy the computer to own it. You also need to know about setting up programs, upgrading (requires more technical knowledge) and you may unknowingly download/ install a virus onto your computer. Also, as it is your computer, sometimes 160 GB may not be enough for all your files. As Windows 7 - on a Guest Account

Now assume you have a friend, and that his/her computer has unlimited hard disk memory (say, 2 Terabytes) and that s/he is a tech whiz. Then, your friend adds you as a guest on his computer. Which means you get all the services FREE, you just have to sign in. Now that's is the powerful Windows 7 you're on, but as a guest. Everything's been setup and all technically (coding, security..) done behind-the-scenes. You just enter and use. The problem is that, 1. It is not your computer (not your domain name) 2. You can not install new programs, though you can customize some things, as allowed by your friend.

WPMU: Your Windows 7 with Guest Accounts

Remember the friend with the powerful computer (at Now imagine you also have a powerful computer and that you want to share with your many friends, just like does with his. With WPMU you can set everything for your friends, what customizations they can do, e.t.c. In return they can log in to your site hence: the computer/Windows 7 is yours. VIP: Having Windows 7 techies build what you want

Remember, the friend with the big computer, the one who's also a tech whiz? Well, now you approach the friend and ask for all their services and computer, at a price (a big, nice one). With VIP, your friend will provide you with their very powerful computer and services 24/7. And you're still the administrator of the Windows 7, meaning you can install as many programs as you want. Hence VIP is your Windows 7 with support and resources of your tech whiz friend.

Choosing a Wordpress Version:

If you just need a simple blog, at no price, is your choice. For a community site with lots of bloggers WPMU is the option, and if you've enough cash, consider VIP; however the most popular choice and one I'd recommend is running Wordpress on your own domain (