Aussie govt’s shared WP platform

Courtesy of a retweet via @DirDigEng, I see the Australians have launched a shared WordPress platform for use by government agencies. The installation, known as Govspace, was apparently opened in May this year, and currently claims to be supporting 30 ‘spaces’ (ie blogs) – some of which, I think, have been imported from other installations.

At first glance, it seems to be a pretty straightforward v3.0 multisite build, running on Apache – so I’m not sure I’d agree with the suggestion that it’s its ‘own version’ of WordPress. But there’s some nice customisation in terms of themes: agencies are offered a selection of government-branded custom themes, although many appear to have brought their own; and there are some quite nice-looking (but sadly unreleased) in-house plugins – plus a set of pre-installed third-party plugins (not all of which I’d agree with, FYI). Full details on the Features page.

(They’ve helpfully included a screengrab of an options page: here, and in a few other front-end areas, you can see a continued reliance on pre-v3 workarounds, where new features such as custom menus, post types and taxonomies would probably help. And I’m not sure I’d have left sign-up so open, but there you go.)

As some of you will be all too aware (!), I’ve been lobbying for precisely this kind of setup in the UK for more than three years – see this post from 2008 as an example. Perhaps three years ago might have been too early; but now, with multisite built into ‘normal’ WordPress v3.0, and with the drive to cut costs, surely it’s an idea whose time has come.

I’m still hearing rumours of greater centralisation for government web activity, probably within an expanded Cabinet Office operation: that would be the natural home for any such initiative. And as I’ve written here before, a well-structured, well-managed multisite install could offer a perfect blend of control and flexibility.

Of course I’d be keen to discuss it. 😉