I was going to write this article later on in the series but as I’m sure you all know, sometimes real life throws you a curve. Sometimes you wind up away from the computer for the entire day. Sometimes you have a doctor’s appointment that winds up taking the entire day. Sometimes one of your kids gets sent home with a high fever. How about a planned vacation with the family for a few days or a week or more. And sometimes you get talked into spending seven hours painting an inner city church for a couple slices of cold pizza and a warm soda.
Let’s be honest. Running a WordPress MultiUser site takes a good amount of your time. For those who put an honest effort into setting theirs up and watching over it, it’s not something that one can throw up and forget about it. There’s checking for updates, answering support questions, testing, reviewing for security problems, looking into new features, and much more. It’s not a 24/7 job but there are those folks out there that pretty much work full time if not more on their sites. There’s even folks that for them, mu is their full time job.
But what to do when real life pulls you away. Sometimes it’s planned well in advanced. Sometimes it gets dropped into your lap with only a few moments notice. And sometimes a well meaning minister walks up to you and says “Hey, how would you like to help paint my church for me?”
On the Internet, you have what’s known as peer agreements. What they are is agreements between two or more companies where if one company has a problem of some sort, the other company fills in. Usually you see these types of agreements with backbone carriers. For example, let’s say that a company like Time Warner is having a problem with one of their backbones. Per their agreement with another company like Covad, they can go to them and request assistance. Covad would share their backbone with Time Warner until the problem was resolved. And if Covad down the road had an issue, Time Warner would return the favor.
Local newspapers have these types of agreements as well. Here in Charlotte, when the Observer has an issue with their presses, the local USAToday distributor helps out. That seems to happen about once a month it seems. The next day, the Observer runs this full page with a picture of the USAToday’s print gang thanking them for their effort and going on about how wonderful those folks are. Never seems to be that flattering of a picture though…
Most of our WordPress MultiUser installs have these types of agreements with each other. They cover for each other in case of need. A lot of the folks running MU installs on the net seem to be one man or woman operations. If something was to happen to the site administrator, without this type of agreement, there would be no one in place to back up the administrator.
Now I’m not saying that this arrangement should be used each and every day. We’ve had folks try that over on my servers. That doesn’t go over too well and folk’s feelings get hurt quite quickly. But in the case of a real emergency, it’s a blessing.
The level of access depends on how well you trust these folks. Best bet would be an agreement in place just to answer an occasional question or watch over the forums would probably be best in case of emergency or if you should happen to disappear for a bit. If you know the other person well, more access such as file level may be considered. Granted they could screw up something important on your site but you would have the same access to do that same to theirs.
What happens if you don’t have this in place if you finally get to take that week long vacation? Would forum threads be answered? What if someone finds a bug in a popular theme that makes it unusable? How about a security problem? A comment spam run or some bot setting up ten thousand splogs within a hour? What kind of mess would you find waiting for you when you got back from your week off?
Just something to think about.