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I have a website, say www.example.com, where I would like to have a few blogs owned by a few people (it isn't a blog creating site for end users though). For this, I am going to create a sub domain blog.example.com and let each user have their own folder for the blog, something like blog.example.com/userA and blog.example.com/userB. I want to use only one WordPress installation for this. Further, I want a setup where upon typing only blog.example.com, the homepage must display links to available blogs.

To get what I want, I thought of installing wordpress at the root at blog.example.com and have a single page in that blog that would link to the users' blogs.I googled and read the appropriate documents, and tried it out. However, it doesn't seem as simple as I thought.

If I install at the root, I must create user blogs at userA.blog.example.com like subdomains, which gives an ugly url. If I install in subdir, say, blog.example.com/wordpressfolder, then the blogs would have to be created at blog.example.com/wordpressfolder/userA, which gives convoluted url.

Is there a way to get what I want?

I really like to have a separate domain for blogs, but if what I want isn't feasible, I will bite the bullet and create blogs at www.example.com/blog/userA, which not that bad at the end of the day.

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What you are looking for is a WordPress network, aka WP Multi-Site. This is perfectly suited for what you have described.

You will want to pay careful attention to the type of multi-site you setup: http://codex.wordpress.org/Before_You_Create_A_Network#Types_of_multisite_network

Generally, the choice is between subdomain or subfolder for the type but you actually want subfolder, on your subdomain. This will give you the domain structure you want.

You will also be able to allow your individual blog owners to add their own external domain which can resolve directly to their blog.example.com/folder loation. This is easily accomplish with MU Domain Mapping: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-mu-domain-mapping/

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