It seems like every month, someone will write an article with the headline that Blogging Is Dead or in the process of dieing and discuss which services are replacing the medium. However, according to stats released by Nielsen, Blogging is gaining in popularity. This is great news for services such as WordPress.com. Be sure to read the detailed stats behind the numbers further down in their post. ∞
By Jeffro on March 15, 2012
It was’nt long ago when Posterous looked poised to take a big chunk of market share away from WordPress and other sites such as Tumblr. But alas, Posterous will become yet another internet memory as they’ve announced that the talent behind the service will now be apart of Twitter. While Posterous will remain online for the foreseeable future, users have already started flocking to different services such as WordPress.com, who have experienced a 250% increase in imports from Posterous accounts since the announcement.
By Jeffro on October 24, 2010
I received an email a few weeks ago giving me the heads up on a cool concept called WordPress Starter kits by Max Foundry. Max Foundry is in the business of of making themes, plugins, and starter kits for WordPress. While they currently don’t have any themes available for purchase or download, they do have three starter kits.
Each starter kit is free but requires you to give Max Foundry your email address before you can get access to the starter kit download links. You can choose whether or not to receive information from them in the future which is a good thing if all you really want is access to the starter kits. I decided to give the kit using the default WordPress commenting system a try. While there are three kits available with the same bundled plugins and themes, the main difference between them all is the commenting system which can be the default one in WordPress, Disqus, or IntenseDebate. On the Max Foundry website, I found the following text:
There’s no need to worry about using an old version. We’re always keeping our blog starter kits up-to-date with the latest versions of the included themes and plugins.
This was my biggest concern as in the past when plugins have been bundled with WordPress or a theme, they have been out of date. I’m happy to report that after installing the default commenting system starter kit, all of the plugins were up to date. One of the caveats however to using any of the kits available is that they install WordPress into a sub-directory called WordPress. You may be able to get around this with some finagling but I didn’t go to that extreme. I have a feeling that the sub-directory requirement may put a lot of people off since in most cases, WordPress is installed in the root directory.
While the starter kits are a nice idea, it still doesn’t get us to the holy grail of specific installation profiles. However, the starter kits are a nice way of getting a user up and running with WordPress with a selection of decent plugins to play around with as long as they don’t mind giving up their email address.
By Jeffro on August 31, 2010
I think it’s time that not only do I inform new readers but remind long time visitors that this site is my home and you’re just a guest. The WPTavern.com about page does a decent job of explaining how this site came to be and what its purpose is. WPTavern is still a project but let me explain a few things. For starters, I am not a journalist. I’ve never taken a journalist class and my role is not to be the journalist of WordPress. WPTavern is an enthusiast community about WordPress. It’s comprised of fans of the software, one of them being me. So whatever standards of journalistic quality you’d like to hold me to, get rid of them, they mean nothing.
What I do here is routinely take a look at the WordPress horizon and write about what I see. Things that are interesting to me or that I have a comment/opinion on end up as forum or blog posts. I am not officially endorsed by WordPress.org or Automattic although I do receive monetary support through display advertising by Automattic. Am I a fan boy of WordPress? My answer to that is no and my track record which is available through the WPTavern.com post archive will illustrate this. I am a person that can be swayed from one side to the other. One day, I think something is a great idea and after further discussion, I might think it’s the worst idea ever. That’s just who I am. A fan boy in my opinion is someone who tows the line and only thinks unilaterally in favor of the platform or key figure. That’s not me.
I have to admit, I think I had more fun with this hobby of writing about WordPress and what people were doing with it when I didn’t know anyone personally. For the past 2 years, I’ve worked pretty hard not to burn any bridges and directly go after anyone. In the past two weeks, I’ve been pretty grumpy and those bridges have ignited into flames. It’s hard to stay neutral and not burn those bridges when you look out at the horizon and see a bunch of asshats in the community you love to be a part of. But I can’t publicly call them asshats or describe what their doing to be asshattery because of this notion of taking the high road. While great in practice, it’s good to take a detour every once in a while. These past two weeks have been a detour for me and it feels pretty good to sling some mud where I feel it necessary. The WordPress community is made up of millions of people and only a fraction of those people are assholes, thank god for that. However, I think for now, my mudslinging is over with, at least in the public space.
So you may have heard from someone that I’m the voice of WordPress, a voice of reason, or some other title. The truth is, I didn’t ask for any of those titles and I don’t try to live up to any of them. My interviews, the way I write and the things I do regarding WordPress all stem from my own curiosity.
Over time, my goal and direction for WPTavern has changed. The past two months have been a financial break down. I’ve been working to turn WPTavern into a full-time job, a great source of income for me. It’s not working. There are numerous times in which I’ve looked at the amount of time and work I’ve put into this site, the podcast, etc and wondered if I should continue, at least at trying to make a full-time gig out of it. The choice is becoming increasingly clear in that the answer is no. So I’m currently thinking about revamping my mindset and using WPTavern as my second part-time job that brings in extra money versus having it be my primary source of income. Basically, turn the site and podcast back into a hobby that occasionally pays money. At least this way, the stress of trying to please others first rather than myself will decrease and I don’t need to worry so much about page views or artificial limitations that people have placed on me. I have thought about selling the site or disbanding it but I’m still a distant way from pulling the trigger. After all, the forum is doing very well, the site is still a good resource for many people, and I still enjoy writing about the software.
So while the drinks are still on the house, any liquid that does not make it from the cup to the mouth will be considered alcohol abuse and you’ll be charged a hefty fine.
By Jeffro on August 17, 2010
It’s time I get a few things off my chest when it comes to browsing the web. I love browsing through my feed reader to get a grasp on the various news stories surrounding WordPress and my favorite subjects and in the course of a few months, I’ve developed just a few pet peeves that really urk me. In no particular order, here they are and if you can help it, please avoid them!
Permalinks – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a great article only to discover that finding a simple URL to the post was a pain in the rear. When browsing posts in my feed reader, I typically see URLs filled with FeedBurners junk attached to them. Instead, I enjoy websites where the post title within the post acts as a permalink which is nice and clean for easy sharing.
Social Junk – Maybe I don’t get it, but I hate websites that have turned their comment section into a place to monitor social interaction. Instead of comments, I now see tweets, retweets, likes, etc. Everything is mixed together and it’s one big mess. Whatever happened to the days of seeing a great conversation take place within the comments section of a site and being able to easily participate in it? I salute those who have resisted the temptation to put that garbage within your comments section. However, I have no qualms of a smart comment form where reactions from specific services are tabbed based. For example, Comments Tab, Facebook Tab, Twitter Tab, etc. Having everything show up in the comment form is just a poor way to go about it.
I’ll Share It My Way – Of all the ways to share content, I’ve typically only used one method presented on a website and that was the old-fashioned, Email Story method. A long time ago, I used to hit the Digg button if it was displayed on the article I was reading but I haven’t had anything to do with Digg for a long time. Also, I’ve yet to read any articles of major websites providing an analysis of just how much their sharing buttons are used. Typically when I’m browsing through my feed reader, I have my preferred Twitter client opened so that if I find something interesting, I shorten the clean permalink and Tweet it, no buttons necessary. I’ll also send an email manually when I have Thunderbird open but I’ll look to see if the Email link is present within the article before I do that. If sharing buttons work for you to get more traffic, good on you but I tend to think that not many people use them.
WordPress.com Pop Up Links – While I don’t come across them all the time, those pop-ups that occur on various WordPress.com hosted sites are incredibly annoying. Not only that, but when you try to copy the URL, it adds that pop-ups URL stuff into it and in order to get the correct URL, you have to visit the linked site and grab it from there.
As for WPTavern.com, I’m sure some of you have the pet peeve that I don’t have any way to access the various categories that are written about on the site. It’s been like that for a while and I assure you, I’m looking into it. From playing around with the WordPress menu system, it doesn’t have an easy way to add a category drop down menu item to an existing menu. It’s either some categories, all categories, or nothing.
These are just a few of the pet peeves I have that get me all the time. Everyone has web site pet peeves so tell me, what’s yours?
By Jeffro on January 25, 2010
Alex Denning of WPShout.com has published his thoughts on SEO and I tend to agree with all of them. I laugh at those who spend every waking moment optimizing everything they can simply to please those spiders that crawl over content. I consider some aspects of SEO to just be common sense. I use some of that common sense on WPTavern.com by using the Google XML sitemaps plugin because it makes it easier to index articles across the site. This is the only SEO specific plugin I use. As for pretty permalinks, I use %postname% not so much for SEO purposes, but because it keeps the URL short and human readable. When I write content, I do so in a way that comes natural. I don’t use certain words over others because they taste better to the spiders. I write as a human for other humans. The tags are just words that I’ve used in the article to help create some sort of relevance between articles around the same topic. I don’t treat them as meta keywords. As for the theme that I use, Hybrid News has a few different options on Meta information and indexing that I use but I don’t even understand what the options do.
I don’t dismiss everything around SEO as junk, I just think it’s better for everyone, including Google if humans come first before spiders. This site has a page rank of 5, an Alexa Ranking below 30,000 and has a devoted fan base all accomplished without any SEO trickery. Search engines also make up a bulk of the traffic this site receives. This must mean I’m doing something right as Google and other search engines have no problem pointing searchers to WordPress articles on WPTavern that are relevant to their search query. My general advice for SEO is to do a few little things to get started but write for people first, SEO will follow.
By Jeffro on January 25, 2010
I’ve recently had to deal with the reoccurring issue of having games installed on the same PC I use to do work. Kristen Nicole has a good article on BloggingTips.com that provides some tips on how bloggers can be more efficient when it comes to writing from home. I write most of the content for this website from home, on my desktop PC. Unfortunately, games such as Battlefield 2142, QuakeLive, etc are also installed on the same computer. These games are pretty fun to play and I’ve already wasted a few workdays this year playing games instead of writing content. So the other day, I’ve finally realized that I’m not responsible enough to work on the same PC that has my favorite games installed on it so, I removed the games. A drastic move but one I had to make so that I am not even tempted to launch the game instead of type away at the keyboard. So far, it’s worked. I’d like to build myself a computer that is for recreational use but I don’t have the space or the money yet.
Now I need to find a way to ban myself from YouTubes related video section and I’ll be super efficient! Just kidding of course.
By Jeffro on December 6, 2009
At A Glance:
This theme is compatible with WordPress 2.8.6 and was released by Kevin Muldoon of BloggingTips.com. This theme has two columns, one for content and one for the sidebar with the option of splitting the sidebar into two narrow columns.
The Personal WordPress theme is licensed under the GPL and is available for $49.95.
Installation of this theme was painless although I did run into one hiccup. On my local server, I use the WP-PageNavi plugin to handle page navigation. When I installed the Personal Blog theme, I ended up seeing the white screen of death. Here is the error I received after I enabled plugins one by one to locate the issue.
Plugin could not be activated because it triggered a fatal error.
Fatal error: Cannot redeclare wp_pagenavi() (previously declared in
C:\wamp\www\wp-content\plugins\wp-pagenavi\wp-pagenavi.php on line 180
After getting in touch with Kevin, he let me know that information will be added to the F.A.Q. that the theme uses its own page navigation feature which will most likely clash with navigational plugins. This is the only issue I’ve run into with the theme.
This has become the bread and butter of most commercial WordPress themes. This one is no exception as it provides four distinct expandable option columns for configuration as seen in the following screenshot.
The only downside I encountered with these expandable columns is that after the save button is pressed, the page is reloaded with all of the panels being closed. I’d much rather see them remain open. Changing the color scheme, fonts, etc is as simple as selecting an option from a drop down menu. This theme offers up to 10 different color schemes and provides an easy way to upload a custom background image. There are 5 different font schemes to choose from as well. If you don’t want to use normal full post listings, Personal Blogging provides options to show excerpts only or a number of posts with titles only. This provides a bit of flexibility in terms of the home page layout.
Sidebar configuration is straight forward with the option to show a bio section in the sidebar without messing with code or a text widget. There is also a place to add social media icons by adding your account link to the appropriate boxes.
As for the navigational section, there are options to show or hide the RSS/Email section. It’s nice to see a built-in way to subscribe via email. If the search box cramps the navigational menu, you can hide it in favor of using the search widget in WordPress.
Last but not least as has been standard on most WordPress themes, there are a slew of boxes to add things such as Googla Analytics code, Feedburner ID links, the ability to exclude links from the menu and footer links. Speaking of menu and footer links, I want to highlight something I have yet to come across in another theme. That is, the ability to have two navigational menus, one in the footer and one in the footer that can be controlled to show menu items in one but maybe different items in another. On WPTavern.com, I simply hard coded the links into the footer as the theme only has a way for me to easily edit what shows up in the top nav menu.
Notice how I don’t have menu item 165 in the menu links area so that it shows up in the top menu. I also have it in the footer to show up and sure enough, it’s in both menus. I can easily adjust whether to have it be on the top or bottom which is a very nice feature as most sites these days simply don’t have the room for all of the different pages and menu items created at the top of the site. An alternative to that problem is drop down menus but unless the theme has those built-in, you’ll be spending time using plugins or adding that functionality to the theme.
The only downside I see from this implementation of the idea is that end users have to figure out the ID’s for menu items they want to show or hide. I’d much rather just see a list of pages I have created and check mark the ones I want to hide in the top menu and check mark the ones I want to show in the footer. Doing things this way would add another notch to the ease of use.
Support for this theme is provided via a special section on the BloggingTips.com forum.
All in all, I didn’t encounter any issues with this theme outside of the navigational plugin conflict. I can’t comment on quality of code since I don’t know enough to warrant a good opinion but the theme works as is. I think there is enough flexibility in this theme between color schemes and font choices where it wouldn’t take much to create a personal blogging theme design of your own. If you want to see the theme in action, check out the demo.
If you decide to purchase this theme, please consider doing so through this link where I’ll receive $19.98 or 40% per sale.
Also, Kevin has allowed me to give away a few copies of this theme. If you are interested in obtaining this theme, let me know why in the comments and you just may get a copy complete with support forum access.
By Jeffro on September 7, 2009
Paul Boutin over at VentureBeat gives us a look at how the NYTimes uses WordPress for their blogging needs. Paul explains the process of getting a post published onto Gadgetwise which is a blog focused on teaching people how to buy and use stuff. The process is similar to a newspaper only more streamlined. Before a post hits the public’s eyes, it goes through something called a Division Of Labor. This is a team of people with expertise on a particular aspect of a blog post whether it be image display or editing. This really gives the writer the chance to focus on what they do best. Write.
The only troublesome thing about the article is the screenshot of WordPress. According to that backend user interface, Paul had to have been using a version within the 2.6 branch. Either that is an old screenshot or that site is using a fairly old version of the software. Not good considering the recent worm attacks going around.
I viewed the source and indeed, the site is running WordPress 2.6.5.
By Jeffro on August 4, 2009
Alex Denning over at WPHacks.com has a poll running right now that asks the question, What Comment Types Do You Approve? I’ve taken notice of the different way I handle comments now a days. There are a few things that come into play regarding whether I approve, delete, or spam a comment. First is the content. This is usually a give in and easy to tell whether it’s legitimate or not. The second is the URL. One thing I’ve started doing to combat human spammers who publish semi relevant material in order to get their URL across is to de-link them, then publish their content. I love doing this as it’s like laughing in their face. Third is the type of mood I’m in. Usually, I’ll just delete comments with URL’s I don’t want on this blog. Other times, I’ll mark them as spam. However, one thing I don’t do anymore is mark EVERYTHING as spam.
I’m at this stage of my blogging cycle that bumping up the comment count is something I’m not interested in doing anymore. I still get excited though when I receive new legitimate comments, especially from folks who hang around this area of the web and especially from new comers. If something doesn’t have comments, then so be it. I’ll move on to the next item and see what becomes of it.