Categories
Blogging Updates WordPress

Fall in love with WordPress again with WordPress 4.0

Hello!

So as I said, hello! I wanted to make an entrance, since it has been 7 weeks since I wrote an article!

I also wanted to show off how brilliant WordPress 4.0 is, by adding a YouTube video. I literally just added the URL to the post and voilà, the video appears then and there in WordPress as I am writing this article. No need to preview the post or wait for it to go live, I add the URL and the video is there straight away!

Why that video though? Well I am back, and WordPress has just been given a bit of rejig with the release of 4.0 – named Benny.

So, we are going to save the world and their will be a good dose of cool cars, gadgets and weapons, mixed with a bit of humour along the way.

Alright, this is quite tenuous, maybe I just wanted to put the video in because I could. I did because I could.

It’s all well and good being serious with this blogging malarkey, but one needs to let ones hair down once in a while, and a funky friendly post is a good way to do that. Probably.

WordPress is fantastic. In my humble opinion, no other blogging platform comes close, let alone another free, open source one!

This is a bit of a non-post of ramblings, but trust me, there is better stuff to come.

You are still reading anyway, aren’t you?

Categories
Blogging WordPress

Don’t underestimate Jetpack

Jetpack is a WordPress plugin that lets you access many of the features which come inbuilt with a WordPress.com site, on a WordPress.org installation. Historically plugins have just one function, however Jetpack is a combination of plugins which can perform a huge range of actions.

Plugins on Steroids

Jetpack by WordPress.comOne way of describing Jetpack is plugins on steroids. Jetpack makes it really easy to access loads of the great features available through WordPress, all in one simple package.

Jetpack creates its own area in WordPress Admin (wp-admin) where you can learn about, configure and activate/deactivate different elements of the plugin.

You don’t have to activate all of Jetpacks elements, you can use as many or few elements as you choose. Like with every plugin, every extra function of Jetpack you activate will have a small affect on your blog’s speed, so only use the ones that work for you.

The Future of Plugins

The way Jetpack sets out all the different plugins and makes it so easy for users to configure them is a great leap forward for WordPress. Currently the wp-admin plugins page is quite boring, and it can be hard to find the plugin you want fast. I feel that a Jetpack style interface could significantly improve usability, and generally make plugins more fun.

A screenshot of Jetpack's plugins
A screenshot of the different plugins and settings Jetpack includes.

Could a future version of the CMS use a Jetpack like style to display plugins? Maybe.

Features

Here are some of the many features that Jetpack includes:

  • WordPress.com Stats – On-site analytics for your site. Personally I feel server side analytics and more detailed external statistic managers (like Google Analytics) are better than Jetpack’s version, however nonetheless many people find it is an easier, free alternative.
  • Publicise – This enables you to post your articles to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tubmlr. The great thing about Publicise is that it only publishes when your articles go live – so it works on scheduled posts too 🙂
  • Spelling and Grammar – Simple yet advanced spell checking for content. I use Firefox’s default spell checking software, and Jetpacks version is slightly annoying, so this is disabled on Technology Bloggers!
  • WP.me Shortlinks – An easy inbuilt URL shortener. Using the WP.me URL shortener helps to keep short URLs tidy, as having too many from too many different sites can look messy.
  • Infinite Scroll – This is a feature that I personally dislike – a lot! It enables you to have a bottomless page, so once uses get to the bottom, it loads more articles. This can effectively put your entire blog on one page. I don’t like bottomless pages, they drive me mad, so if you want me to visit your site, keep this option off 😉
  • Sharing – Technology Bloggers uses the Sharing feature to power the share buttons at the bottom of each article. I have removed the standard buttons and replaced them with more minimal, stylish buttons. The sharing feature is truly great, and is a lightweight way of combining many network sharing plugins.
  • Omnisearch – A fantastic and really simple way to search wp-admin.
Technology Bloggers share buttons
Technology Bloggers new share buttons – found at the bottom of every article.

Give It A Go

I didn’t think I would like Jetpack, and at first I didn’t. After reading a bit about its features and how good it can be, I thought I would give it a go. I now love it!

I love the flexibility that it offers, in that you can have as many or few elements active as you choose. Technology Bloggers only uses 4 of the 27 functions, and that works fine for us. On my personal philosophy blog, I also use Jetpack and have 8 of the 27 elements active; it is a different blog which benefits from different plugins.

Do you use Jetpack?

Your thoughts are welcome as always 🙂

Categories
Blogging Internet WordPress

Is a lazy website key to online success?

Speed matters. Once upon a time, if a business had a website, it was revolutionary. Now in many cases if a business doesn’t have a website, it will usually suffer as a result.

When the internet was in its infancy, speed wasn’t really on the agenda. If your site loaded super fast (remember we are still in the days of 56kbps/dial-up internet access here) great. If it didn’t, people would be prepared to wait.

Nowadays there are so many different websites offering such similar information, if your site is slow, your traffic (or as I prefer to call it visitor numbers, or even better: people) will suffer as a result. There are countless studies into this, almost all of which conclude that the slower a site is, the fewer visitors it has.

Furthermore, speed is starting to become an evermore important search engine ranking factor – if your site is slow, you are less likely to rank at the top.

Okay, you get the point: today speed matters.

The problem with many websites is that they have so much to load. When you load our homepage, it isn’t just a few lines of HTML that your browser requests from our server, it also fetches a handful of local CSS, JavaScript and PHP files, in addition to bunch of images and some large chunks of external code, which are used to generate social media buttons.

This all takes time, and every extra byte and file that is requested will slow down the page load time.

Slim Down

One way to reduce the size of the page is to reduce the amount of files – and the size of those files – that are fetched. We make every effort to ensure that our locally loaded scripts are as condensed as possible, so your browser doesn’t have to request dozens of files, just one or two.

We have also combined several images into one file (a CSS sprite), again, so your browser has to fetch fewer files. Take a look at the image below for an example.

CSS sprite social media
Technology Bloggers social icons CSS sprite.

The trouble is, we only have control over internal files. I can’t go and reduce the Tweet button script and add it to one of our existing files, as it is controlled by Twitter, and served via their servers.

Lazy Loading Images

Sometimes slimming down isn’t enough, so one way to prevent the initial load becoming verbose is to delay the loading of images not in view. We use a WordPress plugin called Lazy Load, which only loads images just before they come into view. So if the page has five megabytes of images to load, and four are below the fold, then when the page loads, you will only have to wait for one megabytes worth of images to load; if you don’t scroll down, the other four never get loaded.

Lazy loading images can significantly help improve page load time, as images are usually the biggest files that a website loads, so only loading the vital ones really speeds things up!

Lazy Loading Social Buttons

As I mentioned above, one of the biggest strains on loading is external code, specifically social buttons and sharing buttons.

For a long time now, the ability to offer you the potential to share content and follow us via social media has come at a high price – in terms of loading time. However after a lot of coding and hours of tweaking, our social buttons are now just a tiny (in size) image.

If you take a look at our sidebar, the social buttons sill look very similar to before – Facebook like, Twitter follow and Google Plus recommend all still there – however they now only load the external scripts if you mouse over them. This removes a huge delay when you first load a page, and means we can provide these buttons on every page of the site, with a much smaller speed loss.

At the top of articles, the social buttons there now also load lazily, and only fetch code from the networks when you mouse over the button images.

Lazy loading sharing buttons.
Technology Bloggers delayed loading social buttons.

Lazy loading social media buttons has dramatically improved the speed of Technology Bloggers, and still enables you to share content when and how you choose.

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What is your view on delayed loading?

Categories
Blogging Fun WordPress

My First Year as a Technology Blogger

Last week was my blogger birthday, on Friday I was one year old. Once I had decided to start writing I had to look for a place to publish. As always I started with Google.

I wanted to write about innovation and technology but from the particular point of view of ethics and responsibility, so I chose my list of search terms. Technology had to be in there, as did blog or blogger, maybe science too, so in they all went.

Several blogs came out, Technology Blogs being the first, followed by Technology Bloggers, a relatively new website in those days. I had a look at the content and the rules of engagement and decided that I should try with them.

And here was my first lesson. I found this blog because of its name. I had never even been on a blog let alone post a comment, so Tech Crunch, Technocrati and the others were not in my vocabulary, nor my search terms. If you want people to find your blog you should choose the name well.

Author Jonny Hankins
Here I am (without make-up)

As I said I was new to the business, I had never used WordPress and never posted anything. Although I had published on the net I had never done it myself, the Foundation that employs me has a Webmaster so I was never allowed to touch the controls myself.

This factor was not a problem in my first posts. I managed to get the body of the text uploaded and Christopher from Admin did the rest. After a couple of months the very same Christopher asked me if I would like to apply for author status. What this means to the uninitiated is you get your hands on the controls.

It took several attempts I might add to get a grasp of them. One problem is the language, norms and technicalities. Tags, links in the piece, correctly titled and opening in new windows, pictures with the right links, excerpts and categories to decide and formulate.

Fortunately Christopher is a patient and gallant man, so one error at a time and over a period of a couple of months I made less and less mistakes, and now I can do it myself.

I really enjoyed my first posts, I started with the problems created by improvements in prosthetic limb technology, they might actually be better than the natural version.

A rather ironic post followed about US immigration and then I got down to some serious and regular writing.

4 months after my first post Christopher suggested the possibility of writing a series, so I opted for a 6 week long series about the health of the planet. At this point I began to triangulate my blog writing with my work and include links to several articles that were posted on my work site. I also produced an Issuu booklet using both my work and the Technology Bloggers logos.

I have continued to link my different communication forms together as it seems advantageous to all concerned. My work website benefits from readers that follow the links here and likewise in reverse. I have also written a few articles for an innovation blog called Innovation Excellence, and although the topics are different they are related enough to allow links to the other portals, and again all benefit.

The series took a lot of work, but once it was finished I did not want to fall out of the weekly routine so I continued to write every week. My posts have in general got shorter, partly through necessity but also through choice. I can cover a lot of different subject matter and ask questions in a few hundred words that I would have wound into much more complex pieces a few months ago.

Comments are the thing that make blogging so interesting a pastime. I always try to reply to as many as possible. Sometimes though I write something that receives very few comments and this disappoints me. They are often posts that refer to complex debates however and not easy to comment on, given the format of the comment system.

This is my 39th article for technology Bloggers, a fair body of work if put together and an enjoyable project. If anyone reading this is thinking or has ever thought about writing I would personally urge you on. It is very satisfying when someone takes the time to read your production and comment upon it.

Roll on another year and thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment, and to Christopher for the patience, encouragement and expertise.

Categories
Blogging Festive Updates WordPress

Let it snow!

There are just 15 days to go before Christmas now, and I am a little behind on the old Christmas shopping – this one seems to have crept up rather quickly!

Trees in Lapland covered in snowTo get in the festive spirit, Technology Bloggers is now experiencing snow showers! Its winter (in the northern hemisphere at least) and in winter, it snows, therefore I thought it appropriate to let it snow on Technology Bloggers.

To create the snow, I am using a very clever little plugin called: Let it snow!


Let is snow! is a really easy to use and customise plugin. Just install the plugin via WordPress (or download it and then upload it to your site) and then click ‘Activate’. You then get snow on your blog, and it is that easy!

The plugin also creates a useful and really easy to use settings tab. Just look down the left hand side of your WordPress menu and find Let It Snow! There you can customise things like whether the snow follows the mouse, sticks to the bottom of the screen, how much snow their is, etc.

Why not give it a go on your own blog, its easy to do, and doesn’t actually appear to affect the performance of your site very much at all!

If anyone is experiencing lag (I am not) please don’t hesitate to contact me 🙂

Merry Christmas everyone, stick with us for a fantastic future 🙂

Categories
How To Guides WordPress

WordPress Security Tips – Safeguard Your Blog

I recently came a cropper to a hacker on a WordPress Blog I was setting up – luckily I’d backed everything up, but what if I hadn’t? Well, I’d have likely lost everything.

Now the hacking was partly my own fault for not putting the right measures in place. This got me wondering about how many other webmasters fail to implement basic security measures that could save them a lot of trouble in the future.

So without further ado lets look at my top WordPress security tips. I’ll also point you in the direction of a few WordPress Security plugins that I’ve discovered that do a great job of adding that second line of defence.

Don’t Use Admin as a Username

Let’s start simple – the default username in WordPress is “admin” – don’t use this! It’s the first username that all hackers will try, and allows them to a launch a brute force attack, which simply means a bot that tries multiple attempts at guessing your password.

This is probably one of the most common types of hacks out there and it still works. As a second line of defence I’d install a handy plugin called Login Lockdown, basically it records IP addresses of all failed login attempts, if a lot are cropping up in a short time frame it bans all IP addresses from that range. It also goes without saying use a strong password.

Change the WordPress Table Prefix

This involves changing another WordPress default that makes it harder for a hacker to attack your blog via a SQL injection. The table prefixes are defaulted to wp_ – they are easy to change in your wp-config.php file prior to installation.

However, if you have a site that’s already installed and you’re trying to secure that – I recommend using the WP Security Scan Plugin to do so. Remember to take a backup before you change anything – it’s good practice! The WP security scan has a number of cool features (such as removing the WordPress version in the source code) so it’s definitely worth installing.

Technology Bloggers WebsiteDefenderDon’t forget to use secret keys

I have a friend who works for a hosting company – and he revealed it’s amazing how many people forget to use secret keys. Now if you’ve installed WordPress via Fantastico or some other quick install tool that your hosting company provides they should automatically include these.

The hashing salt keys make your password even more secure. To make sure you’re using them – visit https://api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.1 to generate your keys, and then put them in your wp-config.php file – you’ll spot them easily.

Secure your wp-admin folder

I missed this out when installing my blog and it’s another security tip that many webmasters fail to implement. The wp-admin folder is very important and if a hacker gets into that then they’re going to cause some serious damage.

This involves using a .htaccess file to prevent access. You have two options here – you can prevent access by only allowing certain IP addresses (which isn’t ideal if you have a dynamic IP or work form multiple locations or on the move) or you can use a .htpassword file.

To use the IP address method simply create an .htaccess file and paste in the code below (switching the xxx for your IP address) then upload it to your wp-admin folder:

AuthUserFile /dev/null
AuthGroupFile /dev/null
AuthName "Access Control"
AuthType Basic
order deny,allow
deny from all
#IP address to Whitelist
allow from xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx

You can add multiple lines of IP addresses if you want. If your site has multiple writers posting – like Technology Bloggers or accepts guest posts then it’s unlikely this method is viable.

If that’s the case use the .htpassword method – there’s a useful tutorial here: htaccess Files and WordPress Security.

Keep WordPress up to date

This seems obvious but a lot of people forget to upgrade their WordPress. Maybe through fear of breaking something or perhaps just laziness.

The majority of WordPress upgrades are made to increase security and patch up known vulnerabilities. So backup your install and upgrade to the latest version when they’re available.

Keep regular backups

Sometimes no matter how many security measures you have in place, a hacker it still able to get through, maybe through a plugin that contains an exploit.

In this case, you have to take regular backups as the last line of defence. Perhaps through the use of a plugin, or via your host. You can schedule them to run on a daily basis and then be emailed to you.

Having to restore a backup is probably a worse case scenario, but believe me, it’s far easier than having to re-setup your entire blog and redo blog posts from Googles cached pages.

What are your favourite WordPress security methods? Are there some great plugins that I’ve missed? Please let me know in the comments section below.

Categories
Blogging WordPress

Must have WordPress plugins

Many blogs like to publish a list of their favourite plugins. This often helps readers find new, exciting plugins that they too can use. Therefore I have decided that I should do the same on behalf of Technology Bloggers. Here is my (Christopher Roberts) list of ‘must have’ WordPress plugins 🙂

User Role Editor

In no particular order, my first must have WordPress plugin is User Role Editor. This is a very useful plugin if you run a blog with multiple users, as it allows you to change account type (e.g. contributor, author etc.) privileges, and even create whole new types of account.

A great example of when I have used this plugin is when Matt has been helping me with some ‘behind the scenes’ coding. I needed help to fix some bugs, so I created a new user account type called ‘Matt’. I then changed Matt’s account from ‘contributor’ status to ‘Matt’ status. Matt was then able to fiddle around with the plugins and blog code, whilst not being able to change any comments, posts or pages. When he was finished, I changed his privileges back to ‘contributor’.

You could also use this plugin to give users extra abilities, for example you could let them moderate comments, or upload media. All contributors by default WordPress settings can’t upload media, a real issue for a blog like ours. A quick user role edit later and everyone can now add pictures, video and music to their posts. 🙂


CommentLuv

CommentLuv is a really great plugin which enables you to give a little bit extra back to your commenters, by giving them a link back to one of their most recent posts at the end of each comment.The CommentLuv LogoI have written about CommentLuv before, so I don’t intend to go into any depth about it here. If you want to know more check out my post on why you should use CommentLuv.

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (GASP)

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (or as it is also know, GASP) is one of the very best plugins you can use to combat spam.

Here at Technology Bloggers we get hundreds of comments every month, but I am sure that we would get thousands more if we didn’t have such a good spam filter. Of the comments that we get I would estimate that around 10% are spam. If Technology Bloggers stopped using Akismet and and GASP, then I think we would see our comments double, but the extra ones would all be spam.

GASP places the tickbox (or checkbox for my American friends) that you see underneath the comment box. Logged in users need not worry about this, but users who are not logged in will need to make sure that they tick this box (and they will be prompted if they don’t) in order to make sure that their comment is approved.

Akismet then helps us out by throwing any user written/generated potentially spammy comments into the spam folder. We can review these and it is then much easier to sift through and fish out any good comments which may have got caught up.

Akismet is good, and very useful, but if you really want to stop spam, I would always make sure you have GASP.

ReplyMe

I have written an article about ReplyMe before, giving an explanation of what it does, who uses it and why it is useful. To briefly sum it up it is a plugin which sends commenters an email when someone replies to their comment, helping to improve the blog’s community. For more information please check out our ReplyMe article.

The ReplyMe (Plugin) LogoPrettier Trackbacks

Some themes present trackbacks just the way you want them to, other themes unfortunately don’t. The way I like trackbacks is the post title linked to the article that sits amongst the comments. Our current theme shows some text from the article too, which can look good, but often doesn’t.

Prettier Trackbacks displays trackbacks the way I like them, and with a bit of editing/tweaking, you can make it show them just about anyway you want!

Move WordPress Comments

The next plugin on my list is Move WordPress Comments. Have you ever had someone comment in reply to someone else, but they forgot to hit the reply button, or have you ever done it yourself? If the answer is yes, then this plugin is a very useful one indeed!

What the Move WordPress Comments plugin does is put a few extra details an options below comments in the dashboard and on the blog. These details are the comment’s number, the post number and the parent comment’s number.

If the commenter has published their comment on the wrong post, just simply change the post number and click ‘move’ and the comment will shoot off to the correct post.

If the commenter has published the comment in reply to someone, but hasn’t joined the comment to the parent comment, then all you need to do is scroll up to the parent comment and find out what number it is. You then take the parent comment’s number, put it in the reply/child comment’s ‘parent comment’ box and click move.

Confused? Check out the images below 🙂

A comment isn't threaded onto it's parent
The second comment is in reply to the first, however it is not threaded - to solve this just take the parent comment's number and then put it in the 'Parent Comment' box on the reply comment and click 'Move'
A threaded comment
Et voilà! The reply comment is now threaded under the parent comment!

Digg Digg

Digg Digg is a really great plugin if you like to make your blog ‘social media friendly’! At the top of every article Technology Bloggers displays Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook buttons, so that you can easily share our content.

Technology Bloggers Digg Digg Social Media Share Buttons
Technology Bloggers social media share buttons, as provided by Digg Digg

This is all thanks to Digg Digg which gives you more social media buttons and options than you could shake a stick at! If you want to create a social media friendly blog, Digg Digg is one of the best plugins out there!

Top Commentators Widget

WordPress’s Top Commentators Widget is definitely one of the best plugins I have ever installed. It gives you the ability to thank your commenters by adding a widget to the sidebar (or in our case the footer navigation) of your blog, which displays your site’s top commenters, however you like!

Top Commenters Screenshot - as it appeared on the 17th October 2011It has loads of easy to customise options. You can choose how many commenters get shown, how long names can be before they are replaced with an ellipsis. You can also choose if names are hyperlinked, show the individuals Gravatar, how big that avatar is, whether an award icon is shown by commenters with more than a certain number of comments, how often the list refreshes, etc.

There are more!

Listed above are some of the very best plugins I have ever used. Despite this, there are many other great plugins that I haven’t included, for fear of making this article university paper length! Lets save them for another time.

So, what plugins do you use? Why do you like them? Are you going to try any of the plugins above? Do any of them look interesting/useful?

Talk to me below 🙂

Categories
Blogging WordPress

Must have WordPress plugins

Many blogs like to publish a list of their favourite plugins. This often helps readers find new, exciting plugins that they too can use. Therefore I have decided that I should do the same on behalf of Technology Bloggers. Here is my (Christopher Roberts) list of ‘must have’ WordPress plugins 🙂

User Role Editor

In no particular order, my first must have WordPress plugin is User Role Editor. This is a very useful plugin if you run a blog with multiple users, as it allows you to change account type (e.g. contributor, author etc.) privileges, and even create whole new types of account.

A great example of when I have used this plugin is when Matt has been helping me with some ‘behind the scenes’ coding. I needed help to fix some bugs, so I created a new user account type called ‘Matt’. I then changed Matt’s account from ‘contributor’ status to ‘Matt’ status. Matt was then able to fiddle around with the plugins and blog code, whilst not being able to change any comments, posts or pages. When he was finished, I changed his privileges back to ‘contributor’.

You could also use this plugin to give users extra abilities, for example you could let them moderate comments, or upload media. All contributors by default WordPress settings can’t upload media, a real issue for a blog like ours. A quick user role edit later and everyone can now add pictures, video and music to their posts. 🙂


CommentLuv

CommentLuv is a really great plugin which enables you to give a little bit extra back to your commenters, by giving them a link back to one of their most recent posts at the end of each comment.The CommentLuv LogoI have written about CommentLuv before, so I don’t intend to go into any depth about it here. If you want to know more check out my post on why you should use CommentLuv.

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (GASP)

Growmap Anti Spambot Plugin (or as it is also know, GASP) is one of the very best plugins you can use to combat spam.

Here at Technology Bloggers we get hundreds of comments every month, but I am sure that we would get thousands more if we didn’t have such a good spam filter. Of the comments that we get I would estimate that around 10% are spam. If Technology Bloggers stopped using Akismet and and GASP, then I think we would see our comments double, but the extra ones would all be spam.

GASP places the tickbox (or checkbox for my American friends) that you see underneath the comment box. Logged in users need not worry about this, but users who are not logged in will need to make sure that they tick this box (and they will be prompted if they don’t) in order to make sure that their comment is approved.

Akismet then helps us out by throwing any user written/generated potentially spammy comments into the spam folder. We can review these and it is then much easier to sift through and fish out any good comments which may have got caught up.

Akismet is good, and very useful, but if you really want to stop spam, I would always make sure you have GASP.

ReplyMe

I have written an article about ReplyMe before, giving an explanation of what it does, who uses it and why it is useful. To briefly sum it up it is a plugin which sends commenters an email when someone replies to their comment, helping to improve the blog’s community. For more information please check out our ReplyMe article.

The ReplyMe (Plugin) LogoPrettier Trackbacks

Some themes present trackbacks just the way you want them to, other themes unfortunately don’t. The way I like trackbacks is the post title linked to the article that sits amongst the comments. Our current theme shows some text from the article too, which can look good, but often doesn’t.

Prettier Trackbacks displays trackbacks the way I like them, and with a bit of editing/tweaking, you can make it show them just about anyway you want!

Move WordPress Comments

The next plugin on my list is Move WordPress Comments. Have you ever had someone comment in reply to someone else, but they forgot to hit the reply button, or have you ever done it yourself? If the answer is yes, then this plugin is a very useful one indeed!

What the Move WordPress Comments plugin does is put a few extra details an options below comments in the dashboard and on the blog. These details are the comment’s number, the post number and the parent comment’s number.

If the commenter has published their comment on the wrong post, just simply change the post number and click ‘move’ and the comment will shoot off to the correct post.

If the commenter has published the comment in reply to someone, but hasn’t joined the comment to the parent comment, then all you need to do is scroll up to the parent comment and find out what number it is. You then take the parent comment’s number, put it in the reply/child comment’s ‘parent comment’ box and click move.

Confused? Check out the images below 🙂

A comment isn't threaded onto it's parent
The second comment is in reply to the first, however it is not threaded - to solve this just take the parent comment's number and then put it in the 'Parent Comment' box on the reply comment and click 'Move'
A threaded comment
Et voilà! The reply comment is now threaded under the parent comment!

Digg Digg

Digg Digg is a really great plugin if you like to make your blog ‘social media friendly’! At the top of every article Technology Bloggers displays Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook buttons, so that you can easily share our content.

Technology Bloggers Digg Digg Social Media Share Buttons
Technology Bloggers social media share buttons, as provided by Digg Digg

This is all thanks to Digg Digg which gives you more social media buttons and options than you could shake a stick at! If you want to create a social media friendly blog, Digg Digg is one of the best plugins out there!

Top Commentators Widget

WordPress’s Top Commentators Widget is definitely one of the best plugins I have ever installed. It gives you the ability to thank your commenters by adding a widget to the sidebar (or in our case the footer navigation) of your blog, which displays your site’s top commenters, however you like!

Top Commenters Screenshot - as it appeared on the 17th October 2011It has loads of easy to customise options. You can choose how many commenters get shown, how long names can be before they are replaced with an ellipsis. You can also choose if names are hyperlinked, show the individuals Gravatar, how big that avatar is, whether an award icon is shown by commenters with more than a certain number of comments, how often the list refreshes, etc.

There are more!

Listed above are some of the very best plugins I have ever used. Despite this, there are many other great plugins that I haven’t included, for fear of making this article university paper length! Lets save them for another time.

So, what plugins do you use? Why do you like them? Are you going to try any of the plugins above? Do any of them look interesting/useful?

Talk to me below 🙂

Categories
Blogging WordPress

How do you use comments?

How do you use comments? That’s my question. How do use comments on Technology Bloggers and other blogs, and are you getting the most out of your commenting experience?

In the past Kaushal has written about how to make the most out of blog commenting, and now I am going to do something similar, but in my soft of way.

So let’s focus on comments here first.

When you comment, do you ever take notice of others comments? Well if not you should! Comments often contain the most valuable content of the whole article (as I think I have said before) so it would be wise to read them.

Furthermore, making good use of the ‘Reply’ button is never a bad thing either. Not only does it show that you read others comments, but it also helps to spark conversation and ultimately relationships within the community.

The next thing to remember is that I don’t like to leave useless stuff lying around cluttering the place up. Hopefully this shows in the design of the blog, especially the comment field. This brings me onto my next point, make use of the information the blogger has given you.

Technology Bloggers Comment Form
Technology Bloggers comment form - found at the bottom of every article, and where you go to leave your contribution

Take a look at it, and you should see that it is busy, but not cluttered. Everything there is essential and telling you something.

The “we are a dofollow blog” bit tells you that you get ‘extra rewards’ for commenting here if you have a URL; the “check out the comment policy” bit lets you know that we have rules and values, and they are on show for all to see; each of the comment fields has its name and a brief description, to help you put the right thing in each box; below the post comment button is an anti-spam box, showing that we must care about your comments, and finally the CommentLuv box is there to help you squeeze the most out of your contribution.

Make use of this information, it is there to help you write the best possible comment!

What you can now do is apply this when you comment on other blogs. Okay, they may have slightly different systems and ways of doing things, but at the end of the day, they are all just helping you add your contribution.

Comment are very important, and that’s probably why I keep writing about them! Why not add a contribution now, either as a new comment or in reply so someone else’s below and demonstrate your knowledge of how to use comments?

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Blogging WordPress

Why you should use and update CommentLuv

Just to let you know this is my (Christopher Roberts’s) 50th post on Technology Bloggers!

CommentLuv is a fantastic plugin which helps commenters get more out of their commenting experience.

Technology Bloggers has the CommentLuv plugin installed and enabled. This means that when you comment here, you get to ‘show off’ one of your recent articles by ticking the CommentLuv box, and because we are a dofollow blog, that also gives you a dofollow link back to your article.

I believe that using CommentLuv makes your commenting system more fair, and therefore increases your commenters, good PR and subsequently traffic.


As a commenter, to use it all you need to do is input your URL in the normal URL field, and then tick the CommetLuv box. If you are a registered CommentLuv member then the plugin will go to your feed and bring up your latest posts. If you are not registered, it will spider your site for an RSS feed and then return the posts from that.

So CommentLuv is great for commenters and blogger. But what’s the customer service like? Well the reply to that is fantastic!

Earlier in the week there was a CommentLuv update (2.90.8) but all wasn’t good. On Wednesday I realised that all comments were showing the CommentLuv text, even if the CommentLuv box was not ticked, or a URL present.

I fiddled with the settings, but it didn’t seem to work. So I contacted the CommentLuv team for support. Now in the past I have contacted plugin owners and it has been weeks until I got a response. However it took Andy Bailey (the plugin author) just 11 minutes!

He left a comment and saw the problem.

Andy Bailey's comment showing the CommentLuv faultHe then quickly updated the plugin and sent me it via email, asking me to beta test it, to check the issue was resolved. His second comment (below) shows that it was 🙂

Andy Bailey's comment showing that CommentLuv was fixedNow unfortunately this means that you now need to update to CommentLuv 2.90.9. Okay, Technology Bloggers is to blame for the update, sorry folks, but hey, it works great here now 🙂

Going to comment? Give CommentLuv a try.
Got a blog? Why not install CommentLuv on it?
Already using CommentLuv? Please update to 2.90.9 🙂

What are your thoughts on CommentLuv?

Thank you Andy Bailey from all of us here at Technology Bloggers 🙂