The following are my tips and recommendations to help you get the most out of WordPress, be it on WordPress.com or the full version of WordPress as presented to hundreds of WordPress fans at WordCamp Israel (English) recently.
This is a fleshed-out version of my program notes outline, with links to more tips and recommendations added. It covers power blogging tips and techniques, comment spam, content theft, WordPress Plugins, future posts, new features in WordPress such as tags and post pending, upgrading and backing up WordPress, custom feeds, and how to find even more help with WordPress.
Don’t forget, I speak at a lot of conferences and present many workshops on blogging and WordPress. If you want to invite me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use The Right Browser
The best WordPress and blogging tip I can give anyone is to use the right browser. This means to not use the browser your computer came with, but use the one that gives you the most power and control over your browsing experience.
- Spell Check: Make sure your blog posts are spelled right as you write.
- Tabs: Allowing multiple tabs for writing and administrating your blog, viewing post previews, and access to the front page of your blog to remain open without constantly opening and closing tabs and windows.
- Webmaster Tools for Designers: If you are into designing WordPress Themes or tweaking your own, take advantage of the powerful Firefox extensions and add-ons like Firefox Web Developer Extension.
- Powerful Extensions and Add-ons: There are thousands of FireFox extensions and add-ons to choose from. I’ve listed some of the ones I can’t live without in my blogging business, one of which is CoLT – Copy Link Text, an extension that allows me, with one click, to copy any link on a website and paste it complete as a web standard and accessible link in my blog posts, saving me tons of keystrokes and time. I use this on blog post titles to link to them in my blog posts, so if your blog post title isn’t in a link, you are making my job harder.
- Auto Copy
- Tab Browser Preferences
- Bookmark Duplicate Detector
- Web Developer
- Clear Cache Button
- Faster Fox Firefox Speed Enhancement
- Internet Explorer Viewer
- Tab Preview
- Tab Mix Plus
- Open Book Bookmark Organizer
- iMacros for Firefox
- Link Checker
- Gmail Manager
- DOM Web Page Inspector
- Colorful Tabs
- CoLT – Copy Link Text
Let Your Blog Work For You
I love a blog that works for me, not against me, and WordPress offers the future post feature that makes my life so much easier.
I can write and publish dozens of posts ahead of time, set the timestamp in the Write Post Panel to publish the post on my schedule, and then walk away from the computer. My blog will keep publishing. Yes, I do need to check in for comments and such, and keep feeding it posts as it does run out of things to publish, but it frees my schedule so I’m not tied to my computer, nor my blog.
- Set the publish date to publish in the future.
- Write a lot of posts at once, spread across time.
- Frees up your time.
- Let’s your blog keep working while you do something else.
The Comment Spam Fighting Trio
Each one covers the different aspects of fighting comment spam.
- Akismet is currently the best and most powerful comment spam fighting too. It is a community-based comment spam fighter, with everyone working together to mark comment spam as spam, protecting each other along the way. It can easily be combined with Bad Behavior and Spam Karma for extra coverage and backups.
- Bad Behavior claims to “give the finger” to blog comment spam, and works to stop comment spam from getting in before it reaches your comment spam panel.
- Spam Karma: Before Akismet, Spam Karma was our blog comment spam fighter of choice. It is amazingly powerful and intuitive, allowing you to custom set your comment spam fighting levels and apply blacklists and whitelists. It works as a stand-alone or can be used in combination with the other two.
Blog comment spam is a serious threat to blogs. The chart shown here comes from Akismet and shows their statistics on blog comment spam from November 2005 to August 2007. The blue-green area on the chart is what they call “ham”, good comments. The orange is comment spam.
With threats like this hammering your blog, use the most powerful tools at your disposal. CAPTCHAs, question and math torture tests, and other comment spam fighting tools claim to work, and they don’t. They may for a while, lulling you into a false sense of protection, but remember, comment spammers are in it for the money and they have hired specialists determined to break down your blog’s defenses. These three WordPress Plugins are currently well supported and backed by determined programmers working barely one step ahead of the spammers.
Here are some more tips for dealing with blog comment spam:
- Multiple Protection: Use Akismet, Bad Behavior, and/or Spam Karma
- Use the Mass Edit Mode to quickly process comment spam.
- Remember, CAPTCHAs and Torture Tests do not work.
- Do nothing to interfere with the conversation.
- Mark comment spam as spam. Do not delete.
- Do NOT mark “good” comments as spam.
- Mark appropriate comments as comment spam.
- Mark trackbacks from splogs and scrapers as comment spam.
- Search through comments for common spam terms on a regular basis, just in case you missed some.
Greasemonkey Scripts for WordPress and FireFox
Engtech of Internet Duct Tape has produced two powerful Firefox Greasemonkey Scripts for WordPress.com and full version WordPress users. Akismet Auntie Spam Greasemonkey Script and WordPress Comment Ninja Greasemonkey Script.
Akismet Auntie Spam Greasemonkey Script recognizes when you are on the Akismet Spam panel and automatically activates. It processes through the captured comment spam in the list and regurgitates it in a workable, concise, time-saving new form.
It analyzes comment spam based upon quantity and can be set up to sift through by keywords, such as your name, blog time, or specific words, pulling these out from the collection of drugs, viagra, mortgages, music, and porn comments.
The top of the list features all comment spam posted once, and unique from the rest. These are the ones of most importance to you from the list, the only ones you need to go through carefully, as you don’t want to waste your time with the “hammer-style” comment spams which post 50 plus duplicate spams across your blog comments.
The comments are condensed to only the first line, rather than screen after screen of junk. You can spot a good comment within the first few words, so why expose yourself to pages of crap.
WordPress Comment Ninja Greasemonkey Script adds new controls to your WordPress Comments Panel, including the ability to respond from the Comments Panel on your blog, by email, or both.
There are WordPress Plugins now that offer this feature, but WordPress.com bloggers can’t use them, so this is invaluable to them. It speeds up the process of responding to comments.
The side-effect of Comment Ninja is that it cannot insert your response into the WordPress blog database. It opens the blog post in a background tab and pastes your comment into the comment form, then submits it automatically. When you move through your tabs at the back of the queue, you will find each commented post open with the comment in place. Just close each tab.
I’ve been using WordPress Comment Ninja for several months on all of my blogs and it has saved me tremendous time in responding to comments. The ability to directly email the commenter is an added bonus.
Press It: The WordPress Blog Post Quickie
You are trawling the web and find something you want to write and publish on your blog. Highlight the blockquote or information you want to refer to on the web page and click the Press-It bookmarklet on your browser’s toolbar. A popup window will come up in the form of a mini-version of your WordPress Write Post panel, with your selected text in the blog post edit box, ready for you to write, link, and hit Publish or Save as Draft.
You’re done. Next?
The most important tip I can give WordPress users is to update your WordPress blogs frequently. You don’t have to jump on the update as soon as it comes out, especially big updates, but you do need to jump on the smaller updates as these are usually mandatory security “patches”. By ignoring them, you put your blog at risk.
Not long ago, after a mandatory security release was issued, a hacker announced publicly a list of popular WordPress bloggers who had not updated their blogs. Then, he started vandalizing their blogs. He claims he warned them, but either way, this is a cyber crime, and there are time-wasters out there looking for excuses to do harm. Don’t give them a chance.
Update WordPress regularly, but also update your WordPress Theme and Plugins as these can also include security flaws or vulnerabilities. The WordPress Theme Scanner by Blog Security is a popular tool that scans your blog and looks for vulnerabilities and the things that may put your blog, Theme, and Plugins at risk, giving you a to do list of what to upgrade and fix.
The task of upgrading is considered painful by many, but there are new tools to help you speed up and automate the process.
Before upgrading, check on the WordPress Codex, the online manual for WordPress Users, for the latest lists for compatible WordPress Themes and Plugins with the new version of WordPress. If your Theme or Plugin is not on the list, or listed as incompatible, check the author’s site and/or contact the author to encourage them to update. Many ask for donations to keep their work going, so why not donate to help encourage them.
The WordPress Automatic Upgrade WordPress Plugin is gaining popularity, but isn’t for the timid. It’s getting easier to use, but you must have some familiarity with how WordPress works on your site.
Security releases are no reason to panic. They are just part of the process of administrating a website or blog. WordPress has greatly improved their security efforts and release timely updates when vulnerabilities are found.
Don’t forget that there are many benefits to upgrading, beyond security. The latest version of WordPress is faster, more efficient, and offers some wonderful new features, helping you blog more effectively and efficiently.
Upgrading also encourages you to do something you need to do more often: Backup Your Blog!
Backup your WordPress database, Theme, Plugins, and all the files for your blog regularly. Some day once a week, others once a month. I say do it every 10 blog posts, or whatever number you are willing to lose if not backed up regularly.
- Are You Risking Your Blog With an Unofficial or Vulnerable WordPress Theme
- Annual Reminder (and some options) to Backup Your WordPress Blog
- Backing Up WordPress
- Backing Up Your WordPress.com Blog
WordPress tags are now built-into WordPress 2.3. A little late to the party, the tag feature now replaces all WordPress tag Plugins, including the now obsolete and extremely popular Ultimate Tag Warrior.
For full version users of WordPress, the tags are set by default to list posts on the blog. On WordPress.com, most WordPress Themes allow the tags to only link to other WordPress.com blogs using the same tag, not on-site posts, which frustrates many within the WordPress.com blogging community.
WordPress tags do not offer any management features by default. The tags are set on a per-post basis. They can, however, be imported from other old tag Plugins, and you can use the Import > Tags feature to convert categories to tags. Once you do, if the converted posts are not within another category, they will revert to the default category, often “uncategorized”, and you will have to manually edit each blog post to set it into a new post category.
Articles with extensive information on how the new tag feature works in WordPress are:
- Nusuni – Three Unique Uses Of WordPress Tags
- WordPress 2.3 Tag News
- I’d Rather Be Writing – Implementing WordPress 2.3’s New Tagging Feature
- Tags and Tagging in WordPress
- Aaron Brazell – 10 Things You Need to Know About WordPress 2.3
- Ryan Boren – WordPress 2.3 Database schema changes
- Ryan Boren – WordPress 2.3 Taxonomy Schema
- How To Add WordPress 2.3 Tags To Your Current Theme by Rich Gilchrest
- WPDesigner – WordPress 2.3 Beta Review and Checklist (tips for including tags in your Themes)
WordPress Plugins that help manage and administrate the new tag feature include the following, with Simple Tags WordPress Plugin gaining a lot of respect and attention:
- Simple Tags WordPress Plugin
- Recommended Tags WordPress Plugin
- Flash Tag Cloud WordPress Plugin
- Advanced Tag Entry WordPress Plugin
- Structured Tag Library WordPress Plugin
- WordPress 2.3 Configurable Tag Cloud Widget
- WordPress 2.3 Related Posts WordPress Plugin
- All In One SEO Pack WordPress Plugin
- WordPress Selectable Tag List WordPress Plugin
- Embedded Tag Thing WordPress Plugin
- Tag Managing Thing WordPress Plugin
- Tag Suggest Thing WordPress Plugin
- Click Tags WordPress Plugin
- WordPress Plugin SensitiveTagCloud
- WP Tag Manager WordPress Plugin
WordPress Custom Feeds
The concept of “subscribing” to a blog echoes back to newsletters and magazines, and in many ways, is no different. To subscribe to a blog today is to add a blog to your feed reader.
Feeds offer fast and easy ways to check for updates on websites and blogs. Gone are the “What’s New” pages and posts. With a glance, a reader can check in and note what is new on any feed-enabled site.
Feeds also offer you a way to bring content into your blog. Not to replace content, but to add to your original content. In the sidebar of my blog, Lorelle on WordPress, I feature the post titles from some of my other blogs, giving my readers a chance to find out what I’m up to elsewhere on the web.
By default, WordPress blogs have three feeds:
- All entries
- All comments
- Post comments
Why not offer your readers more with customized feed subscription options. Offer custom feeds such as:
- Category Feeds:
- Tag Feeds:
- Author Feeds:
- Multiple Category Feeds:
- By Excluding Category Feeds:
- By Search Terms:
Move your feed subscription icon or list to the top of your blog, putting it in plain site. Add some distinctive, eye-catching feed icons to help identify and encourage readers to add your blog feeds to their feed reader.
For more information on feeds with WordPress, read:
- WordPress Codex on WordPress Feeds
- ifacethoughts – Ultimate WordPress RSS Feed Customization
- Benefits and Uses of Website Feeds
- Customizing RSS Feed Links for WordPress.com and WordPress Sidebar Widgets
- One Year Anniversary Review: What are Feeds?
- Feed Fatigue
- Adding RSS Feeds to WordPress
- Create RSS Feeds on Any Web Page
- Don’t You Know What a Feed Is Yet? Get To Know Your Feeds!
- Do You Need Permission to Use Feeds
- Understanding, Using, and Customizing WordPress Blog Feeds
- WordPress Plugins for Feeds
- Feeds Change How You Write Links
New Post Pending Feature
WordPress 2.3 introduced a new feature called Post Pending. It is excellent for multiple blogger blogs and allows editing of a post draft before publishing. Instead of saving the post as a draft or publishing it, the contributor marks it as Post Pending, and it appears on the Administration Panels for the Administrator or Editor to notice and edit the post before publishing.
It is controlled by user permissions and user levels, forcing the lowest authority contributors to only choose Save as Draft or Post Pending, not Publish.
Sloggers and Scrapers
Some of the plagues on the web are sploggers and scrapers.
Sploggers are “spam blogs” which are ad-filled, often incoherent text stuffed with ad links and links to and from your blog posts, creating trackback spam and traditional comment spam that links back to their spam-filled, useless, time-wasting blogs.
Scrapers are also splogs, blogs using a WordPress Plugin or program which steals content from your blog through your blog feed and republishes it on their blog.
Many ask how sploggers and scrapers make money. When they take your content, or make up their own, they get free content without effort to attract attention and provide information to search engines indexing their site. Your use of good keywords and search-terms, and links to top quality blogs and sites, including your own, increases their ranking, thus exposure. Searchers, not knowing this isn’t original content, arrive, see the ads, maybe click them. Some get income just for generating posts. Some get income from displaying the ads. Some get income based on pageviews. Att every point in the process, money is earned.
Using automatic scraping Plugins and programs, they steal your blogs content for their benefit, without asking. After that, a variety of things happen.
- Your content is left as it is, with all the links intact. This is a clear and direct copyright violation.
- Your content is changed by adding links to keywords within the content to other splogs and scraper sites, which visitors may click, but also builds more page ranking points.
- Your content is changed by replacing some words with synonyms, sometimes in links, sometimes not, which changes the basic word structure of the blog post, but not the intent.
- Your content is changed through a “spinning spam” or “synonymizing” technique which converts many of the words into an almost translated version of your blog, even though it remains in the same language. Without close inspection, many trackbacks from these mangled versions are ignored, thus considered valid link backs to your blog, and visitors still arrive on the splogs unsuspecting.
- Your full content is not used, but an excerpt is used, which may be permitted under your copyright policy as Fair Use, but the excerpt is machine created, often prefixed by “Jim Phillips wrote an interesting post today!.Here’s a quick excerpt…” and your name is not Jim Phillips, but it’s your post. If your copyright policy does not permit commercial use of your content, this is a copyright violation.
All of these are copyright infringements on your content and must be reported and stopped to protect your blog content, and to protect the integrity of blog content around the world.
Content Theft Myths
- There is nothing I can do about it: There is plenty you can do about it. You can stop it. If we all work together to stop content theft, the world will be educated on what content theft means, the economics of content theft will be hurt, and we can get back to focusing on content and networking.
- No one would ever take my content: “Big bloggers” have been fighting back, so fewer scrapers and content thieves are going after them. They are hitting the “small bloggers” because they know your apathy lets them get away with this.
- It takes time and money to fight back: How much does it cost to send one or two emails? To leave a comment on a blog? It takes minutes, then seconds as you become better at the process. It’s easy. It takes no special knowledge, little time, and no money. Just the will to fight back and protect your content.
- I’ll write a nasty blog post and they’ll publish it and stop: Scrapers don’t read their blogs. Your blog post may be one of hundreds published that day from the many sites they are scraping. It may make you feel good, but it doesn’t work, and only helps bring more attention, and money, to them when you brag and link to what they are doing.
- Everything on the Web is Free: Not true. A lot of hard work goes into to writing blog posts, and for some bloggers, it’s a job. We think nothing of paying plumbers, electricians, doctors, and grocery stores for services and products. So writing, photography, and graphic works are products and services available for sale. EVERYTHING published on the web is copyrighted. It’s up to the copyright owner or holder to designate how their content is to be used. Those who want to use it must check first before using the content or ask permission.
How To Stop Content Theft
- Leave a Comment: If the scraper or splog is small, leave a comment on your scraped blog posts that this is your content and the usage violates your copyright. To avoid further penalties, you recommend they remove your content, or shorten it to an excerpt in line with your Copyright policy for Fair Use.
- Contact the Site Owner: Look up the domain in a WHOIS site such as DNS Stuff or Domain Tools and send an email or letter requesting they cease and desist the copyright infringement.
- Contact Advertisers: Most advertisers have an form for reporting improper use of their ads. Report the site for copyright violation.
- Contact The Web Host: Email or write to the web host requesting their assistance, in accordance with the DMCA, to stop the content theft.
- Report the Splog: Report sploggers, scrapers, and unrelenting copyright thieves to Google Report Spam and Google Webmaster Tools Report Spam Form.
- Send a Bill: If all else fails, and legal action is your next step, why not send them a bill or invoice, charging them for the use of your content, like a rental contract, charged by the day. It’s your hard work, make them pay for it. Every 15 to 30 days, send another, including an accruing service fee for the past due account. Money tends to talk, and while this rarely works, it might.
- Repeat The Process: If several months pass without result, then repeat the process. Things get lost, ignored, and overlooked. Google responds only when there are enough complaints against a single site, not to every site.
Never take revenge or publicize the scraper, other than to warn and educate other bloggers if your blog’s purpose is to do so. Action can be brought against you for libel, slander, and defamation, with the results worse than your penalties against the content theft.
More information on content theft and copyrights:
- What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content
- Plagiarism Today
- Breaking the Brick Wall on Your Content Theft Search
- AntiLeech Splog Stopper: Fighting Back Against Content Thieves
- Digital Fingerprints Help Track Blog Content Theft
- Spinning Spammers Steal Our Blog Content
- Splogging or Clogging: The Worst of the Worst of Blogging
- Splogs on the Rise on Blogspot
- Blogs That Look Like Blogs But Ain’t – Splogs
- Spam: Stupid Pointless Annoying Messages in Emails, Comments, and Everywhere
- Comment Spammers Now Using Hebrew to Fool You
- Finding Stolen Content and Copyright Infringements
- The Growing Trends in Content Theft: Image Theft, Feed Scraping, and Website Hijacking
- Biggest Copyright Infringement in the World But Nobody Cares Enough
- Content Theft from Feeds – It’s Time To Take Action
- Abuse: Keyword Spamming versus Tag Spamming
- Reporting Spam Blogs – Splogs
- Calling All Stupid Comment Spammers
- Content Specific Comment Spam on the Loose
- Comment Spammers Resorting to Jokes
- Copyrights and the Blogger: Protect What is Yours
- Applaud Those Who Warn You: Your Blog’s Content Is Being Stolen
- Stop Content Theft Buttons and Badges
- Battling Comment Spam: Human Versus Human
- Stupid Spammers: To Remove Your Site From Our Comment Spamming Database Instructions
- Copyright Law Tips from Daily Blog Tips
- Understanding GPL and Copyright in WordPress Community Podcast
- More Information and Resources on Copyright Than You Can Imagine
The Most Popular WordPress Plugins
There are thousands of WordPress Plugins available. Sources for finding the WordPress Plugins include:
I spent a month writing non-stop about various WordPress Plugins on Lorelle on WordPress and some posts that will help get you started using WordPress Plugins are:
- How to Install, Configure, and Use WordPress Plugins
- Where to Find WordPress Plugins
- Lists of Your Favorite WordPress Plugins
- What Are Your Favorite WordPress Plugins
The most popular, and some of my favorite, WordPress Plugins are:
- WordPress Database Backup
- Popularity Content WordPress Plugin by Alex King (popular posts)
- WP-Cache (faster loading)
- WordPress Super Cache Plugin (even faster loading)
- Gravatar (visual image/avatar)
- Arne Brachnold’s Google Sitemaps Generator
- Comment Spam Fighting Plugins:
- Global Translator WordPress Plugin by Nothing2Hide
- Customizable Post Listings WordPress Plugin (Fix for WP 2.2+)
- All in One SEO Pack
- WordPress.com Stats
- Sidebar Widgets
- In-Series for article series
- WP-Submission for blog carnivals, memes, and writing projects
- Comment Handling and Managing Plugins:
- Image and Graphic Plugins:
Where to Find WordPress Help and News?
- WordPress Planet
- WordPress Development Blog
- WordPress.com Blog
- Weblog Tools Collection
- BloggingPro’s WordPress News and Tips
- The WordPress Podcast
- Lorelle on WordPress
- Planet WordPress from Planet Ozh
- Blog Herald WordPress Wednesday News
- Lorelle on WordPress
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.