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Code Standards Project to Take WordPress Into the Future

WP Tavern reported recently that WordPress Developers are organizing a community initiative to standardize common post types, taxonomies and meta data. Led by Justin Tadlock, popular WordPress developer and author of Professional WordPress Plugin Development, the goals of the community project are to name these common parts of WordPress to create a more stable and portable nomenclature for WordPress.

Tadlock explains that standardization is critical not only to the future of WordPress development but essential to standardize WordPress Themes and Plugins.

However, I’d argue that a little common sense also goes a long way. If you’re making an “events” plugin, don’t name your post type justin_event. Name it event. This isn’t really brain surgery, and I don’t think the WordPress developer community needs that much hand-holding to figure this out. But, if we do, let’s start that Codex page.

The only reason for any type of standards for post type names is so that it helps foster healthy competition between various plugins trying to fill the same space. This is so users can more easily switch between plugins to find the one they like the best.

There are some against such standardization as they feel it would restrict their coding freedom and flexibility, naming things organically rather than meeting a set of required standards. Tadlock and others argue that by adopting existing solutions rather than in-house, custom built solutions, it doesn’t restrain creative coding or proprietary code. He defends his position saying:

Standards are created after we’ve made them and they’ve been adopted by enough people. In other words, we create standards by building good plugins, getting users to install them, and having theme authors integrate with them.

Standards are accepted adoption of a way of doing things or naming things. This is part of the evolution of a language and industry.

As we developed the WordPress Codex, Michael Adams led a community campaign to solidify the names of WordPress parts and pieces. He and I created the Codex articles for Administration Panels, which later was renamed to Administration Screens, an example of the evolution of naming standards. In spite of our attempts to comply with the trademark protection of the term “Dashboard” for the entire backend interface, the WordPress Administration Screens continue to be called the Dashboard. Wrong name, but an evolving name standard as it has been adopted by a majority of users. Read More »

How to Write an Editorial Article Online

For the Writing for the Web course at Clark College, I wrote an in depth article on “Web Writing: The Editorial Article.”

The article serves academic courses on the art of writing for the web, exploring the most common type of web published content found on blogs, the editorial article.

Web content represents traditional media content formats and styles, but editorial writing on the web is a modified version of the traditional editorial or op-ed format and style.

An op-ed piece is an opinion. It is distinguished from other articles in a magazine and newspaper as they may be well written but they do not represent the rules and guidelines required by journalists and reporters. The writers are typically not reports, nor educated in journalism.

An editorial article may be an opinion piece, but it is one that argues a specific point or perspective. On the web, an editorial article may be written by a reporter, journalist, professional writer, or anyone with a defensible opinion.

As I explain in the article, a web editorial article is backed by links to resources and references supporting each point in your argument. Traditional media didn’t have the ability to easily link, leaving the author to cite their supporting arguments with footnotes, end notes, and bibliographies.

Web articles are also written according to web standards, using HTML formatting styles such as blockquotes and proper citation links in compliance with Copyright Fair Use, links, multimedia, and shorter paragraphs broken up by a single thought, concept, or idea rather than a large block of text that conveys an entire concept.

The article on how to write an editorial article online includes a definition of the editorial article, examples of editorial articles that changed the world, editorial writing voice and persona, audience demographics and targeting, editorial styles and types, editorial article structure and formats, technical tips for web publishing, and examples of the problems many have with writing editorial articles online. It also includes a large reference and resource list for more information on editorial writing for the web and in general.

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WordPress I Course: Summer at Clark College

WordPress NewsMy WordPress I course at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, just across the river from Portland, Oregon, is open for registration for Summer Quarter 2014.

The course begins July 7, 2014, on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:30-9:30PM.

This is a five credit hour course, 50 hours of all WordPress basics in 8 weeks.

Pop Quiz for the WordPress introduction Class at Clark College with students answering the questions on the whiteboard - instructor Lorelle VanFossen.The size of the class is limited for an intimate, hands-on learning experience covering web publishing, core functionality of WordPress, basic WordPress Themes, and Plugins.

Registration is open for the public as well as students in a degree program at Clark. First-time registration at the college can take some time, so begin the process now. For more information on registration, see the Clark College Admissions information. The deadline for enrollment is June 20, so hurry to get one of the few seats available.

During the course, students will be working on 4-5sites including their own experimental site on, a self-hosted version of WordPress in a testing (sandbox) environment, the class magazine (multiple contributor WordPress site), and a final project site as a collaborative team project.

Here is a brief list of the things you will learn in the college course. Read More »

It’s About Access

If you have a few minutes today, watch this. Oh, watch it anyway. And share it.

It won a Webby, the equivalent of the Oscar for the web world. And I have to admit that at the end, I cried. Seriously.

Like those in the satirical episode, I don’t live in the wildest woolliest of backwoods. I could throw a rock over a hill and hit Intel and some of the largest tech companies in the world in the Silicon Forest, yet I’m stuck on crap Internet access with speeds at about 1 megabyte on a good day. Trust me, I live on the Internet and there are good days and bad when your Internet is running through a phone line, and that phone line isn’t very stable.

I’ve traveled to and lived in places where I would write my articles in a text editor for this site and wait days for access to the Internet and WordPress. Traveling on the road full-time since 1996, an acoustic coupler and 300 feet of phone cord was our earliest connection to the outside world. I have literally hung out a window and hold a WIFI antenna at the end of my out stretched hand in the pouring rain to pick up a signal somewhere on the block. That was downtown San Francisco only a few years ago, supposedly one of the first cities in the world to experiment with city-wide free Internet access, another of the great pipe dreams. Read More »

Russia’s Bloggers Under Attack

If you haven’t been paying attention to one of the largest countries in the world is persecuting bloggers. I’ve written up a summary in the ClarkWP Magazine site produced by my Clark College WordPress students, “The New Blogger’s Law in Russia.”

In December 2013, the Russian parliament passed a law to allow the blocking of sites “calling for unauthorized demonstrations” without court notification or approval.

While there were many protests nationally and internationally to prevent the new “blogger’s law” from passing, it passed the first week in May 2014.

The new law describes the term “blogger” for the first time: A person who posts open information on a personal page.

This is a literal translation that basically means a blogger is anyone publishing “open information” on a web page.

With more than 61 million online users in Russia, it’s growing online economy and industry is threatened by by such strict media rules and regulations.

The new rules outlined in the bill state the following, applicable to the so defined “bloggers:”

  • Any site with more than 3,000 visits a day qualifies.
  • Such a site must register.
  • Any site (and its domain name) may be cancelled if found to be “inciting violence, “extremist” activity, advocating overthrow of the government, activity in conflict with human dignity or religious beliefs.”
  • Any site found to be in compliance with the above has three days to take down content. Non-compliance and two additional warnings will result in the termination of the site.
  • Applicable site types include blogs and social media networks and channels.
  • Pseudonyms are not permitted. Site owners and contributors must publish with their surname, initials, and email address publicly displayed.
  • All articles must be fact-checked before publishing, confirm the accuracy of the information, and respect electoral law, among other laws similar to those required of journalists.
  • Bloggers are accountable when writing about individuals, organizations, or the government with the intent to “defame or libel.”
  • Bloggers are held responsible and libel for comments posted on their web pages.
  • Fines range from USD $280 to $850, with “legal entities” fined up to $8,500.
  • A hotline is being established to encourage citizens to report “illegal or harmful” online content.

We had a great discussion in my WordPress I class at the college about Russia’s Blogger Law and US and international laws impacting bloggers, as well as what WordPress does to protect its users. I thought I’d share some resources and information we found while doing research on the subject.

How Does Russia’s Blogger Law Impact You?

On the surface, it may appear that this law is restricted to Russia’s borders, but it isn’t. Many countries follow the example set by Russia. Let’s not forget that the United States is still under restrictions put in place after 9/11 with the creation of Homeland Security and the USA Patriot Act. We’ve seen the results of these actions in the news, especially with Snowden and others.

The US government passed the USA Patriot Act a few weeks after the events of September 11. The law brought changes to the laws regarding surveillance. It increased the government’s ability to look at citizen records held by third parties, conduct secret searches, collect foreign intelligence information, and spy on citizens under “tap and trace” searchers. Read More »

Clark College Students Want to Interview You

Students in my Clark College WordPress class are required to interview a WordPress professional and member of the WordPress Community as part of their assignments for our student managed site, ClarkWP Magazine.

Would you like to be an interview subject?

Here are the qualifications.

  1. You must use WordPress actively as part of your business. The article will be focused on the usage of WordPress in your business, not you or your business.
  2. You must work intimately with WordPress on your site or business, ready to answer questions about how WordPress works (or not) for your business.
  3. Understand that you may be the main subject of the interview, or one of many interviewed about a specific aspect or feature of WordPress.
  4. You must be willing to communicate with the student on their time schedule and to their best of the student’s ability to connect. They have deadlines. Students typically do email or social media interviews, though some are open to Skype, Google+ Hangouts, and phone interviews. Interview subjects living close to the Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon, areas may meet the student in person.

Students come up with their own ideas, questions, and process for the interview. While they do their best to represent you fairly, you will not have an opportunity to review the article before publishing, though you may contact them afterwards and ask for corrections.

ClarkWP Magazine student interview with Jeremy Wilson.

You will need to supply them with a photograph of yourself and links to your sites or examples of your work online.

The interviews begin the last three to four weeks of the academic quarter.

If you are a member of the WordPress Community and willing to help a college student interview you, your information will be added to a list. Students will choose an interview subject from that list. There are 16-25 students per class per quarter. Contact for an interview could be this quarter or a future one.

We started this project in Fall of 2014 and it has been an excellent experience for the students to network with members of the WordPress Community and learn more about how WordPress works. The published articles serve as homework assignments as well as credits on their resumes as published authors.

Past interview examples include:

If you are interested in helping students learn more about the WordPress Community, fill in the comment form below and describe your work with WordPress to help the students pick you. Make sure your email and main website is correct in the form fields. Do not publicly publish your email or contact information in the comment box.


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WordPress For Writers: WordPress Author Sites

In this part of my series on WordPress For Writers, I’ll cover the basic things to consider when using WordPress on site promoting the work of writers and authors. For more on the subject, see other articles in the WordPress for Writers and Authors series.

This article assumes you have some basic familiarity with WordPress and web publishing with websites. If you are new to WordPress, see my many WordPress Tips, Blogging, and Blog Exercises categories on Lorelle on WordPress, Learn WordPress, and the WordPress Codex.

In WordPress, there are two types of content “holders,” posts and Pages (with a capital P to differentiate from web pages with a lowercase p). Pages hold timeless information, and posts hold timely information. If you’ve ever worked on a magazine or newspaper, think of posts as articles and Pages as masthead information. Posts are sorted by categories and tags. Categories are the site’s table of contents. Tags are the index words.

That’s a quick overview of the main content references about WordPress.

WordPress Site Models for Writers

The three basic site models for WordPress are:

  1. Static Model
  2. Blog Model
  3. Integrated or Hybrid Model

The Site Model concept is based upon the design of the front page of the site and the arrangement of posts, Pages, categories and tags within WordPress known as site structure and organization. The navigation of the links to posts, Pages, categories, and tags defines the user experience and customer journey, literally the way the visitor uses the site to access the information they are seeking.

It begins with the front page for most web designers. Read More »

WordPress For Writers

I will be speaking this year at several workshops and conferences on the subject of “WordPress for Writers.” The workshop covers the basic elements of WordPress content structure and organization, then adds the complexities of a site for writers and authors. This is one of a series of articles on WordPress for Writers and Authors.

WordPress is an ideal web publishing platform for almost every business, but especially for writers and authors. A website for everyone else is easy compared to some of the challenges associated with creating an author site.

What makes an author site distinctive from general sites is that the author has an inventory that rarely resides in an ecommerce format. Sales of their books is typically handled by third-party agents like Amazon or book stores. The author also has a wider variety of ways to promote their work and themselves, which I call author site models.

Let’s begin with the basic elements a WordPress site for writers must consider.

  • How to present information on books, sample chapters, articles about the books, and other related material
  • How to present a schedule of author events and activities
  • How to get past the myths of blogger verses writer, writer verses marketer
  • How to create a site that builds a community around the author and/or their books
  • How to create an engaging and interactive site without burdening the author

Break that down for your own business and you may find commonality. We all need to promote our social and business events and activities, our products and services, and do it all while working full-time and staying interactive on the site and social media.

The challenge for authors is a combination of myths, old thinking when it comes to the web, and the complexity of organizing a site around multiple products, services, and topics, some of which may or may not be related. Read More »

WordPress Workshop for Writers in Salem, Oregon

WordPress EventsAre you a writer? Author? Thinking about it? Live in the Salem, Oregon, or nearby areas?

I’ll be leading a workshop in Salem, Oregon, specifically designed for writers and authors using WordPress. The event is part of the great work the Salem Chapter of the Willamette Writer’s Group, a regional group of writers and authors in the Pacific Northwest area.

The events begin with a presentation on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, at 6:30PM at Macey’s Salem Center. I will be talking about the challenges of a writer and author site, and introducing members to the different types of sites for writers and authors and how to build a community and audience around a site or book. The meeting is free, I believe.

Sunday, March 16, is a half-day workshop from 1-5PM at the Salem Public Library. We will dive deeper into customizing a WordPress site specifically for the needs of the writer, be it for the author and their books, to support a book or book series, and other alternative site types. This is a highly interactive workshop.

Lorelle presenting at WordCamp San Francisco.Participants in the workshop will need to bring their laptops or tablets. WIFI will be available. If participants do not have a current WordPress site, they will be led through the process of setting up their own free site.

The workshop will be customized based upon the needs of the attendees, so here is a general list of topics covered during the four hour workshop: Read More »

Blog Exercises: Why We Dig

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.In the October issue of The Christian Science Monitor, I found this from John Yemma, Monitor Editor:

Why we dig, and what we may find

Sometimes a portal opens into the world of legend. A stone is rolled away from an Egyptian tomb revealing a 3,300 year old Pharaoh’s power and wealth. A Roman city emerges virtually intact from volcanic ash, its dining tables set for dinner, its comfortable lifestyle interrupted by natural disaster. The mummified body of a Stone Age hunter emerges from a glacier in the Alps, and modern forensics determines from the metallurgy of his ax, his DNA, and the pollen on his clothes that he was the product of a surprisingly sophisticated culture.

With most archaeology, pottery shards and bone fragments provide sketchy evidence of unheralded lives. But even with the abundant material found at places like Pompeii, the stories we tell about lost worlds are speculative. New tools and theories always come along to challenge what we currently think we know.

My mind started racing as I read through introductory paragraphs.

One of the underlying goals of this year of Blog Exercises, beyond celebrating the 10th Anniversary of WordPress, is to get you to dig deep into your reasons for blogging as well as your techniques, to help you blog better. It is what you find when you dig into yourself and your abilities that helps us improve.

Digging into blogging techniques, styles, features, functions, and abilities all year, I’ve rediscovered my passion for blogging, for sharing lessons, thoughts, and experiences online. It’s always been there, but now it has new purpose, new energy driving it forward. That’s what I found when I went digging into blogging.

What about your industry? It might not be about blogging or archaeology, but has depths. Have you plumbed them?

As stated by Yemma, no matter what you think you know about all you know, it takes a new tool or theory to throw out your preconceived notions, changing your perspective and maybe the world’s. Everything we know is based upon speculation, though some facts rise to the surface once in a while. It is that speculation that drives the blogging and web publishing industry.

WordPress was inspired from such speculation, from frustration digging into a blogging tool. Matt Mullenweg was tired of the digging, and shouted out to the world that there must be a better way. Mike Little and others responded to say there was, and they started building WordPress from the ashes of their dig.

And what about yourself and your own blogging techniques and styles? Have you really done the homework to blog and communicate online better? Now is the time.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise is to ask yourself why you dig and what will you find if you dig.

Whatever that above quote means to you, let it trigger a response in a blog post. Uncovering, peeling back the layers of our work, of our industry, of ourselves, that’s the true spirit of blogging. Some call it transparency, I call it sharing. You call it whatever you will, but dig now and see what you will find, and share it with us and others.

Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

Blog Exercises: Where You Came From

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.Inspired by these blog exercises, Janet Williams of Janet’s Notebook has been taking her readers on a journey back through time and space, exploring her family’s Chinese heritage from her little corner of the south of England.

Her “Letters from China” have evolved from a few posts to an entire series, and eventually, I hope, a book. I keep nagging her to do so, and she keeps telling me there are no stories left to tell, then she keeps finding more stories.

She has me thinking about my own past. I’m one of the family historians for my own family, and hating that I’m so neglectful of my own family history site recently. I’ve gotten a spark of renewed interest and energy with my mother, trapped with her leg in a cast, going through old photo albums and rediscovering historical images from our family. ‘

The holidays tend to make us nostalgic for family, which makes our ancestors the subject of this blog exercise.

Below is a photograph from about 1928. It features my great grandmother and her children, ranging in age from barely two years old to over 20 years of age. They are standing in front of Ruby Shack I believe, their small cabin in the woods of Wisconsin, a family living on sustenance, the last to turn out the lights on logging in northern Wisconsin. Two of the younger boys are missing, presumably off in the woods hunting deer or bear and stirring up trouble as they were wont to do, as both of my uncles, Robert F. Knapp and Wayne Knapp, shared in their dozens of stories preserved for the family.

Knapp Family - Emma Knapp and her children in front of Ruby Shack - Taylor Rapids Wisconsin - photographer unknown - circa 1928.

What does this picture mean to me?

I look at it and see a long line of ancestors who wouldn’t take no for an answer. They wouldn’t give in, nor up. They built this country with their hands and backs so I could live better.

It speaks of my history, of a family that came over with the earliest pilgrims and nation builders, adventurers diving into the great unknown of the North American continent in the 1600s, determined to survive in spite of all the obstacles put in their path.
Read More »

Blog Exercises: Leave Room for the Reader

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.“You must leave room for the viewer to rest and breath as they look at your photograph.”

These wise words were told to me by a long-time professional photographer, gone these many years. As I studied with her and others saying similar things, I began to understand what they meant and applied it eventually to my web design.

There must be space for the reader on your site. Visual space. Verbal space. Quiet places for the reader to rest, absorb, process, and consider what you’ve presented before them.

Look at your site. Is there room for the reader?

This whitespace goes beyond the visual. It is also contextual.

Consider why you don’t get enough comments, if you get any comments at all. Maybe your writing leaves no room for them to say anything because you’ve said it all.

Photography by Lorelle VanFossen - The Tools on the Garage Wall of Don Lee. Woodworking and automotive tools.

Even in this photograph of my cousin’s garage, a wall cluttered with tools from woodworking, boating, and car remodeling, there are places for the viewer to rest their eye among the clutter and just absorb the history behind these old, well-used tools. You can do the same with your site.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your blog exercise today is to explore your site graphically, visually, and contextually to identify the places where you’ve made room for the reader to rest and consider what you’ve written, and possibly comment upon it.

Look for crowded spaces and open them up. Look for clutter and remove it.

Look for articles that tell the whole story and edit them to allow the reader to be heard, or at least invited to be heard. To join in on the conversation.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

The Loss a Great Man: Nelson Mandela

The news has arrived. It is true that the world has lost a great hero, Nelson Mandela.

A couple years ago I wrote an extensive tribute and reference article on Nelson Mandela when rumors of his death flooded the web. He lived long past the rumors, but today, the rumors come to an end.

Whether or not you are a citizen of the African continent, your life has likely been touched by Mandela. He stood for courage and faith in a free and independent nation, and gave his life to that cause.

Take a moment today and think of what Mandela means to you.

For me, I’m going to pause today and consider how I can be more like Mandela in my own way, living with courage, determination, and hope of a world where we all have the right to be heard and live free of abuse and violence.

Please join me.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

Blog Exercises: I Don’t Trust That Site

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.I recommended an article to a student and they said they didn’t trust that site, thus shed doubt on my personal integrity. I asked why. “Because it’s on Blogspot.”


I have to say that wasn’t the answer I expected. I didn’t expect someone, not web savvy in the least, would associate a blogger on Blogspot/Blogger with a trust issue.

In the early years of, people asked me over and over again why I was using that childish version of WordPress. “It’s for people who don’t know what they are doing with WordPress. You wrote the book on WordPress. Why are you on”

Today, I rarely get asked that question because people like me and so many others proved the worth and value of The team of staff and volunteers at work overtime to ensure sites are protected from comment spam as much as possible with Akismet, and spam sites are easily reported and shut down quickly, increasing the validity and trustworthiness of the site network. We’ve earned that respect and trust.
Read More »

Blog Exercises: How to Create a Blogger Identity

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.A rebroadcast of “How Much Does Your Name Matter?” from Freakonomics Radio looked at the impact of a name on society, perception, prejudice, and ability to succeed.

Indeed, there is some evidence that a name can influence how a child performs in school and even her career opportunities. There’s also the fact that different groups of parents — blacks and whites, for instance — have different naming preferences. Stephen Dubner talks to Harvard professor Latanya Sweeney about a mysterious discrepancy in Google ads for Instant Checkmate, a company that sells public records. Sweeney found that searching for people with distinctively black names was 25% more likely to produce an ad suggesting the person had an arrest record – regardless of whether that person had ever been arrested.

…So you might think that names make a big difference. But Steve Levitt insists otherwise. In a paper called “The Causes and Consequences of Distinctively Black Names,” Levitt and Roland Fryer argue that a first name doesn’t seem to affect a person’s economic life at all.

Names do, however, reveal a lot about the people doing the naming. Eric Oliver, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, talks about his new research (with co-authors Thomas Wood and Alexandra Bass) that looks at how children’s names are influenced by their parents’ political ideology:

Whether you choose to change your name or not as a blogger, this is a fascinating episode, worth the listen.

As a blogger, though, you have the right to be whomever you wish. It works best if you make that choice before you start blogging.

Names are funny things. Like the Freakonmics episode, there is research to indicate that whether we like it or not, decisions are made based upon our names, sometimes by ourselves not just others.

I honestly believe that my name cultivated my personality. I didn’t really know my real name until I was older, being yelled by a nickname across the fields by my family. It wasn’t until we moved to a new school district when I was 13 years old that I put on the “Lorelle” name for a try. A few years later in high school, a new nickname was put on my name tag and Lorelle took a backseat. After college, I decided to become this “Lorelle” moniker that I’d dragged around with me, turning it into a persona like “Madonna” and “Cher.” The one name wonder. I loved it when mail arrived addressed to Mr. Lorelle Lorelle. Computers, fairly new back then, couldn’t handle someone without a last name.
Read More »


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