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WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Tons of Features in Jetpack (Part 1)

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

This is an ongoing series of posts to highlight some of the features that we have installed in WordPress that you might like to use on your site, but might not know are available.

WordPress is an open-source, community-built platform, but it also has a company behind it that coordinates activity and runs WordPress.com. This company Automattic, has released some of the most popular features of WordPress.com as a plugin they support named Jetpack. By connecting your site with a WordPress.com account, you get access to many additional features. We’ll describe a few of these features here, and in a follow-up post, but descriptions are also available at their site.

Activating the Plugin

You can activate Jetpack as you would any other plugin in the WordPress administration interface for your site. After you activate the plugin, you need to connect it with a WordPress.com account. These are free to register on their site, but if you do not wish to create an account, let us know and we can connect it using one of ours. It is important to note at this point that all features of Jetpack are currently free to use, but some may require an additional payment in the future.

Useful Features

Here are some of the things that you can do with the Jetpack plugin.

Site Stats

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 11.34.34 AM

 

Jetpack can be used to collect information about the people visiting your site and display that data in an interface that is significantly easier to use than Google Analytics. This allows you to see which of your posts were the most popular, how people are finding your site, and the geographic distribution of visitors to your site.

Extra Shortcodes

In addition to the embedable items you have access to with the WordPress Video Plugin, Jetpack adds some extra shortcodes allowing you to add Google Maps, Scribd and SlideShare documents.

There is also code for adding LaTeX markup to your posts, making is easy (well, easier) to write things like this:

i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial t}\left|\Psi(t)\right>=H\left|\Psi(t)\right>

Extra Sidebar Widgets

Jetpack adds three extra widgets that you can add to site sidebars:

  • Twitter: show the latest tweets from your account to encourage people to follow you on Twitter.
  • RSS Links: add a link to the RSS feeds for the posts and/or comments on your site.
  • Image: add an image to your sidebar for extra visual appeal.

More Image Galleries

While we have the NextGen Gallery Plugin for advanced image galleries, with Jetpack you get access to two more simple image gallery layouts: Tiled Galleries and Carousels. Here is an example of a Tiled Gallery in a post:

IMG_0090.JPG IMG_0080.JPG IMG_0088.JPG IMG_0082.JPG IMG_0085.JPG IMG_0099.JPG IMG_0086.JPG

Stay Tuned

In the next post in this series, we’ll cover the Contact Forms feature of the Jetpack plugin.

WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Organize your Widgets with Display Widgets

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

This is an ongoing series of posts to highlight some of the features that we have installed in WordPress that you might like to use on your site, but might not know are available.

Widgets are a powerful feature of WordPress that allow you to easily add dynamic features to your site sidebars like tag clouds, a list of authors on your site, links to other resources, search forms, and social media features. Sometimes, though, you only want a widget to appear on a specific page of your site and by default adding a widget to a sidebar will make it show up everywhere.

screenshot-1

Activating the Display Widgets plugin on your site will allow you to control where widgets appear. Once activated, your widget settings screen will contain a list of pages with checkboxes. You can choose to either show or hide each of your widgets on the selected pages. With this, you can do things like tailor a list of resource links to a particular topic page, or only show your Facebook like button on the homepage.

WordPress Plugin Spotlight: Liveblog

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

This is an ongoing series of posts to highlight some of the features that we have installed in WordPress that you might like to use on your site, but might not know are available.

Liveblogging is the practice of covering an event as it happens on your blog. Rather than a composed post that covers your thoughts on a subject and is published once, a live blog post is updated with snippets of your thoughts on the event as it occurs. Common uses of liveblogging are covering a speech, television show, or sporting event. The practice allows the author to interact with their readers in real time via comments on the live blog post.

We now offer a plugin to help you do this. If you activate the Liveblog plugin, you’ll be able to mark certain posts as live blog posts. This will add an interface for the author to make short posts to the live blog without having to use the normal back-end WordPress editing interface. Readers will see updates appear on the post page without needing to refresh their browsers. This video covers how to use the plugin in practice.

 

As an example of this plugin in use at Middlebury, Professor Matt Dickinson used it to cover the US election returns on his site.

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 2.41.12 PM

Maintenance on sites.middlebury.edu this Sunday morning

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

During our established maintenance window this Sunday morning at approximately 9:00 am EDT we will be upgrading the wordpress server that houses sites.middlebury.edu and www.nereview.org, we expect the interruption of service to be less than 10 minutes.

Thank you for your patience as we strive to keep our systems performing optimally.

Reduced comment spam in blogs

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

During the past few months we have been seeing an increased amount of comment spam coming into WordPress (sites.middlebury.edu) that follows a distinctive pattern: the comment text is useless, but unoffensive and contains no links itself, while the Comment Author Website field contains the URL of a commercial site. Because the comment text doesn’t contain any links, the comment doesn’t get picked up by WordPress’s existing spam filters and until now would be held for moderation.

Here is an example of this type of spam:

Comment Author: canada goose kensington parka
Comment Author Email: Lan….o@yahoo.com
Comment Author Website: http://www.canadagoosejakket…rk.eu

You made some respectable points there. I regarded on the web for the issue and found most individuals will go together with with your website.

The point of these spam comments is to use the Comment Author Website field to plaster the web with links back to the spammer’s site in order to make the site seem more popular to search engines.

WordPress’s built-in anti-spam tools ignore the Comment Author Website field and only look at links in the comment text. This used to be sufficient since it is unlikely that most readers will click on the comment-author’s name and follow through to their website. As well, adding links in the comment text allowed spammers better control in how to present the link so that it had the most impact on search engines. Because of the success in filtering of the comment text, spammers have now moved on to other techniques, just trying to get their links to exist anywhere on the page, even if they aren’t ideally positioned.

To combat this form of spam we have removed the Comment Author Website field from the comment form. There are few legitimate needs for this field and it was originally added to allow people to link back to their own blogs — a nice feature, but not necessary. By removing this “attractive nuisance” we can instantly mark as spam any comments that submit a value for the Comment Author Website even though this field is no longer shown in the form.

As of today, this type of comment spam will no longer even be held for moderation — it will be dropped into the “spam” category right away. In the first two hours since this change has been in place it has blocked 70 spam comments that would otherwise have required moderation by the target blogs’ administrators.

Curricular Technology J-term Workshops for Faculty

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

LIS Technologists and Liaisons will be offering more workshop in J-term on Moodle and WordPress, as well as general technology work sessions where faculty can get assistance on using any platform supported by LIS.   There will also be workshops on migrating Segue sites to these other platforms.  For more information, see: Segue from Segue > Workshops

 

Aesthetics of the Moving Image

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Louisa Stein is an assistant professor of Film and Media Culture.  In the spring of 2010, I interviewed Prof. Stein about her use of technology in a number of her courses.  Below is a screencast from that interview that describes her use of WordPress and Moodle in a first year seminar course on the “Aesthetics of the Moving Image.”.