(Pre-article) post-script: A lot of people have asked me whether I sit down to write blog posts every day. I don’t. I prefer to write when I feel like on a particular day in a sort of ‘writing session’ where I write multiple posts. Then I set them for scheduled publication on future dates. Mystery solved.
Akshay asked me recently what WordPress plugins I use, so I thought making a blog post about it because other might be interested too. This is obviously for people who are running self-hosted WordPress. Here’s my list (in alphabetical order):
- µAudio Player: Lightweight Flash player for playing MP3 files inline. First installed for VoiceTAP posts, but I plan to do more podcasts / vlogcasts in the near future.
- Akismet: Blog spam can be quite irritating and I stick to the popular Akismet plugin. I’m not very happy with it though. Oftentimes it flags legitimate comments as spam, which means every once in a while I need to sift through spam, which can be quite a lot. I’ve been meaning to switch to Mollom for a long time. It’s a system similar to Akismet made by Dries Buytart, the creator of Drupal – but it’s a bit more advanced. It allows more filtering on the basis of low-quality / profanity. What I find to be the killer feature is that normally, it uses an Akismet-like silent evaluation system, but if it thinks a comment is spam then it presents a CAPTCHA for the user to solve. That way, bot spam can be blocked, but if it’s a legit human comment then the user can solve the CAPTCHA and go through. I haven’t gone ahead with this since I haven’t come across a demo of how the CAPTCHA thing works – the kind of CAPTCHA shown, how it’s presented to the user etc. I’d like to see that before using this. Anyone know of a site currently using Mollom?
- NM-Delete-Revision: I wouldn’t want to turn revisions in WordPress off completely, but I occasionally want to purge my database of revisions I don’t need any more. You’ll die a miserable death due to excessive laughing if you ever dare to use the original plugin.
- FD FeedBurner Plugin: Although FeedBurner itself suggests FeedSmith, that plugin hasn’t been updated for a while. Granted there isn’t much to update, but FD FeedBurner adds a few extra options such as ‘Don’t redirect category / tag feeds’ (I suggest you enable this) and the option to redirect your comment feed too.
- Google XML Sitemaps: Creates a sitemap which can then be used by search engines for indexing your site. Despite the name, it goes beyond Google and supports other search engines too. You can assign priorities to different sections of your blog – which you should definitely set. Don’t make the stupid mistake of assigning a high priority to all pages.
- Grunion Contact Form: Simplest contact form you’ll get. It’s made by Matt Mullenweg. Mails are first checked by Akismet then sent to the email ID of the person who created the page where it’s put. If you want something with a bit more features use Enhanced WP Contact Form.
- MobilePress: Creates a version of your blog for mobile devices. It makes life so much easier for those browsing through a phone, and a lot of people do!
- Official StatCounter Plugin: I use StatCounter instead of Google Analytics because I find that Analytics gives reports completely out of line with StatCounter, WordPress.com Stats, and IzeaRanks. Not necessarily need because you can insert the tracking code manually, but having this plugin ensures that if you change a theme and forget to re-insert tracking code then you won’t lose data. (It happened to me. I’ve been using this plugin after that incident.) If you use Google Analytics then you’ve many plugins to choose from.
- One Click Plugin Updater: WordPress (since v2.7) has plugin update functionality, but it requires multiple steps with first needing to fill FTP password. This plugin not only makes upgrades a one-click affair, but also provides an easy way to install plugins / themes.
- Optimize DB: Run this occassionally to optimize the size of your WordPress database.
- Photo Dropper: I mentioned this on my blog earlier. Allows you to search Creative Commons licensed images on Flickr and insert them in your posts. Good for giving a bit more visual appeal to your posts.
- Share+: I don’t like ShareThis / AddToAny / Sociable kind of plugins because unless you have lots and lots of visitors, you aren’t going to get Dugg / Reddit’d regularly. However, adding these (excluding Sociable) slows down your blog as it makes a request to an external server for the files needed for the button. If might even bring your blog to a standstill if the external site is not reachable. While this is true for Share+ by Grouptivity too, it offers the option of easy emailing which none of the others offer. Bookmarking site options are available in another tab and the whole thing is configurable.
- Subscribe To Comments: Essential! When people leave a comment, they are actively choosing to a part of a discussion. If you force them to come and check manually for responses, it dampens the motivation to have such interesting conversations. Subscribe To Comments makes it easier for commentors to stay in the loop, and possibly encouraging discussions.
- WordPress.com Stats: To verify StatCounter results. Just a backup option.
- WP-DB-Backup: Essential! Allows you to create on-demand database backups or scheduled backups of your WordPress database. Weekly scheduled backups is a sensible option.
- WordPress Video Plugin: Allows you to insert videos without having to paste code. This can be convoluted process otherwise in WordPress as it tries to ‘correct’ HTML on pasting code in. Instead, you use shortcodes to just mention the URL you want to embed. There are many such video plugins. I chose this one because it supports the largest number of video sharing sites – and more importantly, Yahoo! Video. (No seriously, there’s no better place than Yahoo! Video for movie trailers – I do movie reviews often – because Yahoo! itself puts up videos in tie-up with movie studios. So there’s no danger of, say, embedding a YouTube video and then finding a few days down the line that the trailer has been deleted due to copyright infringement.)
- WP-Print: Creates a stripped-down version of a page tailor-made for printing. This removes sidebars, styling etc. Needs a few more steps after installation which you should read up after installing.
- WP Greet Box: Allows you to set customized welcome messages for first time visitors, visitors arriving from search engines, visitors from Twitter / Facebook / social bookmarking sites, et al based on the referrer URL.
So that’s what I use. What about other (self-hosted) WordPress users – do you guys use any other plugin which makes a blog experience better better for you / your readers?