People always seem interested to learn about new and useful utilities for blogging, so I thought I would take the time to describe the plugins I use to help power this blog.
- “Akismet”:http://akismet.com/ – This is, quite simply, the best anti-spam tool out there. Akismet is a comprehensive tool for sifting incoming comments and filtering the garbage out of the legitimate comments. I’ve been using this for well over a year now, and to date I think I’ve had only one or two false positives that I’ve had to approve from out of the spam folder. Very little spam gets through this filter, and most of that only when Akismet’s servers are down (which is rare).
- “Bad Behavior”:http://www.bad-behavior.ioerror.us/ – This plugin makes a great complement to Akismet by simply and outrightly blocking spammers before they can ever make it to your site. I’ve watched as the number of spam in the Akismet folder has dropped (and the number of false hits on Counterize also drops). Between these two plugins, I’ve not had a single spam comment make it through to my site.
- “Category Converter”:http://armenianeagle.com/plugins – I’ve been working to (hopefully) streamline navigation through my blog recently. Part of this effort has involved combining some categories. This simple plugin makes it very fast and easy to do this. The only hitch I’ve found is that if you merge a main category before merging subcategories, the subs sort of become invisible. It’s a relatively minor issue, I suppose, but something to be aware of, nonetheless.
- “Counterize”:http://www.navision-blog.de/counterize – I’m a stats geek, and Counterize makes my inner numbers man very happy by tracking total number of hits, as well as number of unique hits. It logs IP addresses, referrers, and even lets me see roughly what part of the world my readers live in. Bar graphs lay out stats by day of the week, day of the month, month of the year, and current month.
- “External Links”:http://www.semiologic.com/software/external-links/ – I’ve always kind of liked Wikipedia’s external links icon. It makes it really clear which links navigate within the site and which will take you elsewhere. The icons are relatively unobtrusive, and so I’ve incorporated a similar look here.
- “Footnotes”:http://www.elvery.net/drzax/2006/02/10/footnotes-0-9-plugin-for-wordpress-2-0-x/ – I like footnotes. They let me add little asides or clarifications to the things I write. And I especially like being able to throw footnotes in on the fly. This plugin lets me do exactly that.
- “Our Todo List”:http://wordpress.byexamples.com/2007/01/29/our-todo-list-plugin – A good portion of my online time is spent looking at my WordPress dashboard, so it’s a good place to leave myself little reminders. I’ve just recently installed this todo plugin, and it’s a handy little scratch space for me to set up a todo list.
- “Paged Comment Editing”:http://www.coldforged.org/paged-comment-editing-plugin/ – It’s not often that I need to go back into the comment archives looking for things or to make minor edits, but when I do, it’s nice to be able to simply page back through them.
- “Plugins Used”:http://www.andrewsw.com/pages/pluginsUsedPlugin – And then, of course, the curious who stumble across my blog like to reference what plugins I use, so I have them listed on a separate page. This plugin automatically generates that list and keeps it updated, so I don’t have to.
- “runPHP”:http://www.nosq.com/blog/2006/01/runphp-plugin-for-wordpress/ – Some of my pages require a snippet of php code to be pasted into the page content itself. WordPress’s natural state is to simply show that as text. This plugin allows me the option of turning php on in that page, so that any php code pasted automatically runs as a native command.
- “Share This”:http://alexking.org/projects/wordpress – This is another recent addition as a way to generate some extra visibility and traffic. I’ve no idea if anyone actually uses it, but readers have the option of automatically submitting entries to any of a dozen different social bookmarking sites. So, if you like something you read here, please do me a favor and Digg it (or Technorati it, or de.li.cio.us, or whatever).
- “Sidebar Widgets”:http://svn.wp-plugins.org/widgets/trunk – I’ve become such a huge fan of widgets now that I won’t even use a theme that isn’t widget-compatible. It takes all the pain and agony out of manually editing template files and lets me place exactly the content I want _where_ I want it. I also run a php-compatible widget, which is a separate addon for the widgets directory, to let me run a little specialized php code in the sidebar if I need it.
- “Sideblog”:http://katesgasis.com/2005/10/24/sideblog/ – This is probably my favorite sidebar widget. I love the idea of being able to put little, one-line remarks in the sidebar or quicklinks to various websites that I’ve found interesting. Kates’ plugin makes this simple and painless while keeping everything very classy looking.
- “Subscribe to Comments”:http://txfx.net/code/wordpress/subscribe-to-comments/ – Sometimes the easiest way to keep track of a discussion thread is by email subscription. Commenters and readers are able to subscribe to the discussion of any entry on this blog simply by checking a box near the comment form or entering an email address. This way, whenever a comment is left, you get the updates instantly.
- “Text Control”:http://dev.wp-plugins.org/wiki/TextControl – This is my most-used plugin, since I use it on every single entry. Text Control lets me format text on the fly, insert hyperlinks, and basically tweak the way text looks, all without having to mess with HTML coding. It’s a whole heckuvalot easier than messing with braces everywhere.
- “Ultimate Tag Warrior”:http://www.neato.co.nz/ultimate-tag-warrior/ – I’m still in the process of indexing everything, but I’m using UTW to create a comprehensive site index. Just by clicking on any tag, you can read any entry I’ve written on that topic. It’s much more extensive than the category system that’s built into WordPress. As Lorelle stated, categories are like the table of contents, and UTW tags are the index. Hopefully, I’ll have all the indexing done within a few days.
- “WP Contact Form”:http://ryanduff.net/projects/wp-contactform/ – And the final plugin I use is the contact form, allowing readers to simply fill out the form and submit it to send me an email. The one I’m currently using _is_ a bit vulnerable to spam, but those cases are rare enough that I haven’t bothered to upgrade to something a little more spam-proof.
These are my babies, so to speak, the plugins that let me run Writer’s Blog exactly the way _I_ want to. They get tweaked here and there – most stay while some go – but all the plugins listed above are safe to use with WordPress 2.1. Feel free to give them a testrun and see what they do to improve the usability of _your_ WordPress blog.