Tag Archives: Wordpress blogs

Maintaining Your WordPress Blog When You Think Your Theme’s Broken

On a fluke a few days ago, I was checking out my business blog on my smartphone. I can’t remember what made me take a look, but I’m really glad I did.

Maintaining a great meal

For some reason, it wasn’t showing up properly on my phone. It was showing my blogging site, which would normally be good, but it was supposed to be showing the version of my site the way WP-Touch makes it look to improve its mobile speed. If you’ve never seen what the difference is, look up this domain name on both your computer and your mobile phone and you’ll see what I mean.
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The GASP/Akismet Experiment

It’s not often I do an experiment based on a post I read on another blog but I decided it was time to give one a shot. In this case it was based on a post that our friend Ileane wrote (yes, she actually does sometimes write posts on here blog lol) titled 5 Popular WordPress Plugins You Need to Ditch Now! One of the plugins she talked about ditching was Akismet, which I’ve always kind of had a love affair with, and thus I had to confront her, nicely of course, about the recommendation.

Has the NSA spying gone too far?
greg lilly via Compfight

(Growmap Anti-Spybot Plugin) would get the whole job done without Akismet help. It was developed by Andy Bailey of CommentLuv fame who, interestingly enough, said in an interview I did with him in 2009 that most plugin developers shouldn’t start off by trying to go after Akismet, and years later that’s exactly what he did. 🙂 I wasn’t really sure about it, but I told her I was going to experiment and write about it; this is that post.

A brief bit of history for the uninitiated. There have been a lot of people that have complained that Akismet does two negative things. It can put people on a negative list and thus always have every post of theirs showing up in spam or even being deleted before it ever reaches the spam filter. I’ve always said I had never noticed it and thus it didn’t impact me, but then Gail Gardner of Growmap did an extensive test last year on it and found that some of these issues might be true.

I still dismissed it because Akismet has always done a premium job for me, so it seemed. But I was compelled to do this experiment, and here’s what I’ve kind of come up with.

First, this week I’ve had less spam showing up in my spam filter than ever before. That’s both a good and bad thing mentally because often I had legitimate comments showing up in the spam filter, and over the past week I’ve only had one show up. I don’t know if this means it’s deleting legitimate people who it thinks is a spambot or if this week most of the people that comment have gotten it right.

Second, once I started the experiment I checked the box to allow trackbacks because I wanted to see how it handled them. I did get a lot of those in two days showing up in the spam filter, but not a single legitimate trackback so I turned it back off quickly enough. No trackbacks since.

Third, let me mention the spam filter. I wasn’t sure what would happen if I turned off Akismet and spam came in, but bad messages will still go to the spam filter, so that’s a good thing.

Fourth, if you saw my post about my comments problem you’ll see that I emptied a large folder through PhpMyAdmin that was holding all these statistics from my Count Per Day plugin, which I’ve also inactivated. When I went back I noticed my second largest file was something called wp_commentmeta, and it turns out that’s the file of everything that Akismet collects on comments it’s passed through and denied. Supposedly the WordPress program is supposed to empty that sucker here and there, but mine had never emptied over the years. Since I’d inactivated the plugin I was also able to empty that folder, and now I have so much capacity I feel like I need to start writing more. lol Yes, you can empty that folder safely, even if you’re still using it. And it seems there’s no files being created or filled up by GASP (which I’m still trying to figure out how I got ranked #1 on Google for ‘GASP anti-spybot’).

In my opinion, the GASP plugin has provided some peace overall to this blog, and that’s not a bad thing. I think I’m going to keep things as they are until I see there’s a reason to activate Akismet again, which I’m kind of doubting. And I’m going to do it on my other blogs as well. See, I can learn something from others. lol
 

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When Comments Won’t Show

I’m writing this a couple of days removed, but hopefully I can help you out so you don’t go through what I went through. Of course, not everyone will be able to do this, but at least the information might be helpful.


by Steve Ryan via Flickr

On Sunday I heard from our friend Brian Hawkins on Twitter. He was telling me that he was having problems posting a comment to this blog. He thought something was missing, so I went to take a look and said everything looked fine. I even checked on 3 different browsers. So he tried it on a couple of browsers and it just wasn’t coming up properly for him. He said he’d try it at his brother’s the next day.

Monday morning I looked at comments and wondered why I wasn’t seeing any new ones. Remembering Brian’s comment the day before, and seeing that he’d sent me the comment he had wanted to post, I decided to go to one of those other browsers to post it myself. It took me to a 404 page. That was freaky, so I came into this admin panel to try to post a quick comment of my own; that wasn’t happening either, as it just kept disappearing.

Now it was panic and research time. From 8:30 in the morning until around 8:30 in the evening, with a few breaks to eat, I tried as many things as I could. Nothing was working. I even called my hosting company to see what they had to offer. They gave me some erroneous information that it had to be that my databases had gone beyond capacity. I went in and cleared one, which was really huge, and that didn’t get it done; I’m going to come back to that one in a minute.

During this time a couple other people had tried to help me, but without success. I finally went to the WordPress.org forum, because my host said it had to be their issue, and I posted the question, telling everything that I’d tried. Someone came on and started making suggestions. Some I’d already tried, but others were somewhat interesting.

They involved going into the control panel of my account on my host and getting into the PHPmyAdmin area, something I forget about because it’s not a place I have to go often; matter of fact, it’s probably been a couple of years. It was also where the hosting company had said to go and delete some files, so I was a bit skeptical.

His recommendation was to run a repair on the files I was having problems with. There were two files dedicated to comments, so I checked the box next to both of them then ran repair. It went pretty fast and gave me a positive report. I came back to the blog, posted a test comment, and all was right with the world once again; whoo hoo! 🙂

I’m writing this post because the information wasn’t anywhere else until I asked the question. Even though someone else who might end up with this issue might find that post in the forum, I figured why not write it up here as well; might save a lot of time later on. And I take this time to thank both Brian and Dan Lovell and someone called Esmi on the forum for helping me on this.

Now, back to the file I emptied. That file was related to the Count Per Day plugin I added last September. It seems that it collects tons of information and never gets rid of any of it. It had collected information to the post where the file had grown to 88MB; that’s huge. When compared to the next largest text file being only 5MB, you can tell it was out of kilter.

Many hosts don’t allow the data within an account to get larger than 100MB, and mine was around 147MB. So, clearing that file out freed up tons of space for me. Just something else to consider if you start having some issues with databases.
 

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5 More Things To Know About Your WordPress Admin Area

About 3 weeks ago I wrote a post titled 5 Areas You Should Know More About In Your WordPress Admin Area. Some folks who commented said they’d love to know more. I don’t always do an “ask and you shall receive” type of post, but in this case I’m making an exception, so here’s 5 more things to talk to you about.

1. Screen Options. At the top right of every admin page, there’s something that’s called Screen Options. If you click on it, every box you see on that particular page will have a check mark in it. There might be some unchecked you want, and you might see some that you decide you don’t need to see anymore. This is another way to help customize everything, and if you’re someone using All In One SEO and you’ve done the latest upgrade you’ve probably noticed how it’s added some columns to your Posts admin page, and thus things are looking screwy. Going into Screen Options allows you to get rid of some of those things you probably don’t care about.

2. Permalinks. Unless you’re pretty savvy, you probably have the date contained within your link right now. That’s not a drastic problem, but it’s killing your SEO and making your link sometimes 8 characters longer than it has to be. If you look at it, you’ll see 5 options for changing how your link will look. I suggest going to the last option which has nothing there, then typing this in (or just copy it from this post): /%postname%/. What this does is puts your title in the link all by itself, with each word separated by a dash. Take a look at my link and you’ll see it there. Now, this won’t go back and fix any of your previous posts, but if you want to do that I suggest a plugin called Permalinks Migration Plugin. It works great, but then you’ll have to remember to go back through all your posts and in any of them where you linked internally you’ll have to manually change those links, otherwise they won’t work for your visitors.

3. Widgets. Almost anything you see in your sidebar that you didn’t actually go in and create is probably a widget. You have the ability to add, remove, or move these widgets around so that you can customize the look of your blog.

To get there, first click on Appearance, then click on Widgets. Once there, look to the far right. You’ll either have one sidebar option or more than one, depending on how many columns your blog has and how old it is. Click on the arrow next to the sidebar and you’ll see a list, if you have any widgets, of what’s in there. To the left you’ll see a bunch of other widgets that you can add to your sidebar. At the bottom you may or may not see some widgets. Anything not already in play can be pulled back in; all you have to do is click on the top bar, hold it with your mouse, and move it wherever you want it to go.

The Text widgets all need some kind of customization, because they’re empty. This is where you’d pop in code for things you might want to see, such as affiliate banners or books like I have or other such fun things like images. For all the other widgets, there might be some minor customization you can do before saving the widget. For instance, if you add the Archives widget, you’re given 2 options and a chance to rename it.

4. Categories. If you’re writing on a general topic but there are different issues involved, you wouldn’t hurt yourself to add categories to your posts. Oftentimes your blog will start ranking well on search engines because you end up having a lot of posts in certain specific categories that you’ve defined up front, and it gives you something easy to do internal links to from time to time. You can do it one of two ways. You can add a different category every time you create a new post, or you can go to Categories and put some in there ahead of time. This is also where you can delete categories if you’d like.

To get to Categories, click on Posts, then Categories. You’ll see on the left is where you create a category, and on the right is a list of categories. If you’ve never created any thing all you’ll have is probably Uncategorized; that’s terrible for your SEO, so I hope no one has kept that. Put in your category name in the first spot. Where it says “slug”, just ignore that. I have no idea how that could help anyone unless you have a very long category and want to shorten it, but that wouldn’t help your SEO all that much most of the time so just leave it be. The next thing is Parent, and I leave that alone, but you don’t have to. For instance, if you were writing about Roses you might decide to then add categories such as red roses, pink roses, blue roses, planting roses, growing roses, etc. Or you could just always select the general category of roses, which is what I do. That is, on something else, not roses. lol Hit Add Category and it will show up on the right.

5. Media. I’m not sure why they didn’t just call it Images, since all you’ll see in there are images. Media is every image you’ve ever put into a blog post. The only thing you might ever really want to use this for is if you want to change the written information about the image, or delete an image without having to go back to the post. If you click on Edit you’ll see the choices of information you can modify, including the title of the image. All of these choices are the same as if you were adding images by using the little box above the area where you write your content.

And there you go. If these 10 things don’t help make you more knowledgeable about your admin area, I don’t know what will. Happy reading!


Everything for the Fan

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5 Areas You Should Know More About In Your WordPress Admin Area

This post is kind of a request, but in actuality I knew I was going to be writing something on it anyway. In the last 10 days I’ve created 2 blogs for clients, and so far neither client has done anything with the blogs because they said they don’t know what to do. I took to it like it was nothing, but I’m starting to recognize that it’s obviously not as simple as I think it is for everyone. And even if you know how to use it, maybe I know some things you might not have thought of. So, let’s get started.

1. Users. I’m betting most people thought I was going to start with Posts. That’s number two. Users has its own category on the left menu. Click on that and you’ll see all the names that are registered on your blog. Most probably it’ll only have your name or “admin” there, but if you see other names don’t panic, as some people like to subscribe to your blog that way.

Click on Edit under your name and you’ll be taken to the area where your settings are. The first choice you have is whether or not you want to use what they call the Visual Editor or not. This means do you want the site to add coding to certain things such as when you want to bold something or put a link in so other can just click on it or not. If you don’t know how to do any of that stuff via HTML, leave it alone. Next, decide if you want either blue or gray, as the default is gray. After that, you can change your Nickname, so if all your posts are going out under “admin”, which is the default, they don’t have to. You really don’t have to do anything else here unless you want to. Don’t forget to click Update Profile or else nothing you did will be saved.

2. Posts. Click on the Add New link. If you’ve been writing you know that this is where you write your posts. What you may not have known is that all the other things you see on this page can be moved around. All you have to do is go to the top of any of the boxes, such as categories or Publish or whatever and you’ll see your mouse arrow become a 4-way arrow. Hold down your mouse key and drag it wherever you want it to be, and you’re done. That’s neat to use if there’s something you do all the time and don’t want to have to jump around a lot. Many plugins you might decide to add later on will show up in here. I have 5 things that you may or may not have that show up here, and I’ve moved things around for my benefit.

The Publish area is one you should know about. I’m not going to rewrite a post I did called Future WordPress Posting, but I will say this is where you can change the date for posts if you want to write some ahead of time, make a post private so no one else can see it, or make it sticky so it’s always at the top of your main blog page. You can also click on Preview and it’ll open a new window so you can see what your blog post will look like before you publish it. I do this often to check my links and images beforehand.

Finally, this is the area where you can decide if you want comments or trackbacks on an individual post or not. This will override global settings. I have gone and turned off comments on old posts where it wouldn’t make sense for anyone to comment on anymore, and thus it blocks spam from finding those posts. Same with trackbacks; if something was time sensitive and we’re past that time, a trackback can only serve to tell you someone tried to steal it.

3. Comments. Some people respond to comments on the actual blog post. Others respond to the few comments they see in the dashboard. I always respond to comments here because sometimes you want to do some other things to them. For instance, in my comment policy, I mention that I don’t accept keyword names unless I know someone’s first name. Most of the time those comments are spam, but when they’re not, I edit the names. If you notice, under every comment there’s a menu of things you can do. I hit Edit, then go in and alter the name based on my policy. Strangely enough, I’ve never seen any of those people who I’ve edited come back; think it’s me? lol Also, this is where you can see your counts for how many comments a post received; depressing if you have none, I’ll admit.

4. Discussion Settings. Go to Settings and click on Discussion. This sets how you want the flow of your posts to go once you’re written them; this is where the global settings are (that means the normal rules for posts you decide not to override later on). For instance, you can determine whether people have to have a name and email address to leave comments on your blog; I strongly suggest you do that. You can set how long you want a blog post to be live to accept comments before you turn them off; I don’t use this, but many folks do (Rummuser, I’m talking about you lol). If you want comments to be threaded you can do it here; I’ve found, though, that some themes don’t offer this choice, so if you don’t have it, your theme might be old. Look at all the choices and determine what fits you. Especially look at the gravatars thing at the bottom and determine how raunchy an image you’ll accept on your blog; mine is set to PG.

5. Links. Yesterday I talked about blogrolls a little bit, but whether you want it for blogs, business, information or whatever, this is where you’d put those things in. You might already have some here that you want to delete; WordPress gives you about 7 when you first set up your blog. To add a new link of some kind, obviously click on Add New. The four important things to know here is to put in the name, put in the link to go to, put in the category you want it listed under (it allows you to create new categories), and finally what you want to happen if someone clicks on it. I always click on _blank so people go elsewhere and my blog is still sitting there.

That’s it. A very brief tutorial, but if you didn’t know all that stuff, now you do. And if you want to know more, then make sure you check out my post called 5 More Things To Know About Your WordPress Admin Area.

Black Faux Leather Charging Station by Richard’s Homewares






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