Do Blogs Still Need Comments?

There’s been a lot of conversation lately about the value of comments and whether having comments turned on is still a necessity for blogs. Matt Gemmell has done a fantastic job of aggregating the conversation on his blog post Comments Commentary (ha!). Head over there to read more good discussion from both sides of the argument.

Comments and the two-way conversation they facilitate are one of the things that separates a blog but from just another webpage, but they can also be a giant headache. Keeping out all the spam and other filth while fostering a great community can be be very difficult and the necessary moderation is time consuming.

The right comment strategy will depend on the site and business goals. Depending on the site audience, there could be a more active (and civil) conversation about an article happening on Twitter or Facebook than on the site itself. All of these factors should be considered when making decisions on the tools you implement and on your site’s commenting policies.

WordPress 3.1 Released

The newest version of WordPress, version 3.1 codenamed “Reinhardt”, has been released and is available to download or via an autoupdate from the dashboard.

In addition to over 800 bug fixes, this update includes a new admin bar, a cleaner writing interface, and more flexibility for theme developers. WordPress 3.1 also focuses heavily on continuing to turn WordPress into a low end CMS option by adding functionality around their custom post formatting and content type features that were introduced in the 3.0 update.

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Some (Very) Early Impressions of WordPress 3.0

It’s been just about a week since the final version of WordPress 3.0 was released to the world, bringing with it interface improvements, important core menu and post changes, and of course tons of bug fixes. Check out the announcement video to get a good overview of the new features of 3.0 along with the new default “Twenty Ten” theme:

I’ve now had a little bit of time to explore and play with the new features and some definitely stand out right away.

The Help tab on the top of every page includes vastly improved contextual help text throughout the system. Click the tab and get a great overview of the current page along with detailed description of options and links to more information and support forums. As someone who trains users to use WordPress, this will result in immediate cost savings for clients as they are able to retain information better and therefore need less follow up training.

The other two big new features that caught my eye combine to push WordPress 3.0 another step towards becoming a viable CMS in some situations. The new release includes custom menu functionality mixing posts, pages, categories, and other content into one menu and also gives developers the ability to easily create new custom post types. For most client projects that MarketNet takes on a more enterprise-level CMS will be the best solution, but these two new features are great additions. If you need to create a site or microsite that is primarily a blog with additional content such as employee profiles or e-mail newsletter archives, it just got a lot easier with WordPress 3.0.

Go checkout the the full changelog for 3.0 and of course download now to take advantage of all the new goodness.

WP-Syntax Code Highlighter Plugin

As a blog by and for web developers, many of the articles on DevSpot tackle some problem with HTML, JavaScript, or another markup/programming language. That means we frequently need to embed code snippets into our WordPress posts to help explain a solution. To make them easy to understand, code samples should be color coded and include line numbers for reference.

For WordPress blogs, that’s where the plugin WP-Syntax comes in. There are several to choose from (including the more powerful SyntaxHighlighter), but WP-Syntax the right combination of features and usability that we needed. It converts blocks of text wrapped with pre tags and a lang attribute into syntax-highlighted code.

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WordPress post scheduling bug

If you schedule posts for future publication in your WordPress blogs, don’t just Set It and Forget It but remember to check frequently to confirm your posts actually go live. You could have posts still sitting in limbo that you thought had been published out days or weeks ago.

Various server configurations or temporary issues can apparently cause a scheduled post not to go out on time. When you look at your list of posts the status Missed schedule shows up in the date column (see the graphic at right) and once it’s scheduled time has past WordPress will not try again to publish that post. In order to publish the post you have to go in and very frustratingly switch the post status back to draft, change the time of the post, then and try to republish to get it onto the site.

We’re running WordPress 2.7 but it still appears to affect some sites running the current 2.8.1 version. Other than manual workaround mentioned above, there are a few other “fixes” you can try to solve the problem until a fix is in the official WordPress builds.

Please note the following workarounds have not been tested by MarketNet, use at your own risk:

  1. Modify the file wp-cron.php
  2. Replace wp-cron.php with a version from WP 2.6.5
  3. Install the Scheduled MIAs plugin

Until the issue is fixed, don’t forget to occasionally check your post lists for unpublished posts.

New WordPress 2.8 release adds features, speed

WordPress 2.8 (codename “Baker”) hit the World Wide Web last week and it brought a slew of new fixes, features, and improvements to the reigning number one blogging platform. This version sees improvements to the theme browser (not particularly useful to our clients and their custom themes), sidebar/footer widget functionality, admin usability and functionality, and most importantly optimized code to improve speed and the overall blogging experience. According to the official WordPress announcement post, this version brings “cooler, smoother, simpler blogging” to the masses.