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Archive for July, 2006

Mainstream Media Now Practicing Cross-Linking

The practice of linking to other websites is traditionally the domain of blogs. In efforts to provide adequate citations, bloggers oft link to, and even quote, external sources, and this may include competing sites or blogs. However, it seems that mainstream media (MSM) outfits are now adopting this.

From the NY Times:

The Washington Post, The New York Sun and The Daily Oklahoman, in Oklahoma City, have contracted with an online news aggregator, Inform.com, to scan hundreds of news and blog sites and deliver content related to articles appearing on their Web sites, regardless of who published those articles. Links to those articles will appear in a box beside the site’s original article or within the text of the story.

Newspaper Web sites, which commonly post articles from sister publications, wire services and even blogs, have typically stopped short of providing generous doses of news from competitors. The move made by these papers is not a result of cooperation across the industry as it is a counterattack by publishers against Google and Yahoo, which have stolen readers and advertisers from newspapers in recent years, both with their search engines and their own news aggregation services.

Great. MSM is learning from bloggers (or at least apparently so). But they probably haven’t learned enough, as there are existing free online tools that help aggregate related stories and track inbound linkages, such as Technorati.

However, one design/usability issue that hit me is their practice of launching new windows to open external links.

These links did not whisk readers away to another site. They instead opened a new window in the browser with the new story so readers could keep their original NewsOK page up.

From an end-user and (wannabe) designer’s perspective, this is a no-no.

Categories: Blogging News

WordPress.com Riff-Raff

WordPress.com has added a feature that Blogger has had for a long while, and many people are breathing a sigh of relief: Report as Spam and Report as Mature buttons.

We just added two new buttons to the recently updated admin bar, both under “Blog Info.”

The first is “Report as Spam.” Occasionally a spam blog (or splog) makes it through our defenses and starts filling WP.com with junk. It’s hard to describe a spam blog, but you’d probably know it if you saw it. We treat these with extreme prejudice. In the past helpful community members like drmike have reported these through the feedback form when they come across them, but this button hopefully streamlines the process.

The second is “Report as Mature.” We try to keep the public areas of WordPress.com family-friendly, so if you come across a blog that primarily deals with adult topics you can report it using this button and someone will take a look at it to properly categorize it.

This is the start of WordPress’ anti-spam war that they will probably have to fight for a long time, but it is nice to see them put up the boxing gloves. Just remember, any site you report has to be moderated by a real human, so be kind, and only mark spam as spam.

Categories: WordPress News

WordPress 2.0.4 Released

A security update is out for WordPress in the form of WordPress 2.0.4. I am hoping that this is one of the last updates before 2.1, but we will have to wait and see.

This release contains several important security fixes, so it’s highly recommended for all users. We’ve also rolled in a number of bug fixes (over 50!), so it’s a pretty solid release across the board.

So if you are concerned about your blog, and its security, you might want to update all your WordPress installs. For me this means around thirty minutes of work, as I have several blogs to update/upgrade.

Grab it from WordPress’ Download page.

Note: For those of you that want to just get the changes, Mark Jaquith, has once again released his update which is just a Changed File Only zip file. Great stuff from him. Check it out, and it can save you plenty of time.

Categories: WordPress News

WordPress Podcast Episode 3

Imagine my surprise when I went online today to try to contact Charles Stricklin of the WordPress Podcast, and found out there was another new episode for me to listen to. I am glad he was able to push out an episode this week.

Included in episode 3 are:

  • An explanation of the problems we’re having with iTunes, podPress and the reason why there was no episode released last week.
  • WordPress v2.0.4 released this weekend.
  • WordCamp 2006 is this Saturday!
  • Bryan Veloso joins Automattic. (Possibly to head up Shuttle?)
  • headzoo’s Live plug-in.
  • WordPress-phpMyAdmin plug-in.
  • BloxPress2 theme.
  • Minimalist Blue 1.0 theme.
  • ClickTale, ClickDensity and Crazy Egg.
  • Sourdough bread and chocolate from San Francisco.

Great stuff. I look forward to the next episode, and hope you are all keeping track of this great podcast about WordPress.

Much of the information is in line with BloggingPro, and what we publish here, but in audio, making it better for you lazy people that don’t like to read. There are also some interesting thoughts on stuff we have not really concentrated on here as of yet.

Categories: WordPress News

10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work

To grab the attention of your readers, some only accidentally stopping by, you need to have a great headline. This has been brought up many times at CopyBlogger, but now, there is a list of headlines that will help you create attention grabbing headlines, every time.

1. Who Else Wants [blank]?
2. The Secret of [blank]
3. Here is a Method That is Helping [blank] to [blank]
4. Little Known Ways to [blank]
10. What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]

By the way, incase you did not realize, you replace the [blank] with a keyword(s) that make sense.

Check out the full list, as well as the reasoning behind each item on the list at CopyBlogger.

Categories: Blogging Tips

The Undersigned WordPress Theme Competition Rumors

With all the ups and downs of past WordPress theme competitions people are asking themselves when we are going to have another great one like the ones held by Alex King. Well, Thomas, from The Undersigned is hoping to make that happen, and in my nosey reporter mode, I went to hunt down more details about what is going to happen with his long mentioned theme competition.

It seems like the competition could be waiting for the big release of WordPress 2.1 and the buzz that such a release would create. New themes, for a pretty new and upgraded WordPress. There is still no word yet on when WordPress 2.1 will be finalized and sent out into the world, but I think they are getting close fast.

Anyone know when the next major Jazz related event in history comes up, as Matt Mullenweg loves to time his releases for such events.

Another bit of information I have been able to find out, and this is only a rumor as of now, but it seems like the contest could be fully backed and supported by Automattic, the company that Matt created for WordPress, bbpress, Akismet, among other things, which would mean that there would be an air of security and professionalism as well as support from the developers, that no other contest has seen.

I don’t know about you, but I look forward to this new contest, and hope that the rules created live up to what Thomas has said before.

Only new themes can be submitted, only themes not based on a previously released themes (K2 mods etc) will be accepted, and semantic code and cross browser capable themes will be weighed a lot to.

Keep checking back at The Undersigned for any more details that come up, hopefully we will hear more on this soon.

Categories: WordPress News, WordPress Themes

The Holy Grail of Design

Chris Pearson writes on the holy grail of design, or “the one element that you absolutely must nail if you want your Web site to be effective and useful for your readers.” In essence, I think I can capture his sentiments in one word: usability. I’ve always been a usability buff (though not an expert) and I would think everyone should be to some extent. After all, we are users ourselves and we should always design with the end-user in mind. This doesn’t only apply to webistes, per se, but also to blogs.

For your blog to be effective and serve its purpose, you should have the right design elements at the right places. For instance, in my opinion, I prefer to make the main content the focus of my blogs. I usually do away with superfluous elements, while sticking to the essentials. And I try to set the focus towards the main content.

An intelligent, meaningful design process (and the only one worth paying for!) looks like this:

  1. Decide what the important elements of the site are
  2. Decide where these elements need to go
  3. Design an “exoskeleton” that accommodates these elements and provides visual clues that enhance the usability of the site

Of course, I reiterate (as I always do when writing about “design”) that design should mean not only style but the entire architecture of the website (or any other object for that matter).

Categories: Blogging Tips

New Blogger Here

Hello everyone. I’m Angelo, and I’ll be guest writing here on Blogging Pro. Well, I’m not exactly a new blogger–I’ve been writing on blogs (including quite a number of my own) for close to three years now. And I’m not exactly a “guest,” as I’m a regular writer for Bloggy Network (the lesser known pro-blogger, perhaps, compared to Dave). I usually write for our other blog properties, though, like ForeverGeek and a host of other “b” branded blogs.

I asked Dave if I could contribute to the site, which he apparently considers as one of his favorites, and I’m glad he and Jacob agreed.

While I do have quite some experience with blogging CMS’s such as WordPress, Movable type, Blogger and even Nucleus (among others) I’ll leave the technical and design aspects of blogging for Dave to write about, at least for now. I’ll be focusing more about the writing aspect of blogging, as that’s what I’ve been passionate about lately. I’ve been posting about tips on effective and interesting blog writing on my personal tech/productivity/problogging/writing blog, The J Spot, and I feel I will be able to reach out to more people here, hence the move to help out with BloggingPro.

So here’s to great blogging and to great writing!

Categories: BloggingPro News

WordPress Theme: Misty Look

A new two column theme is out for WordPress, and this one comes from WP Themes .Info, and takes into account many people’s love for a great image and lighter tones.

The header image is taken from sxc.hu. I am really thankful to the author TouTouke because only after finding this image, I decided to release this theme.

As usual, a lot of care and attention is put into building this theme, and I hope you will find it useful and appealing.

Some Notes on the Features:

1. Compatible with Sidebar Widgets Plugin.
2. Includes a Page Template for the Archives Page. [Activate this theme. Just create a new page and use ‘Archives’ as the Page Template.Period.]
3. Includes a Page Template for the Contact Page.
[Activate this theme. Just create a new page and use ‘Contact’ as the Page Template.Period.]
4. Includes a Page Template for the Links Page,so you can display all the links you have in a separate page.
5. Includes 404 Template, Search Template, and Archive Template too…
6. Just get your profile image, name it ‘profile.jpg’ and place it within the ‘img’ folder inside this theme’s folder. It will get displayed in the front page under ‘About’.

Check out Misty Look at WPThemes.info.

Categories: WordPress Themes

Chitika Release WordPress Plugin v2.0

Chitika, a popular advertising service, mostly thanks to Darren Rowse’s happy promotion of it, has released a plugin for WordPress 1.5+ that allows you to manage eMinimalls right from inside your WordPress Admin panel.

The plugin configuration is now done through the WordPress options tab. No need to edit the files.
To put a eMiniMall right into your blog post, there is now a little button on the editor to help you add and customize the eMiniMal l for that particular post

Check out the details of the Plugin at their Blog. Also, beware that Darren puts his affiliate ID in any links to Chitika, so if you go to his blog and click on the link from there, you will be helping him out if you sign up.

via Problogger.net

Categories: WordPress Plugins

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