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WordPress plugins I use

By on Jun 15, 2009 in Tech Takes | 20 comments

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(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):

  1. ĀµAudio 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.
  2. 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?
  3. AntiVirus: It’s a deceptive name because this plugin is actually searching things like hidden iframes, Javascript eval expressions etc which are often used to infect sites. It’s good to have this installed because you never know when this might happen and you get blocked by Google for being a malware distributor.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Optimize DB: Run this occassionally to optimize the size of your WordPress database.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. WordPress.com Stats: To verify StatCounter results. Just a backup option.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.)
  18. 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.
  19. 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?



20 Comments

  1. Aditya

    June 15, 2009

    Post a Reply

    I’ve seen that greet box multiple times, even though I have visited your blog at least thrice in the past week. Maybe its because of my dynamic IP.

    • Ankur

      June 15, 2009

      Post a Reply

      WP Greet Box is cookie-based, not IP-based. It’s supposed to stay open until you close it explicitly by clicking on the close button.

      • Aditya

        June 15, 2009

        Tried that as well. Didn’t work. Maybe its just me…

  2. Akshay

    June 16, 2009

    Post a Reply

    Thanks alot Ankur.By the way why don’t you use mofuse for your mobile site.I feel it’s much better.

    • Ankur

      June 16, 2009

      Post a Reply

      Why rely on an external service when a plugin on your own server can work? Besides, you get to keep full share of mobile ad revenue.

  3. jugaadu

    June 16, 2009

    Post a Reply

    So one thing is for sure, the day i go to a self hosted domain or a blog with a .com domain, i will transfer my blog to wordpress definitely.

  4. Akshay

    June 18, 2009

    Post a Reply

    @Ankur Mofuse used by many popular blogs i guess and even allows adsense it opens up quickly in faster than mobilepress,but it isn’t bad either.
    The groutivity plugin that you use make sense and certainly is a good find,but uses separate css and js which stops me form using it.By the way how do i set up full post content in feedburner.And ya how to xhtml validate feed stats image feedburner.

    • Ankur

      June 19, 2009

      Post a Reply

      Once a visitor has visited, CSS / JS will be cached. So it’s not that big an issue. Providing readers functionality they need is more important.

      Mofuse keeps 50% of ad revenue. Ad revenue from mobile is anyway less so 50% of that means you’ll need longer to reach payout date.

      Use W3C XHTML validation check to verify FeedBurner image code then make changes as necessary.

  5. Akshay

    June 18, 2009

    Post a Reply

    Oh!And by the way why do u use One Click Plugin Updater,when i update my plugins surprisingly it doesn’t ask me for ftp paswd & username.

  6. Harsh Agrawal

    June 20, 2009

    Post a Reply

    Thanks for the comment plugin, I have been looking for something simple.
    meanwhile I will suggest add this plugin when u have time
    Maxblog press ping optimizer
    SEO friendly Image
    Norevision

    and for Db try Wp-DB manager plugin.

    • Ankur

      June 20, 2009

      Post a Reply

      Thanks for those tips! I’ll check out these plugins. Is the ping problem mentioned by Maxblogpress Ping Optimizer still an issue? It refers to WordPress 2.3 on that download page.

  7. Akshay

    June 20, 2009

    Post a Reply

    Just saw the molom plugin you were referring to looks good but have’nt seen it on many blogs too.The screenshot look impressive.Also tell me what you think about Math Comment Spam Protection Plugin.

    • Ankur

      June 20, 2009

      Post a Reply

      Math spam protection is good too. That’s the other way of dealing with spam by actively verifying rather than passively like Akismet does.

  8. How do I use MobilePress? I installed it, and now it’s showing the mobile version of the site even when I visit it from my computer!

    • Ankur

      June 21, 2009

      Post a Reply

      Go to the MobilePress options page and make sure everything other than iPhone is set to be treated as a mobile browser.

      • Rachit Agarwal

        June 21, 2009

        didnt work…but i think i kinda like the look of the mobile site…i think i’ll let it be or some time…what do you say?

  9. Akshay

    June 21, 2009

    Post a Reply

    when i use tag it automatically turns to may be cos of xhtml.Is there any way to prevent this.I used embed for blip.tv videos.

    I’m using popularity contest plugin,with the recent update of plugin when i automatically tried to upgrade it,it resulted in error.do u have any soln.

    By the way check out my ,silly point, section having games and mobi world.not yet complete though,but added a new game.

    http://softloads.in/silly-point

    • Ankur

      June 21, 2009

      Post a Reply

      I didn’t get the first question you were asking. The answer to second one is, login through FTP, go to wp-content/plugins, find popularity contest folder and delete it. If you’ve cPanel access you can do this from there too.

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