The solution to that exists. When you comment, you have the option of providing your email address, which I notice that most people do not fill in, I guess because of concerns about spamming. That’s not a problem in itself but I wanted to point out the benefit you have when you do provide it. Mainly that you get email notification about new replies to your own comments.
The way it works is this: If you’ve filled in an email address, whenever someone responds to a comment you made directly, by using the “post reply” button directly under your comment (not the one in the end of the comment list), an email is dispatched to your address informing you that someone replied to your comment and also quoting what you had said (to jolt your memory).
At this point, you can follow the provided link which takes you immediately to the new comment, so that you may reply directly, or you can reply by simply replying to the email itself (that is, no need to visit the site at all). ((The later option is still a bit flaky sometimes but in general it should work.))
The biggest advantage thus is that you can continue in the conversation without having to take any extra action by yourself like subscribing to the comment RSS or visiting repeatedly to check if any new replies have been posted. It allows makes the discussion to progress faster and more intensely (pun intended)
There is also one side benefit to providing an email address in that if there is something wrong (as was the case when the “see more replies” link broke) I can send you a direct email to inform you that no, your comment is not lost or deleted (as many assumed) and I’m working on fixing the problem.
So that’s all, if you can, I would ask you to provide an email address so that you don’t lose track of the conversation and you can easily continue without having to scour through the comments.
I’m aware that you may have a valid concern about providing the email that I have not considered and perhaps we can find a workaround. So if you still do not wish to use it, I’d love to hear why.
Now you have the ability to show all the posts of your domain which have been submitted to reddit and sort them by the best. That way new visitors have a quick way to find out what is best to read first.
Along with things like AideRSS’s top posts widget (mine you can see on the top slidebar) you can put your best content, by popular vote, to the forefront. Unfortunately AideRSS does not update as soon as I’d like so it’s good to have the alternative of reddit.
Another good addition from reddit is that you can now customise the colour of your buttons. Finally I can add it to my own webpage and have it fit. This is my classic problem with widgets in that they never fit my dark colour scheme. The Alien needs some antialiasing work I think but generally it looks good.
To tell the truth, I really wanted to the button to be on the botton right of the post so that people can use the buttons once they’re finished reading the article but there was no realistic way to do it. Putting the button after the content meant that it fell next to the similar posts and bunched them up (which I didn’t like). Using the css “position” property I could move it a couple of dozen pixels upwards to have it within the content but unfortunately the word-wrapping did not follow it and thus it just ended up obscuting the text.
If anyone has any idea on how to achieve this without having to manually put code in the content each time I’d love to hear it.
Ah, I forgot to mention that you can also put something nice in your sidebar to show others what you liked
Glenda Watson Hyatt is a severely disabled person (Cerebral Palsy) who has used blogging through WordPress to expand her social life and get an online voice. Simply WordPress has changed her life and for this she has crafted the following video ((h/t Internetakias)).
If a person who can only use the computer through her left thumb can find WordPress easy enough to use then certainly all of you can do it as well.
The most interesting parts is the Feeds option which allows you to import your favorite feeds into zemanta and have it find posts available there, that are relevant to your content. By using the friends function and simply adding you twitter contacts (yet another reason why you should join the twitter atheists) you can simply select the ones you want to follow. Plus, mybloglog became more useful now 😀
With the huge amount of atheist blogs, this is certainly going to come in handly in facilitating interlinking to others in the Atheosphere (whereas before you just had to have something available). Now I can easily start writing something about ethics, and get some stuff from, say, the Atheist Ethicist to add.
The other one I like is that you can now filter you image results. This was sorely needed as you very often have an idea on what to put as a image but zemanta does not give you the option. This has finally become better than photodropper now since it is both faster, and you get previews and you get to see more sources than simply flickr. Plus, you can tell it to only grab your own stuff if you have a flickr account 😉
I’ve just discovered a little plugin, Zemanta ((h/t sudobash)), that claims it can make my blogging easier and I was wondering how true that might be. Thus this post, which is party a test to check the capabilties.
Apparently what this plugin does it that it finds related pictures, tags, links and articles to your post content and proposes them for you to use. I am already using the Photo Dropper Wordpress plugin which can find for me Creative Commons licensed content in flickr that is related to my post, but Zemanta promises to take this a step further.
I’ve just discovered a little plugin, Zemanta ((h/t sudobash)), that claims it can make my blogging easier and I was wondering how true that might be. Thus this post, which is party a test to check the capabilties.
Apparently what this plugin does it that it finds related pictures, tags, links and articles to your post content and proposes them for you to use. I am already using the Photo Dropper WordPress plugin which can find for me Creative Commons licensed content in flickr that is related to my post, but Zemanta promises to take this a step further.
Currently it comes in the form of either a browser or a server plugin. The first form would be appropriate for someone who does not want to load up his blogs with extra scripts and generally blogs from the same place always (say, home). The second form, for which I went for, is better for someone who might blog from 2-3 different locations.
As I’m using it, it looks quite good. I especially like the automatic tag suggestions, and while there are other plugins that can do the same, it’s good that you don’t need 4 different installations. The only thing that wasn’t obvious is that you need to save your article at least once before suggestions start coming in. However once they start, they update every 300 words to give you stuff more relevant to what you are typing in.
So I think I’ll keep it. I’ve already installed it in various of the blogs I manage and I think it will be especially useful for people who just don’t have much time to look around for images or think of tags.
In this article I want to write an easy, step-by-step guide on how you can transfer your blog from a free account hosted in Blogger to a Dreamhost powered WordPress installation. I’m writing this now as my memory is quite fresh from my recent migration and hopefully this will come useful to others who might be thinking of doing this themselves.
Select “Host a Domain” as the other choice is just to get a new domain name through Dreamhost
In Step 2 Select the yearly option as it’s the most sensible for someone with a low budget.
In Step 3 You don’t need to select anything unless you plan to run a lot of heavy scripts and have a bit of traffic.
In Step 4, Uncheck Google Apps if you want to use Dreamhost’s custom options. This is a good option if you just a WordPress blog for now. You can always turn it up later.
In Step 5, leave it as it is, and type the domain name you would like and a username for your ftp access.
In Step 6, fill your information in.
In Step 7 type dbzer0 to get 20$ off or firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to be extra nice to me 😉 Check the Box and go to Payment
Go through the payment stuff and wait until you receive the “DreamHost Account Approval Notification!” email.
Follow the email link and put your credentials to find yourself in your Panel.
Setting up your domain
You’ll find yourself in the Overview pane. From here you can follow various links to manage your stuff. Start by clicking the Manage Domains button (Also found in the sidebar under “Domains”)
If you created a new domain in the previous part, you should see it now in the list. Press the “Edit” Button next to the “Delete” button in the middle.
In the next screen the only things you should change are the following
Switch your PHP version to 5.x. PHP 4.x is obsolete and you’ll run into problems with plugins and the like if you keep using it.
Further down where it says “How do you like the www in your URL?” don’t leave it as “both”. Select the “remove www.” as this will help Search engines find you better.
Press “Change fully hosted setting now!” to complete this step.
Now that our domain settings are ready, lets go ahead and setup our WordPress installation. Start by heading over to One-Click installs (from the sidebar it’s under “Goodies > One-Click Installs”
Click “Install new software (Advanced Mode)” (Easy mode is similar hosting it on wordpress.com)
WordPress should be already selected so simply scroll down. You should see an image similar to the screenshot on the left.
In “Install to” you should see your domain. Leave it as it is, unless you want your wordpress site to a subfolder of your domain (ie /blog/). However I don’t recommend this. First because you can later on configure wordpress to show your posts under something like that and secondly because you’ll have to create some kind of splash or home page on your domain root for people falling there. This will probably be different from your site and won’t be counted in your wordpress stats.
In “Select database to use” you should have the option to write your own database name. The default probably will not work so change it to something obvious for you. An example is yourblogname_wp_db
In Hostname, you can just leave it as it is.
In Creating a user for the database, you can simply create the same user as for your ftp access so to cut down on things you have to remember. You’ll probably never use this anyway so it’s easy to forget if you put something new.
Press “Install it for me now”. it will load for a bit and then the page will reload and on the top you should see something similar to this:
Within 5 to 10 minutes, you should receive an email telling you that your installation is ready.
Setting up your WordPress and importing from Blogger
Now that you’ve received the funky Dreamhost email follow the handy instructions within.
Go to the install link and create your first user.
Login to your site
That’s it. Your first wordpress site is now ready 😉
Lets proceed to import your blogger site now
Go to Import (follow the link in the email or in the admin panel head to “Manage > Import”
Click on Blogger
Click “Grant Access” in blogger.
You will now see all blogs you are managing in blogspot. Click on the “Import” Magic Button and wait a few seconds to minutes (depending on your old content)
If you’re using feedburner (and if you’re not, why aren’t you?!) go to your feeds, then to your blogger feed, and click “Edit Feed Details”. In the “Original Feed Location” replace your old blogger feed location with the new wordpress one. This is always in the form of http://yourblogurl/feed.
If you’re not using Feedburner, first go and create a feed for your wordpress installation. Then go to your old blogger blog settings > Site Feed. In the “Post Redirect Feed URL” put the new feedburner feed you just created which has your new wordpress feed as its source. This will transparently migrate all your old readers to your new location
Write a new post on your blogspot blog that you have moved and point to your new location. Once we setup your plugin installer, we’ll set up your blog to automatically redirect each post to your new location.
That’s it. You have now successfully migrated from Blogger to WordPress 😉 In a next post I will explain how to migrate Intense Debate Comments as well, since the wordpress importer does not grab those automatically.
There’s one last thing that you might want to do which is to inform your readers that you’ve changed location
Currently you should have created your wordpress site and migrated from blogger but you are probably at a very basic state. You should at this point configure a few options to make your life and look easier.
Settings > General
Put a Tagline for your site. This will both be shown on your theme but also probably be seen by search engines as well.
Configure your time so that the times you schedule and post are the ones you expect
Settings > Discussion
Under “Before a Comment Appears”, uncheck “Comment author must have a previously approved comment” This will reduce your management overhead.
Under “Comment Moderation” increase the number of links to 3 since it is not uncommon for a non-spammer to include to links in the same post.
Settings > Permalinks
Here you should set your permalink structure. That is the way your posts will look at your blog. While you can leave it as the default ?p=123, this generally looks ugly, is not rememberable and search engines don’t like it.
Many people select the date based permalinks but I personally do not like that choice. This kind of setup is only appropriate for newspapers really. The only ones who should be using this are the ones who are writing an actual journal.
My advice to you is to use a either a custom structure or a category based one. In a custom structure, you can use the simple /%postname% option which will make all your articles show on the root (ie http://dbzer0.com/this-is-a-post ) or put something in front to make it differ from pages. I prefer /blog/%postname% but it’s up to you.
In a category structure, your posts will show under each category which is nice but if you tag sometimes in more than one category, an article may show under an undesirable one.In any case, whatever you choose does not need to be permanent. Even if you change your permalink structure in the future, wordpress will automatically redirect links going into a post that has changed location correctly so don’t agonize on making the perfect choice now.
Plugins are the most exciting part of having your own wordpress installation. I’m not going to go into much depth but I want to mention how to set your installation up to allow you to install and manage plugins from the wordpress admin interface (instead of setting up ftp connections each time). Unfortunately we cannot avoid using FTP the first time.
Use your favorite FTP client to setup a connection to your server. I recommend the excellent fireftp which you can use without installing software on your PC.
Setup your connection in your ftp program of choice. In Fireftp:
Select “New Connection”
Find your server name. You can find this in multiple locations:
In the automated emails your received
In your dreamhost panel by going to Users > Manage Users and looking at the “Machine” column
At the dreamhost panel, clicking on “Account Status” on the top and looking at “Your Web server”
In server name, put your server name followed by .dreamhost.com (e.g. dodo.dreamhost.com)
In user name, put the user your created for your account
In Password, put the password you created. If you do not remember it, you can change it from Manage Users again by clicking on “Edit”
Connect to your server. You should now be in a folder where your domain exists as a subdirectory. Enter that directory and then navigate to Wp-content > Plugins.
Using your ftp program, upload the plugin directory into your wordpress Plugins directory we navigated before. In Fireftp:
On the left-hand side of the split-screen, navigate to the place where you’ve extracted the zip file.
Make sure that your right screen is showing the contents of youblog.com/wp-content/plugins (you should be seeing other folders and .php files like wp-cache/ and hello.php)
Select the directory and click the little arrow pointing to the right between the split-screens.
Wait until the job is complete.
Go to your plugins admin page (Top right)
Scroll down to where it says “Inactive Plugins” and activate the One-Click Plugin Updater. This will make your plugin page show a little differently. Namely you should see yellow bars next to various plugins.
That’s it. Now you have the ability to install new plugins and themes without using ftp and without even downloading and extracting files on your PC. Just follow the instructions that you can find in the “One Click Updater Miniguide” in your Dashboard.
So that’s it.
Hopefully this guide will help any of you who are thinking about self-hosting but don’t want to trust me or want to learn to do it yourselves.
If you see anything I forgot or something I should include or make simpler, let me know.
Right, so here we are, after one full week of me trying to convince you that self-hosting is the superior choice and most probably, you still have the same opinion as before I started.
That’s ok, I didn’t expect 6 simple posts to create a stampede of people falling over each other to take control of their own site. What I did hope to achieve is to dispel some of that wariness so that I don’t have to counter all these arguments in this post.
So here’s my cunning plan:
I’ll do it for you.
What will I do specifically? I will setup your wordpress installation. I will use all my experience in the platform to configure the most useful plugins, your SEO, your backups, your performance and importing your previous blog. I will take your wishes for your blog and attempt to make them come true.
You will not be required to spend any time in setting anything up, other than buying your new hosting plan and putting your new password once I’m finished. Hell, I’ll give you 30 days support while I’m at it.
And I’ll do it for free.
It is at this point that most sensible people would ask: “What’s the catch?”. Well, there’s no catch, but there are…stipulations:
The people eligible for this offer will be personally chosen by me. I will only help people who have proven to hold values at least a bit similar to mine. This means no Ayn Rand Objectivists and no libertarians: These true believers in the free market can go pay for it.
Initially this offer will be extended by invitation. Depending on how well received it is, I may allow people to request it. I will investigate and veto requests on ethical grounds.
You will have to use Dreamhost and you will have to use me as a referrer. The reasons this are:
This is the provider I use and know pretty well by now. I do not know the admin panels of the other hosts and nor do I care to learn them. By using Dreamhost it means that I’ll be able to work very fast.
I will receive 10% of whatever you pay as a referral reward. This will be less than 5€ if you go for a yearly plan so don’t assume I’ll be earning a fortune. Furthermore, since by using my promo code dbzer0 you will pay 20$ less, I will not get anything for a while.
If you pay by credit card, you can cancel your contract within 90 days. This gives you ample time to abort if you don’t like it anymore and saves me from nagging. It gives you the peace of mind that I will not scam you as soon as you give me access.
It is cheap. You can pay from 9$ to 6$ per month, depending on how much you prepay. While this is more expensive than some, it more than makes it up for quality and support.
It is scalable. If you find that shared hosting is too slow, and you will only have that if you have too many plugins or too many visitors, you can request private server hosting for an extra 15$ per month which will dramatically improve your speeds. You can then further increase your speeds depending on your needs.
It provides overwhelming amounts of space and bandwidth. The initial plan will give you 500Gb of space and 5Tb of Bandwidth which will increase weekly. You will find it practically impossible to use them all, which means you can start hosting stuff for your friends, or special projects (say, online backup of your home PC).
You will certainly find naysayers of Dreamhost and I’m certain they have valid points but I’m quite satisfied myself and I believe you will be too.
They’ve been recognised as one of the only twenty five companies in the world to have a democratic workplace. I’ll gladly promote and pay a bit more to make sure that their employees are not abused and give an example for other companies. Plus, they are one of the few companies that don’t take themselves too seriously and their newletters and blog are actually worth reading.
You are not required to give me any reward for this. That does not mean I would not appreciate any way you might deem to repay me and I will accept anything you believe my work deserves. This can be a linkback from your new blog, a permanent or prominent place in your blogroll, donations, a good word and generally anything else you might think of.There is only one catch: Any kind of reward you provide me for this work will be shown publicly.I will have a special page for this project and I will list all the people and sites I’ve created through it and all the rewards each has provided. Of course, on stuff that it is not easy to figure out if they are a reward or not (like a linkback), I will only require you explicitly mention it somehow.
So these are my only stipulations. I believe they are reasonable but if you disagree, I’m open to discussing it.
How will this work?
Simple. You follow my link and register to the only plan there is (I told you it’s simple). This will automatically set me as your referral so don’t go surfing around before registering. If you want to make sure, use my email email@example.com
Alternatively, you can use the promo code “dbzer0” (minus the quotes) to get 20$ off. Alternatively you can not use the code which means that at some point in the future I’ll receive those 20$ extra 😉
Once your account is ready, you give me your new admin code for your dreamhost panel.
I ask you some information like “What domain name do you want” and “This domain name is not available, choose another”.
Once I have all the information I need, I tell you to wait.
At some point in the near future I get back to you and tell you that your new blog is ready and provide you with a new username and password.
We spend the next month telling me what else you would like you blog to do and I try to make it do it.
Once the month is past, I keep supporting you only on a best effort basis as I attempt to help someone else. Hopefully by then, you’re once again to the stage where you’re happy to leave your configuration be and simply post new stuff.
Why do I do this?
I do it because I’m honestly disappointed to see so many good people not doing the smart choice because of time or skill constraints.
I do it because I find it a pity that these people cannot shine as they could, as they are moored in the limited free hosting.
I do it because I want to help fellow Atheists (with correct values) to become better.
I do it because I like attention.
I do it because I have free time and enough skill that won’t hurt me to put to good use. It’s either that or simply read more or watch some series.
I do it because I had a dream.
I do it because I think gathering goodwill is worthwhile.
I do it because I hope it will inspire others.
The first invitations.
So, to get things started, here are my first invites.
I will start on a first come, first serve basis. If more than one of you guys accept, I will do it serially.
If none of these three accept the invitation, I select the next batch of invites. If none of the next batch accepts, I will attempt to select one from the comments (so if you want me to do you, please leave a comment stating so along with who you are, in case I don’t know you already)
If I have no acceptances and no comments to select from, I will consider this experiment a failure and stop asking.
Personally, I’m hoping it does not fail.
As for the rest of you. I hope to hear your opinions on this. Speak up!
I have now created a page to serve as a stopping point for people interested in self-web hosting and/or to have a centralized place for all the articles in the series I have been running in the last week.
Go ahead and take a look. Bookmark it so that you can show it to your friends you might be interested or convinced. Share and discuss.
While I was presenting the arguments against the most popular reasons people have for not self-hosting their own blog, I’ve been proposing WordPress as the software people should be using for that purpose. However I haven’t actually explained what’s so great about WordPress in the first place nor have I specificed the benefits self-hosting provides over free hosting like WordPress.com or Blogger.
Of course one can just look at the features as given by the devs themselves or check what popular blogs on blogging have to say but I thought that since you’re with me until now, you might be interested in my personal take on it.
Disclaimer: Some of these may look obvious or be already available for your free blogging platform of choice but that does not mean they are available for all. As an example: Blogger does not support trackbacks while WordPress.com does not allow ads.
8. Autosaves and revisioning so that your sanity and nerves are spared from both PC crashes and wrong saves.
9. With the widgets setup, you can easily change the layout of your sidebars or add custom and obscure scripts with two clicks, without editing any files.
10. You don’t have to be technical. You don’t have to know anything about dns, ips, mysql or apache to install and maintain it on most popular hosts
For the Technical and Web2.0 oriented bloggers:
11. You can have your OpenID being your own domain name and know you won’t have to change it in the future.
12. You can customize your theme as much or as little as you want and this is made much easier by the modular design of wordpress themes.
13. Where in other platforms you can only use whatever plugins or gadgets they provide or allow, in wordpress you have a choice of hundreds of plugins for almost any purpose your might think off.
14. You also have a choice of Categories and Tags. None of that googly “labels” that no-one else uses. Having both categories and tags allows better categorization and tag clouds 😉
15. With so much anti-spam you can pretty much say goodbye to everyone’s favourite canned meat. And that is without annoying your commenters with captchas and the like.
16. A comment system that is not a pain in the ass and actually recognises blockquotes.
17. Pretty much all services related to blogging support wordpress first and best. Even if that service has not, for some reason, implemented any way to integrate with blogs or wordpress, sooner or later, someone will make a plugin for it.
18. Supports Google Gears and offline/faster use.
19. The amount of information about wordpress out there is staggering. If you want to play with the system or simply optimize it as much as possible, you easily can.
For popular or Pro-Bloggers (and wannabes)
20. You have your own domain name which allows you more authority and visibility. Not having this, especially when you have big plans for your blog, is a big mistake.
21. You can use adverts if you wish.
22. Has great SEO out of the box that you can make it even better with plugins. If you’re going to write articles and don’t have many people to link to you, you’ll need this to be discovered.
23. With any number of plugins you get the option to show similar posts which is great for making scrappers work for you and keeping visitors engaged.
25. You have a great built-in media library which gives you not only the ability upload your own files but to also easily find them in your server, with the same settings you used them before if you wish to.
27. You setup collaborative weblog without having to make people register with a specific provider. You can even avoid registering altogether by using OpenIDs once more. Hell, you can set it up as a little social club if you want to 😉
28. Being Open Source, you have the certain knowledge that you platform will never go stale or out of development. Indeed, the more people that use it, the faster and better it becomes.
It is already on the bleeding edge of blogging and it shows no signs of slowing down.
29. It is easy to integrate with other software that you might use like gallery or forum software.
30. Being on your own host means that you can now easily help your friends escape the limited free hosting by taking them on your own server, with little cost to yourself.
31. As Free Software, wordpress is the most ethical choice of platform. By using it and showing your support, you not only retain your freedoms but also support people who might not otherwise have an online voice (say due to costs). It also means that most of the plugins and tools created for it are also probably free software which allows you or anyone else to take and customize them for your own use or join to make them better.
It means that, even just a bit, you promote a culture of shared reciprocation and freedom.
What other reasons can you think on why one should self-host and use Wordress?
In the last two posts I’ve been explaining how and why the WordPress installation and maintenance neither difficult not time consuming. I’ve made some claims about how quick it is to register or use a one-click installation but I deliberately have not mentioned which hosts can do this. This is because I did not want to appear as simply advertising for them.
However after some discussion with another acquaintance from Greece as well as from the comments, I was led to realise that, while some of what I say may sound as obvious to anyone who is already self-hosting, people who have no knowledge of the subject can understandably be miffed or confused. As the Barefoot Bum adequately put it:
This seems like useful information, but it’s not. What’s a “shared hosting provider”? Already you’ve asked me to Google. Assuming I figure out what that means, which are competent? Which are honest? I have to check ratings, recommendations, referrals.
Then, *most* shared hosting providers? Not all? Then I have to check. Is it obvious on their website? Do they say “WordPress” on the front page? Are there any limitations? Version requirements? Extra costs? And again: Are they honest? Do they *really* support WordPress, or will it crash when I install it because they’re using some funky tweak of PHP or MySQL?
I think this is a pretty fair statement to make and truth be told, I am planning to tackle the selection of the hosting provider in my final post in depth. however for now, in case anyone is already convinced and itching to start with shared hosting but can’t decide with whom to go I’ll give you a few choices in short.
Personal suggestion: Dreamhost. This is the one I’m using at the moment, and everything I’ve said until now definitely applies to it. If you want to know why I suggest it, you’ll have to wait until the final post of this series. If you do decide to use this, you can also use the promo code dbzer0 to get 20% off.
Alternative suggestions: Check what is certainly supporting wordpress from the official site. Unlike Dreamhost, I can’t promise anything about these as I do not know them personally. However It’s quite certain that they will support most of what I mentioned.