Matt has an interesting blog post at the WordPress blog about why you should keep your WordPress version up-to-date (as if you needed another reason). Matt compares 3 types of WordPress security advice: snake oil. Club solutions and real advice (see his post for what he means by Club solutions). The only thing I would add to Matt’s post is that you should also make sure you keep your plugins up-to-date as well — as they can be another security hole that can potentially be exploited. Check out Matt’s post for more info on why you should always be on the latest WordPress version.
Like many other WordPress users, I use a comment form plugin in order to get comments from my website’s WordPress installation into my mailbox. Getting that information from the site to the inbox is a fairly simple process, due mainly to fact that I used a simple contact form plugin.
For the most part, I was getting the occasional spammer who actually took the time to write manual spam into the form (why, I’m not sure — since manually entering spam would only reach me, and doesn’t manually sending each spam message kind of defeat the purpose of spam), but for the most part, my inbox stayed relatively clean.
For the past month however, my comment form has been hit with more automated spam — not a ridiculous amount, but just enough to be annoying. On most days, I would get at least three or four spam message with gibberish subject lines which I needed to delete.
So I upgraded today to WordPress 2.8 (which I still haven’t really played around with — obviously, since I just upgraded today), and I’m starting to wonder when I can look forward to not having to click that upgrade button any more.
The addition of one-click upgrades to both the WordPress core installation as well as installed plugins was a brilliant feature addition, but I’m hoping things will go one step further and just update my stuff automatically. While I could see the questions raised already (what if something broke? what if you didn’t want to upgrade? what if your database imploded?), why not just make it a feature that you could turn on?
For me anyway, having to log into all of my sites and upgrade WordPress and all its plugins is something that I do irregularly because it’s time-consuming. Would there not be some way to just have WordPress go through the upgrade and just let me know if there’s a problem? I guess we’re still a long ways away from software that can diagnose its own illnesses. Oh well, I can hope, can’t I?
I came across an interesting piece on social networking called “10 keys to making social networking work” by Mark Gibbs over at Network World. Mark’s got some good points about social networking (although I’m not so sure about his fourth point about traditional blogging, I think it depends on your audience), but there always seems to be one thing missing from these types of articles.
Worry about your content first, delivery mechanisms later. Your first job, no matter what type of content you’re creating, is to consistently deliver quality content. The delivery mechanisms for content are not too hard to figure out, and should largely depend on your audience and the type of content you are creating.
I like to write blog posts because I write infrequently, and when I do write, I like to put down a series of thoughts (it’s not always something long, but it’s too much to fit on Twitter). In my opinion, too much focus is put on the immediacy of microblogging — when instead you should be thinking about whether Twitter is the appropriate forum for your message.
And you can’t really get around the content quality issue. If you’re not creating stuff that people care about, there’s really not much point in creating it, no matter what mechanism you use to deliver that content.
There are lots of organizations out there who are starting corporate blogs — and many of those blogs get a less-than-stellar reception from their potential audiences.
Why does this happen? Why don’t people want to read a particular blog? Well, I’d suggest there are certain things people want to see in a corporate blog. They want a blog that is:
1. Authentic. Many corporate blogs start off on the wrong foot right away by forfeiting their readers’ trust. Instead of a blog written by an interesting, charismatic person in the organization, the job gets unloaded on some poor writer or administrative assistant who has to try to come up with content.
If the voice of the blog feels out of sync with the person who’s writing it, readers will catch on. If the blogger doesn’t have time to write their own blog, they shouldn’t be blogging. Period.
The way I figure it, on June 27th, this blog will officially be 20 months old. I understand that 20 months is when children often enter the “terrible twos” (I don’t have any children myself, so I have to rely on what I read on the web).
While browsing around to find out about what happens at 20 months old (yes, I know a blog is not a child, but hey, I thought it might be worth a laugh), I was stunned to come across this statement:
Look for new signs of assertiveness from your toddler. Hallmark behaviors to watch for: He may insist on doing exactly what you’ve told him not to do or throw himself down on the floor in a fit of temper if he doesn’t get his way. His demands may alternately frustrate and amuse you. At times, for example, he’ll likely ask for something that he doesn’t even want, just to see if he has enough power to get it.
Unfortunately, this pretty much describes my nearly 2 year old WordPress install just as well. Last week’s denial-of-service attack on my host’s server didn’t help matters any either.
Since I’m at home sick today with a particularly nasty throat infection, I was browsing through some of my old posts, and noticed that my Google PageRank had mysteriously returned to it’s old value of 4 (I use SearchStatus in Firefox to see PageRank values).
While I don’t really care too much about PageRank, I still find it odd that a redirect had dropped my PageRank to 0. Since I wrote that initial post though, I did a few experiments with my search results, and noticed that none of my Google results had changed at all.
What this seems to indicate to me is that PageRank can only be interpreted over the long term. Looking at the number even over the course of a few months seems to be pointless, since it doesn’t really give you an accurate picture of how Google treats your site or pages.
I’ve been waiting a while now to get my 13000th comment spam (don’t ask me why, I’ve just noticed the number creeping up to 13000 lately, and I’ve been counting down the days).
A while ago, I had decided to go with a challenge question as well as Bad Behaviour (which are both ways to block comment spam before it even happens). Unfortunately, however, Bad Behaviour slowed down the admin of this site to a crawl, so I had to dump it.
As for the challenge question, I didn’t notice any decrease in spam at all. While I didn’t exactly do any before-and-after quantitative analysis on the effects of the challenge question, I have noticed that most of my spam is of the automated bot type — not some spammer sitting there typing in long comments about shady online pharmacies.
So my conclusion would be this: challenge questions aren’t really an effective way to fight spam (at least not in my case). Has anyone else had a different experience with the spam they get or the tools they use to fight them? With all that spam out there, it makes you wonder how much more we can really handle.
I’ve been using FeedBurner for about almost a year and a half now (if anyone’s counting, that’s since the first month that I’ve been writing here. and FeedBurner’s been managing my subscribers since then). I’ve been lucky to watch my subscriber count grow consistently — with one notable exception.
This site has hovered around 400 RSS subscribers for months now, which is to be expected I think, since I have sometimes had less time to post than I would like in the past several months. But in the past two months, my subscriber count was suddenly cut in half.
That’s right. One day I logged into FeedBurner, and there were now roughly 200 subscribers instead of 400. I chalked it up to something weird happening on FeedBurner’s end, and didn’t think much about it (I’m not as obsessed as I used to be with subscriber count, fortunately).
I’ve been debating (largely with myself) for quite a while whether to place full posts on the front page, or whether to abbreviate the posts with the ‘More’ tag. Most of the time, I’ve chosen to go with the abbreviated posts.
Why? Well, my logic kind of goes like this. If you have a bunch of full posts on the front page, it’s going to be very, very long to scroll down, even if there are only five or six posts on a page. The advantage, however, would be that you don’t have to actually click on an item to see the full post.
So I thought I’d ask you. Would you rather see the full post on the front page? Or would you rather have it abbreviated with ‘More’ and then click on it? Or, perhaps, you read through an RSS reader and don’t really care what’s on the front page. It would be great to get some feedback, whatever it is.