Once again, it is time to bore you – this time with a 7-page article! :D
Okay, first things first: I am someone who believes that you should not try to fix something that is not broken. For that reason, I am a happy user of WordPress 3.0.4 version (I am not convinced enough to upgrade, yet). I have multisite enabled. The plugins described below work fine on my multisite blogs. However, I cannot say for sure if it would work on your blog too! Please keep that in mind when reading this post, thanks!
a) Plugin support has dropped since a long time (although I don’t think the developer has officially admitted it).
b) I have never been able to make PHP codes work with it (in spite of enabling the respective option in the plugin settings).
Ad Injection, on the other hand, not only comes with awesome support from the developer, you can also easily use a remote php include file as your ad. On top of that, the dev claims that it works with cache plugins such as WP Super cache and WP Total cache (from what I have experienced though, the ads don’t get rotated if I use a cache plugin; it is possible the developer might have fixed the issue by now, and in any case, I don’t use cache plugins on any of my blogs now, so it is no more an issue for me)!
Another thing that differentiates Advertising manager from Ad Injection is that the latter does not support the use of shortcodes, not yet anyway! Depending on your needs, you may want to choose one plugin over the other; as far as I am concerned, I would recommend Ad Injection any day, even if only for the terrific support you get from the plugin developer!
2. AStickyPostOrderER: There are already lots of plugins such as Sticky Manager for making a particular post sticky, but few plugins have the ability to make posts sticky by category or tag. For example, let us say that you have a blog on movies, and say, you have categories like "drama", ‘action", etc, and, let us also assume that you want to make a post to be the sticky post for the "drama" category. Well, you can do that with the above plugin; it works with tags too!
Usage is really simple: you just click on a category, number the post you want to be sticky as "1" (without quotes) and that post would become sticky for that category. Ditto for tags! To undo the sticky post, you just number it as "0"! You can keep playing with it as much as you want!
3. Block Bad Queries (BBQ): Due to a lot of issues with the Bad Behavior plugin (such as the CPU usage issue that I have encountered, and the alleged issue with search engines, in particular Google, which I have NOT encountered) I decided to drop Bad behavior’s use from a lot of my blogs, and installed this plugin instead! This plugin blocks most of the queries that hackers use to hack your blog, so I believe it is quite good for any blog UNLESS you have commenting enabled (incidentally, this is the only blog where I accept comments, so I still have bad Behavior installed here).
This plugin does not take as much CPU/database space as Bad Behavior; it is so simple and light that you won’t believe it! Another good thing about this plugin is that unlike Bad Behavior, you don’t need to spend time on upgrading it frequently; it is sort of a ‘set-and-forget’ type of plugin! Give it a try; I don’t think you would regret it!
4. BWP Google XML Sitemaps: Rarely would you a find a WordPress sitemap plugin, (and this is especially true for WordPress multisite) that really WORKS AND does not take a ginormous amount of CPU to generate your sitemap! This is one of those "rare" plugins! I always dreaded the idea of installing a sitemap plugin on a multisite network out of fear of CPU usage; frankly, when I installed this plugin, I feared my entire site would go down at the time of generating the sitemap!
But, nothing like that happened! I kept working on my site as usual, and did not even realize when the sitemap was generated by this plugin! It uses an in-built cache system to keep the server load low, and if you wish, you can manually flush out the cache as and when you like (you won’t really need to do this unless you are making massive changes to your site’s structure and are too impatient to let the plugin flush out the cache in its own time)! It also lets you split your sitemap into smaller sections such as one for all of your posts, the other for your pages, and yet another for your blog’s taxonomy, etc. I highly recommended it!
The support from the developer is quite good too (I do suggest you post your questions on the dev’s personal forum rather than the WordPress forums if you want to get answered faster)!
Now comes the techy part (to bore you, hehe :D ): the plugin requires you to CHMOD the its cache directory to 777! This is a high security risk, so I would suggest you try an alternative which works just as well! If you are technically oriented, I would also suggest you change the cache directory’s name to something else that would be hard to guess (note that, if you do this, you would also need to change the cache directory’s name in the class-bwp-simple-gxs.php file under the plugins’ "includes" directory:
$this->options['input_cache_dir'] = plugin_dir_path($this->plugin_file) . 'cache/';
Change the "cache" to your new directory’s name!
If you want to style the sitemap page and/or remove the footer links, just edit the bwp-sitemapindex.xsl and bwp-sitemap.xsl files under the plugin’s "xsl" directory!
If you are getting errors when loading the sitemap page, just go to "Settings=>Permalinks" and update your permalink structure!
Helpful links for the plugin:
5. Proper Network Activation: If you would like to "Network Activate" a plugin, I highly recommend you install this plugin! It basically serves two functions:
a) To ensure that a plugin, when network activated, works on any new site you create on that network (keep in mind that a lot of plugins are meant to work on a ‘single activation’ only, and if you "network activate" such a plugin, it may not well properly on some sites, which is where this plugin comes in)!
b) To ensure that a plugin is deactivated on all the sites on the network, in case you choose to "Network deactivate" it!
6. SEO Friendly Social Links: Finally, I got rid of my Twitter and Facebook plugins as I realized they were not adding anything much to my websites except some extra load (this is the only site where I still have them); I replaced them with this more SEO-friendly plugin! Its main advantage is that it is very easy to setup, and lets you pick and choose the social sites you want to be displayed at the end of your post; it is also a very light plugin!
The disadvantage is that you cannot choose to hide it on certain pages of your blog; I mean, it shows up everywhere on your blog: the posts, the pages, the homepage, the archives, you name it! Maybe some ‘coding change’ would fix the problem, but anyway, it is not a big issue for me! If you want a light social sharing plugin for WordPress, this is for you!
Another disadvantage, and this is not even related to the core function of the plugin: the plugin comes with a widget that displays "news" from the developer’s blog on your WordPress dashboard; this in turn may affect the speed at which your dashboard loads! To fix the issue, FTP to the plugin’s directory, and delete ALL the contents of the widget.php file! That’s it! It is difficult to make the widget totally go away totally from the dashboard (I have tried hiding it through the "Screen options" but it comes back the next time I log into my blog), but that is okay, because the news feeds that affected your dashboard’s loading speed would no longer get displayed!
7. 404 Image fix: I have an autoblog where my RSS feed plugin pulls the image of a post along with the post; it happens only with some feeds, but over time, the images accumulate to such an extent that they take up a huge chunk of my disk space! I have not found any fix to this; so I just FTP to my image directory’s and manually delete the images periodically! This creates another problem: all those posts with images now start showing the annoying "missing image icon", not to mention that the whole area would show a blank space. Wow, what a great blow to the "image" of my website (pun intended)! To get around the issue, I use this plugin. What this plugin does is – it hides that annoying "missing image icon" as well as the "blank space" from the affected posts, so that people would not even know if that post(s) used to have an image that is no longer available! Hee hee, quite a handy trick eh? ;)
In fact, the plugin offers more features but the above is the extent of my use of the plugin! :D
Getting bored, are ya? Well ye ain’t seen nothing yet! Expect to get bored some more before you get rid of me (kidding)! ;)
9. Better WordPress External Links: Another plugin I use for my auto blog. They say that too many external links might dilute your search engine rankings! Well, who knows! This blog has a lot of external links! Anyway, I decided to try out the plugin for fun! Basically, this plugin lets you prefix your domain (and even something more, if you wish to) to an external link. It also lets you add nofollow to your external links! You can even make your external links open in a new window if you so wish!
Please note that all the settings work independent of each other, meaning that you can choose not to add your domain as prefix to an external link, and STILL make it nofollow! I only use the "nofollow" and "target_blank" features of the plugin; I have never been able to use the ‘domain prefix’ feature, despite following this forum topic to the T!
10. Dagon Design Form Mailer: A good old-fashioned contact form plugin for WordPress, with some advanced features. I have only tested it with up to WordPress 2.9.2., so cannot say for sure if it would work on WordPress 3.0 and beyond! Another less elegant solution for you is to handcode your own contact form using Dreamweaver or whatever HTML editor you have, use an external form processor such as allforms, and use the Advertising manager plugin (or for that matter, any plugin that lets you create "custom ads" containing html, and lets you add those ads on a page using shortcodes) to display the whole code on a page (I don’t know if WordPress now natively supports form codes without requiring the use of an external plugin); this works even with WordPress 3.0.4! ;)
11. Exclude File Type Requests: I mainly use it for my autoblog. I auto-prune the database by deleting older posts with a custom cron job (this to keep the load on CPU, Apache and MYSQL within control)! As a result, WordPress has to process a lot of 404 requests for those deleted posts as well as any media files associated with them! This in turn creates a huge load on my server. With this plugin, I can tell WordPress to ignore the 404 requests for certain file types, and thus, minimize the server load!
By default, the following file types are on the plugin’s exclusion list, meaning that a 404 request for any of these file types would be ignored by WordPress:
This is the default list offered by the plugin and I believe it is enough, so I have not changed it in any way!
12. FD Feedburner Plugin: I don’t know about you, but Feedburner feedsmith does not work on any of my multisite blogs: it works well for a single site but as soon as you add your Feedburner URL to another site on the same network, the plugin gives a "security hash missing" error! The problem is further compounded by the fact that Google does not offer any alternative suggestions (they don’t seem to give a damn about it). I have no idea how to fix it, and frankly, why even bother when there is a better alternative! :D
FD Feedburner Plugin redirects my feeds on my multisite blogs without a hitch!
NOTE: If you notice something like this, just clear your browser cache and it should work fine!
13. WordPress Popular Posts: It lets you display the popular posts of your blog using special criteria, and of course, you can change the criteria the way you want. For example, on my review sites: I have set the plugin to display popular posts based on the average daily reviews; time range does not matter to me, so I have set the plugin to pull data from the very beginning (of its installation) lol! Another great thing is that it uses an in-built cache to lessen the server load, and it flushes the cache every month to keep your cache table compact!
These I believe are the two major features I could not find in my ex- popular posts plugin, Wp Post Views, the reason why I dumped it from all of my blogs except this one! :D
Wp Post Views basically accumulates the stats from the very beginning and uses that to show how popular a post is, and you just cannot define a second criterion; now that I believe can be a little misleading; for example a post may be popular at one point of time but the way the plugin works, it would stay popular forever by virtue of its erstwhile popularity! Another thing I did not like about that plugin is that it would show up on all of my pages and posts no matter how I set it (this especially happened on my multisite blogs). Well no complaints, because there are better alternatives, LOL!
14. YD Recent Posts with thumbnails: I started using this nasty plugin because, unlike the in-built "recent posts" widget of WordPress, it lets me display a little except of the post along with the post title! I call it nasty because the plugin author uses sneaky tactics to create a linkback to his site from your blog, and it won’t go away if you simply disable the linkback from the plugin’s settings. You would also need to edit the yd-recent-posts-widget.php file to remove this part from that very bottom of the file:
<a href="http://www.yann.com/en/wp-plugins/yd-recent-posts-widget">' . __('Support') . '</a>
Basically almost all of the author’s plugins I have tested so far are no different: solid plugin with a lot of features but with sneaky linking tactics and lack of support. May be that is the author’s way of saying "Since I am giving away such an awesome plugin to you at no cost, you MUST give me some link juice form your site!’. Hmm, but then again, I am a hard nut to crack! Each and every time, I decide to keep his plugin, but AFTER removing the linkback, lol!
What are you doing down here! You aren’t bored yet? You gotta sleep now! :P (kidding)
But before you go to bed, please click here to leave a nice comment, thanks! ;)
To be continued…