The Robservatory

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Behind the scenes: plug-ins revisited

The last time I redid these pages’ appearance, back in 2007, I wrote about the WordPress Plugins and Widgets that I was using to run the site.

After seven years, quite a lot has changed. I’ve gotten rid of all but one of the items on the original list, and found some very useful new additions that help both me and visitors

From that original list, the one leftover Plugin is Ajax Comment Preview, which implements a true click-to-view comment preview function. The others went away either because I wasn’t using them any more (weather in the sidebar, how quaint), or because WordPress’ built-in features made them redundant.

Keep reading to see what’s keeping the site ticking now…

  • There are a number of anti-spam and anti-bot tools out there; I use quite a few of them, including Akismet, GrowMap Anti-Spambot, Sabre, and Stop Spammers.
  • I also use Jetpack, which is sort of a meta-plugin, as it has plugins within it (i.e. the contact form on my Contact Rob page), and some stats tracking.
  • Custom Meta Widget: Allows easy customization of the Meta (Administrivia here on my site) section of the sidebar. Used to remove the annoying wordpress.org RSS link.
  • Cyclone Slider 2: A nifty little image slider, which you can see in use on any of my iOS device wallpaper posts.
  • Dashboard Commander: Grants control over WordPress’ admin dashboard, so you can disable annoying news feeds from Range and WordPress.
  • Easy Pie Maintenance Mode: A simple plugin that lets you show a “we’re closed” sign to visitors, while the admin can still login and work on the site. Very useful when installing and testing a new site design.
  • Get Recent Comments: Allows control over layout and content of the recent comments sidebar entry. What I really like is the ability to group comments by parent post. It’s old and not often updated, but seems to still work fine.
  • Recently Registered: If you run a site that accepts public registrations, this is invaluable—it lets you sort your user list by date registered, which makes it easy to mass delete spammer registrations.
  • Sliding Read More: This is another old, never updated plugin that seems to just keep working. This one lets the “read more” links on longer articles reveal the remaining content without reloading the entire page.
  • Twitter Widget Pro: A really nice way to put tweets in the sidebar, as it’s not affected by Twitter’s tweet limit. You actually create a little Twitter application, which this plugin then uses to get updates.

If you run a WordPress site, some of these add-ons can be incredibly useful. Amazingly, all are free (though some rightfully ask for donations).

Updated: Apr 26 '14 — 6:17 am

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