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Trying OpenID… and My Other WordPress Plugins

Published by Chris Coyier


I get the question from time to time what plugins I use on this blog. Since I just got through installing a brand new one (Open ID), I thought this might be a good time to run through the list.


RSS / Feed Related

FeedBurner Feed Smith
I "burn" my feed through FeedBurner for the purpose of gathering statistics. These statistics wouldn't be very useful if only a portion of the subscribers used the FeedBurner feed. This plugin "forces" the regular WordPress feed to redirect to the FeedBurner feed so that all subscribers are using the FeedBurner feed. At least, that's how I understand it.

Feed Count
This one allows me to display the my feed count with regular text with a little PHP snippet. I like this much better than the (in my opinion) ugly FeedBurner chicklet.


SEO Related

Google Sitemaps
Sitemaps supposedly help out search bots crawl through sites by letting them know about every last little bit of content you want them to know about. You can craft one by hand (if you are handy with XML), but it would an extremely tedious task with the hundreds of pages a blog can have. Not to mention you'd have to update it every time you posted new stuff. This plugin automatically generates and keeps your sitemap up to date. I have no hard evidence if this has actually ever helped me or not, but it just feels good and I doubt it's hurting anything.

If your site can resolve with or without the "www." in front of it, you may be at risk for "splitting your Google juice" or even potentially duplicate content penalization. This plugin forces your site to always resolve without the www. Again, I have no hard evidence that this has ever actually helped me, but it seems to make sense.

This removes the rel=nofollow attribute from links inside the comment section. I figure if ya'll are nice enough to spend time commenting here and providing links, you can get some benefit from that. I have no idea if this actually helps/hinders my/your SEO, but it just seems like the nice thing to do.


Extra Functionality or Aesthetics Related

Code Markup
Since I post a lot of HTML code snippets on this site, it really became a pain in the butt to have to "escape" all of that code inside the blog editor. That is, turn all those "<" characters into "&lt;". This plugin allows me to just paste in code and it does all that for me. While this is really nice and convenient, I would really like to have my code snippets be automatically syntax highlighted. If anyone knows of any fancy plugin like that, let me know.

Popularity Contest
This one is responsible for that "Popular Articles" section over in the sidebar. It calculates all kinds of stuff to make that list like views, comments, trackbacks, pingbacks, etc. It's pretty cool... but I'm not sure I'm gonna keep it around forever. What I'd really like to do is make a new section over there highlighting stuff that *I* decide is cool and worth highlighting. Maybe even one of those cool tabbed boxes or an accordion or something where you can flip between types of content. We'll see...

This one comes standard with WordPress, so I'm sure everyone knows about this. It fights comment spam. It does a pretty good job. Sometimes it does too good of a job and catches stuff I don't want it to catch, which sucks. If that has ever happened to you here, sorry about that. I hear there is a new kid on the block. Maybe I'll check that out someday.

This powers my little polls I like to run. Very nice and full featured. There are some really expensive poll applications out there I checked out before I used this. This is way better.

I don't use all of the typography-enhancing features of this plugin, but I use a couple. For one, I let it put a &nbsp; character before the last two words of my post titles. That prevents "widows" in my post titles, or a single word wrapping down onto the next line. With big fonts, window look especially horrendous. I really love this feature, but it does cause some problems. Namely, some social bookmarking sites trip up on that non-breaking space and replace it with an even-weirder character. I haven't decided whether that or windows are more annoying. This plugin can also do other cool things like wrap your ampersands in spans allowing you to use the best ampersand available.


Comments Related

Gravatar allows you to sync your email address with an icon of yourself. Any site using Gravatars will automatically use your personal icon when you comment there. I think this is a cool way to establish an identity across many blogs. It is also really easy to implement. One somewhat major downside is if the Gravatar sever is slow or down, it can affect the performance of your site. We can hope that this will happen very rarely, but it's happened to me before.

Live Comment Preview
Being able to see your comment "as you type" is nice for a couple of reasons. First, you can make sure that your comment isn't borked before you submit it. Especially nice if you are including markup. Second, I think seeing a preview of your comment reinforces the fact that this comment is going to be in public view, which, hopefully, reminds people not to be jerks. Very few jerks that comment here actually, I am very grateful for that.

Subscribe to Comments
If someone goes through the trouble of writing a thoughtful reply to a post, I like to give the option for them to subscribe to responses via email. It is very easy to forget where you have commented in this ever-growing blogosphere, so I think it's a handy option. Of course, very few people use this since I have it defaulted to off. I'll never change it to default on though, that's just annoying.

I am just starting to wrap my head around all this OpenID stuff. I just know I like what OpenID seems to be able to do for the user and that is log-in once and stay logged in on any OpenID enabled site. I'm not sure if it actually works that well yet, but I want to be behind it if it does. This is kind of an experiment so if any of you out there are avid users, please let me know if everything is working with my OpenID installation here on CSS-Tricks.


Thinking about it...

There are a couple of plugins that I have either thought about using or used at one point and then removed. The big one in this category is social bookmarking plugins. I have played with AddThis and Sociable, but I'm not using anything right now. I guess I feel like if you already use a social bookmarking service, you already know how to bookmark stuff there. Sure, I might "remind" a few people and get a few extra bookmarks, but I'm not sure that's really worth the extra page clutter. I'm really up in the air on this though, if anyone thinks they would like something like this, let me know.

Honorable Mentions:
Simple Recent Comments
WP Super Cache

So how about it folks? Any plugins you would suggest? Problems with my choices?


  1. Beau
    Permalink to comment#

    Hey Chris,

    I don’t really use wordpress a lot, but I have dinked around with it. Here’s a plug-in I remembered seeing, but I never tried it out (for code-highlighting).

    Maybe that can help you!

  2. Here’s some I use often:

    1) cforms – great contact forms

    2) All in one SEO pack

    3) Fancy Zoom

    4) Shaun Inman’s Shortstat – couldn’t find the exact link, Shaun’s site is very hard to read but the plugin offers decent statistics

  3. Nice collection! Will pay a few more of these a visit soon. I’ve been using Subscribe to comments since I saw it in action on here and found it to be very useful.

    Another plugin I’d recommend is Search Everything – which allows you to specify what users can (and cannot) search – including comments and posts.

  4. Thanks Chris,
    That gives me a lot of insight into the running of blog ware.
    Now gonna check out live comment preview – very nice.

  5. Great writeup! I was planning on doing one of these types of posts next week, but I think I’ll delay it a bit, now. :)

    I use a slightly modified version of Snippet Highlight to highlight all my code on CSSnewbie. It saves me a lot of time and effort. All you need to do is tell it what language you’re writing in by specifying the class on the <pre> tag, like so: <pre class=”css”>.

  6. That’s a very similar list to the many plugins I use on my blog.

    However, I am unhappy about Askimet’s performance, especially on CSS-Tricks. A couple of times now, my comment has not appeared (so I’m assuming it was marked “Spam”).

    I was especially annoyed when my comment on your post “Advice on Videos Needed” was moderated. I had put a lot of effort into that comment, and it was “Spammed” because I had three links in it. Now, these links weren’t spammy, and they were spread out over four or five decent-sized paragraphs.


    How’s OpenID going?

  7. Thanks to all who pointed out better code highlighting plugins. I’m trying out a couple of different ones now. All the code samples thus far on this blog are wrapped in both pre and code tags, so I think I’m gonna end up picking one that can already deal with that.

    @Nathan: Sorry about that comment of yours getting spammed. I tried searching for it but I think it’s gone =P. I do try and look through there as often as I can to make sure it didn’t snag anything it should have, but not often enough. If you ever think a comment was lost to spam, feel free to email me (the contact form) and I’ll make sure to get it out of Akismet.

    OpenID is kind of annoying me actually. Not the concept, but the plugin itself. It demands to load the entire jQuery library for some affect in the admin panel which I don’t even see. It’s kicking out an error on all the rest of the pages for some missing element. I didn’t get any feedback either way on if people like it or not, so I think I’ll probably end up ditching it.

  8. I am going to second Nathan on his Askimet’s performance, I posted a comment which would have been #2 or #3 and it never got posted. I assuming that it got marked as spam for the links – i think i had three to plugins i used – which happens on my blog even for registered users.

    OpenID is not widespread yet, so I am not sure if you even need it. I personally don’t like that whole process of getting an openID id. I have one, but I find that is actually easier to use the same login for each site.

  9. Sorry about that Benjamin. Like I told Nathan, if you happen to notice this in the future, just email me and I’ll find it. I don’t moderate comments, so if you don’t see your comment immediately, it got snagged.

    The WordPress OpenID plugin loaded the *entire* JQuery library to work, which was not only heavy but was kicking out an JS error and was totally useless on the non-admin side of the site.

    Since I got no feedback either way on the issue, I decide to scrap it. Maybe I’ll enable registrations or something.

  10. One of the Plugins I love is called CommentLuv!
    When you comment it drags your latest article from your websites feed and displays it at the bottom of your comment! Just another way to encourage comments (like dofollow). I use it on my blog and other websites I create using WP.

  11. Sociable is a pretty good plugin – the only problem I’ve really run into with it is the fact that when I first installed it, it caused my CSS not to validate, so I had to tweak it a bit. Bookmarkify is another cool looking plugin for Social Bookmarking, but that one causes an even worse problem with CSS validation, and a much harder one to fix at that.

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