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.
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.
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
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 “<”. 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.
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 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.
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.
So how about it folks? Any plugins you would suggest? Problems with my choices?