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WordPress

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Web site: http://wordpress.com/

Date of first review/ name of reviewer: 5/16/08 [Lisa Spiro]

Additional reviewer(s):

Produced by:  WordPress

Cost: Free (upgrades available for a fee)

Description: Flexible, feature-rich blogging software.  "WordPress is a state-of-the-art publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability."

Platform: web-based

License: Hosted version of open-source WordPress software

Maturity: Mature (launched in 2003)

 

Features:

  • You can determine the design of your blog by choosing from over 60 themes--or customize the design using CSS
  • Easy to set up
  • Tag and categorize your posts to make them easier to find
  • View detailed statistics on who is reading your blog posts
  • Askimet spam filter keeps the crud out of your comments
  • Easily get your information into and our of WordPress: supports importing from other blogs or exporting to an XML format

 

Advantages:

  • Great user support.  When one of my posts was mysteriously vaporized, WordPress support recovered an older version of the post and sent it to me within a couple of hours.
  • Because WordPress is open source, a large community of developers is creating all sorts of handy plugins and new features. For instance, ScholarPress is developing WordPress plugins for academic purposes, such as ScholarPress courseware, which allows teachers to manage a course via a WordPress blog.  CommentPress enables readers to comment on a document paragraph by paragraph and has been used in several prominent projects, such as Noah Wardrip-Fruin's experiment in blog-based peer-reviewing.  [Note: not all of the plugins are available for the hosted version of WordPress.]
  • Large and active user community.
  • You can view incoming links (so you can see what other people say about your post and continue the conversation).
  • WordPress (and other blogging software) supports a variety of uses, such as a science review, an ebook, or an undergraduate research project.

     

Disadvantages:

  • Like many web editors, the WordPress Visual Editor will typically retain the formatting when you copy and paste from other online sources.  Sometimes you want to retain formatting; for instance, it's great when you can copy a table from one one web page and plunk it into your blog.  However, sometimes you want to get rid of the formatting so that your post doesn't look like a hostage note compiled from cut-out letters.  To do so,  you may need to go into the HTML and delete the <span> or other code surrounding the oddly-formatted text.  Alternatively, you can download a Firefox extension that allows you to copy as plain text.

 

Tips:

  • When you're choosing what kind of layout you would like for your blog, think about the kind of information you will be presenting.  For instance, if you anticipate using tables or wide images, a three-column layout may not give you enough space.  Fortunately, you can easily change the template for your blog.
  • WordPress offers lots of nifty widgets for your blog, However, some may not be relevant for your purposes.  For instance, I had a "MeeboMe" widget that would enable folks to chat with me, but every time someone hit the page my Meebo would flash (I forget exactly what it did, but it drove me to distraction).  I uninstalled the widget.

 

Tutorials:

 

Developer Resources:

 

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