WordPress

Overview

WordPress is an open source web blogging tool and content management system (CMS). The WordPress site has a pretty good description of what WordPress does, there’s also a summary on Wikipedia.

WordPress use falls into one of two main categories, as a personal or corporate blog, or as the underlying CMS system for a website. In the case of the former you install WordPress on your web server, login, choose a theme you like, perhaps customise it a bit through the menus and start blogging. For the later a web designer will normally write a custom theme for WordPress which basically lays out your website as you want it to look. They then rely on the WordPress backend to provide an interface to enable you to manage and update the content on your website, hence the phrase content management system. There are quite a few off-the-shelf designs which can be purchased, though I think it is fair to say that WordPress probably doesn’t scale to very large websites as well as other solutions might.

Anyway WordPress is available as an install for you to use on mtheory. If you would like your own WordPress install please get in touch with the administrator.

Where is it installed

WordPress is installed in www.mtheory.co.uk/wordpress/name where name is the part before @mtheory.co.uk in your email address. Ideally WordPress would be installed in your webspace. However for various reasons including ensuring automatic updates of WordPress itself we don’t do that. The downside to this is that you don’t get ftp access to /wordpress/name by default. When you upload photos etc. in WordPress they are put in /wordpress/name/wp-content/uploads/. The lack of ftp access should not prevent any real problems for users as you can manage your content from within WordPress. More of an issue is if you want to install custom themes and certain plugins, though virtually everything else can be done via the WordPress admin interface.

As your personal webpages are normally found at http://www.mtheory.co.uk/name/ and your WordPress install clearly isn’t at this location people may not be able to find your WordPress site. To help get around this problem there is a symbolic link to WordPress in you Website folder. You can’t see this link when connected with a Webdav client but the webserver can. This means that you can access your blog at either of the following addresses:

  • http://www.mtheory.co.uk/name/wordpress
  • http://www.mtheory.co.uk/users/name/Website/wordpress

Should you want people accessing your website to be automatically redirected to your blog we suggest that you edit the html file index.html in your Website directory in your webspace to redirect to your WordPress pages. See this entry on redirection of a webpage for instructions.

I want to install extra Plugins/Themes

If you would like to install other WordPress plugins or Themes you can do this from the WordPress admin interface.

More Help on Using WordPress

There are many, many sites with good descriptions explaining how to use, edit and customise WordPress. Here’s a list of some of the bigger ones:

  • WordPress Codex. The Codex is the encyclopedia of all things WordPress. It is the most comprehensive source of information for WordPress available.
  • Planet WordPress. The WordPress Planet is a news aggregator that brings together posts from WordPress blogs around the web.
  • WordPress Forums. If you’ve looked everywhere and still can’t find an answer, the support forums are very active and have a large community ready to help. To help them help you be sure to use a descriptive thread title and describe your question in as much detail as possible.
  • IRC Channel. Finally, there is an online chat channel that is used for discussion amoung people who use WordPress and occasionally support topics. The above wiki page should point you in the right direction. (irc.freenode.net #wordpresss)Other Themes
  • Themes from WordPress. Not the only source of themes I’m sure but the official source at any rate. If you need help installing extra Themes or hand-written custom themes contact an admin.

Linking your blog to search engines

There are specialised Blog based search engines such as TechnoratiGoogle Blog to name a view. Most of these engines have help sections that will explain how to get your blog added to them.

What is comment spam and how do I stop it?

An annoying spammer practice is to post comments on as many web logs as they can across the Internet, with links to their web site.

The reason they do this is primarily to attempt to up their search engine ranking by having lots of sites linking to them, and secondarily to possibly get some people visiting them through the links in the comments themselves.

Comment spam can come pretty fast and heavy with any new weblog, so here are some helpful tricks for fighting it:

  1. Before you make your first post with WordPress, consider going to the Settings > Writing area and deleting the “http://rpc.pingomatic.com” entry under “Update Services”. What the Update Services does is immediately announce to a dozen different “weblog aggregators” that you’ve made a post. Ostensibly this is to help get the word out about your new post so people you don’t even know may read it. In reality, few real people browse new weblogs based on searches in a weblog aggregator, but plenty of spammers do. Within a few hours of your first post spammers will be beating down a path to your blog, trying to automatically figure out what comment spam techniques will work on your installation!
  2. You can change your comment settings from the “Options > Discussion” area. From there you can require manual approval before any comment shows up, only comments with certain words (not a very effective long-term solution though), or turn off comments altogether.
  3. If you’re a little bit more technical-minded there are lots of anti-spam plugins for WordPress you can try out listed at http://www.tamba2.org.uk/wordpress/spam/.

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