Category Archives: Blog Bytes

Include Footnotes In Your Posts

Would you like to include footnotes1 in your WordPress posts and pages? If you’re using a self-hosted version of WordPress, you can take advantage of the FD Footnotes plugin. Once installed, this plugin provides a simple shortcode2 which make it easy to add your references right in your text. As you see from these examples, the footnotes are collected at the bottom of the post. The superscripted reference number also serves as a hyperlinked bookmark which will quickly connect you to that citation. Don’t worry about your readers losing their place when they check a citation. The curly arrow icon at the end of each footnote links them right back to the original reference in the text.

How difficult is it to create your footnotes? Here’s what the code looks like in your editor:

Footnotes Example

Type your citation beginning with its reference number, a period and space, and surround the whole thing with square braces. Your citation can include text, hyperlinks and even images. It can’t get much easier than that! And, because the plugin just positions the collected footnotes at the bottom of your post without headings or styling, you can add whatever you want at the bottom of your post to “introduce” your footnotes. In this case, they are being used as simple notes so that is how I’ve titled them.

With this plugin, you can now include formal footnotes, simple source lists or just plain notes quickly and easily within your posts.

Notes:

  1. Citations commonly found at the bottom of a page.
  2. WordPress-specific codes that perform complex functions.

Is Blogger Next?

Today’s news that Google+ would be broken down into Photos and Streams wasn’t unexpected and won’t have a significant impact on my “social life”. My real concern is Blogger, Google’s blog platform. Except for setting up hooks into Google+ way back when, the platform has basically been ignored for years. 

WordPress continues to innovate as does Yahoo’s Tumblr platform and SquareSpace. Blogger just recently posted to its official blog for the first time in a year. 

 My concern is for the large number of geneabloggers using Blogger. Many have been blogging for years and have a huge collection of posts. Migrating to a new platform will be a challenge but it can be done. 

WordPress.com has step-by-step instructions on how to make the move. Migrating to a self-hosted WordPress site is very similar, but with more manual steps – most related to moving custom domain names. SquareSpace also offers Blogger migration but limits how much can be migrated to a trial account. 

One important point. Migration only moves your content and media from one platform to another. You will not be able to bring your theme – and many of your widgets – with you. Yes, it will be an effort to “remodel” your blog at your new digs, but there are advantages that can make it worth that effort. Most of the themes at these blog platforms take advantage of the latest in web technology and the platform’s newest improvements. This means you will have mobile-friendly sites, mobile apps and enjoy the other advantages those technologies support. 

Take a look at your current blog to estimate the number of posts you need to migrate and the amount of images included in those posts. This will not only help determine how much effort migrating will be, but also what account level you will need. Next, look at the various blog platforms, their features, migration support and costs. 

If you have special needs, contact the support staff to see if they can accommodate them. Most blog platforms will do everything they can to help you move TO their site . . . and make it as painless as possible so you’ll stay. That doesn’t mean every migration is perfect. Be prepared for some cleanup. 

Take a look at the other blog platforms available to you. Create an account and experiment to see how things work and how those features fit into your blogging workflow. Once you find a platform you like, learn everything you can about their migration tools. You have time now to experiment. You have time for a do-over if things go south. Your Blogger blog will remain your primary blog until you are happy with the migration. 

You have time now. Who knows how long that will last?

Disqus – Where Comments Get Social

Disqus is a commenting platform that works with just about every blog platform. But to call Disqus a commenting system doesn’t come close to explaining what Disqus can do. Here’s a sample:

  • Comment on any Disqus-supported site using one login – your Disqus account.
  • Easily include links, photos and even video in your comment.
  • Begin conversations by replying to other commenters.
  • Follow other commenters to keep up with their comments wherever they post them.
  • @Mention another Disqus commenter to attract her attention. That person is notified of the mention and can check out the conversation.
  • Use your Disqus profile page as a mini social network where you can track comments and replies across all the Disqus-supported sites you follow. You can add your own replies from here too.
  • If you ♥ (recommend) a discussion, every Disqus user who follows you will see that discussion in their profile.

It costs nothing to use and can be installed on your blog in a matter of minutes. When I added it to the Gazette, it even imported all of the WordPress comments – almost 7 years worth – with ease. You maintain control over your comments with some very nice moderator tools both on site and in your Disqus profile.

Recently there’s been some discussion on whether or not blogging was declining and, if so, were social networks to blame. Blogs are an important resource for documenting and sharing our family history and a major asset to the entire genealogy community. Incorporating Disqus as our commenting platform not only makes it easier to comment on posts, its social functions make it even easier to connect with other geneabloggers. Even better, our blogs remain the center of this network getting the attention they deserve.

So . . . what do you think? Add your thoughts below and see for yourself what an impressive platform Disqus is.

WordPress Redesigns Mobile App

I’m writing this post in the updated WordPress mobile app. The editor has received a nice facelift including the ability to edit image settings without leaving the editor screen. There’s now an image icon on the editing toolbar that takes you right to the Photos app to select the image you want to import. At the top of the editing screen you’ll find the Settings and Preview icons which also make it much easier to access the tools needed to write, publish and manage your content.

editor screen in mobile WprdPress app

A look at the updated editor in the WordPress mobile app for iOS.

Once you’ve inserted an image, tap on it and a pencil icon appears as an overlay on the image. Tap the icon to display the image’s settings. Add titles, captions and alt text, then set your appearance choices. Tap close and you are right back in the editor screen ready to keep typing.

These updates have turned the app into a truly functional editor – and one I’ll be using a lot more often.

WordPress Mobile for iOS is free in the app store.

Are Blogs Declining?

Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, has some thoughts on why so many blogs are seeing declining traffic.

The dominance of mobile usage, social networks, and YouTube, plus attention-competition from apps, are the real problems for web publishers and blog writers.

The social and app revolutions haven’t been purely additive — much of the time people spend on those now has come at the expense of search, RSS, and bookmarks.

Every hour we spend on Twitter or Facebook instead of reading and writing elsewhere is just making this worse — and I’m as guilty as anyone.

Social networks have powerful benefits and are here to stay. But like any trend, we’ve swung too far in that direction for our own good, as both producers and consumers. I hope the pendulum starts to swing back soon, because it hasn’t yet. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, if it ever does.

If we want it to get better, we need to start pushing back against the trend, modernizing blogs, and building what we want to come next.

Absolutely! I recently read where Google’s search results will soon include tweets. You can’t tell me that won’t reduce blog stats even more.

I think one good step in that direction is installing Disqus on your blog as your commenting system. That way we can build a social network puts the focus on our blogs yet lets us carry on conversations across them all.

Are your blog stats declining? Do you think social networks are the cause?

Blog Comments . . . the New Social Network?

Before there was Facebook, Twitter or Google+ there were blogs with comment boxes attached to each post. These comments were what turned genealogy bloggers into Geneabloggers. We went from being individual bloggers into a blogging community thanks to the comments section. Although comments are still there and do see some activity, social networking sites are now the place to go for conversation. Why is that? I think it’s because it’s easier. One login lets us get into just about any conversation.

Unfortunately, there’s a downside to social networks – a lack of privacy. Facebook’s recent research scandal is one of a growing number of “social” attacks on our privacy.

Fortunately there is an alternative – one that also keeps our blogs front and center where they belong. It’s the Disqus commenting platform. Disqus makes it possible to comment at Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress (self-hosted), SquareSpace and a number of other blog platforms using one Disqus account.

And, that’s just the beginning. With Disqus, commenters can:

  • include rich media like photos and embeds
  • carry on real-time conversations
  • comment on-site or from your Disqus profile
  • receive notifications for new comments and replies
  • follow interesting individuals as well as blog sites
  • export and keep their comments.

Oh, and Disqus costs you nothing to use.

Disqus on Tumblr

Disqus conversation on a Tumblr blog post.

The Gazette has been updated to include Disqus as its commenting platform. It was an easy setup and my existing comments were imported too. I’m impressed!

You don’t need a Disqus account to leave a comment here. Disqus will ask you for an email address and password then create an account for you – on the spot. You will probably want to stop by your profile page at some point to complete your profile. Like any social network, this is the page where you upload an avatar, add your blog address and whatever other information you want others to see. Now, when you comment or join an on-going conversation, the rest of us will know who you are.

Your profile is also Conversations Central – the place where you can keep up with any and all conversations that include you. You don’t have to hop all over the blogosphere to keep up with your favorite blogs or comment conversations. Disqus really does revolutionize blog comments.

So now it’s your turn. Take Disqus for a test drive and let me know what you think. Can Disqus facilitate a revolution in online networking?

The Gazette Returns to Moultrie Creek

It’s amazing what a little break can do for the soul . . . and the mind . . . and the body.

The Gazette is back with lots of ideas for storytelling, researching and networking.

You’ll notice some changes here. I’ve moved to a new hosting service and I’m still cleaning up the mess such a move creates. If you see an ugly question mark where an image should be, please bear with me as I work through almost a thousand posts to fix them. The theme’s been spiffed up a bit too and I’ll be including some new plugins very soon. Probably the biggest change is moving to Disqus for my commenting system. Why Disqus? It operates on just about every blog platform which means I only need to remember one username/password to comment at any Disqus-supported site. Disqus makes it easy to include links and images in  my comments and I can keep up with all my comments and responses from my Disqus profile page or the mobile app. It’s an impressive service and fun to use.

You’ll also find Disqus operating on my Moultrie Creek family history blog, my Moultrie Telegraph and Genealogy 101 tumblrs and on my newest project – the St. Johns County GenWeb site.

Highlands Cabin

Highlands Cabin.

Yeah, I did find a little something to keep me occupied while things were quiet here.

WordPress 4.0 Released


Check for plugin updates and install them, then backup your database before you install the upgrade.