01 Sep 2014

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Matt: Fight Club A/B Testing

Luca Sartoni writes The Rules of A/B Testing by Tyler Durden. "1st Rule: You don't talk about A/B Testing."

01 Sep 2014 3:39pm GMT

Akismet: August Stats Roundup

Harry Potter stack of books

"Potter II" by L. Whittaker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This post is part of a monthly series summarizing some stats and figures from the Akismet universe. Feel free to browse all of the posts in the series.

In August, there were 7,203,785,500 pieces of spam that came through Akismet. If each piece of spam were one word, it would take 6645 copies of the Harry Potter series to accomodate them all.

Here's a breakdown of the number of spam and legitimate comments (what we call ham) we saw last month:

Akismet spam and ham stats Aug 2014

Our busiest day was August 21, with about 269 million spam messages, and the slowest day was August 3 with 173 million. We missed only about 1 in every 5,916 spams.

The number of spam message is up 92% from last year, which is a similar large rise we've seen in previous months. It's also up from last month by 28%.

The number of legimate messages that went through this month is 33,377,8500. If each legitimate comment was a word, they'd only fill 307 copies of the Harry Potter series. The amount of legitimate content going around is only about 4% - and the large difference is business as usual.

As always, if your own missed spam or false positive numbers are on the rise, we'd love to help. You can reach out through our contact form.

August was a big month in the spam universe, three services were in the news. Google added new spam filtering support to Gmail - you can find more info on PC World. Twitter announced its new spam filtering system, BotMaker. And, Apple's iMessage seems to have been hit with a bout of spam. Wired explained why, though MacWorld showed us why the numbers may not in fact be so dire.

And now for a question for the readers: what other data tidbits would you like to see mentioned or discussed in these monthly spam reports? We'd love to hear from you, and accomodate where we can :)


01 Sep 2014 5:43am GMT

31 Aug 2014

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Matt: You Can’t Tell This is 3D Rendered

Khoi Vinh writes about How 75% of the real-looking photographs you see in an Ikea catalog are actually 3d-rendered. Hat tip: Hafiz Rahman.

31 Aug 2014 3:29pm GMT

30 Aug 2014

feedWordPress Planet

Matt: Why LaTeX?

Posts like this are why @wordpressdotcom and @jetpack offer LaTeX / Beautiful Math support. http://t.co/rYUbyq2IpR

- George Stephanis (@daljo628) August 26, 2014

30 Aug 2014 2:58pm GMT

29 Aug 2014

feedWordPress Planet

WPTavern: Tickets On Sale For The First Ever PodsCamp

The First Ever PodscampThe First Ever PodsCamp

Tickets are now on sale for the first ever PodsCamp. It's being held in Dallas, TX on October 3rd, 2014, a day before WordCamp DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth) with a ticket price of $50 each. Each ticket grants you access to the event, BBQ for lunch, and direct access to the developers of Pods Framework.

The event will focus on what you can do with Pods and will feature sessions on topics such as an introduction to Pods, building applications, and a Q&A session with the Pods development team. For those not familiar with the plugin, Pods is a framework for creating, managing, and deploying customized content types and fields.

A First For The Pods Development Team

The event will mark the first time the entire Pods development team will be under one roof. Lead developer for Pods, Scott Kingsley Clark, said the team will be in Dallas, TX the Wednesday before WordCamp and will be working on putting the finishing touches on Pods 3.0.

Clark explains why the team hasn't had a PodsCamp in the past. "We've been talking about and planning an event like this for years, but it wasn't until the Pods team grew large enough for me to feel like we could really do something worth people's time."

No Conflicts With WordCamp

Initially, I thought PodsCamp was taking place at the same time as WordCamp DFW but since it's a day before, it won't interfere with the event. "It's completely separate, in terms of organization and funding," Clark told the Tavern.

A few years ago, PodCamps would sometimes be merged with a WordCamp to offer attendees a chance to attend two events with one ticket. However, WordCamp central frowns against this practice and now states that WordCamps must be focused on WordPress. From the WordCamp Central FAQ:

Q. Can I do a track at a BarCamp/PodCamp/other event and call it WordCamp?
A. No. The use of the WordCamp name indicates that it is a standalone event dedicated to WordPress, and to prevent confusion, WordPress "tracks" within larger events such as BarCamp or other conferences are no longer called WordCamps.

Sponsoring and Needing to Be Sponsored

The Pods Foundation is sponsoring the WordCamp DFW Contributor Day on October 5th, through a deal Clark made to secure the same space for both days. At the same time, PodsCamp is in need of more sponsors. If you're interested in sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch with the organizing team. SiteGround, Chris Lema, Aesop Interactive, and Beil Media are just a sample of the sponsors already on board with helping the event.

I think it's great to see events like PodsCamp where you can focus on a particular plugin or subject while not conflicting with a WordCamp that same weekend. I like the strategy on the part of Clark and his team for the event to be a day before WordCamp so people can attend both without worrying about missing sessions.

Will you be attending the first ever PodsCamp?

29 Aug 2014 10:36pm GMT

WPTavern: How to Create a Quick Style Guide for Client Websites

The business of building WordPress websites is exploding, and most agencies and freelancers have more work than they can handle. Clients are attracted to WordPress because of how easy it is to manage content. In the old days, if you had a website built, you would still need to hire a developer to make updates to your content or design. WordPress makes it possible for anyone to create new posts, pages, products, etc., without any technical experience.

The flip side of this is that your design may be in danger when everything is so easy to edit. If you want to keep branding consistent across a website, you may need to include a style guide to breakdown the design you've created.

Having a style guide for reference is especially important if you are passing off a CMS to a client who will be using it to create content on a regular basis. Without a guide your client may go nuts with customization features that may be built into the theme. Before you know it, he will have used 10 different typefaces in various places and multiple header colors and sizes. The beautiful website you created can end up looking like digital goulash in the end, which is no good for your portfolio.

I'd like to introduce you to Stylify Me, a handy new tool that can automatically create a quick style guide for any website. Simply enter the site URL and the app will return its background colors, text colors, typography, and image dimensions.

Here are the colors you get when you input WordPress.org:

wordpress-styles

It also returns the typography and image dimensions found on the homeapage.

wordpress-typography

The download for your style guide comes in the form of a PDF, a somewhat inconvenient file type that many clients seem to love for whatever reason. Obviously, this is just a quick start which you can further edit and fine tune. Some homepages may not lend themselves as well to demonstrating the site's style. In that case you may want to select another content page from which the app can extract styles more representative of the site as a whole.

The Stylify Me app was built on NodeJS and PhantomJS. Its creators, Annabelle Yoon and Michael Mrowetz, wanted to provide a tool that would allow designers to research sites more efficiently, without having to inspect each element. The app is hosted on Heroku using the multi buildpack and is MIT-licensed. Check out the code on GitHub to see how it works.

Stylify Me gives you the ability to quickly generate a style guide that will help your clients keep their websites within the realm of the original design. Providing a style guide adds an extra touch, which demonstrates that you care and are invested in your client's success.

29 Aug 2014 10:23pm GMT

Matt: Journalism vs Mass-Media

Matthew Ingram writes for Gigaom: Journalism is doing just fine, thanks - it's mass-media business models that are ailing. Hat tip: Ben Thompson.

29 Aug 2014 8:52pm GMT

WPTavern: Nouveau Riche: A Free WordPress Blogging Theme for Creative Minds

Denis Bosire has been working with WordPress for more than five years. As client work became more frustrating, he decided to focus his attention on WordPress themes. After an unsuccessful attempt to monetize themes at Creative Market, Bosire decided to try his hand at developing themes for WordPress.org. Nouveau Riche was approved this week and is his first theme in the directory.

nouveau-riche

Nouveau Riche is a simple, customizable blogging theme that was designed for creative minds. It offers beautiful support for post formats, with custom icons assigned to each. The theme utilizes the native WordPress customizer to include options for uploading a logo, adding a header and background image, and setting colors for the header, background, and theme.

The sidebar is hidden by default and slides out when clicked. The theme also includes support for two other widget areas- main footer and sub footer.

nouveau-riche-sidebar

Check out a live demo to see the theme in action.

Nouveau Riche is based on the Underscores starter theme. "I didn't use any framework, just _S starter theme, which I use for ALL of my other themes," Bosire told the Tavern. "No CSS framework either; I find them very unsuitable for WordPress themes because of all the bloat. Took me about three days from start to finish and submitted it immediately," he said.

Bosire found that building the theme was easy and quick, because he was used to all the WordPress coding standards after finishing a theme for WordPress.com. His commercial theme is currently undergoing review and should be launching in a few days. He plans to release another free theme in September in addition to another commercial blogging theme that is still in process.

His journey began when he started offering free themes on his website. "I started building simple blogging themes and offering them for free on my website," Bosire said. "I then proceeded to build premium themes that I sell on Creative Market. Sadly, they didn't sell as expected but I really enjoyed building themes, so I decided to continue doing it, this time for WordPress.org."

Bosire's tenacity in continuing theme development after a discouraging experience is admirable. If you build a theme and submit it to one marketplace where it doesn't take off, don't get discouraged and stop building themes. If you love creating themes for WordPress users, try again via a different distribution route. If you choose to go the WordPress.org route, you'll learn quite a bit during the process with the help of Theme Review Team.

Nouveau Riche is a beautiful and simple blogging theme that you can personalize in a matter of minutes. It's responsive and translation-ready. If your blog needs a fresh design but you don't have a lot of time, this might be good option. Download Nouveau Riche for free from WordPress.org.

29 Aug 2014 8:43pm GMT

WPTavern: Why You Might Consider Adding Development Hours to Your Changelog

Jean Galea, who is a member of the Advanced WordPress group on Facebook, recently shared a plugin with an interesting changelog. It's called Bulk Delete and is developed by Sudar Muthu, a developer based in Bangalore, India. The changelog not only shows which bugs have been fixed or features that were added, it also displays the amount of time spent on each release.

Bulk Delete Changelog On WordPress.orgBulk Delete Changelog On WordPress.org

Due to some personal things going in his life, Muthu began to track how much time he was investing in his side projects. "This happened because I got married and suddenly the amount of free time that I used to have in my life started to dry up. I wanted to find out which pet projects are taking up the majority of my free time," Muthu Told the Tavern. In April of 2012, he wrote about the initiative and started adding the metrics to the changelog of Bulk Delete.

Bulk Delete Settings PageBulk Delete Settings Page

Some plugin authors have funded development of their plugin by having users pay for specific features. Muthu doesn't get paid to work on Bulk Delete but he has started to sell commercial addons for it.

A Different Approach to Getting Free Support

One of the things Muthu has noticed is how users approach him to receive free support. "After I started adding the amount of time I am spending on different plugins in the changelog, the way people interact in the support forum seems to have changed a bit. I felt that they were able to understand the amount of time I am investing in developing and supporting a free plugin," Muthu said.

I asked if he thinks this is something other plugin authors should consider implementing. "Each developer has their own preference but I guess if possible, I would like plugin authors to do this. It seems people like it and it will also let people know how much time an author spends in developing and maintaining a free plugin," Muthu said.

I Think It's a Great Idea

As someone who investigates the changelog for every plugin update, I've seen my share of them. However, I've yet to see one that is as detailed and informative as Bulk Delete. Showing the amount of time each version takes to develop gives users a perspective of the time and effort required to maintain a plugin. We generally hear how much time is involved, but rarely get to see how much.

Would you like to see this type of information added to the changelog of more plugins? Will seeing the amount of time change the way you approach the author to receive support? Sound off in the comments.

29 Aug 2014 7:56pm GMT

WPTavern: Google Authorship is Officially Dead, WordPress Authorship Plugins are Now Obsolete

John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, announced today that Google will be discontinuing its support for authorship in search results.

We've gotten lots of useful feedback from all kinds of webmasters and users, and we've tweaked, updated, and honed recognition and displaying of authorship information. Unfortunately, we've also observed that this information isn't as useful to our users as we'd hoped, and can even distract from those results. With this in mind, we've made the difficult decision to stop showing authorship in search results.

In June 2014, author photos were dropped from search results in order to reduce clutter in the design, according to Mueller. Today's announcement means that the rel=author markup will no longer be tracked on websites.

Google authorship in actionGoogle authorship in action

Authorship was an experiment that Google had been running for the past three years. Mueller reported that their tests showed that removing authorship generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites, nor does it make it more likely that users will click on ads. The change was allegedly implemented to improve users' experience.

Although the authorship schema is no longer used to identify a post's author in search results, Mueller says there's no need to be in a rush to remove it from your code. "We're no longer using it for authorship, we treat it like any other markup on your pages. Leaving it is fine, it won't cause problems (and perhaps your users appreciate being able to find out more about you through your profile too)," he said.

Jetpack 2.5 introduced an easy way for WordPress users to add authorship to posts. Representatives from the Jetpack team were not immediately available to comment on whether or not the plugin will shed the dead weight of authorship in the next release. There are many other WordPress plugins that add Google authorship, though not as elegantly as Jetpack did. Several major SEO plugins also incorporate ways to add authorship to posts. The authorship-related functionality in these plugins is now obsolete.

Mueller emphasized that even though authorship is being discontinued, Google will continue its support for structured markup:

Going forward, we're strongly committed to continuing and expanding our support of structured markup (such as schema.org). This markup helps all search engines better understand the content and context of pages on the web, and we'll continue to use it to show rich snippets in search results.

Many SEO specialists have speculated that linking authorship to Google+ profiles was a ploy to get more people to use Google+, a product that has failed to gain momentum. Fans of the authorship feature are baffled by its removal, given that Google's research indicates that it doesn't seem to affect search results. From a user's standpoint, seeing an author you recognize can be tremendously beneficial when selecting among similar search results.

Google is well known for experimenting with features and products and killing them off as soon as tests show that they are no longer valuable. It's not clear whether or not authorship will be reincarnated in some other form down the road. If you're using a WordPress plugin that adds authorship to your site for SEO purposes, you are safe to disable it, as Google is no longer interested in that data.

29 Aug 2014 1:25am GMT

28 Aug 2014

feedWordPress Planet

WPTavern: ProWordPress Subreddit Passes 1,000 Subscribers

reddit

Earlier this year we featured the /r/ProWordPress subreddit on a post exploring various WordPress watering holes. If you're not familiar with subreddits, they are essentially focused topics where where registered users can vote article submissions "up" or "down." Subscribing to a subreddit allows you to hone in on specific topics where you have an interest.

/r/ProWordPress was started by Brad Williams, CEO of WebDevStudios and author of Professional WordPress Plugin Development. As a developer, Williams has a strong interest in exploring more technical topics surrounding WordPress. The group recently passed 1,000 subscribers (currently at 1,027 readers) and continues to grow.

prowordpress-subreddit

"I started the r/ProWordPress subreddit to focus on more advanced WordPress topics," Williams told the Tavern. "r/WordPress is great but will always have more beginner users, so it's hard for the more advanced topics to surface. r/ProWordPress is a smaller, more focused subreddit with a focus on advanced WP topics."

As the subreddit has grown, r/ProWordPress has become one of William's main sources of news on WordPress development. More subscribers translates into a wider reach of advanced topics as well as more voting users to curate the quality of articles that float to the top. Williams has the ability to moderate the topics submitted but reports that, unless you have a highly active subreddit, very little work is required.

With WordPress now powering more than 23% of all websites online, the community surrounding the software is growing at breakneck speed. People are working with WordPress every day, building businesses on top of it, and are seeking out places online to learn from each other. Matt Mullenweg recently jumped in on the Advanced WordPress group on Facebook, which has accrued more than 9,000 members. This group explores a wide range of WordPress-related topics but may not appeal to everyone.

While some WordPress users enjoy interacting on Facebook, others are taking to forums such as WP Chat. Different kinds of groups are popping up, reflecting the various interaction styles that WordPress community members use to connect.

"WordPress has such a large user base that it's hard to have a one size fits all area for all topics," Williams said. In his corner of the internet, he hopes that /r/ProWordPress will continue to be a nice place to share and read about more advanced topics. In some ways Reddit combines the best aspects of both Twitter and forums, in that you can share articles, vote, and comment to enter into discussions with other members. If advanced WordPress development falls within your wheelhouse, make sure to drop by the /r/ProWordPress subreddit and subscribe to new topics.

28 Aug 2014 11:15pm GMT

WPTavern: WP Settings Generator: Quickly Create a Custom Options Page Using the WordPress Settings API

photo credit: Leo Reynolds - ccphoto credit: Leo Reynolds - cc

Yesterday we featured a plugin, created by application developer Jeroen Sormani, that clones Google Keep functionality in the WordPress dashboard. Sormani has produced a number of other interesting experiment with WordPress, including a little known tool for generating WordPress settings.

The WP Settings Generator is a tool for plugin and theme developers. It generates a custom options page that is fully compatible with the WordPress Settings API standards. The tool is similar to the kinds of generators found at GenerateWP, which lacks a tool for creating settings.

On the config tab you can enter your plugin/theme name, plugin prefix, and text domain. Select your menu position and then proceed to the next tab.

settings-generator

The next screen provides a drag-and-drop interface for adding settings fields:

settings-fields

Once you have added all your fields, you will be presented with your customized settings code, which you can scroll through and copy to your plugin. Although it is designed to create settings pages for themes or plugins, the general consensus these days is that it's preferable to utilize the native customizer for theme settings.

the-code

After reviewing your code, you have the opportunity to leave a personalized review of the generator. If you find that the code you receive has any errors or seems off, make sure to let Sormani know with a quick comment.

Of course, using a settings generator isn't going to help you learn how the WordPress Settings API works, but it does give you a quick start for creating options. It's not so much of a teaching tool but rather designed to eliminate the rote task of writing your own settings. Check it out and let us know if it ends up saving you time.

28 Aug 2014 9:03pm GMT

Matt: Everything Is Bloated

Tom McFarlin writes Everything Is Bloated, Nothing Is Good.

28 Aug 2014 5:30pm GMT

WPTavern: An Easy Way To Notify Users When Their Comment Is Approved

By default, WordPress doesn't notify users when their comments are approved from the moderation queue. If you'd like to change that, consider using the Comment Approved plugin by Niels van Renselaar. The plugin is simple to use and configure. After it's installed and activated, you'll find the settings in Settings > Comment Approved. It's important to note that even when the plugin is activated, it won't send out notifications unless you check mark the box to enable the comment approved message.

Click The Checkbox To Enable The Comment Approved MessageClick The Checkbox To Enable The Comment Approved Message

The text area is populated with a default message using the only two shortcodes available. You can customize this message using standard HTML. Here is what the default message looks like in an email.

Default Approved Message Email ContentDefault Approved Message Email Content

While I like the default behavior to notify users when their comment is approved, you can use this plugin to award first time commenters. For example, you can send them a link to a free eBook or a different promotional item. Once the user's comment is approved, they won't see the approval message again.

It's strange that comment approval notifications are not part of the default behaviour of WordPress. I think it makes sense, especially if the front-end notifies them that their comment may be held in moderation. While I doubt this plugin will prevent commenters from getting in touch with site administrators to figure out why their comment is not displaying on the site, at least they'll know when it's approved.

28 Aug 2014 7:49am GMT

WPTavern: Jason Schuller Shares His Experience Running a WordPress Theme Business

Press75 Logo Featured Image

Jason Schuller who was the previous owner of Press75.com, has published a great post detailing his experience of running a WordPress commercial theme business from 2008-2014. While Schuller describes a variety of ups and downs he encountered while running the business, I thought his reasoning for losing his way in 2010 was fascinating.

As WordPress became increasingly more complex and option rich, so did the demand for themes. The proverbial "gold rush" of the WordPress world hit and new shops were launching almost weekly with themes that were powered by complex frameworks including endless layout, customization, style options and "shortcodes". In 2010 I began to focus more on the "bar" that had been set by the market and less on why I started Press75 to begin with.

Instead of continuing to focus on what he was so good at doing, he started developing themes to cater to the market which was outside of his passion. The increase in complexity in WordPress coupled with various development techniques he implemented in his catalog of 20 themes became a huge burden, especially when it came to support. One piece of advice Schuller shares that I think is important and hits home for many commercial theme authors is to never forget who you are and what your own style is. Be inspired by what others are doing, but always stay true to yourself.

Schuller is not the first person to learn this lesson the hard way. When UpThemes announced a complete restructuring of their theme business in early 2014, they cited poor infrastructure as one of the main culprits of creating a large demand for support.

Building the themes was easy enough, but then selling, deploying, supporting, updating, and generally making a profit on them was something we struggled with, mightily. With every theme, we introduced a ton of new code that had to be supported and maintained. This was at a time when WordPress was still changing the way themes worked. It made development more difficult.

One of the things Schuller wished he had done is to hire the right people once the business became too much to handle. Not doing so put all of the pressure of running the business on his shoulders. In the post, he shares a few other lessons I think aspiring theme shop owners can learn from as well. If you'd like to hear Schuller tell his story, listen to this special interview I did with him early in 2014.

Press75 Logo Featured Image http://wptavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Interview-With-Jason-Schuller.mp3

28 Aug 2014 7:34am GMT

WPTavern: WPWeekly Episode 160 – The Founder Of BruteProtect, Sam Hotchkiss

In this weeks show, Marcus Couch and I are joined by the founder of BruteProtect, Sam Hotchkiss. We learn the circumstances which lead to the birth of BruteProtect and how it operates. Hotchkiss explains the details of the acquisition with Automattic and how it will be rolled into Jetpack. While some people are not happy that it's being added to Jetpack, we discuss why it's a huge win. Last but not least, Hotchkiss explains the process he went through to obtain funding and offers advice to plugin authors who may find themselves in the same position.

Stories Discussed:

WordPress 4.0 Adds Custom Icons to the Plugin Installer
WordPress Plugin WP Inject Renames to ImageInject and Introduces New Features
BuddyPress 2.1 Beta 1 Now Available for Testing
Chris Wiegman on Why He Sold Better WP Security to iThemes
WordPress 4.0 Release Candidate Now Available for Testing

Plugins Picked By Marcus:

WP Admin Quicknav adds a simple dropdown box at the top admin edit screens allowing you to quickly jump from one page, post, or custom post type to the next without having to return to the respective listing page. This is easily customized and can be really handy for saving time navigating to specific admin pages.

Comment Approved can be used to notify a user when their comment is approved. This is a great way to keep the communication channel open between you and your loyal readers. You can customize the approval notification enabling you to reward those who participate. This could include an ebook, a link to special content, etc.

WP Is Mobile Text Widget adds a text widget that switches the display text using the wp_is_mobile() function depending on whether the device is mobile or not. This is a great enhancement for delivering a simple, custom piece of text content based on the detection of a mobile browser.

WPWeekly Meta:

Next Episode: Wednesday, September 3rd 9:30 P.M. Eastern

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Itunes: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via RSS: Click here to subscribe

Subscribe To WPWeekly Via Stitcher Radio: Click here to subscribe

Listen To Episode #160:

28 Aug 2014 7:30am GMT