How to correctly show off your WP blog stats

When a WP blog shows off on its sidebar the following:

Blog Stats
• 3,000 visits

or worse,

Blog Stats
• 3,000 hits

without any additional information, I start asking: “What exactly does that mean?”

If a blog stats are presented in this fashion, the numbers look like a block of meaningless information.

Blog Stats widget dialog box

I know this may be hard to swallow, but that is the truth.

Let me just backtrack a little bit and elaborate before someone starts calling me names.

1. Currently, there is no method which can claim to produce web statistics with 100% accuracy. And the resulting numbers are dependent on what methodology is applied to generate those numbers. The fact that even Google has to explain the terms used in its analytics and how the Google numbers are calculated shows the difficulty in coming up with commonly accepted standards. You may wish to check out this page as an additional background.

2. Without being critical, WordPress.com in its Support page provided not enough information as to what the Blog Stats numbers are. Perhaps, to others the numbers need no explanation? Or perhaps there is another related Support page which I missed? I certainly don’t have the answer to that.

3. Again, without being critical, the same WordPress.com Support page says that we, the bloggers, can choose which word to use in describing the numbers. The two popular words, according to WP, are: “hits” (which is the default label in the Blog Stats widget dialog box), and “views”, the label “views” being more consistent with the label “Total Views”, used in the Blog Stats Dashboard | Summary Table.

4. The use of “hits” was okay, and even a buzzword, many many years ago. Is it still okay to use “hits” these days without defining what you mean by “hits”?

5. In technical terms, “hits” is not “visits” nor “views”. “Hits” are the number of files served when a web page (no distinction here between WP “post” and “page”) is requested from a server. A graphic, an icon, a banner and all sorts of files that make up a page are, technically, “hits”. For example, when you opened this page, the server’s log should have recorded at least 40 “hits” just on the bullets, icons and images alone displayed on this page.

Given this background, where does that leave us if we want to show off our WP blogs stats?

You may have other ideas, but right now I can think of only two things we can do to correctly show off our WP blog stats:

1. Stick to using “Views” to label those numbers. I will not use labels like “hits” or “visits” if I were you. In the absence of additional information from WP, these labels may be inaccurate information. You may be describing the numbers something that they are not. In the Blog Stats dashboard, the numbers are labeled “views”, remember?

2. Disclose the period covered by the stats. Again, the numbers are pretty much meaningless unless the period to which they relate is described. Here is an example to show how futile and frustrating it is to read blog stats crafted using the Blog Stats widget:

Blog Stats
• 3,000 views

If you are the owner of this blog and you know that your blog stats are for 12 months, no problem. You know what your stats stand for. But if you are a visitor of this blog and you don’t have that same information, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? What do these 3,000 views represent? Are these yesterday’s views? Or perhaps, last week’s? Or last month’s? Or, last 12 months’? And how do I compare the “popularity” of this blog with another blog with only 1,500 views but I know that this other blog has been online for only 2 months?

Any suggested wordings?

By the way, I am not fond of showing off my site’s stats whether here at WP or in my company’s websites. We also do not display in my company’s websites any stats counter or meter. But if I were to show off my blog stats on the sidebar, I would probably disclose the numbers this way:

Blog Stats
• xxxxx page views from (date blog or the Blog Stats started) to date

or something like:

How popular is my blog?
• xxxxx pages had been viewed by my friends from (date blog or the Blog Stats started) to date. Oh yes, they are very pleased too!

A little bit long, you think? But no one will argue the suggested wordings are not misleading. And they are easy to understand.

Again, in a worst-case scenario too, you can present a screenshot of your blog stats dashboard plus some other information about your blog to prove that the blog stats you are claiming are factual. That is, if someone starts questioning your numbers and you need to show proof. About your friends being very pleased? I am sure your friends would be happy to come to your rescue and say they are pleased with your blog!

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End Notes: The WP Blog Stats inside my blog’s dashboard is an excellent tracking and management tool. With the Blog Stats, I learn a lot about my blog. But when used as a widget and without additional information about the numbers displayed on the sidebar, the stats are meaningless. Did I step on sensitive toes with this post? I hope not. But if I did, that’s a risk I take.
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tweet-this-wp

The spellchecker in WordPress is not purr-fect after all

I knew a spellchecker has been in WordPress for sometime now and that was really very good news for people like me. But the other day’s announcement of a proofreader support in the HTML Editor set me out to a fun trip.

How good is it? Does it really know how to spell receive as against recieve? Or, seperate when we actually mean separate?

I did a quick listing including tech-based nouns and I could see that the proofreader can spell. It even recognizes words like blog, Twitter, and Google. But wait a minute. How come I am receiving an error for WordPress? Not in the database? Yes, it does recognize word press (two words) or word-press but not WordPress (one word).

Interesting, isn’t it? The spellchecker does not even recognize its master.

Here is a screenshot of my very brief word list:

Testing "After the Deadline" spellchecker

So what do you think? Should we accept Word Press for WordPress? Or, do we have to teach the spellchecker to insert WordPress in its dictionary? // Leave a comment

tweet-this-wp

How to embed a Vimeo video

Following a tip in Comments to a WP’s support page on how to embed a Vimeo video, here’s a demo:

The above video was embedded using this shortcode (no space after [ and before ] ):

[ vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/7243598 ]

How to resize

The above video can be resized from the standard 400×300 to a larger 600×450 by inserting the width and height parameters in the shortcode:

[ vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/7243598 w=600&h=450 ]

This is the resized video:

Hmmm, that was easy too.

Thanks T3CK for the tip. And thanks Ileane for the prompt.

More resizing and formatting

Using a DIV tag and CSS, you can easily position a smaller video (left or right) and wrap text around it.

Here is a sample of the above video resized to 300×225 and text-wrapped:

Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah.

Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah. Blah blah blah blah.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to Technorati

Displaying photos in a gallery as an instructional aid

This is a plain vanilla photogallery I created to demonstrate how and where I grabbed the PicApp image codes used in my earlier post, Revisiting PicApp Images and Embed Codes.



The thumbnails above are arranged in the order PicApp windows are opened when searching for an image, and copying its embed code. The thumbnails were auto-generated from six images created from screenshots of PicApp windows and uploaded using the “Add an image” and “Insert gallery” functions.

These functions are detailed in the step-by-step instructions set out in a recent WP post, Display Your Photos In Style.

Hopefully, this photogallery can also demonstrate other ways of displaying photos in style and in conjunction with other posts.

Directions on how to embed a PicApp image in your blog are found in Revisiting PicApp Images and Embed Codes with references to a WP post, Free Access to Premium Images.

Have you tried setting up a photogallery in your blog yet? Need help? Feel free to leave a message.



If you want to customize your tweets from your WP posts, do not ignore the developer’s Support page

Seeing that WordPress.com has added a much welcome Twitter feature for WP-hosted blogs, I thought putting the plugin to a test for our friends would be great if titled “How to tweet with your WP blog.”

Why the title has changed to this very long title, “If you want to customize your tweets from your WP posts, do not ignore the developer’s Support page“, is what this post is about. I hope that our friends will avoid the same oversight as I have in activating the plugin.

Starting with information from WP post, Publicize: Twitter, our test, meant to be a quick and easy one, took us more time than expected. And all because I did not give particular attention to one important information, the Support page.

Here is a blow-by-blow account:

1. Enabled Twitter by click selecting Twitter in Dashboard -> My Blogs admin page

2. Once enabled, an “Authorize Twitter” message appeared.

WP-twitter-wp

3.Clicked on the authorization link to open a Twitter authorization window where I entered one of my company’s Twitter username (or email address) and password.

WP-twiiter-auth

4. Once validated, the window jumped back to my WP Dashboard.

Okay, that was expected.

5. Wrote a test post titled Installing WP for Blackberry, a re-post of an earlier entry with similar title. Clicked “Publish.”

6. Opened a new window with my WP-associated Twitter account. Below is what was displayed.

ontheroad-twitter-wp

Did I miss a step?

I wanted to customize my Twitter update, but Twitter immediately grabbed and displayed it. I wanted to add a teaser to the post title. With other WP Twitter-related plugins, I would do that right inside Twitter.

Hmm, how do I customize my tweet?, I asked. Haven’t I read in the WP post “You can stick with the default, automatically generated tweet, or customize it to your heart’s content”?

Because I have not done any customization, obviously what I am seeing is the default.

7. Went back to the Add New / Edit Posts window, and going over the items on the right panel, it’s then I realized that a small “Publicize” text link has been added.

8. Here is a screenshot of the “Publicize” option on the right panel, so inconspicuous that I failed to notice it the first time.

WP-twitter-publicize

9. And here is a screenshot of the “Publicize” mini-window when clicked:

WP-twitter-publicize-2


So, this is where customization takes place. Interesting!

Has this been mentioned in the WP Publicize: Twitter post? No, not in this post. Heading over to the linked WP support page, similar screenshots are clearly displayed.

How did I miss that? I did not bother to check the Support page linked on the announcement post.

Oh well, next time I’ll remember to check support pages too.

Note:

If you have reached this point reading this post, I don’t think you need to go to the support page any longer.

My experience (a bit embarassing, I know) is now shared.



Revisiting PicApp images and embed codes

Upon the request of some friends, I am revisiting my earlier post, “Experimenting with PicApp images in my blog“.

For this post, we are running two tests, namely: embedding the PicApp code using the “image code”, and embedding the PicApp code using the WordPress.com shortcode.

I selected the following options to generate the codes: image size 380×255, left-aligned, text-wrap. I also copied and pasted the image info as my text to test text-wrapping.

Here is the result using the image code:

TAR-TASS 71: ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA. OCTOBER 20, 2009. A scene from the ballet “Russian seasons” performed a gala concert of ‘Diaghilev – Post Scriptum’ International Arts Festival marking the 100th anniversary of Diaghilev’s ‘Ballets Russes’. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Yuri Belinsky).







Here is the result using the short code:

[picapp src=”a/f/1/7/Diaghilev__Post_d5c4.JPG?adImageId=6233328&imageId=6862271″ width=”380″ height=”252″ /]TAR-TASS 71: ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA. OCTOBER 20, 2009. A scene from the ballet “Russian seasons” performed a gala concert of ‘Diaghilev – Post Scriptum’ International Arts Festival marking the 100th anniversary of Diaghilev’s ‘Ballets Russes’. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Yuri Belinsky).

Can we repeat this test, please?

Unsure if the result of the first test is reliable, we ran another test.

We selected another image, selecting the ‘Diaghilev – Post Scriptum’ International Arts Festival brings to close and selecting these options: left-aligned, text wrap, 234×188 to generate the codes.

Here are the results:

(a) Using the image code:

ITAR-TASS 77: ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA. OCTOBER 20, 2009. Principal dancers Igor Zelinsky and Diana Vishneva perform in the ballet “Sheherezada” as a part of a gala concert of ‘Diaghilev – Post Scriptum’ International Arts Festival marking the 100th anniversary of Diaghilev’s ‘Ballets Russes’ at the Alexandrinsky Theatre. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Yuri Belinsky) Photo via Newscom







(b) Using the shortcode:

[picapp src=”f/5/d/f/Diaghilev__Post_da94.JPG?adImageId=6234719&imageId=6862281″ width=”234″ height=”188″ /]ITAR-TASS 77: ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA. OCTOBER 20, 2009. Principal dancers Igor Zelinsky and Diana Vishneva perform in the ballet “Sheherezada” as a part of a gala concert of ‘Diaghilev – Post Scriptum’ International Arts Festival marking the 100th anniversary of Diaghilev’s ‘Ballets Russes’ at the Alexandrinsky Theatre. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Yuri Belinsky) Photo via Newscom

Observations:

  • The image code is a better alternative than the shortcode in displaying a text wrapped around the image.
  • The image code is truncated, with the javascript line in the image code being scrubbed once the post is saved. I can understand this as being a WP security precaution.
  • There is no interface between WP and PicApp. It would be a welcome feature if the PicApp images for selection are right inside the Dashboard so you don’t have to switch from WP to PicApp windows.

Let me know what you think of these experiments. Which embed code will you use?

Updated 22 October:

I double-checked the Image Code which displays a more controlled text-wrap. My suspicion is that the stylesheet it uses was not built into, or not properly built into, the code which says “for WordPress.com” which I call the “WP shortcode” or simply “shortcode.”

Adding the same stylesheet to the shortcode (item b, above), here is the result:

[picapp src=”f/5/d/f/Diaghilev__Post_da94.JPG?adImageId=6234719&imageId=6862281″ width=”234″ height=”188″ /]

ITAR-TASS 77: ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA. OCTOBER 20, 2009. Principal dancers Igor Zelinsky and Diana Vishneva perform in the ballet “Sheherezada” as a part of a gala concert of ‘Diaghilev – Post Scriptum’ International Arts Festival marking the 100th anniversary of Diaghilev’s ‘Ballets Russes’ at the Alexandrinsky Theatre. (Photo ITAR-TASS/ Yuri Belinsky) Photo via Newscom





What do you know? So, it was the shortcode not being properly coded to include the text-wrapping. We hope that this post reaches our PicApp friends.


Experimenting with PollDaddy in my blog

This is the post I mentioned in my earlier post, How to encourage audience response.

First off, I must tell you that I am not a great fan of polls, but for the purpose of testing I signed up for a free account with PollDaddy.com.

After signing up, I created a new poll. Framed a question. Wrote possible answers, etc. Initially, I designed a poll at the PollDaddy website. Then, I realized that once you signed up with a PollDaddy, you can perform all these tasks right in your blog’s dashboard.

Here is a sample poll embedded on a post. (Don’t mind the question and answers. They are here for demo only. Feel free to use the Vote button or the text links to explore it.)

Poll settings

The PollDaddy comes with various options like:

  • How you want to order the answers whether multiple choice, random order, etc.
  • How you want to display the poll results
  • How you want to block repeat voters

The PollDaddy also comes with various settings for display styles. The one you see above is only one of many styles.

Can I embed a poll in my blog’s sidebar?

Yes. But you cannot embed the same poll you embed in your post like the one shown above if your post page and sidebar have different dimensions which is the case most of the time.

You need to set up a different poll although with the same question and possible answers with a different size and style to match your blog’s sidebar.

How do I embed a poll?

On the post page, that is easy. Click Edit on the left control panel under Polls to show the list of polls. Select the HTML code which outputs two ways of embedding the poll, a shortcode and a javascript.

Use the shortcode for WordPress.com-hosted blogs like this one.

How do I display a poll on the sidebar?

If you are like me who set up the sidebar using widgets, you would be wondering where the PollDaddy widget is. There is none.

To embed a poll on the sidebar, use the Text widget. Enter the shortcode of the poll.

Where is the poll on this blog’s sidebar? I don’t have one. I don’t want to have a poll displayed all over this blog. Remember, I said at the start, I am not a great fan of polls?

Hope you found this post useful.

How to encourage audience response

Every blog owner loves discussion and interaction with, and among, the blog audience. Interactions by way of audience responses show the blog is alive, and the blogger is not alone.

With a WordPress.com-hosted blogs, I found that you can (or at least WordPress.com has provided the tools) generate audience or readers’ responses with the Ratings plugin pre-installed in a WordPress.com blog and Polls using an interface with PollDaddy.

Let me share with you in this post my observations on the Ratings plugin. PollDaddy is my next post.

The Ratings plugin is located on the left control panel after the Comments section. When opened, the plugin has two sub-sections, the Settings and Reports. To enable the plugin, open Settings and choose where you want to display the ratings.

You can enable it for blog posts, pages or comments by selecting the corresponding tab and ticking the check box. You can also easily position the ratings either below or above each post, page or comment using a drop-down box. For purposes of testing, I have enabled the plugin for my other experimental site, When on the Road. The illustrations are sourced from that site.

The result of your selection is instantly available. When you view your posts, posts or comments, you will notice the ratings image (defaulted to 5 stars for the post or page) and the thumbs up or down for the comment if you also enabled the plugin for comments.

If you are using widgets to customize your blog’s sidebar, the ratings plugin also has a Top Rated widget. As usual, just drag and drop the Top Rated widget to where you want it to show. You can customize the Top Rated widget too by selecting the options you want.

That’s all there is.

*** Note: If you noticed the first screenshot above, there is that 1 Votes displayed. 1 Votes? Sorry, we don’t have access to the plugin file to edit it. But not to worry. With 1 more vote, that should be right. 😦

Experimenting with PicApp images in my blog

[picapp src=”0/2/3/e/UCLA_Bruins_vs_356f.jpg?adImageId=5147881&imageId=6774884″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]

Embedding a PicApp image in a WordPress post is very easy. There are two embedding codes supplied. One is for self-hosted WordPress blogs. Another is for WordPress.com-hosted blogs like this one. To copy the code, highlight the whole code applicable to your site, and then paste it on where you want it to show in your post.

The image above is an example of a PicApp image embedded on this post using the codes supplied by PicApp for WordPress.com hosted blogs.

What if you do not want the thumbnails strip?

If you are not a great fan of thumbnails being displayed on the related-images strip, you can make them “disappear” by resizing the image. I did not even experiment with this one. The information was already supplied in WordPress.com’s support forum. Well, not exactly the way I wrote it here. But it was pretty obvious from the WordPress.com’s support page that that was how it could be done.

Below is a sample image grab where the related-images strip is removed and replaced by a PicApp-linked “Gallery” icon when the image is reduced. I reduced the image size by 50% of its original size.

[picapp src=”0/2/3/e/UCLA_Bruins_vs_356f.jpg?adImageId=5147881&imageId=6774884″ width=”250″ height=”167″ alt=”test image” border=”0″/]

How do you wrap the text around the resized and smaller image?

[picapp src=”0/2/3/e/UCLA_Bruins_vs_356f.jpg?adImageId=5147881&imageId=6774884″ width=”250″ height=”167″ alt=”test image” border=”0″ /]

I admit I am no expert in CSS. But what I normally use – a simple stylesheet – to align an image left or right works.

On this example, I used a stylesheet with the image being floated to the left and with a margin to the right of the image of 10px to make way for a nice whitespace between the image and text left margin.

I am pretty sure there are other ways of wrapping the text around the image or aligning the image left or right of your post.

Will I be using PicApp images in my blog? When pressed for time or I don’t have the right photographs in my library, why not? After all, the images are free, are they not?

Well, not exactly free like in free to do what you want with them. What is “free” is free access. We still have to “pay” for them, I suppose, by way of the traffic redirected to PicApp’s where advertisements are displayed or the viral marketing effect we create for PicApp by making the embedding code of the images available in our blogs for others to use.

To me, that is a very small price to pay, especially in these days of sharing and bookmarking.

How to customize your blog with widgets

Screenshot of some WP widgets

Screenshot of some WP widgets

I am surprised to see a number of my friends’ blogs using the ready-to-use sectional links on the sidebar of their blogs like calendar, archives, etc. when they have so much to display.

Either they don’t have time to explore the functionalities offered by WordPress.com to change the looks of their theme (at least on the sidebars) or they are not into experimenting.

As we wrote in an earlier post, unless you want to pay a few dollars to have access to a CSS editor, there is not much you could do with the appearance of a selected theme other than to customize the custom header, that is, if that is an option in your selected theme.

But the widgets feature can change the appearance of your theme in terms of content and layout. The widgets can make your blog a little different from blogs using the same theme. This blog is using the Mistylook theme, but with the use of widgets, it now looks different from others blogs using the same theme. (Not the best-looking blog, I admit, but it demonstrates what widgets can do.)

In terms of content, there are so many things one can do with sidebar widgets. Here are some of them and what you can do with them:

  • Image: This is one of the latest features of WordPress.com which easily displays an image in your sidebar
  • RSS: Fetches the latest entries of your favorite site with RSS feeder
  • Top Posts: Excellent for showcasing to your visitors which of your posts receive the most number of views
  • Twitter: To display your latest tweets if you have a Twitter account or the latest tweets of your favorite Twitter-er
  • Text: This allows you to enter any message like announcements, greetings, etc. on your sidebar

Screenshot of the widget page used on this site

Screenshot of the widget page used on this site

To activate a widget in your sidebar, all you need to do is “drag and drop” it on where you want it to appear. For most linking widgets, for example, RSS or Twitter, like the Recent Posts or Recent Comments widget, you can specify the number of entries you want to display.

Layouting or re-ordering the sequence of your widgets is very easy as well. Simply “drag and drop” your active widgets to where you want them to appear.

Want to remove the widgets? Easy. Open the widget by clicking on its down-arrow button, and press the Remove text link.

Why not try the widgets and give your blog a lift?