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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A PollDaddy poll outside your WP blog

poll-matter-of-sharingI mentioned in my earlier PollDaddy post, I am not a great fan of polls, but here is an opportunity to have another demo of a poll created using PollDaddy.

Someone asked me if a poll created in my WP blog can be displayed outside WordPress.com.

Yes, you can. I don’t think there is a restriction as to where you can display a PollDaddy as long as you use the correct embedding code.

To display the poll outside your WP blog, in your Polls > Edit control page, click HTML code link, then highlight and copy the poll’s javascript, and paste it to where you want to position your poll on your external page.

I am currently running in my personal site a very simple poll (see image on left).

No, the question asked in the poll is not earth-shattering. The question is very simple, and can be answered in less than one minute. I also wrote a brief background story about the poll with invitation to my readers to use the Comments to share their thoughts on the issue.

Poll results? The poll is generating good responses from my website followers.

Why not visit the poll and let me know what you think.

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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

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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

How to embed a video in your WordPress.com-hosted blog

I didn’t realize that embedding a video in a WordPress.com-hosted blog is so easy until I tried it. I guess my initial impression of not being able to install any plugin in my WP-hosted blog was mentally blocking me from even trying it.

In my company’s self-hosted WP sites, we have to install plugins to add video embedding functionalities.

Actually, I just accidentally hit the Add Video icon when adding a new post.  When pressed, the icon popped up a new window displaying the familiar (to me, anyway) shortcodes in embedding YouTube and Google videos.

Wow! I exclaimed. So, these video-embedding plugins are already built into my blog. Excitedly I searched YouTube for a test video clip which I could embed here. And I have this video titled “Sydney Sites” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3qY3pP1ARg which I am using here for the same reason that I want to help promote Sydney.

So, how do you embed a video? Here are the steps:

1. When in Add New / Edit Post mode, click on the Add Video icon to open an Add Video window.

2. Select the URL tab. On the Video URL, enter the video URL.

3. Click the Insert into Post button.

The video shortcode with the entered URL is generated and entered onto your post. The URL without the space after [ and before ] looks like this for a YouTube embedded video.

[ youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3qY3pP1ARg ]

Here is the video generated by the above steps:

How do you resize the video?

Just add the parameter &w= (w for width) and &h= (h for, you guessed it, height) to the shortcode like:

[ youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3qY3pP1ARg&w=600&h=425 ]

and you get a resized video like this:

or like this, if you want it smaller with w=200 and h=125:

There are tutorials found in WordPress.tv on how to embed YouTube videos. Search also “video embedding” in WordPress.com and you will find several posts where WP users narrate and share their experiences.

This is just one of them.

How to blog spam-free at WordPress.com

My last post about email spams was more for working than WordPress-ing. This time let me go back to the latter, albeit on the same subject, but focused on WordPress.com blogs.

You know of course I am referring to comment spams.

When you log in to your Dashboard, you are greeted with a note like:

Akismet has protected your site from xxx spam comments already, and there are xx comments in your spam queue right now.

In my calculation, more than 70 per-cent of comments posted to date on this blog are spams in the six weeks it has been online.

Big deal? No, not really. Akismet is a friend to WP bloggers. Well, at least to some.

So what is this Akismet?

It is a plugin or software that deletes or “kills spam” in comments and trackbacks. It is an “Automattic production” and native to WordPress.

As of this writing, 3:30pm AEST 27 Oct, Akismet reported that it had caught more than 13 billion spams since it started more than 3 years ago, and that 83 per-cent of all comments are spam, a fair estimate considering that for emails about 88 per-cent are spam according to reports.

Here’s a screenshot of an Akismet stats page (time-stamping is mine to jog my memory):

Akismet stats

In its early years, I gather that Akismet had received a lot of complaints from WP users. Quite understandable, I think. The plugin was new, and it is the type of plugin that can only be perfected through actual practice. Akismet has to update its database and lexicon of words and phrases of words used in spamming.

The plugin also needed to learn from patterns of comment spams and feedback from users.

After more than 3 years, we could only expect Akismet to be more effective and more learned than when it started.

That said, it does not mean that you should leave Akismet totally on its own.

From time to time, you need to check your blog’s spam queue. There may be comments from friends mistakenly considered as spams by Akismet.

For example, today when I checked my blog’s spam queue, I found one comment posted about a week ago by another WP blogger. I guess the reason why that comment was caught was that in the comment was URL of the page I was being invited to visit. I am not sure here, I am only guessing.

Anyway, the point I am driving home is that we should not leave everything to Akismet. We still have to do some work.

Two things we can do:

1. As mentioned above, check your blog’s spam queue. If there are any comments which should not be considered as spams, you simply approve the comments to remove them from the spam queue. Just like with emails, from time to time we need to check our Spam folders. Sometimes, spam filters get so over-zealous and over-protective that even legit messages are being erroneously classified as spams.

2. Check your blog’s settings. On a WP blog’s Settings | Discussion page, there are two options you could configure to “teach” how Akismet should behave. These are the “Comment Moderation” and “Comment Blacklist” options. Why not put them to good use and fine-tune Akismet?

Comment moderation and blacklist options


I hope this post helps. Here’s to a spam-free blogging.

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.