Dec 05 2008

Seven Cool WordPress Plugins

This will probably only be of interest to other bloggers, but I’ve found some cool plugins and thought I’d let people know about them.


If you want to paste program code into a post, it can be a real pain. Lines may run together, and you usually loose the indentation. The plugin fixes that, and adds syntax coloring like many text editors now have. It sets the code off nicely, and optionally can add line numbers, like this:

use warnings;
use strict;

for (0..9){
    print "Hello, world!";

FD Word Stats

I just found this one a couple days ago, but I like it. While you’re editing a post, it shows the number of words and sentences, and some calculations about the readability of the post, like this:

Words: 103 Sentences: 7 Fog: 9.8 Kincaid: 6.4 Flesch: 75

Those last three numbers are attempts to show how readable the post is, based on the average number of syllables per word, the number of words per sentence, and so on. Fog and Kincaid try to estimate the number of years of education a person would need to understand the post. Obviously, these are pretty vague and don’t agree at all in this case, so it’s probably not very useful, but it’s kind of cool. I mostly wanted it so I could see how many words I’d written so I wouldn’t get carried away so much.

Quotes Collection

This plugin runs the “Random Quote” box I’ve got in the right sidebar now. I wanted to start putting quotes I’ve collected into my blog somehow; and sure enough, there was a handy plugin for it. It’ll also let me plug them into posts, by keyword, author, or other methods, so I may start using it that way too.

Spam Karma 2

This one is saving me some time, now that I’m getting more hits from spammers. It does a much more thorough job than the default Askimet spam checker that comes with WordPress. (Askimet checking is included in SK2.) It trashes the really obvious spam so I don’t have to sort through it all, and it’s smart about letting through the real comments. Toss in the SK2 Moderate Plugin and it’ll send the good ones through moderation, so you can double-check them.

Star Rating for Reviews

This plugin makes the nice little 1-5 star ratings on my reviews. I just put rating:3.5 between square brackets, and it turns that into 3.5 stars. It can use other ratings ranges like 1-10 or 1-100, and it can use up to 20 stars. It can use other graphics in place of the stars, and it’d be easy enough to make some.


This one sits behind the little e-mail envelope at the bottom of each of my posts, and lets people e-mail the post to a friend. No one has used it yet, but when they do, it’ll make that easy for them and keep statistics for me on how much each post gets e-mailed.


Statpress is a pretty nice WordPress-specific traffic analyzer. In other words, it keeps track of all the visits to the blog and gives me lots of information about them. It can’t tell me who visited (nothing can), but it tells me how many came each day, what pages they went to, where they came from, and things like that. It tells me what search terms people used when they found my site on the search engines, and what posts get visited the most, so I can tell what stuff that I’ve written is the most popular. (Based on that, if I were smart, I’d write a hundred articles about the Latin Mass and forget everything else.)

I also use Google Analytics, which isn’t a plugin but is Google’s free traffic analyzer. Its main difference from Statpress is that GA is done in Javascript, so it only tracks real browsers (or the 99% of them that have Javascript enabled). Actual readers, in other words. Statpress tracks everything—search engines, spam bots, hack attempts—so it inflates the numbers quite a bit. By comparing the two, I can tell whether a burst of activity is real people who might care what I’m writing or just random traffic from machines.

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