Haven’t you started to doubt blogs which offer great WordPress tips when they aren’t published on WordPress blogs?
I pour through hundreds of blogs and blog posts every week in search of WordPress news, tips, techniques, Plugins, and information for the Blog Herald WordPress Wednesday News. Call me arrogant. Call me inconsiderate. Call me whatever you want, but over the past six months, I’ve found myself developing some criteria for whether or not I will link to a blog with WordPress resources because I doubt their sincerity and integrity.
Here are some of the criteria I’m starting to use to judge a blog for inclusion on my blog and on the Blog Herald.
WordPress versus WordPress
WordPress is a trademark and thus must be spelled appropriately. This has been explained redundantly, so when I see a blog post with WordPress not WordPress and WordPress plug-in not WordPress Plugin, the article loses some of its luster.
I try to ignore it, but it does score a bit against the credibility of the author who should know better. It isn’t a killer but it does downgrade my score for inclusion.
Why? If their attention to detail skips the proper spelling of these words, what does that say for the information they are presenting. What little detail has been overlooked or ignored? Should I risk recommending something that might be flawed?
If You Are Blogging About WordPress, Blog on WordPress
I know many writers publish articles about WordPress on multiple bloggers blogs not run on WordPress. I can forgive that. But when I run across a Blogspot or TypePad blog spouting expertise on WordPress, I’m a little doubtful as to their expertise. Aren’t you?
I can rave all I want about the pros and cons of driving a Ferrari. If you find out that I’ve never been in one nor driven one, wouldn’t you doubt my veracity? I would.
Unless the tip and technique is really unique and well-written, it’s hard for me to publish a link recommendation to a blog not run on WordPress about a WordPress technique. So yes, I’m prejudice, but with good reason. I want to know that the author has “been there, done that, lived to tell about it” on their WordPress blog. Don’t you?
Code Without Character Entities
I look long and hard at blog posts which include code to see if they have properly replaced all quote marks and apostrophes with the proper character codes (” is
" and ‘ is
'). I look to see that they haven’t put spaces around the code (
< p > instead of
<p>) or inappropriate line breaks, and other methods people use to force code to display on their blogs.
There are several ways to display code in your blog posts. Making it messy and unable to be easily copied and pasted into a WordPress template file puts a burden on the reader. It also leads to increased technical support and comments like “Help! I can’t get this to work!”
The same goes for WordPress Plugins and scripts which make the user jump through hoops to get it to work.
Plugins and scripts can easily be stored in a zip file for easy downloading and use. Long bits of code for copying and pasting into a blog template file should be featured in a file for downloading and viewing not displayed on a blog post, filling it up with hard to read code. Breaking code up into little pieces, then never supplying the final collection of all those bits forces the user to copy and paste those bits together, creates potential errors and problems which has them coming back with “Help! I can’t get this to work!”
Display code cleanly and concisely. Provide additional files and readme files to explain how to use these in addition to information published on your blog.
If the idea is unique and really good and the display of code is poor, I may let it slide, with a disclaimer, but if the display of code is really bad and will cause more suffering for the reader than it should, I will skip it.
Here are some articles I’ve written on how to write code in your WordPress blogs:
- WordPress.com Blog Bling: Signatures and Writing Code
- Writing Code in Your WordPress Posts
- HTML, CSS, PHP, and More Cheat Sheets
- WordPress Plugins That Help You Write Code
While I like to know how the blogger came up with the tip or technique, it’s not as important as the tip or technique. If I have to scroll through paragraph and paragraph of back story to get to the tip, I will skip it, unless it really offers a unique instruction and technique I’ve not found elsewhere.
Trust me, it’s not fun to feature a blog post with a disclaimer that says, “Be patient and just read through the first 8 paragraphs and then you will get to the good stuff.” Sometimes, that’s exactly what I want to say in my recommendations. Don’t give me that opportunity.
Too Many Ads Before and Within the Content
I’ve found many really good technical articles for WordPress bloggers that are buried in 8-25 advertisements. If I have to dig through the ads, just like digging through rambling back stories, I will not recommend the article to my readers.
Why should I recommend something to them that will tick them off when they visit? The last thing I want to do when making a recommendation is annoy my readers. They’ve come to trust me to provide them with the information they need from an easy-to-read and accessible site. I work hard not to disappoint.
It’s not just too many ads, it’s also link ads within the content. If I see WordPress turned into an advertising link, it just kind of hits me where it hurts. I am really annoyed by link ads which turn “random” words in a blog post into advertising, especially when they include the dreaded popup ads.
If the design, readability, and usability of the blog is filled with interference, whether they come from ads or other design decisions, I will not recommend that blog post to my readers.
Mind Reading Writing
Most people arrive on your blog through search engines. The first page we see is the first page we see. We arrive not knowing the back story, history, or the long term challenges you’ve had to finally come up with tip or technique that solved your problem. You have to tell us.
I’ve found many wonderful answers to WordPress problems that began with “I finally found the answer to my problem. Do this…” without any description of what the problem was or why it needed fixing. I’ve even found descriptions of WordPress Plugins by their authors that start out with “Okay, it’s finished. Take a look at it and tell me what you think of it.”
How can we know what you are talking about, or do anything with the information you offer, unless we understand why it’s important, what it solves, and why we should try it.
Don’t assume we know what you are talking about, have been reading your blog and know the history, or we can read your mind. You must tell us before we can use the information, and I have to know before I recommend your information.
Copying Other People’s Code and Explanations
It’s wonderful to share. It should be a compliment to copy someone else’s work and make it your own, by adding a few twists and turns to the content. But it’s not yours.
Give credit where credit is due. When I find an article with a WordPress technique in it, with a link to the original source of the “inspiration”, I check it out. If I find that the article I just visited is almost a duplicate, or explains the technique in almost the same terms, with a majority of the code from the original source, I’m not likely to give credit to the copying blog.
When you add to the body of WordPress knowledge, people want to give you the credit you deserve. So do I. But when you copy the work of others and don’t really add more information, you are just duplicating content not increasing it.
Do you know how many articles are out there giving almost the same instructions on installing a WordPress blog as are in the WordPress Codex? According to Google, give or take a few thousand, there are 1,740,000 web pages on installing WordPress. Do we really need any more?
Everyone wants to share their version of how to do it, but when it’s been shared over a thousand times, then what new things do you bring to the table?
It’s hard to write some WordPress technique articles without “borrowing” code and tips from others. Give credit where credit is earned, but present the information in a new way, through new eyes, with a new twist on the perspective, not just because you think you can write it better.
If You Are the Source, Say So
With the plethora of splogs on the web, it’s important for me to know you are the source of the information, WordPress Plugin, or WordPress Theme. Many will ramble on about a Plugin, script, or Theme, making me believe they are the author when at the bottom, there is a link to another blog. What? Who? Where?
If you are not the source, say so. If you are the source, say so. Make it clear from the beginning that this is your concept, your original creation, your code.
If you are reviewing or referencing another WordPress Plugin, Theme, or script, then say so at the very beginning so we know this is not your work, that you are recommending the work of someone else.
Again, give credit where credit is due, and if it is you, say so.
How to Write a Good WordPress Tip
Now you know how hard it is to filter through hundreds of articles offering WordPress and blogging tips every week. I didn’t plan on setting up this self-filtering system, but it’s important to me to bring you the best of the best in WordPress news, tips, techniques, and resources. Over time, I learned to weed out the wheat.
If you are writing a blog post on WordPress, here are my tips to get past my filter, and hopefully impress your readers and visitors with your WordPress expertise so they will recommend your post:
- Spell WordPress and Plugins right.
- Spell check and use complete words and sentences. Make it easy to read.
- Make your blog a WordPress blog, or make sure we know your WordPress expertise from the moment we arrive on your blog.
- Publish your code to be copied and pasted directly.
- Get to the point.
- Explain the reasons, benefits, and flaws in what you are offering clearly.
- Provide instructions in a step-by-step manner rather than paragraph-by-paragraph.
- Make the content more important than the money-making process on your blog.
- Make us believe you know what you are talking about.
- Write for an international audience.
- Don’t plagiarize.
- Give credit where credit is due.
- Provide links to related resources for substantiation as well as more information.
- If this is your work, let us know.
Next time you write a good WordPress tip, technique, or how to, you might just pass my criteria test and be featured here on the Blog Herald or on Lorelle on WordPress. I love to make WordPress fans famous, but you have to help me. :D