Changing the Blog Herald WordPress News: Your Help Needed

Filed as Features on March 10, 2009 5:46 pm

The that I’ve been producing weekly will soon be changing, evolving naturally into something that meets the needs of the readers and editors. For over two years, every week almost without fail, I’ve brought you a summary of the news from around the WordPress Community. That’s over 110 issues stuffed with a ton of WordPress news, tips, resources, Plugins, and Themes. It’s time for the next step and we want you to be part of the process.

Before it changes too much, I’d like to talk about how it developed, and the choices made along the way, as it may help you if you produce your own newsletter, news digest, or similar report on your blog.

Like any major publication, and this weekly WordPress News is major weekly publication, it must be constructed with a plan and agenda, evolving slowly as the needs and production changes.

It must also serve two key purposes. It must educate and inform the readers, and serve the needs of the company it serves.

Help us improve how we deliver the WordPress news to you.

Centralizing the WordPress News

WordPress Logo buttonOver two years ago, there was no central location for WordPress news, and there continues to not be, except for the Blog Herald WordPress News. would publish some news on his personal blog, would release WordPress development news on his personal blog, Mark Jaquith and Andy Skelton would take turns with Plugin, Theme, and development news on their blogs, and the rest was scattered all over the place. In the early years, Matt loved encouraging (and challenging) members of the WordPress Community working on the various efforts to be the first to report on their blog, which made tracking down the news hard, but also gave everyone a moment in the sun.

The official WordPress aggregator, , brought WordPress and non-WordPress stories to WordPress fans and the WordPress Administration Panel’s Dashboard. Many complained about the non-WordPress topics making it into the feed, and slowly this list was pruned down to only WordPress categories on those blogs.

planet wordpress - unofficial and authorized WordPress aggregatorThis was too limiting Ozh, so he created Planet WordPress from Planet Ozh, an unofficial but well respected aggregator covering a much wider spectrum of WordPress experts. New WordPress fan blogs continue to be added to the aggregator, making it one of the most extensive resources for WordPress information.

Planet WordPress Canada was recently announced, bringing together a variety of WordPress experts and fans blogging about WordPress representing Canada. I expect that more countries and regions will soon offer their own WordPress Community aggregator, representing the best their communities have to offer to the WordPress world.

Almost since it’s conception, has survived two owners to stay on track as one of the most important sources and resources for WordPress news and information. Matt Mullenweg has even blogged news and editorial commentaries as a guest blogger, in keeping with the value Weblog Tools Collection brings to the WordPress Community. Owner Mark Ghosh has expanded their WordPress coverage to now include Weblog Tools Collection General WordPress News, Weblog Tools Collection Videos, forums, PressItFor.me, and the popular WordPress Jobs, a resource for WordPress experts and consultants.

There has also been a huge growth in WordPress fan blogs and podcasts. Charles Stricklin started , and while some WordPress-oriented podcasts have come and gone, the current popular ones include WordCast, WordPress Weekly Podcast, and the new The WordPress Plugins Podcast.

WordPress Event Calendar badgeWhile you can only find a schedule and a few updates, there is little WordCamp and WordPress event news at present on WordCamp Central, The WordCamp Report has moved from a live WordCamp San Francisco blog to a news center for all things WordCamp and WordPress events. You can also track WordPress events and WordCamps on Yahoo Upcoming events for WordPress and WordPress Meetups Upcoming Events.

There are some “official” WordPress news and resource sites. started the , the , WordPress Publisher Blog, , . Still, there is no single resource for all things official WordPress news. Whether or not there should be is a topic for another blog post.

Between the hunt for WordPress news to the now overwhelming resources for WordPress news and information, producing the , the only source on the web with a summary of WordPress news from around the world, could easily be a full-time job for two to three people. Unfortunately, you are stuck with me, a WordPress workaholic fan girl.

Paring all that news down into a weekly news digest takes 4-8 hours during a normal week. Lately, there hasn’t been a “normal” WordPress news week with a growing number of WordCamps and WordPress events to cover, release information, and tips and techniques for the latest version. During a major WordPress version release, the two weeks before and the week or two after increases the time commitment to 12-20 hours a week. All the development news around WordPress 2.7 kept me working an average of 18 hours a week to produce that one weekly news summary.

No where else is there a report that brings together all the news from all over the web on WordPress. I’m proud to have developed it, and guided it’s course, and eager to see where we take it next.

The Blog Herald WordPress News Serves Reader’s Needs First

WordPress Community BadgeWhen planning and reporting the , the first filter that all WordPress content passes through is “how will this help the WordPress Community.”

I would love to brag about this and that, or honk my own horn when it comes to WordPress stuff, but that’s not the point of the weekly WordPress News. It is to serve the needs of the readers and WordPress fans.

Here are my basic rules and guides for deciding what gets published on the Blog Herald WordPress News.

It must meet the guidelines in Tips For Writing Good WordPress Tips such as:

  • WordPress spelled and capitalized properly.
  • All WordPress terms and references spelled and capitalized correctly.
  • The WordPress news, tip, technique, Theme, or Plugin applies to the masses, not individuals.
  • The writing is clear and specific to the topic, with a solid, keyword specific introduction, and step-by-step instructions and references.
  • The article’s intent is to educate, not sell.
  • All tips are to directly relate to the full version of and free hosted blogs, as well as related products such as , , and , but only as how they related specifically to WordPress users in general.

This filtering process takes time, as I pour through hundreds of articles on WordPress every week. A lot are cast aside because they ramble, take too long to get to the point, try to solve every problem in one blog post, or use WordPress tips to push their products and services. I find a lot of plagiarism and redundant information, too, which takes time to verify and find the original source.

While there are a lot of poorly formed WordPress tips, there are some hidden gems that I find all the time. It’s a needle in a hackstack some weeks, but I get so excited when I stumble upon a great resource or single post tip or WordPress Plugin I know will thrill many WordPress users. These often come from the most unlikely sources – you never know, so it’s work to plow through all of the web looking for those precious gems, often changing a life with a link in the Blog Herald WordPress News.

WordPress Plugin badgeThe same applies to WordPress Plugins. Luckily, the WordPress Plugin Directory makes it easier to find interesting WordPress Plugins, but some fabulous ones are still not listed there. Whether they are in the Directory or not, WordPress Plugin authors continue to struggle with how to clearly define and describe their Plugins, making the task of uncovering these gems part of my job as I have to speak for them.

The hierarchy of the structure has changed over the years, from a long list to a grouped-content framework, using small graphic icons to highlight the different sections and lead the reader to the news of interest to them.

Originally, the order of the content was general WordPress news, WordPress.com news, then WordPress Plugins and Themes. As WordCamps and WordPress Meetups grew, I added the WordPress Events section, then added WordPress Tips. At the beginning of 2008, there were a number of security issues to report on, so I added the WordPress Security News section, but dropped it as there is now so little to report.

WordPress News - Fan BlogsJust recently, I added the WordPress Fan Blogs and Podcasts section to highlight the work of those who have blogs and podcasts dedicated to nothing but WordPress, or at least the majority of their content. This puts top “reporters” on WordPress topics, tips, and news into the limelight where they belong. It takes a long time of watching and evaluation before a site can enter that section of the WordPress News reports, so consider it an honor and visit these wise and generous WordPress fans.

While a few WordPress news tidbits are emailed to me, I spend a tremendous amount of time in my feed reader tracking hundreds of blog, social media, and custom feeds. It’s back breaking work, but it’s important to me and the WordPress Community to keep up with all the news.

I pick up a lot of news and tips at the many WordPress and WordCamp conferences I attend and speak at, including breaking news and tips not published or hard to find.

The Future of the Blog Herald WordPress News

This is truly a labor of love as few could afford to compensate me for all the time and effort it takes to produce each issue. Accordingly, the must change and evolve.

As we plan our strategies for the weekly news on WordPress, how would you like to see it change and improve? We’re playing around with breaking it up into pieces, removing elements, expanding others. It’s a balancing act to ensure that the Blog Herald doesn’t become the “WordPress” source but stays an online journal bringing you the best news, information, tips, guides, and resources from the blogging industry.

This is your WordPress News report, so what do you want and need to help you work harder and do more with WordPress?

Recent WordPress News on the Blog Herald

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  1. By seriocomic posted on March 11, 2009 at 7:56 pm
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    Easy.
    1. Make it *readable* (short, succinct, with a message, and to the point)
    2. Don’t (by your own definition) “ramble, take too long to get to the point, try to solve every problem in one blog post”
    3. Don’t be a ‘WordPress’ ‘WordPress’ ‘WordPress’ SEO spam-whore.
    4. Don’t try to be the WordPress police by dictating how wordpress is capitalized.
    5. Keep each entry to a theme and stick to it – hey, if that means shorter, more frequent articles, then so be it.

    Reply

  2. By Ajay posted on March 12, 2009 at 5:52 am
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    I hope you don’t mind me being a bit to critical. Firstly, I must congratulate your on being able to track WordPress news so excellently. I find it really hard to find plugins and themes at times for the release posts on WLTC!

    However, there is one major problem that I feel in the Blog Herald WordPress news and that is the sheer length of each of the posts.

    You have so much information compressed in these posts that it just gets “boring” after reading a few paragraphs.

    My main suggestion would be to split this post up into several posts spread across a day. I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to reduce the 18 hours to 12 hours.
    So, instead of one monster posts ever week, split it into 4-6 posts across the week.

    As for content, it’s been great so far :)

    Reply

  3. By Bryan Strawser posted on March 15, 2009 at 5:50 pm
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    This has had to have been one of the most confusing rambling posts that I’ve ever read on here. Why not just ask the question.. instead of taking what felt like 2000 words to get there?

    Bryan

    Reply

    • By Lorelle VanFossen posted on March 16, 2009 at 10:43 am
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      Probably because I did ask the question and many want to know how the process works and what it takes – since educating people is what I do. I’m often asked how I do the WordPress News report. Glad you were interested enough to read through it. That says a lot, too. Thanks.

      Reply

  4. By that girl again posted on March 19, 2009 at 8:40 pm
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    I agree with the other commenters that two or three shorter posts focused on specific topics are more appealing to most readers than a lengthy weekly digest of everything. I would expect a regular ‘news’ feature to focus on point releases, updates to widely-used plugins, new features on wordpress.com, the latest Automattic acquisition, that sort of thing. At the moment, this information is somewhat lost amid a sea of random WP-related material that isn’t news as such (links to tips and tutorials, lists of your favourite sites, lists of upcoming fanboy conventions) and which in turn would probably attract more attention if posted separately under relevant headings such as ‘WordPress Tips’ or ”WordPress Blogroll’.

    Reply

  5. By saifmalik posted on September 20, 2009 at 11:33 am
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    I would expect a regular ‘news’ feature to focus on point releases, updates to widely-used plugins, new features on wordpress.com, the latest Automattic acquisition, that sort of thing

    Reply

  6. By Cyru posted on June 20, 2010 at 6:42 am
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    i would expect a regular news feature especially focusing on point release, plug-in updates, how to use with latest features, new features on wordpress.com, that sort of thing.

    Reply

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