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Bad Behavior

It’s pretty tough to run a blog for very long without dealing with spam comments – and as you start getting more traffic, the spam comments start rolling in at higher and higher rates. The Akismet plugin that ships with WordPress is a fantastic place to begin stemming the tide of garbage that might otherwise threaten to overwhelm you, but some days even Akismet simply isn’t up to the challenge.

Enter Bad Behavior.

I won’t spend time lauding this plugin’s accolades and adopters – the plugin page points out some noteworthy users, and the download count speaks for itself.  What I will say is that this plugin is a fantastic and powerful complement to Akisment – not a replacement.

Spammers are a creative lot who continually shift how they manage to unleash a torrent of U BUY SEX SITE and FAKE PURSE FOR CHEAP, and many of them use pretty easily scanned words or garbage links that Akismet can pick up on and automatically recognize as spam. The problem is that your site still has to spend the time scanning all those incoming comments and filing them away appropriately. If your site is popular or even just experiencing a spike in traffic, this isn’t something you want to deal with – slower page times lose readers. You have to remember that to post comments, these spammers (even automated ones) still need to load your web page, which costs you bandwidth, too!

Bad Behavior kicks in before the comment spam can start. Using heuristic detection, Bad Behavior can figure out if the person/computer requesting your page is friend or foe. If it’s foe, it won’t even load the page to allow them to post the comment! If it’s a friend, or appears to be a friend, they won’t even notice a thing.

Spammers get a page like this - or in very rare cases, a person might see this.

I installed this plugin on one of the bloggers I host who has consistently high traffic (and consistently high incoming spam) approximately two months ago. Here’s what it managed to do in the past week alone:

That's just shy of 250 pageloads per day that were blocked as likely to be spammers.

In comparison, here’s what Akismet’s done on the same blog – and this is data for four months:

In comparison, this comes out to about 25 comments blocked per day.

That’s a lot of potential spam that Bad Behavior blocked that Akismet might’ve had to tangle with. I can’t speak for you, but I know I’d much rather be worry free.

If you’re a current customer of Safe Shark Hosting and would like us to install this plugin for you, let us know! If you’re not a current customer, what are you waiting for? Low prices, fantastic customer service, and a plethora of satisfied customers. Let us help you blog at your best!

 

WPTouch

 

It’s pretty tough to overstate the fact that we live in a mobile and digital age. Roughly 46% of US mobile phone consumers have smart phones, and this number is going up at an inexorable rate. We have the ability to be constantly connected to the Internet and to social media.

Bloggers, you need to take this into account – people can and will be looking at your blog while they’re on the go. It’s pretty typical that when I’m waiting for my gas tank to fill, I’ve got my Android out and I’m trying to keep caught up on posts by bloggers I read regularly. I’ve never gotten into RSS feed readers, but the simple fact is that most WordPress themes (even in this increasingly mobile world) are simply not designed for mobile phones.

Fonts are too small or hard to read, navigation links can be tough to select unless you’ve got toothpick fingers or a stylus, and they generally load slowly. Page load time, even on mobile phones where it’s expected to be slower, will detract viewers from coming back and reading your content.

The easiest solution to this problem is the WPTouch plugin. Simply put, this plugin adds a second hidden theme to your site that is only shown to mobile browsers. This secondary theme is optimized to be more navigable, readable, quick, and cross-platform.

It’s got a plethora of options – you can tweak colors, layout, icons, and so much more.

Unfortunately, this post isn’t so great at the “show, not tell” adage of writing, so I’m going to have to direct you over to a workable demo which can illustrate the value this plugin presents – view http://demo.yellingontheinternet.com in your mobile browser. To begin with, it’ll load using the WPTouch generated layout. After you’ve tinkered around with it for a few moments, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the Mobile Theme slider. The page will reload, and at that point, I hope you’ve got your reading glasses at hand, because your ability to see anything with this layout (a very commonly used WordPress layout!) is virtually nonexistent on a mobile phone’s screen.

Don’t make your site be one of the unreadable, messy blogs that can’t be read on a normal phone and inspire your readers to get out torches and pitchforks!

If you’re a current customer of Safe Shark Hosting and would like us to install this plugin for you, let us know! If you’re not a current customer, what are you waiting for? Low prices, fantastic customer service, and a plethora of satisfied customers. Let us help you blog at your best!

WordPress.com Custom CSS

There are thousands of WordPress themes available (either paid or free), so it’s pretty safe to say that if you have a vision for how you want your WordPress blog to look, there’s probably a theme that can get you 90% of the way there already in existence.

But maybe you don’t like how their links are colored, or that they’re underlined. Perhaps the theme only supports a background color when you’re hoping to use a sweet tiled texture. Maybe there are elements of the theme you’re not a fan of, and would be better hidden away. What’s the best way to achieve any of these goals?

There are three approaches.

First, you could edit the files of the theme directly.

Wordpress Theme Editor

The WordPress theme editor allows you to change any of the theme's files directly online.

Seems like a great and powerful option, right?

Sheesh, be a bit more polite, Lex.

Editting a theme’s files directly means that when that theme releases an update (and if you’re using a theme, you want to be using one that updates frequently), your edits are gone. I don’t know about you, but I don’t fancy having to redo the same work multiple times.

You could always create a Child Theme – and in fact, this is the most recommended approach you could take, including by WordPress.org themselves. A child theme is basically a copy of an existing theme, but you change the style.css file to reference the theme you cloned (also known as the parent theme), and you only include files that are different from the ones in the parent theme. WordPress then places the child theme’s files over the parent theme’s files, giving you a smooth, dynamic way to make permanent changes to how your theme looks and functions.

Child themes are a fantastic option, but they require you to know a bit more about the internal nuts and bolts of WordPress to use them, and maybe that’s just not your cup of tea. Or, maybe you want to go the route of a child theme, but need a chance to play around with the CSS changes you could make to your blog.

Enter the WordPress.com Custom CSS plugin. This plugin adds a new option to your Appearance menu called Edit CSS, like so:

Clicking that link takes you to a whole new world of easy customization:

Maybe the YouTube video was a -smidge- unrelated.

Now you can simply paste any CSS you want to experiment with into that text box, click Save Stylesheet, and then refresh your site to see your changes in action. Best of all, this plugin uses the same WordPress revision system that your blog posts use, allowing you to very easily revert to a previous version of your custom CSS.

If you find a set of modifications you want to stick with long-term, you can always transition them into a child theme later. Meanwhile, though, you can be revamping your theme in minutes using this plugin.

If you’re a current customer of Safe Shark Hosting and would like us to install this plugin for you, let us know! If you’re not a current customer, what are you waiting for? Low prices, fantastic customer service, and a plethora of satisfied customers. Let us help you blog at your best!