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Exploring WordPress Reader Part 2 – Conversations, Likes, and More

This is part 2 of a pseudo tutorial on the use of the WordPress Reader. If you missed Part 1, you can find it HERE.

Today I will introduce you to some other helpful features in Reader. Hopefully, these tools will help you organize even further and allow you to be more efficient with your time.

Conversations – When you open the conversations on the left side of the screen, WordPress will open your recent posts in the right column and any comments or ‘conversations’ related to that post. Here you can respond to commenters much like you can when you click on the notifications bell. If you click on the ellipsis (…) in the upper right hand corner you will open options to 1) follow or unfollow the conversation, 2)  visit the post (where you can also reply to comments, and 3) edit the post (in the block editor).

Conversations Window in Reader

Likes – This window will show all the posts you have ‘liked’. You again have the option to click the ellipsis (…) and open the menu to 1) follow or unfollow the site and/or the conversation, 2) visit the post, 3) block the site, and 4) report the post. You can also visit, share, comment and like (or unlike) the post at the bottom of each displayed post.

Lists – The WordPress documentation says this feature does not work, but it works for me. Lists are a way to gather similar posts together. For example, if you have a group of bloggers in one country, you could group them together. Likewise, if you follow bloggers that share recipes, you might want those grouped together. Sometimes you might just want to peruse bloggers that only post beautiful photographs. Those could be grouped together. For purposes of this demonstration, I combined a group of bloggers from Europe and a group of bloggers who write about music. When creating the list, WordPress often recognizes the name of the blog you wish to add if it is a WordPress site you follow. This makes compiling the list easy

To create a list, you must first create the list itself, then add the blogs as desired.

Creating the List

Select the list, then click on the gear to add sites

Adding sites to the list

Tags – This is the place you can organize blogs associated with a specific tag. For example, I enjoy Stream of Consciousness Saturday, Song Lyric Sunday, and our own Throwback Thursdays posts. You might be a member of a weekly writing prompt or maybe like to join in on a link party. This is the place to gather all those similar posts together based on the tags used in the post. If want to unfollow a tag, just click on the ‘following tag’ in the upper right hand corner (circled in yellow in the image that follows). To follow a tag, simply enter it in the box at the bottom of the left column of the page.

Adding a tag to follow

Have fun exploring reader and getting your daily blog reading a little more organized and enjoyable.

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Exploring WordPress Reader Part 1 – Followed Sites

If you are like me, you may find it hard to keep up with all your favorite blogs. Wouldn’t it be nice to organize all those blogs so they weren’t all crashing together in Reader? That’s exactly what Reader is designed to do so let’s explore.

What is the WordPress reader? Simply, it is an aggregator – a place where you can pull all the blogs you follow (non-Wordpress sites, too) together in one convenient location.

When you first click on the reader tab, you are taken immediately to all the blogs you follow. They will be sorted in the order in which they were published, the post showing at the top the most recent.

Reader view – Followed Sites

From here you have several choices. Most bloggers are familiar with reading comments by clicking on the notifications bell at the top right hand of the screen – but there is more.

Options within Followed Blog View of Reader

Followed Sites: If you click on ‘Followed Sites’ on the left menu, it will open and show you the titles of the blogs you follow and the time their last post was published. If you click on the blog name, the reader view will change and show you all the reent posts for that specific blog.

Detail of a specific site followed

Inside the circle at the top right hand corner of the image you will see three items 1) the number of followers the blog has, 2) indicator you are following the blog (if you click on it, you will unfollow the blog), and 3) settings (if you expand this box you will get all the options for notifications).

    Notification Settings

Search – From the “Search Bar” you can search for a specific word, phrase, or name. I searched for fellow blogger Fandango and the view now shifts to show the results of my search.

Results of a Search in Reader

The results will show both posts (left column) and sites (right column) that contain the search term. In the site column, you will also see the box that indicates if it is a site you follow (followed sites are green, unfollowed sites are blue).

Manage – Click this red/pink button to manage or add sites you follow. In the search box you can either enter the URL of a site you wish to follow or search for an existing site. This box is very important if you wish to add non-WordPress sites to your reader. You will not be able to comment on those sites from Reader, but you can add them. You will note in the following image, there are no notification settings for non-WordPress sites.

If you click on the ellipses (… above the sites you follow) you can export your list of followed sites.)

Manage Reader sites

Help – At the bottom right of the reader, you will see a circle with a blue question mark. If you click on the question mark, it will open the help screens for reader. The question mark will change to an ‘X’ which you will use to close the help screens.

Reader Help Screens

There are a few other things to note. From within Reader, at the top right of the page there are four icons. 1) Write – you can compose a post from here but it will be the block editor), 2) Number of draft posts you have you can also edit from here, 3) Your profile photo when clicked opens your WordPress profile, and 4) Notification bell indicating any comments, likes, etc. waiting to be read.

Reader Icons

Whew! That was a lot. But there is so much more to learn about the Reader. Come back tomorrow and learn about Conversations, Likes, Lists, and Tags!

MY THANKS TO THE BLOGGERS WHO APPEAR IN MY SCREEN IMAGES USED FOR DEMONSTRATION!

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Remembering Why I Retired and Some Advice

Warning: Non Geek Types May Suffer Eyes Glassing Over

As many of you may know, I had a career in IT. I started as an intern working in an IT shop on an Army base in Alaska. I was one of a few women in the field, but my manager was a glass ceiling breaking black woman who was the first of many women who revealed what women were capable of in the work place. My daily mentors were predominately men, who were kind and generous with their knowledge.

After 40 years in the field and experiencing many downsizing and right sizing reorganizations, I left the field to teach art to an underserved population and then after five years went back to school to learn web design. 

When I retired and shuttered my business, I worked for someone else for a while, but it did not suit me. I was no longer able to choose the kind of work I did and honestly, it was not lucrative enough to make it worth losing my beloved retired life. I did retain several clients on my hosting service.

During the last few days, I have been in front of my computer, performing backups and preparing for a forced upgrade of PHP software. Normally this is not a problem except these are legacy WordPress systems, many of which are running themes and plugins that are no longer supported or compatible with later releases of software.

Of course, nothing works as planned. There are glitches and voids where different people have differing levels of understanding. I have been in online chats with the hosting company, often explaining why their process does not work as they thought. It is frustrating and it reminds me why I decided to retire. After experiencing all the latest and greatest software over 40 or 50 years, sometimes the intrigue of new technology loses its appeal.

Now for the advice. If you ever plan to self-host your WordPress site, take some time to learn the basics of the hosting side. A little knowledge can go a long way.

Try not to get tempted to purchase themes from smaller theme companies. If you plan to purchase a theme, do some research on the company. Make sure they are going to be around a while. There are so many themes out there on production sites that are no longer supported. This makes keeping your software updated and current much more difficult.

I have found that Themes by Automattic or the WordPress team are the most likely to always stay in step with WordPress software releases. Some premium theme vendors require subscription fees in order to get support for their products and to receive updates. Always do your research.

Now a couple of every day blogging tips. WordPress suffers glitches. Like this post. I tried to write it with the block editor, but suddenly, there was no place to put in a title. That’s a new glitch to me.

Also, understand the reader settings. I was trying to re-follow a fellow blogger via email. There was already a glitch for this person in that their followers were being dropped. I could not get a follow to work for any email address. BUT, I found that because of a setting I had used in Reader, WordPress used that setting to prevent me following via my WordPress email or accepting an invitation to follow. Here’s the culprit. I had it set so I did not receive both reader and email, but then suddenly I was missing posts in reader:

Now I am again getting his Posts via email! But that still does not answer why he was dropping followers or why I could not subscribe with a different email address.

Bottom line, if you have problems or glitches in WordPress, just ask. I guarantee someone has already experienced the same problem,. 

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Monday Missive – WordPress

I’ve been using the block editor consistently for about two weeks now. I have not tried anything too outrageous, but I thought I would share some things about the editor and WordPress in general.

  • HTML – If you were familiar with changing HTML in the classic editor, just understand that the block editor adds headers and footers around each block. You are better off to edit blocks individually, rather than edit the entire post. It is just cleaner.
  • Frustrations – I attempted to add a contact form to a new page. There are pre-formatted contact forms you can edit. They look nice and clean, but they may not work consistently from theme to theme. I was frustrated I could not use CSS (I do not have a paid account) to change the margins or the padding. (I did not think to try inline CSS so I may try that and report back.
  • Outside the block editor, I caught a few things I wanted to talk about. The first is Gravatars. So many bloggers have emphasized the importance of having a Gravatar and I agree. Unfortunately, I clicked on a new follower‘s photo in the stats section of WordPress and it took me to a possible spam site. It immediately flashed warnings my iPad was infected with a virus which was not true, but it is maddening that this still happens. Please spend the time updating your Gravatar bio and your websites. I also received a fair number of 404 errors because websites no longer existed or they were moved and the Gravatar never updated.
  • Themes. I spent some time looking at new Themes. Let me tell you, some of the color palettes used in their designs are horrendous. Also, not every function, widget, or design element transfers from one theme to another. I will be changing my theme as soon as I can find one that works for me.
  • Available storage. In a self hosted world, all the revisions that WordPress creates take up storage. I contacted the Happiness Engineers and discovered that in the free WordPress plans those do not count against your available storage. If you are self hosted, there are plugins that will clean up the saved revisions if you need to delete some.
  • Photos. All the photos you use do count against your storage Including photos from posts you reblog. If you select free images from Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, etc., download the smallest image that will work for you. If you are using your own photos taken with a cell phone, those images are most likely very large. Find a good editing program (there are plenty of free ones) that will allow you to modify the image resolution. Questions? Just ask!

This ended up being much longer than I anticipated, so I am going to stop for now. Have a great week everyone!