5 WordPress Plugins That Make Life Easier

Photography: .parker.

Life is short, and blogging takes time.

Say you’re oncall (like I am currently). Do you really want to spend your two hours of free internet time a day doing annoying blog odd jobs and maintenance that ought to just be easy—or do you want to spend it doing research and writing? I know what any sane blogger would say.

Here are five WordPress plugins that are giving me more time now, during a couple weeks when I shall be very short on time indeed.

1. Bad Behavior

Akismet is a wonderful thing. But it can’t stop the automated spambots that leave hundreds of spam comments on your blog, which you then have to go through and delete from the spam queue.

Bad Behavior, however, detects automated spambots and stops them dead. I’ve gone from needing to moderate over 500 spam posts a week to barely seeing one bit of spam in Akismet’s queue. And real people can still post comments.

And it was easy to install: just drop in the plugin, activate it, and it does its work without you needing to twiddle much.

Hat tip to Daisy Olsen for this wonderful recommendation.

Bad Behavior really ought to simply be included with WordPress.

2. BackUpWordPress

This plugin automates backups for you, taking one weekly full backup—which includes your wp-content directory with all your themes and plugins, as well as a dump of your database—and daily database backups. I have BackUpWordPress mail my backups to my GMail account, thus giving me a convenient archive that’s entirely online.

And if you run multiple blogs like I do, having something like BackUpWordPress automate your backups—which has a great easy setup mode—is invaluable.

3. Flexible Upload

I like a lot of things about the new WordPress interface. But what I don’t like is the fickleness of the Flash image uploader, which is difficult to get working right even if you’re running Firefox 2 on a Windows machine—and much less so if you’re running Safari on Tiger.

Flexible Upload, on the other hand, gives you back the simple, working, non-Flash form—and lets you upload multiple images at a time, giving each its own resize option (you can set the default sizes on the Settings page).

The various Lightbox Plugins are also automatically supported if you have them—and if you don’t have them, nothing breaks. Thank goodness.

4. No Self Pings

I tend to refer to my previous posts, which is a good practice for any blogger since it keeps the important stuff from being forever lost in the archives.

However, this results in a lot of trackbacks that are self-generated, unless you remember to turn off the option—or you have to delete the trackbacks after they’re made. A small thing, but really annoying when you’re doing things like a 2008 Hugo Awards Countdown series.

No self pings is elegant and simple.

5. WP Super Cache

If you’ve ever had your site pummeled by StumbleUpon, Digg, or any other Slashdot-worthy sites—or if your MySQL database is simply running hot—WP Super Cache saves the day. It’s an advanced version of WP-Cache; or rather, it’s a package that contains both WP-Cache (which caches the php and avoids DB lookups) and the new Super Cache code (which caches the PHP as executed HTML for non-logged-in users, thus avoiding both PHP execution time and DB lookups for most of the audience).

It brings you peace of mind, so that in the middle of the day when io9 suddenly links to your site you don’t need to worry about your server melting down.

5. WP Google Analytics

For any of you who use traffic analysis tools like Google Analytics, Sitemeter, Mint, or others, you know that changing a theme usually means forgetting to add the Javascript or HTML blocks that enable stats tracking. And since there’s usually quite a bit of fuss while theme fitting, from moving widgets to manually adding Gravatar support, such obscure bits of magic are forgotten—until a week later when, having thought that all was well, you see that your stats have zeroed out.

Then you have to go find the damn Javascript code. Again.

Anything that inserts such Javascript automatically in any theme is a godsend. Now, if someone would just create such a plugin for Mint, or even something that just inserted code automatically in the header or footer, I’d be content.

Update: Struck out because this plugin is incompatible with WP Super Cache. In major ways.

Have Any Suggestions?

Currently I’m a bit swamped. If you’ve got any plugin suggestions that can ease up the load of your fellow bloggers, let us know!

14 thoughts on “5 WordPress Plugins That Make Life Easier

  1. Hi Phil!

    Sounds like a good idea. If I do it, I’ll also add how to do “pages” on other blog platforms, like Blogger and LiveJournal, that don’t traditionally support such things.

    Right now… the pager beckons. sigh

  2. Thanks for a great list of plug-ins! I’ve had bad behavior since reading about it on Turnip’s site and it has been a godsend.

    I’m checking out the flexible upload.

    Two plug-ins that I wouldn’t be without are one click install and supercache.


  3. As much as I’d like to see Bad Behavior included with WordPress, I develop it independently, and so it would lag far behind most of the time. At least, WP will tell you when there’s an update available. (Or you can just subscribe to my RSS feed.)

    I’ll second the recommendation for WP-Super Cache as well. It’s saved my bacon more times than I can count.

  4. Hi Margaret and Michael! Thanks for the recommendations.

    I’ve added WP Super Cache to the list, actually, because it came in handy today—and struck WP Google Analytics out because it conflicts with WP Super Cache for some reason.

  5. I am getting ready to write a similar blog post wherein I recommend Ultimate GA, and I was just wondering how WP Super Cache and WP Google Analytics clashed. I have both Ultimate GA and WP Super Cache installed and I can’t really tell if they are clashing. Is it pretty obvious? Thanks in advance!

  6. xgravity23,

    It’s pretty obvious when they clash, due to your site no longer loading when accessing a cached page. :)

  7. Do you find another way to get analytics working on your site with wp super cache, I’ve pasted the code straight from google into my footer but wp super cache isn’t caching pages now

  8. I did get it to work again. Make sure that you have a call to wp_footer() in your theme.

    Nowadays I don’t use Google Analytics at all, even just pasted in, so if that doesn’t work I don’t know what to try next.

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