How To: Fixing Popularity Contest Plugin for WordPress 2.5

The problem(s): With some upgrades of the WordPress 2.5 branch, the Popularity Contest WordPress plugin is not working properly. Also, people trying to activate the Popularity Contest plugin on a brand new WordPress install are getting a fatal error or a “doesn’t exist” message when attempting to activate the plugin.

The solution(s): I actually ran into this problem on a fresh install of WordPress. After several attempts, I was unable to figure out the problem myself. Thankfully, a quick Google search showed a post over at WPGuy which gave details on fixing both problems!

Here is what you need to know if you have this problem:

Fix problems with the upgrade to WordPress 2.5

Open your Popularity Contest plugin (edit it) and search for this code:

require('../../wp-blog-header.php');

And replace it with this:

require('../wp-blog-header.php');

Fix problems with a new install of WordPress 2.5

In addition to doing the above, you need to search for the following code:

if (isset($_GET['activate']) && $_GET['activate'] == 'true') {

And replace it with this:

if (isset($_GET['action']) && $_GET['action'] == 'activate') {

I went through both of these steps on my fresh WordPress install and it fixed the problem perfectly!


Gravatar Checkup: Have You Created Your Gravatar?

Wow, it seems like it was just recently, but a quick search through our archives shows that it has already been four full months since I began my campaign to get people to support Gravatars on their WordPress blogs.

That post was originally written shortly after Automattic acquired Gravatar and most WordPress bloggers were still using the MyAvatars plugin (which displays MyBlogLog avatars). I always enjoyed the MyAvatars plugin, but felt that it was important to show your support for WordPress by displaying Gravatars. That was about the time that this blog switched to Gravatars and hasn’t looked back (we’ve even gone as far as to integrate them into the recent comments in the sidebar).

In the last six months since Automattic acquired Gravatar, it has already come a long way.  Gravatars load a lot faster now and people using the WordPress 2.5 branch (or using WordPress.com) now have built-in Gravatar support.   In other words, there has never been a better time to have a Gravatar and place Gravatars on your WordPress blog.

Sadly, a quick glance at the Recent Comments section in our sidebar often shows a number of comments left by people without a Gravatar. If this sounds like it might be you, I recommend you register your free Gravatar account.  It is really quick and easy!

I maintain a few Gravatar accounts (one for each website email address) so no matter what email address I use in my comment, an appropriate Gravatar should appear next to my comment. If you have several websites, you may want to consider setting up a few accounts so you are covered in any situation.


Plugin: Turn Your WordPress Blog Into An Online Shop With WP-eCommerce

I’m always surprised by the incredible extensibility of WordPress. We already knew that you can use WordPress as an online magazine, as a photoblog, or even as a Twitter platform. Now, it’s also possible to use your favorite blogging platform as an online shop, just by the use of a single WordPress plugin, WP-eCommerce.

Installing WP-eCommerce

Nothing hard: Just download the WP-eCommerce plugin here, extract the archive on your hard drive, and upload the wp-shopping-cart directory into the wp-content/plugins directory of your WordPress install.
After activating the plugin, you’ll see a new tab named e-Commerce next to the Comments tab in your WordPress control panel. This tab contains all options needed for running an e-commerce website, right into WordPress.

I must admit it, i was surprised – in a good way – by the number of available options: language, localization, tax rates, brands, products, paypal integration, and so on. Sure, this is not Amazon.com, but everything is here to create an online shop which will give satisfaction up to 90% of online sellers. You can easily manage products, payment methods…There’s also a sales journal available, which will help you a lot to manage orders.

User Experience

In addition to its powerful management panel, WP-eCommerce comes with no less than 6 widgets in order to make your clients purchases simpler, and more pleasant. I particularly loved the “Shopping Cart” widget and its ajax interface. Clean, easy, and pro, definitely. Some other available widgets: Categories & brands, Special products, donations…

Conclusion

I was really impressed by this plugin. WP-eCommerce has absolutely everything you need for starting an online shop. There’s also a non-free version of this plugin, which will give you, in addition to the “basic” plugin, a search engine for your products, a picture gallery and some others nice things.


What Do You Think of Premium WordPress Themes?

WordPress Hacks was one of only 3-4 “WordPress” niche blogs that existed prior to the creation of the Premium WordPress themes market. As I sit back and reflect on the early days of the premium WordPress themes market, when Solostream’s themes were first being converted to premium, and Revolution (now StudioPress) was being launched, each existing WordPress blog was faced with a choice. Do we promote these themes? After all, WordPress was founded on open source, and each of us (WordPress founders, plugin/theme authors, and WordPress bloggers) were contributing our time and energy to improving the WordPress community without any compensation. Should these people be paid for what we do for free?

Some blogs ending up promoting them, while other blogs did not. I personally ended up making the decision that I would promote premium themes on this blog because I felt that they would help improve WordPress, and to this day I really think that they really have. Many of these authors are making so much money that they are able to make (and support) their themes as a full time job, which I think is pretty sweet. It also comes with a lot of responsibility, and the money allows these authors to truly focus, innovate, and make their themes more advanced, which advances WordPress as a whole. The bar gets set and all new themes are measured against them. It forces continued functionality and innovation. I truly believe that if the ability to monetize these themes didn’t exist for most of these authors, the quality of themes out there would be much lower because it wouldn’t be worth their time to try to raise the bar. Would we even have CMS themes for WordPress yet?

We also need to remember that this isn’t really any different than doing custom WordPress themes for people (such as Unique Blog Designs).  Premium WordPress themes have made it so people can afford a custom quality theme (in most cases) from an affordable price for a blogger or small business.  People with high income blogs can still afford to get there theme custom made.

One point I would also like to make is that I do think that people with WordPress blogs have an obligation to only promote products they do use or would use if the need for it presented itself. I’ve always made sure to be selective and only promote themes or plugins that I felt were truly of premium quality. I also try to only promote ones that are well supported by their authors. I can think of at least 20 that I’ve chosen not to promote here because of a number of reasons (invalid code, I felt wasn’t premium quality, etc.).

Anyway, regardless of my opinion of them, over the last 8 months premium WordPress themes have really found a home in the WordPress community, and I’ve even noticed that blogs have been created strictly for the purpose of promoting these themes. From the people I’ve talked to, the opinions of this market are mixed.

One person firmly against the premium themes market as a whole is Justin Tadlock, who recently wrote a post titled Screw the WordPress Themes Market. Justin is someone that I’ve been following for quite awhile now and have a huge respect for his opinions on all things WordPress. He releases a lot of great free WordPress themes, free WordPress plugins, and also blogs regularly about WordPress. Here is an excerpt from his post:

WordPress was built from a community of people willing to share freely. Yes, even themes. What? Yes, themes were free at one point. Good Great themes were free at one point.

I’m not going to beat around the bush here — stop releasing pay-for-use themes.

Sure, there’s a market there, but I don’t want to see every single mediocre theme have a price tag attached to it. Just because it’s a magazine-type theme doesn’t mean it’s a premium theme, or that it’s worth some form of funds anyway.

If you’re going to release a theme and call it premium, then you need to — in the words of a high school cheerleader — “bring it.”

I don’t have a problem with people releasing themes for money. It’s something I’ve considered on several occasions. What I do have a problem with is users getting screwed out of $100, $50, or even $30 because they bought a theme that’s mediocre at best, a theme that has invalid code, or don’t get the support they need for using the theme.

Reading Justin’s post actually reminded me of what I was saying when I wrote the post Premium WordPress Theme Responsibilities a couple months ago. To many people are releasing average themes and charging for them.

It seems everyone has an opinion about premium themes, and I’d love to hear yours. What is your opinion of premium WordPress themes?


Manage Your Advertisers With the OIO Publisher WordPress Plugin

When most people start out blogging, it is usually because they love to blog. Remember those days? Over time, you either quit or continue to grow as a blogger, and it is almost inevitable that at some point you will start to look into monetizing your blog. Whether you use Google AdSense, affiliate marketing, or direct advertising sales, there is nothing wrong with getting paid for doing what you love to do.  In fact in many ways, getting paid can cause you to work harder and up both the quality and quantity of your work.

One of the many problems with selling direct advertising is that it can sometimes be a pain to manage, and it often takes you away from what you love to do, which is blogging. It is kind of like small business owners who love their job, but hate all the paperwork and accounting that is involved with running and managing their own business.

Fortunately as WordPress bloggers, there is a solution available to us in the form of a WordPress plugin called OIO Publisher. This is an incredible premium WordPress plugin that will completely automate the entire advertising process on your blog. In fact, chances are that you have seen people using it (including many high profile bloggers), but just not realized this plugin is what they were using to control the entire process from their WordPress dashboard.

When you download OIO Publisher, you’ll receive a WordPress plugin and be able to get an API key for each blog you want to use it on. The plugin will create an OIO Publisher tab in your dashboard where you can manage your blogs advertisements (designate how many links, paid reviews, inline ads, banners, or custom advertising your blog will have available), create and manage an affiliate program for products or services on your blog from your dashboard, and even see statistics regarding your advertisements!  Possibly my favorite feature of this plugin is that you can even set the plugin to send weekly reports to your advertisers or place your statistical information into their marketplace.

The best part about this premium plugin is that it will just about manage everything for you for a one-time fee of $37.00. Once purchased, you then have access to use the plugin on as many blogs as you would like, as well as get access to their downloadable sales platform, marketplace, and all of the other features mentioned above!  You also get free updates each time the plugin is updated.

In my opinion, the value of this plugin heavily outweighs the low price, but if you’d like to see for yourself the plugin in action, I recommend you check out a demo of OIOPublisher and purchase your copy today. The demonstation allows you to view how it will look on your blog and how you can manage everything from your WordPress dashboard.