What not to do when using a WordPress.com blog

Yesterday I wrote a pretty long article in Google docs. I first published it on Google+,  but then remembered this blog and decided to post it here as well.

So I entered the title, added a few tags and copied and pasted the whole article into the New Post form.

Boom! My blog suddenly was suspended for a Terms of Service violation.  I contacted support, but didn’t hear from them for several hours. Later I realized there’s a special contact form for suspended blogs. So I used this and only moments later, my blog worked again.

So what did I do wrong? By copying and pasting the text I was obviously triggering an automated anti-spam system that immediately suspended my blog. So, the next time I’ll have to be more careful (or WordPress.com has to make some tweaks to their anti-spam mechanisms). 😉

Windows Live Writer

When I was on the Windows Live Desktop site to get some info on the new Windows Life Movie Maker I reported about, I noticed that they also released a new version of Windows Life Writer, a desktop blogging tool. I think I gave this software a spin when it was released for the first time and haven’t touched it since then. So, I downloaded the latest version and tried it out.

Windows Live Writer

Writer still uses the classic interface (no ribbon here), which is actually a plus in my book. I am not really comfortable with the ribbon interface after having used to the classic windows interface for many, many years now.

Setting up a blog account was pretty easy. You just enter the blog’s URL and your login data, the software then connects to your blog, downloads the current theme (for preview purposes) and your’re ready to go.

When you write a new post in a comfortable WYSIWYG editor, your editing window looks almost exactly like the post would look on your site. By switching to the preview tab you can see how the new post looks on your site. Alas this didn’t work so well with the theme I use on my RPG blog. But this is a minor issue.

Adding links, pictures, tables, maps and even video is pretty easy. Embedding videos from YouTube or Soapbox is supported for everything else, you will probably edit the source code by hand. Apropos source code: by switching to the source tab you can always edit the posts source code and aside from what I am usually expecting from a Microsoft software, the code is pretty clean.

Adding images works like a charm and they are automatically uploaded to your host. You can even do some minor image manipulation, like adding a drop shadow or rotating the image before you upload it. Very nice!

There is one thing that I am missing: editing older posts. The Writer is a pretty nice offline blog editor but this feature would actually make me use the software regularly. Right now it’s just a nice gimmick, but most of the time I will probably create my posts in WP directly.

Update: Ok, I just found out that you can actually edit older posts, but only the ones you created in Writer. Why they didn’t add the ability to edit all posts is beyond me.

Update #2: Ok, it seems I am still half asleep. You can access and edit all post by clicking on Open. Writer seems to be much more features that I expected! I think it deserves a more closer look.

WordPress Shortcodes

WP logoWhen you work on a blog hosted by WordPress.com you will eventually wonder how you can add a contact form to your about page or embed a video into one of your posts. Just copying and pasting the needed code into the HTML editor doesn’t work and since you can’t use custome plugins it seems that you’re out of luck.

Luckily you are not, since the creators of WP added several Shortcodes to WordPress. What are Shortcodes you now might ask. I think it’s best I quote the official site here:

A shortcode is a WordPress-specific code that lets you do nifty things with very little effort. Shortcodes can embed files or create objects that would normally require lots of complicated, ugly code in just one line. Shortcode = shortcut.

To add a monthly post archive of the last 12 months to any post or page, you just have to add this line:

Or in order to get a contact form, use this code:

It’s as easy as that. Check out the complete list of shortcodes with full instructions on this WP support page.