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Frequently Asked Questions about Blogging here (FAQ)

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a state-of-the-art semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. Often associated with a blog, WordPress is much more than a blog- it is a simple and easy-to-use web publishing platform that can allow you to build a web presence with little or no fuss!

Pellissippi State Blogs is running a WordPress Multi-user installation which allows the PSTCC community to quickly sign up for and customize their own web publishing space. If you have other needs besides a personal blog, contact Educational Technology Services (ETS) for assistance.

How do I get a username? How do I get a blog?

You already have a username..it is the same one you use to access myPellissippi, the online course site and library databases. You can also use it to access the blogs site.

Once you log into the blog site for the first time, you also will get a blog created automatically.

Once I have a blog, where and how do I log in?

First things first, where is your blog?  Your blog address will be something like this:

http://blogs.pstcc.edu/yourusername/

As an example, if your name is Darth Vader and you log into other Pellissippi State sites with a username of dvader, then your blog address will be: http://blogs.pstcc.edu/dvader/

To access the administrative back-end of your blog, you should see a login link on the main page. If you do not see this link, for whatever reason, enter the following line to the end of your url address: “/wp-admin” (no quotes) – the address should look like the following:

http://blogs.pstcc.edu/yourusername/wp-admin

Alternatively you could enter the main Pellissippi State Blogs login page which will redirect you to the Pellissippi State Blogs home, you will then have to select your blog from the Dashboard (top left under “My Sites”).

How do I change my blog title?

To change the title of your blog go to the Settings link in the administrative back-end and you will see a field for blog title as well as a field for the site tagline, which is a space for a brief description of your site. Just type in a new title or tagline and save the changes. Some blog templates use the tagline and others do not use it so it may or may not show up on the blog homepage.

How do I change how my blog looks?

You can change the look and feel of your blog using the Appearance link. When you click on Appearance, you’ll notice you have many themes for your site to choose from. Click on a theme  and then use the “Live Preview” button to see your blog previewed in the theme. Click the Activate link in the top left of the preview if the theme is the one you want.

Can I make my blog private?

Privacy at Pellissippi State Blogs is a major concern, and it is important to realize from the start that the spaces you create here are, by default, open and accessible to the general public. You can password protect individual pages and posts , as well as select more granular privacy settings for your entire blog or website.

To make your blog or site private, go to the Settings area and click on Reading and then look for the section called “Site Visibility.”

From there, click on one of the the five options for controlling external access to your space, each of which is detailed in the image below. These are:

  • Allow search engines to index this site (the most open option)
  • Discourage search engines from indexing this site (may impact if Google, etc will display your site upon a search)
  • I would like my blog to be visible only to registered users of Pellissippi State blogs (if someone has an account on the blog server, they will be able to see and read your blog)
  • I would like my blog to be visible only to registered users I add to “your blog name” (allows you to add subscribers to your site for more control over access)
  • I would like “your blog name” to be visible only to Admins (this means it is visible to you and a few information technology employees who are administrators of the blog server on campus)

It is important to keep in mind, however, that if you restrict your privacy settings to members of the Pellissippi State Blogs community, registered users of your blog, or administrator only, then it will not be visible to the public at all.

site visibility options

How do I password protect a page or post?

Password protecting a post or page is quite simple. All you need to do is look for “post password” or “page password” in the “Advanced Options” section and enter a value into the text field. This value can be whatever you want it to be, but if you want others to see what is in this page or post, you will have to share the password with them.

What’s the difference between writing a post and writing a page?

This is an important terminological/conceptual distinction to grasp, as posts and pages serve radically different functions. A post is an article that shows up in the chronology of your blog. In other words, posts appear in your blog, most recent at the top of the page.

A page is what most folks may be more familiar with. This is a static space that is not part of the chronological logic (try saying that five times fast) of the blog. A page sits outside of this inverted time line, and often features more static content like information about the site, the author, a syllabus, readings, etc.

What are comments and how do I manage them?

Part of the logic of a blog is allowing people to comment on your work. Comments are often associated with posts (as opposed to pages- see an explanation of this distinction above) and offer a way to have a discussion about a particular post.

Often times, initial comments are placed in a moderation queue until you approve them. Once you approve a comment from a user, he or she should be able to comment freely thereafter. You can view the comments on your blog as well as those awaiting moderation in the Comments tab in the back-end of your blog. If you want to change the permissions for your comments- say allow anyone to comment without moderating- see the Settings area and look for the Discussion link. This is where you can control the comment settings.

Additionally, when writing a post, you can turn off the comments on a post-by-post basis by clicking on the Discussion section of the right-hand sidebar and un-checking the comments field.

Keep in mind that comments are extremely vulnerable to spammers. Pellissippi State has activated a plugin to help prevent spam but it will not necessarily control all spam comments. We try!

What’s a feed?

A feed is a way to subscribe to blog posts, comments, etc.

You can subscribe to a feed use an RSS reader within your browser (Safari does this automatically, Chrome has some extensions as well.)

You can also use the “Subscribe 2” plugin or connect your blog to Jetpack (offered by the WordPress group) which provide your blog readers a way to be notified of updates on your blog via email. There are also social plugins that can connect your blog to Facebook and Twitter.

How do I upload a document and place it in a post or page?

You can easily upload documents, such as a course calendar or syllabus, into a post or page. Doing this is relatively straightforward. Go to Write → Post (or Page) and look for the “Add media” button that looks like a gray asterisk.

When you click on that button, a dialog box will appear offering you the option to upload a file from your hard drive, or to link directly to a file that is already online. Once you have located your file (whether on your hard drive or online) click on the “Upload” button or “Insert into Post” button, respectively.

If uploading a file from your hard drive, you will get a dialog box asking you to title the document, as well as to provide a caption and description (both of which are optional). Once you are done, click on the “Insert into Post” button and you are done.

Just be aware that this is a limit of file storage on your blog so if you are going to be sharing a lot of large files, you may want to use other file storage options and link to them. ETS can help you find good options.

How do I upload an image and place it in a post or page?

As with documents, you can easily upload and insert an image from your hard drive into a post or page. Go to the edit Post (or Page) page and and look for the “Add Media” button in the top left above the editor toolbar.

When you click on that button, a dialog box will appear offering you the option to upload an image from your hard drive, or to link directly to a image that is already online. Once you have located your file (whether on your hard drive or online) click on the “Upload” button or the “Insert into Post” button, respectively.

If uploading an image from your hard drive, you will get a dialog box asking you to title the image, as well as to provide a caption and description (both of which are optional). Once you are done, click on the “Insert into Post” button and you are done.

Why should I consider using external services to store my images and documents?

We currently have limited amount of upload space per user. This will not be enough if you are uploading large pdf files, videos, or images. It may be preferable to use an outside service that you can integrate with Pellissippi State Blogs such as Flickr for your photos, Vimeo for your videos, or Box.net for your files. This is probably the best practice, because if you ever want to move your blog to another service you will have persistent links to documents and images that you will not have to update to the new blog URL.

How do I make my front page a static page rather than a blog?

To make your front page more like a website homepage rather than a blog you need to create a static page that you would like as your front page. Then go into the Settings tab and then click on the Reading link. Once you do this you will see the following:

Instead of having the front page display your latest posts, select the radio button that says “static page” and select the page you created for the front page. Additionally, you can create another page where you would like your blog posts to appear. This is extremely useful when you would like to create a resource more akin to a traditional page rather than a blog, while maintaining the functionality of both.

How do I embed videos (like from YouTube)?

Embedding a video from most online video services has never been easier. Just put the link to the page that contains the video and WordPress will try to embed the video for you. This works for most of the popular video sites like:

  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • Google Video
  • Flickr (both photos and videos)
  • Photobucket
  • Smugmug

Here’s the official WordPress page with how to do it. It is SUPER easy.

If you have something you want to embed and the “auto-magical” embed just won’t work, don’t worry! We have a plugin installed called “Embedit” and it works very easily.

Using the Embedit (plugin) and then Copy and Paste Embed Code

This is simply a process of activating the Embedit plugin (go to Plugins and click Activate under the Embedit plugin listed).

After it is activated, you will use the short code to indicate where you want the EMBED code to go. Here’s more detail. (PDF file)

What are widgets?

“Widgets” is just a fun buzzword for the functionality built into WordPress that allows you to customize the sidebar of your WordPress site without knowing HTML. You can use widgets to add a list of recent photos, comments, flickr photos, del.icio.us links, and much more. You can find your widgets in the Appearance → Widgets link. You may also get access to more widgets as you activate new plugins, for many of the plugins available have an associated widget.

What’s an avatar? How do I get one?

An avatar is a small image that appears next to your name when you post a comment or (in some themes) write a post.

Go to GRavatar and associate an avatar of your choice with the email you use on Pellissippi State Blogs. GRavatar is an external service that links avatars with e-mail addresses so that anytime you comment on another blog with that e-mail address your avatar will show up if enabled on that particular blog.

All Pellissippi State Blogs sites provide the ability to enable Avatars. Just go to Settings → Discussions, scroll down to the bottom and check the “Enable Avatars on your blog” button.

How do I import my existing blog to Pellissippi State Blogs?

You can import a blog from numerous other blogging platforms such as WordPress, MovableType, Blogger, LiveJournal, and TypePad.

Note: To import your blog from an application other than WordPress, please read your respective blogging platforms details for exporting your data.

Once you have exported your data from your blog, go to the Tools → Import link. From here click on the respective blog type you are importing. Browse for the file (which will most likely be an XML file) and click “import”.

Once you’re done here, you will be taken to a page that will ask you to map authors. If you are importing a blog with numerous contributors, you may want to allow each author to be associated with their respective blog posts. After that, click the “submit” button and the import should begin immediately.

One more note of caution: Depending on your blog application, you may not be able to import pages, links, and theme customization.