Comments have been disabled below. Please visit the latest plugin list, as of March 2011.
Three notes before continuing
First: The following plugins only apply for self-hosted WordPress blogs.
Second: Some plugins are unique to blogs like mine that run on Thesis (affiliate link).
Third: I continually activate and deactivate plugins in an attempt to run less plugins and duplicate their efforts through custom functions or .htaccess scripts.
Suffice to say, I like to share the plugins I use — which can help you identify whether you might want to use them too, and to serve as an evolutionary guide of what goes on here.
Active Plugins Used Everyday
1. Akismet protects my blog from spam. Pre-installed with WordPress, new users need to follow directions on the Plugins page to sign up for a WordPress.com account, and copy the API code into the plugin management page.
2. CommentLuv is the reason why if you write a comment and include your blog in the appropriate box, your most-recent blog post will appear under your text after you hit the “submit” button.
I recognize that everyone doesn’t have a blog; but for those that do, developer Andy Bailey and I want you to share your content with everyone else. This plugin enables that love.
5. Dagon Design Sitemap Generator runs behind the scenes and creates a sitemaps.org-compatible layout of my blog for anyone to see how posts and pages are interconnected. You can view it by scrolling to the very bottom of this page.
6. Feed Pauser allows me to publish a post but pause its feed publication up to 20 minutes. If you are like me and usually make typos, or don’t like how the final content is displayed, pausing feed publication is useful.
7. Google XML Sitemaps is like the Dagon Design generator above, but this one helps search engine robots know what the site looks like, enabling you to see the best post when searching for a keyword. Want to see the map?
8. KeywordLuv works like CommentLuv; but while the latter provides a link to your last blog post, the former enables you to separate your name from keywords describing your website. If used properly, this will reward you with improved anchor text.
For example, writing Stephen @ Custom WordPress Plugins in the name field results in Stephen from Custom WordPress Plugins. Don’t merely write your blog name as the keyword, but use contextual words. When I write my name on blogs like Kikolani, I write Ari Herzog @ Sharing Online Together. (If you want to use this plugin on your own blog, you must enable the DoFollow plugin.)
9. MaxBlogPress Ping Optimizer prevents me from alerting search engines every time I update a page or post. Without this plugin, you run the risk of search engines thinking you’re a spammer.
10. Page Links To is used to redirect certain older posts or pages to newer posts or pages. I use this for a few pages, though you’d never see it as everything happens behind the scenes. This is another example of a plugin that can also be run as 301 redirect scripts, and I currently implement a mix of the two. (While the newest version of WordPress includes this functionality, I keep the plugin intact or else I’d have a lot of broken links.)
11. RSS Footer does what the name implies. At the bottom of every blog post that is syndicated by RSS, a line of code is inserted indicating it was sourced right here. This prevents would-be scam artists from ripping me off and portraying my work as theirs.
12. Subscribe to Comments is one of my favorite plugins, and one that I wish every WordPress blogger employed. Whether you have a WP.com or WP.org blog, you can activate it. This is the beef of why I hate Typepad. This plugin creates an opt-in box below the “submit” button, where, if you check it, you will receive email messages when there are subsequent comments. I check the box all the time on other blogs.
For background, see why this plugin is essential for your WordPress blog.
13. WP Ban simplifies the amount of time it takes me to weed through comments Akismet treats as spam, by banning anyone by IP address, host name, user agent, or referer URL. These wannabe commenters see a custom message when trying to visit my blog. Since activating the plugin and determining the real spammers (those constantly commenting with pornographic links, for instance), over 10,000 comments have been banned and not appeared in Akismet’s spam filter.
14. WPTouch iPhone Theme provides a mobile-friendly view of this blog for a range of smartphones and other mobile devices. Let me know if it doesn’t work for you.
15. WP Twitip ID, brought to you by Andy Bailey, also responsible for CommentLuv, collaborated with Roger Byrne to enable you to add your Twitter username when adding a comment. It’s further customized to work with the Thesis template.
16. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin is responsible for the related posts that appear at the end of every blog post. These posts are automatically created when you reload the page.
Inactive Plugins Used Occasionally
1. Categories to Tags Converter let me convert categories to tags, or tags to converters. This helps when I want to change the way blog posts are organized together.
2. Contact Commenters, the subject of an earlier article illustrating how to turn a lurker into a user, enables me to send targeted email messages to people who comment on specific posts or haven’t commented in a given period of time.
3. Maintenance Mode is an “under construction” splash page that temporarily appears when I make programming changes and don’t want you to see anything. When I upgrade the WordPress version, for instance, I activate this plugin. The rest of the time, it remains inactive.
4. Popularity Contest ranks my posts by, say it kids!, popularity! It’s more for behind-the-scenes statistics, so I can see on a single page what posts are most popular in terms of comments and trackbacks. This helps me ascertain what topics and titles to use next time.
5. Simple Tags lets me bulk edit existing tags and posts. Like the first one above, I use this to improve blog organization and create a cleaner search result.
6. Top Commentators ascertains who are the top people who wrote comments over a given period, with links to whatever URL they wrote when commenting. This plugin was responsible for the list of the top 70 commenters of January.
7. WordPress.com Popular Posts lets me run metrics on blog posts that are most commented, most searched, most visited, and other analytics.
A note about plugins vs other scripts
The KeywordLuv plugin I wrote about above specifies that in order for it to work, the DoFollow plugin must run simultaneously.
This is not entirely true, for what really needs to occur is the “nofollow” attribute that WordPress adds to comment links must be turned off. This plugin turns off that line of code. But as Christy Correll argues, why slow down the load time of your blog by loading unnecessary plugins?
I used to activate the DoFollow plugin, but I now have a few lines of code (which I wrote in a comment to Christy’s post) that run in a custom function and do the work of the plugin.
This goes to show that just because a plugin exists to change your coding, doesn’t mean you need to use it.