Beginner/Intermediate Meetup Notes

  1. Meetup Recap: 8/6/2015

    Common Plugins

    We got a new question submitted via the website courtesy of Ann-Marie. Her question was:

    I know that Jetpack is one of the first plugins a site should have. It was mentioned at the last meeting that Jet Pack may conflict with other plug ins

    Could someone speak as to what are the NECESSARY plug ins we should be using? Thanks.

    A great question, and one that many people have. With the options we have with WordPress and plugins, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by how many choices are out there. The group had a discussion about this question. First, I recommended we not use the word “necessary”, as every WordPress site is different, and even the most common plugins won’t be needed or used on some folks sites.

    So with that out of the way, we discussed some of the more common and useful plugins for the vast majority of WP sites.

    • Security Plugins – If comfortable enough, find one and stick with it. (iThemes Security, Sucuri, etc…)
    • SEO Plugins – Yoast SEO and All-in-One SEO are the most common. Most prefer Yoast SEO.
    • Backup Plugins – A good safeguard to help you sleep at night, don’t lose all your site’s data. We will be going into more detail about ways to backup and demonstrating them at September’s Meetup (9/3/2015).

    Jetpack is a mixed bag in my opinion, as well as others. Some great functionality is included, and some that is very niche and likely not to suit your sites. It can be daunting to disable multiple functions of the plugin at once, but that would be my suggestion if using Jetpack. One positive is that with the amount of installations using it, and the group building it, it is updated often and very well written. So in conclusion for this question, don’t overwhelm yourself worrying about installing all the right plugins. Only install what you find useful, and are comfortable with.

    If you’d like to submit a question or topic to discuss at our meetings, simply fill out our Meetup Suggestions form.

    WordPress and Robots.txt

    We discussed what a robots.txt file is, which is a very simple text file uploaded to your site that Google and other Search Engines will use to know what sections of your site to visit and not visit.

    The reason for this discussion is that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of WordPress site owners received messages from Google from Webmaster Tools that stated “Googlebot cannot access CSS and JS files“. This is because many WordPress sites have disallowed search engines from indexing the /wp-admin/ and /wp-includes/ folders. There is a really simple fix, that should take care of all of that for you, and quite a few ways to do it. The easiest is to simply edit your robots.txt in your root directory of your public folder (same folder level as your wp-config.php file). Below is the code you’ll want to add.

    User-agent: *
    Allow: /wp-admin/
    Allow: /wp-includes/

    This may be a bit overkill for what we need, but it will almost always guarantee that the problem is fixed. You can always look and see if you have additional rules in your robots.txt file. What if you don’t have a robots.txt, or aren’t sure how to use something like FTP to add one? You can use a plugin that allows editing of the file. Yoast SEO is a great one to do that, and many have it installed already.

    Once you think you’re all set there, you can use Google Webmaster Tools to go in and check to make sure your changes fixed the issue. Simply use the Fetch as Google feature. You want to leave the url blank to test the homepage, then click on the “Fetch and Render” button. In under a minute it should be done, and clicking will allow you to see the results. If you are blocking elements on your own site, it’s best to fix them, and Fetch & Render again. Most sites will show a small list of resources that don’t load. If the urls shown aren’t on your site specifically, you’re good to go. If you see any with your sites URL in that list of resources that Googlebot cannot access, you’ll want to try to figure out why, and fix them.

    Displaying Custom Ads and Banners

    Connie had a question on how to add and rotate new advertisements that she sells directly for her website. We installed the Kento Ads Rotator plugin. This was simply the first result in the plugins search on that was recently updated. There are many options out there, including paid plugins that help by adding support for questions and concerns. Most of the plugins dealing with Ads, will have either shortcodes or widgets (often a combination of both) that let you decide where to put your ads, and group them into locations as well.

    The Read More Tag

    First-timer Eric had a question on how to use the Read More tag. The Read More tag is a great tool to use to show users a certain amount of a post or page when it is in page with other posts or pages (for example; your category pages, or archive, or the most recent blog entries). What makes it great is you can choose exactly where you want this tag to stop the text, and insert a “Continue Reading” (or similar) link to take users to the entire post or page. Using it is quite simple once you know where to look. Simply put your cursor on the spot you want to insert the Read More tag, and then click on the Icon (pictured below).

  2. Notes from 05-07-2015

    This month for our users and bloggers meetup we have Connie Oswald Stofko from Buffalo-Niagara Gardening presenting on how to use images legally for the web, as well as a general Q&A.

    Below are the notes from Connie’s Presentation:

    How to Use Photos Without Getting into Trouble

    Notes for talk by Connie Oswald Stofko

    Buffalo WordPress Users Group
    May 7, 2015

    A few of guidelines:
    Just because a photo is on the Internet, it doesn’t mean you can use it.
    Taking a photo from a website, then giving that site credit or linking back to the website, doesn’t constitute fair use.

    Even if a photo isn’t labelled with the word “copyright” or the © symbol, the photo may still be copyrighted.
    Always get permission before using a copyrighted photo. Start by contacting the website where you found the photo.
    If you can’t get permission, use a different photo.
    There are sites where you can find photos you can use. See the list below.

    If you get caught using a copyrighted photo on your website or blog without permission:

    • You may be required to remove the photo from your website.
    • You may be required to pay fees to the copyright holder, even though you have removed the photo.
    • If you refuse to remove the photo, your website could be shut down.

    Places to find photos you can use
    In addition to this list, there may be specialized sites for your topic. Examples:

    Ball Horticultural for photos of plants

    Insect images

    All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero, which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash. One drawback to this site is that it isn’t easily searchable.

    The images are free as long as you stick to the rules in the Image license Agreement. Also, in some cases you may need to notify the artists about using the images and sometimes you need to give credit to them. The quality of the images varies.

    A morgue file is a newspaper term for the place where they store files after production. morgueFile says its purpose is to provide free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits and to be the morgue file for the Internet. In addition to offering free photos, this site links to other paid sites. You can easily find yourself on one of the paid sites.

    Photos8 is a paid site with more of a worldwide flavor rather than an American flavor. Photos suitable for the Internet cost $2 each. is a subscription-based website that provides members with unlimited downloads of stock graphics, stock images, icons, buttons, backgrounds, textures and more. Instead of charging per download, they allow members to download as much as they want. You can subscribe by the month for $49 or by the year for $588. There is a seven-day free trial.

    This is a paid site, but it has lots of photos that are geared for blogs and websites. You can buy credits or buy a subscription.


    The Best Ways to Be Sure You’re Legally Using Online Photos (written by a lawyer, Sara Hawkins)

    The $8,000 Mistake That All Bloggers Should Beware

    Photography and Copyright Law (Very good for explaining to photographers what their rights and options are.)

  3. Ideas for WP101

    Next month: Witness the birth of a WordPress website.

    Ron will demo buying a domain name on GoDaddy and install WordPress on it.

    Andy will demo admin panel. Posts, pages.


  4. Meeting notes from 11/6/2014

    Looked at gravity forms, demo’d making a form and putting it on a site ( Many people are interested in CRM integration, and Gravity forms makes this easier. A thorough presentation on this would be a good draw for more attendees. for batch resizing multiple images is a good resource.

    irfam is also good (-Bob), also affinity.

    We talked about modal windows, added a modal dialogue plugin, and tried adding a button to pop open a modal. It didn’t really work well.

    Connie posted on the meetup message board, but no one got an email notification. Here’s the link:

    Security is a huge issue.

  5. Meeting Notes 10-09-2014

    Connie asked a question about disabling comments on individual pages. Andy showed us how to do this on a single post and page; and on future posts. Enabling/disabling on a single post or page can be found under the Discussion area. When your post or page does not display a Discussion area, enable it under Screen Options.

    Ann Marie asked about FTP/SFTP. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. SFTP is Secure File Transfer Protocol. Andy showed how to change to a SFTP connection in filezilla. Why SFPT? FTP sends info over the internet without encryption. SFTP is FTP over SSH – basically its an encrypted FTP. A more secure approach to file transfer.

    Ann Marie asked about creating a “dev” subdomain. A “dev” subdomain ( creates an area for your development hidden from visitors to your website. We talked about subdomains. Another approach is to use an “Under Construction” plugin to hide your site content during development unless logged in as an administrator. One plugin discussed was Ultimate Under Construction.

    We talked about the value of blogging. We talked about using a feature of MailChimp to automatically periodically send out Blog posts to your email list.

    Connie shared that she uses The Events Manager calendar and that it has the capability to accept event registrations.

    We looked at a security concern and we talked about two security plugins –
    Sucuri Scanner, iThemes Security.

  6. Meeting notes 8-14

    Connie from Buffalo-Niagara Gardening had a small issue with image sizes. In areas where thumbnails should’ve been loading, larger images did. They scaled down correctly, but users were downloading full-size images, only to see them at less than 100px wide. Andy found that this was because a featured image was not chosen on some of the articles, so the theme then defaulted to the first image within the article. Using the featured image, the correctly sized images began loading.

    Security Discussion

    We spent some time duriing the meetup discussing some basic security issues and plugins to alleviate them. First was making sure to not use ‘admin’ as a username on your site. If you did, make a new administrator level user and delete the old user named ‘admin’. Terry mentioned being careful about your nickname, as hackers can target that. We also talked about changing the location of the Login and Admin Panel urls, to help with brute-force login attempts by unwanted bots or people. iThemes Security has a setting for this as well as many other security suggestions and features. We also took a look at the Sucuri Security Free Plugin for some malware checks and hardening.

  7. Notes from 6-19-14 Meetup

    This month we had a small, discussion-heavy meetup. During our discussions we hit on how to continue to grow the group, easy ways to jump into WordPress without feeling overwhelmed and more.

    @AndyStaple demonstrated the picture element, and the picturefill polyfill that lets you use it today. WordPress is great for this as it can auto-create many sizes of images as you upload one.

    Ben and Marek both presented some specific problems with a couple of their sites. Marek had two WordPress sites, and wanted to move the user information from one to the other so we walked step-by-step through doing so in phpMyAdmin (bordering on an advanced topic, but it was worth it). Ben has a bug in a bit of code that doesn’t allow guests to see a post type and we haven’t sorted that one out yet.

  8. Notes from 03-27-14 Meetup

    At this month’s User/Blogger Meetup we had an in-depth talk about Images and WordPress. Hitting on many of the aspects of images and how WordPress handles them.

    First, we demonstrated the typical flow to upload images and add them to your post or page. Showing the different linking abilities with the direct link to file, or the link to the attachment page which embeds the image within the “container” of your websites design. We looked at how to change your image size choices (Settings → Media), and that if you change these they don’t affect previously uploaded images, without using a plugin—Regenerate Thumbnails by Viper007Bond is a great choice and I use this myself. It hasn’t been updated recently but works fine in all my use-cases.

    We also took a look at the built-in Photo Editing features, and most everyone was frustrated with the bad User Interface of much of these functions. The Cropping, Ratio Functions, and having to Save, then Update can be confusing for even advanced users and a huge pain point for the normal user.