Many WordPress bloggers have taken the time to share the WordPress plugins they can’t live without, and because I’ve found some of my favorites that way, I’ve decided to do the same. These plugins may not be right for everyone, but they’re the ones I use on this site. It’s easy for people to get carried away with plugins, installing everything they find, bringing their blog to a crawl. Hopefully, these suggestions will help you focus on quality, not quantity.
Don’t Blog Without Them!
Askimet (spam control) – This probably goes without saying, but I simply wouldn’t have commenting on my blog if not for Askimet. Excellent spam-prevention, I’ve had no false negatives, and only a small handful of false positives that took no time at all to mark as spam and send into the ether.
Subscribe to Comments – seriously, I cannot believe this plugin isn’t part of the WordPress core. It’s absolutely one of the most important plugins you can have.Â Users can subscribe to blog posts and they will receive an e-mail when someone replies to the post. I can’t even count how may times I have forgotten to check back on a blog I commented on just because they fell off my radar. This plugin also allows admins to manage all subscriptions, and allows users to unsubscribe from updates very easily.
WP-Supercache – Fantastic page-caching system to improve performance of your blog, even under heavier traffic. Comes with configuration options, and you can easily toggle whether its enabled or disabled if you need to test something that’s cached.
Almost as Awesome – User/Commenting
CommentLuv – This plugin gives some comment love back to the people who reply to your posts, showing the title and link to their most recent post on their own along with their comment.
TwitID – Let’s users post their Twitter ID with their blog comments.
Show Top Commentators – Give some love to the people who comment on your blog the most. I’ve had no trouble with this one, but some blog owners have expressed concern about it inviting an onslaught of “nice post” bullshit comments to boost a commenter’s reply count. I imagine it really depends on your audience, and how douchy they are. If it becomes a problem here, I’ll pull it, but it’s worked out nicely so far.
Organize Series (article series organizer) – I just came across this plugin fairly recently, and its exactly what I was looking for. If you find yourself writing multi-part articles or tutorials, this is the plugin for you.Â It’s easy to use, and let’s you associate articles to a series right from the post edit screen.Â For an example of the series overview page, click here. The widget is all-CSS based, so its a breeze to make it fit into your look+feel.
Almost as Awesome – Content
Adsense Inline (advertising) – This little plugin adds the ability to insert your Google Adwords into the content of your post. I no longer use it, but not because it didn’t work. It did exactly what it promised, I just changed the placement of ads in the site.
All In One SEO (search engine optimization) – Nice little plugin that optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engines, optimizing your title tags and generating meta information automagically based on post content.
FlickRSS (flickr plugin) – Sweet little plugin that lets you display photos from your flickr account in the sidebar of your blog. I don’t use this one anymore, but only because I’m trying to keep the length of the sidebar down. I’ve used this plugin for a while and it’s worked great.
Syntax Highlighter (code syntax highlighter) – I love this plugin. I’ve tried other code syntax highlighting plugins and none were as nice looking and featured. This one allows users to click on a link in every snippet of source code that allows them to copy+paste the code you’re highlighting without the line breaks and number formatting. One thing to note, however, I have run into issues using this plugin in visual mode, where it actually echos out the highlighting CSS in the editor – works like a dream in HTML mode though.
Most Commented – This simple plugin allows you to display a list of the most commented posts. Quick and easy, the way plugins should be. Also check out some of the other plugins available on the MtDewVirus site – some of them look handy.
NextGEN (image gallery) – This plugin is probably one of the most well done and well-established out of the box image gallery plugins. It can be a little clumsy to use, but it’s easy enough to get the hang of. NetGEN offers some nice, sophisticated features such as thickbox integration, a built-in flash slideshow, widget support and dynamic watermarking.
wPopularity – This plugin is no longer supported, and may cause an “table doesn’t exist” error when you try to install it – but the workaround to the error is posted here. That said, it works great, and once the database schema fix was applied, it’s worked perfectly. You can see this one at work in the right sidebar of this site.
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARP) – Shows related posts at the bottom of every article. This plugin comes with lots of configuration options that determine how keywords, titles, excerpts, etc should be weighted when calculating the most relevent posts to display. And I think they finally stopped turning the “Give YARP credit” option every time an upgrade was done, which is nice.
Random Quote – displays a random quote on your sidebar via widget. Admin allows you to add/edit/remove quotes. I use this one for the “Random Tidbit” box in this site’s sidenav.
Theme Preview – Great, lightweight plugin that is essential if you’re developing a new theme for an active WordPress blog. With this plugin, you can preview the entire WordPress page in whatever theme you’re working on. It made the redesign of this site so much easier.
Almost as Awesome – Social Networks & Other Blogs
Last.Fm RPS (last.fm feed display) – I admit I did a little hacking on this one, but only because I needed something very specific from the display. This is the plugin that powers the “Latest Tracks on Last.Fm” sidebar block, although it doesn’t do the fancy cd-image overlay out of the box (that was a CSS hack I came up with.)
LJXP (Livejournal crossposting) – Nifty plugin that lets me choose to automagically crosspost my blog artcles to my Livejournal account. While it’s nice and simple, it allows you to configure several options, including the default behavior for comments, how it should handle Livejournal cuts, and so on.
Twitter Tools – Displays your most recent Twitter posts, either by way of php code or widget. This plugin powers the “last tweet” featured in this site’s header, and the most recent tweets list in the footer. It comes with some configurable options, such as ignoring @replies. The date still seems a little jacked up, with most recent posts showing up as having been posted 3 weeks ago, but I haven’t had time to investigate the issue. I’m sure it’s just a date conversion/localization issue.
Sociable – Adds the handy set of social network icons at the bottom of every post/page. Comes with a huge list of available networks – you can choose which to include in your setup.
So, those are my favs – did I miss any? Share your favorites in the comments.