New Feature: Subscribe via email

I had intended to turn on a subscription feature from the beginning but somewhere along the line I forgot to activate it. I’ve now rectified that oversight. From now on, when you comment on one of my posts, there will be two checkboxes beneath the text window, one to receive an email if someone responds to your comment directly and another to notify you whenever a new post is published to this site. If you want to receive an email reminder every time a post goes up, just check that box before you post your comment.



Just a quick note

I’ve put up a bunch of posts this weekend with instructions for building and using your homesteads — you don’t need to read those posts carefully, but do at least sort of skim over them so that you have a sense of what subjects are covered, then if you are struggling with some piece that is covered in one of those posts read that section more carefully. I added the Resources page to the menu, which will work sort of like an FAQ page with links from those questions to the specific posts that I put up over the course of the semester. Hopefully that makes it easier to find information when it is useful for you.

If the Student Sites page is not yet linking to your subdomain, it’s because I don’t know the address for your subdomain. Leave a comment on this post and let me know where it is.

If you are feeling confused about any aspect of getting your class subdomain created, then check the “WordPress Basics” tab on the Resources page. More than likely any question you have is either addressed directly in the post I wrote or is answered in one of the help pages I linked to. If you’ve made an effort to figure out the answers to your questions on your own by reading through those posts but you’re still feeling confused, please email me and ask for help.

Pages and/vs Posts

In this class, I make a clear distinction between blog posts and pages: all of your major, formal projects (“main quests“) will go onto your sites as pages. The side quest assignments and all of the other shorter, low-stakes, reflective writing that you do will go onto your sites as blog posts. Pages can be edited just as posts can be, but in general they are meant to serve as static, completed, more or less self-contained pieces of writing. Blog posts are meant to go up onto the posts page in descending chronological order, so built into the function of a blog is that you write something and publish it, then if you have more to say on the subject or want to revise what you wrote in a major way, you do so by just writing a new blog post rather than going back to the original and restructuring it.

Here’s another clear distinction between posts and pages: posts syndicate but pages do not (because syndication is predicated on the idea of a frequently updating and changing posts page–static pages don’t need to syndicate because, well, they are more or less static). We are relying on syndication to the course site as the means of collecting all of the work that you do on your sites into a central location, but if your major projects go onto pages and pages don’t syndicate then how will they be included? When you complete one of the major assignments, you will write a blog post, linking to the landing page for the assignment. I’ll generally ask you to write something reflective about the work that you’ve done in those blog posts. Sometimes I might ask that you provide a summary or abstract of the argument, perhaps framing the post as an announcement meant to entice readers to check out what you’ve done akin to a teaser in journalism.

One last point: for the purposes of this class, at least, all blog posts and all pages should be multimodal and should include multiple media. You should not publish a page or a post that is composed entirely of text.


WordPress Basics: Comments

As you are uploading your avatars to your subdomains, I am going to be leaving comments on each of them. You should get an email notification saying that my comment is awaiting moderation . Under the default settings, the first time any person comments, that comment goes into a moderation holding queue and won’t show up on your site until you approve it but once you’ve approved the first comment from someone, your site will thereafter assume that future comments from that person are acceptable and they will be published immediately (you can adjust settings and notification rules, see below). You can get to the Comments area of the dashboard either by clicking on the comment bubble in the toolbar at the top or by clicking in Comments in the sidebar.

Please do comment on the course site and on your classmates’ sites, and please go in and approve comments from your peers and myself.

Here’s the WordPress codex help page on the Comments screen.

Comment Settings

You can adjust the settings for how your site handles comments by going to Settings > Discussion. Here’s the WordPress codex help page on the Discussion Settings page.

Please do make certain that you check the first two boxes in Discussion Settings to turn on “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article” and to “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles.” Otherwise, you can adjust the settings as you please, but I do think it’s a good idea to leave the default setting for “Before a comment appears … Comment author must have a previously approved comment.”

Managing Comment Spam

If you don’t do anything to manage spam comments, your site will quickly fill up with random spam comments from bots trying to insert links for their spam sites. See the next tab under the Building a Homestead assignment, Building Specialized Towers and Wings, where the first step is to activate the plugin Akismet that came pre-installed on your site. Akismet will block pretty much any spam comments without you ever even having to see them.

How to Turn Comments Off or On for Specific Posts or Pages

You can change site-wide comments settings at Settings > Discussions, but if you just want to turn comments off for a specific item or items, you can do that too. (My rule of thumb for most sites I manage is that I turn off commenting for pages but leave comments enabled for posts. You might consider whether that makes sense for you or not as well.)

If you open the post or page editor, at the top of the screen is a tab for Screen Options.


Screen Options allows you to configure your dashboard. Check the box to turn on Discussion and from now on, whenever you are in your post of page editor, there will be a box underneath the editor screen that allows you to turn comments and pingbacks on or off for that specific post/page.



WordPress Basics: How to Add a Post or Page

As you begin to use WordPress, the diagram showing the parts of the dashboard on this page might be helpful for you.

Don’t be afraid to ask me if you have any questions about this stuff, but you can figure out a lot on your own by playing around on your site or by reading over help pages.

Adding Pages and Posts

Once you’ve got your sites created, how do you publish content onto them? Here’s a quick help page on adding posts and pages. This help page goes over the distinction between posts and pages — the biggest thing for you to understand for the purposes of this class is that posts syndicate but pages do not. You’ll publish major assignments as pages on your site. You’ll publish reflection writing and lower-stakes writing as posts, and every post you publish will syndicate onto the Student Work category page.

When you publish a major assignment, because it’s a page, it won’t show up on Student Work. Every major assignment you publish will be accompanied by reflective writing, which you will publish as a post, and in that post you will link to the intro page for your major assignment piece. I consider your major assignment “turned in” when you publish that post and it shows up in the course feed.

(This will all probably seem a little confusing to you when you read about it in the abstract, but trust me that once you start doing it, you will make sense of it pretty quickly. If you get confused by the process early on, don’t panic!)

Working with Other Media

You can add images (or audio, video, PDFs, and other files) into a post or page by clicking on the Add Media button just above the post editor, to the left.

This help page goes over some of the basics of uploading or embedding media.

The WordPress codex page on the Media menus is more detailed and very helpful if you’re running into issues.

Further WordPress Orientation

The WordPress codex has a more detailed page for “First Steps with WordPress,” with lots of information and links to specific individual help pages for many other issues. The information outlined above covers probably 95% of what you’ll need to be able to do for this class, but if you’ve got other questions or you want to explore further, that page is probably a good place for you to start.

WordPress Basics: Getting into your Dashboard

Once you’ve got a domain and a subdomain setup, remember that those are two separate websites — two separate installations, with two separate dashboards to manage what goes on the site.

Methods to get to your dashboard

You can get to your dashboard by going to the URL and adding “/wp-admin/” onto the end of the URL in the address bar (so, []/wp-admin or []/wp-admin/) and then logging in with the username and password you established when you installed WordPress.

Even better, if you followed all the steps in Adding a Main Hall and added the Meta widget to your site, then you’ll have a link on your homepage wherever you placed that widget that will take you directly to the login page. (If you scroll all the way to the bottom of this course site, you’ll see in the footer that I’ve added a link in my footer menu called “Site admin,” which is what I use to get to my dashboard instead of adding the entire Meta widget.)

What if I forgot my password or username?

If you ever forget your password (or if you forgot to specify a username in Installatron when you set your site up), you can always get into the dashboard of your site through a roundabout method:

  • To to and log in with your Emory NetID and password to get to your cPanel.
  • In the area for Web Applications, find the icons for My Applications and click on the site you need to get into.
  • Click on the address that shows your site with the /wp-admin/ added on to the end and cPanel will automatically bring you to your site’s dashboard, bypassing the login screen.
  • Once you are in your dashboard, you can reset your password by going to Users > Your Profile