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Friday Five: Reader-Friendly WordPress Plugins | Kestrel's Aerie

Friday Five: Reader-Friendly WordPress Plugins | Kestrel's Aerie

Friday Five: Reader-Friendly WordPress Plugins

Currently, I have 41 active plugins, so limiting this list to just five is not an easy task: I could easily identify a dozen I’d hate to abandon. Instead, I tried to identify those plugins I find essential to enhance my relationship with my readers.1

1. CommentLuv

CommentLuv shows a link to the last post from a (blogging) commenter by parsing the feed at their provided URL. This is probably one of the best and most effective ways to grow your readership (and for your commenters to grow theirs!): Each time you leave a comment on a CommentLuv-enabled site, a link to your latest post appears, encouraging the site owner and other commenters to follow that link back to your site.

Andy Bailey is the very active and involved developer of CommentLuv, and you can follow him @andybaileyon Twitter.

2. FD Footnotes

John Watson is the author of FD Footnotes, which I’ve found to be an extremely easy-to-use footnote add-on. Once installed, no other setup is required.2 To add a footnote, you simply type your footnote (including number) inside [square brackets] where you want it to appear. You don’t even have to number them correctly: The plugin automatically parses them in order when you publish, so you can go back and add footnotes as desired, if you think of something you want to annotate later in your composing process.

I tend to go off on tangents occasionally, so I find footnotes the perfect way to include such info, without making my readers break their train of thought just to follow mine.

3. Subscribe to Comments

Most people don’t want to subscribe to the full comments feed from a blog.3 On the other hand, many readers are interested to know if their comments elicited a response from the blogger or other commenters. But how many of us remember to revisit a blog article where we commented, on a regular basis, to see if the conversation is continuing (or even got started in the first place)?

Especially if you use an RSS feed reader for most of your blog reading, even remembering where you commented may be a Herculean task. Enter Subscribe to Comments, by Mark Jaquith. This plugin places a simple checkbox below the comment box to enable email subscription to the selected comment thread. It’s a great way to effectively and easily enable two-way interaction with your audience, and, to me, is every bit as important to my blog as CommentLuv.

4. Top Commentators Widget 

The ,4 from Lorna Timbah (, is a nice, compact way to recognize those who (other than yourself) contribute the most to making your blog a “happenin’ place.” It may also encourage more comments, but of course, there is always the quantity vs. quality balance to consider.

Configuration options allow you to specify the number of commenters to showcase; whether or not to display number of comments; change the sidebar heading; and change the update frequency, from an hour to a year.

5. Twitter Widget Pro

The final entry in this week’s Friday Five is , written by Aaron D. Campbell. This plugin is a “widget that properly handles twitter feeds, including @username, #hashtag, and link parsing. It can even display profile images for the users.” It requires PHP5, so be sure you have that enabled from your web host’s control panel.5

Among the options for this widget is one to not include replies by you, which, at least in my case, are often non sequiters, at best.


So there you have it: five WordPress plugins, each of which can enhance your interaction with your readers. After all, which of us isn’t interested in growing our audience?

If you’re a blogger, what one thing do you do, add-on or otherwise, to encourage your readers to comment or otherwise interact with you, your blog, or other readers?

If you’re just one of my hundreds of loyal readers, which of these tools (if any) do you most appreciate? Which do you think might be less useful than I think it is?6

  1. While not included in the list above, I should point out that some of the plugin descriptions are courtesy of yet another plugin, Lester Chan’s WP-PluginsUsed, which you can see on my WordPress Plugins page.
  2. That doesn’t mean you can’t go in and modify the php file: For example, I changed the footnote font from size 1 to size 2 (8 pt to 12 pt, I think).
  3. I have almost 800 subscribers to my main feed, but only five subscribers (including myself!) to my comments feed.
  4. For the record, I prefer “commenters” to “commentators.” The former comment on blogs; the latter deliver newscasts. That’s my opinion, anyway…but I’m not going to make a big deal about it.
  5. If your web host still isn’t offering PHP5, you might want to consider a new host.
  6. I know: “Be careful what you ask for!” :D


15 Responses to Friday Five: Reader-Friendly WordPress Plugins
  1. Tami
    July 31, 2009 | 06:46

    Okay, okay, you win, Mr. Shiny-Avatar-Man.

    Commentluv uploaded to all my blogs.


    (Thank you) <3

    • Kestrel
      July 31, 2009 | 09:29

      Woot! :) See? That’s what this is all about…bringing a little light to the masses. *grin*

  2. Tami
    July 31, 2009 | 06:47

    Also, CommentLuv is not working on YOUR site now? I know it used to, but I don’t see the box anymore.

    • Kestrel
      July 31, 2009 | 09:29

      Ack! Let me check that out right away!
      2 min later: Okay; reset to default settings and all is well. Doing a bit more trouble-shooting, but at least it’s nothing fatal. Thanks for the heads-up, Tami. <3

  3. Runycat
    July 31, 2009 | 06:48

    Thanks for the heads-up, Kestrel! I particularly like that footnote plug-in. I’m a little afraid to install it for fear of overuse.

    • Kestrel
      July 31, 2009 | 09:35

      That’s why I started using it. :) I was reading a blog that made extensive use of it, and realized that while the info in the footnotes was good stuff, if it were in the body of the post, it really would be distracting.

      Since I tend to make a lot of long parenthetical statements, I realized those would generally be better displayed in footnotes. So…do it! :)

  4. Shayzani
    July 31, 2009 | 09:45

    By the time I finished reading the post I had installed almost every one of those plugins. I’m way excited for the footnotes one since parenthetical statements are… well we’ll just say a prominent theme in my writing.

    Thank you very much for this!
    .-= Shayzani´s last blog…Nocturne Recruitment Tactics =-.

    • Kestrel
      July 31, 2009 | 09:52

      Oh my…now THAT is the kind of endorsement a blogger lives for, Shayzani! :D

      Thank YOU for commenting!

  5. logtar
    July 31, 2009 | 14:15

    I used to be a pluggin addict, but then after upgrades and misshaped templates I let them all go… except for subscribe to comments on my main blog, I don’t have anything installed. Comment Luv though is one that might have to work into my current template.
    .-= logtar´s last blog…WoW Meme SPEED! =-.

    • Kestrel
      July 31, 2009 | 22:10

      I hope you at least have Akismet installed! Some spam it blocks can be rather dangerous.

      And screwy theme templates and inability of said themes to play well with either WordPress OR add-ons, are reasons why I switched to Thesis. :)

  6. MamaNice
    August 1, 2009 | 20:34

    Ha! I was just at Tami’s blog, saw how her comments included a blurb about the commentee’s latest blog post…ans was just wondering how to do that. Then I saw your most recent blog post about Top 5 plug-ins (and being a fan of wordpress and countdowns I couldn’t resist). So here I am, and off I go to add this plugin to my site.

    .-= MamaNice´s last blog…Finding Myself A Brand New Lover =-.

    • Kestrel
      August 1, 2009 | 20:52

      Woot! Another success story, and another happy blogger. :D As I mentioned in an earlier reply, it’s comments like yours, MamaNice, that really encourage me to keep doing this sort of post.

      Really, really happy to have helped you out!

  7. Lorna
    August 17, 2009 | 03:03

    Thanks for the link back to the Top Commentators widget. Quantity vs. quality has always been an issue to anyone who is considering giving back link juice to its readers. I’ve used NoFollows before to the detriment of my blog, so now I’m sticking with TCW.
    .-= Lorna´s latest blog post is This MCP has been busy =-.

    • Kestrel
      August 17, 2009 | 09:56

      Hi Lorna! Thanks for visiting. :) I do use a lot of No-Follows; I’m interested to know how that has been detrimental. (To be perfectly honest, I really need to do some research on when and why to No-Follow and when not to.)

      But I agree: Linking back to one’s readers (in most cases) can’t be a bad thing!

  8. […] what do I mean by "reader-friendly"? You may recall I posted last month a "Friday Five" article on reader-friendly WordPress plugins. I identified add-ons I use to improve the interaction between myself and my readers. However, […]

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