Deep Linking or Winer Links

Couple of key innovations out this week from NY Times. Very small but when done at scale can allow mainstream adoption of deep linking.

What is deep linking. For example if you have a link to a page then deep link would point you to a specific section within the page. So a dual action is performed – first navigate to the page and then navigate to the section within the page.

So what are the innovations?

Permalink to any paragraph on the NY Times website

Head over now to NY Times, hit Shift key twice in succession and you will see the paragraph mark, Pilcrows, appear. Try it now, I shall be around. Each paragraph mark provides a link to itself directly.

Now intra page links have always been available using the named section approach. So what makes this special? Instead of the content creator deciding upfront what sections should be marked out for navigation, the ability to generate links to a paragraph is baked into the infrastructure. The syntax is simple too, it uses the named section idiom by appending a name after the #. You just add the letter ‘p’ followed by the paragraph number.

Now this is not a new innovation. Dave Winer, the guru of RSS spec, has been doing this on his Scripting.com site for ages. Check Winer’s coverage of NY Times implementing this feature. But for someone with the reach of NY Times to do this makes it ready for mainstream consideration and adoption.

Highlight any paragraph or sentence(s)

This feature extends the idiom of the paragraph linking mentioned above. Just that it highlights a paragraph or a sentence or even a set of sentences. If you need to do this for multiple sections or sentences you could just append the required markup together.

Benefits of Paragraph Permalinks and Highlight Idioms

The benefit is not just time saved for the content creator. It could go to the very root of how content is packaged, distributed, consumed, commented upon and tracked. The creator of the page provides his view of packaging his content. Consumers can subsequently opine about specific sections, have conversations around them and more. They can also assemble sections of content from different pages and further distribute it. Permalinks and ability to highlight sections, using both these approaches, will be available by naturally extending the idioms that the Web infrastructure already provides.

WordPress Plug-in

This blog too has Winer Links implemented. Go to any post instead of the home page and you can see it action. For example check this post. You can implement this on your WordPress site too using the excellent plug-in by Daniel Bachhuber called WinerLinks.

Anyway, that is my take on this feature. What do you think? You should add comments below on what you think.

13 Essential WordPress Plug-ins To Begin With

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Recently two of my friends have started blogging. I have been sharing little detail so far on some aspects of setting up their blog. I thought to write up a post on the basic plug-ins essential to begin with in the hope it will help more people.

Akismet

The default spam filter that comes along with WordPress installation, from the developers of WordPress. This should be the very first plug-in you activate on your blog.

All in One SEO Pack

This plug-in allows you to refine keywords, titles etc on a per-blog post basis. Essential to tweak the amount of metadata you supply to search engines and in turn improve findability.

Add To Any

Users love to bookmark or mail the URL of content they find interesting and useful. This plug-in makes this process easy. One of those minor usability improvements that provides immediate results.

Disqus Comments

The comment system in WordPress has a limited world view and is restricted to your own blog. What if you wanted to track your commenting across multiple blogs? Disqus is one attempt to track conversations across all Disqus enabled blogs.

FeedBurner FeedSmith

WordPress allows users to subscribe to RSS feeds of your blog posts. What if you could better manage how you serve this feed, say subscribe by email, track subscriber statistics etc, then you need this plug-in. Besides it takes the load off your servers if your subscriber count is large. Of course this is just a simplistic description, the FeedBurner provides lots more features, check it out.

Google Analytics for WordPress

This is a free analytics service from Google. Register and receive a tracking code and embed it using this plug-in within your blog. Track every aspect of your blog’s visitors- entry and exit pages, bounce rate, duration stay..should be more than enough for personal bloggers. This is essential.

Google XML Sitemaps

This plug-in generates metadata files required by search engines to scan your site for content and updates to them. Again essential if you want your content to be discovered by search engines.

WordPress.com Stats

Allows usage of WordPress infrastructure to show stats. Google Analytics always has a latency in showing information, WordPress stats are near real-time.

WordPress Automatic Upgrade

Click through upgrades of your WordPress installation. If you do not have version 2.7 and above then you need this.

WordPress Related Posts

You have written more than a handful of posts and tagged each post. This plug-in uses these tags to display a random list of posts that have similar tags like the current post. Again, improves stickiness and will be a easy way for visitors to check out your other relevant posts.

WP-Cache

Imagine your blog is Slashdotted. An electronic equivalent of the barbarian hordes would arrive at your site. The web-server after dutifully following your scalability tactics would eventually kneel. Use this plug-in and be untouched by this assault. Generates static HTML pages for each post. Essential once you have large traffic.

WP-Polls

Engage your visitors better by soliciting structured feedback via polls. A fully featured plug-in, it allows you to design, track and measure polls and the responses.

WP-Greet Box

Welcome your visitors like a good host in a targeted fashion. And also request them to subscribe to your blog via the RSS feed. One of those simple but essential usability enhancements.

Of course these are basic ones that I use currently, feel free to share details of what other plug-ins you think are essential.

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Self-hosted WordPress Down With An Internal Error

For those who encounter this weirdo on their self-hosted WordPress blog!

The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, webmaster@maheshcr.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

I tried disabling some new plug-ins etc but nothing helped.

Eventually found that the index.php file had all its permissions as 000. Some sites mentioned that this could be an issue.

Using the cPanel, I navigated to the index.php file of my wordpress installation folder and set permissions to be 755.

With that my site was back up again! Also I could access the administration portion of the site even when the blog itself was down!!

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