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WP Flipclock Released!

So today I’m delighted to announce the release of WP Flipclock!

This plugin is quite simple, as it adds a flipping clock to your site. So for example. Upto now you have been reading this post for this long:-

There are options where you can set it to be a count up/down clock, and from a specific date. You can also specify if you count down from days, minutes or hours.

It’s very simple, and needed it for a theme I was making, so thought I’d release the plugin out to the open as well!

Read the launch notes for how to implement it into your site, and if you like the plugin, give us a good review on WordPress.org. If you don’t and can think of another feature, check out the project on Github.

This plugin uses the Flipclock.js library from ObjectiveHTML.

Three Point Zero

So today, I turn 30 years old.

I have a hard time dealing with “not being 20 something” (yes, I know I need to change the footer), so much so that I consume a not exactly miniscule amount of youth water in an attempt to stave off the inevitable passage of time.

In short I probably shouldn’t complain about my entry into my fourth decade of existence. I achieved a lot. From the usual lot of growing up, getting a career and a savings plan that isn’t dreadful to the more interesting of going to Oktoberfest, travelling the world, to becoming a professional wrestler, and also writing a fricking book, I suppose I can look back on my 20s as being generally lovely.

So here’s to my thirties. May you be as kind and generous to me as the 20s were.

Also if anybody fancies getting Hulk Hogan or a celebrity that I actually know to retweet this blog, that’d be super. Thanks!

The First WP Contributor Day in Manchester

So the weekend just gone I attended the first ever WP Contributor Day in Manchester. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to get started and more involved in the community that exists behind WordPress, and when the opportunity arose for a day of coding and contributing, in my adopted home town of Manchester, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve been keen for about the last 6-8 months for contributing to WordPress. But – like most – I just didn’t know where to begin. I’ve a local set up and am okay with version control systems, but that’s about it. I also know I can code okay, but wasn’t sure what sort of level of knowledge was needed, and whether I’d be completely out of my depth.

After a brief talk explaining all the ways in which people could contribute to WordPress from Jenny Wong, a talk by Graham Armfield on the accessibility team and an introduction on how to set up a local Vagrant based system from Mike Little, we then grouped off. Sadly my overconfidence in my set up did show as I was still a little lost, so after struggling for a little while with running commands from on my set up I bit the bullet and decided to join the team who were still installing Vagrant. I caught up and I was finally ready to go.

Well, after lunch.

So after lunch, I thought I should walk before running, and sat down, browsing the Core Trac for WordPress and finding a few patches to test. One of the first ones that took my eye was this one. It seemed like an easy one to test and correct if need be. After 20 minutes of replicating the problem locally, and then testing the patch fixed the issue, I commented and made my first contribution to WordPress, which was promptly Instagrammed. Boom! Job done, and I had a warm feeling inside me that I helped somebody out.

wp-contributor-day-2

I cooled down the warm feeling with a “first contribution beer”, and then browsed for something else. Ticket 27039 was great, but it was a theme. I kinda felt like I cheated a bit so thought I’d look at a bug in the core I could test. Ticket 23988 provided this – an enhancement in the page that lets people know the comments that an edited comment applies to. A quick test and I could confirm the patch working as such, so another comment and another beer (can you see a trend here?).

That’s all about testing patches, but what about writing one? Ticket 25295 provided that first go – a suggestion that wasn’t patched where additional classes could be added to captions of images. Following a quick read of the guidelines on coding standards I knocked up some code that expanded the shortcode to include a “class” element, and submitted it for hopeful approval. From reading the discussion there’s a good chance the ticket will not make it into the main release, but if it does and if anybody wants to work on it, then hopefully I’ve given them a start.

After one more confirmation of a patch working (26758), we headed for a wrap up, before going to the pub to socialise and discuss the day.

Days like the WP Contributor Day in Manchester was exactly what I needed to get my leg up and started in contributing to WordPress. It was great, and everybody was so helpful. So a big thank you to Jenny & Mike for organising it, and I’m probably heading to the second one all being well. And so should you.

How Manchester United Could Qualify For Europe Next Season

So watching last night’s Europa League matches, I had a thought.

You see, like most football fans, I’ve delighted in the abject averageness of Manchester United this season. Blowing hot and cold like a broken radiator, I’ve been enjoying rubbing it in the faces of a few of my United friends who have made themselves scarce this year. I must admit, beyond my one true football love of Colwyn Bay Football Club and country of Wales, I have a passing interest in the English top flight at best.

It is with Wales that we saw the Euro 2016 draw recently, with something interesting: the addition of Gibraltar.

Having dealt with the loveliness of the formation of the League of Wales with Colwyn Bay FC, and what we could and couldn’t do, I knew that being a representative of UEFA (which is now what Gibraltar is), they need to have a national football league. This has it’s perks though, as it allows you to enter the two UEFA Competitions: The Europa League and the Champions League.

Gibraltar has one spot in both these competitions. And who should be one of the best teams in the league?

Manchester United.

The Gibraltan Manchester United (also known as Manchester 62) are actually quite a successful team, winning the Gibraltan League 7 times, and the Gibraltan Cup 3 times, so it is looking good for them this season, at the time of writing this is their location in the league:-
gibraltan-league

And they are also in the Quarter Finals of The Gibraltan Cup (admittedly against a tough Lynx side), so it’s not inconceivable they qualify for Europe. Certainly, they have a better chance than the Manchester United based in England, who have more than 3 points to make up in the league and are effectively out of all competitions.

So yes, Manchester United fans, you can still watch your team in Europe next year, just you have to go to Gibraltar.

How To Remove Links & Remove Yourself From a Blogger’s Christmas Card List at the Same Time

I awoke recently with an email in my inbox asking me for a link removal. Whilst no longer an SEO, I still have a lot of friends and interests in the field, including a couple of sites that are slightly dodgy, including a Bid Directory that was for a long time my biggest earner. It is woefully black hat, but meh. It is just there for the sake of being there. But rather than the link removal being requested for one of my dodgy sites, it was actually aimed at a site that had a pretty good link profile and editorially approved content (albeit dormant) – Blogging Dojo.

Here is the email in full.

Dear Sir / Mam

Our Website XXXXXX has a link from your website. We request you to remove that link at earliest because the backlink is hampering our website ranking and seo very badly.

Page where our link is placed:

XXXX

We also understand that your website integrity isn’t in question here but the penalty from google is severely affecting our business. The link has already had a very negative effect on our website SEO and business.

We believe that you would take action over it immediately or in case of no action within 24 hrs, we are going to have to file a “Disavow Link” report with Google. If we do this, it may affect your site’s Google rankings…

We would greatly appreciate your help with resolving this problem.

You can also let us know once the links have been removed by return email.

If you need any more information from us, please email me and I will be happy to assist.

We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you and do appreciate your help.

Thank you and Regards,
Joshua Bender

Interesting huh? There were a few things that irked me about this email.

We Are Not Saying Your Website is Crap But Your Website Is Crap

Lets start at the beginning, this doozy.

We also understand that your website integrity isn’t in question here….

Yes you are! The next line is this!

The link has already had a very negative effect on our website SEO and business.

So you admit to saying my website is crap, and that being linked to me is harming your business. Effectively with this line you are saying you don’t want to be linked with me? Okay, you’re saying my website, but as most bloggers put their blood, sweat & tears into blogs, it’s often difficult to say when a site ends and a person begins – case in point being The Wolf Within Me, which is written by Cass on her Lupus. By shitting over sites you’d be happy to be a part of mere months earlier, you don’t exactly endear yourself to the group that probably made your business in the first place.

Timescale

We believe that you would take action over it immediately or in case of no action within 24 hrs…..

SEO is a slow game, with work taking months to have any sort of effect, and as such by posting this timescale for link removal to us we’re stressed. I mean, why have you gone for this timescale? A self imposed deadline by the client? In which case it’s you who have screwed up by not managing client expectations well enough. Let me guess, the client bought on your “insta-SEO” packaged that “Guaranteed #1 Listings”, and this is it unraveling all around you.

The fact is, bloggers generally don’t operate on a 24 hour scale, but usually a few days or more. Take for example outreach, I know when I did it I’d often get replies a week or two later for some blogs. I try and operate on a 24 hour turnaround, but on occasions such as this I couldn’t (I headed out after work, and no I’m not sacrificing my personal life for free because you screwed up). And it had me stressed, largely because of my last point.

Outright Threatening of Bloggers

This was the kicker for me.

we are going to have to file a “Disavow Link” report with Google. If we do this, it may affect your site’s Google rankings

Sorry, but that is utter bullshit.

I just thought this left a sour taste in my mouth. There are ways to do things, and quite frankly, outright threatening people is probably not the way to do things. Even when I was at my most shadiest as an SEO, I treated the people I dealt with with respect, and even my competitors. After all, I was taught to treat SEO as a bit of a game (hell, you ‘game’ the search engine), and whilst I compete against fellow SEO’s, I treat them with respect.

By threatening me, you’re effectively saying that you are willing to sabotage me and my hobbies (or business) in order to get your business back on the straight & narrow, a path deviated from by yourself, not by me. To me, that is a monumentally dickish move.

I reached out to a few SEO’s following receiving the email (and me be absolutely fuming because of it), and Will O’Hara pointed me in the direction of this link - https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2604774?hl=en – which seemed to suggest that even if an SEO “Disavows” you, then by and large you are unlikely to yourself receive a penalty. That was the general consensus from the people I spoke to as well.

The Shape of Things To Come?

The inherent problem of disavow is that people take a chainsaw to a problem where a pair of scissors is probably all that’s needed. By removing links (which, in this occasion, was okay), you also remove the factor that ranked you in the first place. You’re going to have to get these links back in some way using natural methods. Those links are probably going to come from bloggers – if you threaten bloggers, they’re probably not going to link to you.

I’m just worried about what the average site owner is going to think. I mean, I’d like to think I have some SEO knowledge left in me, and I wasn’t sure the intricacies of Google’s wondeful disavow tool. Imagine what bloggers without the experience or connections that I have would do when they receive such an email?

I just think if you take the approach above, you’re biting on the hand that feeds you, and then shitting all over it. Not cool, folks.