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Teaching materials for WordPress.com and blogging

  1. Hello all,

    I am planned on giving a (15 minute) talk about WordPress.com, and was hoping to get advice for materials/slides/images/tips - on what to include in such a talk.

    Thanks,
    Tal

  2. Who is your target audience? Age / Background / Computer Skills?

    15 minutes is not much time so a bit high level but a quick walk through on how to sign-up (a handout might help).

    Why blogging is not just a bunch of kids in jammies living in dads basement tied to the computer screen.

    Something showing the wide way the WordPress software is being used (news groups, whole newspapers are now on WordPress, neighborhood news, hobby groups as well as the political pundits)

    WordPress.com and WordPress.org have sections on their site that show cases different uses for WordPress software.

    Lots of teachers use WP. I have a modest site that I use to help me teach Boating Safety, I can put extra information on my site then just send students to the site for more information.

  3. @sagemath

    I apologize in advance: My answers may seem harsh, but your question makes me think you won't know what you are talking about for your 15 minute speech.

    Who is your target audience. Why would you be an expert to talk about WordPress.com?
    Have you studied the Support articles on WordPress.com? Have you made more than one post on WordPress.com? Have you looked through the help forums on WordPress.com?
    Have you looked at WordPress.com blogs which offer tips about using WordPress.com?

    It seems you do not even know how to link your user name to your blog!
    Is this it? http://sagemath.wordpress.com/
    http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/7-things-to-know-before-posting-in-wordpresscom-forums?replies=1

  4. I teach WP.com for a living (in addition to blogging) and I have to echo the above. Are you a student, hoping to give a presentation for marks? If so, do your own research. Are you a business person presenting to potential clients? How much experience do you have at giving presentations? What's your angle? Why does your audience need to know about WP.com and what, specifically, will they need to know?

  5. I'm echoing Tess and Raincoaster.

  6. Hello auxclass - thank you for your answer.

    Deare 1tess, raincoaster and timethief.

    Who I am:
    My name is Tal Galili. See here (also includes a resume):
    http://www.r-statistics.com/about/
    I have built (probably) over 40 WordPress blogs since 2006. Many of them with hundreds of daily visitors (in Hebrew, which is a bit tougher to get to then in English).
    I had helped organize (actually, was one of the 3 main organizers) of two WordCamps in my country at 2007 and 2008.
    I also have been a speaker at a science museum for over 3 years of my life, and since been using my love for talking in various conferences.

    My experience with both blogging, social networks, and speech giving all showed me that almost no one (including myself) really knows about any of them (although many thinks they do).
    This is why I am turning for help, for others to give me advises I would have not thought about myself.

    I am giving a talk at the following conference for open source statistics package:
    http://user2010.org/
    Here is the abstract I sent them regarding my talk:
    https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://user2010.org/abstracts/Galili.pdf
    My purpose is to help my R statistics community grow in their number of bloggers (for obvious reasons).
    My audience are highly skilled statisticians from the academy (what is called "statistical programmers"), who are mostly new to blogging and web 2.0.

    Even that I have built a bunch of WordPress.com blogs, Most of my experience is on WordPres.org.
    I could go through all the articles on:
    http://en.support.wordpress.com/
    And compose a presentation from scratch, but since I am trying to think open source here ("Share, Remix, Reuse — Legally"), I was hoping for some nice experienced people in WordPress.com to share some ideas, advices and maybe even relevant links :)

    I hope my detailed reply will encourage more helpful responses.

    Best,
    Tal

  7. Tal, for me, the main benefits of wordpress.COM is that they make it very easy for someone to get online without knowing anything about the web. A person can sign up for a blog and quite literally be on the web in a few minutes. No need to secure a web host, no need to download, configure and install wordpress, no need to do backups, and no need to worry about upgrades. If people run into problems, there is 24/7 technical support, and these forums are full of very knowledgeable users who are more than willing to help find fixes and workarounds for issues that come up.

    As long as the person can live within the restrictions here (no advertising, no uploading themes, no plugins and limits on the code we can use) then all they have to do is sign up and start blogging.

    The other big benefit here are the wordpress global tags pages, which can bring in a lot of visitors to everyone's blogs here, and since those pages have a very high page rank, that SEO is shared by all bloggers on those pages.

  8. Why do you not already have 15 minutes worth of material?

    Also, why have you chosen to focus on WordPress.com for this? It seems to me to be an entirely platform-neutral subject. WP.com is essentially irrelevant to your topic. If you have an answer to why you've chosen to recommend WP.com, it seems to me that you have your 15 minutes worth of discussion.

    I, personally, would suggest Buddypress for the initiative you've undertaken.

  9. Thanks raincoaster.

    Talking for 15 minutes is easy - it's giving value in that time that is hard.

    I am trying to get people to start blogging. The easiest way for that to happen is send them here (as thesacredpath response clearly shows).

    I am not trying to create a social network website (at this time), simply to teach people about blogging.

  10. Okay, but I do think the social aspects of Buddypress would help people to collaborate on the project, since it IS a single-minded project. And Buddypress is as easy to use as WP.com.

    I always recommend beginners start with WP.com. If they are ambitious, I suggest the domain upgrade, but if not, they'll have even better SEO without it. It's easy to blogroll one another from the Admin bar if each of the blogs is on WP.com, as it's a single button click.

    There are many attractive themes, and the limitations on CSS editing mean that by default people concentrate on the content rather than spending weeks tweaking the look of the blog.

    The tag/category pages and built in community (eg in the Off Topic and Self Promotion forums) guarantee you have access to invested readers off the bat, if you're looking to expand your reach.

    The SEO of WP.com simply cannot be beaten. I have never seen a platform that can beat it, no matter what plugins you add. The only plugin that would cause an independent WP blog to outrank an identical WP.com blog is a living celebrity blogger.

    The visual editor works very well for most people, who recognize the symbols from Word and similar programs. And it is actually much easier to manipulate images in WP.com than in Blogger.

    Hope that helps.

  11. Sign people up at the conference for their own site.

    Set up a practice site for conference attendees can make their own post (you have a site on here that is not being used so away you can go)

    Do some live demos at breaks or whenever for anyone that will watch.

    blogging is not blogging - this is to help them SHARE information with their peers and anyone else in the world. DON'T call it blogging.

    Using WordPress.com is like Word-processing only the words are going to the web.

    Do a few slides on how to sign-up and stress that getting started is real easy. (Don't spend much time but do stress it only takes 5 minutes)

    This is a TOOL to help them keep in touch with others in their field.

    Can you recruit a few people to get started BEFORE the conference so you can show some content??

  12. Thank you Tal

    tsp has given you a very concise overview of how easy it is for a beginner to use wp.com, and to concentrate on their content rather than the presentation. The technical aspects of getting online are taken care of.

    I would also emphasize how useful the global tags are as well. Not only do they help with SEO as Raincoster pointed out, but they can help people of your community connect with each other. There is no restriction on which words you can use for tags and categories so by labeling posts with the jargon of your group, users will be able to find each other's blogs easily.

    For example, I can find blogs about such an obscure topic as sesame grinders: http://en.wordpress.com/tag/sesame-grinder/ OK, it appears I am the only one interested in them, but if someone else ever wanted to know about them, they'd find my blog, no problem. I believe you can see my point though?

  13. For me, i have a writeup in my blog , where i express why i like wordpress.com which also includes some features of wordpress.org http://phoxis.org/2010/05/27/wordpress-com-top-10-features/

  14. Hello all, thank you all for the help!

    If you have more ideas/links, please do share !

    I will respond to each of you here, but please also note that I bring up some questions for everyone.

    Thanks again for helping!

    ---------------------------------------
    Hello raincoaster

    Here are points you raised:
    1) easy to blogroll one another from the Admin bar if each of the blogs is on WP.com, as it's a single button click.
    * In general I wanted to talk about widgets (since not all people get them as easily. I am wondering on which widget type to talk about (I thought about the "subscribe to..." is important.

    2) attractive themes
    * I'll show them one or two (also quickly talking about the general layout of a blog), and talk about different theme options for different themes. Any thing special to mention here ?

    3) The tag/category pages
    * Most important - I agree. However, what I need is to be able to show conditional tags, but I don't know how to do them on WP.com, because of the parmalinks (e.g, I want to give them: http://en.wordpress.com/?tag=R&tag=statistics )

    4) Off Topic and Self Promotion forums
    * I believe this doesn't matter here because this is a topic specific community.

    5) The visual editor
    * I am wondering if to talk about the code/visual editor - since a known problem is of copying from word. What do you think ?

    6) the domain upgrade
    * I planned on doing that - great point!

    ---------------------------------------
    Hello auxclass

    Here are points you raised:
    1) a quick walk through on how to sign-up
    * agreed

    2) showing the wide way the WordPress software is being used
    * Will do (for what is relevant to the audience - forums, for example, are not)

    ---------------------------------------
    Hello thesacredpath

    Here are points you raised:
    1) easy for someone to get online without knowing anything
    * Agreed - will mention :)

    2) mentioning the restrictions
    * Thanks. I will look for a detailed list on that.

    3) the wordpress global tags pages
    * again, thanks.

    ---------------------------------------
    Hello auxclass

    Here are points you raised:
    1) Sign people up
    * Good idea, I will think how to do that

    2) a practice site
    * Also interesting idea

    3) live demos
    * My experience tells me not to trust internet in such cases. especially when my time is so limited.

    4) slides on how to sign-up
    * Will do :)

    5) recruit a few people
    * I actually have a bunch - I'll think how to do that - thanks for the idea

    6) you wrote a bit about attitude:
    "blogging is not blogging"
    "like Word-processing" (An analogy I also happened to use in the past :) )
    "help them keep in touch with others"
    * I agree with all the points. Any other you can think of will be great :)

    ---------------------------------------
    Hello 1tess

    Here are points you raised:

    1) global tags -
    * Thanks for the ideas - as an "outsider" for WP.com (not .org), I never thought of how the community makes use of them.
    For example, I just found a bunch of blogs on my topic:
    http://en.wordpress.com/tag/r-project/

    ---------------------------------------
    Dear phoxis - Thank you for the link :)

    ---------------------------------------
    Another note - I think I should mention the "after the deadline" spell checker - it might be good for them to notice it :)

    Wonderful responses so far people - please do continue, as it is of great help to me (and for future people who will find this thread)

    Best,
    Tal

  15. Here are points you raised:
    1) easy to blogroll one another from the Admin bar if each of the blogs is on WP.com, as it's a single button click.
    * In general I wanted to talk about widgets (since not all people get them as easily. I am wondering on which widget type to talk about (I thought about the "subscribe to..." is important.
    
    2) attractive themes
    * I'll show them one or two (also quickly talking about the general layout of a blog), and talk about different theme options for different themes. Any thing special to mention here ?
    
    3) The tag/category pages
    * Most important - I agree. However, what I need is to be able to show conditional tags, but I don't know how to do them on WP.com, because of the parmalinks (e.g, I want to give them: http://en.wordpress.com/?tag=R&tag=statistics )
    
    4) Off Topic and Self Promotion forums
    * I believe this doesn't matter here because this is a topic specific community.
    
    5) The visual editor
    * I am wondering if to talk about the code/visual editor - since a known problem is of copying from word. What do you think ?
    
    6) the domain upgrade
    * I planned on doing that - great point!

    1) ALWAYS recommend the Recent Posts, Recent Comments, Links/Blogroll widget, Subscription Widget, Twitter widget if they have Twitter accounts, Pages widget if they do not have a theme with top navigation, and the Search widget. That's a good basic set. Top Posts can be useful, but even better is a text widget with their favorite or best posts in it; showing people how to use the text widget means they can create their own functionality.

    2) the new Customizable Menus is a big deal when it comes to themes, so do mention it. As well, I find that in any class at least 25% will choose Ocean Mist as their starting theme; it doesn't even matter what kind of blog they're making, they all love that theme. But as soon as you show them they can customize the header on virtually any theme, they will start changing (because I think they only like Ocean Mist because of the picture, really).

    3) I'm sorry, but I don't know how to do conditional tags. I use categories, and sometimes I will use a link to a search result page.

    4) true

    5) PLEASE TELL THEM NEVER TO USE WORD. Not even with the Paste From Word button; I've seen Word sneak some code right past that. I'd recommend mentioning Windows Live Writer or Blogdesk, which are free to download and work similarly, but you can add formatting, tags and images offline and then upload with one push of a button whenever you are connected. It's a better solution.

    Hope this helps. It's sure a lot of material. I don't know if you'll be able to decode my raw notes, but here are the notes I used at WordCamp Victoria to discuss the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org:
    http://raincoastermedia.com/2009/11/14/wordcamp-victoria-raw-notes/

  16. Blogs can be subscribed to so they can automatically get notifications of what their peers are writing, anyone can subscribe so the reach can go beyond just peers.

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