WordPress FAQ: What's the Best Way to Backup my Blog?

What can/should I do to protect, secure, backup, etc.?

Earlier in this series, I answered the question about migrating to a different host. In that article, I gave an overview on how to backup your database.

Technically, you can use the same instructions to backup your blog. Do a database dump via phpMyAdmin (ask your host if you don’t know how to use this) and FTP your files down. You could also, if your adept and have the necessary SSH access, setup a cron job to run a script that will dump your database and archive it along with all your files on a daily or weekly basis.

It might seem like I’m dodging this question, but that is only due to the fact that there are lots of ways to do this.

Instead, I’ll talk about backups in general. Whenever you make any major changes to your blog ecosystem, you should back up your database. That means, whenever you upgrade, move to a new host, close down a blog – back up! You don’t know if you’ll need that data again.

Failure to backup, and subsequently messing something up, does not constitute a WordPress problem. :-)

WordPress FAQ: Benefits of Tagging

What advantages obtain from direct tagging, whether manually or by widget, vice using the WP category?

This question comes from James Joyner.

This is a widely-held debate, so I’ll provide my own opinion. ;-) As far as Technorati, and perhaps Google Blog Search is concerned, WordPress categories and tags are one and the same. However, there is a deeper semantic difference that affects users as well as information architecture. In fact, I think we’re on the brink of seeing more tagging-related services that treat tagging differently than categories. WordPress 2.2, for instance, will have tagging in the core in addition to categories.

From a birds eye view, I generally describe categories as filing cabinets. Posts go in different filing cabinets based on politics, sports, web development, local restaurant reviews, etc. However, tagging is much more granular. For instance, there might be a local restaurant that the Baltimore Ravens frequent after practices. Tagging, semantically, allows you to label that post in a more granular way: “nfl ravens restaurant microbrewery”.

This takes another level when you get outside of posting – and this is more of an abstract philisophical argument. Maybe the future holds tagging of blogroll links (There’s already XFN, but I digress), or tagging of other people’s content (think del.icio.us). What if there were a way to use internet-wide tagging to essentially fingerprint someone’s tendencies?

Conversation can be linear in a standard blog format. Post 1 with comments about post 1, followed by Post 2 with comments about Post 2. Hyperlinking has always created a way to de-linearize conversation but it is only effective to a degree. If you think about it, tagging reflects the actual human thought process and behavior. How often do humans only think and talk about a single topic – yet, on blogs, thats exactly what happens. One post, with comments. Second post, with comments.

The second part of the question deals with actual implementation – widgets, tag clouds, etc. To me, this is secondary to the actual tags themselves. While Technorati does respect WP categories as tags, it also handles tags themselves, if they exist, as a separate entity as well. In the end, we’re going to see many implementations, but taxonomy as a whole poses a huge windfall to bloggers who choose to use them.

WordPress FAQ: Democracy Poll Feature

Why doesn’t the democracy feature allow for polls asking for voters to “check all that apply?”

Democracy is a great little plugin that allows for polls on WordPress blogs. I have a lot of history with the Democracy plugin, but fortunately the plugin has come a loooong way and improved quite a bit.

I asked the developer of the plugin this question and this was his response (for what it’s worth):

Hmm, I haven’t decided. I haven’t had a ton of people asking for that feature, it’s been requested over the years but not enough to be worth it to everyone. Democracy isn’t being actively developed, but I think it’s generally feature-complete enough. Of course, it’s not perfect…If a lot of people get in touch with me to request that feature, I might reconsider.

There’s your call to action. If you want it, make yourself known. True Democracy, eh? :-)