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Weekly blog posts from the creators of Write2Ignite! Conference for Christians who write for children.
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1. Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 7

Here it is! A new collection of our favorite stories from across all of WordPress.

As always, you can find our past collections here. You can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations, or subscribe to our free weekly email.

Publishers, writers, you can share links to your favorite essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and on WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.

1. What Happens When a Veteran High School Teacher Becomes a Student for the Day

Grant Wiggins

“I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day.” A high school teacher learns some sobering lessons about how kids experience a typical day — and the amount of sitting required.

2. No Apology

Mehreen Kasana

The truth about being Muslim in America:

In the eyes of those perpetually seeking an apology from Muslims, I am a Bad Muslim. I don’t put hashtag-suffixed apologies online for what someone else of my faith does. When 9/11 happened, I was as shocked and terrified as anyone else was. We scary-looking Muslims experience human emotions, too. … We Muslims react to unexpected loss of life like any non-Muslim would. We cry, we mourn.

3. The Rise and Fall of Public Housing in NYC

Richard Price, Guernica

A “subjective overview” of the history of public housing in New York City from the novelist Richard Price, framed through the lens of his own upbringing in the North Bronx’s Parkside Houses.

4. Ways Men In Tech Are Unintentionally Sexist

Kat Hagan, This Is Not a Pattern

How our behavior and language can have a harmful impact — and how we can fix it. “Small, simple changes will build the foundation for a better tech culture.”

5. Gone Girls: Human Trafficking on the Home Front

Mike Kessler, Los Angeles Magazine

Kessler talks to survivors of child prostitution, as well as law enforcement officers, judges, politicians, and advocates working to prevent the sex trafficking of minors.

6. The Evans Family Is Living in This World

Linda Vaccariello, Cincinnati Magazine

A community comes together to help a family after a tragedy:

“The reality hit me like nothing I’d ever experienced,” McDonald says. “She had no one. I couldn’t imagine what that was like.” McDonald went to Ao, threw her arm around the sobbing woman’s shoulders, and said, “We’ll help you.”

7. The Plunge

Carl Schreck, Grantland

The story of Shavarsh Karapetyan, a Soviet swimming champion who dove into Armenia’s Lake Yerevan and saved dozens of lives from a sinking trolleybus.

8. How Pixar’s Gurus Brought the Magic Back to Disney Animation

Caitlin Roper, Wired

A profile of John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, whose intense focus on storytelling helped revive Disney’s animation studio with hits like Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.

9. ‘I Am Darren Wilson’: St. Louis and the Geography of Fear

Sarah Kendzior & Umar Lee, Quartz

St. Louis is a city long on the run from itself. White flight has spread from suburbia to exurbia, while decades of black demands — for better jobs, better schools, better treatment—go unheeded. This is a region deprived of resources, forcing residents to scrounge for more fertile terrain.

10. Stephen Powers Puts the Writing on the Wall

Neima Jahromi, Bklynr

From the magazine Bklynr, a profile of the street artist behind some of Brooklyn’s most recognizable murals.

Photo: dystopos, Flickr

Filed under: Community, Reading, WordPress, WordPress.com

0 Comments on Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 7 as of 1/1/1900
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2. Starting Next Week: Blogging 201

Blogging 201: Branding and Growth starts Monday, October 20. If you’re a recent alum of Blogging 101 looking to build on the skills you’ve developed so far, or a blogger looking for new ways to grow your site and its audience, this is the course for you.

What will Blogging 201 cover? We’ll introduce tools to increase your traffic within WordPress.com as well as through other platforms, discuss ways to develop a coherent, effective brand for your blog, and show how to use your archives and your site’s stats to build your readership.

During this two-week course we’ll give you a daily task and provide you with all the necessary resources and information to complete it (there will be no new tasks on weekends, to give you time to explore more on your own, or just publish a post or two). You’ll also have access to The Commons, a private, staff-moderated space where you can chat with other participants, ask questions, and give feedback.

Ending right before NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo kick off in November, Blogging 201: Branding and Growth will help you get your site ready for a new wave of viewers — as well as to keep them coming after their first visit.

Like all Blogging U. courses, there are no prerequisites for Blogging 201 (if you’d like to follow the courses in sequence, though, that’s fine: Blogging 101: Zero to Hero will be back in November!). Self-hosted blogs and blogs from other platforms are just as welcome to participate.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in trying, sign up for Blogging 201: Branding and Growth using this form:

Take Our Survey
Filed under: Better Blogging, Community, Resources

17 Comments on Starting Next Week: Blogging 201, last added: 10/15/2014
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3. Join Us in the Fight For Net Neutrality

“Net Neutrality” is the simple but powerful principle that cable and broadband providers must treat all internet traffic equally. Whether you’re loading a blog post on WordPress.com, streaming House of Cards on Netflix, or browsing handcrafted tea cozies on Etsy, your internet provider can’t degrade your connection speed, block sites, or charge a toll based on the content that you’re viewing.

Net neutrality has defined the internet since its inception, and it’s hard to argue with the results: the internet is the most powerful engine of economic growth and free expression in history. Most importantly, the open internet is characterized by companies, products, and ideas that survive or fail depending on their own merit — not on whether they have preferred deals in place with a broadband service provider. Unfortunately, the principle of net neutrality, and the open internet that we know and love, is under attack.

Net Neutrality under attack

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed rules that would, for the first time, expressly allow internet providers — like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T — to charge internet companies like Automattic, Netflix or Etsy for access to their subscribers. This means there could be “fast lanes” for companies who are able to pay providers for preferred internet access, while everyone else gets stuck in the “slow lane”…which means applications won’t perform as quickly, webpages will load slowly, and of course, buffering. A slow “still loading” spinner will be an unfortunate, but common sight on the new, closed internet that the big providers want.

Unsurprisingly, the large telecom companies who stand to benefit from the FCC’s proposed rules fully support their passage. They have nearly unlimited funds and hundreds of lobbyists in Washington to promote these harmful new rules.

But what they don’t have is you.

What can we do to fight back?

Automattic strongly supports a free and open internet. After all, WordPress.com, and the WordPress open source project are living examples of what is possible on an unthrottled internet, open for creation, collaboration, and expression. Over the last few months, we’ve joined 150 major tech companies in sending a letter to Washington in support of net neutrality, and met with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to urge him to preserve the internet we’ve always known.

Now it’s your turn.

Automattic, along with many other companies and digital rights organizations, is proud to participate in the Internet Slowdown on September 10. For this day of action, we’ve built a “Fight for Net Neutrality” plugin that you can enable now on your WordPress.com blog to show support for this important cause.

You can turn the plugin on by going to your Dashboard, Settings → Fight for Net Neutrality.


When you enable the plugin, we’ll replace a few of the posts on your site with a “Still Loading” spinner…to show what life will be like on an internet that features dreaded slow lanes.

ffnn 2

The plugin will also display a banner that shows your support for Net Neutrality, and links to battleforthenet.com, where visitors to your site can sign a letter to the FCC about this important issue.

Please take a few minutes to enable the Fight for Net Neutrality on your site today, and visit battleforthenet.com to send a message to Washington that net neutrality must be preserved. Together we can make a difference, and we hope you’ll join us in this important battle for the open internet!

Filed under: Community, WordPress.com

14 Comments on Join Us in the Fight For Net Neutrality, last added: 9/9/2014
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4. New Theme: Bosco

We have a new free theme to announce today: Bosco!


Bosco by Automattic

Amid a sea of sliders, sidebars, and huge header images, Bosco stands alone in its refined focus on content.

Your story is presented in a centered, single column, with sophisticated typography and an adaptive layout that looks beautiful on any device, mobile or desktop. There’s still plenty of room for widgets in multiple sections above the footer, while Custom Menus, Custom Background support, and unique Post Format treatments prove that Bosco is anything but lacking in features.

Bosco by Automattic

Give your readers the distraction-free experience they deserve with Bosco. You can see it in action on the demo site, or activate it on your own blog at Appearance → Themes.

Filed under: Themes

8 Comments on New Theme: Bosco, last added: 6/7/2014
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5. Custom Menus for Every Taste and Budget

Looking for a theme that supports custom menus? Take our brief tour of custom menu themes and check out a few samples.

6 Comments on Custom Menus for Every Taste and Budget, last added: 5/26/2014
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6. Writing Communities Connect Bloggers Across WordPress.com

Blogging is about both publishing and finding a community. These three writers' hubs bring together bloggers from all over the world.

17 Comments on Writing Communities Connect Bloggers Across WordPress.com, last added: 5/19/2014
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7. Getting the Most Out of Post Formats: Quoting in Style

Nearly 150 of the themes available to WordPress.com users support post formats, which means that these themes offer a variety of post types (standard, image, gallery, video, audio, quote, and more) that display your content differently based on the format. If your theme supports post formats, you’ll see a Format module as you’re …

11 Comments on Getting the Most Out of Post Formats: Quoting in Style, last added: 4/14/2014
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8. Monday Morning Edition

In case you missed it, a quick recap of the past week on WordPress.com, from new features to great blogs to discover.

1 Comments on Monday Morning Edition, last added: 4/14/2014
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9. Early Theme Adopters: Sorbet

We release beautiful new themes every week. In our Early Theme Adopters series, we focus on bloggers who are using the most recent additions to our Theme Showcase. Today, let’s visit some of the blogs that are already using Sorbet, a vibrant, inviting theme.

10 Comments on Early Theme Adopters: Sorbet, last added: 3/30/2014
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10. New Themes: Hemingway Rewritten and Sweet Life

Writers, photographers, food lovers: take a look at our two newest themes, Hemingway Rewritten and Sweet Life.

16 Comments on New Themes: Hemingway Rewritten and Sweet Life, last added: 3/20/2014
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11. On the World Around Us: A Sampling of Science Blogs

From thoughtful commentary on the history of science to an entertaining blend of science and humor, these blogs have very distinct approaches to science but have one thing in common: a driving curiosity about the world around us.

10 Comments on On the World Around Us: A Sampling of Science Blogs, last added: 3/19/2014
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12. Spring-Clean Your Blog in Five Easy Steps

From your sidebar to your comments section, these tips will help you clean up your blog in just a few minutes.

15 Comments on Spring-Clean Your Blog in Five Easy Steps, last added: 3/18/2014
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13. Monday Morning Edition

In case you missed it, a quick recap of the past week on WordPress.com.

11 Comments on Monday Morning Edition, last added: 3/18/2014
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14. Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves

We were floored this week by the posts we came across on WordPress.com. This community is full of different voices: bold, opinionated, and honest. You take risks and put yourselves out there. You offer perspectives on issues that matter to you. You use your blogs and websites as platforms to share your insights and musings with others.

If you’re looking for reading material, here are four recent posts to consider:

No More Excuses; Time to Be a Hijabi

I have been Muslim for about two and a half years now. About 6 months after that, I began dressing more modestly, wearing long sleeves, looser fitting clothes, etc. I knew then that I would eventually want to/ need to wear a hijab, but wasn’t ready for that.

The writer at Meditations of a Muslimah explores life as an American Muslimah. In this post, she describes how she’s thought about wearing hijab for a long time, but has always come up with excuses: it could be a distraction at work, where she deals with clients in social work, as well as in her community. “Living in the ‘Bible Belt,’ people can be pretty judgmental here,” she writes, “though they won’t always admit it or blatantly say it to your face.” Writing with both eloquence and honesty, she concludes that these are all just excuses — “excuses for not doing what I’m supposed to do.”

Silence of the Gays — Why Celebrities Should Come Out and Speak Up!

As such, I’m not sure I would go as far as to say that gay celebrities have a social or moral duty to be open about their sexuality. But I am prepared to argue that by refusing to acknowledge that they are gay — or that once, not that long ago, they were scared to admit it in public — they’re perpetuating an inhibiting and heteronormative status quo.

It’s film awards season, and last Sunday Hollywood rolled out the red carpet at the Golden Globes ceremony. In a personal and emotional acceptance speech for the Cecil B. DeMille Award, actress Jodie Foster talked about a whole life lived in the public eye — and the value of privacy. Josef Church-Woods, a writer at LGBTICONS, appreciates Foster’s speech: “We need all the positive, gay role models we can get, flying the flag for ‘modern families’ and the notion that love is love, regardless of sexuality.” But he goes on to explain how important it is for public personas to speak up — and to see that talking freely about sexual orientation doesn’t imply an invasion of privacy.

The Cult of Individualism: I’m Special and You’re Not

Social agents constantly feed the young with sugar-coated phrases. You may have heard them before; they appear on posters sold in stores that target teachers. “You are special,” “The world is your oyster,” “You are unique,” etc. Everyone is being told they are special. Everyone is unique.

Michelle, the university student behind The Grumpy Giraffetackles social issues, particularly in education, and we enjoyed reading her take on individualism, entitlement, and today’s youth. She is critical of educators who “feed pretty phrases” to students, making them believe they’re innately special, and urges them to provide specific, behavior-targeted feedback instead of meaningless phrases that set up students to fail.

Disregard, Dissociation, Distance

Two months into our new life in Munich, two months after burying our son in another country, and my parents have not contacted us yet.

From the very beginning, we were locked in to Melissa’s personal, sad, but beautiful piece at Melissa Writes of Passage about grief and dealing with the death of a son. Intimate and painful, she tells a story that has to be told, with honesty and carefully crafted dialogue. She also writes about how things are not said: parents and friends who keep their distance — who give her breathing space — when the opposite is needed and craved. ”If we think it’s better we all pretend nothing happened, and that we as friends are safer staying far away, we are also terribly mistaken.”

Did you read something in the WordPress.com Reader that you think is Freshly Pressed material? Feel free to leave us a link, or tweet us @freshly_pressed.

For more inspiration, check out our writing challengesphoto challenges, and other blogging tips at The Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the Reader. For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.

10 Comments on Freshly Pressed: Friday Faves, last added: 1/21/2013
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15. Freshly Pressed: Editors’ Picks for August 2012

In August, WordPress.com bloggers hit us with their best: Smart takes on the month’s biggest stories. Thoughtful musings on culture. Photographs and art that bring the world to life.

The following ten picks represent what Freshly Pressed is all about: original content that engages readers, timely posts that contribute to a larger discussion, and personal writing that resonates with others. Enjoy!

Glimpses of Iran

This photo essay documents quiet, unexpected moments of daily life in Iran and captures the delicious details and textures of Yzad and elsewhere. The collection of six photographs illustrates quality over quantity—each image is strong, well-composed, and tells its own story.

Frankie V. Debra, Roe V. Wade: Patricia Heaton’s Two Famous Moms, and Can You Still Be a Feminist If You’re Anti-Abortion?

“But I’m still happy to be in their gang, because we don’t all have to think the same.”

This post examines hot-button topics—abortion and feminism—through an original and nuanced discussion of actress Patricia Heaton. We are impressed with the blogger’s honesty, respectful but confident voice, and willingness to ask questions; these elements encourage readers to comment and join the discussion.

Thinking of New Orleans

“Why do we turn to these stories? For shelter. We need an explanation, because “It happened for no reason at all” is somehow too horrifying to face.”

In this reflection on Hurricane Katrina, writer/photographer Kim weaves thoughts on Louisiana, loss, and the film Beasts of the Southern Wild. We especially like her musings on how we create stories to cope, and to make sense of why things happen in the world. Her gallery of evocative images of New Orleans complements the piece.

Armstrong Is Probably Guilty, But It Is Definitely Meaningless

“This whole long, sordid episode ends in two competing realities. The first is that Armstrong – despite his protests – likely is guilty. The second is that doesn’t matter if he is.”

After introducing the story on Lance Armstrong’s battle with the US Anti-Doping Agency, Mark presents an opinionated yet fair take on doping in cycling (and touches on other sports, too). He admits he is not an Armstrong fan, which further illustrates a balanced approach to the issue.

Authors Behaving Badly: The Seedy Underbelly of Reviewing

“As a writer, I’m not comfortable with the idea of someone writing a review of my book if they haven’t read it. I’m not writing so people can pat me on the back, I’m writing because I have stories I want people to read.”

Here, Jo offers her thoughts on an interesting publishing story: an entrepreneur who set up a business in which authors pay him to write a positive review. Solidly written and thorough, the post leads to a discussion for both writers and readers alike. We like how she asks questions at the end to help launch a healthy debate.

Republican Todd Akin: Don’t Worry, You Won’t Get Pregnant From Rape

“The point is, this is a decision that most deeply affects the victims of rape; those victims have to live with the outcomes of that decision as well as the effects of the crime itself; and those women should be allowed to make the decision that is best for them.”

August saw no lull in controversy in the news, and WordPress.com bloggers confronted these issues head on. A post tackling a hot-button issue can become polarized—even angry—but this take on Todd Akin’s statement on rape is at once passionate and professional.

Lie to Me: Five Lies I’m Proud of Telling My Kids

“Actually, Timmy, there’s a really, really good chance that you won’t be an astronaut. Considering your complete inability to understand long division, you’re probably going to sell cars when you grow up. Now let’s talk about Santa Claus.”

Readers enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek list about the lies one father tells his kids. Whether or not you are a parent, you can relate to this lighthearted post, and will likely recall your own childhood and wonder: did my parents lie to me?!

Rethinking Sleeping Beauty

“Before she pricks her finger, she hesitates, her hand outstretched, but then at Maleficent’s urging, she finally touches the spindle. I’ve always preferred to think that she did it on purpose, not just because she was under a spell. I like to see it as an act of rebellion, a refusal to go from Briar Rose to Aurora quite yet.”

We like how Melissa uses a childhood tale to express ideas about coming of age. Musings are particularly resonant when a writer takes something familiar—such as the story of Sleeping Beauty—to illustrate observations on a more personal level. As a result, she engages with her readers, who have made their own connections through her insights.

When Saturday Mornings Meant Something

Cartoons – the word, the concept, the feeling, the religion — is dead.  Dead and obsolete like the Gothic-arched mouse hole where Jerry took refuge.  Drowned in a sea of endless animation.”

This homage to old-school Saturday morning cartoons left readers swimming in a sea of nostalgia. He-Man! Dungeons and Dragons! The shows of Hanna-Barbera! The sharp and entertaining commentary and palpable passion for the subject contribute to this well-received post.

For Neil.

“Rest in peace other Neil.”

We’re always on the lookout for original artwork: illustrations, paintings, sketches, and more. Shortly after learning of Neil Armstrong’s death, (another) Neil shared an illustration celebrating the famed astronaut. The piece is just as much about Armstrong as it is about the artist himself, and this makes the post timely as well as touching.

What do you think about these selections? Were there other Freshly Pressed posts that stood out this month?

If you’re looking for more, peep the latest posts on Freshly Pressed; check out our writing challenges, photo challenges, and other blogging tips and inspiration at the Daily Post; visit our Recommended Blogs; and browse the most popular topics in the reader.

For editorial guidelines for Freshly Pressed, read: So You Want To Be Freshly Pressed.

10 Comments on Freshly Pressed: Editors’ Picks for August 2012, last added: 9/4/2012
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16. Automattic’s Worldwide WP 5k

It wasn’t just a one-time event! The Automattic Worldwide WP 5k is back again in 2012! Set your timers for April 29th!

At Automattic we work from all over the world, and we use internal blogs for socializing and exchanging non-work ideas in addition to making WordPress.com and our other products more awesome. One of the things we’re really concerned about is staying healthy – we even have an entire internal blog dedicated to fitness.

We had a great idea: Get all Automatticians from 79 cities & 24 countries to run/walk a 5k on the same day! This way we can get some exercise together as a company even though we’re apart (though we won’t rule out a softball or Texas scramble at our next meetup).

A year later, and there are now 105 Automatticians we hope will take part in the 5k all around the world in 2012.

We want to invite you to join us, WordPress.com users (and self-hosted WP users, too!), in the Worldwide WP 5k – the 5k blogged around the world! The date is approaching, so read on to find out how to participate.

WHAT IT IS: A 5k run/walk (approximately 3.1 miles). You can run, walk, or skip. It’s up to you. There’s no time limit and there’s just one requirement: that you participate! You can do it inside or outside, on a treadmill or on a track, or even do a swim or a bike ride instead of running/walking – just get moving!

A 5k is roughly equal to:

  • 3.1 miles
  • 12 laps around a track
  • approximately 6000-7500 steps
  • approximately 50-60 minutes of brisk walking

If you ran/walked last year’s Worldwide WP 5k, why not try to shave a few minutes off your time and set a personal record (PR)?

WHEN: We’re all busy, but we want you to participate, so we’re giving you some flexibility, too. The WWWP5k is set for Sunday, April 29th, but you can do your run/walk anytime from April 23rd-29th (you’ve got a week to fit it in).

WHO: Anyone who’s ever used or loved WordPress (and your families and friends, too). Heck, the entire Internet is invited!

HOWPost about it on your site and tag the post “wwwp5k” so we can find you (and for a chance to be Freshly Pressed). :) If you’re not on WordPress.com, link back to this announcement post so others can find it and participate, too.

You’re welcome to blog your entire route and your preparation (videoblog, perhaps?) but above all we’d love to see where you are and how you’re completing your 5k. Give us a picture of you and what you see when you cross the finish line and tell us your location as you complete your 5k with the rest of the world. Some tools & suggestions:

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17. WordPress.com Bloggers Who Covered the Biggest News Stories of 2011

As 2011 comes to end, we thought it’d be interesting to look back at the events that made headlines this year, and a few of the bloggers who were there in person (or closely connected to the events) to document history in the making. Here’s a recap of some of the biggest news stories of the year, as blogged by WordPress.com users.

January 25: Tens of thousands of people take to the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities to demand an end to the rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

Cairo-based journalist Max Strasser reported on the events from Istanbul. Marilyn Gardner posted updates on the situation after speaking with her daughter, who was living in Egypt for school.


March 11: Japan is hit with an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the strongest in its history.

The author of Amblerangel.WordPress.com was at a grocery store in Shibuya-ku when it happened. She recounted the experience in We’re Being Shaken and Stirred in Japan. According to Liz Tagami, who was at Narita International Airport when the quake hit, “It started as a silent rolling wave.


June 24: New York legalizes same-sex marriage, becoming the largest state in the U.S. to pass the law. It goes into effect thirty days later on July 24, 2011.

TalkAboutEquality.WordPress.com was on site at the New York City Clerk’s office to chat with the couples who lined up for marriage licenses, as documented in the post Thousands of New Yorkers Put a Ring on It. In August, Jacob Murphy shared photographs of a pop-up chapel ceremony in New York City’s Columbus Circle.


July 9: South Sudan becomes the world’s newest nation after seceding from Sudan.

Uganda-based photographer Will Boase was there to capture the celebration, which he blogged about in Happy Birthday South Sudan.


16 Comments on WordPress.com Bloggers Who Covered the Biggest News Stories of 2011, last added: 12/5/2011
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18. It’s getting cold in here

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
but this blog is sooo delightful
Until the internet gets slow,
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

That’s right, it’s that special time of year where you can show off your holiday cheer with a little special blog flair — falling snow. To get it started:

  1. Go to your dashboard.
  2. Navigate to Settings » General.
  3. Check the box next to “Show falling snow on this blog.”
  4. Roast some chestnuts.

Even Texas boys like me who only saw snow a handful of times growing up can enjoy it all month long, until we turn it off on January 4th.

If you are a terrible Grinch or if the snow just slows down your computer or confuses your cat, you can go to your personal settings page and hide the snow everywhere you go.

10 Comments on It’s getting cold in here, last added: 12/1/2011
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19. New Theme: Selecta

Today we’ve got a treat for you — a new theme called Selecta. This might be the theme you’ve been waiting for if videos or images will be the primary focus of your blog. The design, originally created by Obox Design, fuses the modern with the retro — a bold, striking color palette (in six color schemes), rounded edges, and wider-than-usual frames around content.

Click to view slideshow.

Selecta is loaded with elements that highlight your images and videos.  First, there’s the featured slider that showcases your sticky posts at the top of the front page. Next, there’s the “Latest Posts” row that places your four most recent posts in fun, rounded boxes, also on the front page. That’s not all — if you create a post with the video or image Post Format, Selecta will display your content in a wide, one-column template on the single post view. This ensures that your images and videos receive your readers’ undivided attention. Talk about showing off!

I certainly haven’t revealed everything this theme has to offer.  Click on over to the Theme Showcase to read more about Selecta and all of its great features.

12 Comments on New Theme: Selecta, last added: 9/1/2011
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20. Embed Wufoo forms and surveys with a simple shortcode

Earlier this week we released a new shortcode on WordPress.com to help you embed Wufoo forms in your WordPress.com posts, pages and even sidebars. Our friends over at Wufoo wrote about it on their blog and we wanted to let you know here as well.

Wufoo forms are extremely flexible and enable you to create everything from simple contact forms to event invitations and mailing lists:

On their end, Wufoo integrates with other services as well. For example, a you could build a newsletter signup form, which sends those signups to MailChimp, all starting from your WordPress.com blog. If you or your company is a 37signals fan, you can send your Wufoo form results to Highrise or Basecamp.

Wufoo is a paid service and also offers a free plan that you can use for as long as you like to see if the service works for you. For more details on embedding Wufoo forms on your WordPress.com blogs, check out our new Wufoo support page.

We’d like to thank Chris Coyier over at Wufoo for helping us with the shortcode. Also, if you’re using the Custom Design upgrade on WordPress.com, you might be interested in Chris’ great talk from WordCamp San Francisco (embedded below) on some creative uses of CSS, and his site on the same topic, CSS Tricks.

13 Comments on Embed Wufoo forms and surveys with a simple shortcode, last added: 9/16/2011
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21. Looking for tips on better blogging?

Whether you’re a WordPress.com veteran or blogging newbie, the updated version of Learn WordPress.com is sure to teach you something that you don’t already know.

The tutorial contains ten short sections on popular topics such as:

We’ve also added a section called 10 Super Awesome Insider Tips. It contains pointers on how to use some of our coolest (but easily overlooked) features like Distraction Free Writing, which expands the text editor and hides the modules on the publishing screen, to help you stay focused while you create content.

So have a look and tell us what you learned! And if there’s anything you want to know more about, be sure to let us know.

10 Comments on Looking for tips on better blogging?, last added: 9/16/2011
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22. Coming to a WordCamp Near You

Every now and then I like to remind people about upcoming WordCamps. WordCamps are locally-organized, casual conferences held all over the world that focus on WordPress. Bloggers, developers, and every other kind of WordPress fan get together to show off cool things they’ve done with WordPress, teach and learn from each other, meet new co-conspirators, and generally have a crazy fun day or weekend with other people who share their love of WordPress. Often, members of the WordPress.com team from Automattic are in attendance, and would love to meet more of you!

There are WordCamps this weekend in Albuquerque and Portland, so if you’re anywhere near these cities, you should try to attend (we’ll be there!). In Portland, the WordPress Foundation also will be sponsoring some special activities around Software Freedom Day (I’ll be at this one, testing and giving a sneak peek to attendees of some new features in the works).

Is there a WordCamp coming up near you? Let’s find out!

Sep 15: WordCamp Cape Town Cape Town, South Africa

Sep 16-18: WordCamp Albuquerque Albuquerque, NM

Sep 17-18: WordCamp Portland Portland, OR

Sep 24: WordCamp Lisboa Lisboa, Portugal

Sep 24: WordCamp Germany Koln, Germany

Sep 25: WordCamp Sofia Sofia, Bulgaria

Oct 1: WordCamp Louisville Louisville, Kentucky

Oct 8-9: WordCamp Sevilla Seville, Spain

Oct 15-16: WordCamp Jabalpur Jabalpur, India

Nov 5-6: WordCamp Toronto Toronto, ON

Nov 5-6: WordCamp Gold Coast Gold Coast, Australia

Nov 5-6: WordCamp Philly Philadelphia, PA

Nov 12: WordCamp Caguas Caguas, Puerto Rico

Nov 12-13: WordCamp Kenya Nairobi, Kenya

Nov 12-13: WordCamp Detroit Detroit, MI

Nov 12: WordCamp Richmond Richmond, VA

Nov 12-13: WordCamp Denmark Copenhagen, Denmark

Dec 17: WordCamp Las Vegas Las Vegas, NV

Feb 3-4 WordCamp Atlanta Atlanta, GA

There are also a number of WordCamps still in the early organizing stage that do not yet have dates set. These include: Ft. Wayne, IN; London, UK; Edmonton, Canada; Baku, Azerbaijan; Oslo, Norway; Sacramento, CA;  Birmingham, Alabama; Pittsburgh, PA; Omaha, NE; Orlando, FL; Tokyo, Japan; Paris, France; Zagreb, Croatia; Nashville, TN, Washington DC, Baltimore, MD; Bangkok, Thailand; Istanbul, Turkey.

Hope to see you soon at a WordCamp near you!

13 Comments on Coming to a WordCamp Near You, last added: 9/16/2011
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23. 3 Ways to Make Your Site More Visually Appealing

You guys use WordPress.com in all sorts of creative ways, documenting the adventures you take…


…the people you meet…


…the characters you create…


…the meals you prepare…


…and the places you live.


And you share a ton of amazing photographs. So be sure to show them off! Here are three tips on using photos to make your site more visually appealing:

  • Upload your very own custom header image to give your site a unique look and feel. Some themes even allow you to use featured images to display different header images on specific posts and pages. For a design that’s 100% unique to you, try out the Custom Design upgrade.
  • Don’t make readers squint to view your photos. Generally speaking, bigger photos are better, as long as they’re properly aligned. Check out the Get Flashy tutorial on Learn.WordPress.com for tips on aligning and resizing your images.
  • If the majority of your content is image-based, consider using a photography theme that will put your photos in center stage on your site. Visit the Theme Showcase to find one that’s perfect for you.

Want to browse other awesome photo blogs? Check out Freshly Pressed and the photography tag pages.

19 Comments on 3 Ways to Make Your Site More Visually Appealing, last added: 10/10/2011
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24. New Themes: iTheme 2 and Bold News

If you are doing a great job on your blog and posting regularly, sometimes important posts fade away from the home page. Sound familiar? Today, we’re excited about introducing two new themes that come with a featured section for prominently displaying some of these posts.

The first theme is iTheme 2 designed by Themify, is a free theme inspired by the instantly recognizable Apple style design that is perfect for your Mac related tech blog. By activating it, iTheme 2 immediately revamps your blog to a stylish, Apple themed cool blog.

What’s great about iTheme 2 is not only the look but also its features. It offers three color schemes and a cool featured posts carousel on the home page. Go find more about the theme on its showcase page.

The second entry is Bold News, a premium theme from WooThemes. Same as other fantastic themes from them, Bold News is also packed with customizing features as well as a featured posts carousel on the home page. Get the full details on the theme showcase page. You can upgrade your blog to Bold News directly from the showcase, or from your dashboard under Appearance → Themes.

19 Comments on New Themes: iTheme 2 and Bold News, last added: 10/19/2011
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25. Easier Invitations Mean More Followers and Blog Contributors

We’ve made two big changes that make it easier to encourage friends, family, and colleagues to interact with your WordPress.com blog.

First, now you can invite people to follow your blog. If your blog is public, anyone can use the Follow button to sign up to receive an update each time you publish new content. But if you’d like to share your blog with specific people, we’ve made it easy to send them an invitation to check out your site.

Try it out now and invite some friends to follow your blog:

1. Head to your dashboard and click on Users → Invite New. Type the users’ email addresses or WordPress.com usernames.

2. Set the Role to Follower.

3. If you like, add your own message to personalize the invitation, then click Send Invite.

When your friend accepts the invite, they’ll start receiving email updates each time you publish a new post.

Secondly, you can also use the new invitations to add contributors to your blog. Have you ever thought that it might be fun to have a friend write a guest post? Or perhaps you want to ask a colleague to help moderate comments. Adding contributors to your blog has never been easier.

Head to Users → Invite New in the dashboard and enter the person’s WordPress.com username or email address. Then select the contributor, author, editor, or administrator role, and send the invite.

Your new user will now be able to access your blog by visiting the My Blogs section of their dashboard when they log in to WordPress.com. They’ll also receive an email notification that they’ve been added to your blog.

For more details on the new invitations, check out the Support document on Inviting Contributors, Followers, and Viewers.

10 Comments on Easier Invitations Mean More Followers and Blog Contributors, last added: 11/15/2011
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