On occasion, I can be a stat fiend. I used to write analyses each month of what people were looking for on my website, but eventually I lost interest. Not in looking at the stats — the information was interesting to me — but in sharing it with others — I’m not sure that it was helpful to anyone other than myself.
WordPress provides some basic real-time stats tools, which is how I know that just today seven people have looked at this post written in the NATO Phoentic Alphabet and one person was looking for information on the Norse roots of Ash Wednesday.
One mildly depressing thing about using WordPress’ stats tools — which go through the WordPress.com servers — is that I can see all the cool things going on in the WordPress.com world. They have a community; why, just this week, WP.com rolled out a Facebook-like “Like” feature on posts. Using the self-hosted WordPress.org software, I don’t get some of these cool toys to play with.
Honestly, though, it’s not a big deal. Some things, like Twitter integration, can be done on a self-hosted WordPress website through plug-ins — and done better because I have control over which plug-in I want to use.
As an example, I presently use Twitter Tools, which is automatic and archives my Tweets as blog posts, but it doesn’t give me control over the Tweet that announces a blog post. I’d rather use WP to Twitter to handle the post to Twitter, as it does allow flexibility in the Tweet, but I found that the two plugins do not play together at all.
That’s beside the point here, however.
One thing I like about WordPress.com (and I’m jealous of, frankly) is that blogs on the service are linked to each other through the tags used by the writers of various posts. If someone writes a post on, say, The Leisure Society (pulled at random, because their CD is on my desk here), then that post will be linked to other blogs also writing about The Leisure Society. There was a WordPress plug-in way back in early days called “Blogs of the Day” that did something similar and allowed WordPress.org blogs to be linked to other, related blogs automatically, but there’s nothing now that does that.
This morning, I pulled out some code that I’d started to tinker with a few years ago to generate links to the WordPress.com tag pages, based on the tags that a WordPress.org user uses in their posts. It wasn’t difficult; I used the tag routine from the WordPress category-template.php file and made a few edits; rather than link to the blog internally, the routine links to wordpress.com.
It works exactly like WordPress’ native the_tags() php function and takes the same arguments because it uses the same code under the hood. Just change the_tags to wpcom_tags, and you’re set. For my own blog at the moment, I’m using the following routine in my sidebar to generate a link list to the WordPress.com tag pages:
<?php if (function_exists('wpcom_tags')) : ?>
<?php wpcom_tags('<ul class="tags"><li>','</li><li>','</li></ul>'); ?>
<?php endif; ?>
I make no promises of utility, but someone, somewhere may find it handy to have their WordPress.org blog linked to the WordPress.com tag archive pages, and to that end I offer the wpcom-tags plug-in for download.
It’s not the most useful — nor the most flashy, nor fun like Shire Reckoning — plug-in in the world, but what it does it does without fuss, and that’s maybe all we can ask of it.