Paul Gibbs begins work to unlock Achievements plugin level 3.0

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Achievements, a BuddyPress plugin authored by Paul Gibbs, takes user loyalty to the next level. Gibbs announced he is rewriting the entire Achievement plugin from the ground up, and as part of that process he’s taking this opportunity to switch from his SVN version management over to GitHub. Achievements is currently in version 2.0 and Gibbs is focusing on version 3.0 in 2012.

The Achievements plugin already has a number of great user loyalty features such as a user logging in, writing a message to the activity stream, and a user creating a forum topic—all of which are rewardable actions.

Why are this plugin and Gibbs’ development efforts important to both the WordPress and BuddyPress communities? Because it’s bringing the core of WordPress and the social layer of BuddyPress to the next competitive level, making able to compete with big sites like Facebook and Friendster.

One feature I could see being added is the ability to reward users for playing a game, just like the big guys do. With a user loyalty plugin added on top of this WordPress social layer, what do you think you might be able to achieve with this kind of power?

Proof is in the pudding: Lorelle’s class fills up

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The proof is in the pudding, since Lorelle’s WordPress class has officially filled up. This is great news for both her and the WordPress community.

Lorelle’s class is just one more step in the right direction, and will help to take WordPress beyond tech geeks and corporations and to the general population. WordPress showing up within the education sector truly validates its value for users. In this sort of educational setting WordPress is seen as more than just a “blogging tool”, but as something truly valuable for its users.

I’m very proud of Lorelle for both taking on the task of teaching an official WordPress class, but also for being such a key component to the WordPress community for the past number of years. It’s such a pleasure having her in the community.

The 2012 Theme Hybrid Survey aims to improve their community

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Justin Tadlock of Theme Hybrid is asking for your feedback. He says Hybrid had a great year in 2011, but he is looking to make it an even better year in 2012 with updates to the Theme Hybrid Framework and themes.

Some of the questions he is asking for your feedback on are: documentation requests, plugin requests, theme requests, and what you love most about Theme Hybrid and its collection of themes and plugins so far.

So what are you waiting for? Head over and take the survey!

WordPress plugin directory goes near-real-time

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Just towards the end of the year, Andrew Nacin announced on the WordPress development blog that the WordPress Plugin Directory had been updated to work in near-real-time. Previously there was a fifteen minute lag between the time of committing code and the plugin actually being updated in the directory.

Nacin just made the announcement though. The real mastermind behind the changes was Barry Abrahamson, who is one of the Automattic system wranglers. Barry has been invaluable to the Automattic and WordPress teams, as he has been one of the driving forces behind HyperDB and he’s one of the go-to guys that helps keep WordPress.com humming along.

This is great news for plugin developers as it will help get plugin updates out faster to the users. Great job Barry, thank you!

Max Foundry wants to take your buttons further with MaxButtons Pro

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Max Foundry tweeted last week that they were getting ready to release MaxButton Pro, based on the open source and free version of MaxButtons available on WordPress.org.

What the Max Foundry team is trying to do with both plugins, the free and pro versions, is to take your buttons further with CSS. If you’re a theme designer or even just a regular ‘ole WordPress user, you may find it’s difficult to create buttons that look awesome. They are trying to fix this and make it easier to create buttons that, well, look awesome.

The MaxFoundry team is getting ready to release the Pro version this Wednesday, and they’re offering half off the price now on MaxButtons.com in exchange for an email address.

Will you be sprucing up your WordPress site with MaxButtons? Let us know in the comments.

Pods 2.0 enters the alpha stage of development

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Pods, a plugin which helps evolve WordPress into a much more refined content management system (CMS), is moving into the 2.0 development phase.

Scott Clark wrote a post yesterday with all the updates with the 2.0 alpha release. One of the exciting things to note about this 2.0 release is that it’s being powered by a Kickstarter project to help fund the project’s development. Ryan covered the success of the Kickstarter project over three months ago, and he noted that Scott was able to raise over $3,000 to continue the project.

So far, here are some important updates in this alpha release:

  • A new user interface
  • Add New Pod wizard guides you through creating a new content type or extending one
  • Edit Pod screen lets you add / edit fields, and choose from many field options that are built-in (yay for not needing helpers for most common use-cases!)
  • Create Custom Post Types and Custom Taxonomies, plus manage their labels / settings in the Edit Pod area

Do you use Pods to enhance your WordPress site? Let us know about how you use it in the comments.

PSA: Hey admins, don’t make yourselves subscribers by accident

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There’s a slight, but fairly significant, bug present in WordPress 3.3. If you try to (where you are an administrator on your site) you can set yourself as a subscriber and therefore lock yourself out of your own site. Consider this a public service announcement to let you know that you can set yourself as a subscriber, so you are conscious about not doing it.

For the curious, currently within the bulk editing tools on the Users Dashboard page you can select yourself and set yourself as a subscriber (or technically any other role).

There’s a fix pending for WordPress 3.3.1 that was recently committed, so just make sure you don’t do it between now and the 3.3.1 update and you should be fine.

Dre Armeda Goes Big with his WordPress Tattoo

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Dre Armeda, a well known WordPress community member and WordCamp organizer, has inked up with WordPress as possibly only the third known permanent WordPress tattoo. The tattoo looks awesome and I’m so excited for Dre!

Do you think you would ever get a permanent WordPress tattoo?

WordPress.com in Nielsen’s Top 10 for Social Networks/Blogs

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Nielsen recently announced their Top 10 of 2011 reports, and included was their report on the Top 10 U.S. Social Networks and Blogs. Facebook at number one is no surprise. But a close follow-up is Blogger, which is Google’s competitor to WordPress.com. Ranked two below Blogger is WordPress.com, with an average of 20 million uniques per month. To me, this number seems awfully low, compared to Quantcast, which WordPress.com utilizes as a direct measurement tool. Quantcast shows more than twice that, with a number higher than 52 million.

So according to Nielsen, WordPress.com is less than half the size of its competitor, Blogger. Quantcast estimates Blogger has roughly the same number of uniques, but three times as many visitors (300 million from Blogger and 100 million from WordPress.com).

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