Microblogging with WordPress and Twitter HowTo:

I’ve been ‘tweeting’ to my blog for over a year now. See? (That is going to be a moving last page as I add more tweets) I started doing this soon after I moved my blog from blogger (which I liked but they broke on me) to WordPress while in the hospital after the birth of my firstborn! (Holy linked sentence, that’s 3 linked references in one sentence that isn’t too terribly run-on!)

I had found that I was blogging much less since I had started using twitter, so I went about trying to get my tweets to post to my blog. I had been tweeting for a while prior to this conversion, but the shifts in focus in my life made the transition from blogging to microblogging more convenient. The following steps just made the transition more palatable for me.

I’ve done a few things to my blog to make this happen.

  • Switch to WordPress
  • Install Twitter Tools plugin to tie Twitter to my blog
  • Install Advanced Category Excluder plugin so I can exclude the tweets from the RSS feed
  • Install Auto Tags plugin to tag the tweets (useful in conjunction with the next plugin)
  • Install Efficient Related Posts plugin to create ‘Related Posts’ so tweets and long posts can reference each other automagically
  • Create plugin tcoReWrite to rewrite Twitter’s new t.co links so I could still use my TwitPic Preview

The Twitter Tools plugin appears to be designed to allow you to auto-tweet when you create a new blog post, which I do usually. It also provides the widget for the running ‘tweet-roll’ on the side of my blog. What I use though is the ‘experimental’ daily digest feature which actually creates the WordPress ‘Posts’ from the tweets the prior day. I have a ‘Twitter’ and ‘Tweet’ category that is used for all digest posts. This plugin has proven to be a little bit flakey at times. It will sometimes repeat a day over and over or decide it’s not going to work at all at times. Clicking on the ‘Digests Reset’ button near the bottom of the admin page for this plugin seems to fix things. It can sometimes take me a week or more to realize that there is a problem.

The Advanced Category Excluder or ‘ACE’ is a pretty slick plugin. It can be used to hide  categories for just about any content and any display location on the entire blog. I use it to strip all my tweet category items from the RSS feed. The theory behind this is if you wanted to follow all those tweets, you would do so on Twitter. I reserve the RSS feed for my ‘long posts’ and not the microblogging -it would annoy me to see a lot of short drivel when I just wanted the meat and potatoes posts.

The Auto Tags plugin uses both a Yahoo tagging service and TagThe.net to automagically come up with tags for posts. Without this tool, the tweet digests would be tagless, and thus kinda orphaned relationally within the blog. I also use a plugin ‘Hidden Tags’ to squelch tags that the ‘Auto Tags’ tool may have come up with that I am not keen on. The ‘Auto Tags’ tool has a built in tag squelch, but that is on a going-forward basis, the ‘Hidden Tags’ can nerf them retroactively.

The Efficient Related Posts plugin leverages the ‘Auto Tag’ plugin and glues the twitter digests to my longer posts. I am actually quite impressed with it’s capabilities. Many of my tweets are extensions on topics I have blogged about or are building up to a future blog post, this helps everything make sense (at least for me).

Lastly, I think I came up with a pretty cool ‘trick’ to make the photos I post using twitpic show up on my blog. Details can be found at TwitPic Image Previews for Twitter Posts on my WordPress widget. It’s basically an unobtrusive javascript that goes out, gets the thumbnail images from twitpic, and displays them on the blog. A while back Twitter added their t.co URL clobberer to make short URLs of short URLs and they annoyed the hell out of me doing such a ridiculous, redundant thing. It totally broke my blog. So, I wrote  my first wordpress plugin tcoReWrite. I haven’t published it yet, figuring nobody but me really cared, but being that this whole post is a long answer to a question I got over twitter (902 words), and now that this post is getting published, more people may be doing such a round-about way of publishing to their blog, and I will need to post my plugin – time to stop this run-on sentence already! (I think that last sentence just condemned me to Hell – reliving my school years again!)

Until I get the plugin published, if you want it, let me know, and I will get you a copy.

Twitter seems to be my publishing ‘glue’. I have my tweets get cross-posted to my blog as well as facebook. I am waiting for the Google Plus API so I can post my tweets to G+ as well. One of these days.

I have Foursquare (for location related stuff) & Project Noah (for my critter pics) feed into Twitter. I wish I could de-reference those links into embeddable content on my blog as I do the photos from TwitPic. Maybe one of these days….

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