About Lorelle VanFossen

Lorelle VanFossen is a trainer and consultant in WordPress, User Experience (UX), blogging, social media, and online business. She is currently teaching WordPress at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington, and Portland Community College - Rock Creek (PCC), in Beaverton, Oregon, in addition to private training and various public workshops. She is author and host of Lorelle on WordPress covering WordPress and blogging tips, help, and advice for beginners to advanced users. She is also the author of the book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging, Social Media for Crafters, and other books and ebooks on blogging, social media, web publishing - you name it. She is also the Official Disruptive Thinker behind Bitwire Media which produces a variety of podcasts, shows, and sites. She travels the world speaking and providing training programs on blogging, social media, and web publishing, often found wandering around WordCamps and other WordPress Events and blog and online business conferences, and tends to just love helping people have their say online.

Lorelle Presents Writing with WordPress Workshop in Salem, Oregon

If you live in the Salem, Oregon, area, don’t miss this special event and workshop.

I’ll be leading a workshop in Salem, Oregon, specifically designed for writers and authors using WordPress. The event is part of the great work the Salem Chapter of the Willamette Writer’s Group, a regional group of writers and authors in the Pacific Northwest area.

The events begin with a presentation on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, at 6:30PM at Macey’s Salem Center. I will be talking about the challenges of a writer and author site, and introducing members to the different types of sites for writers and authors and how to build a community and audience around a site or book. The meeting is free, I believe.

Sunday, March 16, is a half-day workshop from 1-5PM at the Salem Public Library. We will dive deeper into customizing a WordPress site specifically for the needs of the writer, be it for the author and their books, to support a book or book series, and other alternative site types. This is a highly interactive workshop.

Participants in the workshop will need to bring their laptops or tablets. WIFI will be available. If participants do not have a current WordPress site, they will be led through the process of setting up their own free WordPress.com site.

The workshop will be customized based upon the needs of the attendees, so here is a general list of topics covered during the four hour workshop: Continue reading

Troubleshooting Post Content Errors

Title: Blog Struggles: When Are Too Many Comments Too Many Comments?

The following is a test article for students in the WordPress class. It was originally published in 2007 on Lorelle on WordPress and is used with permission.

Blog Struggles badgeRecently, what appeared to be a thoroughly delighted fan went through my blog with a vengeance and left over 40 comments within a two day period. Each were personalized and directed to me, with enthusiastic comments and reflections on what was written. At first I was pleased, as I always am when my blog touches and teaches, but after the eight consecutive comment, I began to get suspicious. Row after row of comments all from the same person filled my Comments panel. Wouldn’t you be suspicious? Let’s assume this isn’t a clever human comment spammer and consider this is a person who is really thrilled with what they are finding and reading on your blog. Then ask yourself: When are too many comments, too many comments?

Begging for Blog Comments
Bloggers spend a lot of time thinking about how to provoke more comments on their blogs. We add “subscribe to comments” WordPress Plugins, comment feeds, and innovative comment methods to encourage comments. WordPress Themes feature pleading phrases like “No comments yet. Why don’t you be the first?” or “Care to be the first one to jump into the fray?” We write to challenge our readers, asking questions and writing combinations of words to encourage them to click away from their feed readers to jump into the pool and have their say. When a conversation strikes between two or more of the commenters, we love watching the conversation grow, bantering back and forth, passing on ideas or exchanging spitfire. We rub our hands together with glee. We started something. But what about the lone enthusiastic commenter who plows through your blog littering dozens of posts with kind words? They may or may not continue the conversation between you and the reader or the other commenters. But the words are all nice and pleasant, doing no harm. Just sitting there like a white pawn piece reaching the other side of the chess board. You know it’s a threat, but it’s a harmless pawn piece. What do you do?

Perception Versus Reality

My perception was that this person was stuffing my Comment “inbox” with comments, trying to get my attention, or building up link juice, page ranking links. The reality was that I’m the only one who can tell this person is spamming my blog with comments. No one else sees my Comments panel. I don’t have a comments counter or public reward system that promotes who commented on what, when, and how often. I’m the only one bothered by all the comments, so who cares? I care. That’s the problem. And I’m suspicious and paranoid. I’ve been doing this online stuff for too long. I’ve been abused with the best and worst of the abusers out there, and I have the callouses and scars to prove it. It’s natural that I’m suspicious of 40 comments by one person within a few days. That’s just strange. I had many choices. I could ignore it and see if it continued. I could delete the ones that didn’t add to the conversation. I could also contact the commenter to find out their true intentions. I chose the latter. I emailed the commenter and thanked them for their comments and enthusiasm on my blog. I kept it neutral and asked if there was something in particular they were interested in that maybe they hadn’t found on my blog. The response was clearly that of a naive, new-to-the-web youngster. I now knew my enemy and it was a young girl discovering blogging for the first time and just over enthusiastic. I can live with that. We exchanged a few emails and finally I felt confident enough to mention the suspicious her many comments had originally aroused. She was embarrassed but it was a good lesson. She’s now a better commenter, leaving comments that continue the conversation not just say something to say something, and a much better blogger as she understands more about how important the conversation is on a blog.

Judging a Comment

With all the comment spam that attacks our blogs daily, along with “nice people” craving link juice in comments, it’s easy to get suspicious and paranoid about comments. In time, I’ve come up with a filter list that helps me better evaluate whether or not to keep a comment or trackback on my blog.

  • What is it really saying?
  • Does it continue the conversation?
  • Will my readers benefit from the comment?
  • Can I look at this comment for the rest of my life?

If it passes that quick test, then it stays. Especially if it passes the last question in the test. Everything else can be deleted, or if appropriate, marked as comment spam. Life is too short to struggle over idiot commenters on my blog.

Related Articles

Tablets for Educators and Students in College

Student works on Samsung Note in class.I was asked to speak at a 30 Clicks Clark College Library lunchtime event on the subject of computer tablets for educators and students. These are the notes and research for that event.

  • A tablet is a mobile computer that relies upon mobile apps to function. The screen is typically 7 inches or wider.
  • Smartphone is a mobile computer that relies upon mobile apps to function. The screen is typically 5 inches and smaller.

This is the basic description of a tablet, once known as a handheld computer. Featured on the original Star Trek television show, and in all the series that followed, the padd set the standard for what would become today’s computer tablet.

Before and after - laptop verses tablet weight and carryingPersonally, I’ve had just about every computer out there, and when I discovered handheld computers, which eventually became mobile computers, smartphones, and tablets, I was in heaven. In the beginning, these small mobile computers fit in the hand and were excellent for reading ebooks. As they became more powerful, they became laptop replacements.

Above all else, the greatest reward of moving from laptop to tablet was weight – and portability.

This article is not designed to be a complete dissection of how to use tablets in education, but to represent a few interesting tidbits I uncovered while preparing for my presentation on using tablets in education, specifically for college students and educators.

The article is divided into three sections, all specifically targeted towards the student and educator:

Continue reading

The First Website Revived


The Web as we know it went “live” April 30, 1993. The very first web page and website Tim Berners-Lee and the WWW team put online has been brought out of the archives by CERN.

First Website in the world on the web by Tim Berners-Lee and CERN team - front page.

The web page and site was reconstructed by CERN from an archive found on the W3C site, which is a 1992 copy of the first website, not the original. The research team is still searching for the original or an older version.

Mark Boulton is involved with the CERN team to help restore the first website. He described their determination to preserve this moment in world history.
Continue reading

How to Link to Posts, Pages, Categories, Tags, Authors, and Feeds in WordPress


WordPress code logo thumbnailThis is a tutorial on how to link to the various features found on a typical WordPress site.

Wish to promote an author your site? Need the link to their author pageview? Wish to link to a specific category? Want to share the link to your WordPress site feed?

There are many times when you may wish to link to a feature or function on your site. Here is a list of the various areas you may wish to link to from posts, Pages, Widgets, and in emails and social media posts to help people find information on your site.

How to Copy a Link

We call them “links” but the proper names are hypertext link and the link is created with an HTML Anchor Tag.

A well-formed link in HTML looks like this:

<a href="http://lorelle.wordpress.com/" 
title="Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress.">
Lorelle VanFossen</a>

It features the link to the destination, the title selector to describe the destination of the link, and the anchor text, the words visible on the page to the reader.

This is called a well-formed or properly formed link as these three items are required by US and international law for web standards and web accessibility.

To copy a link, there are two methods. The first is the most commonly used technique.
Continue reading

WordPress Site Models


WordPress serves as a web publishing platform and Content Management System (CMS). There are a variety of layouts and site organizational structures to choose from when setting up a WordPress site. These are known as site models.

There are three core site models: blog, static, and hybrid.

There are pros and cons to each one. Let’s look at each one.

The Static Site Model

Site model example of a static website, each page on the site a separate web page - graphic by Lorelle VanFossen.In the old days, websites consisted of static web pages, one web page for each article. Today’s CMS platforms like WordPress offer the same static feel and structure as a design decision.

The challenge of using WordPress as a static site takes a little thinking around the whole posts verses Pages and categories verses tags content organization options. In general, most static sites will never use posts only Pages.
Continue reading

Stats: The Analytics of Reading to the Bottom of the Page


In “How people read online: Why you won’t finish this article” on Slate Magazine, author Farhad Manjoo explores the statistics on whether or not you will read to the bottom of his article.

I’m going to keep this brief, because you’re not going to stick around for long. I’ve already lost a bunch of you. For every 161 people who landed on this page, about 61 of you—38 percent—are already gone. You “bounced” in Web traffic jargon, meaning you spent no time “engaging” with this page at all.

So now there are 100 of you left. Nice round number. But not for long! We’re at the point in the page where you have to scroll to see more. Of the 100 of you who didn’t bounce, five are never going to scroll. Bye!

OK, fine, good riddance. So we’re 95 now. A friendly, intimate crowd, just the people who want to be here. Thanks for reading, folks! I was beginning to worry about your attention span, even your intellig … wait a second, where are you guys going? You’re tweeting a link to this article already? You haven’t even read it yet!

He talked to many expert web analytics researchers and analysts about the statistics associated with reading an article on the web. The numbers are fascinating, and may change how you write your next post.
Continue reading

Web Statistics and Analytics Glossary

Web Analytics WordleThe following is a general glossary of terms associated with web statistics and web analytics.

Affiliates/Affiliate Marketing: Advertising and promotional marketing where the webmaster offers advertisements or endorsements for a commission based upon traffic and traffic conversions (click-throughs).

Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors visiting a single page on the site. This is a comparative measurement of how many visitors enter and exit a web page without visiting other pages on the site. The Bounce Rate is often viewed as a percentage such as the total number of visitors that arrived and left from only that page compared to the total number of visitors to that web page (not the entire site visitors count). Confused with the exit rate, the Bounce Rate is often reported as a measurement of the time a visitor spends on the page, known as the Page Duration or Time on Page.

Clicks: Clicks are actions by the user of clicking a link or object on the web page to interact with it. Clicks are also the term used by some statistics programs such as WordPress.com Stats to indicate a click on a link to an external web page.

Click Analytics: A form of segmentation and analytics, it is the study of a site’s performance based upon the number of clicks, what is clicked, and the path a visitor takes through various clicks or pageviews.
Continue reading

Tutorial on Creating Footnotes in WordPress

Footnotes are often requested in my workshops and classes. I’ve published “Creating Footnotes in WordPress” explaining how to do this in WordPress on .

Footnotes have been replaced by links, but there may be times when you wish to link to a footnote in a blog post.

Here is a list of the pros and cons of using footnotes from the article.

Links cover one or more words thus are easier to see and easier to click over a larger area. Footnote links are tiny, hard to see, and hard to click, especially if you have mobility issues.

Footnotes are familiar to academics, scientists, and researchers. If you are publishing such papers or writing for that audience, it would be natural to include traditional footnotes.

There are also times when you may need to cite a source that isn’t online. How would you site a paper or reference that is not online? A footnote serves to cite the source while not interrupting the natural flow of the content with explanations in parentheses.

Three techniques are described in the article.

You may use WordPress Plugins that make adding footnotes to posts easier, or you can create them manually.

The process of adding footnotes manually to WordPress involves using jump or page links with the footnote numbers within the content to “jump” down to the footnote list at the bottom of the post.

I’ve included an example of how to create footnote jump links to take the reader to the footnote list and not a specific item in the list, and how to create a footnote jump link to a specific footnote in the list if there are many footnotes in the article.

Family History Blogging Resources and Tips

Knapp family of Taylor Rapids, Wisconsin, Ed, Lloyd, Melvin, Emma, Glenn, Nora, circa 1924 - Lorelle VanFossen archives.The following information are resources, tips, techniques, and instructions for starting and developing a Family History blog. These resources are for Lorelle’s family history blogging workshops, classes, and presentations. The focus of these resources are on blogging your family history, not about genealogy research, though it is often hard to separate the two.

This resource list will help you learn more about using , the self-hosted version of WordPress, and , the hosted verion of WordPress, as well as how to publish multimedia, gedcom files, and share the stories and tales of your family’s history. It also includes information on privacy and other legal policies as relates to family history research and blogging.

Family History Blogging Articles by Lorelle VanFossen

The following links are to articles I’ve written on family history blogging, including an ongoing series on genealogy blogging.

Resources on Blogging Your Family History

The following are articles and tutorials on how to blogging your family history. Continue reading

How to Add Images in Your Post Content

Round beach rocks in shade - photography by Brent VanFossen.Images, graphics, photographs, drawings, cartoons, badges…our websites are filled with imagery.

This article addresses the techniques used by WordPress for aligning images and image sizing and links in published content. Check your publishing platform for their methods.

Image Terminology in WordPress

There are several terms we need to develop to help you understand how images are used in WordPress. The most important terms describe the images within WordPress based upon how they are used and generated: original image, published image, media file, and attachment image.

The image uploaded to your site is called the original image or image file. When uploaded to WordPress, a minimum of three sizes are automatically created and stored in the wp-content/uploads/ directory on the server. The images are grouped by year then month by default.

The image sizes available for displaying in your content are thumbnail, medium, and full-size. Depending upon the image’s original size, large and x-large may be available. Full-size is the original uploaded image size.

When an image is used on a web page in WordPress, it is typically viewed within the content area of a post or Page. For the sake of this tutorial, we will called this the published image. WordPress makes available the three size options by default.

Image Sizes and Links

WordPress Media Uploader featuring multiple images - screencap by Lorelle VanFossen.

The WordPress Media Uploader redesigned in 2012 now features Attachment Display Settings options. They include setting the alignment of the image, the size of the published image, and the Link To feature. Continue reading

What is a Properly Formed Link?

I talk about properly formed links or proper HTML anchor tags in all of my articles, workshops, and classes. This article serves as a tutorial and reference guide on the proper formation of HTML links.

Links tie the web together, linking one site to another, one web page to another. They are critical to helping us find information and understand what is being written.

In “What You Must Know About Writing on the Web,” I describe a link dump:

Ugly is as ugly does. Don’t clutter up your site with ugly link dumps.

A link dump is when the blogger is lazy and just pastes the link into their post such as http://lorelleteaches.com/2012/10/14/what-you-must-know-about-writing-on-the-web/ instead of the properly formed What You Must Know About Writing on the Web.

Which is easier to read?

A properly formed link makes it not just easier to read the post, it is clean and presents professional looking content. It invites the reader to click.

How to Create a Properly Formed HTML Link

To create a properly formed link, you may use the Visual Editor toolbar button called link or Hypertext Link.
Continue reading