will mean the difference between miserable hours spent gardening V14gRa and "check out my sexy webcam!!" comments ornot. Coming from Lifehacker's "must register to post here" model, I checked off "Users must be registered and logged in tocomment." If you don't want to put up the registration hurdle in front of your commenters, make sure you install the Akisment spam-killing plug-in (more on that below).
Just like you can extend Firefox withfeature-adding extensions, WordPressalso has a pluggable architecture and awhole world of plug-ins that can soupup your blog. When you're logged intoWordPress, click on Plugins, andsearch for the name of the plug-in youwant to install (which you can dowithout involving your FTP client). Youcan also just search on keyword, too—to find Twitter related plug-ins, just enter Twitter. The plug-ins that you use willdepend on how you want your site to work and look, but here are a few that every WP user can benefit from.Finally, to make your site as accessible to Google and other web search engines as possible, a few Search Engine
Running your own server and database means that if things go wrong, it's upto you to have a backup. This plug-in can email a full backup of your WordPress database on a schedule to an address youspecify. I've had great success building my WordPress site locally with the backup this plug-in created; however, the otherresident WP expert here on staff, The How-To Geek, recommends using the old-school
cron job for "mysqldump -uUser -pPassword databasename > filename.bak"
approach. No matter how you do it, make sure you're backingup both your blog's database and files. It's worth consulting with your blog hosting provider about the best way for you todo this, too.
Google-owned FeedBurneris a must-use for anyone who publishes RSS feeds, like your
blog does. FeedBurner saves you bandwidth costs by hosting your blog's feed and offers statistics about how many peopleare reading it; this plug-in will redirect your blog's feed to FeedBurner for you.
See what posts are most popular using this up-to-the-minute statistics plug-in, right insideyour WordPress dashboard. WordPress.com stats doesn't count visits to your own blog, and unlike the richer Google Analytics service, there's no day-long delay to see what's happening on your site. To run this plug-in, you have toget aWordPress.com API key (it's free)and enter it into the plug-in's settings.
If you have a search box on your site, you'll want Search Meter, a plug-in which shows you whatreaders are looking for and finding (or not) on your site. Search meter also offers widgets you can add to your site whichshow readers what other readers are searching for.
The first time a highly-trafficked site like Digg links to your blog, you'll wish you hadinstalled this plug-in, which maintains high-speed, database-call free "cached" copies of your WordPress pages on yourserver. Your site will run faster and won't buckle under the strain of a lot of traffic if you're caching it with this excellent plug-in.
Because comment spam can get so bad, WordPress now ships with the Akismet spamfiltering plug-in. Since I'm requiring user registration to leave comments on my WordPress blog, I don't have any experiencewith how good Akismet is (and haven't had any spam at all), but word on the street is it's absolutely essential for sites withopen comments. Like WordPress.com stats, Akismet requiresa WordPress.com API key.