WordPress platform upgrade waiting in the wings.

We are always working to stay current with the WordPress blogging software releases – both for security and to provide the latest-and-greatest features – as such we’ll be upgrading our WordPress installation in the coming week. We have been busy testing the compatibility of existing themes and plugins as well as new ones that will be installed after the upgrade.

WordPress 3.8 is functionally identical to what we’re running now and shouldn’t cause any problems or confusion on a technical level, but there have been many changes made to the interface styling.

As the upgrade is a necessary step, we wanted to make sure our blogging community was aware now of the upcoming change. Because the management interface is styled differently it will be a noticeable change, or as it was put in a previous post on the same topic: “Probably better, but definitely different.”

Harvard Blogs Survey

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Removing the slimstats plugin permanently . . .

We are removing the slimstats plugin entirely because:

  1. It hasn’t functioned properly since we implemented the frontend page cache ages ago,
  2. It has always been inaccurate and slow,
  3. It requires a huge amount of space in the database, and
  4. You can enable and install google analytics to keep track of visitors to your blog.

We will not be retaining the old slimstats analytics data, it was wildly inaccurate to begin with and even more so after the page cache was put in place. We will work to implement the open source piwik analytics for a completely free alternative, but we don’t have a specific deadline yet.

Thanks for your understanding!

Site Blackout plugin

A site blackout plugin has been installed on blogs.law. We had several requests for this feature from bloggers. However our creation of this blackout plugin does not constitute an official endorsement of a specific cause or policy. Bloggers on blogs.law always have complete control over the messaging on their blogs. Please consider this plugin another tool to increase the impact of your voice.


  1. As a site administrator, enable the “Berkman Site Blackout” plugin under your sites “Plugins” menu.
  2. Configure the plugin under your blogs’ “Settings” -> “Site Blackout” page. Feel free to use the text from my site.

The options should be fairly self-explanatory, but to clarify:

  • “Page title” is the large text that appears “above the fold”.
  • “Page link” is the URL that this text links to.
  • “Message” is the message text – be sure to include a link to a site that a visitor can take action from.

WordPress upgraded to 3.3.1

We’re now running wordpress 3.3.1, the latest and greatest from Automattic. This is a bugfix release of the 3.3 release, AKA “Sonny”. About this release. . .

New Plugin – WordPress.com Custom CSS

We’ve installed a new plugin to let you use custom CSS styling on your blog. Have fun!

Keep in mind some CSS features are sanitized/removed for security’s sake, including:

  • HTML code
  • @import rules
  • expressions
  • invalid and unsafe code
  • URLs not using the http: protocol

Google analytics plugin installed

We’ve installed a google analytics plugin – you should see a “Google Analytics” choice under your “Settings” menu in the wordpress backend.

We’ve also installed a network-wide google analytics code to let us see activity on a broader basis. This doesn’t disclose any information to the blogs.law tech team that isn’t already available in the web server logs.  We may not keep this network-wide tracking code in place permanently, depending on how well it jibes with our internal site-wide analytics.

Thanks for your patience, a lot of you have been waiting for better analytics for quite some time.

blogs.law.harvard.edu updated to WordPress 3.2

Short and simple – we’ve updated to WordPress 3.2. The video on this post about the new release goes through the new features pretty thoroughly.

Thanks for blogging!

Scheduled Downtime this Friday, 6/10

The datacenter that hosts blogs.law.harvard.edu is shutting down from Friday 6/10/2011 at 9pm to approximately Saturday 6/11/2011 to 9am, a duration of 12 hours.  This maintenance window is necessary to allow University Information Services to upgrade power infrastructure.

Most Harvard staff, students, and employees should already be aware of this planned outage, but we were remiss in notifying our non-local or alumni bloggers earlier. We apologize for the short notice.

We will be returning 503 error codes for page requests. More info on why at google’s webmaster central blog.  We will have staff and extra equipment on hand to ensure a smooth transition.



Updated to WordPress 3.1

Please see this post for details on new features in WordPress 3.1. Most noticeable will be the site wide toolbar you see when you’re logged in.

Also, be sure to check out the “Gravity Forms” plugin, which is a great way to create custom forms to collect data or create feedback systems for your blog.