Last evening I noticed on twitter:

And jumped in without thinking too much.

Rich (@richardtape) was providing drop in support on a Google Hangout. Rich works at University of British Columbia which is, of course, organizing the Teaching with WordPress course I am trying to follow.

I had, for a short while, the floor to myself. Unfortunately I made poor use of the time, my teacup was too full. Rich was extremely patient and told me the answer to my problem several times, I just didn’t notice. Hopefully I’ve learned a lesson for the next time I have a similar opportunity (hoping against experience here).

The problem is the one described in the previous post. To display a question/assignment/challenge post along with responses to that post. Christina solved it with the loop shortcode plugin. We do not have that plugin on GlowBlogs.

Five Thirty am Enlightenment

After mulling over the problem in bed this morning I suddenly listened to Rich again. He had repeatedly told me the best way to do this would be RSS but I had focused on plugins and facilities we do not have (yet?) in GlowBlogs.

So the way I would solve this in Glow blogs would be to use RSS widgets, to pull in responses. These responses would be on the same blog as the questions (but could be pulled in with the syndication plugin, or on another blog that does the aggregation). The widget would only be displayed on the post with the question as it would have a unique category. The responses would have a unique category or tag.

Here is a quick example: Challenge 2 Red.

On that post you can see the challenge (show something red). In the sidebar there is a widget showing a list of posts tagged red. This only shows up on the challenge page. I’ve added some information to the post to give more details.

There are a couple of drawbacks to this method.

  1. It is a bit fiddly for the person setting up the challenge. They need to create a widget per challenge and a category per challenge.
  2. The RSS update is not immediate. A WordPress query would be better.

I would be interested in using it for something like the bootcamp and see how it goes.

7 thoughts on “RSS is an Answer

  1. That’s very much like what I do with Gravity Forms and the Display Posts plugin (not sure if you have either). It’s documented here for what it’s worth. If you have Gravity Forms it’d allow you to guide the creation and auto create the shortcode for whatever widget. I’ve also built cut/paste HTML generators in Google Spreadsheets to help guide people towards making stuff like this when I didn’t have Gravity Forms. They’d fill in a few cells in the SS then cut and paste from the big green one into their post. Not pretty certainly but it works.

    • Hi Tom, thanks. I’ll be trying to find out if we can get display posts. Working round a lack of plugins at the moment. Glow Blog is a set of 33 multi sites with a lot of blogs so any plugin additions need a lot of planning & testing.
      The Google spreadsheet idea sound great. I’ll kick that around.

      • A multisite with sub-multisites? I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that. I’m curious how that works. What inspired that pattern?

        For better or worse, I’m running that plugin on a single multisite with 7500+ sites.

        Here’s one piece I wrote up on the spreadsheet HTML. It might make it make more sense.

        • Sorry Tom, bad description. Collection of 33 multi-sites. Possibility of bringing together as ‘network of networks’ but I don’t know much about that. Thanks for the large multisite info I’ll be mentioning that. Thanks too for the spreadsheet. I’ll check it out.

  2. Hey, this is a pretty easy way to get the job done w/o the plugin needed for the loop shortcode. RSS is pretty darn powerful. I didn’t realize you could have an RSS feed on a particular category in a widget. I also don’t know how to have a widget just on one post rather than on all pages. How do you get a widget to just show up on one post?

    • Hi Christina,
      How do you get a widget to just show up on one post?
      That is the kludgy bit. The post needs a unique category and I use the jetpack feature that lets you add a widget to a particular page or category or tag. This is not ideal, as you need tons of categories and your widget editor get confusing. I am asking for the ‘display_posts’ plugin over here.

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