Darren Rowse’s ProBlogger blog concluded its latest “Group Writing Project” today, an exercise that he runs on his blog every once in a while which involves his faithful readers submitting blog post links to him so that he can compile them all and publish a nicely formatted list of all the links, including post titles and blogger names. He used to compile the posts by hand, after receiving emails that he gets from his contact form, and this process used to take him days to do.
Here’s what he said about my plugin:
The reason there was such a long gab between this writing project and the last one is that previously running these projects has been so much work as I’ve had to manually copy and paste every entry from emails into posts. This time however I was lucky enough to have Gary King develop a WP plugin that would do the task for me so that all I had to do at the end of each day was copy and paste the list of submissions into a post with my intro. Seeing the numbers of entries we had confirms the decision to go this route – Gary has literally saved me days worth of work. Thanks Mate.
For this latest Group Writing Project, he asked me to write a script for him which would automate as many of these tasks for him as possible. I did this by creating a WordPress plugin that can be found here; it automates almost all of the tasks that Darren needed to do prior to the creation of this plugin. Namely, the plugin automatically creates an HTML-formatted list of blog post titles, which are automatically linked to their respective blog posts, and appends the blogger’s name to the end of the line. Let us start with the form shown below, which is the form that I created where users interact with:
Once the form is submitted, a link is created and appears like this:
What happens in the WordPress admin is that all of this information is actually placed into a drafted post, meaning all Darren has to do is go to the post entitled ‘Group writing project – LATEST’, copy the links in that post to a NEW post that he plans on publishing that same day, and then submit it! It’s just a simple matter of copying and pasting existing content! So, we’ve changed his workflow from several hours of copying and pasting links individually, to copying and pasting one big chunk of text, which takes only a few seconds.
A side effect that has cropped up from all of this is the fact that MORE people are submitting links because the form makes it MUCH easier to do, rather than being required to use a contact form which does not have separate text fields for each required item (post title, link, and blogger name). This also creates the issue of having unformatted content in the contact form, meaning the blogger can put the required information in whatever order they desire, whereas for the new submission form, the content is standardized so that it TELLS the user to enter the information in a text field specifically for each required data.
A few minor things that I’ve also added are that duplicated submissions are blocked so that we try and make every submission a unique one, and that all names and emails are automatically added to a draft post that is separate from the one that has all the links.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post explaining a bit about how I created this particular WordPress plugin for Darren. I’ve got a few more lined up, so stay tuned!