FAQs

Why blog?
Why WordPress?
What is a weblog, and what are its composite parts?
Why is WordPress better than Blackboard?
How do I change my blog title?
How do I manage comments?
Why do I only see code buttons in the text editor?
What’s a feed?
What’s RSS?
How do I post an image gallery?
How do I upload an image or a document and place it in a post or page?
How do I insert a linked PDF into my post?
How much upload space do I have on Blogs@Baruch?
How do I import my existing blog to Blogs@Baruch?
How do I export my data from Blogs@Baruch?
What’s a plugin?
How do I make my front page a static page rather than a blog?
How do I make my blog look different?
What are widgets?
How do I get an avatar?
How do I password protect a page or post?
How do I embed YouTube videos?
How do I delete my blog?

Why blog?
Weblogs are powerful tools for members of a college community to communicate with one another, and also beyond the boundaries of the campus. Blogs can be used by faculty members in teaching their courses, by students to produce, disseminate, and compile their work, and by administrators interested in providing resources to and communicating with members of the college community.

Why WordPress?
Wordpress is the most robust, flexible, and user-friendly blogging package available. It’s also a free, open source application, and deploying it ties Baruch bloggers into a broad, international community of users who are thinking about and experimenting around the implications of new technology on the way we communicate and interact with the world around us.

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What is a weblog, and what are its composite parts?
Inspired by this Wiki page (which was inspired by this blog post, below you’ll find a diagram that lays out the basic terminology for the contents of a weblog.

What you see above is the front end of the Institute’s weblog, Cac.ophony.org. Weblogs have front ends, which display on the web, and back ends or administrative areas, which require logging in. Blogs are administered via their back end.

Writing on a weblog appears in three primary locations:

* Posts are individual items or articles on front end of the blog that display in reverse chronological order; the most recent Post is always at the top of the blog. Posts are written in the back end by individual authors
* Comments are wedded to each Post, and allow for discussion of the content of that Post. Comments can be written by clicking on the comments link of an individual blog post on the front end. Comments can be edited or deleted by the blog administrator via the back end of the blog
* Pages act like individual Posts, but are static and live outside of the chronology of the blog. They are accessible via links in the sidebar and/or tabs at the top of the page, and are created in the back end of the blog

Why is WordPress better than Blackboard?
It’s not. Well, it is. But that’s not the point. Blackboard is a course management system, while WordPress is a flexible blogging/personal publishing platform. Blackboard’s strength is in its administrative functionality. All students registered for a course will be automatically granted access to a specific course’s Blackboard site. Faculty members can easily email students, access a class roster, and keep and submit grades through the interface. There is even (limited) blog and wiki functionality built into Blackboard. Blackboard sites are accessible only to registered members of the course and their faculty, unless a visitor is invited.

WordPress blogs allow faculty members more control over their content, how they relate and link to the outside world. The aesthetics of a WordPress blog are much more open and flexible than a Blackboard, which has direct pedagogical benefits. Though registering your class for an account on Blogs@Baruch is a step Blackboard does not require, students are well-equipped to assume responsibility for managing their own accounts; in fact, exposing them to methods account management in a structured environment is a legitimate goal of higher education. WordPress more easily links in a variety of media than does Blackboard, offers more portable content, and allows the foregrounding of pedagogy by stripping away the administrative feel of a course management system.

Of course, there’s room for both of these platforms, and though they overlap in certain ways, it is best not to think of them as competitors. It is useful for colleges to offer their community a variety of technological solutions, and incumbent upon users to become informed about the options available to them to to craft solutions that fit the goals of the project.

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How do I change my blog title?
To change the title of your blog go to the Settings tab in the administrative backend and you will see a field for blog title as well as a field for the site tagline–which is a space for a brief description of your site. Just type in a new title or tagline and save the changes.

How do I manage comments?
Part of the logic of a blog is allowing people to comment on your work. Comments offer a way to have a discussion about a particular post.

You can manage comments on your blog through the Comments menu, and control the rules for them in the Settings>Discussion submenu.

Additionally, when writing a post, you can turn off the comments on a post-by-post basis by clicking on the Discussion section of the right-hand sidebar and un-checking the comments field.

Keep in mind that comments are extremely vulnerable to spammers. Blogs@Baruch will do all it can to protect your blog from spammers, but inevitably, some slip through, You will see them show up in your ‘Comments cue; you can delete them or mark them as spam.

Why do I only see code buttons in the text editor?
If, for some reason, you don’t see a visual text editor then you have to enable this option in the Users tab in the Your Profile section.

In the top-left hand corner of the Your Profile page there is a check box that says “Use the visual text editor when writing” -make sure this box is checked. After that, editing your blog will be much, much more intuitive.

If this does not work, another potential cause of the problem is that you are using Apple’s Safari web browser. Try another browser (we highly recommend Firefox), and see if the problem persists.

What’s a feed?
A feed is a way to subscribe to blog posts, comments, etc. You can subscribe to a feed using an RSS reader such as Google Reader or Bloglines.

What is RSS?
Here’s a great little movie that explains RSS in plain English…

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How do I upload an image or a document and place it in a post or page?
You can easily upload images and documents, such as a photograph, course calendar, or syllabus, into a post or page. Doing this is relatively straightforward.

Go to Write>’Post (or Page ) and look for the Add media button that looks like a gray asterisk.

When you click on that button, a dialog box will appear offering you the option to upload a file from your hard drive, or to link directly to a file that is already online. Once you have located your file (whether on your hard drive or online) click on the Upload button or Insert into Post button respectively.

If uploading a file from your hard drive, you will get a dialog box asking you to title the document, as well as to provide a caption and description (both of which are optional). Once you are done, click on the Insert into Post button, and the image will appear in the post dialogue wherever your cursor was placed. You can then click on the image to adjust its size, alignment, and padding.

Posting Image Galleries

Preparing Images for Gallery Display

  • To post a photo gallery to your course blog, you will first need to make sure that your images are digitized and optimized for display on the web.
  • To display properly using the blog’s gallery feature, your images should be no wider or taller than 800 pixels. You can use Photoshop, if you have access to it, to create a version of your image file that is no wider or taller than 800 px, and then use the “Save For Web” option to create an optimized version. Or, if you use iPhoto, you can export a copy of your image file set to a maximum size of 800 pixels.

Posting Your Gallery to the Blog

  • Click on “Posts -> Add New”
  • Give your Post a title.
  • Place your cursor in the Write Post field
  • Click on the square icon above the post editor next to the text “Upload/Insert”
  • Click “Choose files to upload” or “Choose File” (which option you see will depend on the browser you are using)
  • Upload images— some browsers will allow you to upload all of your images at once, while others will force you to upload one at a time
  • To add captions: after images have uploaded, click “Show” next to each image thumbnail to add a caption; be sure to click “Save all changes” after you’re done
  • After images have uploaded, click “Save all changes”
  • Choose options for how you want your gallery to display, then click “Insert gallery”
  • You will see a graphic in the body of your post, or perhaps the text [ gallery ] (without the spaces)
    • You can write an introduction to your gallery in the space below that  text, add categories for your post, and, when you’re ready to post your work to the blog, click “publish.”
  • You can always edit your post and the information in the gallery by clicking on the Manage tab in the Administrative Area of the blog, and then the Post’s title.

How do I insert a linked PDF into my post?

  1. Upload the PDF as you would an image
  2. Click “Show” to reveal file option after the upload (if these aren’t already visible)
  3. Give the file a title
  4. Click “File Url” to fill in the Link URL field with the path to the file
  5. Click Insert into Post
  6. This will place the title, hyperlinked to the pdf, directly into your post. You can edit that text, as long as it stays hyperlinked.

How much upload space do I have on Blogs@Baruch?
As of now you have 15 MB of upload space. If you need more, please contact us with the details.

Additionally, you cannot upload a single file that is larger than 3 MB.

If you are uploading large pdf files or images it may be preferable to use an outside service that you can integrate with Blogs@baruch such as Flickr for your photos, YouTube for your videos, and/or DivShare for your files. This is probably the best practice, for if you ever want to move your blog to another service you will have persistent links to documents, videos, and images that you will not have to update for the blog when it is moved.

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How do I import my existing blog to Blogs@Baruch?
You can import a blog from numerous other blogging platforms such as WordPress, MoveableType, Blogger, LiveJournal, TypePad, Grey Matter, TextPattern, DotClear, and RSS.

Note: To import your blog from an application other than WordPress, please read your respective blogging platforms details for exporting your data.

Once you have exported your data from your blog, go to the Manage>Import subtab. From here click on the respective blog type you are importing. Browse for the file (which will most likely be an XML file) and click import.

Once you’re done here, you will be taken to a page that will ask you to map authors, if you are importing a blog with numerous contributors, you may want to allow each author to be associated with their respective blog posts. After that, click the submit button and the import should begin immediately.

One note of caution: Depending on your blog application, you may not be able to import pages, links, and theme customization.

How do I export my data from Blogs@Baruch?
Exporting your blog from Blog@Baruch is easy, but there are some important issues you may want to keep in mind

To export your data from Blogs@Baruch, you need to do an export for your blog (or an individual export for each and every blog you have on this service). You do this in the Manage>Export subtab. When you export your blog you will be given an XML file that stores all of the posts, pages, and comments for your entire blog.

Important: If your blog has a series or documents that you uploaded directly, you will need to contact us in order to get copies of all those files. Once you have these files and upload them to your new space, be sure to change the URLs to reflect the location of your blog. Additionally, you will need to update the URLs to images and documents in your new blog in order for them to work. This might all be avoided if you use a third-party service like Flickr for images and Google Docs for documents to avoid chasing broken URLs -for these links to images and documents will not change, even if your blog address does -very convenient when moving your data.

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What’s a plugin?
A plugin is a third-party application that interacts with WordPress to provide a certain, usually very specific, function for your blog or web space. For example, if you have a flickr account you can use the flickrRSS plugin to bring photos into your blog space.

How do I make my front page a static page rather than a blog?
To make your front page a static page rather than a blog you need to create a static page that you would like as your front page. Then go into the Options tab and then click on the Reading subtab.

Select the radio button that says a “static page” and select the page you created for the front page.

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How do I make my blog look different?
You can change the look and feel of your blog using the Design tab. When you click on the Design tab you’ll notice you have over 120 themes for your site to choose from.

WordPress paginates the themes and provides users with a preview of each theme that they can either activate or close to select another theme to preview.

If you need to do specific customizations of your theme for whatever reason, this is possible; just contact us for more details.
How do I add a custom image to the header of my blog?

Not all themes allow you to add a custom header image. In fact, each theme has its own options through which you can customize the look and feel of your blog, so the theme in effect is much more than just look and feel -it is also functionality and possibility.

Below is a list of themes that allow for a customized header image:

* Ambiru
* Anubis
* BeachLand
* Blix
* BlueSky
* CityScape
* Contempt
* Cutline
* Fauna Beta 2
* Fjords
* Flex
* Freshy 1.0
* iLoveMusic
* K2 0.9.1
* LetoPrime 0.9.6
* MistyLook 3.3.1
* Mother Nature
* Ocean Mist
* PressRow
* Regulus 2.2
* Rubric
* SeaShore
* Semiologic 4.3.2
* Striped Plus 1.0
* Steam 1.0
* Sumenep
* Tarski 1.5
* TechLand
* WordPress Default 1.6

What are widgets?
Widgets is just a silly buzzword for the functionality built-in to WordPress that allows you to customize the sidebar of your WordPress site without knowing HTML. You can use widgets to add a list of recent photos, comments, flickr photos, del.icio.us links, and much more.

You can find your widgets in the Design>Widgets subtab.

You may also get access to more widget as you activate new plugins, for many of the plugins available have an associated widget -such as flickrRSS. Read [[Intermediate_Wordpress this page] for more instructions on using Widgets and Plugins.

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How do I get an avatar?
Go to the Gravatar website and associate an avatar of your choice with the email you use on Blogs@Baruch. Gravatar is an external service that links Avatars with e-mail addresses so that anytime you comment on another blog with that e-mail address your avatar will show up (if that blog is Gravatar enabled).

All Blogs@Baruch provide the ability to enable Gravatars, just go to Design>Gravatar and check the enable “Enable Gravatars on your blog” button.

How do I password protect a page or post?
Password protecting a post or page is quite simple. All you need to do is look for the “post password” or “page password” in the “Advanced Options” section of a Write Post or Write Page page and enter a value into the text field. This value can be whatever you want it to be, but if you want others to see what is in this page or post, you will have to share the password with them.

How do I embed YouTube videos?
You have at least two options for embedding YouTube videos. And, in truth, embedding a video from most online video services has never been easier.

* Copy and Paste Embed Code: This is simply a process of copying the embed code from a site like YouTube into the HTML tab of the text editor.

* Vipers Video Quicktags: Click the “YouTube” icon on your Visual editor; insert the url for the YouTube movie you wish to embed.

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How do I delete my blog?

Deleting a blog on Blogs@Baruch is simple. Go into the administrative backend of your blog and click on the Settings tab. From there select the Delete Blog subtab and check the box and click on the “Delete My Blog Permanently” button.

Once you have done this, you will receive a confirmation e-mail at your Baruch email address to re-confirm that you want to delete your blog. Just click on the link and your blog will be history. Keep in mind there is no way to get it back once you have confirmed this deletion.
How do I get more help for issues not listed here?

If there is an issue or question you have that you don’t see here then contact us and we’ll be sure to both answer your question as well as update this knowledge base so that everyone can benefit from your contribution (anonymously of course).