The Coolest Thing I’ve done with WordPress in 2013

Last June, there was a critical Presidential election in Iran, An election that fooled all the traditional surveys and predictions, but I predicted the actual result with the highest accuracy using WordPress!

Living outside Iran, I followed the process of Iran’s 2013 election on the internet and other social media. A few hours before the polls opened, I published a statistical graph on Facebook and Twitter, the last in a series of predictions. As it turned out, that graph and others that I published during the weeks preceding the election were the most accurate statistical analysis among a range of predictions by news outlets as well as polling institutes inside and outside Iran.

Measuring public opinion could be widely applied in social studies, public relations, marketing and politics. In this article I try to explain how I did this. I will also try to point out the strengths and weaknesses of my and others’ analysis. It may be worth noting from the outset that my analysis was in no shape or form influenced by political speculation. And at no point did I intend to campaign for a certain candidate. In fact, for reasons out of the scope of this article, I didn’t vote in the 2013 election. My analysis, as elaborated in this article, like any other scientific research, has been solely based on existing data with no room for my personal views.

What I did was an indirect measuring of public view. I looked at the ‘trace’ Iranians left behind on the internet: people’s words, curiosities, questions, hopes and concerns, all of which they would discuss on social networks, search in Google or write about in blogs and new sites. In this method I didn’t have to ask people about their votes. I didn’t have to prepare a questionnaire as is usually done in any poll. Instead of asking individuals in a sample population, in this method we look at all that’s published and shared on social networks. In the case of a major event, such as an election, this public, existing information is called Big Data – which is identified, collected, and assessed in different ways.

The Beauty of This Kind of Survey is to Get the Most Honest Answer From the Public Without Asking a Single Question!

Figure-4

Sources picked, one has to extract their data. To do this I used the ‘feeds’ and API, looking for certain keywords or hashtags. For other data with a smaller size (e.g. Google Trend), I used Excel and manually stored what I needed. For data gathered via feeds and API, however, I needed a database. Here I used WordPress as interface and as the link between content and the database. (Each tweet is turned into a post in WordPress so that all the data can be stored in MySQL database. It would then be possible to search and process the raw data with PHP My Admin.

There are a number of sites as well as online programs for data analysis, some limited, some advanced, some free, some costing a fortune. The one I utilized, however, was one I have developed myself. I needed a cheap yet reliable option – specially with content in Persian.

I love WordPress because of its flexibility, you can use it as a canvas for any type of application, some define WordPress as the best interface between Data and Applications, Some say WordPress is the Web OS, I like to call WordPress an app engine or even a social engine.

It’s crucial in any analysis to distinguish between the various types of collected data in terms of their importance/significance. A tweet about the election, a comment on Facebook, a search in Google, or a blog post, each has a different ‘weight’. I had to estimate, as accurately as possible, the ratio of Iranians on Twitter (or those using Google as their search engine) to the entire population. I then gave ‘weight’ to each ‘source’ of data accordingly.

If you are interested to read the whole story of this survey please refer to the article that I had published in Iran Opinion.

 

 

WordPress Klout Influencers

2013 Top 20 #WordPress Influencers According to #Klout

Here is the list of WordPress Influencers according to Klout.

Klout calculates and ranks influence of people and brands across social media based on the volume and types of social interactions on different networks including: Twitter, Facebook, WordPress.com, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Foursquare, Bing Search etc.

top wordpress influencers

top WordPress influencers

Here is the list of 2013 top 20 WordPress Influencers and their Twitter Handle:

WordPress.org @WordPress, WPBeginner @wpbeginner, Matt Mullenweg @PhotoMatt, WordPress.com @wordpressdotcom

Joost De Valk @Yoast, WPMU @wpmuorg, Andrew Nacin @nacin, Lorelle VanFossen @lorelleonwp,

WP Tavern @wptavern, Brian Gardber @bgardner, Nathan Rice @nathanrice,  Justin Tadlock @justintadlock,

WordPress Freelance @wpfreelance, Ian Stewart @iandstewart, Lisa Sabin-Wilson @LisaSabinWilson, Jeff Starr @perishable,

WPCandy @wpcandy, Studio Press @StudioPress, J W @janeforshort, Brad Williams @williamsba,

All WordPress News @allWordpress, WP Engineer @wpengineer, Elegant Themes @ElegantThemes, Alex King @alexkingorg

 Note: This List is populated by Klout and does not mean anything more or less.

If you like this post; give me a +K at Klout

Bring “Trackers Transparency” to #WordPress Plugin Repository

This post is a fundamental yet humble statement to make awareness and asking for an action in order to bring transparency to the “Trackers” that are being installed in WordPress sites along with the plugins that are available in WordPress.org plugin repository.

Background:

In this post the term  “Trackers” addresses the “tracking codes”, it means the codes and/or scripts that collect certain information about activities, functions and behaviour of a website, its users and  visitors. Codes for the  Stat Counters are most common types of the “trackers”. I need to clarify not all the trackers are harmful, suspicious, unwanted or hidden.

Few weeks back I installed WordPress directly on a web-server to make only one page for a showcase purpose.  Right after the installation  I activated only 2 plugins; 1. Akismet 2. A sharing button plugin ¹.

As usual after activating the plugins, I returned to the front-end to see if everything is alright, then I noticed Ghostery² notifications show thirteen trackers. I check the list of trackers provided by Ghostery and double checked the list by using “Built With” browser add-on³ . There were five trackers not related to any social network included in sharing buttons, and I never heard about three of the trackers. Having a fresh install of WordPress, the default theme and Akismet as the only other plugin, puts the  existence of all the trackers on the sharing plugin’s account.

Finding these trackers which are sending data to some advertising systems made me try some other plugins, and I’m a bit shocked by the result. There are many trackers that use WordPress plugins as a carrier to collect information from the sites using those plugins.

Why the trackers create an important concern?

There are a plenty of reasons and risks that should make us cautious about the trackers. Here are some of the reasons and vulnerabilities:

– Activities of these trackers are clearly against WordPress Plugin guidelines.  The clause 7 states: “No “phoning home” without user’s informed consent” and “No unauthorized collection of user data”. These trackers can also be subject to clause 9: “The plugin must not do anything illegal, or be morally offensive.”

– WordPress now and only a decade after creation is the world’s number one CMS with tens of millions of users including: developers, designers, webmasters, editors, authors and bloggers. Everyday WordPress powered sites and applications are visited and viewed billions of times by all the internet users. Allowing the hidden trackers to function in WordPress atmosphere is a social privacy issue in a global scale.

– Many of the users who install and work with WordPress are non-technical people. They are using WordPress because of the trust, flexibility and amazing features offered by WordPress and its rich plugins. Yet these  people might be unable to detect threats or risks that trackers may cause. WordPress must hold on its principles and protect these users from being used with no consent and awareness.

– Even if the hidden trackers cause no risk a user has the absolute right to decide whether to allow or disallow data collection by an advertising platform or any other third-party.

– There was a time when a few voices were alerting about the massive surveillance through the internet giants such as Google, Microsoft and Facebook. Most of us did not want to listen, some of us even called those voices illusionistic and took their message as “conspiracy theories”, It was only after Edvard Snowden’s story and  NSA leaks that many of us faced the truth.

We never know; if we don’t stop the unwanted and hidden trackers now, When we might face the unwanted consequences.

– WordPress name is fairly bonded with Open Source, GPL, Freedom of Software,  Community Development, Defending Freedom of Internet, Liberalising Publishing and so on. How on the earth we shall allow such the innocent brand, fame and respectable values be possibly undermined because of the trackers!

– There are countless of decent and professional developers who contributed their talent and skills to the world by sharing their priceless plugins on WordPress repository. My memory and limits of a blog post don’t allow me to mention their names and their great softwares, yet as an example I would like to highlight  the professionalism of Joost de Valk(Yoast) a developer that  his  WordPress Plugins have been downloaded 13,928,900 times by the time I’m writing this post. About a year back when Yoast needed to collect usage data via his famous SEO plugin. He simply released an update and made the plugin asks for users permission. I’m sure many of the users accepted, and his plugin has evolved greatly by including latest “Social SEO” features. Keeping silence against trackers is helping no one it stops the productivity, and it’s certainly unfair to the decent developers and harmful to the whole community.

How to Bring Transparency?

It’s not  about stopping the current trackers via the plugin repository What we need is the transparency not a ban. Trackers are useful in many cases, and we have to use them unless a tracker is harmful.

If someone asks Can transparency hurt the popularity of the plugins?

The answer is: Not at all, The highest level of transparency is the “Open Source” itself. Can we imagine where WordPress would be now if it was not an Open Source platform? First Step is to believe that in many ways transparency is helpful for all of us.

The whole WP ecosystem including paid plugins and themes should be transparent about the trackers, as well.

The solution should be according to WordPress policy that encourages developing plugins with a minimum hassle and avoids complex regulations.

The Solution should also be scalable, considering  the volume of the job for the review team.

There are more than 28000 plugins in the repository, and I guess the number grows about 20% per year. We need to include updates too, It all shows asking the plugin review team to be more detailed about the trackers is not a productive approach.

The solution must come from the community and get done by the community.

The ground is only ready if people at the WordPress Foundation and Automattic acknowledge the trackers transparency is a priority. Then they have both experience and skill to offer a suitable solution.

“Trackers Transparency” Pyramid:

It’s a sample roadmap to deploy trackers transparency through out the whole WordPress Ecosystem.

Trackers Transparency pyramid in WP Ecosystem

Trackers Transparency pyramid through the whole WP Ecosystem

After WordPress heads recognized to give a high priority to this issue and upon publishing a few blog posts by the major influencers, The community interactions will create awareness and ignite an online brainstorming to figure out the best approaches and practices.

Hopefully, The final goal of transparency is to encourage all WordPress Users ( Webmasters) to publicly announce all the trackers and cookies of their sites to the public ( visitors and viewers of WordPress Sites).

On the repository stage, maybe a simple badge system encourages plugin developers to list down the trackers included in their plugins somewhere along with plugins information. FAQ and “Other Notes” tabs provide a plenty of space for publishing a small list.

That’s all I had to say, I’ve started from this blog and here you can find the list of trackers. I hope this issue get the attention it deserves through the whole community and specially by the WordPress icons and influencers.

Footnotes:

1. I do not intend to reveal “the sharing button” plugin that made me to address the trackers issue. But it’s easy to try, install a WordPress site and add some plugins and find out the trackers they inject into your site without your consent.

2. Ghostery is an app installable of all the major web-browsers to identify and block the trackers that are active on the websites you visit. More Info: http://www.ghostery.com/

3. “BuiltWith” is a company that tracks technology trends with very sophisticated tools. Luckily they still offer a free browser add-on. More Info: Builtwith.com

disclaimer: This Weblog  does not contain any type of promotional content and/or affiliation links. The information I share  is based on my best knowledge and honest opinions, Please feel free to share your feedbacks and show that you like the independent and non-commercialized blogging by sharing this post.

*WordPress Icon Credit at the featured image: Mike Koeng

King or Lamb training Cover

Why The King or Lamb is an Authorship Course and not a Book?

Only a couple of weeks before launching the King or Lamb, I would like to share few reasons that why I created this course while a part of my target audience who are writers and authors are more likely to read books instead of discovering via an online course?

What is the King or Lamb course all about?

The course contains a collection of different knowledge, measures and practices to help content creators and authors protect their royalty, authorship, social reputation and copyright while they create a self-sustaining influence.

Pre-Launch Discount Coupons 

The King or Lamb Copyright & Authorship Course includes:

  • Legal Information specific to the online content and new concepts of IP, it also teaches easy technical measures for making your content synchronized with the web and mobile and amplify your word through social media.
  • The course also helps the content creators to attach a set of valid digital mark ups and authorship tags to their content in order to prevent content theft and to minimize the risk of any copyright claims against them.
  • It is an online course including information related to copyright laws(General and DMCA) , web editorial, SEO, Social Media Applications, Microformats, Feed and content syndication, yet all the interested participants including writers, editors, journalists, bloggers and marketers can easily take this course without any technical or programming background.More details about this course.

Back to the Post Title:

The King or Lamb is important to me, because its my first course being launched as a part of “Social Privacy” project. Through this project in next few month I’m going to launch a set of unique and practical courses targeting topics such as Authorship, Social Influence, Web Applications and Tutorials etc.

Since I believe our generation is the first generation ever that faces the effects and impacts of Internet, the social web and a new way of communication. We need to use the same technology to learn and get adapted to all the frequent changes and to obtain all the necessary knowledge we need.

After over ten years experience of practicing business online, creating and establishing different online and printed media and over 40 websites, during the last two years I was somehow forced to do nothing else and dedicate all my time learning and trying every site, tool, apps and information I could find and track about social media, its applications and impacts.

I had few options in the ways that I could practice, share and utilize what I learned through out the years. First choice is to launch one or more projects to become a start-up, second option was to publish a book, the third option was to teach. Sharing as a hint; getting a job and employment has never been an option for me.

I did not write a book because a book in general is a media that’s been created back in the ancient history soon after the stone age, and it’s been the best way of sharing knowledge and thoughts throughout the history, let me remark it again “the History”, How about now?

 Books are still an applicable form of sharing knowledge in many fields, in my opinion writing a book about social media would only be an effort for documenting  what’s happened during the first decade of the social web.

Any book including some common eBook formats are soon getting out of date and less useful, and they only contain text and images, it’s not really a proper way to share knowledge and specially tutorials about the sites, systems, apps and every other thing which is constantly changes and evolves.

As an example that’s familiar for most of the internet users, look at all the changes happen in Facebook, There are about 300 bugs being tracked and resolved every week ¹, no season passes without a major change in Facebook’s layout, privacy policy, user interface, fan pages, API etc. For other sites, apps and tools the story is the same or they have even more changes, how I’m supposed to write and publish a book and my readers can rely on it practically?

I had deep research on different methods, platforms and formats for publishing or self-publishing books and eBooks, I’ve written few articles about “How To” & methods of publishing books I may even launch a course sharing my approach to creating and marketing eBooks and publications methods, but honestly I don’t see a way that a book can be used to teach many things related to social media and its applications.

Yet there are many people who are adopted to books more than recent information canvases, so writing and publishing a book about social web or apps may be commercially feasible but can’t be the best practice, technically.

I did not choose to launch a start-up mostly because where I’m located, start-up founders or angel investors, and the necessary legal framework don’t exists. Yet instead of launching a project with high development cost I decided to launch a start-up with few different cross-related products and services and a deep focus on education because I love it, and the rapid growth of internet users and their needs makes me feel it’s never too late to start.

Yet the courses that are being offered are designed in a way that regular updates are possible with less time and resource and despite many book formats, the courses contain both multi-media and interacting sections. The online courses can contain more information and learning tools in compare with books and the course itself is a socializing platform with all the benefits of social learning.

Well, based on all I shared above the King or Lamb is important to me, there are few more points about the King or Lamb and other plans that I’ll write in next posts.

Get The King or Lamb Pre-Launch Discount Coupons 

1. Source: Facebook’s weekly developers newsletters report change logs and resolved issues, and the number of bugs and resolved issues, is usually about 300 per week.