In the best blogs, authors aren't just speaking their minds, they're engaging with their audience. You want to cultivate and respond to your readers' comments, and a good way to promote discussion is to make it as easy as possible for readers to reply to your posts.
Subscribe to Comments adds an optional checkbox to your comment form. WordPress normally requires an e-mail address from all comment authors; Subscribe to Comments uses this information to inform comment authors of all additional comments posted after theirs. Comment authors can choose to unsubscribe themselves at any time, or the blog's administrator can manually unsubscribe users. (Click image below for larger view)
Without this plug-in, visitors to your site may leave questions without ever coming back to see the answers. Subscribe to Comments is an easy way to encourage back-and-forth not just between blogger and reader, but also among readers as well.
You wouldn't publish a post without first clicking the "Preview" button in order to see it as your readers will see it, would you? And shouldn't your readers have the same option? When they write a response to a blog post, they'll find a "Preview" button beneath the comment field if the AJAX Comment Preview plug-in is installed. (Click image below for larger view)
With AJAX Comment Preview, readers' comments will be translated into their final appearance without the page needing to be refreshed; comment authors will then be able to tweak their text before clicking "Submit Comment." Not only a handy proofreading tool, AJAX Comment Preview is also an excellent way for your readers to test whether your site accepts HTML, BBCode or wikitext markup languages.
But wait, there's more!
While these 10 plug-ins make WordPress a more powerful platform, there are many others that provide basic or fun features.
For example, every blogger needs to think about how to handle spam; fortunately, WordPress comes bundled with Akismet, an excellent place to start (and, in most cases, stop) dealing with the problem of junk e-mail.
If you haven't upgraded to WordPress 2.8, which auto-adjusts for daylight-saving time, the Automatic Timezone plug-in will perform the same function.
Easy Admin Color Schemes changes the aesthetics of the WordPress administration panel, while WP Greet Box presents custom greetings to visitors tailored to the site they're coming from, such as Facebook or Twitter.
There's much more that WordPress can do, but these plug-ins will ensure that you're well equipped with tools that meet the most basic needs of a professional blogger.
What other plug-ins do you recommend? Leave a comment with your suggestions!
This story, "10 Free WordPress Plug-ins Make Blogging Better" was originally published by Computerworld.