Documentation:UBC Blogs/FAQ

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Frequently asked questions about the UBC Blogs platform. UBC Blogs is an university hosted weblogging and social networking platform designed to provide free individual or group webspace for the UBC community.

Contents

Squarefaq.png Getting Started

How do I get an account?

To get started on UBC Blogs you will need a valid CWL account, if you have this go to the sign-up page which will redirect you to CWL authentication. Once authorized you will be directed to the blogs sign up page. Enter a username and e-mail address. From here you can either choose to be a UBC Blog account holder or choose to create a blog.

How do I navigate around UBC Blogs?

There are two main ways to navigate on UBC Blogs. First, once you've logged-in, at the top of every page is a dark gray navigation bar. Placing the cursor on "My Account" will show a drop down list for your profile, friends, groups, activity, settings, etc. Click on the link to get to any of those sections. Placing the cursor on "My Blogs" will show you a drop down list of all of your blogs. Placing the cursor over the name of any blog will generate a list of links to the dashboard, creating new posts, managing comments, and managing older posts.

Another way to navigate through UBC Blogs is to click on your own avatar. This will take you to your profile and a light gray navigation bar will appear under your avatar. It has links to your activity, profile, blogs, messages, friends, groups, and settings.

What software does UBC Blogs use?

UBC Blogs runs on WordPress. WordPress is a state-of-the-art, open source, semantic personal publishing platform with a focus on aesthetics, web standards, and usability. Often associated with a blog, WordPress is much more than a blog- it is a simple and easy-to-use web publishing platform that can allow you to build a web presence with little or no fuss!

UBC Blogs is running a WordPress Multi-user installation which allows the UBC community to quickly sign up for and customize their own web publishing space. By extension, each member of the community can create as many distinct spaces as they like and begin experimenting with this space for teaching and learning. Social networking features were added to the UBC Blogs platform through a BuddyPress installation.

How much space does each user get?

The limit is 200Mb per blog but we can move this up by request

How long will the blog exist? Meaning, once a student graduates, will they still have access to the blogs they created?

There's no end date for this service. Alumni members are able to login with CWL account to access their blogs.

Squarefaq.png Privacy and Security

How do I change my privacy settings?

Protecting privacy at UBC Blogs is an important topic for us. Profiles and activity streams are, by default, set to private and invisible. To change profile privacy settings, on the dark gray navigation bar on the top of every page, click on My Account > Profile > Edit Profile and Privacy Settings.

You can also password protect individual blog pages and posts, as well as select more granular privacy settings for your entire blog or website.

To make an individual blog or site private, go to the specific blog's dashboard (to get there, using the dark gray navigation bar at the top of the screen, click on My Account > My Blogs > YourBlog > Dashboard). Click on the Privacy link under the Settings tab on the left hand side of the dashboard. From here, click on one of the the five options for controlling external access to your space.

How do I password protect a specific blog page or post?

Password protecting a specific blog post or page is quite simple. On the edit post page, look for “visibility” in the publish box on the right hand side. Click "edit", select "password protected" 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.

Why should I not use my CWL as my UBC Blogs Username?

Usernames, as well as Display Names, are always published and publicly viewable on UBC Blogs. There is no technical risk with other people knowing your CWL username; however, keeping CWL information private makes it more secure. Therefore, since Usernames and Display Names are always displayed on UBC Blogs, we recommend that you use something different from your CWL.

How do I delete my account?

To delete your account, log in to the site and look for the dark gray navigation bar at the top of the page. Click on My Account > Settings > Delete Account and follow the directions you see.

Squarefaq.png Profiles

What is the difference between a Username and Display Name?

Usernames are unique identifiers used in @mentions, your profile, and in URLs. Display Names are customizable account names (usually your first and last name) that show up in all activity on the UBC Blogs platform. For example, your Display Name is published when you leave a comment on a blog, if you author a blog post, or if you send a private message. Display names are not unique (for example, two people named John Smith may use "John Smith" as their Display Name).

How do I load a picture of myself (an "avatar") for appearing in my profile and other areas?

Most WordPress themes use the Gravatar service to generate user avatars in areas such as the comments section.

To set up your Gravatar account simply:

  1. Go to http://en.gravatar.com/
  2. Sign up by clicking on the sign up link and providing the email that is tied to your WordPress account
    • NOTE: Make sure that you provide the correct email
  3. Upload (or paste the URL of) the image you wish to use

That's it! You should now be able to view your "Gravatar" on all your WordPress blogs.

How do I change my Display Name?

  1. Using the dark gray bar at the top of the screen, select: My Account > Profile > Edit Profile and Privacy Settings
  2. To change your display name, re-write your preferred name in the ‘Name (required)’ field
  3. Select Save Changes

How do I change my email?

  1. Using the dark gray navigation bar at the top of every screen, select: My Account > Settings > General
  2. To change your email, re-write your preferred email in the ‘Email Address’ field
  3. Select Save Changes

Squarefaq.png Activity Streams, Notifications, Messages, and Friends

What is an "Activity Stream"?

Blog posts, joining groups, topics/replies posted in groups, status updates, and other activities are automatically recorded onto feeds called activity streams. You can view activity streams for groups, friends, your own profile, and for all activity site wide.

To hide your activity on the UBC Blogs, your activity stream can be set to "invisible" (which is the default setting). To change your Activity stream setting, go to Profile > Edit Profile and Privacy Settings.

You can also reply to any activities in any stream by:

  1. Click on Reply
  2. Write their message
  3. Click on Post

What are "notifications"?

The Notification link (on the top dark gray bar) indicates if you have a new message, friend request, or invitation to join a group.

What are @mentions and how are they used?

The @mention system links others to the hyperlinked profile of the individual while notifying the individual of the mention via email.

If you are trying to reach out to specific group members, simply put the @ symbol in front of their username and it will send a notification to their email address and show up in their @mention activity stream.

What are "friends"?

At UBC Blogs, "friending" is academic social networking: it enables us to contact one another and share resources and knowledge. By accepting a person's friend request you become part of his or her "network."

To accept a "friend request," you can either follow the link in the e-mail you receive requesting friendship, or once you've logged in, look again at the gray tool bar on the top right; hover your mouse over "Notifications." Then click on the number of notifications you have pending. You will then be directed to a web page that allows you to accept or reject the friendship request.

How do I send a message?

To send an email to another member, you can click on a member's profile and then click on the "Send Private Message" button.

You can also send messages by using the dark gray navigation bar. Click on "My Account > Messages > Compose". Start typing the person's name in the addressee box and the program will give you a list of all the members whose names include the letters you're typing. Next to the addressee box is an empty box for copying other members. Do the same thing in this box that you just did for the addressee. Each time, you do this, a new box will appear for another person to whom you might want to send a copy of the message.

How can I toggle my email notification settings?

The settings on your profile page (available by going to the top gray navigation bar and clicking My Account > Settings > Notifications) allows you to choose whether you want the site to email you in response to a variety of different actions, such as a message being posted on the wire of a group to which you below. Please visit this page to easily change your preferences. Here is a screenshot of the Profile Notifications Settings page.

Squarefaq.png Blogs

How do I log into (or get to the dashboard) of my blog?

From the UBC Blogs homepage, once you've logged-in, go to the dark gray navigation bar at the top of the screen. Select "My Blogs > your blog > Dashboard".

Alternatively, you can log in directly to the dashboard of your specific blog. Your individual blogs should be located at the address you specified on UBC Blogs. Your initial blog address is determined by the folder you choose when creating your blog. For example, if the folder you chose is "myblog" your blog address will be:

http://blogs.ubc.ca/myblog/wp-login.php

To access the administrative back-end of your blog, you should see a login link on the main page. If you do not see this link, for whatever reason, enter the following line to the end of your url address: "/wp-admin" (no quotes) - the address should look like the following:

http://blogs.ubc.ca/myblog/wp-admin

How do I change my blog title?

To change the title of your blog go to the Settings tab in the administrative back-end 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.

Why can't I upload a new theme?

UBC Blogs is a Multi User install of WordPress the same as WordPress.com all themes and plugins are shared across the UBC Blogs network therefore we must evaluate each theme before it is added to the system. We are open to adding new themes on request some things we look for are:

  • Is it compatible with the recent version of WordPress
  • Would it be useful to other users on the system.
  • How are the ratings based on comments are others having problems with it.
  • Does it support the WordPress menu system, threaded comments that most users expect in a theme.

If you have found a theme that meets the above criteria let us know about it by sending a request to weblogsupport@exchange.ubc.ca and we will take a look.

How do I make my blog look different?

You can change the look and feel of your blog going to Appearance->Themes.

How do I add a user to my blog?

To add additional users to your blog go to your left side panel under Users->Add Users.

You can add a list of emails (one per line). If the email is in the system they will be added to the blog and the user will be sent an invite notice. If the user is not in the system they will be directed to UBC Blogs and sent to the sign up page after authenticating against CWL. Once the user signs up and logs in they will be added to the blog.

Student/Staff/Facully ID numbers can also be used. If the user is already in the system they will be added the next time they login. Users not in the system will have to be instructed to go to the signup/login page THEY WILL NOT BE AUTOMATICALLY BE ADDED until they login in for the first time.


What are the user roles I can assign?

The role options are basically broken down as follows

  • Administrator can do anything on the site including add remove users.
  • Editor - can write posts and pages they can also edit other users content.
  • Author - can write posts and only edit their own posts.
  • Contributor - can write posts but they have to be approved.
  • Subscriber - cannot post content but can access if the site is private.
  • Most instructors assign students to Author if they are doing a course blog.

More details on WordPress user roles can be seen here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Roles_and_Capabilities#Roles

I need another blog how do I add one?

Once logged in go to https://blogs.ubc.ca/wp-signup.php

What's the difference between writing a post and writing a page?

This is an important terminological/conceptual distinction to grasp, as posts and pages serve radically different functions. A post is an article that shows up in the chronology of your blog. In other words, posts appear in your blog, most recent at the top of the page.

A page is what most folks may be more familiar with. This is a static space that is not part of the chronological logic (try saying that five times fast) of the blog. A page sits outside of this inverted time line, and often features more static content like information about the site, the author, a syllabus, readings, etc.

What are comments and how do I manage them?

Part of the logic of a blog is allowing people to comment on your work. Comments are often associated with posts (as opposed to pages- see an explanation of this distinction above) and offer a way to have a discussion about a particular post.

Often times, initial comments are placed in a moderation queue until you approve them. Once you approve a comment from a user, he or she should be able to comment freely thereafter. You can view the comments on your blog as well as those awaiting moderation in the Comments tab in the back-end of your blog. If you want to change the permissions for your comments- say allow anyone to comment without moderating- see the Settings tab and look for the Discussion subtab. This is where you can control the comment settings.

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. UBC has activated two plugins prevent spam one being reCaptcha and the other being Akismet. reCaptha will force users to enter a randomly generated captcha code to post a comment. Akismet will filter spam that may get through this method. This will be placed under Comments->Akismet Spam for you approval or disapproval.

Can I change the chronological order of my comments

Yes, go to the left panel -> Settings -> Discussion -> Other comment settings ->

Comments should be displayed with the (select option: older or newer) comments at the top of each page

What's a feed?

A feed is a way to subscribe to blog posts, comments, etc. You can subscribe to a feed use an RSS reader such as Google Reader or Bloglines. To find out more about this RSS thing click here.

What is this RSS stuff?

Why listen to me? Watch the movie that explains RSS in plain English...

How do I upload a document and place it in a post or page?

You can easily upload documents, such as a 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 you are done.

I can't upload any more files. What's going on?

You are probably out of account space. Contact us and we can add more (within reason).

How do I upload an image and place it in a post or page?

As with documents, you can easily upload and insert an image from your hard drive into a post or page. Go to Write → Post (or Page) and look for the "Add Image" button that looks like a picture canvas immediately following the "Add Media" title as pictured below .

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

If uploading an image from your hard drive, you will get a dialog box asking you to title the image, 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 you are done.

Why should I consider using external services to store my images and documents?

We currently have limited amount of upload space per user. This will not be enough if you are uploading large pdf files, videos, or images. It may be preferable to use an outside service that you can integrate with UBC Blogs such as Flickr for your photos, YouTube for your videos, or DivShare for your files. This is probably the best practice, because if you ever want to move your blog to another service you will have persistent links to documents and images that you will not have to update to the new blog URL.

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. Once you do this you will see the following:

Instead of having the front page display your latest posts, select the radio button that says "static page" and select the page you created for the front page. Additionally, you can create another page where you would like your blog posts to appear. This is extremely useful when you would like to create a resource more akin to a traditional page rather than a blog, while maintaining the functionality of both.

I teach math can I do Math on my Blog?

Yes you can. We have two plugins installed WP-Latex and WP-MathJax. To enabled goto your Posts->Plugins menu and activate. It's best to use one or the other MathJax allows for JavaScript/CSS rendering which is scaleable/resizable where as WP-Latex generates image files which is better for those who would like to print / generate PDFs from the content. Wrap your LaTeX with the following short code:

[latex]e^{\i \pi} + 1 = 0[/latex]

How do I embed YouTube videos?

WordPress supports oEmbed just paste the URL to the video and and WordPress will display the player. WordPress also supports oEmbed for the following sites:

  • YouTube
  • VimeoDaily
  • Motion
  • blip.tv
  • Flickr (both videos and images)
  • Viddler
  • Hulu
  • Qik
  • Revision3
  • Scribd
  • Photobucket
  • PollDaddy
  • Google Video
  • WordPress.tv (only VideoPress-type videos for the time being)
  • SmugMug (WordPress 3.0+)
  • FunnyOrDie.com (WordPress 3.0+)

How do I embed a Google map?

You can embed a Google map in your blog posts and pages. To do this, follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to Google Maps
  2. Search for the location that you'd like to display and decide on your zoom level and other preferences
  3. Click on the "Link" button - presented as a chain icon - in the top right corner
    • If you wish to customize the map you can click on the "Customize and preview embedded map" link and select your size and default view
  4. Copy the HTML embed code (should start with "<iframe")
  5. Go to the edit screen for the post that you wish the map to appear in
  6. Make sure that the "HTML" tab is selected for the content field
    • This tab is located at the top right of the post content field next to the "Visual" tab
  7. Paste the HTML embed code in the post content field in the area you wish the map to appear (before or after text etc.)
  8. Click on the "Publish" button

You should now have the desired Google map embedded on your site.

What are widgets?

“Widgets” is just a silly buzzword for the functionality built into 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 widgets as you activate new plugins, for many of the plugins available have an associated widget.

How do I import my existing blog to UBC Blogs?

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. To export data from a WordPress.com site, please follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your WordPress.com site
  2. Go to Dashboard → Tools → Export
  3. Select the content you wish to export using the radio buttons
  4. Click on the "Download Export File" button

Once you have exported your data from your blog:

  1. Log in to your UBC Blogs site
  2. Go to Dashboard → Tools → Import
  3. Click on the respective blog type you are importing
  4. Browse for the file (which will most likely be an XML file)
  5. Click on the "Upload file and import" button

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 more note of caution: Depending on your blog application, you may not be able to import pages, links, and theme customization. If you need further help with this, please contact us and we'll get back to you shortly.

How do I set up my iOS device's WordPress app

Setting up an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad's Wordpress app requires two processes: configuring your UBC Blog to communicate with the app, and setting up the app itself on your device. While setting up the app on your device your device will need to be connected to the internet: the WordPress app verifies settings during set up--and will not allow you to save settings that haven't been verified.

In addition to the set up instructions, some rudimentary entry posting instructions are found below.

Configuring your UBC Blog:

  • Log on to UBC Blogs with your CWL
  • Click Dashboard/Users
  • Click Edit under your CWL username
  • Scroll down to Services Password
  • Enter a password in the two blank fields
  • Click the Update Profile button

Setting up your iOS device:

  • Download the WordPress app via iTunes and sync onto your device
  • Tap into the WordPress app
  • Tap I already have a WordPress…
  • Enter the URL as blogs.ubc.ca/[yourblogshortname]. NO http://. So mine is blogs.ubc.ca/egan
  • Enter your CWL username as your Username
  • Enter your SERVICES Password as Password
  • Tap Save the top right of your screen

Posting an entry from your device:

  • Launch WordPress
  • Tap the MyBlog button (if you have multiple blogs configured, then tap the title of the blog you wish to post to)
  • Tap the New Entry button (the box with a pen in it, to the right of your blog title)
  • Enter a Title, any Tags, any Categories into the corresponding fields
  • Type the body of your entry into the main window. If you want to add a hyperlink start typing http:// and you should get a prompt to Make a Link: tap the Make a Link button and fill in the Text to be link, Link URL and tap the Save button
  • You can tap the Save button near the top right of your screen to save as a draft at any time.
  • When ready publish, tap and hold the text Local Draft in the Status field. When the Status menu pops up select Published, Private, Pending Review or Draft to upload the entry
  • Click the Save button and the entry will be uploaded

Note: drafts are saved on your device only and aren't loaded up to the server until actually published.

How do I add a service password?

Often, you'd like to publish or edit content through your Android or iPhone/iPad via WordPress app or through other website or web app. To do that, you will need to know your username and you will also need to setup your service password. While your username is set on signup and not possible to change, your service password is not set by default as UBC Blogs or UBC CMS uses CWL for authentication and for regualr web access you never need the service password.

To setup your service password, mouse over yourname (top right corner while in Dashboard) and click on Edit My Profile subtab. Scroll toward the bottom of the page and add/edit your password. Make sure to avoid using common words in your password and use numbers and allowed special characters as well.

500px-Change password.png

Squarefaq.png Groups and Forums

How do I create a group?

After you've logged in, navigate to groups homepage. Click on the "Create a Group" button and follow the directions that you see. Before creating a group, you might want to search to see if a similar group already exists.

What's the difference between public, private, and hidden groups?

All content in public groups (member listing, forum posts, wire posts) is available to be viewed by anyone, even viewers who aren't logged into the site. Public groups are listed in the public directory of groups, and any member of the community can join the group without seeking approval from the group owners. Public groups can also enable groups blogs.

All content in private groups is hidden from the public and is viewable only by members of that group. Private groups are listed in the public directory of groups, but members of the community must request membership to the group and have that request approved before being able to view group content.

All content in hidden groups is hidden from the public and is viewable only by members of that group. Hidden groups are not listed in the public directory of groups. New members must be invited to join by existing group members.

What are the differences in permissions for the various group roles, i.e. Admins, Moderators, Members?

Administrators can do the following things that moderators cannot do:

  1. Change group settings, eg turn group blog on or off, turn group forums on or off, change group status from public to private, etc
  2. Change group avatar
  3. Manage group members: ie kick/ban members, promote/demote members
  4. Delete the group

Group moderators can do the following things that normal members cannot do:

  1. Edit the Group Details, including the name of the group and group description
  2. Edit, close, and delete forum topics/posts
  3. Edit/delete group documents

I joined a hidden group and now can see it and all its members. Can everyone else?

When users create or become members of hidden groups, they will see them in the group listing on the homepage, but it will be visible only to members of the group, not to the general public or to members of the Commons who aren’t in the group.

Can I view a hidden group without being a member?

Hidden groups aren't listed in the groups directory, however, those with access to the group URL can view the group name and description. Group content and member information can only be access by members of a hidden group.

How come I'm not receiving group updates via email?

First, please check your notification settings to make sure that you have set your preferences correctly. Second, please check your account's spam filter or spam folder, as we have received several reports of group wire posts being caught by spam filters.

How can I leave a group?

To unsubscribe from a group, go to the group homepage and click ”Leave Group.” The link is right under the group icon image.

FAQ Credits

Some of this content was originally created by Jim Groom at the University Mary Washington and the The Academic Commons of The City University of New York. The content is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

See Also