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What’s the difference between plugins and widgets?

WordPress comes with some widgets by default, but to add additional widgets, usually you will need to install a plugin.

Widget areas will be defined by your theme. Widget areas are content areas outside of your main content area. Sometimes you will have widget areas in your header or footer, but most commonly you will have widgets in a sidebar.

You will find your widgets in the Widget area under Appearance in your Dashboard. To use them, you can drag and drop the ones you want into the different widget areas on the right, and modify them as needed.

Plugins extend the core functionality of WordPress. Some plugins create widgets, but not all of them. Maybe you need a calendar or the ability to display additional information about authors. These functions can be addressed with a plugin. (For people on self-hosted WordPress sites only; sites do not have plugins).

You can read more about widgets in the WordPress codex.
How do you find a good plugin?

Search in the Plugin Directory.

When you get your list of results, click on a plugin and in the information screen, consider the following (in more or less this order of priority):

  • When the plugin was last updated (is it being maintained? Or is it old and likely forgotten?)
  • What version of WordPress it is compatible with (is it compatible with the most recent version of WordPress?)
  • How many downloads the plugin has (if it’s a large number, that may raise confidence)
  • If anyone reports it broken or not (not always a reliable measure)
  • What people are talking about in the forums concerning this plugin
  • What the rating is (note that sometimes a five-star rating may be based on very few votes)

You can search for plugins on the Plugin Directory.


How do I use video?

You can embed videos on your website using Youtube or other video services by including the link to the video in your blog, without even needing a plugin.

For example, below is a video on All I did to embed it was post the following URL into my visual editing window (without any special code):



Some people may want to move their hosting from a regular, shared hosting account to a virtual private server (VPS) or a racked server, you most often become your own server administrator. You can get better service, faster websites and less downtime, but there can be an additional learning curve.


Difference between and

Easiest answer:

A few key points of difference: is free, you don’t have to worry about backups, upgrades, optimizing your site. You get free themes as well as the option to purchase a number of premium themes. You can purchase upgrades to host your own videos (and will cover your bandwidth!), modify your CSS, and other features. If you upgrade, you also get free support from You cannot run ads or modify the php template files, or use plugins. allows you to download WordPress for free. However, you have to acquire and pay for monthly hosting as well as a domain. By self-hosting, you can modify all of your code, including template files. You can install plugins. You can run ads. You have to manage your own backups, security and upgrades. You typically do not get support from your hosting company.



Akismet, which comes with all installations of WordPress, is an essential place to start. Beyond that, trying to stop spammers is somewhat of a moving target, as spammers are always finding workarounds for new ways to stop them.

Gravity Forms and a few other services have “honey pots” which capture spammer IP addresses. See Project Honey Pot for more information on how this works. Some WordPress plugins utilize the data for their own spam blockers.


What are pingbacks and trackbacks, anyway?

The idea is for your own benefit of knowing who is talking about the same things you are, and sharing discussion. There is also an SEO value in that Google seee two sites that are referencing each other adding legitimacy to the topic and to each site.

A pingback: references another blog on your site (see WordPress Codex on Pingbacks)

A trackback: writing a rebuttal or add-on article – involves more of a discussion (see WordPress Codex on Trackbacks)


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