Thoughts on the @Guardian WordPress plug-in

Today The Guardian announced a new WordPress plug-in, a tool designed for bloggers to incorporate full Guardian articles into their blog. As a blogger on media issues this immediately caught my attention as a tool that might be useful to me. But the more I read about it the more I failed to see it’s usefulness, for me anyway.

I tweeted about it…

and attracted the attention of Michael Brunton-Spall a developer advocate for who had a hand in creating the new plug-in. He invited me to email him my thoughts on the plug-in and what I think could be done better. So here is that email. I look forward to Michael’s reply and will follow up accordingly.

Hi Michael,

Just to expand on my thoughts regarding the Guardian’s WordPress plug-in.

Code: I don’t like the idea that for these features I have to install extra code on my WordPress installation. However light or simple it may be it’s still taxing my server resources.
While I commend the Guardian’s innovation in this area, and to my knowledge you’re the only group currently doing this, I don’t like the idea of having to install a new plug-in for each media organisation. I will sometimes on my own blog want to talk about a Guardian article but this may be a couple of times a month maximum, unfortunately not enough for me to warrant installing this code. You’re also, as I understand, installing some sort of analytics code through the plug-in? Understandable from your end, but not something I like.

Style: If you continue to be the only group using this then, as a blogger, I’ll need to adopt a different style of blogging for referring to Guardian content as opposed to other media orgs. As I understand from the T&Cs of the plug-in I may not alter the original text of the article, but its generally considered good blogging practice to quote small sections and link to the full article. I don’t really want a full article by somebody else on my site.
It may set a precedent of people doing ugly, and without proper provenance, reblogs of entire articles from other sites who don’t have such a platform.

Openness: I really love the OpenPlatform initiative from the Guardian and it’s already lead to some great sites and data access. However is it really “open” if you’re promoting the use of one blogging platform and tightly integrating with it at code level? I’m not a web coder so forgive my naivety but is there no Guardian server-side way of delivering content to a variety of platforms? A “post to blog” button alongside the usual tweet/email/print buttons?

I appreciate you’re not enforcing the use of the plug-in and I can carry on about my business the way I was before. I’m not criticising innovation in delivering content, it’s an area that excites me. These are just my thoughts why the WP plugin is not for me, and I believe I’m approximating the target user for this sort of thing.


Daniel Bentley


2 thoughts on “Thoughts on the @Guardian WordPress plug-in

  1. Hi Daniel – Thanks for the feedback. I know you recognize that this may not be for everyone, but let me address some of your concerns for the people who may feel the way you do.- Code. You’re right that there’s no need to use the plugin for a one-off comment about an article. An excerpt and link are much better for that.- Performance tracking. The access tier for the Open Platform that enables people to use this plugin requires the performance tracking and the embedded ad. You can republish our content at no cost, and this is a way to fund that model. We have other models for providing our content without performance tracking or ads, though. If that’s of interest, though it seems it’s not in your case, then I invite you talk to our partnership teams.- Reblogging. We would never want people to stop excerpting and linking. I’d be very surprised if this plugin changed that tradition.- Openness. There are many many ways people can use the API. One of our favorites is Phil Gyford’s recent Today’s Guardian which isn’t tied to any platform at all: are lots of other examples of things people have done with the API that are very diverse and interesting for totally different reasons. You can see examples in the Applications Gallery here:, thanks for the comments.Matt McAlister

  2. Thanks Matt, your response is much appreciated. As I said I really like that you’ve opened up your APIs and some of the mobile apps and sites created through them are great. Obviously this WP plug-in isn’t the lynchpin of your platform and it’s just something you’re trying out.I’d be really interested what the take up and usage of the plug-in is, does it provide realtime stats for yourselves?Keep innovating!Daniel

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