WordPress Version Upgrade

Hello, WordPress site owners!

We will be upgrading the WordPress software that runs sites.dartmouth.edu on Tuesday, January 21 starting at 10:00am. WordPress 3.8 includes security updates as well as a slightly different appearance to the administrative interface.

We don’t anticipate any noticeable downtime, but please stay out of your site during the upgrade. Site owners will receive a reminder email shortly before the launch, and another email when it is safe to log back into their sites again.

As part of the upgrade, we are adding a new plugin: Password Protected, which gives you the option to lock your entire website behind a single password. The update includes one new theme, Twenty Fourteen.

We will also be removing several plugins and themes.

Plugins to be removed:

  • WP-Post Ratings
  • WP-Touch
  • Weaver File Access Plugin
  • Categories to Tags Converter (used in conjunction with the WordPress importer)
  • Import Blogroll with Categories (used in conjunction with the WordPress importer)
  • Promotion Slider
  • Page Restrict

If your site uses any of these plugins, that functionality will no longer be available after the upgrade.

Themes to be removed:

  • Atahualpa
  • Blogolife
  • Radius
  • Delicate
  • Graphene
  • Mystique
  • P2
  • Pagelines
  • Responsive
  • Radius
  • Weaver II

Please login to your site before the 21st and check to see if your site uses one of these themes (under “Appearance” in your Dashboard). If it does, please select a different theme that is not on the list to be removed. All sites that are still using one of the removed themes on January 21st will be switched over to the Dartmouth Custom theme. If that theme is not to your liking, you can change it later.

The reasons for a plugin or theme’s removal may vary, but are generally due to security problems, functionality no longer working properly, the plugin/theme no longer being supported by its developer, conflicts with other plugins or themes, or its being overly complicated to use.

Auto-deletion of spam comments

After the upgrade, we will be turning on a feature that will automatically delete spam comments submitted on posts over one month old. Legitimate comments will be unaffected; this only applies to comments that are marked as “spam” by the spam filters. This process happens behind the scenes; most site owners will likely not even notice.

Questions? Please contact web.support@dartmouth.edu .

WordPress Maintenance Window (and some updates!)

The sites.dartmouth.edu server will be down for maintenance tomorrow (Thurs March 28) from approximately 8pm – 10pm. Please do not edit your site during that window as your changes may be lost.

After the upgrade, you will notice some improvements. For example:

  1. A few additional themes (P2, Radius, Twenty Twelve)
  2. Additional plugins:
  • Google Analyticator: To replace the current Google Analytics plugin which does not function properly.
  • LaTeX for WordPress: For writing math expressions and formulae.
  • Restricted Site Access: Restrict your site such that only logged-in users can access it.
  • Subscribe2: Set up a mailing list so that users receive email notifications when new content is posted to your site.
  • The Events Calendar: Manage events on your WordPress site. (This is different from the main Dartmouth Events Calendar, currently under development.)

WordPress Software Updates

WordPress has been updated and we’ve added some new functionality. Please let us know if you notice anything out of place.

Themes

  • The Blagolife theme (which you can check out under Appearance > Themes after the update.
  • The Dartmouth theme now has 22 banner images from which you can choose (up from 6).

Plugins

  •  New plugins include Local Time Clock (displays the local time of many cities in a sidebar widget), Simple Section Navigation Widget (allows you to create more customizable navigation menus), Promotion Slider (creates slideshows that can be embedded in pages)

Usability Improvements

  • At the moment, all user accounts on the Dartmouth WordPress services must use Dartmouth NetIDs for logins. WordPress will allow site owners to create user accounts with whatever usernames you want, but it’ll cause problems down the line. However, although users must be created with Dartmouth NetID usernames, this is not clear in the login and user management interface. We’ve tweaked the verbiage to make this a little smoother. If you have already created users with non-NetID usernames, WordPress will not allow you to change these usernames by default, but we can help you do this.
  • Each site has an “admin” email address associated with it (where comment moderation emails, etc. are sent).  If you’re the site owner, you will likely receive a confirmation email asking you to confirm the change. Please click through and confirm to complete the process. If you are *not* the site owner, you can change this yourself later under Settings > General.
  • We’re hoping to launch http://sites.dartmouth.edu “for real” (i.e., no longer in pilot) soon. To wrap up the pilot phase, I’ll be following up with site owners soon with a brief survey about how WordPress has been working out for you so far. Your feedback is very much appreciated.