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Tumbleweed Plugin – Get more comments on your blog posts

Tumbleweed Plugin – Get more comments on your blog posts

Last updated:July 3rd 2007  Download it here Ok as promised in a prior post Ive put together a little plugin to calculate your TR ratio.

The measurement is worked out a little like this

It counts your last 3 months number of posts and then subtracts the number of posts that were commented on. With the remainding number, it calculates what this is as a percentage of your 3 month post rate.

So, in my case – during the last 90 days I made 35 posts of which 16 received less than 3 comments. My blog therefore is currently TR6 (45% of my blog posts received no comments)

If your % is between

0 – 9 congrats you are a TR10
9- 16 not bad, TR9
16-24 TR8
24-36 TR7
36-46 TR6
46 -56 TR5
56-66 TR4
66-76 TR3
76-89 TR2
89-100 TR1

It also outputs 5 posts from the last 90 days that haven’t received comments. It pulls these out randomly, so your visitors get to see different titles they may have missed. It’s similar to the 5 posts you may have missed plugin, with the added bonus of a TR score 😀

How does this help?

Lots of people make really good posts yet don’t have the readership to see them. The blogosphere is a huge sea of millions of voices with something to say.As your readership grows, and your blog gains traction, your new readers might not be aware of some of your previous kick arse posts. This plugin helps them to see these, and also gives you a fun little way of measuring your post to comment ratio metrics. The higher the number the better you are doing. It could also act as a useful reminder that you need to work harder on your blog and get out there and promote it. It would also be interesting to see how this thing could pan out across the WP community too.Anyways, hope you like it and find it useful.

disclaimer:Some server set ups are fairly restrictive, for most WP users there shouldn’t be any problems, someone contacted me earlier to advise that they had an install issue. If this occurs for you, then I will try and help you out, but cannot promise anything. Ive tested it on 2 servers thus far and it works fine. I am using the latest copy of WP, do ensure that you are doing the same. You are reminded that this is free and you use it of your own volition 🙂

Get it here Last updated (22nd April 2007 10:50 GMT)

Installation Instructions

1.Unzip the tumbleweed-plugin zip file
2. FTP tumbleweed.php to your plugins directory
2.FTP the tumbleweed images directory to the root directory of your site or blog
if your blog is of the structure then you would put the images in the blog directory otherwise you’d put it in
3. Activate the plugin
4.Put this code in your sidebar (the file usually named sidebar.php) whereever you want your posts to appear.

<?php if (function_exists(show_tumbleweed)) {show_tumbleweed(); }?>

That’s it.

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Rob Watts
Kickstart your business today - Get an SEO Consultation or just talk to Rob about your online aspirations. With over 20 years experience in building traffic he's pretty much encountered most markets and scenarios

52 thoughts on “Tumbleweed Plugin – Get more comments on your blog posts

  1. Steve Wordpressguy

    Nice plugin, I’ll be trying this out. I’m a huge fan of strange metrics. Suggestion for a possible extension to a future version of this: Some measure of new posters to pull out the star posts which attracted the most first time posters. I haven’t seen a plugin doing that, and yours seems to be a nice home for this kind of a feature.

  2. robwatts Post author

    Hi Steve, do feel free to add to and improve on this. My plugin writing skills are pretty basic as is the code used to create this, Ive since read the WP coding guidelines too and noted a few conventions i need to apply. Someone tried installing this yesterday and told me it didn’t work which kinda sucks as I’m not entirely sure why.

    In any case, do let me know how you get on with it. 🙂

  3. RK

    Thanks Rob! Sure looks exciting … and I did bungle up with the image FTP to the root. At work now, no FTP s/w here… can’t wait to get home and try it out!

    Will surely post results here! 🙂

  4. RK

    hi rob, sorry to disappoint you, but i’m still not getting it right 🙁

    I did ‘something’ the first time, and any attempt to reach my blog would yield a scary page like this:

    Fatal error: Cannot redeclare show_tumbleweed() (previously declared in /home/crisisan/public_html/blog/wp-content/plugins/tumbleweed-plugin/tumbleweed.php:28) in /home/crisisan/public_html/blog/wp-content/plugins/tumbleweed.php on line 27

    Then I did ‘something’ again, like deleting the PHP file from plugins directory and the blog came back on.

    Then I started from scratch — your instructions — and pasted that line of code towards the end of sidebar.php, HERE:

    And … DUH… nothing is happening! The world (and my blog) seem to be totally ignoring whatever I’m trying to do!

    I think it’s the location where I pasted the code in sidebar.php, cause nothing else can go wrong… images in the /blog directory, the plugin php file in the /wp-contents/plugins folder…… hmmm.

  5. robwatts Post author

    Hi RK, yes sorry – there is a problem with it at the moment. It works on this blog and a couple of others I run, but seems to be playing up elsewhere – I need to recode the thing and work out why. 🙁

    I’ll post here when I have a further update.

    added:Im thinking also you may be trying with an earlier version feel free to try again using the link to the download above

  6. Laura

    Really sweet idea. I have a blog begun in 2004 and it would be nice to have old posts pop up at random in the sidebar. I’m not sure it would work for Blogger, installing would be something to figure out.

  7. robwatts Post author

    Hiya laura

    Unfortunatley, I don’t think it’ll work on blogger 🙁

    I haven’tlooked at the back end, perhaps there are ways of communicating with the data base there too. You can certainly modify the code to extend the reference period, There is a reference in the sql that stipulates the time frame. I did think of extending it longer, but thought that anything older than 90 days might well a little out of whack, so settled on a 3 month max. If I do find the time, I’ll have a look at the blogger backend code and see if its a doable.


  8. robwatts Post author

    Hey Hobo SEO

    Just a FI I did want to comment on a post on your blog yesterday, but had to sign up to do so…kind of a turn off!

    Any reason why you do that?


    Nope! You can now comment without the need to register…. feel free to “drop by” 🙂

    Actually we’re opening up the blog quite tentatively. This is the next obvious step.

  10. robwatts Post author

    On the opening up the blog front, cool well done.

    As for the pics..its an mbl pic plugin thats being tempramental. If the url in your ig doesn’t match that of your mybloglog account then I think it baulks out.

  11. Chris

    Nice plugin Rob, just one thing I think it reports back posts that received spam and didn’t get a comment reply, it works great as a random post plugin though

  12. Chris

    I had problems at first with the instructions but in the end I uploaded the tumbleweed-plugin folder to the plugins folder.

    Then reuploaded the tumbleweed images folder to the root of wp and it works fine now, even though I may have to hack my TR rating

  13. robwatts Post author

    Hi Chris

    Good to see you got it working although maybe my 5 posts you may have missed plugin would be better for that

    Its more or less the same yet doesn’t have the tumbleweed feature and doesn’t do the calculus.

    Odd on the spam front, I’ll have to look at the db set up and see what WP does with deleted comments. Prolly be able to sort it with an extra clause in the WHERE statement.

  14. Chris

    I should of checked your site first for the other plugin, it may just be that I have 4000 posts so it may just be my site, but a few it mentions as having comments don’t have any but I remember they had spam on them before.

  15. robwatts Post author

    Nah, I should edit the above post to leave a little link to it actually. Not everyone wants to have that little gremlin guy looking out at people on their blogs after all!

    That spam thing is definitely something to look at though. I suspect that theres a field somewhere thats marked as disapproved or spam or something. Ive probably overlooked it.

    Thanks for the heads up. 🙂

  16. robwatts

    Actually, sorry I must be half asleep here!

    It should only pull out those posts that have less than 3 comments, if a post had more than that it will not show. So Im not entirely sure what you are refering to there Chris.

    If a post has 3 or more comments then its considered to be one that has attracted a little interest and is factored out because of it. If the obverse is true then they are randomly outputted as posts requiring a 2nd look so to speak.

    Bottom line is that it will only mention posts that fall below the threshold, and from the last 90 days. I hope thta clarifies it.

  17. David Airey :: Creative Design ::

    My first visit to your blog, via a Digg entry on this post.

    I’ve seen the widget on a few other blogs I read, although to be honest (and I’m picky as a designer) I don’t want to show the rock with eyes picture as it doesn’t fit my blog design.

    On a note of comment functionality, I think it’d be better to move your spam protection to below the website field. This is because when you tab space through the fields, the cursor moves from spam directly to comment box.

    Perhaps you’re already aware of this?

    Bye for now,


  18. Tara

    Your tumbleweed plugin is great as I have said before and has certainly revived some of my old posts, but I have to agree with David about the icon. Something a bit more understated would be nice.

  19. robwatts Post author

    Hello David,

    Thanks for stopping by.

    You mean you don’t like that little tumbleweed fellow? I could always make a female version with eyelashes and lipstick. 😀

    Seriously, yes, I hear what you are saying.

    I really wouldn’t have a problem with people editing those images and using something thats a little more fitting. People are after all, free to do what they like with their blogs. If you wanted to change that aspect I’d certainly have no problem with that – it would just be a case of keeping the file naming conventions.

    Maybe the ‘5 posts you may have missed plugin’ would be a better fit perhaps.

    Good point on the spam protection thing, I hadn’t thought of that, on it now.


  20. robwatts Post author

    Tara again, like I said to david, do feel free to edit those images to something that best fits. I might well create some standard TR1 TR2 etc etc images. Maybe someone wants to come up with something themselves and share the new images perhaps?

    The naming conventuion is tumble-#.jpg where # is a number 1 through 10

  21. Jonathan-C. Phillips

    Hi Rob, i tried the plugin, it’s working fine, except for one thing, i have a lot of posts that are timestamped to a future date, and those posts are showing up when i activate the plugin and add the php code to my sidebar, is there a way to fix that, so that it would display only posts that are already published, and not future posts?

    Thanx a bunch! 🙂

  22. robwatts Post author

    Hi Jonathan, I hadn’t thought of that…I’ll have to edit the code to account for that in some way or you could do it yourself even 😀

    Look for the lines in the sql that have “and post_type =’post’ ” and then try adding “AND post_status = ‘publish'” immediately after.

    I’ll try it myself when I get a minute, although I’m thinking I might well have to add a little line that accounts for dates too.

    If you try the edit, let me know if it works as it’ll save me having to play with all that date and timestamp stuff.


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  24. robwatts Post author

    Plugin has been updated.

    The main alteration is that if your blog is real busy and you are getting lots of comments as a result of your fab and hip writing style, then it’ll take a bigger reference point and go back and look for older posts.

    Conversely if your blog is brand new, it’ll also advise disabling it until you get a comment or 3.

    I also added a line in the SQL so that only posts of publish status will show up. (some feedback on that aspect would be cool, else I’ll have to edit it again and do some date diff stuff 🙁 )

    I also put some randomised anchor text in there too, although users can delete the link back to me if they so wish.

    Thats all folks

  25. Reggie von Zugbach

    Can any of you exterienced people help please? We have set up a small and non-commercial academic website to offer an outlet to scholars who want to dissemenate their work and get feed back before going to full blown publication. Are there any tricks that would help us to ensure that the search engines pick up the posts?

  26. robwatts Post author

    Sure, whats the url reggie? I’ll have a look.

    Generally speaking

    Good title tags, use keywords at the start of your headings. Use header tags and sprinkle the content of your copy with your target keywords.

    Get people to link to the pages with your target keywords too. The words in the links that point to the page help determine relevancy; if enough people point to the page with similar keywords or variations thereof, then the page wins, at least that’s the condensed theory.

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