Recently, you may have noticed that the number of plugins available to you has been much reduced. This is because of the 70+ plugins that had been installed at the request of staff and students over the last five years, very few of them were being used on active websites. We have not de-activated or deleted any plugins, but we have withdrawn them from being generally available to use. During our audit, we identified a few plugins that are clearly popular among Lincoln staff and students and these remain available for you to activate from your website’s ‘Plugins’ panel.

Over the years, a number of features that were once only available via the use of plugins are now built into WordPress, reducing the need for additional plugins. If you are a user of WordPress.com, you will notice that they provide a number of features that are not available on blogs.lincoln.ac.uk. Many of these are new, ‘social’ features such as sharing posts with Twitter and Facebook and receiving email notifications, etc.

As of today, we are making Jetpack available so that you can add these additional features to your site. Jetpack is a special plugin, developed by Automattic, the company that run WordPress.com and lead the development of the WordPress software. You can think of Jetpack as several plugins in one and we encourage you to read more about Jetpack. Jetpack is very popular and has been installed on almost 6 million websites by WordPress users around the world.

If you like the look of Jetpack, there are a few things you should be aware of before deciding to activate the plugin:

  1. Jetpack requires you to connect your website with WordPress.com. This means that you must have an account on WordPress.com. Accounts are free and easy to set up. WordPress.com is the largest host of WordPress websites, hosting about half of the 68 million WordPress sites around the world. Having a WordPress.com account is also a good idea if you think you’ll ever leave the university and want to take your website with you. You can easily export a website at Lincoln and import it for free to a site on WordPress.com.
  2. To use certain Jetpack features, such as ‘Post By Email’, each user of your site also needs to connect their account to WordPress.com. This is not essential, but required for certain features.
  3. Think carefully about which WordPress.com account you use to connect to your blogs.lincoln.ac.uk website. If you are running a personal blog, then it makes sense to use a personal WordPress.com account. However, if you are running a group website, project website or department website, it might be more suitable to create a WordPress.com account for your team or department. That way, Jetpack is not connected to any single person’s WordPress.com account.
  4. Certain Jetpack features create a dependency between your website and WordPress.com that you may come to rely on. For example, the ability for people to subscribe by email to your website. If you were to de-activate Jetpack on your site, you would lose any subscribers to your wesbite. Similarly, you may have used the Carousel or Custom CSS features and by de-activating Jetpack, the design of your site would be significantly affected.

We’ve been testing Jetpack with a few staff over the last month and feedback from people is very positive. While there are some caveats to using Jetpack, we feel its a useful plugin and it addresses some of the main ‘social features’ that staff and students regularly ask for. It’s up to you if you want to use it.

To activate Jetpack, go to the ‘Plugins’ panel in your Dashboard and click ‘Activate’. You’ll then be prompted to connect your site to WordPress.com. Having done that, you can explore the new features under the Jetpack menu in your Dashboard.

Please ask questions or tell us what you think about Jetpack by using the comment form below.