Showdown WordPress Plugin

I accidentally came across the Showdown plugin via Google search. I had been interested in this functionality for some time now, even writing a post about it a couple years ago comparing the best website scripts I could find that would perform this same functionality. I have always loved the idea (stickyness) of the photo battle type script, and until now I would have had to buy a completely independent script. But rest easy WordPress junkies. There is a new plugin for you.

I purchased the Showdown WordPress plugin a couple months back and so far it has not disappointed. It’s has two separate functions; a photo battle (showdown) mode and a Hot or Not mode.  I only had one domain I wanted to use it on, but for an extra twenty bucks I opted for the three domain purchase instead. It was a pretty good move since I’ve already implemented the plugin on a second site.

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I have found a couple of buggy things about the plugin, but I don’t think that detracts from the product as a whole. For example, after you’ve clicked on a picture to vote in battle mode, I’ve found if you refresh the page, it votes again. The programmers out there might know exactly what that means, but to me it simply means a tiny issue. I’ve also noticed in my two identical plugin installations using identical themes/versions, in one of them  I get the results of the previous battle below, but on the other I do not. I’ll give it a deactivate/activate plugin cycle and see what happens there. But knowing these minor issues up front, I think I’d still purchase the plugin again if I hadn’t already.

I’d really like to give the Hot or Not aspect of it a try, but I just don’t have a need for it right now. That doesn’t mean I won’t find one though. There’s something about a cool new plugin or functionality that gets the creative juices flowing and prompts me to create a new site just to try it out. Because of this obsession, I have more idle websites than a cemetery has headstones. If I ever partner with someone who knows how to generate buzz/traffic, we may be unstoppable.

Will the plugin send your page views through the roof like they claim? Perhaps, although I haven’t seen much of an increase yet.  That could be because you have to have website visitors for their page views to increase. Yes, I know, I’m working on that. 😉

I just hope they keep updating the plugin. As far as I’m aware, they own this WordPress niche because they’re the only game in town with this kind of plugin. There will likely be copycats which is good for the users, but I really hope the people behind this site stick with it. They’ve created something so many of us have been waiting so long to arrive.

To check out a demo of the plugin in “Battle Mode”, click here. Alternatively, if you’d like to see a working version of this Showdown Plugin in action (also in Battle Mode), feel free to click the banner below and have a look.

ReVou Twitter Clone Script

ReVou is another Twitter clone script I’ve accidentally come across in the past couple weeks. It’s got a pretty clean looking demo with those for the most part. At a price of  $200, it’s one of the more expensive Twitter clones so far, especially if you’re interested in the additional plugins for ads and mobile functionality. ($80 each)

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The site offers some great features such as custom urls for every user and group, multi-language support, and 3rd party login integration allowing users to sign in using an account from a number of existing social networking websites. One simple feature that caught my eye was the tabbed functionality on your main message page so your friends messages and replies are only a click away.

There was something I didn’t care for that isn’t a deal breaker by any means, but definitely something that would bug me a bit. When I go to the demo, in the right hand column there is a Most Popular and Most Recent box. In this box are some square avatars and some distorted boxes around text when using the latest revision of Firefox. I’m assuming this means the users don’t have an image uploaded, but it distorts it enough to be an eye sore to me. If I click another tab and come back, the avatars snap back to square, but every new visit is the same thing. This doesn’t happen in IE, but I would hope there is a simple way to set a default smaller avatar to avoid the broken image look for users without one.

Other than the price + plugins total and perhaps the awful demo colors (ha), this is a pretty solid looking script. All we need to do now is find out how to grow your own standalone niche Twitter clone and become wildly successful. If anyone knows of one, I’d be very interested in finding its secret to success.

Scritter Microblogging Twitter Clone

Scritter is a commercial Twitter clone from the same company that brought you the familiar F My Script software. The main site is called Scriptolution and they have some very cool looking scripts for sale. They also post these aggressive looking discounts via coupon codes posted to the site that make it appear there is a big sale going on, but anytime I’ve ever visited the site, the coupon codes (and discounted prices) are always available. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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The great thing about Twitter and similar microblogging clone sites is that there’s not a lot to them as far as the design is concerned. You need a couple of links for users to either join or login and an area with the latest member updates. There’s no need for clutter and that keeps these sites looking clean and organized.

Scritter is no different. It has a very neutral looking updates page that is easy on the eyes. This is exactly the kind of script that makes me want to come up with my own new idea and launch a site with it. When programmers can make their work look simple and very user friendly to the typical end user, they’ve scored high in (at least) the design department in my opinion.

The only thing I wonder is if anyone is really running a successful Twitter clone website out there. Certain kinds of sites are ideal for creating smaller clones dedicated to a specific niche, but I’ve yet to see a successful niche Twitter clone site. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible. I sincerely believe it is, but I’m also a hopeless and unapologetic entrepreneurial dreamer, so be careful when taking advice from me.

I feel like it might take a different spin to have the best shot at success. Even clones need to have their own twist. Maybe if we smooshed the Twitter concept together with some aspects of a dating script we could actually create something that appeared somewhat original even if it began with a clone.

Blog Traffic Building with Trackbacks

In my ongoing quest to attract more visitors by trying out new traffic generating ideas, I came across an informative post with a great video about using trackbacks. I’ve been playing around with WordPress for quite awhile now and I have to admit I never understood what trackbacks even were and why people bothered. The only times I ever got one it was spam, so it was certainly nothing to get excited about for me.

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After watching this video, it makes much more sense to me now. It has the backlink building power of comments with a much higher possibility of being clicked on if the visitor is looking for similar content on a particular topic.

This process is even easier today than when the video was made because all you have to do is link back to the blog and the author is notified. There’s no need to go hunting for a trackback url on the authors site. Although it is still important to find out if the site even accepts (posts) trackbacks at all.

This makes me realize how clueless I’ve been. I like to believe I give out a fairly decent amount of link love, but I’ve never considered choosing the site that allows trackbacks over one that does not. If I’m discussing an idea that I’ve researched and found referenced on multiple blogs, I need to be more selective with my links.

For the open source portion of this site, I will admit that most of the pages I link to are not blogs because it’s an open source community or commercial script site. Even when I find a popular blogger writing about open source software, I often can’t understand what the heck he’s talking about. I have created quite a hurdle for myself being a non-programmer who blogs about finding new software. 🙂

For the traffic building part of this site, it’s so much easier to find helpful blogs to link to because a lot of them take the instructional approach. The how-to type blog post is ideal for me because it really helps in implementing these unfamiliar blog marketing ideas. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s just a lot more of them to choose from too.


StumbleUponI added OpenSourceHack to StumbleUpon after reading a few articles about how it can bring a windfall of new traffic. This is another one of those tools that I’ve tried before on a different website, so I already had an existing account sitting rather stagnant. My problem has been one that many other people experience as well, and that’s the fact that we abandon these new website building ideas as quick as we implement them. We can’t simply join a site and let it be. We have to cultivate our network slowly and most important, consistently. Growing your website traffic isn’t a straight line of following the fixed steps like that of a ladder. It’s more of a bunch of dots on a piece of graph paper that we visit again and again over time. How’s that for an analogy? Pretty weak, but you get the idea. You can’t expect to launch a campaign for new traffic and be successful without following up and following through.

The rudimentary idea behind succeeding with StumbleUpon is that people presented with your site have to like it and rate it with a thumbs up for it to become more popular. The more popular your site becomes, the more it’s presented to others for further views. You must have a useful and interesting website with compelling content or all your effort is for nothing. I’m going to try and Stumble a few times a week, rating and reviewing similar sites along the way, while also sneaking one of my pages in there on occasion to see what happens.