Alternatives For A Better Planet WordPress Feed

The WordPress Planet is a collection of WordPress centric websites that aggregate their content into one stream of information. In 2009, I proposed the idea of refocusing the dashboard so that it presented more WordPress Centric content. While some sites have been added and removed from the official Planet WordPress feed over the years, the core issue remains. It’s not as great of a source of WordPress information as it could be. I always thought that instead of having all the content from an individuals site published to the planet feed, it would have made much more sense to only subscribe to their WordPress category.

Alternatives:

Disappointed in the official planet feed, I searched for other resources of information and one day, came across a site called PlanetOzh. PlanetOzh is just like Planet WordPress except it has more sites to aggregate content from and is maintained by Ozh. Sites are added and removed on a somewhat routine basis. However, I remember sending an email to Ozh one day after I went through each site he was aggregating content from and told him which ones I thought needed to be removed due to their lack of WordPress specific content or that the site appeared dead. It was a substantial list. From my observation, it looks like he has cleaned up the site so it’s much more relevant than it was a few years ago.

Recently, the topic of the WordPress Planet was brought up again by James Farmer of WPMU where he does bring up some valid points. I’m of the opinion that the more people who see great WordPress centric information, the better off everyone in the WordPress ecosystem will be. So I’m all for making the WordPress Planet a better place. However, the official Planet WordPress feed is maintained by one person, Matt Mullenweg. Considering just how busy he is, I can understand how maintaining the list of sites on the planet feed would be one of the last priorities on his list. I think some would agree that there are far more important things to be spending time and energy on with WordPress.org versus the planet feed.

A Better Planet

If you’re looking for more variety of content from different WordPress centric websites in your dashboard, you should try the brand new plugin called A Better Planet by WPLIft. In a nutshell, this plugin is a more up-to-date and relevant version of the official planet WordPress feed. While the master list is controlled by one person, it looks like it’s a lot easier to have a WordPress site added to their list than the official feed.

Responsibility:

While I wouldn’t mind seeing other WordPress centric sites in the dashboard supplying great information to users all across the world, I also wouldn’t want to see those same sites treating the dashboard as an enormous, untapped customer base. Being in the WordPress dashboard comes with great responsibility. For example, you have to be on-board with the 100% GPL philosophy. Sites can not link to other sites that promote non-GPL products. Sites can not advertise non-GPL products through display ads or otherwise. It really boils down to being an excellent steward in the community. There are WordPress centric sites that meet that criteria but I don’t make the decision on who is added to the feed and who is not.

Discussion Points:

So considering we’ve been having this conversation for a few years now, has anything really changed? Do you even use the news widgets in the dashboard or do you hide them as soon as you can?

12 Comments


  1. The planet is a bizarre thing. Just having some way for the community to decide what is included in it would be a huge step forward for it. As it is right now, it seems to be a bunch of junk included for historical reasons. Some of it good, but a lot of it is just garbage. In fact some of it is not much more than advertising.

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  2. Thanks for the mention Jeff,
    As well as the outdated sites on the official feed, another main reason I created this was to allow people a way into the feed as the old one seems closed off to newcomers.
    Anyone can submit their site & I’m holding a poll once a month to see which new sites are added.

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  3. Whilst it may seem to be a ‘bunch of junk’ there is a greater selection of links to articles of use and interest to WordPress users. The standard dashboard aggregates are fine, but very limited in their scope, more often than not linking to videos of talks where the point, the meat of the talk, is hard to find. With a printed version it is easier to skip through and find what you need quickly.

    What I miss is a configuration button, so that the number of links shown can be increased – not everyone can or wants to go in and change the code. And I miss, more than anything else, a link to archived links. There is a wealth of information available which has been shown at one time or another through these dashboard plug-ins, but no way to find it easily.

    Viktoria Michaelis.

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  4. The answer is clear, Matt simply doesn’t have the time to maintain it, so he should delegate to someone who does. I’m sure there are many capable of doing so, though I’m happy to step up if necessary ^_^

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  5. The feed is pointless. The whole dashboard is pretty much pointless. I’d vote to remove the feed altogether, and do a major restructuring of the dashboard while we’re at it.

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  6. @Brian Krogsgard – In the back of my mind, I’ve thought about that scenario as well. Just get rid of the Feeds with the exception of the one to the official WordPress dev blog. As for restructuring the dashboard, I know one thing, I only have two boxes setup on mine. Right Now and WordPress development blog feed. If you look at the proposed dashboard for Ghost, people are going goo goo gah gah over what they’ve seen and it’s mostly pretty colors with different types of graphs. Is that the direction WordPress should head down or some other direction?

    It was suggested that perhaps when you log into the back-end of WordPress, that it should automatically take you to the Write Post page. I think that’s stupid but I wouldn’t mind a better QuickPress box for the dashboard.

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  7. Ever since I really got re-energized into WordPress I’ve bee looking at the planet feed every day. I got here through that feed. And I’ve discovered so many great WordCamp talks. I like it a lot.

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  8. @Jeffro

    The ghost dashboard designs would take a lot of work to implement, and a lot of additional non trivial infrastructure to track and grab data and statistics for various social media and traffic, and then keep it in a historical data format so that charts can be generated from it. If it were so simple someone would have done it by now, which is why you tend to get traffic stats on the dashboard if you install ana analytics plugin but rarely anything else

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  9. @Viktoria Michaelis

    What I miss is a configuration button, so that the number of links shown can be increased…

    For sure, better control over how these content-blocks display/behave on the Dash would make them more attractive … at least to those who don’t mind having yet-more choices ‘confronting’ them on their Admin page.

    Choices & complexity are high-profile issues. Those who guide WordPress design policy get strongly-conflicting, highly-polarized demands/feedback about them. Especially concerning the Dashboard & Admin interface. There’s a tendency for newcomers to be overwhelmed, and some of these just give up. Some then feel hurt, even become resentful.

    Everybody is ‘forced’ to used the Dashboard, so the default Feed-settings should be selected with the novice in mind. For more experienced or ambitious users, plugins can provide alternative Feed-choices and assorted control-options, to virtually any degree.

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  10. @Ted Clayton – I have no problem with the Dashboard as it is, since I can move or remove those items which are not needed at will. But I would rather have the choice of changing something, which doesn’t have to involve complexity, than have no choice at all.

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  11. @jeffro for 99% of the sites I am involved with I don’t use the dashboard at all. In fact a lot of time is spent making sure users don’t ever get to the dashboard. But then there is very little blogging in those sites.

    I would like the dashboard to be more of an instance of something repeatable, like the post edit screen(s) with the same level of control available to plugin/theme developers.

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