Frequently Asked Questions

Content Management Systems

What’s a blog?

A blog is traditionally just a website with a selection of recent articles on the main page and links to chronologically-sorted articles in a sidebar. Blog authors and administrators usually create content and manage the site through a web browser instead of a dedicated desktop application.

Blog software can have other criteria for sorting, such as tags and categories. Also, some items of content make more sense as hierarchically organized pages. Not limited to just simple articles with titles, blogs can facilitate posting of custom structured content types, such as status updates, asides, FAQs, how-tos, gallery posts, recipes, reviews, video diaries, etc.

With blogs, site visitors sometimes have the option to interact with the post authors and site visitors via a comment system. However, because of maintenance headaches caused by spammers and trolls, many public websites have chosen to disable comments.

A site powered by a blog content management system can be indistinguishable from one driven by an enterprise content management system, and the answer to "what's a blog?" becomes more nebulous.

Should I use WordPress, Drupal, or Roxen CMS?

Web Development Services has halted all new development in the Roxen Content Management System and will sunset the service in late 2019.

We have been recommending Drupal for departmental websites. OpenScholar, a Drupal distribution for academic scholars, is our recommendation for faculty, staff, researchers, or labs. We recommend WordPress for blogs, program sites, conference sites, and student organization sites.

Above all, we recommend that you use the website building system that you and your colleagues are most comfortable with.

Please contact webservices@princeton.edu if you are unsure about what direction to take with your upcoming website projects.

Why WordPress?

The WordPress platform is a stable, innovative, open-source publishing system with a vast library of third-party plugins and themes. It powers over 32% of all websites. An expansive, vibrant community of WordPress users and developers are actively refining the software, offering support, writing tutorials, and sharing best practices. With an average of three major releases per year, the WordPress user experience is continually evolving and improving.

WordPress environment

Where can I learn WordPress?

The WordPress Codex is the official documentation site for WordPress.

The University purchased a site license for the entire Lynda.com online training library, which includes over 20 hours of WordPress 3 training. Visit lynda.princeton.edu and log in with your Princeton net ID to access their library from anywhere.

We also have a University-wide license for Safari Books Online. This service has at least a dozen books dedicated to WordPress 3.

This website, blogs.princeton.edu, will be a resource for training materials that are specific to our environment, including plugin-specific tutorials.

Can I add my own plugins and themes?

The production WordPress servers are locked down, secure environments.

Web Development Services tests all themes and plugins for security problems, compatibility problems, user experience issues, and performance issues before deploying them to the live servers.

With over 16,000 plugins and 1,400 themes on WordPress.org alone, not all of them play nicely with each other or with the latest version of WordPress. Not all are designed for a multisite environment, and some can kill performance on high traffic servers.

WordPress, itself, and all plugins and themes are uploaded to a separate version-controlled repository, then deployed via scripts to the QA and production web servers. This allows us to roll back to a previous version of the environment with a single command if we discover a problematic plugin or theme.

We tried to mimic many of WordPress.com's features, and we have added many other plugins based on early feedback.

To simplify the interface for casual users, not all plugins are activated across the network. Site administrators can activate certain plugins just for their site. These include a Poll/Survey plugin, an FAQ plugin, and a LaTeX plugin.

We welcome suggestions for added functionality and new themes to add to our WordPress environment. Please use the Contact link above.

How long will my site stay up?

As long as your site is active and does not violate University policies, we will continue to host your site. However, if your site has been inactive for three (3) years, we reserve the right to remove your site from our servers.

We ask that each site request designates an administrative contact and a technical contact. These designated individuals become the site owner(s). Before deleting an inactive site, we will attempt to contact a site owner. If none of the designated site owners are still with the University, we will contact another individual within the administrative contact's former department. If your site has a sponsor organization, such as the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students or Princeton in Asia, we will also coordinate with that organization.

With the site owner, we will discuss options for archiving an inactive site's content before removing it from our servers.

Can I specify who gets an email notification with Gravity Forms?

You can send multiple emails with a form submission, including one to an email value from the form. The email is HTML-only (rather than multi-part mime), but you can customize the email content through the GUI with field value placeholders.

Currently in the environment, customizing the From field is not possible. That always comes from wordpress@princeton.edu. The Reply To field can be customized, though.

How can I insert a video from Media Central onto a page?

  1. Edit the page you want to insert the video on.
  2. Click the "Add Media" button.
  3. On the left sidebar, click the "Insert from URL" link.
  4. Paste in the "Oembed" link for your Media Central video. You can get that by viewing the Media Central video in a new tab in your browser, clicking the "Share" button beneath the video, and then clicking the "Oembed" tab.
  5. After you paste in the link, a preview of the video should load. Click the "insert into page" button on the bottom right.

How do I get a site?

May student groups get a WordPress site?

Through a special arrangement with Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students, our WordPress service is available to all officially recognized student organizations and publications, including those sponsored by ODUS, ORL, and PACE.

It is against University policy to collect ad revenue (affiliate programs, Adsense, or other pay-per-click services) from pages served off of University servers. An externally hosted solution is the best option for organizations that wish to generate money from their websites.

May I get a WordPress site to use as my personal site?

We are currently only offering sites to University departments, programs, official student organizations, official student publications, faculty, and faculty research groups.

If you want to set up a personal site, your best bet would be third-party hosting services like WordPress.com or Google Sites.

You could also request an site on the Personal cPanel Service and install WordPress via Softaculous.

How do I get a WordPress site?

Please read the instructions on our Request a Site page. We sup­port web­sites related to teach­ing, research, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion out­reach for fac­ulty projects and officially recognized Uni­ver­sity groups and pro­grams.

If you have any other questions, please use our contact form or directly email wordpress@princeton.edu.