WordPress Plugins Actually Worth Using
WordPress is the best blogging software. In addition to having a solid core with many features, it also includes functionality that allows anyone to improve it through the use of add-ons or plugins. From what I've seen there are hundreds of such plugins and possibly even thousands. The following is a list of the ones that I find the most useful. Do you have a favorite?
By far the most popular spam plug-in for WordPress blogs. The Akismet system uses a central repository that many, many blogs contribute to so that it can identify what is and isn't spam. As a user, you benefit from this analysis when a matching spam comment is submitted to your blog. Flagged items are kept in a database for 15 days in case you want to review them for false-positives. Note that you will need a WordPress API key which you can get for free at WordPress.com.
Dagon Design Sitemap Generator
Sitemaps are important for users and search engines as they offer a single place from which all of your blog's content is accessible. Maintaining a sitemap by hand is tedious and very unnecessary since this plugin will do all the work for you.
Different Posts Per Page
If you want to control how many posts appear on your home page, archive, or category page, this is the plugin for the job. You simply put in the counts for each page type and away you go.
For the time being, having social media buttons float along the left of a website is very common. The Digg Digg plugin makes implementing such a feature super easy. It doesn't work 100%, but's pretty good. For example, I can get the buttons to float on pages and posts, but not category pages.
HTML in Category Descriptions
With Google now taking a harder stance on low quality pages, I think it's important that category pages have a good amount of content. Part of this means using HTML to make the text look good and that's what this plugin enables.
My Category Order
I use categories to populate the main navigation. This approach is common, but the order is typically controlled by what alphabetical sorting. This plugin lets me specify the order I want the categories to be displayed.
Post Editor Buttons Fork
I like to use certain tags (like h2) in every post. While typing them in isn't a big deal, it's a lot faster to use the Post Editor Buttons plugin to insert these custom tags with a single click. I use this plugin to insert fairly length image tags too. A great time saver!
Yet Another Related Posts Plugin
It is typical to indicate the category that a post belongs to so that users have a way to explore related content on your site. An additional technique involves listing specific posts that are related to the current one. This plugin does just that. For an example of what it looks like, check out the links at the end of this post.
Subscribe To Comments Reloaded
I don't know about you, but I often comment on blogs and then forget to re-visit them to see if there's been a follow-up. With this plugin, users can check a box when they're making a comment and then rest assured that they will be informed of updates to the thread.
TD Word Count
I like to make sure posts are a minimum length. This plugin tells me just that.
WordPress DB Manager
Like insurance, a backup can minimize the impact of a disaster. Don't lose your blog content just because you were too lazy to click the backup button that this plugin provides!
The battle for an all in one SEO plugin has been raging for some time. I've tried them all, but I settled on this one from Joost De Valk. It does everything the others do and just works. While there are some features it did have, that's a post for another day.