Tag Archives: WordPress.com

Automated Website Thumbnails via WordPress.com

Ben Gillbanks has unearthed a neat, undocumented API. If you have a look at his WPVote site, you’ll note that next to each link there is a thumbnail or the originating site.

There are several services that can generate thumbnails like that, but most of them place watermarks on the images or place limits on how many API calls you can make in a month. (Amazon used to offer a paid service, but it was discontinued a year or two ago.)

To my surprise, when I was submitting an article to WPVote recently, I found that the thumbnails were served up by a subdomain of WordPress.com. I thought something along the lines of “Eh? I didn’t know they offered a screenshot service…” and continued about my business.

A couple days later, I spotted Ben’s blog post in my feed reader. In it he explained how he discovered a dynamic URL that Automattic uses, in places like the WordPress.org commercial themes page, to display thumbnails. He posted an email to Matt Mullenweg about it and got this as a response:

You can use it and link to it, but it’s not official. It’s not worth the effort to try to make it into a business – we have to support it anyway for our own apps.

Sounds good to me. :) Obviously it wouldn’t be nice to use it for something huge and high-traffic, but it seems like they don’t object to us smaller WordPress fanatics making use of it.


There’s now a WordPress plugin that makes it easy to use the thumbnails in blog posts, with a shortcode, or elsewhere with a template tag.

Remember WP.com? Meet the WP.me URL Shortener

Automattic has acquired another wicked-short domain name: WP.me. Not only is it a WordPress.com-specific URL shortener, but it is the only two-letter .me domain in the world, for the time being anyway.

There is now a “Get Shortlink” button next to your permalink when you edit or write a post, and when you click it you’ll get a popup with the beautiful link already highlighted for your copy and pasting pleasure.

If you’re logged in you can also get the shortlink for any page on WordPress.com, there’s a link under the “Blog Info” menu in your admin bar.

Every post on WordPress.com has a short URL assigned to it in the form of http://wp.me/p4P8c-gF7. The nine-letter key is a a bit longer than those of Bit.ly, Is.gd, or the now notorious Tr.im, but I imagine WordPress.com has a lot of content in their system, and more to come certainly. And you can be pretty sure that your WP.me short URLs will last as long as your WordPress.com blog does.

The domain is being used for WordPress.com sites only, and for WordPress blogs that run the WordPress.com Stats plugin.

What Automattic Can Do With WP.com

Automattic recently acquired WP.com from Yahoo, and now they are wondering what to do with it. (They’re asking for suggestions, too.)

Yes it’s true, Automattic is now the proud owner of WP.com, which we acquired from our buddies over at Yahoo! We’ve been using WP.com as internal shorthand for this site for years now, and ever since we figured out four or five years ago that Yahoo had that domain (as opposed to the Washington Post or something) we’ve been doing our best to get it, a journey that culminated in ultimate success a few days ago.

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Blogging Service Reliability

Millions of people who blog don’t want to deal with hosting their blog themselves, so they use a blogging service instead. There are many things that factor into the choice of blogging service, but one of them should always be site reliability. After all, if people can’t access your blog, it won’t get read.

Though services like Blogger, WordPress.com, and TypePad don’t give you as much control over your blog as you would have hosting it on your own (paid) hosting account, their uptime is quite impressive.

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“Push-Button Publishing”

Anyone can have a blog, what with all of the instant blog services like Blogger and WordPress.com. But just because they can have a blog doesn’t mean they should.

I believe that it’s important that it be possible for anyone who has something to say to publish their thoughts online. However, the key part is “anyone who has something to say.” I don’t like the idea of an internet full of narcissistic personal blogs and ad-filled John Chow wannabes. If you have something real to say, or if you’re an unusually interesting person, go right ahead and launch a blog. Plan it out though. Don’t just throw something together in five minutes on a whim. (Also, I recommend getting a domain name if you want to be taken seriously.)

I like the idea of web publishing being fairly easy, but sometimes I wonder if it’s a little too easy.

My general rule of thumb is “if you have something interesting to say, and the initiative the keep the blog going for longer than a year, go right ahead.”