Rating Your Posts with WordPress Plugins

Everybody is a critic. Really. When you watch a movie, listen to a song, read a blog post, you have an opinion of it. And most people are not that shy about sharing their opinions. Well, sometimes they are. Like when they don’t want to take the time to comment on a blog. But it is possible for them to share their opinion without actually having to write it. That is where ratings come in.

Rating your posts

GD Star Rating has everything you could want in a rating plugin. In fact, it probably has much more than you want. When you activate the plugin, it automatically places stars at the end of your posts and in any comments on your site. Then your visitors can get started rating all of it, assuming they have javascript enabled.

There are all kinds of options available to choose from, covering both the appearance of the stars and who can and can’t vote. There is a wide selection of stars to choose from, in several sizes, and you can set the range from 1 to 20 stars for ratings. There are not only several places to add personal CSS tags if you want to make some changes, it gives you the ability to edit some of the plugin’s CSS from its Admin pages, and create your own templates for almost everything.

There are 3 widgets available to place in your sidebar, each showing a different stat on various ratings, and each with its own settings so you can control what they show. If you already have using a different plugin for ratings, you may be able to import that information if you switch over. Probably the best part is the database management that is included. Instead of just deactivating the plugin, it will do a complete uninstall of itself, including emptying and removing the tables it has added in your database. This is something that more plugins should do.

The biggest downside to this plugin is the huge number of options. There are 10 pages in the menu that the plugin adds to your dashboard, plus options on the 3 widgets and even more on your edit page. It works very well out of the box, but if you really want to get the most possible out of it, you will need to work at it. The developers have a 30 page PDF available on there website, and the website itself is full of information about using the plugin. If you decide to use this plugin, spend the time to check both of these resources thoroughly.

WP-PostRatings gives you a variety of ways to let readers rate your posts. There are stars, bars, numbers, hearts, plus and minus signs, and thumbs up/down. Some of the options have a set number, others you can use at any size you want. You can also set who is allowed to vote, and if they are limited to just one vote.

There is a management page, so you can look at what each vote was, what time they voted, and even the IP address of the person that voted. A second plugin is included, which allows you to place 2 widgets on your sidebar to share various voting results with your readers. The documentation is well done, although you have to go to the website to use it.

A limitation to the plugin is the requirement of either editing your theme PHP or adding a shortcode to your posts. The first method adds ratings to all of your posts, old and new, the second is easier but requires editing any old posts you want to have rated. The shortcode does allow you to create posts or pages with ratings of other posts, if you want a summary page or something similar. If you want to allow ratings for any comments, you have to edit PHP and it will be across your entire blog.

You have a choice when you want to remove the plugin. Just deactivate it, or use the included uninstall option which will delete the table and information the plugin added to your database. Another case of a plugin that is well behaved and cleans up after itself, always good to see.

Final Words

Here are two examples of very well behaved plugins. They do what they are supposed to, and give you a lot of control over exactly how they do it. And if you decide you no longer want them, they can be removed completely from your database very easily.

While they are usable directly after activation, neither is a model of simplicity if you really want to get everything from them. GD Star Rating because of the sheer number of options, WP-PostRatings because of the necessity of digging into the PHP code. But it is easy enough to start slow with them, adding more of their options as you become comfortable with them and learn more.

So if you want to find out what others are thinking, but they won’t talk to you, these two plugins are both good choices.

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