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What are the policies on … ?

  • Blog creation: If you have a valid NetID, you can create a blog. Follow any sign-in or ‘Create a Blog’ link, and if you don’t have a profile here yet, you’ll be routed to your profile page, where the ‘Create a Blog’ link on the upper toolbar will begin working for you.
  • Blog names: Names are generally first-come, first-serve, but they are subject to review. Intentionally taking the name of a known campus entity to disparage them or create confusion is not OK.
  • Blog comments: Spammers worldwide would be delighted to leave you many comments, substantially impairing performance and security for all blogs here. So, while we have left you many options for allowing and managing comments, we do require the use of a CAPTCHA service on all comments. Turning it off per blog or in conjunction with particular privacy settings is not possible at this time. Indeed, we actually recommend additional blocks to comment spam, such as moderated comments or automatically turning comments off after a period of time.
  • How many blogs a person can have: There’s no limit, but we may set one in the future. Even then, you’d still be able to request more for reasonable purposes.
  • Private blogs: We provide five different ways to make your blog private, not just the one weak form of privacy WordPress suggests when you create your blog. Look under Settings > Privacy on your administration panel.
  • Blog content: Anything you could put on your home page is fine here too.
  • Course-related blogs: Sure, go for it, but we recommend choosing a privacy setting that is appropriate for protecting your students’ contributions. Note that WordPress isn’t a course management system, so you’ll have to make some decisions and take action on your own to use it for course-related purposes, but with modest effort, it ought to work at least as well as a mailing list or news group and probably a lot better.
  • Blog themes: Only the default theme and themes developed by Rice University Web Services are guaranteed to receive technical support. If there’s a problem with a free, open source theme we’ve installed, we may have to remove it without notice. If you want us to create a custom theme, we can do so at our usual hourly rate. If you’re a designer/developer here at Rice and would like to contribute a theme compatible with the version of WordPress we’ve installed, then feel free to install XAMPP and WordPress on your computer, build a working theme, test it on IE, Firefox, and Safari, incorporate a reasonable free software license, and submit a zip file to blogs@rice.edu for consideration. We may reject part or all of the submission for aesthetic, functionality, or security reasons (themes that allow end users to insert code would be especially problematic), but we’re pretty open-minded about gifts.
  • Blog plug-ins/widgets: Requests for additional plug-ins and widgets will be considered on a case-by-case basis, but most often, the outcome will be negative. WordPress plug-ins and widgets have access to all transactions in the system, so they must be studied very carefully before installation. They also have a tendency not to be forward compatible, so Web Services has to decide which ones are supportable over time–which ones will be worth upgrading or re-coding if they break. But please let us know of your interest, because demand will be considered as a factor in whether a plug-in’s functionality is worth maintaining.
  • File storage: A blog currently has 10Mb of quota. This value will not be changed for individual blogs, and creating multiple blogs on the same topic to circumvent the quota is not OK. Please use your storage allocation wisely and consider hosting large media elsewhere (e.g. in your Owlnet account). You can link to larger content from here.
  • Blog deletion: A blog may be removed if it has no Administrator marked as an active user in apply.rice.edu. Typically, a user is marked inactive soon after graduation or a similar separation event. Before such an event occurs, please look under Tools > Export on your administration panel to get a complete copy of your textual content to take with you. Your media objects must be downloaded one by one from your library.
  • Service outages: We’ll announce routine maintenance on the main blog, blogs.rice.edu, and we strongly encourage you to add it to your RSS subscriptions. Significant service interruptions will also be posted on the IT web site.
  • Non-Rice users: It’s currently possible to configure your blog to allow comments from non-Rice users. However, registered users–contributors, administrators, etc.–must have valid NetIDs. Your external collaborators may be eligible for guest NetIDs via http://guest.rice.edu, but the blogs.rice.edu admins bear no responsibility for the guest process.

What happened to the old blog server?

  • It became a campus-only service in 2004 and effectively died in 2005 (the last post was from June 2005), but it continued to be available even 5 months after launching this system in 2009. We posted a notification here that it would be going away and that users ought to use its XML-RPC interface to get their content in batch form for upload here, but we found no one using it–neither reading it nor posting articles. We also found that among people who had ever posted 10 articles to it before, only 4 remained at the university. If you need the old content, we do have the database and can supply a batch dump of any articles you posted to it on request, so that you might re-post them here. Just drop us a note at webservices@rice.edu.

Um, I’m kind of a beginner, and I don’t know what to do with my blog.

Someone’s using the “Rice” template to do something bad. Does Rice endorse this?

  • No, nothing published via this service, except as specifically noted, can be taken to represent the views or policies of Rice University. Blogs are a kind of home page, where individual authors express their personal views using whatever design they choose. And just like home pages, blogs are subject to Rice’s appropriate use policy, so report possible violations to violation@rice.edu.

How do I use an offline blogging client like Ecto or MarsEdit? My NetID password is rejected!

  • When you sign onto this service using a web browser, you are redirected to Rice’s Central Authentication Service, where your NetID password works. When you sign on using an offline/batch client like Ecto or MarsEdit, you need to have XML-RPC connections turned on in your Settings > Writing panel, and you need to use a local password, not your NetID password. Your local password can be set under Users > Your Profile, but it will only work for XML-RPC connections. Do not use your NetID password for this purpose. Note that XML-RPC must also be enabled per blog under Settings > Writing.

My theme has no login button!

  • You’ve chosen an open source theme. You might try looking under Appearance > Widgets on your admin panel to see if the theme is smart enough to allow the login link to be enabled dynamically. Otherwise, Web Services can probably enhance it at our standard hourly rate, or you can bookmark your admin panel: http://yourblogname.blogs.rice.edu/wp-admin

I have a question about this service that isn’t answered here.