WordPress.com has announced a program that aims to offer bloggers an alternative to Google’s AdWords for monetizing their sites.

Called WordAds, the offering makes use of WordPress.com’s partnership with Federated Media. Jon Burke, ads lead for WordPress.com, wrote on the company’s blog Tuesday that bloggers have been asking WordPress.com for some time to introduce a monetization program, but “we’ve resisted advertising so far because most of it we had seen wasn’t terribly tasteful, and it seemed like Google’s AdSense was the state-of-the-art, which was sad.”

Burke, however, didn’t divulge any details about how WordAds would be different from AdWords. Instead, the post merely directs users to fill out a form if they’re interested. The page directing users to the form notes that joining WordAds is “100% optional” and that Federated Media sells ads for BoingBoing and Apple Insider.

Though the announcement makes it official, it’s not a surprise. In October, WordPress.com told attendees at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco that the company was teaming up with Automattic and Federated to let users place ads on their blogs. As Burke notes, more than 50,000 WordPress-powered blogs (including both WordPress.com and WordPress.org blogs) come online every day.

Burke said users deserved better than Google’s AdSense. Google didn’t break out revenues for AdWords in its most-recent financial filing, but AdSense programs, which include AdWords, brought in $2.6 billion — 27% of the company’s total revenues — in Q3.

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wordpress image

Visitors to WordPress.com blogs can now leave comments with their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

It’s a small new feature on the surface, but it opens up a lot more commenting opportunities for WordPress.com blogs. Third-party commenting systems such as Disqus and Echo have allowed users to authenticate with their Twitter or Facebook accounts for quite some time, but this is a big move for the hosted blogging platform.

In the blog entry announcing the new feature, WordPress.com’s Scott Berkun points out a nice feature of the new login system: Users can stay logged in to multiple services at the same time. This is especially handy for users that might want to comment using Twitter or Facebook on some sites but want to use their WordPress.com account for others.

Comments from Twitter or Facebook accounts aren’t pumped back into those social services, though. Instead, the logins simply act as a way to authenticate users. In the future, WordPress.com might work toward also giving users the option to publish or share comments back on Facebook or Twitter.

For self-hosted WordPress.org users, comments suggest that Facebook and Twitter comment authentication might be coming via a future update to the JetPack plugin developed by Automattic.

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WordPress Dashboard

As the Internet Explorer 6 Deathwatch continues, another web service — WordPress.com — has announced that it is ending support of the nearly decade-old web browser.

Citing “increasingly complex code trickery to make the WordPress dashboard work,” the company announced an end to IE6 support.

The dashboard will still load for IE6 users, it just won’t function very well. IE6 users will be alerted that their browser is outdated and given direct links to browser updates or to download an alternative browser via the Browse Happy website.

In addition to dropping IE6 support, WordPress.com has also rolled out some new features, including a revamped and redesigned dashboard and a new distraction-free writing mode.

These features — as well as the end-of-life for IE6 support — will make their way to self-hosted WordPress installs with WordPress 3.2. The beta version of WordPress 3.2 is available for download now and the final version is expected to land sometime in June.

WordPress.com, which hosts millions of websites, joins a long list of providers that have officially decided that enough is enough in regards to IE6. In March, Microsoft launched its own global campaign calling for the end of the browser.

More About: IE6, internet explorer, WordPress.com

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Twitter has updated its developer tools, making embedded tweets more interactive and functional. The new tweets allow users to reply, retweet or favorite a tweet directly from its embedded version.

Twitter introduced embeddable tweets last year — and while the end result has been quite effective, the set-up process involved in actually embedding tweets is more trouble than its worth. Fortunately, plugins like Blackbird Pie for WordPress have made the process less cumbersome.

The new functionality of embedded tweets comes courtesy of a developer tool called Web Intents. Users must first insert a script on a page that will use the intent. Those that already use the Tweet button on their websites will be able to start using Web Intents right away.

The integration process is still surprisingly cumbersome — especially for users that just want to easily and quickly embed a tweet. But the code itself looks a lot more clean. Already, WordPress.com users can take advantage of Web Intents powered embedded tweets. We imagine that the WordPress.org version of that plugin will be updated soon.

There are some cool things about Web Intents. Not only can content creators embed a tweet on their website, they can also embed a pre-filled Twitter message window. Web Intents are mobile-friendly and work with both iOS and Android, which is a nice touch.

The fact that users can send a tweet directly from a webpage or retweet messages without having to use a third-party program or extension could make for some interesting possibilities — at least for web developers and app makers that want to add more seamless social ability to their sites.

Developers, what do you think of the new Twitter Web Intents? Let us know in the comments.

[via ReadWriteWeb]

More About: blackbird pie, twitter, web intents, WordPress.com

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WordPress.com is a great platform for users who want to easily create a free website or blog. With more than 23 billion pageviews in 2010, the service is a hit with millions of users.

Premium themes are now available for WordPress.com, but the nature of the system still limits what plugins can be used and how deeply customized a design and overall site structure can be.

For that reason, it is natural that some WordPress.com users will want to take the leap to the self-hosted WordPress.org software.

Transitioning from WordPress.com to WordPress.org may seem daunting — especially for users who have lots of content and multimedia already hosted on WordPress.com. That’s why we decided to put together this screencast that walks through the entire process from beginning to end.

Moving From WordPress.com to WordPress.org

Note: This process covers moving from an existing WordPress.com blog to an existing WordPress.org installation. If you need help installing WordPress.org or finding a web host to use with WordPress.org, WordPress offers some recommendations.

Using Plugins to Re-create WordPress.com Features

As I point out in the screencast, the real key to getting WordPress.org to function (and look) like an older WordPress.com site comes via plugins.

Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, has customized its hosted version of WordPress to include some built-in features that just aren’t included in a standard WordPress.org installation.

As a result, some media like videos, embedded tweets and polls may not show up properly.

I mention some of the most common plugins in the video, but here are some quick links:

  • WordPress.com Stats — This will give you the same kind of stats on WordPress.org that are available to WordPress.com users.
  • VideoPress — If you have ever paid for the VideoPress video upgrade, this plugin will bring the same functionality (and access to your VideoPress videos) to WordPress.org.
  • Wickett Twitter Widget — This is the same widget WordPess.com uses to display tweets in the sidebar of a blog.
  • Grunion Contact Form — This plugin was used as the basis of the new Contact Form feature in WordPress.com.
  • PollDaddy — This plugin will enable any polls created in WordPress.com.

After the Move

After moving content from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and installing any plugins to enable native WordPress.com functionality, users may want to consider purchasing the Site Redirect upgrade from WordPress.com.

For $12 a year, WordPress.com will redirect your old WordPress site links to the new site. These are proper 301 redirects which means search engines will get updated to redirect traffic as well. That also means that most users won’t need to pay for the upgrade after the first year.

You can learn more about Site Redirect at WordPress.com and add the feature from the Upgrades section of the WordPress.com dashboard.

Your Tips

Have you ever migrated from WordPress.com to WordPress.org? Let us know your tips in the comments!

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Automattic has announced that users will now be able to purchase premium themes for their WordPress.com websites and blogs.

The commercial theme marketplace for self-hosted WordPress sites has exploded in the past few years. Moreover, the availability of various WordPress themes — commercial or otherwise — has contributed to increased adoption of WordPress across the web.

It makes sense that Automattic would want to bring some of the most popular WordPress.org premium themes to WordPress.com customers.

Tumblr added the ability for users to purchase and install premium themes in March 2010.

The first two premium themes that will be available on WordPress.com are Headlines by Woo Themes and Shelf from The Theme Foundry.

These themes have been available for WordPress.org users for some time and are both high quality and attractive.

Headlines is $45 and a magazine-style theme, perfect for users who have lots of content. It features 15 different color schemes, drop-down custom menus and a featured post slider.

Shelf, a tumblelog style theme, is $68. It takes advantage of WordPress.com’s new post formats feature (think Tumblr-style icons and formatting for specific types of posts) and has a fun horizontal scrolling design.

To purchase premium themes, WordPress.com users can either go to the Themes Showcase and click on the premium themes, or click on the “Premium” label in the “Browse Themes” section of the Themes menu in Appearances.

It’s interesting to see WordPress.com leverage the commercial theme space. When commercial themes first hit the scene back in 2008, there was a certain amount of unrest in parts of the WordPress community. Most of those issues — which really revolved around licensing — were settled some time ago, but the commercial themes space has, until now, remained untouched on WordPress.com.

For WordPress.com users, this is a great way to get a more unique-looking blog. For WordPress theme developers, it opens some potential business opportunities.

Would you buy a premium WordPress.com theme or would you prefer to buy a theme for a self-hosted WordPress.org installation?

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