FAQ: What type of widget should I use?

People ask this a lot, and I finally decided I should put the answer here on the blog, so at least I can refer back to it from time to time. The FAQ is this: What type of widget should I use?

When someone asks me that, the first thing I ask them is what kind of blog they have. There are at least two major types in terms of the flexibility you have in customizing your blog. And specifically I’m talking about 1) the ability to edit your template — and to put javascript in it; and 2) the ability to put javascript in a blog post.

At one far end of the spectrum (the bad end) is your very restrictive system like wordpress.com or Yahoo. This type of blogging system does not give you any way to put code in your header or even in your blog posts. With this type of blog you are pretty much restricted to the Image-Linky Widget In fact, this kind of blogging system is why the image-linky was developed in the first place. In the sample below, the post contains a linky-graphic, and when you click on it, the widget containing the linky-box opens in a new window:


At the other end of the spectrum (the good end) is your very flexible system. I’m talking about systems like Blogger.com, WordPress (with your own hosting), Movable Type, and Textpattern. TypePad and HomeschoolBlogger also belong in this category, but with caveats. Blogging systems of this type not only allow you to customize your template and use Javascript in posts, but give you control over the template used for each individual post.

Along the continuum between these two extremes are other systems that might allow customization and use of Javascript, but not individual post templates, things of that sort. As long as you can put Javascript in your blog’s header and in your posts, you can use the Auto-Linky Widget.

UPDATE Speaking of headers and template editing — if you’d rather not edit your template, and prefer to just paste your widget code right into your blog, the Easy-Linky Widget may be just the thing. Read all about it here.

So let’s talk some more about the Auto-Linky Widget. Here’s how it works, and it’s pretty simple. First you run the Widget Wizard — go ahead and click that link; it will open up a new window. When you choose your platform and widget type (and a meme, if you like) the wizard will give you two boxes of code: one goes in your blog’s template, in the header, and the other goes in your post. That header code is very important, because that’s what makes everything work. And once you have that, the post code is what makes the linky-box show up, like this one:


UPDATE — What, you don’t want to edit your template? Have I got news for you!! (Click me)

Now let’s revisit that good end of the spectrum again, because that’s where you’ve got options to choose from.

As cool as the widget wizard is, having to get new code every time you write a post can get kind of old. And if you participate in a lot of memes… Well don’t worry — the Ever-Linky Widget was designed with you in mind. If your blogging system allows you to customize your individual post template, you can use the Ever-Linky Widget. And that means Blogger, WordPress (your hosting) and those other good systems I mentioned. Here’s how it works. You run the Widget Wizard — but just once. You get your header code and that goes in your header template. And then there is ever-linky code that goes NOT in your post but in your post template — don’t worry, there are instructions in the Widget Wizard to guide you through every step. And then each new post you write can have its own linky for any meme, even one you’ve set up yourself! Ever-Linky Widgets are available to Mister Linky’s Gold members for just $10/year. What does the Ever-Linky Widget look like? It’s identical to the Auto-Linky above, but with less work for the blogger.

For those who want to take linkies to the next level, there is the Comment-Linky Widget. If you can use Ever-Linkies, you can use the Comment-Linky Widget. Think of this as the Ever-Linky but with comments. You replace (or add to) your blogging system’s built-in comment form and use Mister Linky’s. And here’s the best part. Instead of people just leaving their link in the linky-box and disappearing (the dreaded link-and-run) they have to leave a comment in order to link — so no more link spam! Comment-Linky Widgets are available to Mister Linky’s Platinum members for just $20/year. Here’s a sample of the Comment-Linky in action…


Have I left out any details? Let me know and I’ll fix the FAQ!