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John T. Unger

Vote for the Best TypePad Hacks With a New Widget from Squidoo!

John T. Unger December 23, 2006

Squidoo has launched the coolest hybrid widget I've seen in a while, the Plexo.

What is it? Well, it's a few things: a link list, a reader poll, a best-of generator, kind of your own personal Digg on the topic of your choice. What I really like is that you can choose to let others add links to it (or not) and you can share it with anyone else who finds it useful by allowing others to embed your list on their page. This is exactly the kind of thing that I was thinking of when I wrote in yesterday's post on Snipperoo:

When it gets easier to combine personal data, styles, embedded services, etc. it will also get easier for anyone who has a good idea to create a useful widget that other people will want to use. Widget sharing will be a great way to promote your ideas, blog or brand, even if you're not up to coding a widget from the ground up.

For instance, I decided to compile a list of links to all the hack tutorials I've posted so far. I've been meaning to do that for a while, and the plexo list was an easy way to do it quickly.Now, instead of searching through the archives, you can just check the full list to see what's there. But it gets better than that, because you can also vote on the hacks in the list, and like digg, the hacks that get the most votes rise to the top. The more people vote, the more likely it is that the most popular hacks are the ones you'll see first. This saves you time and also gives me good feedback about what kinds of hacks people are most interested in.

I've embedded the Plexo list at the bottom of this post. I really would appreciate it if a few people (or more) gave it a go. It seems the sort of thing that continues to get ever more useful the more use it gets.

It doesn't take long to create one of these if you have a squidoo account (if not, go grab one, it's free). I do have a few caveats to share based on my testing tonight.

  1. If you plan to make a long list of links, collect them in advance in a text document and paste them into the URL field at the bottom of the list. Then click "done adding" and save. I was a wee bit frustrated to find that on my first and second attempt to create my Plexo list, I lost a bunch of links when I tried to add them to the existing list. I had to go back through the archives of the blog several times and recollect the links I wanted. You can edit the titles and so forth as a revision, but I advise doing it after you've added all your links in bulk.
  2. It would appear that you can't add the same Plexo list more than once to the same page. That means, that if you put one in your sidebar, you won't be able to put it in a post too. Took me a while to figure that out because the only clue is a pop-down warning that says "no plex." If you try to add the same Plex more than once to a page, the first instance to load will be fine and any others will fail.
  3. Although the Plexo is a great sidebar item, the smallest width is 250 pixels. Most of my blogs have 200 pixel sidebars, so I decided that I would have to embed my Plexo in a post instead. I'd prefer to put it in the sidebar, but it doesn't display well or scroll if the sidebar is too narrow. Eventually, I'll probably embed it in it's own post and add a link to the top menu bar.
  4. It's simple to cut and paste the code for a  Plexo into a Notes style Typelist. If you decide to embed it in a post using the edit HTML tab, the TypePad app will add automatically add paragraph tags in the middle of the javascript which may prevent it from working. Not quite sure how to get around that?
  5. I find it slightly annoying that if you do decide to vote on items in the list, clicking the voting buttons takes you to the Sqidoo page where the list first originated. In this case, you have to scroll down a bit to find the actual list and vote. I kind of feel that the widget would be much more useful if it allowed voting from any page where it was posted. On the other hand, if you click on any of the links they open directly, in a new tab or window and that works for me.

If you think that your readers might like to see a list of hack tutorials, please feel free to click the Grab this List button and add the widget to your blog. I'd love to get the hacks out to more people, and the more votes come through, the better organized the list will be as well! You can get the TypePad Hacks widget quickly at the bottom of this page on Squidoo.

plex1957

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More Like This: Reader Polls , TypePad Hacks , Widgets

Comments

Daniel Crenna says:

I love the Plexo widget, but is there any way to force a title for non-discovered links? When you enter a link for a currently non-existant page (I need to do this in order to create a "what show should I do next" Plexo) you don't have the option of adding or changing a title. Aside from entering legit links and then editing them, I don't see another way.

Rosie says:

I thank you for your comment.

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