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Farewell to Alex King’s Popularity Contest

I finally broke down and uninstalled Alex King’s once-great “Popularity Contest” plugin for WordPress. The plugin had been active here at Perishable Press for over two years, and had provided fairly consistent and apparently accurate statistics while in service.

Unfortunately, there were serious errors involved with the plugin way back during the WordPress-2.3 upgrade that were never addressed by the plugin author. There was an interim version of the plugin that had patched the error until an official update was released, but sadly and almost two years later this has not happened. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like running abandoned plugins on my site.

Besides the fact that Popularity Contest seems to be dead in the water, it finally dawned upon me that I never actually used the plugin to begin with. You know how Popularity Contest provides all of those wonderful statistics right there in your Dashboard? Yep, never used ‘em. I maybe glanced at them during updates and other modifications, but never really used them for anything serious.

I did, however, manage to display the various lists of “Most Popular” posts around the site and on many different themes. It was cool being able to show, say, the ten most popular posts from the CSS Category, but from what I could tell, nobody actually clicked on those links anyway. They just sat there, doing nothing but looking good doing it.

Given all of this, the final straw was when the plugin began throwing all sorts of PHP errors that seemed to multiply as time went on and things continued to change here at the site and on the server. Errors aren’t cool, and apparently the plugin isn’t equipped to deal with newer configurations and system updates. After realizing this, it was officially decided that it was time to say “farewell” to Alex King’s Popularity Contest plugin.

With all due respect to Mr. King, Popularity Contest is pretty much a dead plugin. Hopefully, Mr. King won’t let it end like this and will revive the plugin with a stunning new release, but until he does, I’m afraid to say that “the contest is over.”

Incidentally, and just in case we are blessed with an updated version of the plugin, here is the popularity-related code that I removed from the category archive views of my dark, minimalist Perishable Theme (opens in new tab):

<div class="side">
	<div class="section">
		<h3>Top WordPress Posts</h3>
		<p>Learn more about WordPress, including tips and tricks to improve performance, accessibility, and usability.</p>
		<ul class="refs">
			<?php akpc_most_popular_in_cat(7, '<li>', '</li>', 8); ?>
	<div class="section">
		<h3>Best in Function</h3>
		<p>The “Function” category features articles about <a href="" title="Category Archive for 'JavaScript'">JavaScript</a>, <a href="" title="Tag Archive for 'Flash'">Flash</a>, <a href="" title="Category Archive for 'PHP'">PHP</a>, <a href="" title="Tag Archive for 'SQL'">SQL</a>, <a href="" title="Category Archive for 'htaccess'">htaccess</a>, and other functional aspects of web design.</p>
		<ul class="refs">
			<?php akpc_most_popular_in_cat(7, '<li>', '</li>', 21); ?>
	<div class="section">
		<h3>Best in Presentation</h3>
		<p>The “Presentation” category features articles about styling your sites and using <acronym title="Cascading Style Sheets">CSS</acronym> to make them shine.</p>
		<ul class="refs">
			<?php akpc_most_popular_in_cat(7, '<li>', '</li>', 22); ?>
	<div class="section">
		<h3>Best in Structure</h3>
		<p>The “Structure” category features articles about using valid <acronym title="(eXtensible) Hypertext Markup Language">(X)HTML</acronym> to structure web documents.</p>
		<ul class="refs">
			<?php akpc_most_popular_in_cat(7, '<li>', '</li>', 20); ?>

Hey, you never know! ;)

Jeff Starr
About the Author
Jeff Starr = Web Developer. Book Author. Secretly Important.
The Tao of WordPress: Master the art of WordPress.

2 responses to “Farewell to Alex King’s Popularity Contest”

  1. Hey, Just ran across your blog while searching for something related to AK’s Popularity Contest, and thought I’d let you know incase you didn’t know already, Alex’s Latest Release: Version 2.0b2 was released on 2009-06-25 and is 2.8 compatible.

  2. Jeff Starr 2009/08/01 6:10 pm

    Awesome, Shane — thanks for pointing that out. Figures that he would release a new version 17 days after I take the time to remove the plugin and write this post. Luckily I still have the old database tables around — maybe I’ll re-install after all. Cheers.

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