Monthly Archives: February 2013

Selectively deprecating WordPress plugins from Dashboard > Plugins

On large WordPress MS installations where site admins are allowed to manage their own plugins, the list of plugins tends to get crowded over time. Sometimes you introduce a plugin to the network and admins start using it, but some time down the road – a year or two later, even – you decide that you want to deprecate that plugin (maybe to replace it with another one, etc). However, migrating users of one plugin to another plugin is a logistical and technical tangle, and sometimes the best medium-term strategy is to allow existing users of the plugin to keep using it, but to prevent admins from activating it in the future.

Here’s how we’re doing it on the CUNY Academic Commons. In the gist below, $disabled_plugins are the plugins that we don’t want people to activate in the future. In most cases, however, we do want people to be able to deactivate the plugins, so by default, we don’t filter plugins if they’re active. However, we also have an array of $undeactivatable_plugins, which cannot be activated or deactivated.

Props to dev team member Dominic Giglio for writing part of this.

BuddyPress Docs 1.3, featuring theme compatibility on BP 1.7

I’ve just released version 1.3 of BuddyPress Docs, my WordPress plugin that powers collaborative document editing on a BuddyPress site. The main feature of Docs 1.3 is theme compatibility, which means that top-level Docs templates (archives, single docs, and the Create screen) are no longer necessarily top-level. Using the theme compat feature of BuddyPress 1.7 (currently in beta), this top-level content is put directly into the content area of your theme’s page.php template, ensuring that Docs pages will keep your header, footer, sidebar, and other global elements.

The theme compatibility feature only kicks in if you’re running BP 1.7. Existing installations of Docs on BP < 1.7 will continue to work as before.

Are you a BP Docs user? Are you already testing BuddyPress 1.7? I'd be glad to get your feedback on Docs 1.3. Report any problems on the issue tracker.

Dynamically add items to a wp_nav_menu() list

WordPress’s wp_nav_menu() fetches a custom menu, as built using the Menus GUI, for display in a theme. I had a project where I needed to add some items to this menu dynamically – the links would be different for each user, and wouldn’t appear for logged-out users, so they couldn’t really be added using the GUI. After a bit of futzing, I was able to insert my menu items, tricking WP into thinking that they were native.

Details: For logged-in users, I needed to add three subnav items underneath the top-level ‘Activity’ item, if it was present. So at the beginning of the function, you’ll see that I’m doing some BuddyPress-specific stuff, to find the Activity menu. If you need to use a menu_item_parent like I did, you’ll have to supply your own method for finding it (or just hardcode it). The heavy lifting is done in the second foreach loop, where I build stdClass objects just robust enough that WordPress will interpret them as true nav menu items.


Safely delete spam comments across a large WP network

I’m currently working on a university WordPress network that’s been running for four or five years (an MU veteran!) and has almost 5000 blogs, most of which are defunct (because they’re from previous semesters). Akismet is activated across the network, so there’s not much of a public spam problem. However, even spam comments are stored in the database, and some of the blogs have tens of thousands of spam comments sitting in their tables. I’m going to implement a couple of tricks to keep this from happening in the future (a lightweight honeypot for non-logged-in users, tell Akismet to auto-delete spam comments on old posts). But for now, I’ve got to clean up this mess, because the very large comment and commentmeta tables are causing resource issues.

I wrote a simple script that gradually cycles through all the blogs on the network and deletes comments that have been marked as spam by Akismet. Here it is, with some comments afterward:


  • The number of blogs is hardcoded (4980)
  • The ‘qw_delete_in_progress’ key is a throttle, ensuring that only one of these routines is running at a time. You might call this the poor man’s poor man’s cron.
  • I’ve limited it to 10 comments per pageload, but you could change that if you wanted
  • Put it in an mu-plugins file. When it’s finished running (check the ‘qw_delete_next_blog’ flag in the wp_sitemeta table – it’s done if it’s greater than the total number of blogs on the system), be sure to remove it, or at least comment out the register_shutdown_function line.

Use at your own risk – I’m posting here primarily for my own records 🙂