Since writing about the benefits of a sideblog, the idea has taken off. Sideblogs are a great way of quickly updating your readers. However, you’re still left with the problem of how to set one up.

There are various methods, including the use of Twitter or Tumblelog and then importing an RSS feed. However, those methods don’t give enough control for me, so the method I’m using is done entirely in WordPress.

Features of A Perfect Sideblog

The purpose of my sideblog is to post links that I would recommend, and to write quick updates about this blog. For that purpose, here is what I would consider the perfect sideblog to be:

  • Compact. Show only what needs to be shown. It has to fit easily into your sidebar.
  • No post titles. The post title, linking to the entries own page, is not needed. Instead, I’d rather have a headline that was the actual link I’m talking about.
  • Comments enabled sometimes. Comments are only needed when you’re asking a question, so the ability to turn them on and off at will is a must.
  • Separate RSS feed (And preferably an archives page). Not all of your current readers will want this in their feed reader, but some will, so give them the option.
  • Posts don’t show up on the home page, or in search results.

The Code

Firstly, set up a new category in WordPress (e.g. Called “Asides”).

Thanks goes to milo for figuring out how to do this bit without a plugin. Add the following to the functions.php file in your theme (Or if your theme doesn’t have one, create a file with this name). Make sure you update the “17” with the ID of your Asides category. Also, make sure that there is no whitespace before or after the php tags.

<?php
function asidesFilter($query) {
if ($query->is_feed || $query->is_home || $query->is_search) {
$query->set('cat','-17');
}
return $query;
}
add_filter('pre_get_posts','asidesFilter');
?>

Now, paste the following into your sidebar (Either in sidebar.php, or in a PHP widget). Make sure to update it with your feed URL, category ID, category URL and number of posts you want to show, as well as any of the text you’d like to personalize.

There is also a line for an RSS image. Feel free to download the image used in my sidebar, and upload it to your own server. You can also update the left:0px; value to choose how far to the right you’d like to position the image.

<h3>Asides
<a href="FEED URL" title="The Asides RSS feed.">
<img src="RSS IMAGE URL" alt="RSS" style="position:relative;left:0px;" /></a></h3>
<?php query_posts('cat=17&showposts=4'); ?>
<?php if (have_posts()) : ?>
<?php while (have_posts()) : the_post(); ?>
<div class="aside_post">
<?php the_content('Continue reading this article »'); ?>
<small><?php the_time('F jS Y') ?></small>
</div>
<?php endwhile; ?>
<span class="aside_archive_link"><a href="CATEGORY URL" title="More asides.">Archives »</a></span>
<?php else : ?><p>Sorry, the sideblog is having a little trouble.</p>
<?php endif; ?>

If you have any trouble, feel free to ask for help in the comments. And if you have any success, make sure you post your link, to let us see how things worked out.

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