Blogging service--Policies and terms of usage

The service

IT Services is pleased to offer a hosted, user-managed blogging service to College staff, using the popular blogging software, Wordpress. IT Services offers blogging as a low priority service with minimal support and no training. To apply for a non-personal Blog site please complete the following request form, for details on personal Blog sites please read the following. There are useful training videos available at WP Apprentice, to which users may refer for basic information. Blog users are fully responsible for managing and maintaining their blogs. To help them to use the service, users should also refer to the Wordpress documentation site.

Blogging defined

A blog (abbreviated term of the word 'weblog') is a website maintained by an individual which includes information and commentary on a particular topic or set of topics. The diary-style format of a blog enables readers of the blog to add comments and to interact in the discussion. Most blogs focus on a particular subject area and, in addition to text entries, usually include links to other relevant media including other blogs, web pages, podcasts, videos and other content related to the topic discussed. Blog entries (known as posts) are displayed in reverse-chronological order and normally include an archive of older posts. For a simple overview of blogging, please look at this short video from You Tube.

College policies

Like any College service, use of the TCD blogging service is subject to current College policies. The main relevant policies are listed below, but other policies may also apply and users are advised to make themselves aware of local policies in their area.

Entitlement to a personal blog

The blogging service is for TCD staff only, and a member of staff may have one personal blog only. IT Services does not offer support for personal blogs, which are offered on a self-supported basis to users. The blog site name for personal blogs is in the format of blogs.tcd.ie/username, e.g, blogs.tcd.ie/jbloggs. Long names, generic names and descriptive names are not supported for personal blog sites. To create a personal blog login to https://blogs.tcd.ie/ using your College username and password. To help them to use the service, users should refer to the Wordpress documentation site.

Entitlement to a non-personal blog

As above, the blogging service is for the use of TCD staff only but it is worth noting that blogs can be created for projects, research groups and other non-personal purposes. Requests for such non-personal blog sites can be made, by TCD staff only, through the blogging service request form and will be assessed individually.

Migrating existing blogs

IT Services will not migrate existing blogs from other hosted services to the Colleges blogging service. Users can import their existing blogs by following the instructions at http://codex.wordpress.org/Importing_Content. Users should note that importing a blog might not preserve appearance, content and formatting of the imported blog, particularly if it originates from a platform other than Wordpress.

Blog quota

Each blog site is limited to a quota of 100 MBs. Image sizes of 800 x 600 are adequate for display in blogs and users should not upload larger sizes. In many cases, smaller images will be good enough and these should be used where possible.  Attachments are not allowed in blog comments. The blogging system may not be used as a Content Management System or as an alternative information management system for College web sites.

Recommended browser

IT Services recommends Firefox as the preferred browser for the blogging service. Information on browser issues is listed here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/browser-issues/

Blog style sheets

Wordpress uses a small number of style sheets (CSS) to manage the design of a blog site.  It is possible to edit the style sheets, although inexperienced users should do this with extreme caution, as a simple change could destroy the appearance of the blog. Before carrying out any maintenance, users should remember to export their blog. Information on CSS editing is available from http://codex.wordpress.org/CSS_Fixing_Browser_Bugs

Requesting new features

Requests for new features, including plug-ins, can be made through the IT Service Desk. Requests for new features will have a low priority in IT Services and new features implemented will not be subsequently supported.

User validation

User must log on to their Wordpress site, using their College username and network login password, to update their blog. 

Plugins

The following plugins are installed with the Wordpress blogging service

  • Akismet – This is an anti spam plug-in
  • Limit Login Attempts – A security plug-in that locks the account temporarily after a set number of login attempts

Managing blog spam

Blogs are regularly targeted for spam and large numbers of spam comments are not unusual. Users are advised to check their blog sites at least weekly for spam. Information on managing spam is available here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Combating_Comment_Spam.

Event logging

Users must enable logging on their blog by enabling the logging plug-in. This will keep track of system events, such as profile changes, posting, commenting, in the blog. The home page for the plugin is at http://www.zirona.com/software/wpsyslog-wordpress-syslog/

Backup and archive of the service

While a backup and disaster recovery system is in place for the overall blogging system, individual blogs will not be recovered by IT Services under any circumstances. Therefore, users are advised to backup their blogs by using the Wordpress export tool.  An export of the blog should be made before the user performs any maintenance or updates. Refer to the following for instructions on exporting http://codex.wordpress.org/Tools_Export_Screen and to http://codex.wordpress.org/Importing_Content for instruction on importing.

Maintenance of the service

Notifications of planned maintenance will be published on the IT Services Web pages and will usually take place in the established 'At Risk' period on Thursday mornings between the hours of 8am and 10am.

IT Services will monitor system performance and usage for service management and IT Security purposes.

Arrangements on leaving College employment

When a user leaves the College, their blog will be removed. If a blog is to be maintained after a user leaves College, the user must transfer ownership of the blog to an existing member of staff prior to leaving.

Deleting blogs

Blogs that have not been updated within 6 months will be automatically deleted without reference to the user. If a user wishes to have a blog deleted, users should contact the IT Service Desk.