They Have To Be Monsters

Since I started working on Discourse, I spend a lot of time thinking about how software can encourage and nudge people to be more empathetic online. That’s why it’s troubling to read articles like this one:

My brother’s 32nd birthday is today. It’s an especially emotional day for

Since I started working on Discourse, I spend a lot of time thinking about how software can encourage and nudge people to be more empathetic online. That's why it's troubling to read articles like this one:

My brother’s 32nd birthday is today. It’s an especially emotional day for his family because he’s not alive for it.

He died of a heroin overdose last February.
This year is even harder than the last. I started weeping at midnight and eventually cried myself to sleep. Today’s symptoms include explosions of sporadic sobbing and an insurmountable feeling of emptiness. My mom posted a gut-wrenching comment on my brother’s Facebook page about the unfairness of it all. Her baby should be here, not gone. “Where is the God that is making us all so sad?� she asked.

In response, someone — a stranger/(I assume) another human being — commented with one word: “Junkie.�

The interaction may seem a bit strange and out of context until you realize that this is the Facebook page of a person who was somewhat famous, who produced the excellent show Parks and Recreation. Not that this forgives the behavior in any way, of course, but it does explain why strangers would wander by and make observations.

There is deep truth in the old idea that people are able to say these things because they are looking at a screen full of words, not directly at the face of the person they're about to say a terrible thing to. That one level of abstraction the Internet allows, typing, which is so immensely powerful in so many other contexts …

… has some crippling emotional consequences.

As an exercise in empathy, try to imagine saying some of the terrible things people typed to each other online to a real person sitting directly in front of you. Or don't imagine, and just watch this video.

I challenge you to watch the entirety of that video. I couldn't do it. This is the second time I've tried, and I had to turn it off not even 2 minutes in because I couldn't take it any more.

It's no coincidence that these are comments directed at women. Over the last few years I have come to understand how, as a straight white man, I have the privilege of being immune from most of this kind of treatment. But others are not so fortunate. The Guardian analyzed 70 million comments and found that online abuse is heaped disproportionately on women, people of color, and people of different sexual orientation.

And avalanches happen easily online. Anonymity disinhibits people, making some of them more likely to be abusive. Mobs can form quickly: once one abusive comment is posted, others will often pile in, competing to see who can be the most cruel. This abuse can move across platforms at great speed – from Twitter, to Facebook, to blogposts – and it can be viewed on multiple devices – the desktop at work, the mobile phone at home. To the person targeted, it can feel like the perpetrator is everywhere: at home, in the office, on the bus, in the street.

I've only had a little taste of this treatment, once. The sense of being "under siege" – a constant barrage of vitriol and judgment pouring your way every day, every hour – was palpable. It was not pleasant. It absolutely affected my state of mind. Someone remarked in the comments that ultimately it did not matter, because as a white man I could walk away from the whole situation any time. And they were right. I began to appreciate what it would feel like when you can't walk away, when this harassment follows you around everywhere you go online, and you never really know when the next incident will occur, or exactly what shape it will take.

Imagine the feeling of being constantly on edge like that, every day. What happens to your state of mind when walking away isn't an option? It gave me great pause.

The Scream by Nathan Sawaya

I admired the way Stephanie Wittels Wachs actually engaged with the person who left that awful comment. This is a man who has two children of his own, and should be no stranger to the kind of pain involved in a child's death. And yet he felt the need to post the word "Junkie" in reply to a mother's anguish over losing her child to drug addiction.

Isn’t this what empathy is? Putting myself in someone else’s shoes with the knowledge and awareness that I, too, am human and, therefore, susceptible to this tragedy or any number of tragedies along the way?

Most would simply delete the comment, block the user, and walk away. Totally defensible. But she didn't. She takes the time and effort to attempt to understand this person who is abusing her mother, to reach them, to connect, to demonstrate the very empathy this man appears incapable of.

Consider the related story of Lenny Pozner, who lost a child at Sandy Hook, and became the target of groups who believe the event was a hoax, and similarly selflessly devotes much of his time to refuting and countering these bizarre claims.

Tracy’s alleged harassment was hardly the first, Pozner said. There’s a whole network of people who believe the media reported a mass shooting that never happened, he said, that the tragedy was an elaborate hoax designed to increase support for gun control. Pozner said he gets ugly comments often on social media, such as, “Eventually you’ll be tried for your crimes of treason against the people,� “… I won’t be satisfied until the caksets are opened…� and “How much money did you get for faking all of this?�

It's easy to practice empathy when you limit it to people that are easy to empathize with – the downtrodden, the undeserving victims. But it is another matter entirely to empathize with those that hate, harangue, and intentionally make other people's lives miserable. If you can do this, you are a far better person than me. I struggle with it. But my hat is off to you. There's no better way to teach empathy than to practice it, in the most difficult situations.

In individual cases, reaching out and really trying to empathize with people you disagree with or dislike can work, even people who happen to be lifelong members of hate organizations, as in the remarkable story of Megan Phelps-Roper:

As a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, in Topeka, Kansas, Phelps-Roper believed that AIDS was a curse sent by God. She believed that all manner of other tragedies—war, natural disaster, mass shootings—were warnings from God to a doomed nation, and that it was her duty to spread the news of His righteous judgments. To protest the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in America, the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funerals of gay men who died of AIDS and of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members held signs with slogans like “GOD HATES FAGS� and “THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS,� and the outrage that their efforts attracted had turned the small church, which had fewer than a hundred members, into a global symbol of hatred.

Perhaps one of the greatest failings of the Internet is the breakdown in cost of emotional labor.

First we’ll reframe the problem: the real issue is not Problem Child’s opinions – he can have whatever opinions he wants. The issue is that he’s doing zero emotional labor – he’s not thinking about his audience or his effect on people at all. (Possibly, he’s just really bad at modeling other people’s responses – the outcome is the same whether he lacks the will or lacks the skill.) But to be a good community member, he needs to consider his audience.

True empathy means reaching out and engaging in a loving way with everyone, even those that are hurtful, hateful, or spiteful. But on the Internet, can you do it every day, multiple times a day, across hundreds of people? Is this a reasonable thing to ask of someone? Is it even possible, short of sainthood?

The question remains: why would people post such hateful things in the first place? Why reply "Junkie" to a mother's anguish? Why ask the father of a murdered child to publicly prove his child's death was not a hoax? Why tweet "Thank God for AIDS!"

Unfortunately, I think I know the answer to this question, and you're not going to like it.

Busy-Work by Shen, owlturd.com

I don't like it. I don't want it. But I know.

I have laid some heavy stuff on you in this post, and for that, I apologize. I think the weight of what I'm trying to communicate here requires it. I have to warn you that the next article I'm about to link is far heavier than anything I have posted above, maybe the heaviest thing I've ever posted. It's about the legal quandary presented in the tragic cases of children who died because their parents accidentally left them strapped into carseats, and it won a much deserved pulitzer. It is also one of the most harrowing things I have ever read.

Ed Hickling believes he knows why. Hickling is a clinical psychologist from Albany, N.Y., who has studied the effects of fatal auto accidents on the drivers who survive them. He says these people are often judged with disproportionate harshness by the public, even when it was clearly an accident, and even when it was indisputably not their fault.

Humans, Hickling said, have a fundamental need to create and maintain a narrative for their lives in which the universe is not implacable and heartless, that terrible things do not happen at random, and that catastrophe can be avoided if you are vigilant and responsible.

In hyperthermia cases, he believes, the parents are demonized for much the same reasons. “We are vulnerable, but we don’t want to be reminded of that. We want to believe that the world is understandable and controllable and unthreatening, that if we follow the rules, we’ll be okay. So, when this kind of thing happens to other people, we need to put them in a different category from us. We don’t want to resemble them, and the fact that we might is too terrifying to deal with. So, they have to be monsters.�

This man left the junkie comment because he is afraid. He is afraid his own children could become drug addicts. He is afraid his children, through no fault of his, through no fault of anyone at all, could die at 30. When presented with real, tangible evidence of the pain and grief a mother feels at the drug related death of her own child, and the reality that it could happen to anyone, it became so overwhelming that it was too much for him to bear.

Those "Sandy Hook Truthers" harass the father of a victim because they are afraid. They are afraid their own children could be viciously gunned down in cold blood any day of the week, bullets tearing their way through the bodies of the teachers standing in front of them, desperately trying to protect them from being murdered. They can't do anything to protect their children from this, and in fact there's nothing any of us can do to protect our children from being murdered at random, at school any day of the week, at the whim of any mentally unstable individual with access to an assault rifle. That's the harsh reality.

When faced with the abyss of pain and grief that parents feel over the loss of their children, due to utter random chance in a world they can't control, they could never control, maybe none of us can ever control, the overwhelming sense of existential dread is simply too much to bear. So they have to be monsters. They must be.

And we will fight these monsters, tooth and nail, raging in our hatred, so we can forget our pain, at least for a while.

After Lyn Balfour’s acquittal, this comment appeared on the Charlottesville News Web site:

“If she had too many things on her mind then she should have kept her legs closed and not had any kids. They should lock her in a car during a hot day and see what happens.�

I imagine the suffering that these parents are already going through, reading these words that another human being typed to them, just typed, and something breaks inside me. I can't process it. But rather than pitting ourselves against each other out of fear, recognize that the monster who posted this terrible thing is me. It's you. It's all of us.

The weight of seeing through the fear and beyond the monster to simply discover yourself is often too terrible for many people to bear. In a world of heavy things, it's the heaviest there is.

[advertisement] At Stack Overflow, we help developers learn, share, and grow. Whether you’re looking for your next dream job or looking to build out your team, we've got your back.

They Have To Be Monsters

Since I started working on Discourse, I spend a lot of time thinking about how software can encourage and nudge people to be more empathetic online. That’s why it’s troubling to read articles like this one:

My brother’s 32nd birthday is today. It’s an especially emotional day for

Since I started working on Discourse, I spend a lot of time thinking about how software can encourage and nudge people to be more empathetic online. That's why it's troubling to read articles like this one:

My brother’s 32nd birthday is today. It’s an especially emotional day for his family because he’s not alive for it.

He died of a heroin overdose last February.
This year is even harder than the last. I started weeping at midnight and eventually cried myself to sleep. Today’s symptoms include explosions of sporadic sobbing and an insurmountable feeling of emptiness. My mom posted a gut-wrenching comment on my brother’s Facebook page about the unfairness of it all. Her baby should be here, not gone. “Where is the God that is making us all so sad?� she asked.

In response, someone — a stranger/(I assume) another human being — commented with one word: “Junkie.�

The interaction may seem a bit strange and out of context until you realize that this is the Facebook page of a person who was somewhat famous, who produced the excellent show Parks and Recreation. Not that this forgives the behavior in any way, of course, but it does explain why strangers would wander by and make observations.

There is deep truth in the old idea that people are able to say these things because they are looking at a screen full of words, not directly at the face of the person they're about to say a terrible thing to. That one level of abstraction the Internet allows, typing, which is so immensely powerful in so many other contexts …

… has some crippling emotional consequences.

As an exercise in empathy, try to imagine saying some of the terrible things people typed to each other online to a real person sitting directly in front of you. Or don't imagine, and just watch this video.

I challenge you to watch the entirety of that video. I couldn't do it. This is the second time I've tried, and I had to turn it off not even 2 minutes in because I couldn't take it any more.

It's no coincidence that these are comments directed at women. Over the last few years I have come to understand how, as a straight white man, I have the privilege of being immune from most of this kind of treatment. But others are not so fortunate. The Guardian analyzed 70 million comments and found that online abuse is heaped disproportionately on women, people of color, and people of different sexual orientation.

And avalanches happen easily online. Anonymity disinhibits people, making some of them more likely to be abusive. Mobs can form quickly: once one abusive comment is posted, others will often pile in, competing to see who can be the most cruel. This abuse can move across platforms at great speed – from Twitter, to Facebook, to blogposts – and it can be viewed on multiple devices – the desktop at work, the mobile phone at home. To the person targeted, it can feel like the perpetrator is everywhere: at home, in the office, on the bus, in the street.

I've only had a little taste of this treatment, once. The sense of being "under siege" – a constant barrage of vitriol and judgment pouring your way every day, every hour – was palpable. It was not pleasant. It absolutely affected my state of mind. Someone remarked in the comments that ultimately it did not matter, because as a white man I could walk away from the whole situation any time. And they were right. I began to appreciate what it would feel like when you can't walk away, when this harassment follows you around everywhere you go online, and you never really know when the next incident will occur, or exactly what shape it will take.

Imagine the feeling of being constantly on edge like that, every day. What happens to your state of mind when walking away isn't an option? It gave me great pause.

The Scream by Nathan Sawaya

I admired the way Stephanie Wittels Wachs actually engaged with the person who left that awful comment. This is a man who has two children of his own, and should be no stranger to the kind of pain involved in a child's death. And yet he felt the need to post the word "Junkie" in reply to a mother's anguish over losing her child to drug addiction.

Isn’t this what empathy is? Putting myself in someone else’s shoes with the knowledge and awareness that I, too, am human and, therefore, susceptible to this tragedy or any number of tragedies along the way?

Most would simply delete the comment, block the user, and walk away. Totally defensible. But she didn't. She takes the time and effort to attempt to understand this person who is abusing her mother, to reach them, to connect, to demonstrate the very empathy this man appears incapable of.

Consider the related story of Lenny Pozner, who lost a child at Sandy Hook, and became the target of groups who believe the event was a hoax, and similarly selflessly devotes much of his time to refuting and countering these bizarre claims.

Tracy’s alleged harassment was hardly the first, Pozner said. There’s a whole network of people who believe the media reported a mass shooting that never happened, he said, that the tragedy was an elaborate hoax designed to increase support for gun control. Pozner said he gets ugly comments often on social media, such as, “Eventually you’ll be tried for your crimes of treason against the people,� “… I won’t be satisfied until the caksets are opened…� and “How much money did you get for faking all of this?�

It's easy to practice empathy when you limit it to people that are easy to empathize with – the downtrodden, the undeserving victims. But it is another matter entirely to empathize with those that hate, harangue, and intentionally make other people's lives miserable. If you can do this, you are a far better person than me. I struggle with it. But my hat is off to you. There's no better way to teach empathy than to practice it, in the most difficult situations.

In individual cases, reaching out and really trying to empathize with people you disagree with or dislike can work, even people who happen to be lifelong members of hate organizations, as in the remarkable story of Megan Phelps-Roper:

As a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, in Topeka, Kansas, Phelps-Roper believed that AIDS was a curse sent by God. She believed that all manner of other tragedies—war, natural disaster, mass shootings—were warnings from God to a doomed nation, and that it was her duty to spread the news of His righteous judgments. To protest the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in America, the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funerals of gay men who died of AIDS and of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members held signs with slogans like “GOD HATES FAGS� and “THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS,� and the outrage that their efforts attracted had turned the small church, which had fewer than a hundred members, into a global symbol of hatred.

Perhaps one of the greatest failings of the Internet is the breakdown in cost of emotional labor.

First we’ll reframe the problem: the real issue is not Problem Child’s opinions – he can have whatever opinions he wants. The issue is that he’s doing zero emotional labor – he’s not thinking about his audience or his effect on people at all. (Possibly, he’s just really bad at modeling other people’s responses – the outcome is the same whether he lacks the will or lacks the skill.) But to be a good community member, he needs to consider his audience.

True empathy means reaching out and engaging in a loving way with everyone, even those that are hurtful, hateful, or spiteful. But on the Internet, can you do it every day, multiple times a day, across hundreds of people? Is this a reasonable thing to ask of someone? Is it even possible, short of sainthood?

The question remains: why would people post such hateful things in the first place? Why reply "Junkie" to a mother's anguish? Why ask the father of a murdered child to publicly prove his child's death was not a hoax? Why tweet "Thank God for AIDS!"

Unfortunately, I think I know the answer to this question, and you're not going to like it.

Busy-Work by Shen, owlturd.com

I don't like it. I don't want it. But I know.

I have laid some heavy stuff on you in this post, and for that, I apologize. I think the weight of what I'm trying to communicate here requires it. I have to warn you that the next article I'm about to link is far heavier than anything I have posted above, maybe the heaviest thing I've ever posted. It's about the legal quandary presented in the tragic cases of children who died because their parents accidentally left them strapped into carseats, and it won a much deserved pulitzer. It is also one of the most harrowing things I have ever read.

Ed Hickling believes he knows why. Hickling is a clinical psychologist from Albany, N.Y., who has studied the effects of fatal auto accidents on the drivers who survive them. He says these people are often judged with disproportionate harshness by the public, even when it was clearly an accident, and even when it was indisputably not their fault.

Humans, Hickling said, have a fundamental need to create and maintain a narrative for their lives in which the universe is not implacable and heartless, that terrible things do not happen at random, and that catastrophe can be avoided if you are vigilant and responsible.

In hyperthermia cases, he believes, the parents are demonized for much the same reasons. “We are vulnerable, but we don’t want to be reminded of that. We want to believe that the world is understandable and controllable and unthreatening, that if we follow the rules, we’ll be okay. So, when this kind of thing happens to other people, we need to put them in a different category from us. We don’t want to resemble them, and the fact that we might is too terrifying to deal with. So, they have to be monsters.�

This man left the junkie comment because he is afraid. He is afraid his own children could become drug addicts. He is afraid his children, through no fault of his, through no fault of anyone at all, could die at 30. When presented with real, tangible evidence of the pain and grief a mother feels at the drug related death of her own child, and the reality that it could happen to anyone, it became so overwhelming that it was too much for him to bear.

Those "Sandy Hook Truthers" harass the father of a victim because they are afraid. They are afraid their own children could be viciously gunned down in cold blood any day of the week, bullets tearing their way through the bodies of the teachers standing in front of them, desperately trying to protect them from being murdered. They can't do anything to protect their children from this, and in fact there's nothing any of us can do to protect our children from being murdered at random, at school any day of the week, at the whim of any mentally unstable individual with access to an assault rifle. That's the harsh reality.

When faced with the abyss of pain and grief that parents feel over the loss of their children, due to utter random chance in a world they can't control, they could never control, maybe none of us can ever control, the overwhelming sense of existential dread is simply too much to bear. So they have to be monsters. They must be.

And we will fight these monsters, tooth and nail, raging in our hatred, so we can forget our pain, at least for a while.

After Lyn Balfour’s acquittal, this comment appeared on the Charlottesville News Web site:

“If she had too many things on her mind then she should have kept her legs closed and not had any kids. They should lock her in a car during a hot day and see what happens.�

I imagine the suffering that these parents are already going through, reading these words that another human being typed to them, just typed, and something breaks inside me. I can't process it. But rather than pitting ourselves against each other out of fear, recognize that the monster who posted this terrible thing is me. It's you. It's all of us.

The weight of seeing through the fear and beyond the monster to simply discover yourself is often too terrible for many people to bear. In a world of heavy things, it's the heaviest there is.

[advertisement] At Stack Overflow, we help developers learn, share, and grow. Whether you’re looking for your next dream job or looking to build out your team, we've got your back.

They Have To Be Monsters

Since I started working on Discourse, I spend a lot of time thinking about how software can encourage and nudge people to be more empathetic online. That’s why it’s especially hard to read articles like this one:

My brother’s 32nd birthday is today. It’s an especially emotional day

Since I started working on Discourse, I spend a lot of time thinking about how software can encourage and nudge people to be more empathetic online. That's why it's especially hard to read articles like this one:

My brother’s 32nd birthday is today. It’s an especially emotional day for his family because he’s not alive for it.

He died of a heroin overdose last February. This year is even harder than the last. I started weeping at midnight and eventually cried myself to sleep. Today’s symptoms include explosions of sporadic sobbing and an insurmountable feeling of emptiness. My mom posted a gut-wrenching comment on my brother’s Facebook page about the unfairness of it all. Her baby should be here, not gone. “Where is the God that is making us all so sad?” she asked.

In response, someone — a stranger/(I assume) another human being — commented with one word: “Junkie.”

The interaction may seem a bit strange and out of context until you realize that this is the Facebook page of a person who was somewhat famous, who produced the excellent show Parks and Recreation. Not that this forgives the behavior in any way, of course, but it does explain why strangers would wander by and make observations.

There is deep truth in the old idea that people are able to say these things because they are looking at a screen full of words, not directly at the face of the person they're about to say a terrible thing to. That one level of abstraction the Internet allows, typing, which is so immensely powerful in so many other contexts …

… has some crippling emotional consequences.

As an exercise in empathy, try to imagine saying some of the terrible things people typed to each other online to a real person sitting directly in front of you. Or don't imagine, and just watch this video.

I challenge you to watch the entirety of that video. I couldn't do it. This is the second time I've tried, and I had to turn it off not even 2 minutes in because I couldn't take it any more.

It's no coincidence that these are comments directed at women. Over the last few years I have come to understand how, as a straight white man, I have the privilege of being immune from most of this kind of treatment. But others are not so fortunate. The Guardian analyzed 70 million comments and found that online abuse is heaped disproportionately on women, people of color, and people of different sexual orientation.

And avalanches happen easily online. Anonymity disinhibits people, making some of them more likely to be abusive. Mobs can form quickly: once one abusive comment is posted, others will often pile in, competing to see who can be the most cruel. This abuse can move across platforms at great speed – from Twitter, to Facebook, to blogposts – and it can be viewed on multiple devices – the desktop at work, the mobile phone at home. To the person targeted, it can feel like the perpetrator is everywhere: at home, in the office, on the bus, in the street.

I've only had a little taste of this treatment, once. The sense of being "under siege" – a constant barrage of vitriol and judgment pouring your way every day, every hour – was palpable. It was not pleasant. It absolutely affected my state of mind. Someone remarked in the comments that ultimately it did not matter, because as a white man I could walk away from the whole situation any time. And they were right. I began to appreciate what it would feel like when you can't walk away, when this harassment follows you around everywhere you go online, and you never really know when the next incident will occur, or exactly what shape it will take.

Imagine the feeling of being constantly on edge like that, every day. What happens to your state of mind when walking away isn't an option? It gave me great pause.

I admired the way Stephanie Wittels Wachs actually engaged with the person who left that awful comment. This is a man who has two children of his own, and should be no stranger to the kind of pain involved in a child's death. And yet he felt the need to post the word "Junkie" in reply to a mother's anguish over losing her child to drug addiction.

Isn’t this what empathy is? Putting myself in someone else’s shoes with the knowledge and awareness that I, too, am human and, therefore, susceptible to this tragedy or any number of tragedies along the way?

Most would simply delete the comment, block the user, and walk away. Totally defensible. But she didn't. She takes the time and effort to attempt to understand this person who is abusing her mother, to reach them, to connect, to practice the very empathy this man appears incapable of.

Consider the related story of Lenny Pozner, who lost a child at Sandy Hook, and became the target of groups who believe the event was a hoax, and similarly selflessly devotes much of his time to refuting and countering these bizarre claims.

Tracy’s alleged harassment was hardly the first, Pozner said. There’s a whole network of people who believe the media reported a mass shooting that never happened, he said, that the tragedy was an elaborate hoax designed to increase support for gun control. Pozner said he gets ugly comments often on social media, such as, “Eventually you’ll be tried for your crimes of treason against the people,” “… I won’t be satisfied until the caksets are opened…” and “How much money did you get for faking all of this?”

It's easy to practice empathy when you limit it to people that are easy to empathize with – the downtrodden, the undeserving victims. But it is another matter entirely to empathize with those that hate, harangue, and intentionally make other people's lives miserable. If you can do this, you are a far better person than me. I struggle with it. But my hat is off to you. There's no better way to teach empathy than to practice it, particularly toward those who appear to have none.

In individual cases, reaching out and really trying to empathize with people you disagree with or dislike can work, even people who happen to be lifelong members of hate organizations, as in the remarkable story of Megan Phelps-Roper:

As a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, in Topeka, Kansas, Phelps-Roper believed that AIDS was a curse sent by God. She believed that all manner of other tragedies—war, natural disaster, mass shootings—were warnings from God to a doomed nation, and that it was her duty to spread the news of His righteous judgments. To protest the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in America, the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funerals of gay men who died of AIDS and of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Members held signs with slogans like “GOD HATES FAGS” and “THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS,” and the outrage that their efforts attracted had turned the small church, which had fewer than a hundred members, into a global symbol of hatred.

Perhaps one of the greatest failings of the Internet is the breakdown in cost of emotional labor.

First we’ll reframe the problem: the real issue is not Problem Child’s opinions – he can have whatever opinions he wants. The issue is that he’s doing zero emotional labor – he’s not thinking about his audience or his effect on people at all. (Possibly, he’s just really bad at modeling other people’s responses – the outcome is the same whether he lacks the will or lacks the skill.) But to be a good community member, he needs to consider his audience.

True empathy means reaching out and engaging in a loving way with everyone, even those that are hurtful, hateful, or spiteful. But on the Internet, can you do it every day, multiple times a day, across hundreds of people? Is this a reasonable thing to ask? Is it even possible, short of sainthood?

The question remains: why would people post such hateful things? Why would they reply "Junkie" to a mother's anguish? Why would they ask the father of a murdered child to publicly prove his child's death was not a hoax? Why would they tweet "Thank God for AIDS!"?

Unfortunately, I think I know the answer to this question, and you're not going to like it.

I don't like it. I don't want it. But I know.

I have laid some heavy stuff on you in this post, and for that, I apologize. I think the weight of what I'm trying to communicate here requires it. I have to warn you that the next article I'm about to link is far beyond anything I have posted above, maybe even on this blog, ever. It's about the legal quandary presented in the tragic cases of children who died because their parents accidentally left them strapped into carseats, and it won a much deserved pulitzer. It is also one of the most harrowing things I have ever read.

Ed Hickling believes he knows why. Hickling is a clinical psychologist from Albany, N.Y., who has studied the effects of fatal auto accidents on the drivers who survive them. He says these people are often judged with disproportionate harshness by the public, even when it was clearly an accident, and even when it was indisputably not their fault.

Humans, Hickling said, have a fundamental need to create and maintain a narrative for their lives in which the universe is not implacable and heartless, that terrible things do not happen at random, and that catastrophe can be avoided if you are vigilant and responsible.

In hyperthermia cases, he believes, the parents are demonized for much the same reasons. “We are vulnerable, but we don’t want to be reminded of that. We want to believe that the world is understandable and controllable and unthreatening, that if we follow the rules, we’ll be okay. So, when this kind of thing happens to other people, we need to put them in a different category from us. We don’t want to resemble them, and the fact that we might is too terrifying to deal with. So, they have to be monsters.

This man left the junkie comment because he is afraid. He is afraid his own children could become drug addicts. He is afraid his children, through no fault of his, through no fault of anyone at all, could die at 30. When presented with real, tangible evidence of the pain and grief a mother feels at the drug related death of her own child, and the reality that it could happen to anyone, it became so overwhelming that it was too much for him to bear.

Those "Sandy Hook Truthers" harass the father of a victim because they are afraid. They are afraid their own children could be viciously gunned down in cold blood any day of the week, bullets tearing their way through the bodies of the teachers standing in front of them, desperately trying to protect them from being murdered. They can't do anything to protect their children from this, and in fact there's nothing any of us can do to protect our children from being murdered at random, while at school any day of the week, at the whim of any mentally unstable individual with access to an assault rifle. That's the harsh reality.

When faced with the abyss of pain and grief that parents feel over the loss of their children, due to utter random chance in a world they can't control, they could never control, maybe none of us can ever control, the overwhelming sense of existential dread is simply too much to bear. So they have to be monsters. They must be.

And we will fight these monsters, tooth and nail, raging in our hatred, so we can forget our pain, at least for a while.

After Lyn Balfour’s acquittal, this comment appeared on the Charlottesville News Web site:

“If she had too many things on her mind then she should have kept her legs closed and not had any kids. They should lock her in a car during a hot day and see what happens.”

I imagine the pain that these parents are going through, reading these words that another human being typed to them, just typed, and something breaks inside me. I can't process it. But rather than pitting ourselves against each other out of fear, recognize that the monster who posted this terrible thing is me. It's you. It's all of us.

The weight of seeing through the fear and beyond the monster to simply see yourself is often too terrible for many people to bear. In a world of hard things, it's the hardest there is. And we could sure use each other's help and understanding in the process.

[advertisement] At Stack Overflow, we help developers learn, share, and grow. Whether you’re looking for your next dream job or looking to build out your team, we've got your back.

5 Best WordPress Ecommerce Plugins Compared – 2016

Are you looking to build an online store? Want to know which is the best WordPress eCommerce plugin? Choosing the right eCommerce plugin is crucial for your business because a better platform means more opportunity for growth. In this article, we will compare 5 best… Read More »

The post 5 Best WordPress Ecommerce Plugins Compared – 2016 appeared first on WPBeginner.

Are you looking to build an online store? Want to know which is the best WordPress eCommerce plugin? Choosing the right eCommerce plugin is crucial for your business because a better platform means more opportunity for growth. In this article, we will compare 5 best WordPress eCommerce plugins for 2016.

Best WordPress eCommerce Plugins

What to Look in a WordPress eCommerce Plugin for Your Site?

There are plenty of WordPress eCommerce plugins in the market. But not all of them have the essential set of features you would need to start your eCommerce site.

Some eCommerce plugins are good for selling digital goods like eBooks, photos, music, etc. While others are better suited for selling physical goods that need shipping and inventory management. There are also eCommerce plugins that are good at both of them.

You need to choose a plugin depending on what you will be selling and what kind of features you would need to efficiently run your online store.

Next, you need to consider which payment gateways you will utilize to accept payments. Make sure that the plugin you choose supports those payment gateways by default or through addons.

Your eCommerce plugin will not come with a theme. You would need to see that the plugin you choose has themes that work with the plugin. See our guide on how to choose the perfect WordPress theme.

It is impossible for an eCommerce plugin to have all the features. Most of them solve this problem by addon plugins. These addons extend the functionality of your eCommerce plugin. Make sure that there are enough addon plugins to connect your WordPress eCommerce website with other services.

Last but not the least, you need to see what kind of support options are available for the plugin. Even if you will be hiring a developer to work on your site, you would still need help from time to time. Make sure that the plugin has a support system where you can get help.

What Do You Need to Run an eCommerce Website?

Ecommerce websites are resource intensive, so the first thing you will need is the best WordPress hosting that you can afford.

If you’re on a budget, then you can start with Bluehost. Make sure that you get their Business Pro plan because it comes with a SSL certificate which you will need to setup an online store.

If budget is not an issue, and you want the best performance, then we recommend using a managed WordPress hosting provider like WPEngine.

Next, you will need to choose a domain name for your website. Here is our guide on how to pick the right domain name for your eCommerce site.

Lastly, you will need to choose essential business plugins that you will need such as OptinMonster which help you reduce shopping cart abandonment and increase sales.

Having that said, let’s take a look at the best WordPress eCommerce plugins.

1. WooCommerce

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the most popular WordPress eCommerce plugin. It was acquired by Automattic (the company behind WordPress.com blog hosting service) in 2015.

There is a large number of addons and themes available for WooCommerce. They also have a large and passionate user and developer community behind it.

Pros of Using WooCommerce

Here are some of the advantages of using WooCommerce as your WordPress eCommerce plugin:

Extensions and Themes – There are hundreds of extensions and themes available for WooCommerce, which makes it easy for you to add new features to your eCommerce site. Large collection of themes means you have tons of options when choosing your site’s design and layout.

Supports Both Digital and Physical Goods – With WooCommerce you can sell physical as well as digital downloads (such as ebooks, music, software, etc.). With Envira Gallery’s WooCommerce integration, you can easily sell photos from your website as well.

Sell Affiliate or External Products – Using WooCommerce, you can add affiliate or external products to your site. Affiliate marketers can create product sites and provide users a better experience.

Complete Inventory Management – WooCommerce comes equipped with tools to easily manage your inventory or even assign it to a store manager.

Payment and Shipping Options – WooCommerce has builtin support for popular payment gateways and you can add many other payment options using extensions. It can also calculate shipping and taxes.

Support and Documentation – There is excellent documentation available online for WooCommerce. Apart from documentation, there is knowledge base, help desk, and community forums available.

Cons of Using WooCommerce

Too Many Options – WooCommerce is very easy to use, but the number of options available on the settings page can be quite intimidating for a new user.

Finding Addons – There are lots of addons available for WooCommerce, sometimes a user may not find the right addon for features that they need.

Theme Support – WooCommerce works with any WordPress theme, but it is not always as easy to setup or good looking with all themes. You need a WooCommerce ready theme to take full advantage of its features without too much hassle.

WooCommerce is the perfect choice for any kind of eCommerce website. It has a large community of developers and users, lots of addons and themes, excellent support for multilingual websites, and best free and paid support options.

2. Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads

Easy Digital Downloads allows you to easily sell digital downloads online using WordPress. It is very easy to use and comes with powerful features to create beautiful and functional digital goods store.

We use Easy Digital Downloads to sell our software like WPForms, SoliloquyWP, etc.

Pros of Using Easy Digital Downloads

Designed To Sell Digital Goods – Easy Digital Downloads is built from the ground up to sell digital downloads. Unlike eCommerce plugins that can be used to sell all kind of products, EDD provides a far better experience for selling digital goods.

Easy To Use – Easy digital downloads is very easy to use, from the start you would instantly figure out how to add products and display them. This is really useful for the first timers.

Extensions – There are hundreds of extensions available for Easy Digital Downloads. Addons for many payment gateways, platforms and services, and to add extra features.

Themes – Easy Digital Downloads works with almost any WordPress theme, however if you have not choosen a theme yet, then Easy Digital Downloads has themes built specifically for the plugin.

Awesome Support – The plugin is very well documented, and you have free support forums, videos, tutorials, and even an IRC chatroom. There is also a priority support option for premium users.

Cons of Using Easy Digital Downloads

Digital Downloads Only – As the name suggests, Easy Digital Downloads makes it easier to create eCommerce sites for digital goods. But if you want to sell non-digital goods along with digital downloads then it will become quite complicated.

Selling External Products – If you want to add an external product or an affiliate product to your EDD store, then you will need to install a third-party add on for it.

When it comes to selling digital products online, we believe that Easy Digital Downloads is the best plugin to do that. We have used Easy Digital Downloads with great success, not only on client sites but also on a few of our own projects.

3. iThemes Exchange

iThemes Exchange

Created by the folks behind the extremely popular BackupBuddy plugin, Exchange is a strong contender in WordPress eCommerce platforms.

Pros of Using iThemes Exchange

Multiple Product Types – iThemes exchange supports both digital downloads and physical goods. It also has a paid addon to sell memberships and subscriptions on your website.

Easy and Quick Setup – Upon activation, it takes you directly to a setup wizard where you can quickly setup your site by choosing what are you going to sell and how you will receive payments.

Intuitive UI – iThemes Exchange offers a very nice user interface to add products and manage your eCommerce store.

Free Stripe Addon – Most other plugins in our list are charging $40-$80 for Stripe addon, iThemes exchange has stripe addon available for free and for unlimited sites.

Cons of Using iThemes Exchange

Smaller Community – iThemes Exchange is younger than many other popular eCommerce plugins. Even though there is plenty of documentation, support, and addons available for it. You may feel that their community is still growing.

We feel that iThemes Exchange is a strong contender in the market with lots of potential. We would recommend it for users who know what they will be selling, and how they will be getting paid. Easy and quick setup wizard makes it a good choice for new users who don’t want to be bothered by too many options.

4. Shopp

Shopp

The fourth contender in our list of best WordPress eCommerce plugins is the Shopp plugin. Let’s take a look at some of it’s pros and cons.

Pros of Using Shopp

Separate Tables in Database – Developers of the Shopp plugin, believe that by using separate tables in the database, they improve the database performance, which results into faster queries and faster page loads for the users.

Multiple Product Types – Shopp plugin supports physical, digital, and virtual product types. Unlike other plugins on this list, Subscription product type in Shopp plugin allows you to sell products with recurring payments without buying an extension.

Security and Compliance – The Shopp Plugin is designed to be PCI compliant. The plugin pays special attention to security and safety which helps you create a PCI-DSS compliant eCommerce store.

Cons of Using Shopp

Limited Free Support – The most important disadvantage of using Shopp Plugin is that they have no free support forums. You will have to pay for support and access to community forums.

Creates Separate Tables – While we have already listed this feature as an advantage, it could also be a disadvantage. We do not think that using separate database tables significantly affects speed of a website.

Limited Themes – Shopp Plugin works with any WordPress theme out of the box. However, if you are looking for themes designed specifically for Shopp then there are very few options available.

Shopp is a great plugin to sell anything you want. But if you are a new user, then you would probably need to buy their premium support subscription. You may also want to use Shopp if you feel that other plugins are not helping you out getting certified for PCI-DSS compliance.

5. Shopify

Shopify

Shopify is a fast growing eCommerce platform that handles everything for you. Although it is a standalone service, it does come with a WordPress integration. Let’s look at the Pros and Cons of Shopify.

Pros of Using Shopify

Super Easy for Beginners – No need to worry about the technical aspects of an eCommerce store such as setting up SSL, integrating with different payment gateways, handling shipping, worrying about taxes, etc. Shopify handles it all.

Supports Both Digital and Physical Goods – Whether you’re selling physical goods like shirts or digital downloads like music, Shopify can handle it all.

Complete Inventory Management – Shopify comes with an inventory editor and bulk importer combined with an order tracker which makes managing inventory a breeze.

Payment and Shipping Options – Shopify makes it easy for you to accept credit card both online and in person. Their shipping system streamline your fulfillment process with direct integration with popular providers like USPS.

Facebook Store, Buyable Pins, and Twitter Buy Buttons – Shopify integrates with everything. Whether you want to create a Facebook store, add a buy button on Twitter, or create buyable Pins on Pinterest, you can do it all with Shopify.

Cons of Using Shopify

Monthly Platform Fee – Shopify charges you a monthly fee to use their platform which is comparable to purchasing hosting and individual addons using the other plugins in this list.

Shopify Payments – Shopify encourages you to use their payment platform which is powered by Stripe and is a very good option for beginners. However if you want to overcomplicate things and use external systems, then Shopify charges you an additional fee.

If you want to have a powerful platform without having to deal with technical issues, then Shopify is the solution for you. While the monthly fee sounds bad at first, the hassle-free approach and peace of mind is definitely worth it because it allows you to focus on what you do best, your business!

Conclusion – The Best WordPress eCommerce Plugin is:

If you want maximum control, flexibility, and features, then WooCommerce is the best solution for you.

If you are just selling digital goods, then you should check out Easy Digital Downloads.

If you want a quick setup and ease of use, then Shopify is the best eCommerce solution for you.

That’s all we hope this article helped you find the best WordPress eCommerce plugins for your site. You may also want to see our comparison of 5 best drag and drop WordPress page builders.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post 5 Best WordPress Ecommerce Plugins Compared – 2016 appeared first on WPBeginner.

How to Find Who Reads and Subscribes to Your WordPress Blog

Do you want to find who reads and subscribes to your WordPress blog? Part of building a website is to understand is how your users read and interact with your content. In this article, we will show you how to find who reads and subscribes… Read More »

The post How to Find Who Reads and Subscribes to Your WordPress Blog appeared first on WPBeginner.

Do you want to find who reads and subscribes to your WordPress blog? Part of building a website is to understand is how your users read and interact with your content. In this article, we will show you how to find who reads and subscribes to your WordPress blog.

Who reads and subscribes to your WordPress blog

Why You Need to Know Your Audience?

Understanding your audience is crucial for the success of your blog or business. It helps you learn: which pages on your website are most popular among users? How your users found those pages? Where those users came from? And what else they looked on your website?

All this information helps you decide what kind of content works for your audience. It also helps you find out what is not working with your readers.

This allows you to plan and create better content.

Having said that, let’s take a look at how to find out more information about your readers and subscribers.

Learn About Your Readers and Subscribers Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most comprehensive analytics available in the market today. It can be used to track your site visitors as well as your RSS feed subscribers.

First you need to visit the Google Analytics website and signup for an account. Take a look at the section ‘How to Signup with Google Analytics’ in our guide on how to install Google Analytics in WordPress for detailed instructions.

Setting up Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights

For this tutorial, we will be using the MonsterInsights plugin. If you are already using the plugin and have it setup on your WordPress site, then you can skip to the next step.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Google Analytics by MonsterInsights plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Insights » Settings page and click on ‘Authenticate with your Google account’ button.

Authenticate Google Account to select your Analytics profile

This will open a popup dialog where you will be asked to allow Google Analytics plugin to access your Google account.

Google Account Permission

Click on the allow button to continue.

The popup will now show you a code which you need to copy and paste into Google Analytics plugin settings on your WordPress site.

Once you do that, the plugin will now fetch your account settings from your Google Analytics account. After that you need to select your analytics profile by clicking on select a profile.

Select a profile

Click on save changes button to store your settings.

That’s all you have successfully setup Google Analytics by MonsterInsights on your website. For detailed instructions, take a look at our beginner’s guide on how to use Google Analytics for your WordPresss site.

Tracking RSS Links in Google Analytics

Google Analytics can not only track visitors coming to your site, but it can also track links to your website from other sources like your RSS feed, email newsletter, social links, etc.

See our guide on how to track links in WordPress using Google analytics.

If you are manually sharing links, then you can add your own URL parameters. But the links in your RSS feed and newsletter are automatically generated by WordPress.

Here is how you can track your RSS feed links in WordPress using the Google Analytics by MonsterInsights plugin.

Go to Analytics » Settings in your WordPress admin area and click on the Advanced tab.

Tracking RSS feed links in Google Analytics

Check the box next to ‘Tag links in RSS feed with campaign variables’ option and click on the save changes button.

That’s all, you have successfully enabled tracking of links in your RSS feed.

Viewing Reports for Your RSS Feed Links in Google Analytics

Log in to your Google Analytics dashboard and then visit the reporting page. Go to Acquisition » All Traffic » Source/Medium tab.

Google Analytics Acquisition

There you will find RSS as source and as medium in your reporting. You can click on it to further drill down, and see which content they clicked.

Finding Subscriber Information

In order to find subscriber information, the first thing you need to do is give your users the ability to subscribe to your blog through an email newsletter. See why you should build your email list right away.

We also have an email marketing 101 guide that will help you build an email list in WordPress.

We’re going to cover how to find subscriber information in two of the most popular email marketing platforms among our users.

Find Subscriber Information in MailChimp

If you are using MailChimp, then it comes with its own built-in analytics. These reports tell you how your newsletter campaigns and your RSS to Email campaigns performed.

Simply login to your MailChimp account and click on Reports from the top menu.

You will see a list of emails sent to your subscribers. Click on the view report button next to an email.

View reports in MailChimp

This will show you an overview of your campaign. It will also provide you with information like how many users opened or didn’t open your email, bounced email addresses, abuse reports, total clicks, links clicked, etc.

Viewing MailChimp reports

Find Subscriber Information in AWeber

If you are using AWeber in WordPress as your email list provider, then you can use AWeber’s built-in reports feature. It will show you how your newsletter or RSS to email campaigns performed.

Simply login to your AWeber account and then click on reports.

Aweber Reports

The reporting dashboard provides an indepth overview of your overall opens and click rates. You can drill down the reports by clicking on shortcuts in the left menu.

AWeber reports shortcuts

That’s all, we hope this article helped you find who reads and subscribes to your WordPress blog. You may also want to see our list of 40 useful tools to manage and grow your WordPress blog.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How to Find Who Reads and Subscribes to Your WordPress Blog appeared first on WPBeginner.

19 Actionable Tips to Drive Traffic to Your New WordPress Site

“How can I drive traffic to my new WordPress site?” is a common question that we get from our users. In this article, we will share 19 actionable tips to drive traffic to your new WordPress site. We have used these traffic tips to build… Read More »

The post 19 Actionable Tips to Drive Traffic to Your New WordPress Site appeared first on WPBeginner.

“How can I drive traffic to my new WordPress site?” is a common question that we get from our users. In this article, we will share 19 actionable tips to drive traffic to your new WordPress site.

Tips to bring traffic to a WordPress site

We have used these traffic tips to build our own successful sites with thousands of subscribers and millions of pageviews.

1. Start Building Your Email List

building an email list

More than 75% of users visiting your website will never see it again. This is why the first thing you should do is start building an email list. Email gives you direct access to your users, and it is a lot more effective than any other marketing tool available today.

See our guide on why you should start building your email list right away.

Also see 16 ridiculously simple ways to get more email subscribers in less than 5 minutes.

2. Install Yoast SEO Plugin

Yoast SEO

If you haven’t already done so, then you should immediately install and setup Yoast SEO plugin. It is the most comprehensive website optimization plugin available. Not only does it help you add meta tags, it also adds Facebook OpenGraph, Twitter cards, XML Sitemap, Breadcrumbs, and so much more.

3. Optimize Your Blog Posts

Optimize posts with Yoast SEO score

Spend time on optimizing each and every blog post on your website. Yoast SEO comes with a post analysis tool, which assigns an SEO score to your posts based on the focus keyword you add. Follow these recommendations to improve each post’s SEO score to the best of your ability.

See our guide on how to optimize your WordPress blog posts for detailed instructions.

4. Make Internal Linking a Habit

Internal linking in WordPress

Did you ever wonder why all successful blogs link to their older articles? Internal linking help search engines understand the importance of your content, context, and how it relates to other content on your website. Link to your posts and pages in all your blog posts. This gives you a boost in the overall SEO score of your website.

See: 14-point blog post checklist to use before you hit publish.

5. Utilize SEO Tools

SEO Tools

There are plenty of SEO tools that can help you find new traffic sources. But for a new user this information can be a bit too technical. Check out our list of the best SEO tools that you should use for your new WordPress site.

6. Use Rich Snippets in WordPress

Rich snippets in search results

Rich snippets add useful metadata to your WordPress posts. Search engines can then use this data to display your site differently in search results. This boosts search traffic on your website.

See our beginner’s guide on how to use rich snippets in WordPress to get started.

7. Make Sharing Easy

social sharing

Social media is an important source of traffic for any website. That’s why even the most popular websites focus on making sharing easier for their users. There are tons of plugins that can let you add countless social media sites. But one downside of using those plugins is that they will slow down your website.

Floating Social Bar makes sharing easier without slowing down your website. It adds a sticky floating social bar on top of your posts.

8. Engage Users on Social Media

Engaging users on social media

The social web is where your target audiences hangout and talk about the topics related to your blog niche. All you need to do is reach out to those users and join the conversation. Engage with users sharing your links and take part in discussions around topics of your blog.

Take a look at our list of 21 best social media monitoring tools for WordPress users to get started.

9. Automate Social Media Sharing

Buffer lets you schedule social media updates

Many site owners spend a lot of time sharing content on social media. You don’t need to do that manually anymore. You can automate WordPress and social media with IFTTT or use Buffer to schedule WordPress posts for social media. These tools save you time spent on sharing your content, and you can use that time to engage with your followers.

10. Share Old Posts

Promote old posts

Twitter is the conversation hub for the web. There is always so much going on. This means that your tweets are displayed only for few minutes on a user’s timeline before they are replaced by new tweets.

You cannot be tweeting all the time to make up for that. Luckily you can easily set up your WordPress site to automatically share your old posts at regular intervals.

11. Engage Users Commenting on Your Site

Comment engagement

Comments are your site’s conversation hub. They provide you and your users an easy way to interact. You need to make sure that you respond to most user comments on your website. See how you can find comments not answered by admin in WordPress.

You should also check out these 11 ways to get more comments on your WordPress blog posts.

12. Find Ways to Boost User Engagement

Boost user engagement

User engagement increases your pageviews and the time users spend on your website. One most commonly used engagement tool is comments, but there is plenty more that you can do.

The goal is to provide users with things they can do on your website. Adding tools like polls and surveys, videos, image galleries, points system, etc, helps you get users engaged.

13. Add High Quality Images

Add high quality images

Images are a lot more engaging than text. Using high quality images on your blog not only makes it look good, it also helps users stay longer on your website. We use Shutterstock to find high quality images for our blogs. There are also plenty of websites where you can find royalty free images for your blog.

14. Add More Videos

Using videos to bring traffic

YouTube is world’s second most used search engine. Simply because videos are a lot more engaging than text and images combined. Use videos on your website to provide engaging, entertaining, and useful content to your audiences. We recommend using YouTube, because it has a large community of users and it helps you tap into one of the largest audience pools in the world.

Check out our list of best WordPress plugins for YouTube publishers to get started.

15. Optimize Your Website Speed

Optimize speed

No one likes a slow website. Faster websites are preferred not only by users but also by search engines. However, you will notice that your WordPress site would feel slower after installing a few plugins and adding a few images. Check your website with Google Page Speed and follow the recommendations it gives you.

You can start by installing a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache. Make sure you enable gzip compression.

Next, you need to optimize images for the web. We also recommend using a CDN service like MaxCDN to dynamically serve images.

16. Add SSL to Your Website

Add SSL HTTPs

Lots of websites are moving to SSL, since Google announced that they will give a slight ranking boost SSL site. Moving your site to SSL is a big change as it will change all your URLs from http to https. There are two ways you can start using SSL on your WordPress site. You can buy an SSL certificate or you can add Free SSL with Let’s encrypt.

17. Add Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Website owners need to understand how visitors use their website. This helps you understand what kind of content your users like and what you should do next. You can get this data for free by installing Google Analytics on your WordPress site.

18. Perform A/B Split Tests

Split test your landing pages

As we said earlier, site owners need data to make decisions. A/B split testing allows you to test two versions of the same page on your site to see which one performs better. Learn how to do A/B split testing with Google Analytics to improve all landing pages on your website.

19. Create Useful Content

Create useful content

This is the most important tip that you should always keep in mind. Offer useful content that helps your users and has real value. There are millions of websites out there and the most reliable way for you to compete is by offering unique and useful content.

Want to create better content? See these content marketing tips to learn about 73 types of blog posts that are proven to work, how to create a successful content strategy and more.

We hope this article helped you learn some new actionable tips to drive traffic to your new WordPress site. You may also want to see our list of 40 most useful tools to manage and grow your WordPress blog.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post 19 Actionable Tips to Drive Traffic to Your New WordPress Site appeared first on WPBeginner.

How to List Future Upcoming Scheduled Posts in WordPress

Recently, one of our users asked us how they can list scheduled or future upcoming posts in WordPress. Showing upcoming posts can be helpful in getting people to subscribe to your blog. In this article, we will show you how to display future upcoming posts… Read More »

The post How to List Future Upcoming Scheduled Posts in WordPress appeared first on WPBeginner.

Recently, one of our users asked us how they can list scheduled or future upcoming posts in WordPress. Showing upcoming posts can be helpful in getting people to subscribe to your blog. In this article, we will show you how to display future upcoming posts in WordPress sidebar.

Show scheduled and future upcoming posts

What is Scheduled or Future Upcoming Posts in WordPress?

If you have been blogging for a while, then you have probably noticed that publishing posts on a certain time gets more people to read it. If you are new to blogging and don’t know what time you get the most visitors, then you should start using Google Analytics to track this information.

The problem is that you cannot just sit around and wait for that time to hit the publish button. That’s why WordPress comes with built-in scheduling feature. It allows you to schedule your posts to be published later.

Using scheduling you can focus on creating content and managing your editorial calendar like a pro.

Having said that, let’s see how you can show off your upcoming posts in WordPress and use it to get more subscribers.

Method 1: Showing Scheduled or Future Posts with Plugin

First thing you need to do is install and activate SOUP – Show off Upcoming Posts plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, you need to visit Appearance » Widgets page. There you will find ‘Upcoming Posts’ widget under the list of available widgets. Simply add the widget to your sidebar where you to display scheduled posts.

Upcoming posts widget

The widget settings allow you to choose the number of scheduled posts you want to show. You can also show dates next to them, link to your RSS feed, or link to a page where users can signup for your email list.

Click on the save button to store your widget settings.

You can now visit your website to see the widget in action.

Preview of upcoming posts in sidebar

Method 2: Showing Scheduled or Upcoming Posts Manually

Simply add this code to your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific plugin.

function wpb_upcoming_posts() { 
	// The query to fetch future posts
	$the_query = new WP_Query(array( 
		'post_status' => 'future',
		'posts_per_page' => 3,
		'orderby' => 'date',
		'order' => 'ASC'
	));

// The loop to display posts
if ( $the_query->have_posts() ) {
	echo '<ul>';
	while ( $the_query->have_posts() ) {
		$the_query->the_post();
		$output .= '<li>' . get_the_title() .' ('.  get_the_time('d-M-Y') . ')</li>';
	}
	echo '</ul>';

} else {
	// Show this when now future posts are found
	$output .= '<p>No posts planned yet.</p>';
}

// Reset post data
wp_reset_postdata();

// Return output

return $output; 
} 
// Add shortcode
add_shortcode('upcoming_posts', 'wpb_upcoming_posts'); 
// Enable shortcode execution inside text widgets
add_filter('widget_text', 'do_shortcode');

Now you can visit Appearance » Widgets page. Add a text widget to your sidebar where you want to display upcoming posts and add this shortcode inside the widget.

[upcoming_posts]

Adding upcoming posts shortcode in a text widget

Click on the save button to store your widget settings.

You can now visit your website to see the upcoming scheduled posts in your sidebar. You can also use this shortcode in a post, page, or a template in your child theme.

We hope this article helped you learn how to show scheduled posts in your WordPress sidebar. You may also want to see our list of these 25 most useful WordPress widgets for your site.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post How to List Future Upcoming Scheduled Posts in WordPress appeared first on WPBeginner.

Chatting with Prince on AOL in 1999 – “this way is modern”

Erica Kennedy chats with Prince on AOL in 1999Before the Internet as we know it today, before social media, there was AOL. Specifically there was AOL chat rooms. The digital world was smaller but Prince was always there. He was so ahead of his time digitally. The Purple One did group chats with fans all the time on AOL. A “room” in AOL chat parlance was like a Twitter DM – a private chat room.

Six years ago my friend Erica Kennedy and I were talking about what she was going to write for her next book. She had just released her second book, Feminista, and was pretty well known for her first book, Bling that satirized the music industry that she came up in. We had the idea of  a Kindle Single detailing her interactions with Prince while she was working on a profile for InStyle Magazine. You can see photos of Prince’s Spanish Villa and a few lines of Erica’s AOL chats with Prince over at InStyle now.

This is the AOL chat log detailing her interactions with Prince that Erica emailed me while we were planning her novella.

Here, of course, “NPG—” was Prince’s private AOL chat handle at that time while Ekj4 is Erica. I have kept all the typos exactly as they occurred in 1999.

Erica K to me – u r the 1st person 2 c this outside of the N style staff.

NPG—:   high
Ekj4:       hi 2 u
NPG—:  is ur last name kennedy?
Ekj4:       no it’s my middle name that i use for writing, trying to stay on the dl
NPG—:  r u alone?
Ekj4:       sure am
NPG—:  have u ever spoke in private chat space?
Ekj4:       all the time!
Ekj4:       i’m a terrible typist though
NPG—:  would u like 2 go a room?
Ekj4:       what room? what’s wrong with this way?
NPG—:  don’t like
Ekj4:       ok, where’s the room?
NPG—:  it’s called…
NPG—:  amatteroftime
Ekj4:       how do i get THERE?
NPG—:  use the icon that says….people
NPG—:  c it?
Ekj4:       yes. and…
NPG—:  start ur own chat
NPG—:  private
NPG—:  type in the space….amatteroftime
Ekj4:       is it only going to be u and i?
NPG—:  yes
Ekj4:       ok
NPG—:  scared?
Ekj4:       no
NPG—:  yea,right!
NPG—:  r u there?
Ekj4:       yep
 
IN THE PRIVATE CHAT ROOM
NPG —: is ur hair done?
EKJ4:       it’s up in a ponytail and truth be told, it’s lookin’ kinda busted.
NPG—:  lol!
EKJ:        my hair doesn’t have the bounce of your ‘do.
NPG—:  do u stay up late?
EKJ:        24-7.  Actaully more like 20-7.
NPG—:  good.
EKJ:        y?
NPG—:  my flight gets in at 1 am
EKJ:        great, ur  coming 2 ny?  u want me 2 meet u at 2?
NPG—:  I can send a car 4 u
NPG—:  if u like
Ekj4:       yes, that would be great. don’t have a sister trying to hail a cab in crooklyn at all hours.
NPG —:  r u a sista?
Ekj4:        haven’t we been over this?  u will c
NPG—:   what do u look like?
NPG—:   describe urself!
Ekj4:        i’m skinny
NPG—:   u eat meat?
Ekj4:        on occasion
NPG—:   then y r u skinny?
Ekj4:        just got it like that
NPG—:   skinny parents
Ekj4:        i actually eat way too much junk food
Ekj4:        i’m skinnier than everyone in my family
NPG—:   do u think we could complete an interview like this?
Ekj4:        no, we cannot do the interview this way, but doesn’t matter. u’ll be here in a minute
NPG—:   y
NPG—:   then u have direct quotes

but this way is modern

Ekj4:        it neesd to be face to face
NPG—:   y?
Ekj4:        yes, but i have to set the scene. you get better feeling about the person that way
Ekj4:        anyway, this could be aaron for all i know.
NPG—:   but this way is modern
Ekj4:        yes, it is. i love to chat online
NPG—:   eye am not a liar
NPG—:   this way is cooler
NPG—:   and eye don’t get motion sickness
Ekj4:        so u think we will just have some time tonight or would you be down to…
Ekj4:        hang over the weekend if i need more time?
Ekj4:        ur not going to be all drowsy, r u?
NPG—:   eye have 2 fly 2 oakland
NPG—:   2morrow
Ekj4:        for what? the all star game?
NPG—:   eye am never drowsy
NPG—:   yes …the game
Ekj4:        u r going?
Ekj4:        i watch all teh games. i love the t-wolves and kg
Ekj4:        but i root for the knicks
NPG—:   eye maybe cannot go if eye go 2 new york
NPG—:   2 much flying makes me barf
Ekj4:        npg—, u sleepin’?
NPG—:   eye wanna c the slam dunk competition up close
Ekj4:         is kg in it?
NPG—:   no doubt
Ekj4:        you hang with him in minn?
NPG—:   if u were me…would u fly thamuch
Ekj4:        no i don’t like to fly that much.  the loss of control and everything
Ekj4:        y ru coming here for 1 day? to do the interview?
NPG—:   yes, eye am coming unless u allow me 2 do something cooler
Ekj4:        i think u should come
NPG—:   eu
Ekj4:        eu?
NPG—:   do u know what that means
Ekj4:        please explain
NPG—:   this:
NPG—:   :P*******
NPG—:   me barfing
Ekj4:        lol!!!!
Ekj4:        why r u barfing?
NPG—:   HEY,not so loud!
Ekj4:        so r u coming or not?
NPG—:   yes, eu
Ekj4:        GREAT!

u type like me

NPG—:   we will call when eye ge there
Ekj4:        1derful
NPG—:   u type like me
Ekj4:        now that u have my e-mail, don’t send me any spam!
Ekj4:        chain letters and nonsense
NPG—:   won’t send u any mail
NPG—:   ever
NPG—:   many people use this screenname…
Ekj4:        ok, npg—
NPG—:   it’s secret, so don’t divulge it, ok?
Ekj4:        oh, good so you can maintain your privacy. of course, bro
NPG—:   ever go 2 prince. org?
Ekj4:        can’t say that i have. do u?
NPG—:   once or twice
NPG—:   interesting?
NPG—:   yes
Ekj4:        i don’t think i would like 2 c what random people r saying about me
NPG—:   sometimes it is funny
Ekj4:        taht would be strange but i guess you have become accustomed 2 it
NPG—:   yes
NPG—:   so, eye must go and pack, then
NPG—:   bye bye
NPG—:   c u 2night
Ekj4:        c ya later, inshallah
NPG—:   peace

I loved these chats because they are a reminder that our legends are also real people. He loved technology, Prince started YesWeCode with Van Jones to inspire more Black Youth to get involved in tech.

I talked to Erica on the phone just two day before she passed away. I miss our regular talks and her energy but most of all I miss my friend.  Prince is gone now as well, and even though he was a legend he was also a real human who loved people. He was a tech visionary who appreciated very early on how technology could bring us all together.

20 years later Prince would still reply to fans directly on Twitter (and often delete the tweets, adding to his air of mystery.) He was known to even engage in lengthy private DMs with fans and superfans.

I love what InStyle said about these Prince’s AOL chats.

Internet chat from a rock star looks like Internet chat from anybody else.

I miss you two and what you brought to our lives. I’m glad we have your legacy and your work to remember you by.


© 2016 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.
     

Erica Kennedy chats with Prince on AOL in 1999Before the Internet as we know it today, before social media, there was AOL. Specifically there was AOL chat rooms. The digital world was smaller but Prince was always there. He was so ahead of his time digitally. The Purple One did group chats with fans all the time on AOL. A "room" in AOL chat parlance was like a Twitter DM - a private chat room.

Six years ago my friend Erica Kennedy and I were talking about what she was going to write for her next book. She had just released her second book, Feminista, and was pretty well known for her first book, Bling that satirized the music industry that she came up in. We had the idea of  a Kindle Single detailing her interactions with Prince while she was working on a profile for InStyle Magazine. You can see photos of Prince's Spanish Villa and a few lines of Erica's AOL chats with Prince over at InStyle now.

This is the AOL chat log detailing her interactions with Prince that Erica emailed me while we were planning her novella.

Here, of course, "NPG---" was Prince's private AOL chat handle at that time while Ekj4 is Erica. I have kept all the typos exactly as they occurred in 1999.

Erica K to me - u r the 1st person 2 c this outside of the N style staff.

NPG---:   high
Ekj4:       hi 2 u
NPG---:  is ur last name kennedy?
Ekj4:       no it's my middle name that i use for writing, trying to stay on the dl
NPG---:  r u alone?
Ekj4:       sure am
NPG---:  have u ever spoke in private chat space?
Ekj4:       all the time!
Ekj4:       i'm a terrible typist though
NPG---:  would u like 2 go a room?
Ekj4:       what room? what's wrong with this way?
NPG---:  don't like
Ekj4:       ok, where's the room?
NPG---:  it's called...
NPG---:  amatteroftime
Ekj4:       how do i get THERE?
NPG---:  use the icon that says....people
NPG---:  c it?
Ekj4:       yes. and...
NPG---:  start ur own chat
NPG---:  private
NPG---:  type in the space....amatteroftime
Ekj4:       is it only going to be u and i?
NPG---:  yes
Ekj4:       ok
NPG---:  scared?
Ekj4:       no
NPG---:  yea,right!
NPG---:  r u there?
Ekj4:       yep
 
IN THE PRIVATE CHAT ROOM
NPG ---: is ur hair done?
EKJ4:       it’s up in a ponytail and truth be told, it’s lookin’ kinda busted.
NPG---:  lol!
EKJ:        my hair doesn’t have the bounce of your ‘do.
NPG---:  do u stay up late?
EKJ:        24-7.  Actaully more like 20-7.
NPG---:  good.
EKJ:        y?
NPG---:  my flight gets in at 1 am
EKJ:        great, ur  coming 2 ny?  u want me 2 meet u at 2?
NPG---:  I can send a car 4 u
NPG---:  if u like
Ekj4:       yes, that would be great. don’t have a sister trying to hail a cab in crooklyn at all hours.
NPG ---:  r u a sista?
Ekj4:        haven't we been over this?  u will c
NPG---:   what do u look like?
NPG---:   describe urself!
Ekj4:        i'm skinny
NPG---:   u eat meat?
Ekj4:        on occasion
NPG---:   then y r u skinny?
Ekj4:        just got it like that
NPG---:   skinny parents
Ekj4:        i actually eat way too much junk food
Ekj4:        i'm skinnier than everyone in my family
NPG---:   do u think we could complete an interview like this?
Ekj4:        no, we cannot do the interview this way, but doesn't matter. u'll be here in a minute
NPG---:   y
NPG---:   then u have direct quotes

but this way is modern

Ekj4:        it neesd to be face to face
NPG---:   y?
Ekj4:        yes, but i have to set the scene. you get better feeling about the person that way
Ekj4:        anyway, this could be aaron for all i know.
NPG---:   but this way is modern
Ekj4:        yes, it is. i love to chat online
NPG---:   eye am not a liar
NPG---:   this way is cooler
NPG---:   and eye don't get motion sickness
Ekj4:        so u think we will just have some time tonight or would you be down to...
Ekj4:        hang over the weekend if i need more time?
Ekj4:        ur not going to be all drowsy, r u?
NPG---:   eye have 2 fly 2 oakland
NPG---:   2morrow
Ekj4:        for what? the all star game?
NPG---:   eye am never drowsy
NPG---:   yes ...the game
Ekj4:        u r going?
Ekj4:        i watch all teh games. i love the t-wolves and kg
Ekj4:        but i root for the knicks
NPG---:   eye maybe cannot go if eye go 2 new york
NPG---:   2 much flying makes me barf
Ekj4:        npg---, u sleepin'?
NPG---:   eye wanna c the slam dunk competition up close
Ekj4:         is kg in it?
NPG---:   no doubt
Ekj4:        you hang with him in minn?
NPG---:   if u were me...would u fly thamuch
Ekj4:        no i don't like to fly that much.  the loss of control and everything
Ekj4:        y ru coming here for 1 day? to do the interview?
NPG---:   yes, eye am coming unless u allow me 2 do something cooler
Ekj4:        i think u should come
NPG---:   eu
Ekj4:        eu?
NPG---:   do u know what that means
Ekj4:        please explain
NPG---:   this:
NPG---:   :P*******
NPG---:   me barfing
Ekj4:        lol!!!!
Ekj4:        why r u barfing?
NPG---:   HEY,not so loud!
Ekj4:        so r u coming or not?
NPG---:   yes, eu
Ekj4:        GREAT!

u type like me

NPG---:   we will call when eye ge there
Ekj4:        1derful
NPG---:   u type like me
Ekj4:        now that u have my e-mail, don't send me any spam!
Ekj4:        chain letters and nonsense
NPG---:   won't send u any mail
NPG---:   ever
NPG---:   many people use this screenname...
Ekj4:        ok, npg---
NPG---:   it's secret, so don't divulge it, ok?
Ekj4:        oh, good so you can maintain your privacy. of course, bro
NPG---:   ever go 2 prince. org?
Ekj4:        can't say that i have. do u?
NPG---:   once or twice
NPG---:   interesting?
NPG---:   yes
Ekj4:        i don't think i would like 2 c what random people r saying about me
NPG---:   sometimes it is funny
Ekj4:        taht would be strange but i guess you have become accustomed 2 it
NPG---:   yes
NPG---:   so, eye must go and pack, then
NPG---:   bye bye
NPG---:   c u 2night
Ekj4:        c ya later, inshallah
NPG---:   peace

I loved these chats because they are a reminder that our legends are also real people. He loved technology, Prince started YesWeCode with Van Jones to inspire more Black Youth to get involved in tech.

I talked to Erica on the phone just two day before she passed away. I miss our regular talks and her energy but most of all I miss my friend.  Prince is gone now as well, and even though he was a legend he was also a real human who loved people. He was a tech visionary who appreciated very early on how technology could bring us all together.

20 years later Prince would still reply to fans directly on Twitter (and often delete the tweets, adding to his air of mystery.) He was known to even engage in lengthy private DMs with fans and superfans.

I love what InStyle said about these Prince's AOL chats.

Internet chat from a rock star looks like Internet chat from anybody else.

I miss you two and what you brought to our lives. I'm glad we have your legacy and your work to remember you by.



© 2016 Scott Hanselman. All rights reserved.
     

12 WordPress Sidebar Tricks to Get Maximum Results

Most WordPress sites have a two column layout containing the content and sidebar. Despite being visible on every page of a website, sidebars are often the least optimized areas. In this article, we will share the best WordPress sidebar tricks to get maximum results for… Read More »

The post 12 WordPress Sidebar Tricks to Get Maximum Results appeared first on WPBeginner.

Most WordPress sites have a two column layout containing the content and sidebar. Despite being visible on every page of a website, sidebars are often the least optimized areas. In this article, we will share the best WordPress sidebar tricks to get maximum results for your site.

WordPress sidebar tricks

1. Dynamic Widgets for Sidebar

Show/Hide widgets on different pages and sections

By default, your WordPress sidebars remain the same. This means that you are showing users the same sidebar whether they are viewing an archive page, category, home page, or a single page.

Depending on what content user is looking at, changing sidebar widgets accordingly can make a huge impact on how users interact with the sidebar on your site.

Using Display Widgets plugin, you can show and hide sidebar widgets on posts, pages, archives, home, or blog page. You can also show or hide widgets to users based on their login status.

2. Multiple Sidebars

Content aware sidebars

Another approach to creating smart sidebars is by using multiple sidebars at once. Each sidebar appears based on a criteria you select.

Install and activate Content Aware Sidebars plugin. It allows you to create smart sidebars. Instead of showing or hiding widgets for specific pages, you can create totally new sidebars for them.

3. Sticky Sidebar Widgets

Sticky sidebar widget

Usually the content column of your website becomes a bit lengthier than your sidebar. This means that when users scroll down, there is nothing to look at in the sidebar column.

You can add sticky floating sidebar widgets to make sure that there is always a call to action visible to your readers as they scroll down.

4. Email Subscription

Email signup form

Ever wondered why email signup forms are often the first item in sidebars of most popular blogs? That’s because email is still the most successful way to communicate with your readers. See our guide on why you should start building your email list right away.

Most email service providers like MailChimp, AWeber, etc, will provide you simple code that you can add to a text widget in your WordPress sidebar. However, these signup forms are not very effective in terms of conversion.

By using OptinMonster to create beautiful and highly engaging sidebar optin forms, you can significantly increase your conversions.

OptinMonster also allows you to A/B test your sidebar optin forms, so you can make data-driven decisions about what’s working and what’s not.

5. Showcase Your Best Content

Popular posts

WordPress sites come with a built-in recent posts widget. This widget does not perform very well.

The reason is simple, your recent posts may not always be the best content to describe your site to a new user.

You should use a popular posts plugin to display your most popular content. You can also combine it with a related posts plugin to showcase the most relevant content to new users.

6. Dynamic Custom Lists

Custom WordPress Lists

Why stop on just popular or related posts? You can create your own lists of posts that you think will bring you more conversion.

Simply create a new post in WordPress and use the visual editor to create a bulleted list of posts or pages you want to display. Switch to the text editor and copy the HTML code.

Now add a new text widget to your sidebar and paste the HTML code inside it. You can create as many lists as you want and show different lists for different areas of your website.

7. Use Images

Use images in sidebar

Images are much more engaging than plain text. If you want to grab user’s attention, then use images as banners and buttons. You can link those banners and call to actions to different areas of your website.

You can simply upload an image using the media uploader and add the HTML code to display the image in a text widget. If you are not familiar with HTML, then you can use an image widget to add images in your WordPress sidebar.

See our guide on how to add an image in WordPress sidebar widget for detailed instructions.

In the OptinMonster blog example above, when the user clicks on an image, it loads a popup asking them to enter their information. That’s called MonsterLinks which is a 2 Step Optin Technology..

8. Showcase Social Proof

Add social proof

Have you seen how popular blogs brag about their follower count in their sidebars? Displaying your follower count in the sidebar is called social proof. It is a marketing technique that helps you gain trust by showing people the number of followers you already have.

You can use Social Count Plus widget to display your follower count. You can also show your MailChimp subscriber count to encourage more users to signup for your email list.

Here are 11 more social proof examples that you can add on your website.

9. User Engagement Tools

Recent comments with thumbnails

Recent comments, polls and surveys, user rankings, points system, are just some of the ways to boost user engagement on your WordPress site. Displaying them in your sidebar helps boost user engagement on your website. This increases your pageviews and time each person spends on your site.

10. Fade In Last Sidebar Widget

Fade in sidebar widget

This nifty little trick is used on many popular blogs and websites. It simply fades in the last sidebar widget. The animation makes the widget eye-catchy and noticeable which dramatically increases the click-through rate.

See our tutorial on how to fade in last sidebar widget in WordPress.

11. Use Custom Styles for Widgets

Custom styles for sidebar widgets

Usually all sidebar widgets use the same colors and style defined by your WordPress theme. This makes them all look the same. You can use custom styles to use different colors for some of your widgets to make them more noticeable.

See our guide on how to add custom styles to WordPress widgets for detailed instructions.

12. Enable Shortcodes in Text Widgets

By default, WordPress filters out shortcodes in text widgets. You can easily disable that by adding this single line of code to your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific plugin.

add_filter('widget_text','do_shortcode');

We hope this article helped you learn some new WordPress sidebar tricks to get maximum results on your site. You may also want to see our list of 25 most useful WordPress widgets for your site.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post 12 WordPress Sidebar Tricks to Get Maximum Results appeared first on WPBeginner.